§24. Reality of the external world [297-298]

question, if it is to be scientifically useful, presupposes that we understand what is meant by 'being' if we wish to explain how the entity brings it about, that it is. But this understanding of 'being,' to be acquired in advance, then no longer even lets us get to the point of asking in this way. For this question involves taking being as its own entity, it tries to explain being in terms of an entity. When it becomes clear how absurd it is to expect, so to speak, a trick from being which it uses in order to be, and when a question of being thus understood is then referred back to the entity, this in no way means that nothing can be made of 'being-in-itself' but always only of the entity insofar as it is something apprehended, something objective in a consciousness. This would bring us to the familiar proposition that an entity always is only for a consciousness. This proposition is known as the 'principle of immanence,' which keeps all epistemologies busy over its pros and cons. It has led directly to the problem of knowledge, without benefit of asking what might be meant by 'immanence,' what findings from the phenomena themselves are taken up in it, if it says anything at all, and what is basically meant by the proposition "An entity always is only for a consciousness."

What the proposition basically means, what is seen in it, is not that an entity is dependent on consciousness in its being nor that something transcendent is actually at the same time something immanent. The phenomenal finding in this proposition is rather that a world is encountered. The phenomenon itself thus directs us to interpret the structure of encounter, the activity of encountering. And the more we go about this without prejudice, the more authentically is the entity encountered ascertainable in its being.

The being of entities does not lie in the activity of encountering, but the encounter of entities is the phenomenal basis, and the sole basis, upon which the being of entities can be grasped. Only the interpretation of the encounter with entities can secure the being of entities, if at all. It must be stated that the entity as an entity is 'in itself' and independent of any apprehension of it; accordingly, the being of the entity is found only in encounter and can be explained, made understandable, only from the phenomenal exhibition and interpretation of the structure of encounter. In this case explanation is inadequate, inasmuch as it is a derivative, inferior mode of expository interpretation and uncovering of the entity. Every explanation, when we speak of an explanation of nature, is distinguished by its involvement in the incomprehensible. It can be flatly stated that explanation is the expository interpretation of the incomprehensible, not so that this exposition would let us comprehend the incomprehensible, for it remains incomprehensible in principle. Nature is what is in principle explainable and to be explained because it is in principle incomprehensible. It is the incomprehensible pure and simple. And it is the incomprehensible because it is the "unworlded" world, insofar