An Introduction to Bradley's Metaphysics

By W. J. Mander | Go to book overview

3
Subject and Predicate

IN the previous chapter we saw that thought, in aiming at truth or ultimate satisfaction, was, for Bradley, in fact aiming at an identity with reality. But, now that we have examined the fundamental nature of reality, it becomes harder than ever to see how this strange goal could be achieved. It was Bradley's view that, at the level of fundamental reality, diverse elements are at the same time identical. Yet how could our thoughts ever represent, let alone identify themselves with, such a situation? How, when we think of diversities, can we also think of them as identities? Bradley considers one possible answer:

The remedy might lie here. If the diversities were complementary aspects of a process of connexion and distinction, the process not being external to the elements or again a foreign compulsion of the intellect, but itself the intellect's own proprius motus, the case would be altered. Each aspect would of itself be a transition to the other aspect, a transition intrinsic and natural at once to itself and to the intellect. And the Whole would be a self-evident analysis and synthesis of the intellect itself by itself. . . . And if all that we find were in the end such a self-evident and self-complete whole, containing in itself as constituent processes the detail of the Universe, so far I see the intellect would receive satisfaction in full. ( AR507)

The suggestion under consideration here is in fact Hegel's view of the nature of thought,1 and, although Bradley agrees that this would indeed provide an answer to the puzzle of how our thoughts could ever become identical with reality, he regrets that he is 'unable to verify a solution of this kind' ( AR507). The problem is that he is unable to accept that this idealized picture constitutes an accurate model of our actual thought. But not only does Bradley think that the nature of thought is quite unlike Hegel's model; he also considers it to be too unlike reality for thought and reality ever to be simply identified in the kind of way this model allows. Thus, as we saw in the last chapter, he finds himself obliged to

____________________
1
See Hegel ( 1977). That it is Hegel he has in mind here is also supported by the footnote reference to McTaggart's Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic.

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