I regard it then as no betrayal of the ‘plain man’ to say that for him the transcendent object is an object of experience. But this does not mean that there need be anywhere in the universe a metaphysically transcendent object. For the spontaneous unreflective consciousness, the independent object has not been denuded of the transcendence-character. One has become highly sophisticated before one calls a tree or a house a construct of consciousness. From the naïve point of view, there is, of course, consciousness, but that is all in one’s head, if one must locate it. That tree, however, is not consciousness, or a phenomenon of consciousness. It is a tree, and trees are ‘known’ to be something quite different from consciousness.
The critical onlooker says, to be sure, that the tree and the house are independent objects, but that this character is no ground for describing them as transcendent as well. The critical onlooker is, however, outside of the situation, and his observations do not, as such, alter the experience which he criticizes.
The only writer who, to my knowledge, has been clear and specific as well as just on this point is Uphues. Uphues does not distinguish the independence from the transcendence-character in so many words, but he implies the distinction. Accordingly, in the quotation from him which I shall give, ‘das Transcendente’ is to be understood in the above undifferentiated sense of independent object still unreflectively apperceived as transcendent.
“Die Natur,” says Uphues, “ist das Jenseits des Bewusstseins, der Gegensatz desselben, und in diesem Sinne bezeichnen wir sie als das Transcendente.” A little farther on, he continues: “It depends upon the constitution (Einrichtung) of consciousness, that in sensations, and in ideas and thoughts built up upon them, we do present to ourselves something wholly different from consciousness. . . . The direction of consciousness upon the transcendent object is originally the only one that can be observed. The child makes no reflections upon consciousness and its processes. The world perceived by the senses is the only object with which it is at all concerned. This direction of consciousness upon the transcendent object is in later years, if not the only one, at least the prevailing one. Very many remain on the child’s level; reflections about the processes of consciousness play in their lives no role whatever, and even for the others, such reflections are an achievement laboriously brought about, interrupting at times the practical business of life with the outer world. More important it is that when we make judgments about the transcendent object, we do not proceed in an
- ‘Psychologie des Erkennens,’ Leipzig, 1893.
- Uphues, l. c., p. 66.