Men have been taught either that knowledge is impossible (skepticism) or that
it is available without effort (mysticism). These two positions appear to be
antagonists, but are, in fact, two variants on the same theme, two sides of the
same fraudulent coin: the attempt to escape the responsibility of rational
cognition and the absolutism of reality—the attempt to assert the primacy of
consciousness over existence.
Although skepticism and mysticism are ultimately interchangeable, and the
dominance of one always leads to the resurgence of the other, they differ in
the form of their inner contradiction—the contradiction, in both cases,
between their philosophical doctrine and their psychological motivation.
Philosophically, the mystic is usually an exponent of the intrinsic
(revealed) school of epistemology; the skeptic is usually an advocate of
epistemological subjectivism. But, psychologically, the mystic is a
subjectivist who uses intrinsicism as a means to claim the primacy of his
consciousness over that of others. The skeptic is a disillusioned intrinsicist
who, having failed to find automatic supernatural guidance, seeks a substitute
in the collective subjectivism of others.