the thought-experiment of the ‘annihilation of the world’

The existence of a world is the correlate of certain multiplicities of experience distinguished by certain essential formations. But it cannot be seen that actual experiences can flow only in such concatenated forms.. It is instead quite conceivable that experience, because of conflict, might dissolve into illusion not only in detail, and that it might not be the case, as it is de facto, that every illusion manifests a deeper conflict.. in our experiencing it is conceivable that there might be a host of irreconcilable conflicts not just for us but in themselves, that experience might suddenly show itself to be refractory to the demand that it carry on its positings of physical things harmoniously, that its context might lose its fixed regular organizations of adumbrations, apprehensions, and appearances – in short that there might no longer be any world […]

Now let us add the results reached at the end of the last chapter; let us recall the possibility of the non-being of everything physically transcendent: it then becomes evident that while the being of consciousness, of any stream of mental processes whatever, would indeed be necessarily modified by an annihilation of the world of physical things its own existence would not be touched. Modified, to be sure. For an annihilation of the world means, correlatively, nothing else but that in each stream of mental processes.. certain ordered concatenations of experience and therefore certain complexes of theorizing reason oriented according to those concatenations of experience, would be excluded. But that does not mean that other mental processes and concatenations of mental processes would be excluded.


Thus we see that consciousness (mental process) and real being are anything but coordinate kinds of being, which dwell peaceably side by side and occasionally become “related to” or “connected with” one another. Only things which are essentially akin.. can become connected in the true sense of the word, can make up a whole. An immanental or absolute being and a transcendent being are, of course, both called, “existent,” an “object,” and have.. their objective determining contents. But.. a veritable abyss yawns between consciousness and reality. Here, an adumbrated being, not capable of ever becoming given absolutely, merely accidental and relative; there, a necessary and absolute being, essentially incapable of becoming given by virtue of adumbration and appearance. (§49, pp. 109-111)


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