F.H. Bradley

Appearance and Reality

Bradley says that illusion and error affect our thinking early, and there have been attempts to correct this, but he wishes to show that they have failed. He says the world, as so understood, contradicts itself and so is appearance not reality.

Bradley says that the distinction between primary and secondary qualities will always reappear as the one and most advanced scientific theory of first principles. Primary qualities are those aspects of what we perceive or feel that are spatial and are seen as the reality. The Secondary qualities are the derivative residue, and are seen as appearance because we assume that an object either has a quality or it doesn’t, and if it has it then it cannot have it only sometimes in this or that relation. Objects have secondary qualities only for an organ; and the organ itself has these in no other way. For example, sounds not heard aren’t real, while the ear itself is not audible, and its pleasure or pain associated with what it hears often changes.

And the facts of what is called subjective sensation, under which we may include dream and delusion of all kinds, may be adduced in support. They go to show that, as we can have the sensation without the object, and the object without the sensation, the one cannot possibly be a quality of the other.

He then responds to the objection that the qualities, which we perceive only as appearance, might actually be in the objects themselves, and it might be something outside them that is the cause of the failure for us to detect them. But I can’t understand it pg 14.

As for the primary quality of extension, his objections are: 1) we may ask how the qualities stand to the relations which have to hold between them (which he deals with in chapter 4); 2) the relation of the primary qualities to the secondary is unintelligible. Appearance must belong, and yet cannot belong, to the extended. It cannot be apart from it, since there is no other real place. And if it is part of it how can it not infect the reality with its unreal character? It would become one out of two elements and is not the reality. 3) The extended also comes to us by relation to an organ. For, in any case, we perceive the thing through an affection of our body, and never without it. The extension of our body is also subject to this. So nothing is extended except in relation to another thing which itself does not possess the quality, if you try to take it by itself. The dream/delusion objection also holds. It shows error points to a necessary relation of the object to our knowledge, and such a relation would reduce every quality to an appearance. If a thing is known to have a quality only under a certain condition, there is no process of reasoning from this that will justify the conclusion that the thing, if unconditioned, is yet the same. If the quality in question is non-existent for us except in one relation, then for us to assert its reality away from that relation is more than unwarranted. 4) Without secondary quality, extension is not conceivable, and no one can bring it, as existing, before his mind if he keeps it quite pure. A man cannot think of extension without thinking at the same time of a “what” that is extended. It also must have orientation which is not merely spatial. Extension cannot be presented or thought of except as one with quality that is secondary.

Yet the materialist from defect of nature or of education, or probably both, worships without justification this thin product of his untutored fancy. He then answers the materialist’s point that the secondary qualities are results of the primary by writing that there is no proof or smallest presumption that extension could act by itself or be a real fact if alone.

Chapter II Substantive and Adjective

This is a distinction and arrangement of facts with a view to understand them, but is theoretically unintelligible. He takes a lump of sugar as an example, saying that it is white, hard, and sweet. A thing is not any one of its qualities, if you take that quality by itself. Nor can a thing be all its properties, if you take them each severally. Sugar is obviously not mere whiteness, hardness, and sweetness; for its reality lies somehow in its unity. The qualities are, and are in a relation, but what does this mean? If the relation is seen as an attribute of the related, then if you predicate to the subject what is different, you ascribe to the subject what it is not; and if you predicate what is not different, you say nothing at all. If the relation is seen as independently real, then it results in the infinite cascade of relations. If a relation is to be real, it must be so somehow at the expense of the terms, or, at least, must be something which appears in them or to which they belong. A relation between A and B implies really a substantial foundation within them. Everywhere there must be a whole embracing what is related, or there would be no differences and no relation. The immediate unity, in which facts come to us, has been broken up by experience, and later by reflection. And our attempt to understand their relations brought us round merely to a unity, which confesses itself a pretence, or else falls back upon the old undivided substance, which admits of no distinctions.

Chapter III Relation and Quality

So long as we fail to justify the distinctions we see and fail to make them intelligible to ourselves, we are bound to put them down as mere appearance [which does not follow]. The object of this chapter is to show these ideas contradict themselves.

1) It is impossible to find qualities without relations. Their plurality gets for us all its meaning through relations. In the field of consciousness, even when we abstract from the relations of identity and difference, they are never independent. One is together with, and related to, one other, at the least, - in fact, always to more than one.

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