Immanentism


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Immanentism

 

the subjective idealist trend in philosophy that equates being and knowable reality with the content of consciousness and that denies the existence of reality outside consciousness.

Among those belonging to this trend are the German philosophers W. Schuppe (whose Logic of the Theory of Knowledge, 1878, presented the basic ideas of immanentism), R. Schubert-Soldern, M. Kaufmann, and J. Rehmke. Immanentism expresses the positivist tendency in I. Kant’s theories and critical epistemology in a form very close to empiriocriticism. In the spirit of Kant, imanentism holds that the world of things is not objectively given but constructed by consciousness. However, unlike Kant (but consistently with the basic tendency of neo-Kantianism), it rejects the existence of the “thing in itself,” that is, of objective reality, and thus arrives at the position of subjective idealism. Since, from the point of view of immanentism, all that is knowable exists within the realm of consciousness, that is, is immanent within it, the content of consciousness becomes the only reality. The inner world and the external world, subject and object, are only two spheres that are “possessed” by the soul, two realms of the Ego, of consciousness. Immanentism continues the doctrines of the Swiss empiriocritical philosopher R. Avenarius, the doctrine of principal coordination (or the indissoluble unity of subject and object) and that of introjection.

In order to avoid subjectivism and solipsism, into which immanentism tends to fall because it recognizes only that which is given in consciousness, the immanentists, first of all, assert the existence of other Egos (which is inconsistent, since from their point of view it is impermissible to assert anything outside of consciousness). Second, some of its supporters postulate a generic, or universal, consciousness, which also serves as a criterion for objectivity and truth. In general, immanentism, which claims to eliminate the difficulties connected with the process by which the subject comes to know the object (at the expense of the elimination of that which is known), faces a very difficult problem: the distinction between the objective and true, on the one hand, and the subjective and illusory, on the other. Moreover, the idea of a universal consciousness gives rise to a series of new difficulties (beginning with the determination of its nature); many immanentists try to escape from these by holding such a consciousness to be “divine.” However, the acceptance of god and theological “conclusions” in turn requires a reassessment of the whole conception of immanentism—going beyond the bounds of epistemology into the realm of ontology and metaphysics and changing from subjective idealism to objective idealism.

For its subjective idealism and attempt to take a “third line” in philosophy, immanentism was sharply criticized in Lenin’s Materialism and Empiriocriticism (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 18).

REFERENCES

Boretskaia, E. “Immanentnaia filosofiia i transtsendentnaia metafizika.” Nauchnoe obozrenie, 1902, nos. 5 and 7.
Leclair, A. K monisticheskoi gnoseologii. St. Petersburg, 1904. (Translated from German.)
Schuppe, W. “Solipsizm.” Novye idei v filosofii, 1913, collection 6.
Rehmke, J. “O dostovernosti vneshnego mira dlia nas.” Ibid.
Bakradze, K. S. Ocherki po istorii noveishei i sovremennoi burzhuaznoi filosofii. Tbilisi, 1960.
Ettinger-Reichmann, R. Die Immanenzphilosophie. Göttingen, 1916.
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