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Section 28

28. Many as are the objections to this theory, we pass on for fear of the ridicule we might incur by arguing against a position itself so manifestly ridiculous. We may be content with pointing out that it assigns the primacy to the Non-existent and treats it as the very summit of Existence: in short, it places the last thing first. The reason for this procedure lies in the acceptance of sense-perception as a trustworthy guide to first-principles and to all other entities.

This philosophy began by identifying the Real with body; then, viewing with apprehension the transmutations of bodies, decided that Reality was that which is permanent beneath the superficial changes- which is much as if one regarded space as having more title to Reality than the bodies within it, on the principle that space does not perish with them. They found a permanent in space, but it was a fault to take mere permanence as in itself a sufficient definition of the Real; the right method would have been to consider what properties must characterize Reality, by the presence of which properties it has also that of unfailing permanence. Thus if a shadow had permanence, accompanying an object through every change, that would not make it more real than the object itself. The sensible universe, as including the Substrate and a multitude of attributes, will thus have more claim to be Reality entire than has any one of its component entities (such as Matter): and if the sensible were in very truth the whole of Reality, Matter, the mere base and not the total, could not be that whole.

Most surprising of all is that, while they make sense-perception their guarantee of everything, they hold that the Real cannot be grasped by sensation;- for they have no right to assign to Matter even so much as resistance, since resistance is a quality. If however they profess to grasp Reality by Intellect, is it not a strange Intellect which ranks Matter above itself, giving Reality to Matter and not to itself? And as their "Intellect" has, thus, no Real-Existence, how can it be trustworthy when it speaks of things higher than itself, things to which it has no affinity whatever?

But an adequate treatment of this entity [Matter] and of substrates will be found elsewhere.

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