DIALOGUE III  pp. 362-389


By James Hinton

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R. Let us pass to another subject. In respect to Matter, you set aside any authority of our supposed intuitions and ask: What has made it necessary for men to infer it? And you answer, that it is a defectiveness of their own being which has made them feel as reality that which is but phenomenal. Hence, inasmuch as a phenomenon of course cannot act, they have been compelled to infer an unacting substratum. It is a false inference necessitated by man's own condition, and only to be escaped from through better knowledge: in this respect being like all the other false inferences men have been compelled to make. And this is why the question of matter has been so contended. It has been an inference at once necessary and false. However easy to disprove, still while the necessity of inferring it remains, through overlooking man's defect, it holds its ground. Thus comes the state of things which has been so often noticed, that men continue to believe in matter though they admit the arguments against it. That result is involved in the nature of the case. And the supposition of an authority in our perceptions, to vouch without investigation for the true nature of that which causes them, follows as a natural attempt to bridge over this difficulty, until the solution of it be found in man's defective apprehension.