09 | CR Book IV, Chapter 2

world. (2) Does practical success justify the theoretical explanations
with which it is connected and on which it appears to be based? It may
be that success is due to the blind operation of the same kind of force
which allows plants to adapt themselves, and that the explanations are
merely exchangeable rationalisations for what one does.

Within these limits one may argue that only social practice can open
the gate to reality: (1) In working together, we forget our own
individuality, and come to look upon things from a more universal angle.
(2) Most aspects of reality are discovered because relevant to the needs
of social groups. The mere fact of our survival and the observation
that thongs allow themselves to be mastered, seems to show that
we achieved a certain contact with reality. (3) The very idea of an
objective reality, as external to and distinct from my self, is gained only
by the experience of striving persons whose actions come into conflict
with the reality of things. The independent existence of objects is
discovered as an element of the experience we undergo when handling
things practically. It is inseparable from that practical experience, and
falls to the ground with its validity. (4) Percepts are distinguished from
images, sense perceptions from illusions, be reference to our bodily
movements, and to the public world which we share with our social
environment. (5) The selection of objects by thought involves purpose.
The standard by which our thoughts are judged is fixed by a purpose,
and involves an evaluation of their practical effects. (6) Spatial divisions
are due to a discrimination carried out either by mathematical thought,
or be sense perception. Mathematical thought is either independent of
sense perceptions; then it deals with a world of its own, a figment of the
mind, and has nothing to do with the real world; or it is derived by
abstraction from sense perception. Then its validity stands and falls with
that of sense perception, and is derived from it. The units which sense
perception discovers are essentially related to our practical needs, owe as
much to the structure of our sense organs as to that of things themselves,
and sensory activities cannot be separated from practical activities.

Chapter 2 - Unity apart from Action - Yet the unit-forming power
of our practice is apparently not all-powerful. There exists an objective
residue or remainder of objective unity which guides the formation of
units. It is discernible as gestalt in sense perception. Organic units are so
close that, while of uncertain boundaries and influenced to a certain
extent by the needs of our conception, they show a residuum of objective
unity. The analysis of organic unity and self-activity leads us back to the
self, as the nucleus of an inner constitution which cannot be completely
dissolved into external causes. Against the mechanical law of inertia one
can prove the existence of genuine inner causes which, in organism at
least, are far from negligible and to which organisms owe a certain
independence from and capacity for resistance to the external environ-
ment. We thus show that it would be wrong to say that organic units are
nothing in themselves.

What then is that which, in ourselves, allows us to own and to
disown, to receive and to reject things It is not nothing. Or, if it were,
it would at the same time be a force, and that is a contradiction. It also
is no ascertainable "something". IIt is in between (or beyond) something
and nothing. It is something moving towards nothing. In other words,
it is a contradiction. In its explosion and self-annihilation the self-