Page:Appearance and Reality (1916).djvu/87

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assumption may be practically defensible, since the rest of existence may, on sufficient ground, be taken as irrelevant. We can therefore treat this whole mass as if it were inactive. Yes, but that is one thing, and it is quite another thing to assert that really this mass does nothing. Certainly there is no logic which can warrant such a misuse of abstraction. The background of the whole world can be eliminated by no sound process, and the furthest conclusion which can be logical is that we need not consider it practically. As in a number of diverse cases it seems to add nothing special, we may for each purpose consider that it adds nothing at all. But to give out this working doctrine as theoretically true is quite illegitimate.

The immediate result of this is that the true “sum of conditions” must completely include all the contents of the world at a given time. And here we run against a theoretical obstacle. The nature of these contents seems such as to be essentially incomplete, and so the “sum” to be nothing attainable. This appears fatal so far, and, having stated it, I pass on. Suppose that you have got a complete sum of the facts at one moment, are you any nearer a result? This entire mass will be the “sum of conditions,” and the cause of each following event. For there is no process which will warrant your taking the cause as less. Here there is at once another theoretical trouble, for the same cause produces a number of different effects; and how will you deal with that consequence? But, leaving this, we are practically in an equal dilemma. For the cause, taken so widely, is the cause of everything alike, and hence it can tell us nothing about anything special; and, taken less widely, it is not the sum, and therefore not the cause. And by this time it is obvious that our doctrine must be given up. If we want to discover a particular cause (and nothing else is a discovery), we must make a dis-