Page:Our knowledge of the external world.djvu/90

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question as to what is to be reckoned part of the Self and what is not, is a very difficult one. Among many other things which we may mean by the Self, two may be selected as specially important, namely, (1) the bare subject which thinks and is aware of objects, (2) the whole assemblage of things that would necessarily cease to exist if our lives came to an end. The bare subject, if it exists at all, is an inference, and is not part of the data; therefore this meaning of Self may be ignored in our present inquiry. The second meaning is difficult to make precise, since we hardly know what things depend upon our lives for their existence. And in this form, the definition of Self introduces the word “depend,” which raises the same questions as are raised by the word “independent.” Let us therefore take up the word “independent,” and return to the Self later.

When we say that one thing is “independent” of another, we may mean either that it is logically possible for the one to exist without the other, or that there is no causal relation between the two such that the one only occurs as the effect of the other. The only way, so far as I know, in which one thing can be logically dependent upon another is when the other is part of the one. The existence of a book, for example, is logically dependent upon that of its pages: without the pages there would be no book. Thus in this sense the question, “Can we know of the existence of any reality which is independent of ourselves?” reduces to the question, “Can we know of the existence of any reality of which our Self is not part?” In this form, the question brings us back to the problem of defining the Self; but I think, however the Self may be defined, even when it is taken as the bare subject, it cannot be supposed to be part of the immediate object of sense; thus in this form of the question we