But does the term 'non-contradictory' not have itself a certain positive significance? Only in a purely formal sense. Formally we can give positive expression to it, as the 'self-consistent,' or as 'differences united in a way acceptable to the intellect.' But concretely we know only what is not self-consistent, differences united in a way not acceptable to the intellect. When we set ourselves to the criticism of experience, we find that the intellect rejects as not finally acceptable each and all of the connections of experience. And when we ask what it is that the intellect wants, what is the positive meaning of the 'non-contradictory,' we can find no answer in any actual experience, but only in the nature of the direction in which the intellect attempts to make progress. Employing that as our clue, we can see that the intellect wants a union of difference in which the principle of union is internal to the differences. And this may properly enough lead us to say that the non-contradictory is 'unity-in-difference.' But this is only a formal account, which receives no filling from experience. What unity in difference concretely means, we do not, and cannot, know.
The objection we have just been considering is the most important which has yet met us. Let me in one sentence sum up the answer that has been given to it, as follows: The judgment 'reality is not-relational' does not imply the apprehension of a positive content in reality, for the reason that it is the direct consequence of another negative judgment about reality (' reality is non-contradictory') which is by nature ungrounded, intuitive, or immediate.
And now I pass to the final criticism which I wish to notice in this section. The burden of my argument with respect to it will come at a later stage, but it seems advisable to state it in principle here. 'Do you realise,' the critic may ask us, 'that your Supra-rational Absolute flies right in the face of man's most deep-seated convictions as to the orderly character of the universe. The "orderliness" of Reality is a veritable postulate of significant human experience. But your Absolute rejects all that man can possibly mean by "order." It is unintelligible, so far as our finite intelligence is concerned. And such a "cosmos" is surely perilously near to a "chaos."'
Now, with respect to the alleged postulate of the orderliness of reality, I do of course agree that the intellect assumes the self-consistency of reality, and in this sense its 'orderliness.' But the point of the critic's remonstrance is that this order must be an 'intelligible' order, or it loses all significance for us. Here I do most emphatically join issue. Paradoxical as the contention may at first sight appear, I am prepared to argue that it is only if the 'order' postulated by the intellect be interpreted as an order not intelligible that Reality can in the end be legitimately taken as 'cosmos' rather than 'chaos.' For - and here lies the crux of the matter - man is a conative as well as a cognitive being, and qua conative he must (as I shall later try to show) believe in his own personal freedom, musty i.e. recognise that there is in reality that which is incompatible with the logical continuity of an 'intelligible order.' This conviction of free initiative, I shall try to prove in Chapters IV.-V., is not something which gives way in the individual before the dissolving force of analysis. It is something inherent in self-conscious experience, ineradicable, not even subject to modification by the individual's possible intellectual assent to the philosophy of Absolute Idealism. But if this be so, what must be the straits of the man whose philosophy tells him that it is a postulate of the intellect that reality is an 'intelligible' order, and whose every significant act of will bids him deny this postulate? Surely this civil strife of the faculties, this warring in the very seat of the soul, may well reduce the hapless spectator of it to a sceptical despair? It is to the man who holds that the 'order' postulated by the intellect is 'intelligible order' that Reality should in truth appear as 'chaos.' For us it is still legitimately a 'cosmos'; for the practical postulate of personal freedom finds no contradiction in the theoretical postulate of an orderly reality, when once we frankly acknowledge that the order, or consistency, or harmony of Reality is incapable of interpretation in terms of intellectual categories. The 'heresy' of Supra-rationalism is not an enemy of the values. Properly understood it is their most potent guardian.