Let us begin with considering actuality, and try to make out just what it consists in. If I ask you what the actuality of an event consists in, you will tell me that it consists in its happening then and there. The specifications then and there involve all its relations to other existents. The actuality of the event seems to lie in its relations to the universe of existents. A court may issue injunctions and judgments against me and I not care a snap of my finger for them. I may think them idle vapor. But when I feel the sheriff’s hand on my shoulder, I shall begin to have a sense of actuality. Actuality is something brute. There is no reason in it. I instance putting your shoulder against a door and trying to force it open against an unseen, silent, and unknown resistance. We have a two-sided consciousness of effort and resistance, which seems to me to come tolerably near to a pure sense of actuality. On the whole, I think we have here a mode of being of one thing which consists in how a second object is. I call that Secondness.
One who knows that Harvard University has an office in State Street, Boston, and has impression that it is at No. 30, but yet suspects that 50 is the number, would say “I think it is at No. 30, but it may be at No. 50,” or “it is possibly at No. 50.” Thereupon, another, who does not doubt his recollection, might chime in, “It actually is at No. 50,” or simply “it is at No. 50,” or “it is at No. 50, de inesse.” Thereupon, the person who had first asked, what the number was might say, “Since you are so positive, it must be at No. 50,” for “I know the first figure is 5. So, since you are both certain the second is a 0, why 50 it necessarily is.” That is to say, in this most subjective kind of Modality, that which is known by direct recollection is in the Mode of Actuality, the determinate mode.
That conception of Aristotle which is embodied for us in the cognate origin of the terms actuality and activity is one of the most deeply illuminating products of Greek thinking. Activity implies a generalization of effort; and effort is a two-sided idea, effort and resistance being inseparable, and therefore the idea of Actuality has also a dyadic form.
“Real” is a word invented in the thirteenth century to signify having Properties, i.e. characters sufficing to identify their subject, and possessing these whether they be anywise attributed to it by any single man or group of men, or not. Thus, the substance of a dream is not Real, since it was such as it was, merely in that a dreamer so dreamed it; but the fact of the dream is Real, if it was dreamed; since if so, its date, the name of the dreamer, etc., make up a set of circumstances sufficient to distinguish it from all other events; and these belong to it, i.e., would be true if predicated of it, whether A, B, or C Actually ascertains them or not. The “Actual” is that which is met with in the past, present, or future.
…the Actual, – the simple unmodalized Fact, – is that ingredient of the Truth the acknowledgement of which may be forced on the mind by experience, but can never receive a definite rational explanation free from any arbitrary element…
From what appears to be the second run of manuscript pages; possibly an earlier draft [MB]