The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space

To bring our examples to a conclusion, we find the same sort of antinomy

in regard to space, and the world as it is extended in space. Here, too,

it becomes apparent that space as we imagine it, and as we carry it with

us as a concept for arranging our sense-impressions, cannot correspond to

the true reality. As in regard to time, so also in regard to space, we can

never after any distance however enormous come to a halt and say, "
ere is

the end of space." Whether we think of the diameter of the earth's orbit

or the distance to Sirius, and multiply them by a million we always ask,

"What lies behind?" and so extend space into the infinite. And as a matter

of course we people it also without end with heavenly bodies, stars,

nebulae, Milky Ways and the like. For here again there can be no obvious

reason why space in our neighbourhood should be filled, while space at a

greater distance should be thought of as empty. Therefore we actually

think of star beyond star, and, as far as we can reckon, stars beyond that

without end. For space extends not merely so far, but always farther. And

the number of the stars is not so many, but always one more. This sounds

quite obvious, but it has exactly the same impossibility as we found in

our "past infinity." For although we are carried by our conceptions into

the infinite, and to what never could have an end, it is impossible to

assume the same of reality.

It is remarkable and quite characteristic that the whole difficulty and

its peculiar nature become much more intelligible to us through the

familiar images and expressions of religion. There we readily admit that

we cannot comprehend the number of the stars and stellar spaces, because

for us they never reach an end, there being always one more; but that in

the eyes of God all is embraced in His universality, in a "perfect

synthesis," and that to Him Being is never and in no point "always one

more." God does not count.

Without the help of religious expressions we say: Being itself is always

itself and never implies any more; for if there were "always one more" it

would not be Being. It can only exist "as a perfect synthesis," which does

not mean an endless number, which nevertheless somewhere comes to an

end--again wooden iron--but something above all reckoning and beyond all

number, as it is beyond space and time. And that which we are able to

weigh and measure and number is therefore not reality itself, but only its

inadequate manifestation to our limited capacity for understanding.

But enough of this. The puzzles in the doctrines of the simple and the

complex, of the causeless and the caused, into which this world of ours

forces us, should teach us further to recognise it for what it

is--insufficient and pointing beyond itself,--to its own transcendent

depths. So, too, the problems that arise when we penetrate farther and

farther into the ever more and more minute, and the indefiniteness of our

thought-horizons in general should have the same effect.