The Spectrum of Our Sensations


Spence, Payton (1893). Sensations, The Spectrum Spread of Our. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 22:191


The white light of the sunbeam is apparently simple and homogeneous, although it is, in reality, a compound of many colors. Each color of which it is composed occupies the whole of the beam, and hence no one of them has position in the beam; and therefore, the colors themselves have no relative positions to each other. Each color, occupying the whole of the beam, has a modifying effect upon all the others, and all the others have a modifying effect upon it; consequently, they are all equally modified giving us, as a result, homogeneous white light, in which no one of its separate colors is recognized or suspected. By means of prism we decompose the sunbeam, so that the elementary colors which constitute it, and which, in it, have neither positions nor relative positions, are spread apart and given positions and relative positions in the solar spectrum upon the screen. This simple illustration is introduced here, in the outset, not as a proof of anything, but merely as an illustration which, if kept before the mind, will enable the reader to understand more readily than he might otherwise do the nature of those relations of sensations to each other and to external objects, which it is our purpose to try to explain in this article.


Consciousness is non-extended; and as every state of consciousness occupies the whole of consciousness just as every color of the sunbeam occupies the whole of the beam, it has therefore neither position nor extension in consciousness. Now, if a state of consciousness has no position in consciousness, states of consciousness can have no relative positions to each other, for their mere relation to each other cannot give them that which, in their essential nature, they have not—namely, position. Hence, in speaking of states of consciousness, we cannot say that one is to the right or to the left of another, above or below another, or that one is in the centre and another in the circumference. All that we can say of related states of consciousness is that each one occupies the whole of consciousness either simultaneously or in succession with the others. But succession must somehow become converted into, or be interpreted by, simultaneousness, or else it has no meaning to the mind. In simple succession, when one state has come the other has gone; and consciousness holding only one at a time, they are in no way consciously related to each other even as being in succession. For instance, if two states of consciousness arise one after the other, and if the first one has wholly vanished (so that it cannot be recalled or reproduced) before the second one appears, they can have no effect upon each other; they cannot' modify each other; they are as nothing to each other, the second simply existing as though the first had not existed, and vice versa. But if the second one appears before the first one has entirely vanished, or if the first one is reproduced while the second one endures, then to that extent they are simultaneous, and overlap, or rather interpenetrate, each other; and only by such mutual, simultaneous interpenetration can they at all modify each other, and to that extent be consciously related to each other even as being in succession the one to the other.

It is no part of my present purpose, however, to explain how successive states of consciousness are known to us as successive only by being made simultaneously. I simply call attention to the very obvious fact that such is the case; and that, therefore, to that extent, all related states of consciousness are simultaneous so far as related ; and, as the relation of states of consciousness is but another name for their mutual, simultaneous interpenetration, such interpenetration is seen to be the very sine qua non of the connected continuity of all conscious life and of personal identity, the interpreter of that unity of apperception over which the illustrious Kant so writhes and agonizes, and a clue to the labyrinth of memory and the intricacies of the association of ideas. Now, suppose that two sensations are somehow awakened simultaneously in my consciousness, what must happen to them if we consider them, in their essential nature, as simple states of consciousness, disreo; ardin: or abstractino; from all the effects of our past experience upon them, and the intrusion (by spontaneous reproduction or otherwise) of foreign elements that would confuse and complicate a result which otherwise might be quite simple? My two sensations, being simultaneous, and each one occupying the whole of consciousness, cannot appear to me as two distinct states; but the two are blended into one, and seem to be a single, simple, homogeneous sensation—as simple and as homogeneous as the white light of the sunbeam. Let this state endure ever so long, it cannot analyze itself or sort out the different elements that compose it. And this must be the case even if the two sensations are ever so different from each other—as, for instance, those of a color and a sound. Of course, what is true of two simultaneous sensations must be equally true of any number. Were there a hundred such, they would be known to consciousness only as an apparently single, homogeneous sensation—the result of the modification of each one upon all the rest, and all the rest upon each one. So much for mere sensations and merely related sensations. They can do nothing more for us. They can modify each other, but they can never lift us out of the sphere of mere sensation—feeling—into that of perception.


On the other hand, I look out upon the external world, and what do I perceive f Did I perceive nothing but my sensations, nothing but colors, sounds, tastes, smells, feels, I could not be said to perceive at all, for I would still only be able to feel related, simultaneous sensations; and that very simultaneous relation would, as already shown, fuse them into an apparently single, homogeneous sensation, varying in character according to the variety of the actual and reproduced impressions that are simultaneously made upon me. 1 have but to open my senses, however, to perceive all around, above, and beneath me this vast spectrum-spread of my sensations, seemingly projected, painted, and panoramaed everywhere upon the whole external world, like the rainbow colors that are spread by the prism upon the screen, which is there expressly to receive and reveal them, and without which they could neither be received nor revealed.


Then, on the one hand, we have consciousness whose sensations—feelings—can have neither positions nor relative positions, and in which, consequently, one color, one feel, one sound cannot be either to the right or to the left of another, above or below another, in front of or behind another, or in the centre of another which occupies the circumference. On the other hand, we have before us that vast panorama called the external world, in which those very sensations—colors, feels, sounds, etc.—seem to occupy the very positions and relative positions which, as we have seen, consciousness alone cannot give them, any more than the sunbeam can unfold itself from a state of unity and homogeneous whiteness and spread its component colors—red, blue, green, etc.—in positions and relative positions upon the screen. In the case of the sunbeam, however, we know that it is a foreign element—the prism—which decomposes its white light, throws its elements apart, and gives them their spectrum-spread upon the screen. But, in the case of a compound though homogeneous sensation, what element is there, or can there be, which can at all be related to it, and so related to it as to decompose it into its elements, throw them apart, and, projecting them upon the external world as upon a screen, give them that spectrum-spread which they undoubtedly have, whether we can explain it or not? Consciousness alone cannot do that. On the contrary, consciousness is the very thing that fuses our sensations into unity and homogeneity, and therefore we cannot expect it to turn upon its own work and undo that which it is its special province and function to do. Consequently, as in the case of the sunbeam, so here, in the case of that unity and homogeneity of our sensations, we must look for something foreign to—outside of consciousness, but, nevertheless, related to it—If we wish to ascertain what it is that undoes the work which it is the function of consciousness to do, and always to do.


It may be thought, however, that I have been hasty and inconsiderate in saying that only something which is foreign to, and outside of, consciousness can give our sensations that spectrum spread which is so manifest a fact in our every-day experience. The followers of Kant will remind me of that subjective element, space, that a priori form which, they say, is wholly in consciousness, and is there for the express purpose of doing what I have said can only be done by something foreign to consciousness. I have not overlooked this claim of Kant's, however, but have carefully considered it, and find myself compelled to reject it as invalid, because I find space utterly incompetent to do the work assigned it, even admitting, which I do not, that it exists a priori in the mind.


Space as a subjective form is but a collapsed potentiality until filled with the matter of which it is a mere form. It cannot be realized, even as a form, until actual sensation has entered it and given it meaning. In other words, it is indeterminate until determined by sensation. Now, if, as we have shown, our sensations in their essential nature have neither positions nor relative positions in consciousness, how can they enter a mere collapsed potentiality and expand or determine it into an actuality that shall have both positions and relative positions? and how shall those very positions and relative positions, thus realized in space through sensations which have neither, then reflect back upon those sensations and thus impart to them the very positions and relative positions which they (the sensations) imparted to space without really having them to impart ? That would be as though one mirror, without having the image of an apple in it, nevertheless reflects an apple into a second mirror, and the second mirror reflects the apple into the first, and now both mirrors have the image of an apple in them. This would be creation, not the realization or determination of form by matter and matter be form. But this point will receive further consideration as we progress.


It may be said, however, that a priori space does already, from the very outset, contain positions and relative positions, not merely potentially, but actually; and that these are thrown into or reflected upon our sensations as soon as they arise in consciousness. It is immaterial to me, at present whether this be a correct interpretation of Kant or not; and, inasmuch as there are differences of opinion as to what his a priori space really is, I am perfectly willing that the reader shall substitute his own interpretation of Kant on this point for the one which I have given ; and, furthermore, if the reader is of the opinion that «J9^'^o/'^' space is really different from that which any, even the most elastic and pliable, interpretation of Kant can make of it, I am also perfectly willing that he shall substitute his own conception of it for that of Kant. The reader may thus fortify himself with his own interpretation of Kant's a priori space ; or with his own conception of a apriori space, if it differs from that of Kant; or with every and all conceptions and interpretations of it; so that if, in his hour of need, one fails him, he can fall back upon another, simply remembering all the while that what I shall now undertake to show is, that a priori space, even if admitted to contain actual positions and relative positions from the first, is not the element, the mental prism, which does, or can, decompose our compound, homogeneous sensations, and give them that spectrum-spread of which we are seeking an explanation ; and that the same will be found to be true of any other kind of a priori space that the reader may prefer ; and indeed of any other kind of subjective space, and, I will say, objective space also, to which the reader may choose to apply our facts and reasonings.


All the elements which Kant claims for the production of external perception are sense, time, space, and categories. The thing-in-itself is entirely foreign to his machinery, which engenders cognitions only—the cognitions of sense and the cognitions of the understanding—with mere speculations and conjectural inferences about the thing-in-itself can in no wise co-operate. Such speculations and inferences are neither wheels, nor cogs, nor shafts, nor even grease to the axles. Sensation, as it arises in the mind, no matter what its source may be, whether something internal or something external, brings with it no knowledge of that source, and no knowledge even that it has a source. It is freighted with itself only; and it itself, in cooperation with time, space, and categories, is not, and cannot be, converted into anything other than its simple self. Consequently the outcome of the workings of Kant's machinery—that is, the results which it produces—are produced by the mutual relations and interactions of sensation, time, space, and categories, in which the thing-in-itself takes no more part than if it did not exist; consequently those results cannot be, and must not be supposed to be, either tinctured, modified, defined, shaped, or determined by anything pertaining to the thing-in-itself, or by any cognition or supposed cognition of the thing-in-itself. Hence, if the machinery alone does not operate, or, if operating, does not produce the results which it should produce and for the very production of which it was invented, then its friends have no right to call to its assistance either the thing-in-itself or the faintest, feeblest shadow of a reflection or epigenesis from the thing-in-self, for the purpose of modifying those results so as to make them conform to such as are perceived in our every-day experience. To Kant's machinery, then, the thing-in-itself is wholly and completely transcendent; and any appeal for help, by him, actually or impliedly made to the thing-in-itself, or to any influence, somehow or in any way supposed to be imparted by the thing-in-itself, to either sensation, time, space, or category, while it might be, and undoubtedly would be, an appeal to the right source for help, yet to grant such help to him would be to grant him that which he himself expressly repudiates, and which, if granted, could not be used by his machinery; and which, furthermore, if granted, would be found, as we shall see, fully competent to produce, without his machinery, those very results for which his machinery is supposed to be absolutely necessary and fully competent. Any appeal, then, by Kant, to anything outside of his machinery, is an acknowledgment of its incompetency; and as the only thing outside of his machinery to which he can appeal is the thing-in-itself, we have here, in the outset—at a greater length, perhaps, than was necessary—endeavored to show that such an appeal can in no wise be granted. Nevertheless, while thus emphasizing the fact that Kant is hopelessly and forever cut off from the thing-in-itself, it is our main purpose in this article to show that the thing-in-itself is the foreign element—the prism—which gives our sensations that spectrum-spread which stands so much in need of an explanation.


If we follow Kant himself in his vague and indefinite way of presenting the structure, claims, and workings of his machinery, and if we are satisfied with a merely general, hazy view of it, we are apt to be deluded into the admission that its elements contain the possibility of doing all that the actualities of experience require it to do. For instance, in reference to the matter before us—the spectrum-spread of our sensations—if we merely take a general view of the subject, we are apt to say to ourselves: “Yes, it matters very little whether space is outside or inside of us, provided only that it be really space—that is, provided we grant it just the properties and appearances of this our every-day space with which we are familiar. And that much we can readily grant to a priori space; and then, if we project our sensations into such space, it is easy enough to imagine how each sensation assumes, on entering it, a definite form and size, a definite place, and a definite relation to other sensations." But, by and by, we become surfeited with vagueness and generalities, and suspicious of the conclusions to which they have led us, and, taking the machinery of Kant into our own hands, we subject it to an actual practical test; and now, we are amazed to find that it is utterly incompetent to do the simplest things that are required of it. In putting it to such a practical test, all that we have to do is to give it all the mechanism that is claimed for it—sense, time, space, categories—and all the materials, sensations, which it can get to work upon, and then see whether it can produce the results that are accredited to it, and that it must produce, or be pronounced a failure. This I shall now do.


I now have before me one of Kant's psychical machines, perfect in all its parts, and all its parts—sense, time, space, categories—duly adjusted to each other. It is entirely new and untried; and, having had no previous experience, none of the results of experience have been caught up into it or entangled with it, so as to assist or oppose it in its workings, or in any way influence or modify, mar or improve the results which it may produce. It has everything to learn, I lay before it a sheet of white paper on which there are a round blue spot and a round red spot, six inches apart—the blue spot, which is to the right, being one inch in diameter, and the red spot, which is to the left, being two inches in diameter. Now, what will Kant's machinery make out of all that?


But stop for a moment. I now see that I was hasty in giving all those materials, or any part of them, to Kant's machine to be worked up into results or products. Those materials are already products—products of my psychical machinery, working on crude materials—and therefore I must not hand over to Kant's machine the very products which it is its business to produce also. I must simply give it the crude materials themselves and see if it can work them up into the self-same products. If Kant's machine were a brick-machine, I would not feed it with bricks to see if it can make bricks, for in that case no machinery would be necessary. I would simply feed it with shapeless clay, and if it worked that up into bricks, I would admit that it is a brick-machine, and accomplishes what it was made for, Now, that red spot, with a radius of two inches and a well-defined circumference, with positions and relative positions and with the red spread all over its surface, is already a finished brick—is already a finished product—a perception. The same is true of the blue spot, and of the very paper upon which they are drawn. Therefore, I must not hand these products over to Kant's machine, but I must feed it with crude, amorphous, shapeless sensations, and see whether it can work them up into such definite red and blue spots, six inches apart, upon a sheet of white paper. With this justification of what I shall do, I remove the white paper, spots and all, from before the machine where I had thoughtlessly placed them; and I, moreover, remove everything else from before it, including the things-in-themselves.


Perhaps Kant would say: “Then how is my machine to get its materials, its sensations, if you remove their very source or cause? “To which I reply: "It is of no consequence to you how it gets them, particularly as you do not really know how it gets them, or whence it gets them. And, if you did know, that knowledge, as you admit, can in no wise, either in whole or in part, be engrafted upon those sensations so as to produce the faintest, feeblest shadow of a difference in the ultimate products into which they are worked up by your machinery. I have, however, been talking wide of the mark, and not at all to the point; but I have done so for the very purpose of isolating the point, when I do present it, from all subterfuges, shams, and mists that might otherwise obscure it. You yourself do claim, if not to now, at least to strongly suspect that you know the whence of those sensations—namely, that they are caused by the things-in-themselves; and you yourself do claim to know, because you claim to have actually demonstrated (by, as you say, the only demonstration which is possible), the existence of the things-in-themselves. But the question now is, not what you know, or suspect that you know, about anything, but whether any or all of the elements (sense, time, space, and categories) which you have allowed your machine, do know or can know anything about the things-in-themselves, or their relations to sensations. And to that question you are compelled to answer with me that they know nothing—absolutely and forever nothing—about them. Then you must admit that it will be just as well if I myself furnish your machine {grant your machine), as I shall presently do, all the crude, amorphous, shapeless sensations that the case requires, so that you need give yourself no further worry upon that point; and if this leaves you any other cause of worry (as it undoubtedly will), it is not my fault, but the fault of your machinery, as we shall presently see."


Then, to begin with, I give (grant) Kant's machine, which is before me, a sensation, called blue, of a given intensity. Now, as a priori space is, according to Kant, the "necessary" and "invariable “form of our sensations, that blue, the moment it is awakened in consciousness, at once enters space, and, taking on that necessary and invariable form, determines it, and is determined by it. But how are that entrance and that determination affected? The blue, as a sensation, occupying the whole of consciousness, has neither position nor relative positions in it, and, therefore, neither length, breadth, nor thickness. Thus, situated and constituted, what position does it, or can it, assume in space? Where is it in space? Space—the collapsed, unrealized space of our new and untried machine—has as yet neither centre nor circumference; and, therefore, a sensation which is merely in it is really nowhere in it—in no determinate position in it—is neither in the centre nor the circumference, neither on the right hand nor the left, neither up nor down, neither north, south, east, nor west. Space, simply with the blue in it, is just as indeterminate as it was before the blue entered it; and the blue, after entering it, is just as indeterminate—shapeless, formless, positionless—as it was before its entrance; hence they have not determined each other, and therefore space is not yet consciously realized in any of its positions or dimensions. If space is related to the blue, consciousness does not yet know it; or if space is something different from the blue, consciousness is not yet aware of it. So far as the blue is concerned, it might just as well be out of space as to be thus in it. The relation, therefore, of the blue to space and of space to the blue is null and void; and we are utterly without any reason for saying that they are related, or even for saying that there is such a thing as space. And were space objective, as I believe it to be, we would be no better situated with regard to it. Then the blue has not got into, and cannot get into, our apriori space, but is simply supposably in it, though consciousness is not aware of it; and the blue is in no wise influenced, modified, defined, or determined by its "necessary" and "invariable" form—space—but is still the same crude, shapeless, position less, non-extended feeling that it was in the beginning when I fed it to Kant’s machine.


It is very obvious that, whether we regard a priori space as having either actual or potential positions and relative positions already in it, from the first, the blue cannot enter any one of them rather than another and cannot fill or occupy any number of them definitely related into a particular form and size, rather than a different number definitely related into a different form and size. There is nothing in the nature of the shapeless, positionless sensation that can determine it to occupy any particular position, or any number of related positions, that shall mould it into any particular form and size rather than another, or into any form and size whatever; nor is there anything in the nature of space itself, even granting it positions and relative positions, that can determine such matters for the sensation; and hence did we imagine it to determine them, such determination could only be an arbitrary one, wholly without reason, cause, or rule; and therefore the same sensation, similarly situated, could never be determined twice alike—could never have the same form and size which it once had except b}' accident. But that blue which Kant’s machinery is so incompetent to handle, and which, in fact, cannot even be got into his machinery, is the very same sensation which my psychical machinery has somehow spread apart and determined into a round spot one inch in diameter. How this is done it is not necessary for me to say now. It is sufficient for us to know that my psychical machinery—everyone's psychical machinery—can work that crude, shapeless feeling into that finished product, while Kant's does not and cannot.


The addition of one or more sensations to the one already given cannot make any difference in the result. If now I give (grant)the machine another sensation, say a red color, its relations to apriori space cannot be any different from those of the blue; nor can their relations to each other, which would still leave them positionless and shapeless—make any difference in the result. There has neither position nor relative positions in consciousness, nor can it acquire them from any conceivable natural relation to space. There is no reason, cause, or rule why the red, in entering space, should take on any particular form or size rather than another, or even any form or size whatever; nor is there any reason, cause, or rule why the red should part from the blue and assume any relative position either to the right or to the left of it, above or below it. Yet my psychical machinery, whatever it may be, has done what Kant's cannot do, having placed the red six inches to the right of the blue, given it a definite form, and spread it over a surface two inches in diameter.


It may be said that my psychical machinery, whatever it may be, has different materials to operate upon from those (sensations only) which I have allowed Kant’s, and hence the difference in the results. This will be found to be true in a certain sense; but it will also be found that those different materials, while they cause the very great difference in the results obtained, nevertheless cannot possibly be granted to Kant's machine, and are expressly repudiated and rejected by him as something which, not only cannot be obtained or granted, but, if granted or obtained, cannot possibly be used by his machine. It cannot be said by Kant, without a surrender of his a priori space and of the whole question under discussion, that sensations, though wholly subjective and mere shapeless, positionless feelings, yet, as they are caused by the things-in-themselves, must be freighted, branded, marked, or stamped somehow, with something, by the things-in themselves, which something causes the sensations, when projected into space, to assume each its own special position and its own peculiar form, size, and relation of parts.


Dr. Stirling, in endeavoring to help Kant out of the very difficulty here under discussion, finds himself necessitated to assume for him the very defense which, as above stated, and, as heretofore and hereafter shown, cannot have allowed him, and from which he is forever hopelessly cut off. Dr. Stirling says:" In asserting, too, that all objects of a posteriori knowledge must submit themselves to these forms "(time and space),"it does not follow that the special form of each individual object is also to be considered as so due. How it is that a mountain has this shape, and a tree that one, does not depend on space, for example, but on the object-in-itself. That object-in-itself, however, we never can know; we only know that be its special form what it may, or, in obedience to its own transcendent or absolute nature (and transcendent is easily seen to be capable of being allowably replaced there by transcendental) let the special form it produces in us be what it may, that special form must still present itself as in subjection to the general laws of space. It is no objection, then, to say, this brick and that stone each have a shape of its own, which shape they cannot receive from space, for the answer is easy. We do not say that the special empirical form is due to space; there is something in the object-in-itself which says the empirical form shall be this only, and not another. Still, the special empirical production must obey the universal conditions of space and become—but only in its own way—spatial"(Textbook to Kant, pp. 45, 46). This defense, which is perhaps the only one that can be made for Kant, is by no means admitted by Dr. Stirling to be valid, but, on the contrary, is rejected by him as insufficient. And I believe that no one but an incorrigible Kantist, determined to hold on to a hopeless case, can ever be quieted while there rests upon his conscience the responsibility of adjusting that defense to the defenseless indefensible position occupied by Kant.


What has already been said in the course of this article is a sufficient reply to the above defense of Kant. Kant's objects, whether categorized or uncategorized, are, after all, only bundles of sensations, which, as we have seen, have neither position, form, nor size; and hence his objects can have no "special form," no “empirical form" whatsoever. But, waiving this consideration for the present, I take it for granted that Kant must either accept Dr. Stirling’s defense of him, or let the case go by default. If he accepts it, however, he must admit either (1) that the thing-in-itself is endowed or (2) that it is not endowed., with a special position, form, and size—to each of which admissions I shall devote a few words.


1. If Kant admits that the thing-in-itself endowed with position, form, and size, then he must say that it somehow imparts or stamps them upon our sensations, thus blocking the latter out in consciousness as feelings having position, form, and size—extension—and then the explanation of extension would be reduced to the naive explanation of Hamilton—namely, that we just open our eyes and see it—thus giving us extension independently of a priori space, and therefore jeopardizing Kant's a priori space and with it his whole a priori system; and then also extension, in the realistic sense, is actually admitted into consciousness without., and consciousness becomes an extended something. To this point, however, I shall presently return, although I have already said enough, perhaps, to show that this first admission of Kant’s lands him in the same quagmire as that from which Hamilton struggled in vain to extricate himself while carrying two kinds of space at the same time—that is, lt’s own objective, realistic space, and the subjective, a priori space of Kant. One kind of space, however, is more than most of us can handle.


2. If Kant admits that the thing-in-itself is not endowed with position, form, and size, then he must say that it only awakens, in some mysterious and unknown way, a special position, form, and size for each sensation, just as it awakens the sensation itself in an equally mysterious and unknown way. But to say that the thing-in-itself has neither position, form, nor size would be simply a saying without a shadow of possible proof or pretense of proof, whereas I show that such position, form, and size are, in every act of perception, actually demonstrated to pertain to the thing in-itself. And to say that the thing-in-itself does, in some mysterious way, give each sensation a special position, form, and size is the same as to say that lie himself cannot explain that which, if true, gives us extension independently of an extension, and thus again, jeopardizes his a priori space, and with it his entire apriori system; and which, moreover, if true, most needs an explanation at all risks and hazards, but, as it is not true, the mystery is introduced to account for what is not a fact; for, as I have shown, it is not a fact that our sensations have, in reality, any such attributes. But the moment we get form and size—extension—as something outside of consciousness by the first admission, or from something outside of consciousness, by the second admission, and hence, in both cases, independently of apriori space: or the moment we get sensation with extension stamped upon it by the thing in-itself, and hence also independently of a priori space, our apriori space becomes a useless appendage, a mere make-believe, which, instead of being the very condition of the possibility of our sensations, is itself derivable from the very extension which the things-in-themselves have stamped upon those sensations.


Moreover, whether Kant admits that the thing-in-itself is or is not endowed with position, form, and size, I think that I conclusively show in this article that he ought to admit that it is so endowed. The thing-in-itself, then, really having such attributes, the only way in which we can know them, according to Kant (and many others who are not Kantists), would be by intuition, just as we know our sensations. Now, if we know a thing by intuition, we know it just as it is—that is, it lies directly and immediately upon consciousness, with nothing interposed between it and consciousness. Hence, if the thing-in-itself is really extended, and if we know its extension by intuition, we know it just as it is, and it—the extension—lies directly and immediately upon consciousness, and consciousness must be an extended something. On the contrary, if we do not know such an extension of the thing-in-itself just as it is, then we do not know it by intuition, but only know something that is not like it—something, therefore, which is not it—and hence we do not know it at all.

Finally, Kant's situation is rendered still more embarrassing by the fact that he is, as we have already shown in the outset of this discussion, and as he himself admits, wholly and forever cut off from all the foregoing trafficking with the thing-in-itself, no matter what he may believe or disbelieve, admit or not admit, with regard to its attributes or properties. To Kant, then, every position is untenable, with quicksands and quagmires all around him.


The foregoing facts and inferences of this article, if applied to any kind of subjective space, or even to any kind of objective space merely, will show that space alone, whether subjective or objective, cannot be the element, the prism, which gives our sensations that spectrum-spread of our every-day perceptions; and the reason, in brief, is because sensations and mere space can have no natural relation to each other, but only an arbitrarily assumed relation, which is really no relation at all.


I think, therefore, that I have said enough to warrant the conclusion that Kant's a priori space is a pillar of sand which the slightest breath levels to the ground, and, with it, the entire apriori edifice of transcendental idealism that rests upon it, tumbles into ruins.


It may finally be said in Kant's defense that, while his theory cannot account for that spectrum-spread of our sensations which is so obvious a fact in our every-day experience, and which all theories, therefore, must admit, yet, as no theory can explain it any better than his, they and his are upon a par with each other in that respect, and therefore their relative value must be determined by their relative merits in all other respects. It may be said, for instance, that, if the extension, real or apparent, of our sensations cannot be imparted to them by a priori space or anything subjective, then it must be imparted to them by something outside of consciousness, and hence by the things-in-themselves, which must be supposed to have extension to impart, else they could not impart it; but if a priori space, even when granted positions and relative positions—extension—cannot possibly be so related or adjusted to sensations as to impart to them such positions and relative positions, how can the things-in-themselves, even granting them also positions and relative positions, impart such to our sensations? To this I make the following reply, which will at the same time contain my own views of external perception so far as they pertain to the matter under discussion.


The question, in brief, is this: Granting that space has positions and relative positions, and granting the same to the thing in-itself, how can the latter, which is apparently no better equipped for the task than space, nevertheless do what space evidently cannot do—namely, give sensations, positions, and relative positions, real or apparent? Sensation, of course, must always remain what it really is—namely, shapeless, positionless, non-extended feeling, which, consequently, neither space nor the thing-in-itself can ever really change into a thing of position and extension, form and size. Then, in this respect, space and the thing-in-itself are on apart—both being equally impotent. Neither of them, therefore, can be called upon for the genesis of anything but an apparent position, form, and size of our sensations.


"We have already shown that a priori space cannot account for such apparent extension of our sensations, owing to the fact that there can be no natural relation between the two—space and sensations—but only an arbitrarily assumed relation for which there can be found, not only no cause or reason, but for which there actually is none; and hence there is no rule which will enable us to say that the relation which is now assumed to exist will ever exist again even under similar circumstances, unless we again arbitrarily assume it to exist. In other words, a given sensation—say a red color—having no natural relation to any part of space more than to another, or to any particular length or breadth of space more than to another, it can occupy a definite position in space and a particular length and breadth in space only by our arbitrarily assuming that it so does, although we not only do not know how or why, but although we do know that there is no how or why about it except our bare assumption that it does. Yet the very failure to give that how and why is a confession of the failure of a priori space to explain that which most needs an explanation, and which no other element or elements of Kant’s machinery can explain.