The course of things and their connexion is only thinkable by the assumption of a plurality of existences, the reality of which (as distinguished from our knowledge of them) can be conceived only as a multitude of relations.
But, in attempting to make this conception quite clear and thinkable, we are forced to represent the connexion of things as a universal substance, the essence of which we conceive as a system of laws which underlies everything and in its own self connects everything, but imperceptible, and known to us merely through the impressions it produces on us, which we call things.
The English thinkers influenced by Hegel are inclined to assert mechanism unconditionally, as the very expression of reason - the only thinkable form of order.
Of such primitive principles, the absolutely necessary conditions of possible cognition, only three are thinkable - one perfectly unconditioned both in form and matter; a second, unconditioned in form but not in matter; a third, unconditioned in matter but not in form.
- As Aristotle remarked both in the De Interpretatione and in the Sophistici Elenchi, " not-being is thinkable " does not mean " not-being exists."
The judgment, " not-being is thinkable," cited by Aristotle; the judgment, " A square circle is impossible," cited by Herbart; the judgment, " A centaur is a fiction of the poets," cited by Mill.
But of these universal propositions the first imperfectly expresses a categorical belief in existing things, the second in thinkable things, and the third in nameable things, while the fourth is a slipshod categorical expression of the hypothetical belief, " If any candidates arrive late they are fined."
But really a judgment is a belief that something, existing, or thinkable, or nameable or what not, is (or is not) determined; and inference is a process from and to such beliefs in being.