Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/170

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beyond. Thus philosophy could reach the familiar maxim of Aristotle that the particular alone exists in nature and the general alone in the mind.

Such language expresses correctly enough a secondary conventional stage of conception, but it ignores the primary fictions on which convention itself must rest. Individual physical objects must be discovered before abstractions can be made from their conceived nature; the bird must be caught before it is plucked. To discover a physical object is to pack in the same part of space, and fuse in one complex body, primary data like coloured form and tangible surface. Intelligence, observing these sensible qualities to evolve together, and to be controlled at once by external forces, or by one’s own voluntary motions, identifies them in their operation although they remain for ever distinct in their sensible character. A physical object is accordingly conceived by fusing or interlacing spatial qualities, in a manner helpful to practical intelligence. It is a far higher and remoter thing than the elements it is compacted of and that suggest it; what habits of appearance and disappearance the latter may have, the object reduces to permanent and calculable principles. It is altogether erroneous, therefore, to view an object’s sensible qualities as abstractions from it, seeing they are its original and component elements; nor can the sensible qualities be viewed as generic notions arising by comparison of several concrete objects, seeing that