We must, however, go into this matter much more deeply. For, as the reader will have gathered, we have come now upon the reservations which must be made to the doctrine that, at the Phenomenological level, rational coherence is the test of Truth. We seem, in the above discussion, to have struck contact with a class of judgments whose 'Phenomenal' Truth, i.e. whose intellectual incorrigibility, is directly apprehended. Here the attempt to support the connection affirmed by grounding it within a system would be quite irrelevant, for the connection carries its warrant with it. We have now got before us, in fact, a very similar type of case to that which occupied our attention in the concluding Section of Chapter I (The Epistemological Approach To The Supra-Rational Absolute. Section I. Introductory), and whose status in the realm of Truth we were not then adequately equipped to determine. The subject of experience, we saw there, not only apprehends objects and events, but is aware of himself as apprehending. It seems probable that this self-awareness is, in its degree, a constant factor in experience. But whether this be so or not, it is certain that the subject can be aware of himself as judging or believing something (or again of feelings and sensations). We have to ask what exactly is the difference of principle in these 'reflex' judgments (if we may use this term for the judgments guaranteed by self-awareness) which renders them, apparently, exempt from the Coherence test of Truth. Can valid grounds be produced for assigning to them an infallibility which is denied to the ordinary run of judgments?
1 The phenomena of 'colour-blindness' are irrelevant. The person who sees 'green' when normal people see 'red' does see green. His subjective experience is, so far, what he says it is.
Let us note carefully the special peculiarity of these judgments. Their characteristic is that they do not involve anything that can fairly be called 'interpretative' activity. The activity of attention is required to bring them into due relief, but the business of this activity is simply to make explicit what is assumed to be there already implicitly, without transformation or addition. Anything more than this defeats the very purpose of attention. Undoubtedly interpretative activity is involved in the objective judgment - 'the sun is a yellow ball, etc.' - but the Tightness or wrongness of the interpretation there is absolutely irrelevant to the validity of my judgment that I entertain a belief that the sun is a yellow ball. So far as the 'reflex judgment' is concerned, there is no evidence of 'interpretation,' and it is because there is no interpretation present that we find that the fuller development of the cognitive life brings with it not the faintest obligation to modify the assertion made in the reflex judgment. Fuller experience may force me to modify my view of the nature of the sun. I may cease to believe that it is a yellow ball, just as I have ceased to believe that it travels round the earth. But this will not cast one atom of doubt on the fact that I once did believe the sun to be a yellow ball, and to travel round the earth. Judgments of particular objective fact are one and all modifiable, because they are one and all interpretations of the relations of differences within a system, and because this system, which determines the relations of the differences, is subject to an indefinite amount of growth and revision with advancing experience. But in the reflex judgment there is no 'system' impregnating, and furnishing ground for the connection of, the differences. We make the judgment, connect the differences, not through a ground that itself demands a further ground, but immediately. There is indeed a 'ground,' if we like to use it so, in the fact of self-awareness itself. This is what warrants the connection we affirm. But - and here is the crucial point - self-awareness is a ground which the mind must realise that it is absolutely meaningless to impugn. For we can see clearly that as long as human experience remains human experience, there is no sort of means but self-awareness of ascertaining the nature of our own experiencing - nothing, therefore, which could ever bring its authority into question. The recognition of the veridical character of self-awareness seems to be an irremovable element of human experience, offering us a 'ground' which we may seek to transcend only by seeking to transcend the conditions of our own finitude.
Any theory of Truth which cannot admit the intellectual incorrigibility of these reflex judgments stands, I think, self-condemned. It will certainly not be able to produce any instance in which a judgment guaranteed by self-awareness suffers modification with advancing experience. To take an example which has often, and with justice, been cited against the Coherence doctrine 1 - the experience of pain. I may find out all kinds of things subsequently about the nature and conditions of pain, but absolutely nothing which will induce me to suppose that I did not in fact have precisely the feeling with which my self-awareness acquainted me.
The Coherence theory in its orthodox statement, however, refuses to exempt any class of judgment from its test of 'harmonious system.' And it is worth bearing in mind that the connection of that theory with Idealist metaphysics makes such a view inevitable. For, to Idealism, Reality is intelligible throughout. Everything, therefore, is capable of being 'understood,' even an apparent condition of finite experience like 'self-awareness.' The Idealist, accordingly, is forbidden by his doctrine to say 'I know I have a feeling of pain because my self-awareness acquaints me with it.' For to him 'self-awareness' cannot be an ultimate ground. He is obliged to push on his researches and ask how and why self-awareness guarantees the connection here affirmed. He is obliged to seek to understand the nature of finite self-awareness - ultimately, I suppose, 'in the light of the Whole.' It is an advantage of the theory of Truth which issues from Supra-rationalist metaphysics that it eliminates some very absurd inquiries.
1 As in Professor Stout's article, 'Bradley on Truth and Falsity,' in Mind, N.S., No. 133 (p. 52).