Kant, Immanuel - Dreams of a Spirit Seer - 02 Chapter One
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Chapter One continued
At this point I cannot but recommend caution against rash conclusions which enter most easily into the deepest and obscurest questions.
For that which belongs to the common conceptions of experience is commonly regarded as if the reason why it existed was also comprehended. But of that which differs from experience, and cannot be made comprehensible by any experience, not even by analogy, we of course can form no conception, and, therefore, are apt to reject it immediately as impossible.
All matter offers resistance in the space in which it is present, and on that account is called impenetrable. That this is so, experience teaches us, and the abstraction of this experience produces in us the general conception of matter.
But this resistance which something makes in the space in which it is present, is in that manner indeed recognized, but not yet conceived. For this resistance, as everything that counteracts an action, is true force, and, as its direction is opposed to the prolonged lines of approach, it is a force of repulsion which must be attributed to matter and, therefore, to its elements.
Every reasonable man will readily concede that here human intelligence has reached its limit. For while, by experience alone, we can perceive that things of this world which we call “material” possess such a force, we can never conceive of the reason why they exist. Now, if I suppose other substances being present in space with other forces than that propelling force which has for its consequence impenetrability, then, of course, I cannot think in the concrete of their activity, because it has no analogy with my conceptions from experience.
And if, in addition, I take away from those substances the quality to fill the space in which they are present, I miss a conception which makes thinkable the things which come within the range of my senses; thence, necessarily, they must become in a way unthinkable. But this cannot be said to be a recognized impossibility, for the very reason that the possibility of the existence of its opposite remains also unintelligible, although its reality comes within the range of my senses.
The possibility of the existence of immaterial beings can, therefore, be supposed without fear of its being disproved, but also without hope of proving it by reason.
Such spiritual natures would be present in space in such a manner that it would still be penetrable for corporeal beings.
For by their presence they operate in space, but do not fill it, i.e., they cause no resistance, which is the basis of solidity.
If such a simple spiritual substance be supposed,—notwithstanding its indivisibility,—it can be said that the space where it is immediately present is not a point, but itself a space. For, calling in the aid of analogy, even the simple elements of the body must occupy there a space which is a proportionate part of its whole extension, inasmuch as points are not parts but limits of space.
Thus space is filled by means of an active force—repulsion. But the fact that it is being filled is apparent only by a greater activity of its components.