Thus the whole social convention posited by empirical idealism is borrowed without leave, and rests on the belief in nature for which it is substituted.
Page 21. The literary psychologist may come very near to the truth of experience.
Experience cannot be in itself an object of science, because it is essentially invisible, immeasurable, fugitive, and private; and although it may be shared or repeated, the evidence for that repetition or that unanimity cannot be found by comparing a present experience with another experience by hypothesis absent. Both the absent experience and its agreement with the present experience must be imagined freely and credited instinctively, in view of the known circumstances in which the absent experience is conceived to have occurred. The only instrument for conceiving experience at large is accordingly private imagination; and such imagination cannot be tested, although it may be guided and perhaps recast by fresh observations or reports concerning the action and language of other people. For action and language, being contagious, and being the material counterpart of experience in each of us, may voluntarily or involuntarily suggest our respective experience to one another, by causing each to re-enact more or less accurately within himself the experience of the rest. Thus alien thoughts and feelings are revealed or suggested to us in common life, not without a subjective transformation increasing, so to speak, as the square of the distance: and even the record of experience in people’s own words, when these are not names for recognisable external things, awakens in the reader, in another age or country, quite incommensurable ideas. Yet, under favourable circumstances, such suggestion or revelation of experience, without ever becoming science, may become public unanimity in sentiment, and may produce a truthful and lively dramatic literature.