04 | CR Book I, Chapter 3

varies from observer to observer, and may not reveal but destroy the
self. Further, when conscious of itself, the self is split into subject and
object. The object is then only part of the self. I can no more hope to get
hold of my self by looking at it, than I can tread on my on shadow. If
subject and object are one, consciousness of self disappears. The self
when whole and intact, is not conscious of itself. The crude data of our
inner consciousness, uncritically accepted, do not therefore, in them-
selves, furnish us with reliable material for a rational approach. They
require critical interpretation in the light of ontological thought.

Tradition has recognised the close connection between the problems
of selfhood, and ontological questions. The problem of selfhood is often
stated in terms from which the term "self" is absent. The problem of
"self" is hidden behind other words. For instance, to speak of the
"essence" of a thing is the same as to speak of the thing "itself".
A study of selfhood aims at defining objective essential units. The
problems usually discussed under the headings of "substance",
"identity", "nature", "spirit", and "freedom" are akin, too. We
must take the self as a reality, and regard it from the angle of being as
being. The investigation into selfhood has to go hand in hand with the
investigation of being as being, and of the being of things in general.
The problem of selfhood is bound up with that of the limits and of the
unity of single and individual things in general. What is one thing?
What is it that makes it one? What is it that belongs to a thing? Where
are the limits between things? How far does extend the range of that
which belongs to something, or of what something is?

Chapter 3 - Definitions - The essential may be defined as the
"inseparable", or as the "necessary" (v. the accidental), or as the
"reality", "depth", "kernel" (v. "appearance", or "surface", or

The being of things is either defined as excluding, or as including
contradictions. A thing either essentially maintains, or it essentially
destroys itself. Or it may do both. The units are chosen either in such
a way that contradictions are somehow unreal, or the limits, or
boundaries, are chosen in such a way that contradictions operate within
them. We shall try and prove that the latter is the more adequate way
of looking at things.

We define two kinds of contradiction as follows: - 

In intellectual contradictions we make a statement, one of whose
parts denies what the other part affirmed. The general formula of
intellectual contradiction is:

                           S is said to be P
                           in the same respect
                           S is said to be not P

We speak of objective (or "material" or "real") contradictions
if and when essential parts or constituents of an objective unity tend to
annihilate each other. A contradiction differs from opposition in that its
two sides are not distributed among different "parts" or "aspects", or
"spots", of a thing. Stated in propositions, material contradictions
conform to the following model:

        S is essentially P; S is essentially not P
        S itself is P; S itself is not P

Things are driven out of their contradictory state by the contra-