Page:Appearance and Reality (1916).djvu/293

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

in a modified sense. Is there any Nature not experienced by a finite subject? Can we suppose in the Absolute a margin of physical qualities, which, so to speak, do not pass through some finite percipient? Of course, if this is so, we cannot perceive them. But the question is whether, notwithstanding, we may, or even must, suppose that such a margin exists, (a) Is a physical fact, which is not for some finite sentient being, a thing which is possible? And (b), in the next place, have we sufficient ground to take it also as real?

(a) In defence, first, of its possibility there is something to be said. “Admitted,” we shall be told, “that relation to a finite soul is the condition under which Nature appears to us, it does not follow that this condition is indispensable. To assert that those very qualities, which we meet under certain conditions, can exist apart from them, is perhaps going too far. But, on the other side, some qualities of the sort we call sensible might not require (so to speak) to be developed on or filtered through a particular soul. These qualities in the end, like all the rest, would certainly, as such, be absorbed in the Absolute; but they (so to speak) might find their way to this end by themselves, and might not require the mediation of a finite sentience.” But this defence, it seems to me, is insufficient. We can think, in a manner, of sensible quality apart from a soul, but the doubt is whether such a manner is really legitimate. The question is, when we have abstracted from finite centres of feeling, whether we have not removed all meaning from sensible quality And again, if we admit that in the Absolute there may be matter not contained in finite experience, can we go on to make this matter a part of Nature, and call it physical? These two questions appear to be vitally distinct.

A margin of experience, not the experience of any finite centre, we shall find (Chapter xxvii.) can-