THE LIVING AND THE DIVINE
Part1: Between Experiences and the Transcendental
Chapter 1: Experience and Reality
1.1 Representation as a condition of knowledge; systematic imagination in philosophy
Clearly, the totality of being encompasses more than that which experience allows us to know.
Experience is, by its own definition, a section of being which it needs to predicate if it is to be
experience of that which is.
Reality, or being, is that which is to become experience; necessarily so. Experience can only continue
because there is an unlimited supply of the real that can be experienced and can become experience. Berkley's
equation, esse = percipi shortens reality in the interest of a supposed spirituality (?) of the world. The
rather similar neo-positivist equation, experience = reality, does likewise, in the interest of the idea of
a supposed science, in accordance with the principle, quod non est in actis non est in mundo. The rather more
cautious formulation of the same equation by Kantians and neo-Kantians does leave some reality outside of
experience, but sees this entire area as necessarily unknown. 'Unknown' is an apposite qualification of that
which is real but does not enter experience. The question arises, whether the status 'unknown' is absolute and
necessary, which is essentially the point made by the Kantians . The Kantian argument for the necessarily
unknown and unknowable quality of being outside of experience is based on a description of the condition of knowledge
according to which knowledge must at all times have the two elements, conceptuality (Begrifflichkeit) and representation
(Anschauung); it follows from this condition that representation as a source of knowledge can only be the case within
experience and not in a reality outside of experience; there is existence in a fringe area of conceptual meaning, but
it is wholly unknowable.
Without entering into a discussion of the argumentation of this Kantian thesis, it should be noted that it goes directly
counter to the concepts and proofs presented by the Scholastics, as can be seen from the examples on which their argument
is based. Scholasticism actually adopts that above mentioned thinking that philosophises theologically with pre-conceived
ideas of God, soul and immortality, i.e., there is a gulf separating the concepts they handle (noteworthy for their near
total or total unrepresentability) and reality. Nor are these concepts objects of a 'possible experience'. However, unless
we are talking about theological/scholastic notions, then the thesis that a reality outside of experience is unknowable is
not one that is tenable.
Let us take an example that may clarify the mutual demarcation between experience and reality as well as between representation
and non-representation. Take the idea that the universe is a real unit, that the multiplicity manifest within it is the result
of a changeable inter-dependence of every thing with every other thing, linked by the unit and that, beyond this, everything of
one kind and one nature, e.g., everything in it that is living, must lead back to one 'world principle', 'life' or 'being alive'.
This cannot just be a product of thought, but must denote a certain degree of reality; it must denote the unity of everything that
is alive in the universe as a fact on some rung of the unfolding cosmos that may later have become invisible.
Unity of life in the world is thus just as unquestionably a concept that goes beyond experience as it unquestionably describes
a situation that cannot be denied the possibility of reality and it is one which is in no way closed to representation on principle.
In the idea of a cosmic organism that the imagination calls up, however many gaps and question marks that may entail, there lies a
pattern (Schema) of representation to be filled in.
The idea does not have, fully, the property of representation that a single experience provided by the senses has; nor, on the
other hand, is it wholly deprived of the property of representation as are concepts that designate abstract notions of form, such
as substance, unity, being. What we have is representation in statu nascendi, half-way representation.
This type of notion cannot be proved by means of some experiment in the natural sciences, by experimenting with single experiences,
nor through the results of such experiments (which comes to the same thing). Neither can one simply walk away from the question by
suspending judgment, as advised by the Neo Positivists (non-knowledge is, of course, always a possibility, but contradicts the spirit
and obligation of knowing wherever knowledge remains even remotely possible). The question can only be answered by means of a comparison
with an opposite contention; that will allow us to decide which situation is the more likely in reality. True, to prove something in an
area of matters that go beyond the experience of reality cannot be as certain, clear or final as in empirical judgments. The fact remains
that in this, perhaps the most important field of knowledge, assertions require a far more complex method of verification; they require
universal structures of reasoning; consequently, any judgment on the validity of such ideas will hang in the balance for much longer.
All this, however, by no means signifies that we simply cannot have knowledge of areas (Sachverhalten) that go beyond experience in the
There is some common ground between knowledge that it is difficult to verify and knowledge that can be verified easily, since both must
be termed knowledge; even knowledge that it is difficult to verify refers to matters, however shadowy, problematic and 'gappy' they may be
when compared to matters of straightforward experience, that can be designated as real matters; there can be no fragment of reality
(experience) without a whole reality.
Reality beyond experience, then, denotes all those matters (Sachverhalte) of which, in normal experience, we can grasp and know 'a part';
all matters that have empirical 'thingness' on a world scale. Thus, for example, 'the' matter (of the world as a whole) is not an empirical
object although it is unquestionably real, indeed more real, essentially, than the material things that experience shows us. 'The' life is
not only an empirical condition, to be witnessed in examples of it; it is also a cosmic condition reaching a quantity that only thought can
imagine; its representation can, however, be subject to enquiry and it can be revealed and discovered step by step.
Likewise consciousness; it, too, is not only an empirical but a cosmic state, one that does not fall into the category, experience,
not unless we use and define the term, experience, in a sense that extends normal usage. The fact that there is such a thing as consciousness
is made clear by the fact that there is consciousness 'in the world', in relation to the existence of the world; not in the sense of
apprehending the world through consciousness, but in the sense that consciousness is a world phenomenon. The understanding we thus have
is different from the empirical /psychological understanding of consciousness as object.
The question arises, what does it mean and how do we understand that there is consciousness in 'the rest' of the world. History of
thought offers a number of answers to this question, without really clarifying the question. It has been stated, for instance that the world
was a conscious being and that it becomes conscious of itself in the consciousness of people. Such an answer raises many difficulties; on the
other hand, there are many gaps and unthinkable elements in the opposite answer, that consciousness, in relation to the rest of the world,
exists in such a way that while it may be thought of as a complex of causal factors, it cannot be thought of as 'matter' attached to
consciousness within the world (1) [1. World as body plus environment. Environment here is simply extension of body not disconnected from
matter that exists as such].
All these difficulties certainly do not prove, as the somewhat hasty Kantian theory of antinomianism has it, the absolute unknowablility
of this whole area; the possible antithethes in this field cannot mutually exclude one another formally and logically, as do antithetic
judgments in the disciplines of form like mathematics and logic. Here, to a large extent, the two alternative positions on the content of
the thesis can be both right and wrong, since the objects are not fully represented; they emerge gradually, they become clarified gradually,
Knowledge as an impossibility would only concern antithetical statements that refer to pure form constructs beyond representation;
certainly not to a developing envisioning of matters that are accessible on principle.
What about this envisioning or representation? What is it like? This kind of representation can, by definition, not come from sense
data; it can only be fashioned in the way that spiritual content is apprehended by the senses. That is so because, from the moment that
thought aims beyond the immediate apprehension of given experience, it is still dealing in terms that necessarily belong to an extended
material sphere, since it is only able to apprehend things on the model of a content that is based on experience; modifications then apply
that follow from the special character of the content sphere, which is a cosmic one. In other words, just as there exists a 'free' artistic
imagination, there exists an imagination that is disciplined, i. grounded in reality, ii. scientific and philosophical. It delivers
representation and envisionability to philosophic reason, just as sense-data provide information for the mind and for experience.