Imagine a world within a world. This inner world is encased in a kind of opaque glass, possible to see, if only vaguely, that there is probable reality outside of the glass. It is a transcendent reality and it is inaccessible. Inside the glass things are immanent, clearer and definable. They can be apprehended and are relational - i.e. they correspond to each other. Things inside the glass seem infinite but they are not. They are exhaustive and given enough time with perseverance can be known in some detail. At that point all the relations and events that matter can be identified. With that, the limitations of the glass are stipulated. The degree of confinement is specified. No more is possible. No more is necessary.
There could then be a moral consequence coming from an emergent relational outlook where things are understood in association and not in themselves. Humans are much less a threat to each other then. Persisting problems are elemental, not social, political or psychological. Humans are masters of their own contained universe but at the same time aware of the enormity of existence outside of the glass, an existence they cannot reach.
It is helpful to have a feeling for the distinction between these two worlds. It stops human consciousness assuming that it can know total reality, or more particularly, believing falsely that total reality is consistent with its own sensory and conceptual apparatus. That is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible. Human consciousness only accesses partial reality, reality within the glass in terms of this allegory. The glass of course is conceptual and not to be confused with the physical universe. Its inhabitants remain inside its confinement with an attitude of humility towards the bigger picture. This is humanity in its optimum state: humbled and content, devoid of hubris, arrogance and over-confidence, and all the deficits that come from, in Hume's terms, sophistry and illusion.
consciousness only accesses partial reality
IN THE SPIRIT OF WITTGENSTEIN
philosophy • 11.02.06