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The Monist, 27 (Oct 1917), 635-37

C. E. Hooper publishes “The Meaning of ‘the Universe’” ( Mind, April 1917), the first installment of an article of massive appearance. The definition is as follows: the Universemeans the totality of real thought-objects (or object-matters) considered under four related aspects: (1) space, (2) time, (3) the variety in unity of natural characters, i.e., real thought-objects as particulars having natures of their own, but natures agreeing in various specific and generic respects with the natures of other particulars, (4) unity in variety of natural causation. Time and space are both objective. Mr. Hooper goes on to define thought-object, reality, and aspect. A thought-object is apparently an intendedobject, whether or not a reality corresponds to the intention (e.g., Kant’s noumenon). Reality is contrasted not with appearance but with “mental figment,” and includes subsistent as well as existent objects. It is difficult to tell how far the term “thought-object” has an idealistic bias in Mr. Hooper’s mind, but reality, at all events, seems to be merely a sum or system of objects which are severally real. The universe is thus a real thought which contains all other real thought-objects in their manifold relations. Symbolicentities (ideas, signs) are comprehended, but whether per seor only as reflected upon (made objects of thought) is not stated. It would seem that imaginary or inconceivable thought-objects, such as Meinong’s pets, the golden mountain, and the round square, are to have no place in the universe, but are discarded as “figments.” 2 While the universe contains finite thought-objects and symbols, it does so only in fact, not in nature. Of the four modes or aspects, space and time may be classed together as coincidentals, while the systems of natural characters and natural causation may be termed co-essentials. On the other hand space and nature may be classed together as static, time and causation as dynamic. We find some difficulty in understanding how Mr. Hooper accounts for the universe’s being known at all. “The universe cannot, like a finite object, be actually related to some fellow object. It is as related to the mind or system of subjective ideas that we know all that is possible to know about it” [141-42]. But the “mind” if genuinely symbolic is a thought-object: and if the universe cannot be related to a finite object which is part of itself, we do not know how it can be related to the mind. But criticism of so substantial an article should be deferred until its completion in succeeding issues.


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