time it is admitted that we can not understand how experience can transcend itself. But experience has got to do so somehow, it is argued, or else knowledge is impossible.
In all this, a philosophical doctrine is seen to meet resistance from something that is not logical thought. The problem of the transcendent object can hardly get a hearing on its own merits. It is met by thoroughly realistic prejudices, which seem to be planted deep down in our nature. This attitude of resistance to certain perfectly logical points of view is something deeper than the sentimental antipathies to a criticism of cherished ideas. It expresses that law of experience which a psychologist is trying to make out when he seeks to discover why we believe in an outer world. Certain it is that there is a law of our experience which makes the outer world, whatever we may say about it, or whatever logical dilemmas we may get into on account of it, always an equally real fact as a constant character of experience.
It would be interesting if cases of experience could be observed in which the outer world should lose its reality-feeling, in which the subject would hesitate to say whether the outer world were really experienced or only fancied and dreamed. If such cases could be observed, and their phenomena connected with physiological disturbances, we might see our way clear to speak with great confidence of a natural view of the world, determined by organic conditions and expressing the natural adjustment of the organism to its conditions of life.
Pathological cases of this type have in fact been observed. I am obliged to quote at second hand. Dilthey writes as follows: “There is in dreams a shading of the liveliness of the sense of reality. This occurs in the experience of every one, and by it dream-images can come very close to reality. For a long time I took a memory-image for the image of an actual event, until I was able to prove that it was the recollection of a dream-image. From Krishaber we have the following description, given by an educated patient, of his condition which lasted a considerable time. The account is from Krishaber’s observations of a certain class of neuropathic conditions of which profound sense-disturbances were especially characteristic: ‘The impression of being in a dream was the most trying to me of all. A hundred times I touched objects about me, I spoke out loud in order to bring back the reality of the outer world and my own identity. But the touching of objects did not correct my impression.’ Another case of this type was observed
- Krishaber, ‘De la Nervopathie cerebro-cardiaque.’
- Observations by Krishaber cited by Dilthey in Sitzungsberichte der K. P. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin for 1890, Vol. 2, p. 1004.