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Irrelevant excuse for neglecting our own concerns.

And I will allow myself to dwell on this last feature

of the case. The appearances after all, being what we

experience, must be what matters for us. They are surely

the one thing which, from the nature of the case, can

possess human value. Surely, the moment we understand

what we mean by our words, the Thing in itself becomes

utterly worthless and devoid of all interest.

And we discover a state of mind which would be

ridiculous to a degree, if it had not unfortunately a

serious side. It is contended that contradictions in

phenomena are something quite in order, so long as the

Thing in itself is not touched. That is to say that

everything, which we know and can experience, does not

matter, however distracted its case, and that this

purely irrelevant ghost is the ark of salvation to be

preserved at all costs. But how it can be anything to us

whether something outside our knowledge contradicts

itself or not--is simply unintelligible. What is too

visible is our own readiness to sacrifice everything

which possesses any possible claim on us. And what is to

be inferred is our confusion, and our domination by a

theory which lives only in the world of


We have seen that the doctrine of a Thing in itself

is absurd. A reality of this sort is assuredly not

something unverifiable. It has on the contrary a nature

which is fully transparent, as a false and empty

abstraction, whose generation is plain. We found that

reality was not the appearances, and that result must

hold good; but, on the other hand, reality is certainly

not something else which is unable to appear. For that

is sheer self-contradiction, which is plausible only so

long as we do not realize its meaning. The assertion of

a reality falling outside knowledge, is quite


And so this attempt to shelve our problems, this

proposal to take no pains about what are only phenomena,

has broken down. It was a vain notion to set up an idol

apart, to dream that facts for that reason had ceased to

be facts, and had somehow become only something else.

And this false idea is an illusion which we should

attempt to clear out of our minds once for all. We shall

have hereafter to enquire into the nature of appearance;

but for the present we may keep a fast hold upon

this, that appearances exist. That is

absolutely certain, and to deny it is nonsense. And

whatever exists must belong to reality. That is also

quite certain, and its denial once more is self-

contradictory. Our appearances no doubt may be a

beggarly show, and their nature to an unknown extent may

be something which, as it is, is not true of reality.

That is one thing, and it is quite another thing to

speak as if these facts had no actual existence, or as

if there could be anything but reality to which they

might belong. And I must venture to repeat that such an

idea would be sheer nonsense. What appears, for that

sole reason, most indubitably is; and there is no

possibility of conjuring its being away from it. And,

though we ask no question at present as to the exact

nature of reality, we may be certain that it cannot be

less than appearances; we may be sure that the least of

these in some way contributes to make it what it is. And

the whole result of this Book may be summed up in a few

words. Everything so far, which we have seen, has turned

out to be appearance. It is that which, taken as it

stands, proves inconsistent with itself, and for this

reason cannot be true of the real. But to deny its

existence or to divorce it from reality is out of the

question. For it has a positive character which is

indubitable fact, and, however much this fact may be

pronounced appearance, it can have no place in which to

live except reality. And reality, set on one side and

apart from all appearance, would assuredly be nothing.

Hence what is certain is that, in some way, these

inseparables are joined. This is the positive result

which has emerged from our discussion. Our failure so

far lies in this, that we have not found the way in

which appearances can belong to reality. And to this

further task we must now address ourselves, with however

little hope of more than partial satisfaction.






THE result of our First Book has been mainly negative.

We have taken up a number of ways of regarding reality.

and we have found that they all are vitiated by self-

discrepancy. The reality can accept not one of these

predicates, at least in the character in which so far

they have come. We certainly ended with a reflection

which promised something positive. Whatever is rejected

as appearance is, for that very reason, no mere

nonentity. It cannot bodily be shelved and merely got

rid of, and, therefore, since it must fall somewhere, it

must belong to reality. To take it as existing somehow

and somewhere in the unreal, would surely be quite

meaningless. For reality must own and cannot be less

than appearance, and that is the one positive result

which, so far, we have reached. But as to the character

which, otherwise, the real possesses, we at present know

nothing; and a further knowledge is what we must aim at

through the remainder of our search. The present Book,

to some extent, falls into two divisions. The first of

these deals mainly with the general character of

reality, and with the defence of this against a number

of objections. Then from this basis, in the second

place, I shall go on to consider mainly some special

features. But I must admit that I have kept to no strict

principle of division. I have really observed no rule of

progress, except to get forward in the best way that I


At the beginning of our inquiry into the

nature of the real we encounter, of course, a general

doubt or denial. To

know the truth, we shall be told, is impossible, or is,

at all events, wholly impracticable. We cannot have

positive knowledge about first principles; and, if we

could possess it, we should not know when actually we

had got it. What is denied is, in short, the existence

of a criterion. I shall, later on, in Chapter xxvii.,

have to deal more fully with the objections of a

thorough-going scepticism, and I will here confine

myself to what seems requisite for the present.