Time and Space: A Metaphysical Essay

Time and Space: A Metaphysical Essay

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Time and Space: A Metaphysical Essay

Time and Space: A Metaphysical Essay

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Excerpt

The writer of the following pages submits them, not without a sense of their imperfection, to the judgment of his contemporaries. The questions treated of labour under one kind of difficulty peculiarly their own. It is not every reader who will be prepared to admit, that, in one part of metaphysical enquiries, the proof to be required differs in its nature from the proof to be required in the purely objective sciences. But that it is so follows from the nature of the matter, at once subjective and objective. In the purely objective sciences a writer need have no doubt about his facts; he can protect himself by definitions and by distinctions, and can always make clear what the precise object is, about which he reasons. For instance, in Political Economy, he can obviate ambiguities in his object-matter by defining Wealth to mean "every commodity which has an exchangeable value;" and, consequent on this definition, he can define Productive Labour to mean labour which produces such commodities; for every one is agree that there are such commodities and such labour. But where this has not been done, but is still in process of doing, there every man must be judge for himself, whether his own internal experience bears out the assertions of the writer. For the facts of metaphysic, like those of every purely objective science, are facts of consciousness, and their obscurity and the difficulty of observing them make their interpretation, or their analysis, doubtful. The very questions at issue are, What are the facts? What is their analysis?--and Is there any phenomenon answering to a given definition?--of which there is no judge but consciousness itself. Such questions, for instance, are the analysis of the cognitions of time and space, the analysis of consciousness in its simplest concrete shape, the question whether we are immediately conscious of the Will, and so on. If the meaning of the term red was not sufficiently agreed upon, we should have to appeal to the consciousness of individuals to decide what colour should be distinguished by this name; and those who were colour- blind would be heard before the decision was arrived at, but not afterwards.

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