Book I: Metaphysics of Knowledge.

Chapter I: The Spiritual Principle in Knowledge and Nature.

§ 19.

From the above considerations thus much at any rate would seem to follow: that a form of consciousness, which we cannot explain as of natural origin, is necessary to our conceiving an order of nature, an objective world of fact from which illusion may be distinguished. In other words, an understanding—for that term seems as fit as any other to denote the principle of consciousness in question—irreducible to anything else, makes nature for us, in the sense of enabling us to conceive that there is such a thing. Now that which the understanding thus presents to itself consists, as we have seen, in certain relations regarded as forming a single system. The next question, then, will be whether understanding can be held to make nature in the further sense that it is the source, or at any rate a condition, of there being these relations. If it cannot, we are left in the awkward position of having to suppose that, while the conception of an order of nature on the one side, and that order itself on the other, are of different and independent origins, there is yet some unaccountable pre-established harmony through which there comes to be such an order corresponding to our conception of it. This indeed might be urged as a reason for seeking some way of escape from the conclusion at which we have just arrived. But before we renew an attempt which has often been made and failed, let us see whether the objections to the other alternative—to the view that the understanding which presents an order of nature to us is in principle one with an understanding which constitutes that order itself—have really the cogency which common-sense seems to ascribe to them. (§ 19 ¶ 1)