- [Objects: Real, Unreal, Ideal, and Imaginary]
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[ 169 [Objects: Real, Unreal, Ideal, and Imaginary] [Objects: Real, Unreal, Ideal, and Imaginary] is the second of six surviving essays that Eliot wrote for his 1914 Michaelmas tutorial with Professor Joachim. I have endeavoured to distinguish within the object three aspects: content, objectivity, and existence.1 These are not, however, strictly parallel aspects; as in some contexts, one and two fall together, and in others two and three. I will discuss the latter case first. It is not the view of common sense, or of science, or of anything but philosophical realism, that the object is obliged to exist just so, as object, apart from and irrelevant to being known as object. It is admitted that for the consciousness occupied with practical or scientific interest, the object is independent of that interest: i.e., in the sense that it is meaningless to say that it is dependent. The subject is not aware of the object as dependent because he is not aware of it as object, and not aware of himself as subject; it is simply it,and mythree aspects represent twoways ofanalysingit afterwards. So far as I know anything, I simply know it, and there is no me for it to be related to, either in dependence or independence. I am aware of it as object, in a sense, but not yet aware that it is an object; for in becoming aware that it is an object, I become aware that I am a subject, and its objectivity is relative to a subject. Hence we come to feel, and rightly, that when and so far as the object is outside of knowledge, it is not object; for an essential part of the meaning of that word seems to have evaporated. Yet we have in no wise gained the right to say that the object has passed out of existence altogether ; it has not, certainly, passed out of existence outside of our experience in the same way in which an object passes out of existence within our experience ; it has not disappeared in such a way as to leave a gap in our knowledge within experience, or to falsify this knowledge. If it is non-existent, at least its non-existence is continuous with its existence. It may continue to exist, so far as we can tell, in any or all of three ways: it may exist for another consciousness, it may be implicit in what is now before our attention through its relations, or it may exist for itself. Beyond these, I see no other ways, and one [content] and three [existence] are ultimately dependent upon two [objectivity]; for evidently if I admit that if an object which has been my object may continue to exist as the object of a consciousness which 1914-15: Merton College, Oxford University 170 ] is completely isolated from my own, I might as well admit at once that the object itself is independent. For the identity of an object within our own single current of experience is an ideal identity among differences of content , and the identity of an object within two currents of experience must be ideal too. Two consciousnesses must mean the same object or there can be no identity; and if the other consciousness is that of the object itself, then again some consciousness must be aware of the identity. And in either case, if there is to be any identity there for me, I must myself ultimately be aware of it. So that finally the only reason for asserting that an object exists when we are not aware of it is that it is continuous with the moment of perception. And even then we feel that the object has become strangely transmuted. For as it passes out of our vision, it resumes its place in reality from which it was for the moment detached; its influence upon us becomes more and more indirect, though it may influence a great number of minds besides our own; it is in the end completely absorbed by its relations. Yet though we can no longer say that it exists, we are still less justified in saying that it does not exist. While strictly the objectivity and the existence have disappeared at the same time, we yet find a certain looseness and vagueness which makes acceptable the distinction. The intension of existence and objectivity falls apart. There is something, we feel, which is independent of the more or less definite immediate subject, and this...