First, then, as to 'self-consistency.' That Reality does not contradict itself, and therefore is self-consistent, is a presupposition of all thinking, and so far certain. But against this we have to remember that the ideal of self-consistency which operates in concrete thinking turns out to be defective - a mere 'phenomenal' transcript. When we say that Reality is self-consistent, therefore, we must guard ourselves against supposing that its self-consistency can be envisaged on the analogy of our positive 'systems of knowledge.' We do not know, even in principle, what is the character of that which satisfies the intellect, or is 'self-consistent.' The most that we can legitimately mean when we declare Reality to be self-consistent is, I think, that it does and must possess a character, whatever that character may be, which would satisfy in full the demands of the intellect.
Again, because we take Reality to be self-consistent, we have to reject the notion of a plurality of reals. For Pluralism, as we saw earlier, implies purely external relations, and these are self-contradictory. Thus we come to say that Reality is a 'single' system. And since, further, there is nothing which in any way is that can fail to belong to Reality, it is natural to go on to say that Reality is not only 'one' but 'all-inclusive.' But here once more we must beware. The unity that we ascribe to Reality cannot be adequate to Reality. It gets what meaning it has for us in being defined against plurality, belonging essentially, therefore, to a limited form of being. We have no positive idea of a unity adequate to Reality (although, as we have seen, Bradley is convinced that there is a 'felt unity' of immediate experience which 'serves to suggest to us the general idea of a total experience, where will and thought and feeling will all once more be one ').1 And the spatial metaphor, 'all-inclusive,' is certainly not less inept. We have to recognise, I think, that each of these terms, in so far as its application is legitimate, is negative in import. When we affirm that Reality is 'one,' we reject the error that there is a plurality of reals. And when we add that it is 'all-inclusive,' we reject the error that there are such things as mere appearances, which are somehow isolated from the one Reality. There is a tendency, which may understandably be fostered by the doctrine that Reality is 'a single, all-inclusive system,' to picture Reality in terms of the most comprehensive unities we know in experience. But whatever we may say of the merely symbolical validity of the procedure - a matter that will engage our attention when we come to deal with religious experience - it must be pronounced to be, in any literal sense, illegitimate.
To sum up the results of this Section. We have seen that there is a valid significance in applying to Reality such terms as 'self-consistent,' 'one,' and 'all-inclusive,' but that it is a significance which does not prejudice the essential unknow-ability of the real. We have argued, on the other hand, that the term 'experience' is not applicable, or at least not with the positive significance which Bradley reads into it. I can imagine, however, here as in the other terms, a certain negative significance which does seem defensible. In saying that Reality is 'experience; our primary intention might just be to reject the error of supposing that the real is crassly 'non-mental.' This would not be without value. Reality as supra-rational or supra-mental is, indeed, certainly not' mental.' It possesses no assignable identity with what we can mean by 'mental'.
1 Appearance and Reality, p. 160.
But, as against this, Reality is such that the mind would find in it its own full and final consummation. And, in these circumstances, to call it 'non-mental' is much more misleading than to call it 'mental.' Perhaps we can best express the situation by saying that whereas the ascription to Reality of 'self-consistency' calls attention to the fact that Reality must satisfy mind, the ascription of the term 'experience' calls attention to the fact that Reality must satisfy mind.