GOD THE UNCONDITIONED CAUSE,
GOD THE INFINITE AND PERFECT,
AS REVEALED IN CREATION.
REV. ASA MAHAN, D. D.,
AUTHOR OF "THE SCIENCE OF LOGIC," "A SYSTEM OF INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY,"
"DOCTRINE OF THE WILL," ETC.
"In the beginning, God."
Published By Henry Hoyt,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Michigan.
Retyped in May 1999
by Rick Friedrich
IN the judgment of the author of the following treatise, the time has now arrived when the questions at issue between Theism on the one hand, and the various forms of Antitheism on the other, may be permanently settled, and that upon scientific grounds. All these questions now, in reality, stand out before the world in visible dependence upon a single issue, the validity of the human Intelligence as a faculty of world-knowledge. Antitheism, in all its forms, has openly based itself upon the assumption, and this is its final stronghold, that all our world-knowledge, subjective and objective, is exclusively phenomenal, mere appearance, in which no reality of any kind appears; and that, consequently, "the reality existing behind all appearances is, and ever must be, unknown." The fact is also being "known and read of all men," that, this principle being admitted, all questions in regard to causation, proximate or ultimate, are undeniably at an end. "What can we reason but from what we know?" Equally manifest to all sober thinkers has the fact become, that if it be granted that we have a valid knowledge of "the things that are made," the proposition is undeniable that we have an equally valid knowledge of the being and perfections of a personal God, "the Creator of the heavens and the earth." "Reason," says the antitheistic philosophy, "demands an unknown substratum of the visible, and an unknown essence of the intelligent, and may thus be led to an unknown cause of both, wherein to find the cause and explanation of their marvelous relationship." Reason says the theistic philosophy, demands a known substratum of the visible, and a known essence of the intelligent, and a known cause of both, wherein to find the cause and explanation of their marvelous relationship; it being undeniably the perfection of absurdity to attempt to find "the cause and explanation" of relationships of the existence and character of which we affirm our ignorance to be absolute. "Whether, in the absolute nature of things," says Mr. Thompson, "the mind is wholly distinct from the world, or in any way related to it, is beyond the reach of man's intelligence." Is it not an infinite marvel, that any thinker should talk of finding in "an unknown cause," "the cause and explanation" of relationships, even the existence of which, as he himself affirms, "is beyond the reach of man's intelligence"? It is by the enunciation of such principles that leading theistic thinkers such as Messrs. Thompson and Mansell, have of late years been forging weapons for scepticism,--weapons which such writers as Messrs. Mill and Spencer are now using with terrible effect against religion. No deduction can be more self-evidently valid, and no deduction is being more generally recognized as absolutely logical, than this, that if it be granted that we have, and can have, no valid knowledge of nature, we can have no corresponding knowledge of the ultimate cause of the facts of nature. If, therefore, we would vindicate for religion "a reasonable service, and escape the just charge of knowingly "worshipping we know not what," we must assert and vindicate the validity of the human Intelligence, as a faculty of world-knowledge. This, we repeat, is the single issue on which the conflicting claims of Theism and Antitheism now visibly depend. Hence the pains which we have been at, in the following treatise, to assure, among other ends, a scientific settlement of this one issue. All, who have duly reflected upon the subject, are aware that when an appeal is made to the intuitive convictions of their Universal Intelligence, to the direct and immediate testimony of Consciousness, and to all criteria by which forms of knowledge that have absolute validity for the reality and character of their objects are to be distinguished from those which are void of all claims to such validity, the truth of the theistic philosophy becomes strictly demonstrative; and all this, while there is the equally manifest total absence of all forms of proof, positive evidence or antecedent probability, in favor of the opposite hypothesis. So distinctly conscious are antitheists of the truth of these statements, that they have abandoned all forms of argument upon the subject but one, the assumption that our world-conceptions and necessary ideas must be void of objective validity, for the affirmed reason that they are all self-contradictory and absurd. Hence the care with which we have scrutinized these affirmed contradictions, these "antinomies of pure reason." To the careful reader of the introduction, and the last two chapters of the following treatise, it will be rendered demonstratively evident that these conceptions and ideas, when taken as they actually exist in the mind, are utterly void of even the appearance of self-contradiction, no incompatible elements whatever, being found in them, and that these cognitions are made to appear self-contradictory wholly by means of totally false definitions and sophistical psychological procedures,--procedures utterly subversive of truth, and as utterly unworthy the dignity of science.
A fundamental aim of the author of this treatise has been not only to subvert utterly the antitheistic philosophy in all its actual and possible forms, and to verify for Theism an immovable foundation; but, also to bring out into distinct isolation the real theistic problem and syllogism in all its varied forms, so that the argument throughout may be seen to be, and to have been, conducted upon truly scientific principles. With these suggestions, the work is commended to the most rigid scrutiny of the friends of truth.
ADRIAN, MICH., July 27, 1867.
True and false methods of discussion. 11-13
Mystery and absurdity defined and elucidated. 13-15
Existence involves a mystery. 15-19
The existence of a power of knowledge involves a mystery equally profound. 19-20
Principles by which we are to determine our theory of existence, and answer the question, "What realities do in fact exist." 20-21
The idea which is to be represented by the term creation as employed in a system of natural theology. 21-23
Origin and genesis of the systems of Antitheism explained. 23-26
Formulas and test of valid knowledge. 26-27
Distinction between presentative and representative knowledge. 27-28
The formulas stated. 28-30
The formulas and test verified. 30-32
Bearing of these principles upon the conflicting systems under consideration. 32
Bearing of these deductions upon our present inquiries. 33-36
First truths and principles of science, and assumptions employed as such truths. 36-39
The fundamental distinction between true and false systems of knowledge or science. 39-40
Coleridge's attempted demonstration of the validity of the two assumptions above refuted. 48-55
The real nature, and true and proper sphere of knowledge a priori. 56-60
Error of Idealism on this subject. 60-62
General consequences of such an error in regard to the nature and sphere of Knowledge a priori. 62-63
The idea of God not self-contradictory. 63-67
Idea of God not negative, but positive. 67
The idea of matter and substance as a mere force. 67-70
Character of systems of Knowledge as developed by the German mind, and the conditions on which such systems can be refuted. 71-72
What we propose to accomplish in regard to the claims of Theism, on the one hand, and those of the various systems of Antitheism, on the other. 72-73.
A priori or Analytical Judgments, first truths or principles, in the science of Natural Theology. 74
Conditions on which we can legitimately reason from facts to causes. 74
Facts classified. 74-76
Characteristics of dogmatic facts. 76-78
Analytical Judgment or principle common to all facts of every kind, and to all hypotheses of ultimate causation. 78-79
Attributes necessarily implied in the idea of God, considered as the ultimate reason or first cause of the facts of the universe. 80-81
The grand problem in Natural Theology. 81
Fundamental characteristics of the true and proper solution of this problem. 81-83
The two hypotheses of ultimate causation which necessarily embrace and imply all others. 83-84
Some general remarks upon these distinct and opposite hypotheses. 84-89
Specific characteristics of the hypothesis of Natural Law. 89-95
The hypothesis of Theism. Its general characteristics and ultimate principles. 95-99
The Theistic Syllogism. First form. Second form. Third and all-comprehending form. 99-100
General remarks upon these Syllogisms. 100-101
Postulates of the science of Natural Theology. 101-102
Fundamental defects in the common methods of developing the theistic argument. 102-107
The Theistic Hypothesis established as a truth of science. Or, the minor premises of the Theistic Syllogism. 108
The present state of the question. 108-109
No evidence exists in favor of the doctrine of Natural Law. 109-110
The validity of the Hypothesis of Theism possible as a demonstrated truth of Science. 110
The least form or degree of evidence in favor of the Hypothesis of Theism, requires all men to receive it as true. 110
The Theistic Hypothesis affirmed as true by the intuitive conviction of the Universal Intelligence. 110-111
This conviction rests upon a basis which Science can never invalidate. 111-114
The Theistic Hypothesis to be held as true until invalidated by absolute proof. True state of the present issue. 114-115
The doctrine of the being of God established as a truth of Science in view of all the facts now known and which have a fundamental bearing upon the subject. 115
Facts of the universe bearing upon our present inquiries. 117
I. Creation, an event occurring in time, and not a reality existing from eternity. 117-124
The only possible hypothesis on which the Theistic deduction yielded by this great fact can be avoided. 124-127
Bearing of this great central fact of the universe. 127-128
II. Creation in its present form and state, the result of a series of independent creations. The development theory refuted. 129-136
III. Every species of animal and vegetable organization originally produced by original, independent acts of creation. 136-138
IV. All the leading species of animated existence must have been brought into being in such a state of maturity as from the first to be capable of self-sustentation. 138-139
V. The order of successive creations has been thought in the relation of wisely-adjusted adaptation. 139-140
General application of the facts above adduced. 140-147
VI. Matter and Spirit--their relations, etc. 148-157
VII. Facts of mind, or of an exclusively mental character. 158-166
VIII. Laws of nature--phrase defined. 166-173
IX. The progress of creation has been from one absolute ultimate to another of totally opposite character. 174-176
Facts applied. 176
I. The Unconditioned Cause not a fortuitous concurrence of the substances or powers of nature. 177-178
II. This cause no inhering law or principle of matter. 178-194
III. The Unconditioned no inhering law of nature. 194-197
IV. The Unconditioned no necessary cause of any kind. 197-199
V. The Unconditioned a free will. 199-203
VI. The Unconditioned a self-conscious Intelligence. 203-206
VII. Spirituality an attribute of the Unconditioned. 206-207
VIII. The Unconditioned a free, self-conscious Personality. 207-210
IX. The Unconditioned a moral agent. 210-211
X. The Unconditioned the moral governor of the universe. 211-212
General suggestions. 212
Bearing of the different sciences upon our deductions. 213-224
Reasons for the apparent opposition between some of the sciences and religion. 224-228
Method by which the idea of God is developed in the Scriptures. 228
Fundamental defect in the Theistic argument, as developed by Paley and others. 229-230
God the Infinite and Perfect. 231-252
The Disjunctive Argument ; or Realism as opposed to Materialism, on the one hand, and Idealism on the other. 253
Possible or supposable hypotheses. 255
Preliminary topics. Primary principles bearing upon our present inquiries. 255-257
The only conceivable systems of Ontology. 257-261
Tests to be applied, in determining which of these hypotheses is valid. 261-262
The true hypothesis ; or, Realism. 262
General characteristics of this hypothesis. 262-263
Validity of this theory established. 264-275
Materialism refuted. 276-279
General remarks upon Idealism in its various forms. 279-287
The common basis on which this hypothesis in all its forms rests. 287-288
Negative characteristics of all realities according to the essential principles of Idealism. 288-290
Idealism refuted. Violates its own essential principles. 290-293
Its method false and deceptive. 293-298
A system of partialism. 298-299
Confounds truth with error. 299-300
Subversive of morality and religion. 300-303
Void of all utility. 303-304
Limits mind. 304-306
Fails to meet the scientific wants of mind. 306-308
Bearing of this discussion on the Theistic problem. 308-309
The Disjunctive Argument completed ; or, Realism as contrasted with the Sceptical Philosophy. 310
The Sceptical Philosophy defined. 310-312
Religious bearings of Scepticism. 312-315
The assumption upon which the Sceptical Philosophy is based. 315-316
Fundamental characteristics of the Sceptical Philosophy. 316-318
The above statements verified. 318-324
Principle common to all forms of the sensational theory. 324-325
Necessary consequences of this system. 325
The external universe, which we contemplate as real, has no existence out of our own minds. 325-326
This universe has no existence at all, excepting when we are in the very act of perception. 326-327
The things which we invisage are not that in themselves for which we take them. 327-328
The universe of perception the exclusive product of the mind, itself, from the materials furnished, to wit, sensations. 328
It is absolutely impossible for us to determine what realities, proximate or ultimate, finite or infinite, do or do not exist. 328-332
According to the fundamental principles and deductions of this philosophy, an authenticated revelation from God, if we suppose him to exist, is an absolute impossibility. 332-334
This philosophy equally subversive of all the principles of common morality. 334-336
Bearing of the fundamental principles and necessary deductions of this philosophy upon the deductions of Scepticism. 336-337
These deductions of Scepticism verified as necessary consequences of the fundamental principles of this philosophy. 337-345
This philosophy in its fundamental principles false, while that of Realism is true. 345-356
The idea of a positive religion having its basis in the philosophy under consideration. 354-356
The bearing of this philosophy upon the being of God, considered as a probable truth. 356-358
The high merit often ascribed to Kant in his critique on the Theistic argument. 358-359
Mr. R. W. Emerson's avowed relations, as a professed teacher of truth, to what he announces as such. 359-360
Scepticism as a special form of thought. 361
Not wholly negative in its character. 361-363
Dogma of Scepticism not intuitively true. 363-364
Opposed to the absolute testimony of Consciousness. 364
Opposed to the intuitive convictions of the race. 364-365
Of no validity as an inductive truth. 365
Rests on a mere assumption. 365-366
Arguments adduced to sustain this system false and sophistical. 366-383
The destiny of these two hypotheses, the Sceptical and Realistic, or Theistic. 384
The one a system of blank Atheism. The other Theistic in all its principles and deductions. 384-385
All thinkers must adopt one or the other of these hypotheses. 385-386
The exclusive sphere of science in accordance with the fundamental principles of each of these hypotheses is absolutely fixed and definable. 386-389
The principles of Realism accord with, and those of Scepticism are antagonistic to, the intuitive convictions of the Universal Intelligence. 389-390
Realism furnishes infallible tests of truth, while Scepticism utterly confounds truth with error. 390-391
Their distinct and opposite tendencies. 391-395
Realism the natural, and Scepticism the most unnatural, state of thought conceivable. 395-398
Concluding thought. 398
Bearing of the doctrine of probability on this subject. 399
THE SCIENCE OF NATURAL THEOLOGY
TRUE AND FALSE METHODS OF DISCUSSION.
THERE are two distinct and opposite methods in conformity to which the questions at issue between the friends of truth and the advocates of error may be investigated and argued. We may, without any special reference to fundamental principles, join issue at once upon the points of disagreement ; attempting, by force of argument, the establishment of the truth, and the refutation of error. In this way, much is often accomplished in both the directions named. Yet, it almost as frequently happens, perhaps, and that with reference to the most important problems of human thought and concern, that deep and abiding mental satisfaction and conviction are not obtained, while a painful feeling of doubt and uncertainty is left permanently upon the mind,--a feeling which ultimately bears not a few inquirers after the truth, into the embrace of error. Mr. Abercrombie, for example, commences his treatise on intellectual philosophy with a chapter in which he attempts to prove the immateriality of the soul. No analysis of the phenomena of the two substances, matter and spirit, is given : no self-evident principles which may be laid down as the basis of deductions upon the subject, are developed and applied. On the other hand, without any such lights to guide his investigations, the author enters at once upon the argument, and after presenting a multiplicity of reasons for the belief that spirit is not matter, and matter is not spirit, he finally sums up the discussion with the following grave conclusion : "Whether in their substratum or ultimate essence they are the same, or whether they are different, we know not, and never can know, in our present state of being." Why, then, argue at all, a question about which, "in our present state of being," we can know nothing and determine nothing?* [ * The result of Mr. Abercombie's deductions, which at first thought appears perfectly harmless, does not stop here, but will, in many instances, be unconsciously extended over the whole field of inquiry in respect to ultimate causation, or the doctrine of the being and perfections of God. For, if our knowledge of "things that are made" is so uncertain and unsatisfactory, equally certain and unsatisfactory must be all deductions based upon this knowledge, deductions pertaining to God, duty, and immortality. It is thus that Christian theologians and Christian philosophers are often, without being themselves aware of the fact, laying the foundation for all forms of unbelief.] Yet this state of painful doubt and uncertainty is the only state to which such a method can conduct the mind in reference to this and kindred subjects. As long as the great problems in Metaphysics and Natural Theology are investigated and professedly solved according to this method, they will deservedly stand before the world as ranking among the most uncertain of all the sciences, and investigation and argument will tend but to one result,--to deepen the prevailing conviction that these problems are of impossible solution.
According to principles of the method which we will next consider, the friends of truth, in arguing the questions at issue between themselves and the advocates of error, begin their inquires, first of all, with a full and distinct development of the nature and specific characteristics of these questions themselves, together with the specific relations of these distinct and opposite systems to one another. There will, then, be another determination, equally distinct and definite, of the assumptions or principles which lie at the basis of the opposing systems whose claims are to be investigated, together with the all-authoritative principles, or first truths, in light of which every problem presented is to be solved, and on the authority of which every conclusion reached is to be deduced. Last of all, the great facts bearing upon the questions at issue will be adduced and elucidated in the light of said principles, and the conclusions demanded, deduced accordingly. This, every one will perceive, is the only scientific method in conformity to which deep and permanent mental satisfaction and rational conviction can be obtained, on any great and important subject. It is the only method, in conformity to which any great truth of Metaphysics or Natural Theology can be so developed, that it shall legitimately take rank as a truth of science.
In the above remarks we have indicated the method in conformity to which we shall attempt, in the following Treatise, to develop and elucidate the science of Natural Theology. We propose in this, the introductory chapter, the statement and elucidation of certain important principles, which have a general, but fundamental, bearing upon our investigations.
MYSTERY AND ABSURDITY DEFINED AND ELUCIDATED.
We will commence with a definition of the terms mystery and absurdity,-- terms of common use in almost all departments of human thought, but which, for want of accurate philosophical definition, are not unfrequently employed with no appearance even of scientific precision. Every one, on reflection, must become distinctly conscious, that before we can intelligently affirm of any given judgment or proposition, that it is absurd, or that it involves the element of mystery, we must have in our minds a scientifically accurate conception of the ideas represented by the terms mystery and absurdity, as distinguished the one from the other. What, then, are the ideas represented by these two terms?
Every judgment which can properly be pronounced absurd, will be found, on analysis, to come under the principle of contradiction ; that is, it will really affirm that the same thing is, at the same time, true and not true of the same subject. Suppose, for example, that something is affirmed of an object undeniably incompatible with its known and existing attributes. Such affirmation is equivalent to the assertion that said attributes do, and do not, at the same moment, belong to the same subject. All such judgments, therefore, are absurd, and none of them can, by any possibility, be true. So also, when all the elements represented by the subject and predicate of a given proposition affirming the opposite of what the intelligence perceives must be true of the relations of said subject and predicate to each other, involves an absurdity, and must be false. The opposite supposition would imply that the intelligence might affirm the same thing to be, at the same time, true and not true of the same subject.
On the other hand, let us suppose that an event stands revealed to us as a fact of actual occurrence, while the reason or cause of its occurrence is wholly unknown and undiscoverable by us. The event, in that case, would take rank as a fact falling within the sphere of actual knowledge, while its cause would belong to the class represented by the term Mystery. On the other hand, let us suppose that the elements represented by a given term--God, for example--are in part known, and in part unknown, to the mind. One proposition may be affirmed of the object represented by that term, in view of what we know, and its opposite, in view of what we do not know. There would be then a mystery involved in the relations of these propositions to each other. They could not, however, be properly ranked together under the principle of contradiction. The truth and harmony of the two propositions might be admitted as facts, while the grounds of their harmony and validity might remain a mystery. Suppose a class of disembodied rational beings, to whom mankind are known only as rational beings like themselves, should find, in an admitted revelation from God, the two following propositions : "All men are immortal beings," and "All men are mortal beings." The rational beings referred to might very properly conclude, that the first proposition pertains to men as rational beings exclusively, and that the second refers to them in some other relations not revealed, and hence, that both alike may be true of the same class of existences. In other words, they would recognize themselves as in the presence of a mystery, but not of an absurdity. Let us now consider some important deductions arising from the principles and distinctions above elucidated.
EXISTENCE INVOLVES A MYSTERY.
On reflection, it will be perceived, at once, that existence is an ever must be, to our minds, a profound and impenetrable mystery. We may know, absolutely, that a certain substance does, as a matter of fact, exist. But when we attempt to go beyond the mere fact, and to determine the question why the substance does exist instead of not exist, we find that we can discover, neither in the fact referred to, nor in the nature or relations of the substance revealed as existing, any light whatever in regard to such inquiries. We often meet with the affirmation, for example, that God exists of necessity. If the idea intended to be conveyed by such a statement is this, that the divine existence is necessarily supposed by the facts of the universe, said statement presents an important truth. But if it is meant that there is, in the divine nature, a reason why God exists,--that is, a reason why he is an existing instead of a non-existing being,--the statement, in that case, means nothing, or affirms as true what is self-contradictory. To affirm that there is a reason, in the divine nature itself, why God exists, implies, if it conveys any intelligible meaning at all, that this reason is the cause of the divine existence, which is an undeniable self-contradiction.* [ * The idea of God is commonly and correctly affirmed to be necessary. The sense in which it is necessary, however, has not, for the most part, been considered. The ideas of space and time are necessary and absolute, for the reason that it is absolutely impossible for us to conceive of their objects not being. The ideas of substance and cause, on the other hand, are necessary relatively to qualities and events. If the latter are real, the former objects must exist. But if we do not suppose qualities and events to be real, we are not necessitated to suppose the reality of substances or causes. The ideas of substance and cause, then, are conditionally necessary, not absolutely so, like those of time and space. Now, since the idea of God is that of a cause, it can be only conditionally necessary, like those of substance and cause, and not absolutely so, like those of substance and cause, and not absolutely so, like those of time and space. The want of this important distinction has given rise, in the cases of Dr. Clarke and others, to the logical fiction of an a priori proof of the being of God. From the fact that the idea of God relatively to the facts of the universe, like that of cause relatively to events universally, is necessary, it has been inferred that there must be, in the divine nature, an absolute reason why God does exist, rather than not exist, which, as we have seen, is a fundamental mistake. From this mistake another not unimportant one has arisen, to wit, the attempt to determine, a priori, what the character of God, as a necessary being, must be. From the element of necessity in the divine nature, supposing it exist, we can determine nothing relatively to the divine character. This element does exist in time and space. Yet, as realities, they are fundamentally unlike each other, and we cannot determine from the element of necessity, common to both alike, what either in fact is. So if the same element, in the same sense, did attach to the idea of God, we could not determine from it alone what His particular attributes must be. When, on the other hand, a certain reality is necessarily supposed by certain facts, its character must be determined through said facts, and not from the one element under consideration. From the facts of the universe we reason to the being and perfections of God, and from the character of the facts, exclusively, must we determine the attributes of God. Any departure from this principle is fraught with error.]
These remarks are equally applicable to all classes of substances of every kind--substances finite and infinite, material and mental. That matter as a substance possessed of extension and form, and mind as possessed of the faculties of thought, feeling, and voluntary determination, exist as a matter of fact, we know absolutely ; because we have a direct and immediate perception (presentative knowledge) of them as existing, and as such existences. That God exists, we perceive with equal absoluteness, because, as we shall see hereafter, the fact of his existence is necessarily implied by the facts of nature, which are to us, as facts, objects of absolute knowledge. But why mind, on the one hand, or matter, on the other, exist, we cannot, by any possibility, find any reason whatever in the nature of the substances themselves, nor in their relations to each other. We can perceive no more reasons in the nature of mind, why matter should exist, rather than not exist.
It follows as a necessary deduction from the above statements, the validity of which we are quite sure none will deny, that all knowledge with us, without a revelation from a higher power, must be wholly and exclusively confined to the mere facts, nature and modes of existence. That we may not be misunderstood here, we would remark that the questions why an object exists, and how we know it to exist, are questions totally diverse form one another, and should never be confounded the one with the other. To the latter question we are able to give a definite answer. In regard to the former, our ignorance is, and must be, absolute.
Form the fact that we know, and can know, absolutely nothing in regard to the question, why any substance does exist, it follows, as a deduction equally absolute, that we cannot, in any form, determine a priori what substances do and do not exist, whether one or more substances actually exist, or in what modes, conditions, or relations, they do exist, or we shall find them existing. If we cannot determine a priori, or a posteriori either, why substances exist, we cannot determine surely in the former sense, what substances do and do not exist, or in what modes and relations they actually exist.
Hence we remark, in the next place, that the supposition that one class of substances exists, is just as reasonable, in itself, as the supposition that any other exists ; and the supposition that two or more distinct and separate substances exists, is a supposition just as reasonable and admissible in itself, as the supposition that but one substance exists, and vise versa. Of the two substances, matter and spirit, we can, as we have seen, perceive no reason in the fact that one does exist, why the other should exist. It is equally self-evident, that we can perceive no reason in the fact that one of these substances does exist, why the other should not exist. In the fact, also, that matter and finite mind exist, we can perceive no reason why God should not exist. The propositions, matter exists, mind (finite mind) exists, and God as infinite and perfect exists, are not contradictory, or in any form incompatible propositions.
Our final deduction from the train of thought thus far pursued is this : facts of existence, that is, the questions, what substances do, in reality, exist, what is their nature, and what are their relations as such existences, must be determined wholly a posteriori, and in no form a priori. As we cannot determine a priori, what substances may and may not exist, much less can we thus determine what substances do and do not exist. A knowledge of all such facts, if obtained at all, must be obtained wholly a posteriori. There is no possibility of escaping this conclusion.
The existence of a power of knowledge involves a mystery equally profound.
The entire remarks made above in regard to existence itself, are, in all respects, equally applicable to the existence of a power of knowledge. Tha such a power does exist, in fact, we perceive as a matter of consciousness. But when we ask why it exists at all, and exists as such a power, we find, at once, that we have gone wholly beyond our depth, and that we can obtain no light whatever in respect to such questions. We know absolutely, and that a priori, that the sphere of the conceivably knowable is all existences and all modes and relations of existence -- that the exclusive conditions of the possibility of knowledge, in all cases, are the existence of objects, on the one hand, and of a power of knowledge relatively to such objects, on the other, and these (the power and objects of knowledge), in such relations to each other, that knowledge necessarily arises in consequence of the correlation referred to -- and that the extent and limits of the actually knowable in any given case, depend upon the fulfilment of the conditions of knowledge, in the first instance, and, in the next, upon the extent and limits of the correlation under consideration. All this we know must be true, because the opposite supposition involves a contradiction. But when we ask the questions, What power of knowledge does or does not exist, and why it exists as such a power, what are to it particular objects of knowledge, whether any conditions at all are requisite to the actual exercise of the power, why knowledge arises when such conditions are fulfilled, and what are the limits and extent of knowledge in any given case, we find that we can determine absolutely nothing a priori in regard to such questions. It is undeniable that the great question in science, "What can we know?" can be answered correctly, but through another, to whit, what do we know, and what is implied in the facts of such knowledge? The fact of knowledge, and that alone, reveals and can reveal the existence and nature of the power of knowledge, together with the extent and limits of the sphere of said power.
Principles by which we are to determine our theory of existence, and answer the question, "What realities do in fact exist?"
The principles by which we are to determine our theory of existence, or answer the question, What realities do exist? now admit of a ready statement. No reality can become known to the faculty of knowledge, as actually existing, but upon one condition, that it is actually manifested to said faculty as existing. The following, then, are the principles referred to:
1. Nothing is to be admitted as existing, which has not been manifested as real.
2. All that is thus manifested, that is, all that the faculty of knowledge directly and immediately perceives to exist, and all that is implied as existing, by the reality of such existence, are to be admitted as real. The existence of one reality may be necessarily implied in that of another. In admitting the existence of the latter, we must admit that of the former. Nothing on this subject, not falling under the principle of contradiction, is to be, or can be determined a priori, but all a posteriori exclusively.* [ * If a reason for the validity