Page:Avenarius and the Standpoint of Pure Experience.djvu/33

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arbitrary way, but follow the laws which are laid down by our own nature.”[1]

This direction of consciousness upon the ‘transcendent’ object is certainly one of the most fundamental characteristics of human experience. It is the original distinction between subject and object which Professor Seth finds so inconsistent with an idealistic theory of knowledge. Uphues repeatedly observes, however, that to describe an act of perception as characterized by the presence of an (apparently) transcendent object is to say nothing whatever about the transcendent existence of such an object.

This should suffice to make clear in what sense the transcendent object can be an object of experience. Why it is that the independent object should be characterized as transcendent as well is a phychological question. But the fact that the independent object is so characterized is the point to observe.


Of all our independent objects the one that is most stubbornly and defiantly transcendent is our fellow. It is just the transcendent side of him which seems to give purpose and value to actual concrete life, and which gives him the peculiar position of fellow. Whether he is really a transcendent object, I do not inquire, but human experience has precisely the character which the transcendent reality of fellow beings would confer upon it,—that is, it is characterized as a social experience. It has a history of development by means of social relations, and a particular method of profiting and learning by these relations, which the psychology of imitation has done much to describe. But the describer of this social experience is in the same position as he who describes the act of peceiving a house or a tree. In neither case are we logically obliged to assume the transcendent object otherwise than as a character of experience, the experience in which the perception takes place.

Assuming the reality of my fellows, they form with myself something more nearly comparable to a colony of monads than to anything else, monads which have no windows through which we can get direct views into one another’s habitations, which may, therefore, conceivably have no inside, but may be like the painted architecture of the stage.

This is, of course, a solipsistic account of the matter, a solipsistic description of a social experience. And if any one urge that a social experience must needs involve at least two currents of personal experience, I think he has misunderstood. It is the same

  1. ‘Psychologie des Erkennens,’ p. 69.