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Click on the phrases to see them in context. The original texts by Immanuel Kant and David Hume are available from the Gutenberg Projet.


Idealism--I mean material idealism--is the theory which declares the existence of objects in space without us to be either () doubtful and indemonstrable, or (2) false and impossible.

 For example, if we take away by degrees from our conceptions of a body all that can be referred to mere sensuous experience--colour, hardness or softness, weight, even impenetrability--the body will then vanish; but the space which it occupied still remains, and this it is utterly impossible to annihilate in thought. The capacity of the mind is not infinite; consequently no idea of extension or duration consists of an infinite number of parts or inferior ideas, but of a finite number, and these simple and indivisible: It is therefore possible for space and time to exist conformable to this idea: And if it be possible, it is certain they actually do exist conformable to it; since their infinite divisibility is utterly impossible and contradictory. In such a case I should be obliged in transcendental reflection to compare my conceptions only under the conditions of sensibility, and so space and time would not be determinations of things in themselves, but of phenomena. (See SS 3.) Therefore, to speak accurately, no ideality whatever belongs to these, although they agree in this respect with the representation of space, that they belong merely to the subjective nature of the mode of sensuous perception; such a mode, for example, as that of sight, of hearing, and of feeling, by means of the sensations of colour, sound, and heat, but which, because they are only sensations and not intuitions, do not of themselves give us the cognition of any object, least of all, an a priori cognition. The principle of continuity forbids any leap in the series of phenomena regarded as changes (in mundo non datur saltus); and likewise, in the complex of all empirical intuitions in space, any break or hiatus between two phenomena (non datur hiatus)- for we can so express the principle, that experience can admit nothing which proves the existence of a vacuum, or which even admits it as a part of an empirical synthesis.