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incomprehensibility (countable and uncountable, plural incomprehensibilities)

  1. (uncountable) The condition of being incomprehensible.
    • 1781, Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason[1], Sphere, →ISBN, page 375:
      We should be quite willing to desist from the demand of a dogmatical answer to our questions, if we understood beforehand that, be the answer what it may, it would only serve to increase our ignorance, to throw us from one incomprehensibility into another, from one obscurity into another still greater, and perhaps lead us into irreconcilable contradictions.
    • 1789, Frederick II, King of Prussia, Thomas Holcroft, Posthumous Works of Frederic II, King of Prussia[2], G.G.J. and J. Robinson, page 127:
      The king here alludes, as he does in various other passages, to the ancient Academicians, or Sceptics, who taught the uncertainty and incomprehensibility of truth.
    • 1798, Frederick Reynolds, An Apology for the Doctrine of the Trinity[3], Bacclesfield: Edward Bayley, page 112:
      The first principle of natural religion contains innumerable — I had almost said — impossibilities. hat is God? is[sic] involved in the most absoluteincomprehensibility. And yet we must either admit the principle, or embrace ten thousand absurdities and impossibilities.
    • 1811, Jane Austen, The Complete Novels of Jane Austen[4], The Modern Library, page 1196:
      Why he had done it, what could have provoked him to such a breach of hospitality, and so suddenly turned all his partial regard for their daughter into actual ill-will, was a matter which they were at least as far from divining as Catherine herself : but it did not oppress them by any means so long; and, after a due course of useless conjecture, that “it was a strange business, and that he must be a very strange man,” grew enough for all their indig- nation and wonder; though Sarah, indeed, still indulged in the sweets of incomprehensibility, exclaiming and conjecturing with youthful ardour — “My dear, you give yourself a great deal of needless trouble,” said her mother at last; “depend upon it, it is something not at all worth under' standing.”
    • 1815, Making of America Project, Jared Sparks , Edward Everett , James Russell Lowell , Henry Cabot Lodge, North American Review[5], University of Northern Iowa, page 436:
      He survived four days, in great suffering, and then died, leaving a case of perfect incomprehensibility to the world. Those who believe in spontaneous combustion ascribe it to electricity, and what not; others, again, are rather incredulous. The Baron de Liebig makes very merry over the fact of the nightcap being burned, and the hair on the head escaping scot-free.
    • 1818, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Friend: A Series of Essays, in Three Volumes, to Aid in the Formation of Fixed Principles in Politics, Morals, and Religion, with Literary Amusements Interspersed[6], R. Fenner, page 269-270:
      I well remember, that the event I am about to narrate, called forth, in several of the German periodical publications, the most passionate (and in more than one instance, blasphemous) declamations, concerning the incomprehensibility of the moral government of the world, and the seeming injustice and cruelty of the dispensations of Providence. But, assuredly, every one of my readers, however deeply he may sympathize with the poor sufferers, will at once answer all such declamations by the simple reflection, that no one of these awful events could possibly have taken place under a wise police and humane government, and that men have no right to complain of Providence for evils which they themselves are competent to remedy by mere common sense, joined with mere common humanity.
    • 1826, Frederick Reynolds, The Life and Times of Frederick Reynolds[7], Cary and Lea, page 112:
      This speech naturally only increased the incomprehensibility of the whole conversation; and the commandant beginning, in rather haut en bas termsy to demand an explanation, like all cowards, when driven into a comer I became desperate.
  2. (countable) Something that cannot be understood.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, Sydney: Ure Smith, published 1962, page 65:
      That left Bradly as bemused as ever, for it posed another incomprehensibility: Why had Podson walked here?