[This topic is discussed in Modes of the Finite, Part 1, Section 3, Chapters 5-8.]
5.1. Third step: the single act of consciousness
So now we have got this far: we have seen that consciousness--at least as we experience it--can't stand by itself, since otherwise we would never go to sleep. And in investigating the implications of this, we concluded that there must be a mind, the subject of consciousness.
The next effect, the one that will get us to the object of consciousness, is considerably more difficult to see, and is ample warrant for the following:
• WARNING! •
The major difficulty with the analysis that follows is to realize that there is really an effect here, and precisely what it is. It will sound like playing with words, because it is very difficult to describe just what the difficulty is. It is, however, a real difficulty. Your task will be to assure yourself that there is no way to describe one appearance among many in such a way that it does not contradict itself, as both being and not being what it is.
So let us focus our attention on this new effect, which at first blush seems very simple; but the more you examine it, trying to describe it in such a way that it makes sense, the more mysterious it gets.
THIRD EFFECT: Any given act of your consciousness is (a) nothing but your consciousness, and (b) different from other acts of your consciousness (which are also nothing but your consciousness).
The reason for the first clause is that if your consciousness contained something in addition to (i.e. other than) your consciousness, what would this additional something be? It would have to be something (by definition) not conscious. But then how could you be conscious of it? Or rather, how could it be part of your consciousness?
And yet, if you look at the second clause, how could you possibly know that this act of consciousness (e.g. reading this page) is different from that one (hearing music) if there's nothing in the consciousness itself that's different? Obviously, the two consciousnesses as consciousnesses are different, precisely because you are aware of (conscious of) the difference: of the distinctiveness of each of them.
(Now the solution to this dilemma is going to be the obvious one, that the reason they're different is because you're conscious of different things. But that's the cause of the effect; what you have to see first is what the effect is. And remember, the effect is something that doesn't make sense by itself; and when you say, "Well, of course, they're different because they're conscious of different things," you're adding the cause--which of course makes sense out of it. Be patient, and take things a step at a time--if for no other reason than that the process by which you get to this cause is also the process by which you will have to admit that there is a God.)
5.1.1. The finite: three definitions
So what seems to be the case so far is that the "distinctive aspect" of each conscious act (a) can't be different from the "common aspect" (because then it would be unconscious, or outside consciousness), and yet (b) has to be different from the "common aspect," or both acts would be in every way identical.
First attempt: So let us suppose that any given appearance consists of two aspects: (1) the "common aspect," by which it is the same as all of my other appearances, and (2) the "distinctive aspect" by which it is this appearance and no other.
The first thing to note here is that the "common aspect" is the aspect by which you can call the act "your consciousness," since you can call each of your appearances (a case of) your consciousness, and this aspect is what all the appearances have in common.
But that automatically means that the "distinctive aspect" has to be different from the "your consciousness" aspect, something other than "your consciousness." Because if it isn't different, it's identical; and if it isn't "other than," it's "the same as." But since every conscious act you perform is (some) appearance, then every act contains this "otherness" within it or it isn't your consciousness.
Clearly, the "distinctive aspect," (the seeing of the page, for instance) isn't outside your consciousness, because if it were, it would be an object which you am conscious of, not part of the consciousness itself. But then how could you be conscious of it? Your consciousness of it would have to be different from your consciousness of anything else, or as far as your consciousness is concerned, they'd all be exactly the same. Besides, you are conscious of the appearance as distinctive.
So the "difference" has to be within your consciousness, part of my consciousness as consciousness: i.e. the appearance--this distinctive act of consciousness, is your consciousness, as I said.
So where we have arrived is that by taking this description, your consciousness contains what is not your consciousness within it as identical with what it is to be your consciousness at the moment.
• FIRST DEFINITION OF THE FINITE: Something is finite when it contains what is different from itself as not different from itself.
To put this differently, note that the first act of consciousness I mentioned above can't be "your consciousness + seeing the page," and the second "your consciousness + hearing the music" because the "seeing the page" as different from "your consciousness" would be unconscious. In that case, you'd be conscious, but not conscious that you were seeing the page.
That is, it is clear that "seeing the page" is not only part of your consciousness at the moment, it defines what your consciousness is at the moment. Your consciousness at the moment is, as I said at the beginning, nothing but seeing the page. Anything but reading the page is (now) unconscious; that is, hearing the music is (at the moment) precisely not what your consciousness is; it is unconscious.(1)
And so the point I am making here is that (at the moment) "reading the page" is what your consciousness is, and it is all that your consciousness is. And yet, "reading the page" is clearly not what your consciousness is, because then "hearing the music" would not be your consciousness, because it is clearly not "reading the page."
So "reading the page" both is and is not identical with your consciousness. Or, to put it another way, your consciousness (which can also be "hearing the music") contains something other than simply "your consciousness" (the "reading" aspect) as not other than itself.
You see why I said that this is an effect?
Second attempt: "Well, wait a minute," you answer. "It's only an 'effect' as you put it because you described it in that funny way. Consciousness doesn't have some 'other thing' called 'reading the page' inside it; it's just the fact that my consciousness at the moment is no more than reading the page--and at some other moment, it's only that other way of being conscious, and so on. The 'way' is not something else; it's just a fact about my consciousness."
Unfortunately, however, what this means is that you're saying that reading the page is simply the fact that your consciousness (at the moment) is not all there is to your consciousness; because at some other moment, it's hearing the music, or smelling a rose. But your consciousness at the moment is all there is to your consciousness, because (at the moment) all the "rest" of your consciousness is unconscious. And how can what is unconscious be part of consciousness?
That is, if "reading the page" is all that your consciousness is at the moment, then it's all that your consciousness really is, because you are only really conscious at the present moment. The way you were conscious yesterday is (now) unconscious, as so as far as your actual consciousness is concerned, it doesn't exist.
So the whole of your real consciousness (i.e. your consciousness as actually being conscious) is summed up in the present appearance: reading the page.
Yet this is clearly not all there really is to your consciousness, or you would never have been conscious in any other way at all. So all there really is to your consciousness is less than all there really is to your consciousness.
In other words, your present consciousness, which is all there really is to your consciousness, leaves most of itself outside itself as unconscious.
• SECOND DEFINITION OF THE FINITE: Something is finite when it is less than itself. Another way of stating this definition is that it is finite when it leaves some of itself outside itself.
To go over this again, when you say that reading this page is not "my consciousness plus 'thisness' (the reading of the page--which was the first definition, which you didn't like)," but rather the "thisness" is really just the fact that your consciousness at the moment is nothing more than reading the page, what you're saying is that your consciousness at the moment (which is all that your consciousness really is) is less than what your consciousness really is. Otherwise how could it (at some other moment) be hearing music?
Or, putting it the other way, if you're saying that your consciousness while reading the page is not your consciousness plus something, but is simply a restriction on your consciousness to being not all it could be, then you're taking cognizance of the fact that most of your consciousness (all the ways you ever have been conscious in the past) is left out of your consciousness, because all of these are unconscious now--and you wouldn't want consciousness to contain unconsciousness, would you?
"Well," you say, "that's 'my consciousness' in the abstract, but not my concrete consciousness." Nosir. Your abstract consciousness contains all the ways you could be conscious; but concretely, you actually have been conscious in a limited number of these ways, and you can in principle remember all of them at any moment. So these are "your consciousness" in a sense in which your consciousness of what's on the next page isn't, at the moment (because you may never read it). So there's a sense in which your "real" or "actual" consciousness is mostly unconscious--which is absurd. Your "really real" consciousness is only the way you are conscious at the moment; but this is certainly less than what it is for you to be conscious. So your real consciousness is less than itself--which doesn't make any sense either.
So that "description" of your consciousness doesn't make it any less self-contradictory. So far, then, a given act of your consciousness is (a) either your consciousness plus something that is different from itself which is not different from itself, or (b) your consciousness minus part of itself (the other ways you have been and could be conscious).
Third attempt: These are, of course, just two sides of the same coin: two different avenues of approaching what is basically the same dilemma; and there is a third one. Whichever approach you take, the fact is that now your consciousness (which is all there is to your real consciousness) is different from what your consciousness was five minutes ago (which at the time was all there was to your consciousness).
• THIRD DEFINITION OF THE FINITE: Something is finite when it is different from itself.
That is, either your consciousness contains a property we can call "thisness" or it doesn't. If it does, this property both is and is not identical with the consciousness itself. If it doesn't, this "property" is not a property, but a fact about the consciousness which makes it in any given case less than what it is to be itself (because even now it could in itself be a different act, which it really isn't); and since there are many acts, and each one is the whole of your actual consciousness, then your actual consciousness is different at different times--but since it's always your whole actual consciousness, it is simultaneously the same while it's different.
• NOTE •
I stress again that I am not playing with words here. Try yourself to see if there is any way you can describe your consciousness in such a way that (a) you're being honest with the data, and (b) it makes sense without going beyond it. My point is that no matter how you describe it, you are going to run into a contradiction, unless you go beyond the conscious act.
As the definitions imply, the fact that your consciousness at any given moment is a given way of being conscious just a special case of the general fact of something's being limited (or finite).
As an example your imagination can hang onto while you are thinking these abstract thoughts, consider wooden ball; it has a surface. But what is the surface? It isn't something in addition to the wood, or you couldn't put a new surface on it by paring away some of the wood. And yet it's not the wood, because if it were, then the "surface" that will be there after you've carved away some wood would actually be there now. But it's absurd to say that there's a real surface under the surface. So the surface is not wood but is nothing but wood. It's not a "what," it's a "where": it's where the wood stops, where there's no more wood; but it's in the wood itself, not outside it (which is, of course, the surface of the air touching the wood).
In other words, the surface is simply the fact that the wood is not all over the universe; or it's the wood as being less than what it otherwise would be. A limit is in itself nothing at all; yet it really makes what it limits less than what it otherwise would be. But how can nothing at all do anything? Well it can't. The limit doesn't limit the wood; it's just that the wood is limited. By what? Clearly, it doesn't limit itself because by itself (as just wood) it would be greater than this limited example of it. Then what does limit it to being this ball and only this ball? Clearly, the person (or machine) who carved it.
But what that says is that anything limited is an effect, which has to have some cause beyond itself. to account for how it got into this restricted condition.
SECOND CONCLUSION: Anything finite is an effect simply because it is finite. By itself it contradicts itself.
So what I am saying here is that your consciousness itself cannot make sense out of the fact that at this moment, it is only this form of consciousness, or this way of being conscious, or whatever. And the reason is that the "form" of consciousness (as both the same as and not the same as the consciousness) contradicts itself--unless consciousness is forced from outside this act to be less than what it is in itself, or what it otherwise would be.
That is, in common-sense language, your consciousness at the moment as you read this page is simply inexplicable without there actually being a page that you're conscious of. Why? Because at the moment, your consciousness could be any of the possible forms it could take; and there's nothing in your consciousness that would pick out this one rather than some other one.
But that's not quite rigorous; it leaves open a lot of loopholes where someone could logically say, "Well, yes, but ..." And the reason we're proceeding in this tedious fashion is to close the loopholes, so that anyone who objects to the reasoning process will have to admit that he's not being reasonable.
5.2. Fourth step: toward the cause
Very well. I think I can now take it as established that any given conscious act of yours is an effect simply because it is a case of finite consciousness. It either contains unconsciousness within it as identical with itself, or it leaves some of "your consciousness" outside itself, and so is both all there is to your consciousness and not all there is to your consciousness (it is less than itself), or it is your consciousness as different from your consciousness.
But you do have conscious acts; so they make sense somehow. Since they don't make sense by themselves, they must make sense through some cause.
• DEFINITION: Existence is the cause of the finiteness of any finite act of consciousness.
This is another of those "solutions by definition." That is, we have no idea what existence is so far, based on this definition; it's just defined as "whatever it is that makes sense out of a finite way of being conscious." But now our job is to explore what is necessary to explain any finite act of consciousness, and see (as we did with the mind) if we can come up with some properties existence has--and some it doesn't.
FIRST QUESTION: Can existence be another finite act of consciousness?
That is, maybe the act of seeing the page doesn't make sense by itself, but some other act of consciousness you had makes sense out of it. And this seems like a plausible explanation; after all, if you remember your mother at the moment, it's obvious that your experience of your mother at some time in the past is what accounts for the particular experience you are now having.
But not so fast. Your previous experience of your mother might account for why this memory is a remembering of your mother (i.e. why the finite act has this form rather than the form of the image of your father); but that's a different effect from the one we're interested in. The same affected object can be many different effects.
• What is, then, the effect we are interested in? The mere fact that the act is finite, not the particular way it happens to be finite. That is, it doesn't matter which act of consciousness you pick as the effect we are investigating, because they are all the same as cases of finite consciousness, even though the form the finiteness takes is different in each case.
Be very clear on this. Every single appearance is identical with every other one in this abstract aspect: It is a case of your consciousness as (1) containing unconsciousness, or (2) less than your consciousness, or (3) different from your consciousness. But the effect is abstract, remember; it is just the facts that don't make sense by themselves.
True, the appearance which is reading this page is different (in the concrete) from the appearance which is hearing music; but we are not looking for the particular cause of why your appearance (which could be anything) is reading the page and not anything else (which, of course, is the page you are reading); we are interested in this effect insofar as it is identical with any other appearance (consciousness as finite). The effect is different depending on what mutually contradictory facts you focus on.
So I'm not playing games here. This is a legitimate way to consider the effect.
But when you do, then you can say by Theorem V of Chapter 3 (that identical effects have identical causes) if some other finite act of consciousness were the cause of the act we picked out as the effect, it would also have to be the cause of itself as finite.
But by Theorem II, nothing can be the cause of itself; therefore,
THIRD CONCLUSION: existence cannot be another finite act of consciousness.
SECOND QUESTION: Can existence be any combination of finite acts of consciousness all acting together on the one in question?
That is, maybe one single other act of consciousness can't be the cause of another one, because it's identical as effect. But a pair of them acting together wouldn't be identical with the act of consciousness they're supposed to explain (even though each of the components would); so maybe they could do the job.
But no. A pair of conscious acts, even taken together, is a case of consciousness that contains non-consciousness (the defining forms of each of the components) within it making it the particular (complex) act of consciousness it is; it just contains two "non-consciousnesses" rather than one. So it's finite. Also, it's clearly not all there is to your consciousness, since it leaves out of itself the act which is the effect you want to explain. So it's a (complex) finite act of consciousness.
Since two acts of consciousness acting together is actually nothing but a complex case of finite consciousness, then by the argument above, existence cannot be a pair of finite acts of consciousness.
We now perform what is called a "mathematical induction": We try a couple other instances, and note that exactly the same thing applies because of the nature of what we are dealing with. We then conclude that it must apply in every case. So, the same argument applies to three combined appearances, to four, to five, and in fact, to any number of components in this "other" (complex) act of consciousness that is supposed to explain the finiteness of the first one.
• Even if the complex "cause" contained an infinite number of components, it would still be finite in our sense of the term, because (a) it would contain all of the particular forms of consciousness of the components, and these would be non-consciousness as within the consciousness defining it as this particular (infinite) set of components, and (b) it would leave out the act that it is supposed to be the cause of, indicating that it is less than what it is for you to be conscious.
Therefore, since any combination of finite acts of consciousness, however large--even with an infinite number of components--is still only a (complex) case of finite consciousness, existence cannot be any combination of conscious acts.
FOURTH CONCLUSION: existence is outside (i.e. other than) consciousness.
THIRD QUESTION: Can existence be the mind?
We know now that existence can't be within consciousness; but we already know that there is something "outside" consciousness: the whatever-it-is that we defined as the "mind," when we were talking about the different periods of consciousness.
But this won't work. The mind, as you will recall, was the cause of the fact that all of your consciousness is the same as "yours." But the effect we are now examining is the peculiarity inherent in the fact that each of your acts of consciousness is distinctively "this" act and not the same as the others.
But by Theorem VI of chapter I (that different effects have different causes) existence cannot be the mind.
FIFTH CONCLUSION: existence is be both outside consciousness and outside the mind.
By this long and tedious route, we have been able to establish that when you're looking at something like this page, there really is a page "out there."
And having said this, we can say several other things about existence. For instance, we can resort to Theorem III and its Corollary I: that the cause is not affected by the fact that it's a cause, and the cause is always independent of the effect, and we can say this:
SIXTH CONCLUSION: Existence is not affected by the fact that you are conscious of it; it is completely independent of your conscious act.
True, you couldn't know there was a given existence if you didn't have an act of consciousness that "talked about" it (i.e. was the effect of which it was the cause); but that makes no difference to the existence itself. Whether you know it or not, it is still just what it is.
Your consciousness depends on existence, not the other way round.
Another way of saying this is that you can't make something exist by thinking that it exists.
You will remember that we said that the mind accounted for the subjectivity (the "your-ness") of any of your experiences. Existence accounts for the "thisness" of a given experience of yours. Hence, it follows that
SEVENTH CONCLUSION: Existence accounts for the objectivity of a given finite act of consciousness.
Let me make another definition analogous to the one between the mind and the self now, before I take the next step:
• DEFINITION: Being is the causer of a given finite act of consciousness.
That is, being is "what exists." Is it anything but existence? We don't know at this point; it may be existence + various other traits, for all we know; but it is whatever it is that at least contains existence, whether it is just plain old existence or more than this or not.
But since existence is the cause of the objectivity of consciousness, but what we are actually conscious of is something concrete, not an abstraction, then we can now say this:
• DEFINITION: Being is the object which I am conscious of in a given finite act of consciousness.
While I am at it, let me mention "reality," which, as you'll notice, is a term I haven't used.
• "Reality" is a non-technical term. It is used in a loose sense, and can either mean "existence" or "being," depending on the context.
That is, I can say that I am "a reality." In that sense, I am using the word "reality" as the equivalent of "being": something that exists, or an object. On the other hand, I can say that my "reality" is my humanity, where I am using the term as that by which I am real or exist: what I am doing as this particular being. When I say my "reality" is humanity, I am in effect saying I exist as human.
But I wouldn't make too much of this, since the term is an inexact term. I just wanted to mention it in case you wondered what it was.
In any case, it is obvious now that
EIGHTH CONCLUSION: The finite act of consciousness is the reaction of my mind to existence (or of myself as subject to being as object).
It's the reaction of my mind to existence if I'm just interested in the cause; if I want to think of it as the reaction to the (concrete) object, then it's a reaction to being. And of course, since it's the reaction of my mind, and since I am the one who "really" performs the act, then it's a reaction of myself to the being in question.
In either case, the finite act of consciousness is what could not be what it is, unless my mind (which accounts for why my experiences are distinctively "mine") were affected by existence (which accounts for why the experience is "this" act of my mind).
5.3. Existence and the imaginary
Well, we've come quite a distance, actually, because of this effect we saw in consciousness as finite. We can now, in fact say this:
• All "idealist" philosophical theories (which hold that the only things that exist are minds and consciousness) are wrong.
There is no way you can account within consciousness for how you are conscious in different ways at different times; and, as we saw, the mind can't do this either, because the mind as "cause" of your consciousness (in the sense of its unifier) is the same all the time. Something else has to make this mind produce this particular appearance at this moment and some other one at some other moment.
But wait a minute. Don't we imagine different things at different times? And in our rough-and-ready argument for existence, didn't we say that the mind is all that is needed to account for imaginary consciousness?
Ah, but you see, I cleverly sneaked in a word while I was discussing this. I said, "The mind in the condition it is in at the moment is all that is needed to account for imaginary consciousness. But the mind can't imagine if it doesn't have things stored in it; and those things stored are appearances, of course, which can only be put there by existence. Once they're stored, the mind (which, remember, is conscious of itself) can rummage around the stored images and reawaken one or another of them, and even combine pieces of several into a new combination which we never experienced as such.
Obviously, taking the argument we just gave for existence, the dream I had of the wombats and wallabies had to have existence as its cause, since it was a finite case of my consciousness. But it was obviously just a recombination of past experiences I had; and it was the past conscious acts which accounts for the contents of the experience.
There really isn't any contradiction here. Those past conscious acts are not the cause of the particular dream as a finite act of consciousness; they are the cause of the particular form that this finite act happened to be taking. If I had never seen wombats or wallabies, then I couldn't have dreamed about them; I was recombining past, stored images into a new combination, that is all.
But the argument for existence wasn't the problem of why we have the particular experience we have now, but why we can have any finite case of consciousness. As a finite case of consciousness, both the imaginary image and the perception are inexplicable, and need existence.
But now if we distinguish between the two classes, we find that the imaginary needs existence indirectly to explain itself as imaginary, while the perception needs existence directly. In other words, while existence is the cause of any experience as a finite case of consciousness in general, when we ask for the cause of an imaginary appearance, the cause is a number of stored past perceptions, and existence is the condition. When we ask for the cause of the appearance as a perception, then existence is the direct cause.
And this solves the problem. If we make the assumption that we can store our acts of consciousness and recall them later without their being now caused by the existence that originally caused them, then we can make sense out of "existence-as-opposed-to-the-imaginary."
• DEFINITION: Existence is the cause of perception-type as opposed to imaginary-type experiences. Such experiences have a being as their object.
• DEFINITION: Existence is the condition for imaginary-type experiences. It is the cause of the original experience(s) of which the imaginary experience is a reproduction. Such experiences have no object.
That is, imaginary-experiences as such are not experiences of anything; their cause (as imaginings and not perceptions) is simply the mind in the state it happens to be in (i.e. as having past experiences stored in it). But the mind alone can't produce any experience; it has to have some previous experiences in order to imagine; and so existence indirectly causes the imaginary experience by being the cause of what is stored there.
I'm sorry it couldn't have been simpler; but I'm describing things the way they are, not trying to make a neat little scheme.
Now the reason I say that imaginary experiences have no object is, of course, that they aren't really reactions of the mind (now) to existence; they are (now) spontaneous acts of the mind, reproducing and recombining its previous reactions. And so when I dreamed of the wombats and wallabies, I wasn't dreaming of anything real; there was no object which I was experiencing; I was just "having an experience." Put it another way: the "wallabies" in my experience weren't wallabies at all; they were nothing but the "shape" of my act of consciousness; they were its particular finiteness, its limitation. The wallabies which were the ones I saw earlier (which gave me this stored experience) were the actual animals at the zoo which "shaped" my perception into the act of "wallaby-seeing."
• NOTE •
Be very clear on this. The object of your experience is not the "picture" you have in your perception; that "picture" is simply the limitation of your act of perceiving. The object is the being which forced your mind to configure its perception in this way. And in general, the object itself is not like the "picture" you have of it.
We know this, because we know from science that the heat we feel and the light we see are as acts (i.e. as existences) the same kind of act (electromagnetic radiation) and only differ in degree from each other; but the appearance in our consciousness of these two acts is different in kind (because we perceive them with different organs, actually).
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 5
Be careful of the analysis to follow; it will seem like word-games and not a serious investigation unless you really grapple with it to understand what is being said.
3rd effect: Any given act of consciousness is nothing but your consciousness and yet different from all other acts (which are also nothing but your consciousness).
First attempt: If it is so by splitting into two aspects, "consciousness" and "thisness," then the "thisness" (as not the same as the "consciousness") is an unconsciousness contained within consciousness defining it as the consciousness which it is. 1st definition of the finite: That which contains what is not itself as identical with itself.
Second attempt: If you say that your consciousness does not contain something else, then this act of consciousness is your consciousness as less than what your consciousness is (since it clearly doesn't have to be this act to be your consciousness). In other words, your consciousness in a given case leaves some of your consciousness out of itself. 2nd definition of the finite: That which is less than itself, or that which leaves some of itself outside itself.
Third attempt: If you say that what is "left out" is abstract consciousness, not your concrete consciousness, this is not true. In this act, you are not conscious in all the concrete different ways you have been conscious, and yet they, like this act, deserve the name "all there is to your consciousness" (since everything but this act at the moment is unconscious, and how can what is unconscious be consciousness?). 3rd definition of the finite: What is different from itself.
This is not a word-game. The fact is that your consciousness, as a limited case of consciousness, contradicts itself if taken by itself, no matter how you want to describe it. But finite consciousness obviously occurs, and so it is possible. 2nd conclusion: Anything finite is an effect simply because it is finite.
Since it is an effect, it has a cause. Existence is defined as the cause of the finiteness of any finite act of consciousness. Note that what we are interested in is the cause of finite consciousness in general (what all appearances are the same as as effects), not the cause of the particular form that the appearance happens to have.
But what is existence? 3rd conclusion: Not another act of consciousness, because no effect can be the cause of itself, and the other act of consciousness is identical as effect with the one in question (and so has an identical cause), which would mean it was the cause of itself--which is absurd.
4th conclusion: Existence is outside consciousness. Since any combination of finite acts of consciousness (even of an infinite number of them) would (a) contain the non-consciousness defining each member, and (b) would exclude the act they were to be the "cause" of--making the combination fit the definition of "a (complex) finite act of consciousness," and so by the earlier reasoning it can't be the cause.
5th conclusion: Existence is both outside consciousness and outside the mind, since different effects have different causes, and the mind explains how consciousness is unified, and the effect here is that each act is different from every other.
6th conclusion: Existence is not affected by the fact that you are conscious of it; it is completely independent of the conscious act. The cause is independent of the effect. 7th conclusion: Existence accounts for the objectivity of a given act of consciousness. Being is the causer of this act. Being is the object which I am conscious of in a given act of consciousness. "Reality" is a non-technical word which can mean either being or existence, depending on the context.
But in a more refined sense, Existence is the cause of a perception-type as opposed to an imaginary-type experience. Existence is the condition for the imaginary-type experience (whose cause is the mind as having past experiences stored in it, to be spontaneously reproduced and manipulated). Since existence (causing the past experience) is only a condition for the imaginary-type experience imaginary experiences have no object.
Note that the "unicorn" you imagine is not a "something" (an "interior object") which you imagine; it is simply the "shape" or form (the finiteness) of the act of imagining. A conscious act reacts to itself, and so it (also) has as a kind of "pseudo-object" itself as active. But this is not a real object.
1.Of course, if you explicitly remember hearing the music while you are reading the page, your consciousness now is the complex act "hearing the music and reading the page," but this act, of course, is different from smelling a rose, and so it's still finite.