1920s >> 1925 >> no-246-february-1925

Replies to correspondents

ANSWER TO G. T. FOSTER.

Your second letter takes us no further than your first one, and still consists of unsupported assertions.

Seeing, feeling, and other modes of consciousness, apart from something that sees, feels, or is conscious, is unthinkable to the human being. Your “Therefore” is thus totally unwarranted and illogical. Moreover, your sentence contains a fallacy. The brain is apprehended by the various modes of consciousness, but is clearly not in them. You make the usual mistake of the metaphysical idealist of confusing the state or mode of apprehension with the thing causing that state. Both Berkeley, hampered, it is true, by the limited knowledge of his time, and Bergson, with his empty, facile phrases, make the same blunder. This applies also to your last paragraph, for the “perceiving consciousness” is merely a mode of something having consciousness.

The answer to your question is now obvious. No one has ever known of a brain in anyone’s mind, but only as something apprehended by a mind.

Equally baseless is your remark that mind “would have to be known by a knower, or be absolutely unknowable.” Where is your evidence that it cannot “be known by a knower”? The metaphysicians you are so fond of continually use the word “self- conscious” or self-knowing; that is, according to your own definition, “the knower knowing.” But all this chatter about things being “unknowable” is, as Dr. Maudsley sarcastically says, like “a bluebottle fly calling its extra-relational the unbuzzable.”

Further contradiction appears in your next paragraph, where you admit our experiences are knowledge. Then so far as our experience—personal and racial—goes, we do know. Every year—nay, every day, every hour—sees our experiences continually increasing. That is to say, our knowledge is continually increasing, and neither you nor anyone else can set a limit to the increase of experiences while human beings exist.

​Ed. Com.

(Socialist Standard, February 1925)

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