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"The function of Philosophy, we are often told, is to organise and unify knowledge.
To this end it is before all things necessary to make knowledge itself an object of reflection
and study." — Ward.

" Philosophy is hard, while to think one-sidedly and to make theories which ignore the
deepest instincts of our nature is not so difficult. Philosophy always will be hard, and
what it promises even in the end is no clear theory nor any complete understanding or
vision." — F. H. Bradley.

" But there is system and a purpose in this universe, and of this universe Man is indis-
putably the highest term, the consummate outcome; what has proved itself his ultimate
activity, must be allowed the highest place in this system and in this purpose." — Hutchison
Stirling, Secret of Hegel.


The following discussions arise out of two previous
Books ^ and have occupied me for a long time. I
called them, from the first, '* Meditations," because that
word most accurately expressed the form they took
with me. I have retained the name because it in-
dicates the general character and structure of the
whole Treatise, and also in the hope that it may be
accepted as an explanation of repetitions that were
inevitable in what was substantially a dialogue with

Having had the honour of being appointed Gifford
Lecturer in the University of Edinburgh, I based my
lectures chiefly on the second volume of this book which
was at the time of my appointment api)roaching com-

My thanks are due to Professor A. S. Pringle-
Pattison, who read the proofs of both volumes and
made valuable suggestions. I have also to acknowledge
the kindness of Monsieur G. Kemacle of Hasselt.

University of Edinburgh,
May, 1906.

^ MetMphysica Nova d VetiiMa, by Scotus Novaiiticus, 2nd Edition, 1885.
Ethica; or, the Ethics of Reason, 2nd Edition, 1885 : Williams & Norgate.




Introductory Notk 1

Meditation I. — The Primal Actualisation : Mind a Conscious Entity
— Fundamental Correlation of Subject and Object — Natural
Realism ............ 1

Meditation II. — The Primal Actualisation {continued) : Genesis of
Experience — Pure Feeling and Inchoate Subject — Rudimentary
Consciousness : the Internal (Intra-organic) Other (Sensation) —
The External Other : Way in which the Inner becomes aware of
Externality— Attuition (Synopsis) 13

Meditation III. — Planes of Mind : Evolution of Mind, viz., Pure
Feeling — Sensation — Attuition — Reason or the Subjective Dia-
lectic — Intuition . 34

Meditation IV. — Sensation : Sensational Consciousness and the Diverse
or Plural — Conditioning of Unconditioned Being — The Given
Realitas-Phenomenon — The Reality of the Object is its Being . 42

Meditation V. — Being : Being as the One Ground of all Diversity —
Being, Sole, One, and Universal — Being the Common Bond of
Things — Attributes of Being — The word Phenomenon ... 48

Meditation VI. — Phenomenon: Phenomenon as Concrete is; as Ab-
stract is not — Negation as giving individuality and independence
— The Phenomenon as a revelation of Absolute Being through
Negation — Matter — Monistic Pantheism 66

Meditation VII. — Ob.tect and Subject as "related": (a) Natural
Realism— the point of view ; (6) RelaLedness and Relativity ; (c)
Body of Mind and Phenomenal Continuity ; {d) Disparateness of
Subject and Object ; (c) Ideologism ; (/) Repetition of point of
view ; (g) Unifying by the Attuent Consciousness ; {h) Absolute
Knowledge ; (t) Attuition of the Object as relations ... 78
VOL. I. ix b



Meditation VIII. — The Given : The content of the Sense-Object in
presentation and Attuition— The Given or Immediate, Space,
Motion and Time — Secondary Qualities or Proper Sensibles —
The greater Objective Reality of Common Sensibles — In what
sense Proper Sensibles are Objectively Real — Categories of Attui-
tion or The Given. Notes (1) and (2) 105

Meditation IX. — Evolution of the Subjective Dialectic : (a) Transi-
tion from Attuition to Knowledge — the Real to the Actual. (6)
Will and the Rudimentary Act of the Subjective Dialectic, viz..,
Percipience. (c) The Form of Percipience is the form of the
Subjective Dialectic. Notes (1), (2) and (3) 134

Meditation X. — The Dialectic Process as Specifically Will-
Movement : (a) Self -Consciousness — Ego. (6) Growth of Self-
Consciousness generally, (c) Range of Percipience as Dialectic ;
Dialectic Percepts are Ultimates. {d) Will as Root of the Sub-
jective Dialectic — Free Will, (e) Further Considerations . . 157

Meditation XI. — Subjective Dialectic and the a priori. — A priori
Categories or Synthetic Predicates : (a) The Form of the One
Movement is Teleologico-Causal. (b) The First Affirmation, (c)
Function of the Dialectic generally, (d) The Dialectic not im-
posed on Experience, (e) Continuity of the Absolute System :
Knowledge and the Objective Dialectic. (/)The Dialectic as Teleo-
logico-Causal. (o) Unifying Process of the Dialectic, (h) The Attuit
and the Notion, (i) Absolute Knowledge, (j) Is Man as the Sub-
jective Dialectic a mere Organ in the Absolute Whole ? {k) The
Absolute Whole as a One Whole, (l) Will-Dialectic an Evolution.
(m) Deductive Explanation of Experience Impossible, {n) In what
sense the Object is Subject 176

Meditation XII. — Functioning Acts of the Moments of the Dia-
lectic IN contact with Matter : The Object must be grasped
through the Whole Movement of the Dialectic as a One Movement —
This is impossible except through the parts — Hence the necessity
for the prior moments of Percipience and Concipience. The Func-
tionings of Percipience and Concipience are inadequate to the
Object as being merely preliminary steps. The Object is
grasped in the One dialectic movement ..... 200

Meditation X/I/.— The Percept of Essence as Contained in the Dia-
lectic : The Dialectic Moment of " Determining-so " is Essence.
The Thing. The imperfection of the Finite. The Reality of



Individua — Certain Conclusions that seem to involve a World-
View : (a) Essence and Matter : (6) The Body of Man-Mind : (c)
The One in the Many : (d) Subject and Predicates — Remarks
suggested by the preceding paragraphs : (1) Method, (2) Knowing
and Known, (3) Mechanism, (4) Truth of the Object, (5) Justifi-
cation of Pluralism, (6) Ontological deduction, (7) Matter, (8)
Objective Being-Mind 206

Meditation X/F.— Primordial Actuals : Why does Thought demand
Ultimate Units ? Ultimate Units are Immanent in the Percipient
Functioning of the fix"st Moment of the Dialectic — The Atom of
Sense — The Metaphysical Unit — The One and the Whole in each
mind-matter Monad — The Primordial Actual is a Positive Negation
— Pluralism and the One — Necessity in Nature, and The Contin-
gent — Mind and Matter — Pluralism and Monism — The Contingent
and Casual. Note : Mind and Brain 228

Meditation XV. — The Ikfinite : The Indefinite and the Infinite — The
Iniinite Unconditioned — The Infinite as given in and through the
conditioned and as generated by the Dialectic — In what sense do
we " know " the two Infinites ? 251

Meditation XVI. — Synthetic Necessaries : Synthetic Conditions of
Sense — Synthetic Conditions of the Dialectic — Analytic Necessaries
— Unity and Continuity of Experience — Subject is Object • . 258

Meditation XVII. — Contraries, Contradictions and Antinomies :
(1) The Dialectic and Sense Necessaries — (2) The One and the
Many — (3) The Functioning acts of the Subjective Dialectic in
contact with Experience : (a) Percipience and Identity ; (6) The
Dialectic as Functioning Concipience ; (c) Identity {continued) ; {d)
The Functioning of Ground and Consequent (the Causal Nexus) ;
(e) The Kinetic Moment in Cause ; (/) The Teleological Moment in
Cause — (4) The Contradiction in Man as a Concrete . . . 271

Meditation XVIII. — Absolute Synthesis : The Synthesis of the Abso-
lute and the Absolute Synthesis, i.e., the Absolute Truth of the
Related — Knowledge as Absolute and as Relative — Critical
Pluralism — Planes of Being and of Mind — Man's Knowledge not
solely of the Conditioned — Faith 306

Meditation XIX. — Retrospect and Conclusion 317



If we are to interpret experience aright, we must,
above all, watch that which experiences, and en-
deavour, by tracing its movements, to find the nature
and limits of its functioning as an "in and for itself
being" that finds itself in certain relations to a Whole
that transcends it. As mind moves along, what is it
doing? and what does its activity reveal to us of the
absolute Whole within which it lives and functions ?


The Primal Actualisation : Mind a Conscious Entity — Funda-
mental Correlation of Subject and Object — Natural Realism.

There is an event from which all thought on Mind
must start, and that is the primal actualisation in mind-
experience — the feeling of a "somewhat" which is not
the being that feels.

Without dwelling here on the transition from non-con-
scious bodies to feeling or conscious bodies, we may see
clearly enough that all feeling, sentient, and conscious
bodies are diftbrontiated from others by this very fact

VOL. I. 1



of feeling or consciousness. This is (to use Aristotelian
language) their form or idea — that through which, as a
prius and condition, they find their relations and real-
ise their bodily as well as mental activities. They are
not bodies that function consciousness, but bodies in
and through which consciousness is functioned ; and, in
the case of man, self-consciousness also. This is the
concrete as presented to us.

Thus, fixing our thought on consciousness as supreme
idea and true significance of an animal body, we interpret
it by its highest term, and are entitled to say that the
animal is a conscious being that exists as a body or in
and through a body ; and in like manner when we come
to man, we say that he is a conscious and self-conscious
(or thinking) being that exists in and through a body.
So we say that a blade of grass is a concrete of life
and body. Is it the body that functions life— the dead
the living, or is it life (the " form " of the vegetal world)
that functions body ?

If, then, men call feeling, consciousness, self-con-
sciousness by the general name " mind " to distinguish
it from the body in which it is involved, they are entitled
to do so because it presents itself with characters wholly
different from that of body, nay, repudiates the charac-
teristics of body or matter (so-called). But we must
ever remember that " mind " is only one side, though the
inner side, of a concrete dual unity : it is the specific
character of the whole — the outcome, issue, " form,"
purpose of the whole. But, inasmuch as it is a "con-
crete dual unity " that is presented to us, we say that
body is a necessary condition of mind being functioned.^

1 1 am necessarily somewhat dogmatic here ; but I think the sequel
will justify my position.


None the less we can interpret the body by itself as
one side of the concrete, and mind by itself as the other
side of the concrete. We can also investigate the
phenomena of the interaction of mind and body and
vice-versd (psycho-physics).

If body exists for mind, it is also a fact that mind
exists in and through body. The reciprocity and in-
volution are beyond question. Accordingly, we are con-
strained to say that an animal is a conscious being
involved in body as a condition of the existence of con-
sciousness and all that is implied in that ; and man is
a conscious and .^^^-conscious being involved in body
as a condition of his specific mode of existence as a mind
here and now.

This, it would seem, is to say little ; but note further :
"Being" determined to a specific mode of existence
is, I submit, an individual " entity " ; and, accordingly,
I shall not be deterred, by the fashion of the day, from
calling mind an " entity " ; by which I mean a specific de-
termination of Being individualised : any Imagim/ of
which, however, is to annihilate it as mind and to
transmute it into a " thing," in the loose popular sense
of that word. Mind is a thought-thing, not a sense-

Why then dlso call man a conscious and self-conscious
" subject " ? Because he is conscious only in so far
as he feels an "other" than himself. He might re-
volve round his own conscious entity to all eternity
and make nothing of it. The })rimary experience is
Feeling and a " felt other " in a synthesis. It is a syn-
thesis of two opposed "things" in one ex])orience. As

()p[)Osed and correlative, we call the feeling entity 8ub-

■ 1*


ject and the felt " other " Object. They are convenient
names for an experience that nobody questions. Now,
this "subject-object" may be fitly called the primal ac-
tualisation — the great event from which all reflection on
man must start. It would seem, then, that the feeling
subject and the felt object, as they stand, so must they
fall, together ; and this is the basis of natural realism.
For the term " object " is a generalised reflective after-
thought to express a correlation. What really happens
is that an entity (a reality) stirs the feeling of itself in
another entity (reality).

Other considerations are forced on us as we contem-
plate the primal event. The Feeling subject is called
into life by a presentation that negates it. The subject
presents itself to us (when we reflect on experience) as
a mere potentiality of life and feeling till it is elicited
by that which is 7iot it. Thus the two " realities " are
given as independent of each other, to the extent not
merely of opposition but of reciprocal negation.

Accordingly, it is not " object," as an abstract, that
insists on finding and evoking subject, but ''thing" as
a complex of qualities or energies. If we posit an
object-thing at all, we must take all that it gives to
conscious subject or none. This gives rise to difficulties
of interpretation ; but a fact unsolved is better than a
false solution. It is as spaced, figured, coloured, movent,
etc., that subject receives the object- thing. Again, the
subject reveals to us no content save the object-thing :
it waits for its content : in so far as it is anything but
a re-acting receptivity, it is empty. Further, the ob-
ject-thing exists as presented. Finally, the object as
given brings externality with it and compels subject
(implicitly) to afih-m externality of non-subject : objects


are sensed as outside each other and outside subject,
and this outness or externality we call Space. The
Object thus given in its complex whole, is all that
philosophy and science have for interpretation whether
we call it a '' thing " or not : and as a " given " it is
accepted by all, I understand. Call it " idea " or
sensation or impression, and we simply, so far as
investigation goes, change the name.

Two questions now arise. '' Feeling subject-entity "
and " felt external-object-entity " are there within the
absolute Whole : but first, inasmuch as the external
object exists in the primal experience as in subject, and
must always and at last, as at first, exist as in subject,
how is it that we can feel it as external not-subject ?
It certainly has no existence of any kind for me save
in so far as it is in me ; and so it is with all possible
experience. Since then I can be aware of objects
only as in and within my subject, do they exist or can
they exist anywhere or anyhow save in a conscious
subject ? This question, as put, admits of only one
answer, because it is begged in the correlative terms
subject and object : the question, if more exactly put,
is. Can there be an entity or "existence" save in a
conscious subject ?

It appears to me that object-thing is given as negatinfj
subject and independent of it ; and to sense the " mode "
of its independence is its externality. If the object is ex-
ternal to and independent of the conscious subject, it has
a per se existence : it is an entity. By thing or per se
existence we merely mean a " being " that negates other
beings and shows itself to be a being by what we call
sense-qualities and activities. It is in this sense that


the feeling subject is a iwr se existence or entity show-
ing itself in its recipient and other activities — ^all as
involved in " body ".

If we accept the above propositions we have at the
foundation of all possible philosophy and science not
merely subject-object, but '' entity-subject" and " entity-
object " in the primal synthesis of sentience.

But let me explain : when I say that conscious sub-
ject is an entity, I merely mean that it is a specific
determination of Being (negating all other beings),
that remains one and permanent in the diversity
and flux of felt presentations and re-presentations. It
is identical with itself. (I confine myself to normal
states, i) It uses body as the vehicle of its recipient
and active activities, and body, as a per se existence
negating mind, is at once vehicle and resistant and
conditioner of the activities of mind. In the case of
disease, body enslaves mind ; and, if it ceases to live,
mind disappears for us, and grave questions of mind-
continuity arise thereupon.

Further, given an object-entity which is independent
of and external to recipient subject-entity, is it correct
to say, as I have done above, that the former enters into
the latter as it exists, or are the difficulties that arise
in connection with the transeunce such that man can
never be sure that he has in consciousness the thing as
it exists, but only some modification of the object-thing
adapted, in or by thing-subject to its own peculiarities
of constitution ; and consequently, that the object in

1 The "How" of Identity I do not discuss. I am unable here to
pursue the question beyond the given fact ; although the general
question of identity must be considered in the sequel.


consciousness does not emerge in consciousness as it
really exists in the totality of things outside the sub-
ject? In other words, is my awareness of that wall
" immediate," or is it somehow mediated so as to effect
in my consciousness an object which is not the wall
as in rerum natura, but only the wall /or me ? In other
words, have I a relative awareness of the wall, but not
an absolute awareness ? I choose to put the question
of natural realism in this way. A frivolous question,
it may be said ; but it is an important one ; for what
is true of sentience is true of reason, and all possible
knowledge : nay, Newton's Prindpia, and so forth,
would be a mere disporting in a subjective world of
relativity of subjective sensations, if our knowledge of
a sense-object is not immediate.

" Natural Realism " says that the subject is conscious
of the wall immediately, and its awareness is therefore
an absolute awareness, if it be clear and distinct.

Inasmuch as the object is a '* thing," it is permissible
to call it a reality giving itself to another reality which
we call the subject. And here, again, a question suggests
itself. Since I can find no initial content in the bare sub-
ject, and since, consequently, the subject-reality (prior
to the appearance of self-consciousness) appears to be
a mere potency of recipience and reaction, would it not
be more correct to describe the primal actualisation as
object realising itself in a sentient thing for the sake of
its-elf, no less than for the sake of the sentient thing ?
If we dwell on this, we shall find that there are secrets
in the processes of Absolute Being as creative which
we can never penetrate. Just when we are on the
point of seeing, things are hidden away. But this posi-
tion I, meanwhile, take up, ciz., that finite object realises


itself, as a " being," entity or thing, in finite subject, and
that finite subject realises itself, as a "being," entity or
thing, in and through object ; by which is here meant
the grand-total of experience.

We have, then, valid and absolute, because immediate,
awareness of the object, and the next question is. What
is it that is delivered as object by the mysterious cosmic
forces to me a sentient subject ? What does this or
that presentation present ? And here I would answer
generally, that it presents all I can ever feel or sense
and all I can ever know, except the form of knowing
itself. If I can interpret one object, I therein in-
terpret the whole world of experience. All physics and
metaphysics may be said to be there in that stone wall.

I ask myself now, What is object-thing in its com-
pletion as an existent thing in rerum 7iatura? and I
answer it is there precisely what it is here in subject-
thing : the object exists in the Absolute Whole as I find
it in, and for, conscious subject. Again, What is sub-
ject in its fulfilment, or fulfilled potency, as an existent
entity in rerum natura? and I answer it is object —
the total of experience. And yet object and subject,
at first and at last and all through, face each other as
antagonists — as reciprocally negating energies. This
is what I mean by Natural E-ealism. And the ultimate
synthesis for me is the infinite object, or God, fulfilled
in the finite subject-mind in so far as that mind can
bear the mighty burden.

Before going further, I shall indulge in a few polemical
words in order to make my own position clear : — ^

^ I need scarcely say that much that I say in these earlier Medita-
tions can only be justified by the development of thought in the sequel.


Nobody, I imagine, denies that there can be no object
save in subject and no subject save in object. These
terms implicate each other, and it is a mere tautology
to affirm their necessary correlation. The question (at
least to me the natural man) is this : Is the object a
i^es or reality, distinct — nay, also, separate, from the
subject, which object (we may say) seeks and finds the
subject in order that it may be felt and known ?

We are speaking, remember, of Sijinite subject and its
object. Let us keep to this. And the question then be-
comes. Can there be no existence in the Absolute Whole
save in so far as it is an object to a finite subject ? The
language used by certain writers justifies me in putting
a question the negative answer to which would to my
mind be ludicrous. " Can there, then, be an existence
in the Absolute Whole which is not an object to an
infinite subject?" This is a totally different question.
And as to this, it appears to me that to say that there
can be no existence which is not present to the con-
sciousness of infinite Subject, is either nonsense or a
mere way of saying that all existences are in and through
Mind-universal ; ^ and consequently (a) nothing can
exist save m and through Mind-universal, (b) the sum-
total of existences are dependent on the One Being-
Mind. If this be all that is meant, we may accept the
belated re-assertion of the venerable doctrine of a
Contingent World.

The question will then arise. Is the Contingent sum
of things wholly dependent ? Is the world merely the

^ There is much in my mind that is not present to it as object,
although how it stays there and crops up, when wanted and when not
wanted, I have no idea. Is that which is Potential ipso facto dead ?


way of living for a One Being (Pantheism) ? Or, Is
the way of hving of the One Being through dependent
independents ? Or does the One Being in throwing
out, eodem actu, throw aside, its own creation as a non-

Online LibraryS. S. (Simon Somerville) LaurieSynthetica: being meditations epistemological and ontological (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 24)