Updated: Sep 19
Royce, Josiah. “The External World and the Social Consciousness.” The Philosophical Review 3, no. 5 (1894): 528-545. https://doi.org/10.2307/2175687.
But it is time to pass from these illustrations to a more general statement of the meaning of our thesis. What I here maintain involves at once a psychological and a philosophical hypothesis. My psychological hypothesis may still need to be stated at some length. The philosophical doctrine can here only be hinted at. I first maintain, then, that, apart from the social consciousness, we should possess no such idea as we now possess of the external physical world. More in detail, I maintain the following view as to the origin of our present notion of externality;
Apart from the social consciousness, if left to my private experience, I should indeed come to know what Mill called the "permanent possibilities of experience." I should expect them to be repeated in definite ways in response to definite acts of mine. That fire burns, that stone walls resist, that objects seen can under certain circumstances be grasped; all this I could and, if sufficiently intelligent, should learn in isolation. But, so I maintain, these "permanent possibilities of experience," although indeed they would be objects for my intelligence, although, were I only supposed to be intelligent enough, they could conceivably become very elaborate and significant objects, much as music and decimal fractions and the moral law are objects to me now, even when I think only of their inner significance, still, as I insist, these objects would lack an important note of my present external world, since I should not conceive them as social objects, objects existent for other persons besides myself. And it is the social consciousness that defines a most important attribute of externality. None of the qualities of external things, upon which the psychologists who consider the isolated consciousness have insisted, neither the persistence, nor the involuntary intrusiveness, nor the vividness of our perceptions of the external, nor the feeling of resistance which our muscles give us when we touch objects, nor the regularities of our experience of the physical world, seem to me characters sufficient to explain our present consciousness of external reality. Pains and passions are vivid, but we all nevertheless refer them to the inner world. Grief may be intrusive, involuntary in its coming, vivid, and persistent. Yet we call it still an internal fact, unless, as at a great funeral, where many mourners weep together, the community of the sorrow makes it for the time seem like a vast physical presence. When we try to attend to a difficult internal task, we meet feelings of resistance which are known to be in large part muscular feelings (derived from knit brow, clenched jaws, altered breathing), but these give us no sense that the mental object which stubbornly resists our effort to conquer it through our attention, is an external fact. The inner life is moreover full of permanent possibilities of experience which we still regard, despite their regularity of recurrence, as internal. Sleepiness normally recurs as regularly, as vividly, as intrusively, as irresistibly as the darkness of night. We, however, regard sleepiness as an internal, the darkness as an external fact, because all normal observers can verify darkness together, while as to sleepiness they do not all agree. When one man says "It is night," all his fellows assent. But when one man says "I am sleepy," either it may be daytime, or his fellows may be in full train for a night of watching, of toil, or of revel. In the simpler days of earlier civilization, when sleepiness was nearly as common to all normal observers as was the darkness of night, there was less difference in seeming between the objectivity of the two. In the Homeric poems, sleep conquers all men, and night comes down. Both are nature-powers, both relatively external facts. But, in the Homeric poems, individual insomnia is not a very common phenomenon, although Odysseus can voluntarily remain awake while the drunken Cyclops sleeps. Yet still for simple men, as for children, sleep is a more recognizably common, and therefore a more easily objectified, experience than for us, who regard the time of sleepiness as a relatively capricious individual phenomenon, dependent on personal calling, habit, whim, or state of health.
Thus, then, I insist, neither vividness, nor intrusive resistance to our will, nor peculiarly insistent relation to our muscular experiences, nor regular recurrence, suffice to define the notes of externality as we now are aware of them. It is social community that is the true differentia of our external world. If I am right, then, a child never gets his belief in our present objective world until he has first got his social consciousness.
And herein it is that I myself see the vast psychological and philosophical importance of the line of research so splendidly entered upon, first by Tarde in France, later and still more promisingly by Professor J. Mark Baldwin, in the latter's studies of the origin and development of the Imitative functions.
In what little I have yet here to suggest as to the psychological importance of imitation as a basis for our developed consciousness, both of ourselves, of our rational powers, whereby we pretend to know truth, and of our external world, I must confess my great indebtedness to the suggestions contained in what my valued friend and colleague, Professor Baldwin, has already published concerning the imitative functions those so familiar and yet, from the psychological side, so sadly neglected functions, neglected until Tarde and Professor Baldwin began these researches. I must add my eager and expectant interest in what is so soon to be published by Professor Baldwin still further bearing on the topic. Meanwhile I, of course, do not wish him held for a moment responsible for the way in which I now shall briefly express my notion of the influence of imitation, first upon the development of the social consciousness, then upon the development of self-conscious intelligence in the individual, and third, upon the development of the concept of the external world. In part, as I suspect, my views will not altogether meet with Professor Baldwin's approval.
It has been customary in psychology to conceive of man as first forming together his notion of himself as this person, then of the external world, and lastly of other persons as existent beside himself. I regard this whole view as subject to the most important changes, in consequence of what we now begin to know of the imitative functions and of their place in the growth of consciousness.
Let me, then, next consider the most familiar portion of the traditional doctrine. It has been, I say, customary for psychologists and philosophers to regard man as if, after all, he first developed as a more or less self-conscious being, and then secondarily came to regard others besides himself as being also self-conscious persons. As a fact, however, while in the end the developed self-consciousness and the developed social consciousness, while my mature ideas of myself and my mature ideas of other selves (of my fellows or my guides or of my enemies), while both of these groups of ideas, I say, are inseparable constituents of rational life, so that the Ego can only be understood in relation to other Egos, and the other Egos can only be known by me in relation to my idea of myself, it is still true that, in the order of development, quoad nos, one of these two classes of ideas, which are later so inseparable, is always one step in advance of the other. And, oddly enough, everything in the psychology of childhood and of the natural man indicates that it is not, as usually supposed, my idea of myself that is in advance in my own development, but my idea of other selves. Everything I say indicates that my idea of myself, as empirical Ego, is on the whole a social product, due, strangely enough, to my ideas of other people. Self-consciousness, as Hegel loved to point out, is, in fact, always a mutual affair. Es ist ein Selbstbewusstsein fur ein Selbstbewusstsein. The idea 'I' is inseparable from the idea 'you.' I am I, on the whole, and in every definite aspect of my self-consciousness, in so far as I appeal to my fellow to recognize me. For example: I believe, and in believing conceive myself as demanding the approval of good judges. I esteem myself, and in doing so conceive myself as esteemed by others. But now it is further true, as Hegel did not rightly or sufficiently recognize, that, in the order of my natural development, the one member of this inseparable pair, the 'I' and the 'you the one member, I say, that is always one step in advance in the process of consciousness, is the so-called second member, the 'you.' The anthropological side of the speculations of Fichte will never become sound, from the psychological point of view, until they are someday rewritten with 'Das Du' instead of 'Das Ich,’ as the principle of developing human life. In the absolute order of nature, das Ich is, indeed, in advance, since were not man from the start implicitly self-conscious, he would never become explicitly such. But in the order of the phenomenology of consciousness, I in general learn to notice about myself that which my fellows have taught me to notice. I learn who I am, by first imitating what they are. And so I really, if vaguely and dimly, believe in my fellows before I learn explicitly to believe in myself. In their will is my earliest peace, and in this peace my own strength grows, until I later learn to strive myself. Imitation is the primary, originality the secondary, submission is the earlier, rebellion the later, authority is the natural, reflective independence the derived element, in the social and in the cognitive life of man. If one dared to translate into falsely abstract speech the inner life of the naively growing childish or savage self, one would find it reasoning, not "Cogito, ergo sum," but rather something of this sort : "You are, you, my master, my warrior comrade, my chief, my fascinating fellow, my mother, my nurse, my big brother, you think, I can learn to think after you, and so, even as you are, it must be that I am." This, I say, is the order of the natural evolution of self-consciousness, roughly translated into terms that are confessedly too abstract, but that do, I believe, embody the spirit of the process. And it is this fact which, on the whole, justifies Wundt's insistence, in his Ethik upon the Gesammtwille as the primary fact of the human practical consciousness, a fact to which the individual self-will is secondary. The definite concept of the Ego has, in each one of us, a social and imitative origin.
The proof of this proposition is of the most manifold character. I have no time to dwell upon this empirical aspect of the matter here at length. But let me suggest a very simple analytical proof. Let me ask you to try the experiment of seeking for a moment to abstract in thought from all the knowledge whose content you have sometime or other accepted, and first accepted, from other people. You will at once observe that all the knowledge embodied for you in the words, the structure, and all the essential traditions of your mother tongue, and of every other language that you know, will at once vanish. In other words, as pure and naked private Ego, you will be speechless. Language, as you first learned it, was never for your consciousness, your independent invention. Always, even where you were actually original in speech, you were trying, at the outset, to speak as other people spoke. Well, now, nearly all our thinking, not only about the non-Ego, but also about the Ego, is notoriously carried on in language. I believe that there does unquestionably exist a wordless thought, although that, too, needs, as its support, imitatively acquired symbolic acts of another sort; but wordless thought aside, nearly all of our more abstract and mature thinking is done in language. Well, if so, this, I say, surely applies also to our thoughts about ourselves. Are these thoughts explicit, then they are very largely embodied in language which we have learned from others, and have first been taught by others to apply to ourselves. For example: 'I exist.' Yes, indeed; but how came I by this idea of existence? Should I have this idea, as such, in my consciousness, if I had not the word, or some equivalent symbol? And when I first learned the meaning of that symbol, I learned it by trying to imitate what I all the while took to be the thought of another man. Had I not been imitative, I should never have got the thought from him. He taught me to recognize what existence is. Later I learned, and again, probably, through social suggestion, say by reading Descartes, to apply that idea to myself. The question, of course, is not now of the certainty, but of the origin for me, of the thought I exist.' I insist: this thought I do, indeed, verify by my own inner reflection, but it first took its origin for me in social intercourse with my fellows. Had they never taught me that I exist, I should never have come to take note of the now so obvious fact. Just so with the still more derived and empirical ideas that make up my idea of myself as this particular person. 'I am a man' yes, but what is a man? Have I not learned what a man is by observing my fellows, and by later accepting their traditions as to the nature, office, dignity, rights, duties, capacities, place, and destiny of manhood? These traditions I may, indeed, learn to revise, but the revision comes later. It has its time, and when that time comes such revision may be for me of the most absolute significance. But I am here speaking still of the origin, not of the validity, of our self-knowledge. And I say again: Abstract from all the content that directly or indirectly you first learned from others, and were thus first taught to apply to yourself, and you will abstract from all the ideas concerning yourself that you can now express in language, from all ideas of dignity, of worth, of truth, of duty, as applied to your person, yes, from all ideas of any explicit personal characteristic or possession of your own. For all these ideas, as definite conscious insights, have come to you as results of your social intercourse. Abstract from all these, however, and there would remain, as the core of your idea of yourself, not the Cogito, ergo sum, not the proud sense, I am free, not even the empty identity, I am I, but at most a barren and barbarous longing for something that you now know to be self-consciousness; but that, in your isolation, you would know only as an idiot now knows it. So, then, my conscious idea of myself is derived, is secondary, for instance, to language, to which all my thinking is so deeply indebted, and is thus, oddly enough, a product of social intercourse. Who I am, I have first learned from others before I can observe it for myself.
We blind ourselves too often to these considerations by reason of a very artificial theory that is customary in popular, and often in technical psychologies, concerning the origin of our belief in the existence of our fellows. Many imagine this belief to be due to a process of induction from a single case, an induction whereby each man of us first, as it were, supposing himself to be alone in a still dead physical world, says to himself: 'I exist, having this body; I exist, too, in a world of real physical things. Now in my external world there are bodies that move very much as mine does. Therefore, they, these other bodies, must also be alive and self-conscious as I am.'
But whoever imagines this extremely artificial and fictitious mental process to be the reasoning of an infant, has surely failed to make proper use of even the most superficial observation of the imitative function in its early developments. The infant usually begins explicitly and persistently to imitate just before or during the last quarter of the first year of its life. Long before this time, however, it has shown not only various more or less capricious and unconscious imitations, but, as every observant mother knows, an interest in persons wholly different from the interest that it shows in other things. This interest is doubtless in part due to its deep experience of the importance of the persons of its environment for its welfare. They feed it, and supply all its other bodily comforts. By mere association it of course thus learns to regard their faces and movements as peculiarly noteworthy objects. But that, in addition to these results of mere association, there is a genuinely instinctive disposition in the infant, the instinctive disposition of the being destined to social life, the disposition to react to persons as it reacts to no other objects, this I cannot very seriously doubt. The child's interest in expressions of face, its subtle, unconscious responses to the moods and to the current general nervous conditions of its nurse or mother, its delights, and later its terrors in the contemplation of strange persons, these things go far beyond what the mere association of ideas can warrant or explain. Instinct begins the social life, instinct that leads to responses of the keenest interest in persons, in advance of a time when the child can have any clear idea either of itself or of anybody else, as a conscious self, or as a person at all.
Then comes explicit imitation, an unquestionably complex process, in which several different instinctive factors are most subtly interwoven with the effects of experience in a way which psychology, as I have said, still but very ill comprehends. The child is now not only fascinated with the faces and movements of its elders. It tries to do what these elders do. The very uncertainty of its attempts shows how small an idea it yet has of itself or of its own powers. Its consciousness, in this early stage, must be of the vaguest. But it surely must feel somehow that here are most attractive objects, whose doings incite what we, the observers, call its own activities in such wise that the incited activities are observed ere long, and with great delight, to agree with the observed activities of the attractive objects themselves. But the activities imitated are not only interesting; they are, in general, for the beings who display them to the child, more or less intelligent activities. They are such activities as holding things up to be looked at or played with, and later, pointing out things, using tools, pronouncing the names of things, or putting things together or taking them apart in ways such as reveal the qualities of the things themselves. As the infant slowly learns to imitate, he, therefore, also learns much more than to imitate. The intelligent activities imitated become, in the very act of imitating them, more or less intelligible to the child. Through his imitations he gets ideas of things, of the nature, for instance, of his playthings, or of the tools that he tries to employ, ideas that alone he could never have got. Now I affirm that these new ideas of things which he gets as he consciously and lovingly imitates, these intelligent and intelligible aspects which the activities imitated come to possess for him, that all these, I say, are from the first for the child new ideas that he tends to refer to the perceived organisms of the people whom he imitated, and little, or not at all, to what we call himself. For these new ideas come to him as embodying the meaning, the intelligible value, the purport of the acts which he is taught to imitate. But these acts are the acts of the beings imitated. The new ideas, therefore, tend from the outset to be thought of as their ideas. And so the order of the growth of the child's knowledge that there are minds here about him, behind these faces, is substantially this: Here in his world he perceives fascinating beings. It is not needful to suppose that he perceives them explicitly as beings in what we call the external world. The distinction between outer and inner is still, at best, only half developed in his mind. But he at least perceives these things as facts imposed upon him; and he perceives, too, that they are fascinating. These beings act, and the child at length finds his own body imitating the acts of these beings, and takes delight in the knowledge of the agreement. But all this is largely the result of instinct. So far there is no clear thought either of Self or of other Selves. How could there be? The child so far knows, not minds as such, but only what we now call objects. Even these he knows, not as they are later to be known, i.e., as explicitly external objects. He perceives their interesting characters and their behavior. Amongst these interesting objects is, of course, his own body, which pleases and pains him so often. And now, as a fact, there are also those fascinating other objects, whom we call persons. Well, the child's own body is perceived to imitate these fascinating guides. The child learns to play, to show things, to point at things, and later, to speak of things, and to use things as tools, and as he does so (here is the essential matter), the child gets an endless flux of new and unexpectedly intelligible ideas about his world, ideas that are themselves the inseparable accompaniment and meaning of these very imitated activities. All these ideas, I say, the child, by mere association and 'agglutination,' must relate to the perceived beings, whose intelligible activities he has been imitating, when he gets the ideas. This game is papa's game. I play it as child, and so get new ideas that I at once associate with my father's face, voice, and whole body. That tool is the gardener's shears, and when I get hold of the shears, I cut, too, and so learn that clipping with the shears involves what I now take to be essentially the gardener's idea. The being whose activity, when I learn to imitate it, embodies forms such and such ideas, is observed by me to have these ideas. The association is irresistible. The resulting agglutinative combination is thoroughly normal. Where else do the new ideas belong except to the perceived being who obviously suggests them? But a person, for the child, comes to mean just such a body of ideas associated with the functions of one particular perceived organism. And it is thus, I affirm, through such imitation, that a child learns what a person is.
But thus it may well come to pass that the child long knows other persons far better than he consciously recognizes himself. Yes, this is, in fact, inevitable. A person, I insist, is a possessor of a body of definite ideas. And the child being almost wholly without definite initiative and steady independent purpose of his own, and long remaining in this state, gets nearly all the activities which for him can embody intelligible plans, by means of imitations. Left to himself, he is, on the whole, a chaos, that plans, accomplishes, and thinks nothing in particular. His steady plans are all imitative plans, and he delights in them as such. Accordingly, his self-consciousness is, in the main, a vicarious self-hood. He conceives himself as another. He thinks and speaks in the characters of the beings whom he most loves to imitate. For the idea won in the course of an imitative act is, for the conscious imitator, an idea that originally belongs to and dwells in the interesting being imitated. The order of the child's reasoning about the minds of other beings is thus the precise reverse of the order supposed by the artificial theory before mentioned. The father, the gardener, and later, the hero of a fairy tale, become real persons for the child, not because they move as the child has already observed himself to move, but because the imitative child finds himself disposed to act as they act, and in carrying out this disposition, wins intelligible ideas which he at once refers to them, and which he makes his own only by first regarding them as originally another's.
Hence, I repeat, the child may, and in fact must, conceive far more clearly of the reality of the mind of even a fictitious being in an interesting fairy tale, or in an established game that he plays, than he does of his own individual mind as such. For the latter, in so far as it is his own mind, is for him relatively planless and contentless. Therefore, nearly every child in his movements of cheerful, intellectual life, conceives himself as almost any one, a coachman, a horse, a giant, a fairy, a king, a bird, rather than as what we regard as his literal self; and he knows himself chiefly in terms of such imitated play personalities. Even his more prosaic moments are still full of an affected self-hood, just at the very points when he most nearly approaches self-consciousness. At one time he is ' mamma's boy/ and accordingly behaves sentimentally as such. Or again he becomes 'a big boy,' and struts imitatively. Or he wants pity, and then deliberately poses as a 'tired boy,' imitates weakness, is artificially babyish. When, however, he is wholly naive, as when he suffers or is angry, then he simply drops all attempts at self-consciousness, and is busy, not with himself at all, but with the nearly immediate experience, i.e., with his pain or his passion. Then, to be sure, we observers talk of the narrow selfishness, the egoism of childhood; but this egoism is now far from implying self-consciousness.
I have dwelt perhaps too long on the child's case. What I want is to illustrate the essentially vicarious character of the primitive self-consciousness. Strange as the assertion seems, I am convinced that each one of us believed in the existence of other minds before he became conscious of his own mind as such. And for all our life I hold this to be true, namely, that we do not get at the existence of the minds of our fellows by an induction from our own individual case, nearly as much as we make use of precisely the reverse line of reasoning. I do not often say to myself when thinking of my fellows: 'Yonder people behave as I do, hence they must be alive as I am.' The normal social consciousness runs rather thus: 'When I imitate these people, when I get under the influence of their suggestions, listen receptively to their words, follow their gestures, conform to their customs, accept their authority, well, then I constantly get new ideas, and these new ideas are as such the revelations of yonder minds. But now, as this result proves, I am capable of getting these ideas. Hence I am as much a real person, as truly a thinker, as they are.' In this way it is that I explicitly attain my self-consciousness.
Our private self-consciousness, as a fact, needs this constant reassurance of its power to share the common intelligence, in order to support its own assurance of itself. When I utterly fail for a while to comprehend my fellows, I begin to wonder whether, after all, I am not myself mad. Self-confidence is always a dependent affair. We can only choose whether our dependence shall be rational or capricious. Self-consciousness needs constantly renewed draughts of that water of life, the imitated authority of other minds. Your vainest man is the one who, despite his explicit independence of the opinions of others, can least bear the shock of criticism from his fellow. Your wisest man is the one who is most clearly aware of his dependence upon his fellows.
But to return to the order of development: The child that has begun to possess the social consciousness is for the first time in the presence of a supersensual reality. He has objects, vis., the desired ideas of other people, objects which he continually hopes to win, to imitate, and so far as may be, through representative imitation, to possess. Yet these ideas, these objects, are now conceived as beyond him, and as existent apart from him, so that their esse and their percipi have parted company, as the esse and percipi of the objects of his world of possible private experience never would or could have done. Now, however, comes the factor that is decisive for his conception of the external world as such. Here is the place where appears a process substantially identical with what Avenarius, in the book called Der Menschliche Weltbegriff calls the decidedly momentous and even fateful process of "Introjection"; only that I myself read this process in an order different from the order in which Avenarius states it.
At this point, namely, the child, imitating the unseen thoughts of his visible guide, finds himself and his guide alike imitating and so thinking about certain objects that seem to be present in the child's own visible and tangible world of permanent possibilities of sensation viz., tools, playthings, animals, etc. The abstract expression of this still naive experience would appear at the assertion: He, my guide or teacher or comrade, sees the same object that I see.' And so his 'permanent possibility' is regarded as numerically identical with mine. Doubtless, for a time, every child virtually thinks this to be true. But social communication involves sooner or later differences of opinion, conflict of testimony and frequent evidences of a variety in the experience of different people. At last it comes slowly to one's mind that the experiences of another consciousness, external to mine, cannot themselves be identical with the objects of my experience as mine. The individuals of the social world come to be sharply separated. And thus, too, not only does my neighbor's private inner world come to be regarded as beyond mine, but his objects come to be regarded as primarily and numerically not identical with my direct objects. What he sees is now regarded as the object for his eye, what I see is regarded as the object of my perception. What I can imitate, when I appeal to him as to the truth about my experience, is, then, directly speaking, only my perceived object, not his. And he imitates his object, which is now regarded as primarily not mine.
Thus it is that our theory of knowledge begins to become dualistic, or, in another terminology, it becomes a ‘representative theory of knowledge.' For how can we still hold that we are imitating in common the same truths? Only, I answer, on this level of consciousness, by forming an essentially representative theory of knowledge. We now come, namely, to establish the idea of a tertium quid, the external object as it is for itself. This is now neither my object as mine, i.e., as directly present in my experience, nor my fellow's object as his, but our object, in so far as we both seek to imitate its structure just as we try to imitate each other's thoughts; but external to both of us, just as we are external to each other. Our faith now is that we are able to imitate the structure of this external object. Our only concrete warrant for our faith is in any special case the success of our efforts to give common accounts of its appearance to each of us. If the object itself responded to our efforts to imitate its structure by assenting or by declining to assent when we imitated it thus or thus, just as our fellows approve or condemn our efforts to imitate them, then the object would be itself a comrade. We should then regard it as a live thing, a mind. As a fact, however, physical objects remain unresponsive silent partners in this world of an always essentially social consciousness. We men together imitate them, but they remain indifferent to our concern.
Hence it is that we arrive at a dualistic conception of the external world. The social world consists of minds whose thoughts we seem to share when, by directly imitative gestures, or by the symbolically imitative devices of language, we give and take ideas, and get or give approval and disapproval. Thus, the social world consists of beings at once imitable and imitative or responsive. The external physical world consists of supposed beings that are defined (I) as external to us precisely as we are already known to be external to one another; but (2) it consists of imitable beings that are unresponsive and that do not imitate. Hence, dualism gets its view of external realities that are not minds. These are the 'things-in-themselves' of all dualistic theories of the universe.
Of the nature of these external things we now know, on this level, only that that alone is relatively verifiable about them which is socially communicable. The knowably external in the physical world is, therefore, essentially that which you verify precisely as I describe it and vice versa. Hence, we get, indeed, even while we retain this dualistic position, a certain "Deduction of the Categories" which (within the sphere of this cruder sort of thinking) may well seem to supersede, or rather to fulfill, the Kantian deduction. As a fact, it is much rather a mere restatement in rational fullness of the true spirit of the Kantian deduction, when one seeks to apply Kant's thoughts to the world as viewed on this level of consciousness. In essence the Kantian unity of Apperception and the unity of Experience are nothing but the constantly presupposed unity of our social as distinct from private and inner consciousness. From the point of view of Dualism, the object, as it is in itself, is indeed unknowable, for it the object in itself declines to tell us what its inner life is. If it would speak for itself, we should know something more about it, but it remains the stubbornly silent partner. Hence, we can only speak in common about it. Where we permanently agree, we suppose that we are touching the reality, not as it is for you or for me, but for us. And it is only as existent for us, who are by hypothesis external to one another, that the object shows any persuasive and verifiable indication of existing externally to both and to all of us. Thus, the 'things-in themselves' appear to us, on this level, as unknowable, but the categories are deduced as true for 'phenomena.'
But, once again, if what is verifiable for us has thus to conform to what Kant called the categories of our experience, still, mind you, this conformity is to the laws of our experience as communicable and social, not as private and individual. And so it is that the principles of the 'determinateness of the real’ of the distinction of primary and secondary qualities, of the permanence of substance, yes, as I hold, of Causation, get all their phenomenal and relatively a priori validity. The principle of Causation, for instance, I hold to be expressive of the fact that only the describable and conceivably reproducible event can be socially verified, and can so be regarded as truly external, while you can regard an event as describable and reproducible only in case you conceive it as in definite relations to its temporally and spatially definable conditions. Hence, the reason for the stress that I laid in the opening portion of this paper upon the important consequences that follow from saying that what is verifiably real for us must be represented in my experience, not by what I feel, but by what I communicate to you for your verification. You are aware that the world, as Dualism conceives it, is not acceptable to the philosophical Idealist.
You are aware that I myself am an Idealist. You will see, then, that this whole conception of the external world as something divided from the verifying consciousness must appear to me an essentially unstable conception. But the return from Dualism, the overcoming of this division, belongs to philosophy, and not to this paper. Many have observed, with Sir William Hamilton, that a representative theory of knowledge must be unsatisfactory. Many, however, have supposed, as he did, and as, in another way, Avenarius supposes, that what Avenarius has called "Die Ausschaltung der Introjektion," the overcoming of dualism, the abandonment of the representative theory of knowledge, must involve a realistic representation of the world of human experience. I am not of this mind. But for the present I am content to leave in your hands, not any refutation of dualism, nor indeed any theory of knowledge as such, but this general sketch of the psychological origin of our concept of the categories of what we are accustomed to call external reality