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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/320

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substitutes for them an Unknowable, a something which they really are, though we cannot know it, and rejects that, instead of them, from knowledge."

This statement has caused me no little astonishment. That having before him the volume from which he quotes, so competent a reader should have so completely missed the meaning of the passages (§ 26) already referred to, in which I have contended against Hamilton and Hansel, makes me almost despair of being understood by any ordinary reader. In that section, I have, in the first place, contended that the consciousness of an Ultimate Reality, though not capable of being made a thought, properly so called, because not capable of being brought within limits, nevertheless remains as a mode of consciousness that is positive: is not rendered negative by the negation of limits. I have pointed out that—

"The error (very naturally fallen into by philosophers intent on demonstrating the limits and conditions of consciousness) consists in assuming that consciousness contains nothing but limits and conditions; to the entire neglect of that which is limited and conditioned. It is forgotten that there is something which alike forms the raw material of definite thought and remains after the definiteness which thinking gave to it has been destroyed," something which "ever persists in us as the body of a thought to which we can give no shape."

This positive element of consciousness it is, which, "at once necessarily indefinite and necessarily indestructible," I regard as the consciousness of the Unknowable Reality. Yet Dr. Hodgson says "Mr. Spencer proceeds to use these inconceivable ideas as the basis of his philosophy:" implying that such basis consists of negations, instead of consisting of that which persists notwithstanding the negation of limits. And then, beyond this perversion, or almost inversion, of meaning, he conveys the notion that I take, as the basis of philosophy, the "inconceivable ideas" "or self-contradictory notions" which result when we endeavor to comprehend Space and Time. He speaks of me as proposing to evolve substance out of form, or, rather, out of negations of forms—gives his readers no conception that the Power manifested to us is that which I regard as the Unknowable, while what we call Space and Time answer to the unknowable nexus of its manifestations. And yet the chapter from which I quote, and still more the chapter which follows it, makes this clear—as clear, at least, as I can make it by carefully-worded statements and restatements.

Philosophical systems, like theological ones, following the law of evolution in general, severally become in course of time more rigid, while becoming more complex and more definite; and they similarly become less alterable—resist all compromise, and have to be replaced by the more plastic systems that descend from them.