Appearance and Reality/Appendix/Note C
In the preceding Note we were led to consider a question about Identity, and I will here go on to deal with some others. It would of course be far better that such questions should arise and be answered each in its proper place, but except in a systematic treatise that is not possible. It may be that identity should be used only in a restricted sense, but in any case such a restriction would involve and have to be based on a comprehensive enquiry. And apart from a restriction the whole question about identity would cover the entire field of metaphysics. Wherever there is a unity of the manifold, there is an identity in diversity, and a study of the principal forms of unity in difference would not leave much outside it. And hence, because I could not treat properly the different forms of identity, I did not attempt even to set them out. Certainly I saw no advantage in cataloguing every-day distinctions, such as those between two men of the same sort, and two men in the same place or time, and again two periods of a man’s one life. It did not occur to me that such distinctions could fail to be familiar or that any one could desire to be informed of them. I presupposed as a matter of course a knowledge of them, and, if I myself anywhere confused them, I have not found the place. And I cannot attempt any thorough investigation of their nature or of many other problems that must arise in any serious effort to deal with identity. I will however add here some remarks which are offered to the reader for whatever they may be worth to him.
I. The first question I will ask is whether all identity is qualitative. This is closely connected with the discussion of the preceding Note, which I take here to have been read. Now the answer to our question must depend on the sense in which we use ‘quality.’ Any one can of course perceive that the sameness of a thing with itself at different times differs from its possession with another thing of one and the same character. And, as we have seen, if quality is restricted to that which is the term of a relation, then at any stage before distinction obviously you will have no quality. The unity of a felt whole, for example, which is certainly an identity, will as certainly not be qualitative, nor will there be qualitative sameness ever between what is felt and then later perceived. But, as we saw, the whole question is in part one of words, ‘quality’ being a term which is ambiguous. In its lowest meaning it applies to anything that in any sense qualifies and makes anything to be somewhat. It therefore will cover everything except the Universe taken as such. And of course to ask if in this sense relations generally, or again space or time or quantity, are or are not qualities, would be absurd. The question begins to have an interest however when we consider any attempt to set up some form of finite existence, or existence itself, as real in distinction from character in its widest sense, or an attempt in other words to discover a finite something which from some side of its being is not a ‘somewhat.’ And since in any something the distinction of ‘that’ from ‘what’ is not absolute but only relative, such a pursuit is in the end illusory. All appearance in the end is but content and character which qualifies the Absolute, and it is in the end the Absolute alone to which the term quality cannot be applied. Here first we find a reality which is beyond a mere ‘what’; but neither here nor anywhere can we find a reality which is merely ‘that.’ To make reality these two aspects must be united inseparably, and indeed their separation is appearance itself. So that if the question ‘Is all identity qualitative’ means ‘Is every sameness that of qualities proper,’ we must answer it in the negative. But in any other sense our answer to the question must be affirmative. For we must repel the suggestion of a sameness which is not that of content and which consists in an identity of mere existence.
From this I pass to a kindred question, Is all identity ideal? It is so always, we must reply, in this sense that it involves the self-transcendence of that which is identical. Where there is no diversity there is no identity at all, the identity in abstraction from the diversity having lost its character. But, on the other hand, where the diversity is not of itself the same, but is only taken so or made so from the outside, once more identity has vanished. Sameness, in short, cannot be external merely; but this means that the character and being of the diverse is carried beyond and is beyond itself, and is the character of what is so beyond—and this is ideality. Thus the unity of any felt whole in this sense is ideal, and the same is true emphatically of the identity in any spatial or temporal continuum. The parts there exist only so far as they are relative, determined from the outside, and themselves on the other hand passing each beyond itself and determining the character of the whole. And within each part again the parts are in the same way ideal. Nothing in fact can be more absurd than the common attempt to find the unity and continuity of the discrete in something outside the series. For if the discretes of themselves were not continuous, certainly nothing else could make them so. But if of themselves they are continuous, their continuity is ideal, and the same thing holds mutatis mutandis of every kind of identity.
II. All identity then is qualitative in the sense that it all must consist in content and character. There is no sameness of mere existence, for mere existence is a vicious abstraction. And everywhere identity is ideal and consists in the transcendence of its own being by that which is identical. And in its main principle and in its essence identity is everywhere one and the same, though it differs as it appears in and between different kinds of diversities. And on account of these diversities to deny the existence of a fundamental underlying principle appears to me to be irrational. But I would repeat that in my opinion the variety cannot be shown as internally developed from the principle, and even to attempt to set it out otherwise systematically is more than I can undertake. It may however perhaps assist the reader if I add some remarks on temporal, and spatial, and again on numerical identity, matters where there reigns, I venture to think, a good deal of prejudice.
There is a disposition on the ground of such facts as space and time to deny the existence of any one fundamental principle of identity. And this disposition is hard to combat since it usually fails to found itself upon any distinct principle. A tacit alternative may be assumed between ‘existence’ and ‘quality,’ and on this may rest the assertion that some sameness belongs to mere existence, and falls therefore under a wholly alien principle. But because not all identity is between qualities in one sense of that term, it does not follow that any identity can fail to be qualitative in a broader sense, and thus the whole alternative disappears. The question in short whether one can really have distinction without difference, or difference without diversity in character, does not seem to have been considered.
Now we have just seen that space and time exemplify in their characters the one principle of identity, since all their parts are self-transcendent and are only themselves by making a whole. And I will once more point out that, apart from distinctions which, I presume, we must call qualitative, space and time do not exist. In mere space or mere time there are no distinctions nor any possibility of finding them. Without up and down, right and left, incoming and outgoing, space and time disappear; and it seems to me that these distinctions must be called qualitative. And surely again time and space are real only in limited spaces and durations. But what is it which limits and so makes a space or a time, except that it ends here and not somewhere else, and what does that mean except that its quality goes to a certain point and then ceases by becoming another quality? There is absolutely no meaning in “one time” unless it is the time of one somewhat, and any time that is the time of one somewhat is so far present and is one time. And, if so, space and time are not alien from quality; and we have seen that their unity and identity is everywhere ideal.
I may be told, doubtless, that this is irrelevant, and I cannot say that it is not so, and I will pass rapidly to another point. I think it likely that the alleged chasm between quality and space and time may rest on the supposed absolute exclusivity of the two latter. If two things are the same or different by belonging to the same or different spaces or times, these samenesses and differences, it will be said, are something quite apart and unique. They are not attributable to a ‘what,’ but merely to ‘existence.’ In meeting this objection I will permit myself to repeat some of the substance of Chapter xix.
Certainly the diversity of space, and again of time, has a character of its own. Certainly this character, though as we have seen it is nothing when bare, on the other hand is not merely the same with other characters and cannot be resolved into them. All this is true, but it hardly shows that the character of space or time is not a character, or that this character is not an instance of the one principle of identity in difference. And hence it is, I presume, the exclusiveness of space and time on which stress is to be laid. Now utterly exclusive the parts of space and time are admitted not to be, for, ex hyp., they admit other characters and serve to differentiate them, and again one space or one time is taken to be the real identity of the other characters which it includes. Nor again can space and time be taken truly as barely external to the other qualities which they further qualify. They may remain so relatively and for our knowledge, just as in a qualitative whole the connection of qualities may remain relatively external. But a merely external qualification, we have seen, is but appearance and in the end is not rational or real (See Notes A and B).
The exclusiveness of a space or a time is to hold then, I presume, only against other times and spaces, and it is only as viewed in this one way that it is taken as absolute. Each part of space or time as against any other part is a repellent unit, and this its unity, and internal identity, is taken to lie merely in its ‘existence.’ But apparently here it is forgotten that the exclusiveness depends on the whole. It is only because it is in ‘this’ series that the ‘this’ is unique, and, if so, the ‘this,’ as we have seen, is not merely exclusive but has a self-transcendent character. So that, if there were really but one series of space or of time, and if in this way uniqueness were absolute, I cannot perceive how that could found an objection against identity. For inside the series, even if unique, there is a unity and identity which is ideal, and outside the series, if unique, there would be no exclusiveness in space or time, but simply in quality. And all this again is but hypothetical, since in space or time it is not true that there is really but one series, and any such idea is a superstition which I venture to think is refuted in this work. There are many series in time and space, and the unity of all these is not temporal and spatial. And from this it follows that, so far as we know, there might be counterparts, one or more, of anything existing in space or in time, and that, considered spatially or temporally, there would be between these different things absolutely no difference at all nor any possibility of distinction. They would differ of course, and their respective series would differ, but that difference would not consist in space or time but merely in quality. And with this I will end what I have to say here on the chimæra of a difference in mere ‘existence.’
And obviously, as it seems to me, the objector to identity advances nothing new, when he brings forward the continuity of a thing in space or in time. The idea I presume is, as before, that in space or time we have a form of identity in difference which is in no sense an identity of character, but consists merely of ‘existence,’ and that a thing is qualified by being placed externally in this form. But the mere external qualification by the form, and the ‘existence’ of a form or of anything else which is not character, we have seen are alike indefensible; and, when the principle is refuted, it would seem useless to insist further on detail. Hence, leaving this, I will go on to consider a subsidiary mistake.
For the identity in time of an existing thing (as in this work I have mentioned) you require both temporal continuity and again sameness in the thing’s proper character. And mutatis mutandis what is true here about temporal continuity is true also about spatial, and not to perceive this would be an error. Now whether a wholly unbroken continuity in time or space is requisite for the singleness of a thing, is a question I here pass by; but some unbroken duration obviously is wanted if there is to be duration at all. And the maintenance of its character by the thing seems to me also to be essential. The character of course may change, but this change must fall outside of that which we take to be the thing’s essential quality. For otherwise ipso facto we have a breach in continuity. And, though this matter may seem self-evident, I have noticed with regard to it what strikes me as at least a want of clearness.
What, let us ask, is a breach in the continuous existence of a thing? It does not lie in mere ‘existence,’ for that is nothing at all; and it cannot again be spatial or temporal merely, for a breach there is impossible. A time, for instance, if really broken, would not be a broken time, but would have become two series with no temporal relation, and therefore with no breach. A breach therefore is but relative, and it involves an unbroken whole in which it takes place. For a temporal breach, that is, you must have first one continuous duration. Now this duration cannot consist, we have seen, of bare time, but is one duration because it is characterized throughout by one content—let us call it A. Then within this you must have also another content—let us call it b; only b is not to qualify the whole of A, but merely a part or rather parts of it. The residue of A, qualified not by b but by some other character which is negative of b, is that part of duration which in respect of b can constitute a breach. And the point which I would emphasize is this, that apart from qualification by one and the same character b, and again partial qualification by another character hostile to b, there is simply no sense or meaning in speaking of the duration of b, rather than that of something else, or in speaking of a temporal end to or of a breach in b’s existence. The duration of a thing, unless the thing’s quality is throughout identical, is really nonsense.
I do not know how much of the above may to the reader seem irrelevant and useless. I am doing my best to help him to meet objections to the fundamental sameness of all identity. These objections, to repeat, seem to me to rest on the superstition that, because there are diverse identities, these cannot have one underlying character, and the superstition again that there is a foreign existence outside character and with a chasm between the two. Such crude familiar divisions of common sense are surely in philosophy mere superstitions. And I would gladly argue against something better if I knew where to find it.
But, despite my fear of irrelevancy, I will add some words on ‘numerical’ identity and difference. I venture to think this in one way a very difficult matter. I do not mean that it is difficult in principle, and that its difficulty tends to drive one to the sameness and difference of mere ‘existence,’ or to distinction without difference, or to any other chimæra. If indeed we could assume blindly, as is often assumed, that the character of numerical sameness is at bottom temporal or spatial, there would be little to say beyond what has been said already.
Numerical distinction is not distinction without difference, for that once more is senseless, but it may be called distinction that abstracts from and disregards any special difference. It may be called the residual aspect of distinctness without regard for its ‘what’ and ‘how.’ Whether the underlying difference is temporal, spatial, or something else, is wholly ignored so long as it distinguishes. And, wherever I can so distinguish, I can as a matter of fact count, and am possessed of units. Units proper doubtless do not exist apart from the experience of quantity, and I do not mean to say that apart from quantity no distinction is possible, or again that quantity could be developed rationally from anything more simple than itself. And I have emphasized the words ‘as a matter of fact’ in order to leave these questions on one side, since they can be neglected provisionally. Numerical sameness, in the same way, is the persistence of any such bare distinction through diverse contexts, no matter what these contexts are. And of course it follows that, so long as and so far as sameness and difference are merely numerical, they are not spatial or temporal, nor again in any restricted sense are they qualitative.
But then ensues a problem which to me, rightly or wrongly, seems an extremely hard one. In fact my difficulty with regard to it has led me to avoid talking about numerical sameness. I have preferred rather to appear as one of those persons (I do not think that we can be many) who are not aware of or who at least practically cannot apply this familiar distinction. And my difficulty is briefly this. Without difference in character there can be no distinction, and the opposite would seem to be nonsense. But then what in the end is that difference of character which is sufficient to constitute numerical distinction? I do not mean by this, What in the end is the relation of difference to distinction? But, setting that general question here on one side, I ask, In order for distinction to exist, what kind or kinds of diversity in character must be presupposed? Or again we may put what is more or less the same question thus, What and of what sort is the minimum of diversity required for numerical difference and sameness, these being taken in the widest sense? And to this question I cannot return a satisfactory answer.
It is easy of course to reply that all distinction is at bottom temporal, or again that all is spatial, or again perhaps that all is both. And I am very far from suggesting that such views are irrational and indefensible. As long as they do not make a vicious abstraction of space and time from quality, or attempt to set up space and time as forms of ‘existence’ and not of character, there is nothing irrational in such views. But whether they are right or wrong, in either case to me they are useless, while they remain assertions which take no account of my difficulties. And the main difficulty to me is this. In feeling I find as a fact wholes of diversity in unity, and about some of these wholes I can discover nothing temporal or spatial. In this I may doubtless be wrong, but to me this is how the facts come. And I ask why it is impossible that a form or forms of non-temporal and non-spatial identity in difference should serve as the basis of, and should underlie, some distinction. It may be replied that without at least succession in time one would never get to have distinction at all. Yet if in fact this is so—and I do not contest it—I still doubt the conclusion. I am not sure that it follows, because without succession comes no distinction, that all distinction, when you have got it, must be in its character successive. The fact of non-temporal and non-spatial diversity in unity seems at least to exist. The distinctions which I can base on this diversity have, to me at least, in some cases no discoverable character of time or space. And the question is whether the temporal (or, if you will, the spatial) form, which we will take as necessary for distinction in its origin, must essentially qualify it. Is it not possible that, however first got, the form of distinction may become at least in some cases able to exist through and be based on a simpler and non-temporal scheme of diversity in unity? This strikes me as a difficult issue, and I do not pretend here to decide it, and I think it calls for a more careful enquiry than many persons seem inclined to bestow on it. And this is all that I think it well to say on numerical identity.
But on the main question, to return to that, I do not end in doubt. There are various forms of identity in diversity, not logically derivable from one another, and yet all instances and developments of one underlying principle. The idea that mere ‘existence’ could be anything, or could make anything the same or different, seems a sheer superstition. All is not quality in the special sense of quality, but all is quality in the sense of content and character. The search for a ‘that’ other than a ‘what’ is the pursuit of a phantasm which recedes the more the more you approach it. But even this phantasm is the illusory show of a truth. For in the Absolute there is no ‘what’ divorced from and re-seeking its ‘that,’ but both these aspects are inseparable.
III. I think it right to add here some remarks on Resemblance, though on this point I have little or nothing new to say. Resemblance or Similarity or Likeness, in the strict sense of the term, I take to be the perception of the more or less unspecified identity (sameness) of two distinct things. It differs from identity in its lowest form—the identity, that is, where things are taken as the same without specific awareness of the point of sameness and distinction of that from the diversity—because it implies the distinct consciousness that the two things are two and different. It differs again from identity in a more explicit form, because it is of the essence of Resemblance that the point or points of sameness should remain at least partly undistinguished and unspecified. And further there is a special feeling which belongs to and helps to constitute the experience of similarity, a feeling which does not belong to the experience of sameness proper. On the other hand resemblance is based always on partial sameness; and without this partial sameness, which in its own undistinguishing way it perceives, there is no experience of resemblance, and without this to speak of resemblance is meaningless. And it is because of this partial identity, which is the condition of our experiencing resemblance and which resemblance asserts, that we are able within certain limits to use ‘same’ for ‘like,’ and to use ‘like’ for ‘same.’ But the specific feeling of resemblance is not itself the partial identity which it involves, and partial identity need not imply likeness proper at all. But without partial identity, both as its condition and as its assertion, similarity is nothing.
From a logical point of view, therefore, resemblance is secondary, but this does not mean that its specific experience can be resolved into identity or explained by it. And it does not mean that, when by analysis you specify the point of sameness in a resemblance, the resemblance must vanish. Things are not made so simply as this. So far as you have analyzed, so far the resemblance (proper) is gone, and is succeeded so far by a perception of identity—but only so far. By the side of this new perception, and so far as that does not extend, the same experience of resemblance may still remain. And from this to argue that resemblance is not based on sameness is to my mind the strangest want of understanding. And again it is indifferent whether the experience of identity or that of resemblance is prior in time and psychologically. I am myself clear that identity in its lowest sense comes first; but the whole question is for our present purpose irrelevant. The question here is whether resemblance is or is not from a logical point of view secondary, whether it is not always based on identity, while identity need not in any sense be based on it.
I will now proceed to consider some objections that seem raised against this view, and will then go on to ask, supposing we deny it, in what position we are left. The first part of this task I shall treat very briefly for two reasons. Some of the objections I must regard as disposed of, and others remain to me obscure. The metaphysical objection against the possibility of any identity in quality may, I think, be left to itself; and I will pass to two others which seem to rest on misunderstanding. We are told, ‘You cannot say that two things, which are like, are the same, unless in each you are prepared to produce and to exhibit the point of sameness.’ I have answered this objection already, and will merely here repeat the main point. I want to know whether it is denied that, before analysis takes place, there can be any diverse aspects of things, and whether it is asserted that analysis always makes what it brings out, or whether again (for some reason not given) one must so believe in the power of analysis as to hold that what it cannot bring out naked is therefore nothing at all, or whether again, for some unstated reason, one is to accept this not as a general principle, but only where sameness is concerned. When I know what I have to meet I will endeavour to meet it, but otherwise I am helpless. And another objection, which I will now notice, remains also unexplained. The perception of a series of degrees, it seems to be contended, is a fact which proves that there may be resemblance without a basis of identity. I have tried to meet this argument in various forms, so far as I have been able to understand them, and I will add here that I have pressed in vain for any explanation on the cardinal point. Can you, I would repeat, have a series of degrees which are degrees of nothing, and otherwise have you not admitted an underlying identity? And if I am asked, Cannot there be degrees in resemblance? I answer that of course there can be. But, if so, and in this case, the resemblance itself is the point of identity of and in which there are degrees, and how that is to show either that there is no identity at all, or again that no identity underlies the resemblance, I cannot conjecture. I admit, or rather I urge and insist, that the perception of a series is a point as difficult as in psychology it is both important and too often neglected. But on the other side I insist that by denying identity you preclude all possibility of explaining this fact, and have begun by turning the fact into inexplicable nonsense. And no one, I would add, can fairly be expected to answer an objection the meaning of which is not stated.
Passing from this point let us ask what is the alternative to identity. If we deny sameness in character and assert mere resemblance, with what are we left? We are left, it seems to me, in confusion, and end with sheer nonsense. How mere resemblance without identity is to qualify the terms that resemble, is a problem which is not faced, and yet unsolved it threatens ruin. The use of this mere resemblance leads us in psychology to entertain gross and useless fictions, and in logic it entails immediate and irretrievable bankruptcy. If the same in character does not mean the same, our inferences are destroyed and cut in sunder, and in brief the world of our knowledge is dissolved.
And how is this bankruptcy veiled? How is it that those who deny sameness in character can in logic, and wherever they find it convenient, speak of terms as ‘the same,’ and mention ‘their identity,’ and talk of ‘one note’ and ‘one colour’? The expedient used is the idea or the phrase of ‘exact likeness’ or ‘precise similarity.’ When resemblance is carried to such a point that perceptible difference ceases, then, I understand, you have not really got sameness or identity, but you can speak as if you had got it. And in this way the collision with language and logic is avoided or rather hidden.
What in principle is the objection to this use of ‘exact likeness’? The objection is that resemblance, if and so far as you make it ‘exact’ by removing all internal difference, has so far ceased to be mere resemblance, and has become identity. Resemblance, we saw, demands two things that resemble, and it demands also that the exact point of resemblance shall not be distinguished. This is essential to resemblance as contra-distinguished against identity, and this is why—because you do not know what the point of resemblance is and whether it may not be complex—you cannot in logic use mere resemblance as sameness. You can indeed, we also saw, while analyzing still retain your perception of resemblance, but, so far as you analyze, you so far have got something else, and, when you argue, it is not the resemblance which you use but the point of resemblance, if at least your argument is logical. But a point of resemblance is clearly an identity. And it is, we saw, the double sense of the word ‘likeness,’ which seems to authorize this use of likeness for sameness. Likeness may mean my specific experience of resemblance—and that of course itself is not identity—or it may mean the real partial sameness in character of two things whether to me they resemble or not. Thus ‘exact likeness’ can be used for the identical character which makes the point of likeness, and it need not mean the mere likeness which can be opposed to identity. And where exact likeness does not mean the identical character, bankruptcy at once is patent.
We are warned, “You must not say that two notes are the same note, or that two peas have the same colour, for that is to prove yourself incompetent to draw an elementary distinction; or rather you may say this with us, if with us you are clear that you do not mean it, but mean with us mere resemblance.” And when we ask, Are the notes and colours then really different? we hear that ‘the likeness is exact.’ But with this I myself am not able to be satisfied. I want to know whether within the character of the sounds and within the character of the colours there is asserted any difference or none. And here, as I understand it, the ways divide. If you mean to deny identity, your one consistent course is surely to reply, “Of course there is a difference. I know what words mean, and when I said that it was not the same but only alike, I meant to assert an internal diversity, though I do not know exactly what that is. Plainly for me to have said in one breath, The character has no difference and yet it is not the same character, would have been suicidal.” And this position, I admit, is so far self-consistent; but it ends on all sides in intellectual ruin. But the other way, so far as I understand it, is to admit and to assert that in exact likeness there is really no difference, to admit and to assert that it involves a point of resemblance in which internally no diversity is taken to exist, and which we use logically on the understanding that divergence of character is excluded—and then, on the other side, to insist that here we still have no sameness but only likeness. And with this, so far as I can see, there is an end of argument. I can myself understand such an attitude only as the result of an unconscious determination to deny a doctrine from fear of its consequences.
But if we are to look at consequences—and I am ready to look at them—why should we be blind on one side? To avoid confusion between what may be called individual sameness and mere identity of character, we should of course all agree, is most desirable. But the idea that you will avoid a mistake by making an error, that you will prevent a confusion between different kinds of identity by altogether denying one kind, seems to me to be irrational. The identity that you deny will in practice come back always. It may return in a form genuine but disguised, obscured and distorted by the deceptive title of exact likeness. But on the other hand it may steal in as an illusive and disastrous error. And we need not seek far to find an instructive illustration of this. J. S. Mill may be called, I presume, the leader of those who amongst us deny identity of quality, and J. S. Mill on the other hand taught Association by Similarity. At least we must say this until it has been proved here—as elsewhere with regard to the argument from particulars—that we who criticise Mill know no more of his real meaning than in fact Mill himself did. And Association by Similarity, as taught by Mill and his school, entails (as I have proved in my Principles of Logic) and really asserts the coarsest mythology of individual Resurrection. And I do not think that the history of philosophy can exhibit a grosser case of this very confusion against which we who believe in identity are so specially warned. Yes, you may try to drive out nature, and nature (as the saying goes) will always come back, but it will not always come back as nature. And you may strive to banish identity of character, and identity always will return, and it will not always return in a tolerable form. The cardinal importance of the subject must be my excuse for the great length of this Note, and for my once more taking up a controversy which gives me no pleasure, but which I feel I have no right to decline.
- Cf. p. 616 (the Note on p. 313).
- The union of aspects in each diverse aspect is, I admit, unintelligible for us in the end. But we are bound to hold that these aspects are really inseparable, and we are bound to deny that their union is external, for that is a standing contradiction.
- I may refer on these points not only to this present work, but also to my Principles of Logic, pp. 50-55.
- See Chapter xviii, and cf. Mind, N.S., No. 14. On the subject of uniqueness I would refer also to my Principles of Logic, Book I, Chap. ii.
- This holds again of my ‘real’ series in space or time. The foundation and differential character of that series lies, so far as I can see, in my special personal feeling, which, I presume, is qualitative. And I repeat here that, so far as we can know, there might be one or more exact duplicates of myself which would of course differ, but the differences of which would lie in some character falling outside what is observed by us.
- See p. 313 and the Note.
- The question, Has all distinction a temporal or spatial character? does not mean here, Have the only distinctions we can make, or the earliest distinctions we come to make, such a character in themselves for us and as distinct? This question I should answer without hesitation in the negative. The question as to which I am in doubt concerns not directly the object to which we attend, but the psychical machinery of distinction which we do not notice, but which I at least assume must be there and must in some sense qualify the object. There are some remarks on space as the one ground of distinction in Mind, N.S. No. 14, pp. 232-3. The case for space is, so far as I understand it, anything but strong.
- See Note B.
- See p. 348 and the Note thereto.
- I observe that Mr. Hobhouse appears (p. 109) to endorse this objection, but he makes no attempt, so far as I see, to explain or justify it. And as he also appears not to be prepared to deny that sameness always underlies resemblance, his position here and in some other points is to me quite obscure.
- p. 348 and Note.
- Whether Mr. Hobhouse is to be taken again as endorsing this objection I am quite unable to say. The argument, on p. 112 of his book, I to my regret have not been able to follow, and it would be unprofitable to criticise it in a sense which it probably may not bear. But I have been able to find nothing that looks like an attempt to deal with the real issue involved here. Can you have degrees which are degrees of nothing, and can you have a resemblance where there is no point of resemblance? The apparent contention that because relations of quantity and degree do not consist in bare identity, they therefore must consist in mere resemblance without any identity, I cannot comprehend. Why are we forced to accept either? But I must not attempt to criticise where I have failed to understand.
- The position of Mr. Hobhouse here, who appears on the one hand to deny all identity of quality or character, and yet on the other hand appears not to be willing to assert that resemblance without a basis of identity is possible, I may repeat does not seem intelligible.
- I may perhaps be allowed to illustrate the above by an imaginary dialogue. “Is that piece of work the same?” “Well, it’s exactly like.” “You’re sure?” “Oh yes, it’s identical, it’s a fac-simile.” “H’m, it looks exactly like, but, as I’ve examined the other, I’d rather take that, though I dare say there’s really no difference.” The “looking exactly like,” the producing the same impression, implies of course a real identity in the two things, but as I do not know what that is, I do not know if it is what I want. It is this ambiguity of ‘likeness’ which gave its plausibility to J. S. Mill’s doctrine of reasoning from particular to particular, and it is this again which has enabled Mr. Hobhouse (pp. 280-5) to represent that Mill’s doctrine, once held to be original and revolutionary, consists really in the view that you never do proceed direct from particular to particular, but always through a universal. The task that still awaits Mr. Hobhouse is the proof that, when Mill talked of Association by Similarity, he always meant nothing whatever but Redintegration through identity. But I am not persuaded after all that Mill must have been a prophet because he has at last found a disciple to build his sepulchre.