Book I: Metaphysics of Knowledge.

Chapter I: The Spiritual Principle in Knowledge and Nature.

§ 13.

The terms real and objective, then, have no meaning except for a consciousness which presents its experiences to itself as determined by relations, and at the same time conceives a single and unalterable order of relations determining them, with which its temporary presentation, as each experience occurs, of the relations determining it may be contrasted. For such a consciousness, perpetually altering its views of the relations determining any experience under the necessity of combining them in one system with other recognised relations, and for such a consciousness only, there is significance in the judgment that any experience seems to be so and so, i.e., to be related in a certain way, but really is otherwise related. We shall have afterwards [§ 19 and foll.] to consider the question whether the consciousness, for which alone this contrast of the real and the apparent is possible, has anything to do with the establishment of the relations in which it conceives reality to consist—whether the conception of reality has any identity with the act by which reality is constituted. But even if this latter question is waived or answered in the negative, there will still be an important sense in which understanding, or consciousness as acting in the manner described, may be said to be the principle of objectivity. It will be through it that there is for us an objective world; through it that we conceive an order of nature, with the unity of which we must reconcile our interpretations of phenomena, if they are to be other than subjective illusions. (§ 13 ¶ 1)