This yields a characteristic type of pantheism, in the theory of the Unknowable which - rather paradoxically - is offered us.
There was little of originality in Luria's doctrines; the theory of emanations, the double belief in the process of the Divine Essence as it were self-concentrating (Zimzum) and on the other hand as expanding throughout creation; the philosophical " sceptism '° which regards God as unknowable but capable of direct intuition by feeling - these were all common elements of mystical thought.
(Whether one calls the unknowable a revealed mystery or an unexplained and inexplicable fact makes little difference.) William Paley (1743-1805) borrows from many writers; he borrows Lardner's learning and Butler's " particular evidence for Christianity," viz.
When the existence of God is denied (atheism), or His nature is declared unknowable (agnosticism), or He is identified with nature itself (pantheism), or He is so distinguished from the world that His free action is excluded from the course of nature (deism), miracle is necessarily denied.
He was regarded as the mediator between suffering humanity and the unknowable and inaccessible god of all being, who reigned in the ether.
He recognized a God who is unknowable, and a series of beings (Saiï¿½ovEs) who hold intercourse with men.
This work is divided into two parts; the first intended to show that while ultimate metaphysical questions are insoluble they compel to a recognition of an inscrutable Power behind phenomena which is called the Unknowable; the second devoted to the formulation and illustration of the Law of Evolution.
This is illustrated by the difficulties inherent in the conception of Cause, Space, Time, Matter, Motion, the Infinite, and the Absolute, and by the" relativity of knowledge,"which precludes knowledge of the Unknowable, since" all thinking is relationing."Yet the Unknowable may exist, and we may even have an" indefinite knowledge "of it, positive, though vague and extralogical.
Hence both science and religion must come to recognize as the" most certain of all facts that the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable."Thus to be buried side by side in the Unknowable constitutes their final reconciliation, as it is the refutation of irreligion which consists of" a lurking doubt whether the Incomprehensible is really incomprehensible."Such are the foundations of Spencer's metaphysic of the Unknowable, to which he resorts in all the fundamental difficulties which he subsequently encounters.
Even this, however, understates the case, seeing that a really inscrutable Unknowable would destroy all confidence in the order of nature and render all knowledge entirely precarious.
Spencer recognizes successively likenesses and unlikenesses among phenomena (the effects of the Unknowable), which are segregated into manifestations, vivid (object, nonego) or faint (subject, ego), and then into space and time, matter and motion and force, of which the last is symbolized for us by the experience of resistance, and is that out of which our ideas of matter and motion are built.
And he admits (§ 63) that if we were compelled to choose between translating mental phenomena into physical and its converse, the latter would be preferable, seeing that the ideas of matter and motion, merely symbolic of unknowable realities, are complex states of consciousness built out of units of feeling.
But easiest of all is it to leave the relation of the unknowable "substance of Mind" to the unknowable "substance of Matter" (substance he throughout conceives as the unknowable substrate of phenomena) to the Unknowable, as he finally does.
Still more unequivocal was the sceptical nihilism expressed by Gorgias: - (I) nothing exists; (2) if anything existed, it would be unknowable; (3) if anything existed and were knowable, the knowledge of it could not be communicated.
In the second place, having declared the noumenal power, which causes phenomena, or conscious affections, to be unknowable, and having left anybody who pleased to make it a god and an object of religion, he proceeds to describe it as if it were known force, and known in two respects as persistent and as resistant force.
Thus it turns out that the objective agency, the noumenal power, the absolute force, declared unknown and unknowable, is known after all to exist, persist, resist and cause our subjective affections or phenomena, yet not to think or to will.
It may be urged in reply that the synthetic philosophy could be made consistent by transferring the knowable resistance and persistence of the unknowable noumenon to knowable phenomena on the one hand, and on the other hand by maintaining that all phenomena from the original nebula to the rise of consciousness are only ` 0 impressions produced on consciousness through any of the senses," after all.
C. As to existence, Kant's position is the wholly illogical one that, though all known things are phenomena, there are things in themselves, or noumena; things which are said to cause sensations of outer sense and to receive sensations of inner sense, though they are beyond the category of causality which is defined as one of the notions uniting phenomena; and things which are assumed to exist and have these causal attributes, though declared unknowable by any logical use of reason, because logical reason is limited by the mental matter and form of experience to phenomena; and all this according to Kant himself.
Riehl, who in Der philosophische Kriti .cis- mus (1876, &c.) proposes the non-Kantian hypothesis that, though things in themselves are unknowable through reason alone, they are knowable by empirical intuition, and therefore also by empirical thought starting from intuition.
He describes his belief in an unknowable absolute as " carrying a step farther the doctrine put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel."
He admitted, however, that Kant also asserted, beyond this single universe of a single principle, a world of unknowable things in themselves, which is a Kantian not a Hegelian world.
Truth is not the agreement of knowledge with an object beyond itself, and therefore ex hypothesi unknowable, but the agreement of our judgments with the objects of our knowledge.
Eckhart's doctrine asserts behind God a predicateless Godhead, which, though unknowable not only to man but also to itself, is, as it were, the essence or potentiality of all things.
The two leading ideas are a dislike to the Unknowable in all its forms, and a reliance on the validity of our personal experience.
The course adopted by Kant's immediate successors in German idealism was to reject the whole conception of noiimena, for the reason that what is essentially unknowable has no existence for our intelligence.
This is the case with Herbert Spencer's doctrine of the Unknowable, which he advances as the result of epistemological considerations in the philosophical prolegomena to his system.