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Section 7

7. Now if we do not mean anything by Relation but are victims of words, none of the relations mentioned can exist: Relation will be a notion void of content.

Suppose however that we do possess ourselves of objective truth when in comparing two points of time we pronounce one prior, or posterior, to the other, that priority does entail something distinct from the objects to which it refers; admit an objective truth behind the relation of left and right: does this apply also to magnitudes, and is the relation exhibiting excess and deficiency also something distinct from the quantities involved?

Now one thing is double of another quite apart from our speech or thought; one thing possesses and another is possessed before we notice the fact; equals do not await our comparison but- and this applies to Quality as well as Quantity- rest upon an identity existing between the objects compared: in all the conditions in which we assert Relation the mutual relation exists over and above the objects; we perceive it as already existent; our knowledge is directed upon a thing, there to be known- a clear testimony to the reality of Relation.

In these circumstances we can no longer put the question of its existence. We have simply to distinguish: sometimes the relation subsists while the objects remain unaltered and even apart; sometimes it depends upon their combination; sometimes, while they remain unchanged, the relation utterly ceases, or, as happens with right and near, becomes different. These are the facts which chiefly account for the notion that Relation has no reality in such circumstances.

Our task, thus, is to give full value to this elusive character of Relation, and, then to enquire what there is that is constant in all these particular cases and whether this constant is generic or accidental; and having found this constant, we must discover what sort of actuality it possesses.

It need hardly be said that we are not to affirm Relation where one thing is simply an attribute of another, as a habit is an attribute of a soul or of a body; it is not Relation when a soul belongs to this individual or dwells in that body. Relation enters only when the actuality of the relationships is derived from no other source than Relation itself; the actuality must be, not that which is characteristic of the substances in question, but that which is specifically called relative. Thus double with its correlative, half gives actuality neither to two yards' length or the number two, nor to one yard's length or the number one; what happens is that, when these quantities are viewed in their relation, they are found to be not merely two and one respectively, but to produce the assertion and to exhibit the fact of standing one to the other in the condition of double and half. Out of the objects in a certain conjunction this condition of being double and half has issued as something distinct from either; double and half have emerged as correlatives, and their being is precisely this of mutual dependence; the double exists by its superiority over the half, and the half by its inferiority; there is no priority to distinguish double from half; they arise simultaneously.

It is another question whether they endure simultaneously. Take the case of father and son, and such relationships; the father dies, but the other is still his son, and so with brothers. Moreover, we see likeness where one of the like people is dead.

Next: Section 8