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An Old Quarrel

An Old Quarrel

[From the Catholic World for May, 1867.]


                Those of our readers who have studied with the care their importance demands the papers on the Problems of the Age which have appeared in this magazine, can not have failed to perceive that the great questions now in discussion between Catholics and non-Catholics lie, for the most part, in the field of philosophy, and require for their solution a broader and profounder philosophy than any which obtains general currency outside of the church. We think, also, that no one can read and understand them without finding the elements or fundamental principles of a really Catholic philosophy, which, while it rests on scientific truth for its basis, enables us to see the innate correspondence or harmony of reason and faith, science and revelation, and nature and grace – The principles of a philosophy, too, that is no modern invention or new-fangled theory which is brought forward to meet a present emergency, but in substance the very philosophy that has always been held by the great fathers and doctors of the church, and professed in Catholic schools and seminaries.

                Yet there is one point  which the writer necessarily touches upon and demonstrates as far as necessary to his purpose, which was theological rather than purely philosophical, that, without interfering in the least with his argument and further development. We refer to the objectivity and reality of ideas. The reader acquainted with the history of philosophy in the middle ages will perceive at once that the question of the reality of ideas asserted by the writer takes up the subject-matter of the old quarrel of the nominalists, conceptualists, and realists, provoked by the Proslogium of St. Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, in the eleventh century, really one of the profoundest thinkers, greatest theologians, and most ingenious philosophers of any age.

                St. Anselm wished to render an account to himself of his faith, and to know and understand the reasons for believing in God. He did not doubt the existence of God; he indeed held that God cannot be thought not to be; he did not seek to know the arguments which prove that God is, that he might believe, but that he might the better know and understand what he already believed. Thus he says: “Necque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam. Nam et hoc credo quia nisi credidero, nonintelligam.” We believe that we may understand, and we cannot understand unless we believe – a great truth which modern speculators do not recognize. They reverse the process, and seek to know that they may believe, and hold that the first step to knowledge is to doubt or to deny.              

                In hi Monologium, St. Anselm had proved that God is and determined his attributes by way of induction from the ideas in the human mind, but it would seem not wholly to his satisfaction, or, at least, that in writing that work he discovered, or thought he discovered, a briefer and more conclusive method of demonstrating that God is. He had already proved by psychological analysis, in the way Cousin and other have since done, that the human mind thinks most perfect being, a greater than which cannot be thought. This he had done in his Monologium. In his Proslogium he starts with this idea, that of ens perfectissimum, which is, in fact, the idea of God. “ The fool says in his heart there is no God;” not because he has no idea of God, not because he does not think most perfect being, a greater than which cannot be thought, but because he does not understand that, if he thinks it, such being really is.  It is greater and more perfect to be in re than it is to be only in intellectu, and therefore the most perfect being existing only in the mind is not a greater than which cannot be thought, for we can think most perfect being existing in re. Moreover, if most perfect being does not exist in re, our thought is greater and more perfect than reality, and consequently we can rise above God, and judge him, quodvalde est absurdum.

                Leibnitz somewhere remarks that this argument is conclusive, if we first prove that most perfect being is possible; but leibnitz should have remembered that the argument ab esse ad posse is always valid, and that God is both his own possibility and reality. Cousin accepts the argument, and says St. Anselm robbed Descartes of the glory of having produced it. But it is evident to every philosophical student that the validity of the argument, if valid it is, depends on the fact that ideas are objective and real, that is, depends on the identity of the ideal and the real.

                Roscelinus, or Rosceline did not concede this, and pronounced the argument of St. Anselm worthless. Confounding, it would seem, ideas with universals, he denied their reality, and maintained that they are mere words without any thing either in the mind or out of it ot respond to them and thus founded Nominalism, substantially what is no called materialism. He rejects the universals and the categories of the peripatetics, and recognizes only individual existences and words, which words, when no the names of individual things, are void of meaning. Hence he denied the whole ideal of intelligible world, and admitted only sensibles. Hobbes and Locke were nominalists, and so is the author of Mill's  Logic. Mr. Herbert Spencer is a nominalist, but is better described as an atomist of the school of Leucippus and Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. We know very little of Rosceline, except that he lived in the eleventh century, was born in Brittany, the native land of Abelard and Descartes, and incurred, for some of his speculations concerning the Trinity, the censures of the church. None of his writings have come down to us, and we know his doctrine only from the representations of others.

                Guillaume de Champeaux, in the following century, who professed philosophy for a time at St. Victor, and was subsequently Archbishop of Paris, is the founder, in the middle ages, of what is called Realism, and which counts among it disciples Duns Scotus and William of Occam. He is said to have maintained the exact opposite of Rosceline's doctrine, and to have held that ideas, or universals, as they then said are not empty words, but entities, existing a parte rei. He held, if we may believe Abelard, that not only genera and species, but such abstractions as whiteness, roundness, squareness, &e., are real entities. But from a passage cited from his writings by Abelard, from which Abelard infers he had changed his doctrine, Cousin, in his Philosophie Scholastique, argues that this must have been an exaggeration, and that Guillaume only held that such so-called universals as are really genera and species have and entitative existence. This is most probably the fact; and instead, then, of being driven to change his doctrine from what it was at first, as Abelard boasts, it is most likely that he never held any other doctrine. However this may be, his doctrine, as represented by Abelard, is thatwhich the old realists are generally supposed to have maintained.

                Abelard follows Guillaume e Champeaux, with whom he was for the earlier part of his career a contemporary. Confounding, as it would see, ideas with universals, and universals with abstractions, he denied alike Rosceline's doctrine that they are mere words, and Guillaume de Champeaux's doctrine that they are entities or existences a parte rei, and maintained that they are conceptions, really existing in mente, but not in re. Hence his philosophy is call Conceptualism. He would seem to have held that universals are formed by the mind operating on the concrete objects presented by experience, not, as since maintained by Kant, that they are necessary forms of the understanding. Thus, humanitas, humanity is formed by the mind from the concrete man, or homo. There is no humanity in re; there are only individual men. In the word humanity the mind expresses the qualities which it observes to e common to all men, without paying attention to any particular man. The idea humanity, then, is simply the abstraction or generalization of these qualities. Abelard, it would appear from this, makes what we call the race a property or quality of individuals, which, of course, excludes the idea of generation. There is, as far as we can see, no essential difference between the conceptualism of Abelard and the nominalism of Rosceline; for, by denying the existence in re of genera and species, and making them only conceptions, it recognized as really existing only individuals or particulars.    

                 St. Thomas Quinas, than whom no higher authority in philosophy can be named, and from whose conclusions few who understand them will be disposed to dissent, differs from each of these schools, and maintains that universals are conceptions existing in mente cum fundmento in re, or conceptions with a basis in reality, which is true of all abstractions; for the mind can form no conceptions except from objects presented by experience. We could form no conception of whiteness if we had no experience of white things, or of roundness if we had seen nothing round. We imagine a golden moutain, but only on condition that gold and moutain are to us objects of experience. This is certain, and s\accords with the peripatetic maxim, Nihil est in intellectu, quod prius non fuerit in sensu, which leibnitz would amend by adding, nisi ipse intellectus, an amendment which, perhaps, contains in germ the whole Kantian philosophy.

                But St. Thomas, as we shall see further on, does not confound ideas with universals, nor does he hold genera and species to be simply the abstraction or generalization of the qualities of individuals or particulars. Genera and species are real, or there could be no generation. But the genus or species does not exist apart from its individuation, or as a separate entity. There are no individuals without the race, and no race without individuals. Thus the whole race was individualized in Adam, so that in his sin all men sinned. But as genera and species, the only real universals, do not exist apart from their particulars, and are distinctly possessed or apprehended only as disengaged from their particulars, which is done only by a mental operation, St. Thomas might say they exist in mente cum fundamento in re, without asserting them to be real only as properties or qualities of particulars.

                Plato is commonly held to be the father of the ideal philosophy or ideal realism. We know very little of the philosophy that prevailed before him and cannot say how much of the Platonic philosophy is original with him, or how much of it he took from his predecessors, but he is its originator as far as our knowledge extends. It is from him that we have the word idea, and his whole philosophy is said to be in his doctrine of ideas; but what his doctrine of ideas really was is a question. He seems when treating the question, What is it necessary to know in order to have real science? To understand by idea causa essentialis, or the thing itself, or what is any thing is real, stable, and permanent, in distinction from the sensible, the phenomenal, the variable, and the transitory. The real existence of ting is their ideas, and ideas are in the Logos or divine mind. These ideas God impresses on an eternally existing matter, as the seal upon wax, and so impressed they constitute particulars. Aristotle accuses Plato of placing the ideas extra Deum, and making them objects of the divine contemplation, but the accusation is not easily sustained; and we think all that Plato does is to represent the ideas as extra Deum only as the idea or design of a picture or a temple in the mind of the artistis distinguishable from the artist himself. But in God all ideas must be eternal, and therefore really his essence, as is maintained by St. Thomas. If this is really Plato's doctrine, it is dualism inasmuch as it asserts the eternity of matter, and pantheism inasmuch as the ideas, the reality of things, are identical with the divine mind, and therefore with God himself. On this doctrine, what is that soul the immortality of which Plato so strenuously maintains? Is it the divine idea, or the copy of the idea on matter?

                When treating the question, How we know? Plato seem to understand by ideas no the ideas in the divine mind, but their copies impressed on matter, as the seal on wax. According to him, all knowing is by similitude, and as the idea leaves its exact image or form on matter so by studying that image or copy we arrive at an exact knowledge of the idea or archetype in the divine mind. This is plain enough; but who are we who study and know? Are we the archetypal idea, or are we its image or copy impressed on matter? Here is the difficulty we find in understanding Plato's doctrine of ideas. According to him all reality is in the idea, and what is not idea is phenomenal, unsubstantial, variable, and evanescent. The impress or copy on matter is not the idea itself, and is no more the t hing itself than the reflection one sees in a mirror is one's self. Plato speaks of the should as imprisoned in matter, and ascribes all evil to the intractableness of matter. Hence he originates or justifies that false asceticism which treats matter as impure or unclean, and makes the proper discipline of the soul consist in despising and maltreating the body, nad in seeking deliverance from it, as if our bodies were not destined to rise again, and reunited to the soul, to live forever. The real source of Manicheism is in the Platonic philosophy. We confess that we are not able to make out from Plato a complete, coherent, and self-consistent doctrine of ideas. St. Thomas corrects Plato, and makes ideas the archetypes, exemplars, or models in the divine mind, and identical with the essence of God, after which God creats or may create existences. He hold the idea, as idea, to be causa exemplaris, not causa essentialis, and thus escapes both pantheism and dualism, and all tendency to either.

                Aristotle, a much more systematic genius, and, in our judgment, a much profounder philosophers than Plato, rejects Plato's doctrine of ideas, and substitutes for them substantial forms, which in his philosophy mean real existences distinct from God, and which are not merely phenomenal, like Plato's copies on wax. True, he, as Plato, recognizes an eternal matter, and makes all existences consist of matter and form. But the matter is purely passive; and as noting, according to his philosophy, exists, save in so far as active, it is really nothing, exists only in potentia ad formam, and can only mean the ability of God to place existences after the models eternal in his own mind. His philosophy is, at any rate, more easily reconciled with Christian theology than is Plato's.

                Yet Aristotle and the schoolmen after him adopt Plato's doctrine that we know by similitude, or by ideas in the sense of images, or representations, interposed between the mind and the object, or thing existing a parte rei.  They suppose these images, or intelligible species, form a sort of intermediary world, called the mundus logicus, distinguished from the mundus physicus, or real world, which they are not, but which they image or represent to the understanding.  Hence the categories or predicaments are neither forms of the subject nor forms of the object, but the forms or laws of logic or this intermediary world.  Hence has arisen the question whether our knowledge has any objective validity, that is, whether there is any objective reality that responds to the idea.  Perhaps it is in this doctrine, misunderstood, that we are to seek the origin of scepticism, which always originates in the speculations of philosophers, never in the plain sense of the people, who never want, when they know, any proof that they know.

                This Platonic and peripatetic doctrine, that ideas are no the reality, but, as Locke says, that “with which the understanding is immediately conversant,” has been vigorously assailed by the Scottish school, which denies intermediary ideas, and maintains that we perceive directly and immediately things themselves.  Still the old doctrine obtains to a very considerable extent, and respectable schools teach that ideas, if not precisely images, are nevertheless representative, and that the idea is the first object of mental apprehension.  Balmes never treats ideas as the object existing in re, but as its representation to the mind.  Hence the importance attached to the question of certainty, or the objective validity of our knowledge, around which Balmes says turn all the questions of philosophy; that is, the great labor of philosophers is to prove that in knowing we know something, or that to know is to know.  This is really the pons asinorum of modern philosophy as it was of ancient philosophy: How know we that knowing is knowing, or that in knowing we know?  The question as asked is unanswerable and absurd, for we have only to know with which to prove that we know, and he who knows knows that he knows. We know that we know says no more than we know.

                The quarrel has arisen from confounding ideas, universals, genera and species, and abstractions or generalizations, and treating them all as if pertaining to the same category. These three things are different, and cannot be scientifically treated as if they were the same; yet nominalists, realists, and conceptnalists recognize no difference among them, nor do the Platonists.  These hold all the essential qualities, properties, or attributes of things to be ideas, objective and real.  Hippias visits Athens, and proposes during his stay in the city to give the eager Athenians a discourse, or, as they say nowadays, a lecture, on beautiful things.  Socrates is delighted to hear it, and assures Hippias that he will be one of his audience; but as he is slow of understanding, and has a friend who will be sure to question him very closely, he begs Hippias to answer beforehand a few of the questions this friend is certain to ask.  Hippias consents.  You propose to discourse on beautiful things, but tell me, if you please, what are beautiful things?  Hippias mentions several things, and finally answers, a handsome girl.  But that is not what my friend wants to know.  Tell me, by what are beautiful things beautiful?  Hippias does not quite understand.  Socrates explains.  All just things, are they not just by participation of justice? Agreed.  And all wise things by participation of wisdom?  It cannot be denied.  And all beautiful things by participation of beauty?  So it seems.  Now tell me, dear Hippias, what is beauty, that which is so not by participation of which all beautiful things are beautiful?  Hippias, of course, is puzzled, and neither he nor Socrates answers the question.

                But we get here a clue to Plato's doctrine, the doctrine of the methexis, to use his own terms.  He would seem to teach that whatever particular thing exists, it does so by the methexis, or participation of the idea.  The idea is that which makes the thing what it is, casusa essentialis.  Thus, a man is man by participation of the man-idea, or the ideal man, humanity; a horse is a horse by participation of the horse-idea, or ideal horse; a cow is a cow by participation of the cow-idea, ideal cow, or bovosity; and so of a sheep, a weazel, an eagle, a heron, a robin, a swallow, a wren, an oak, a pine, a juniper.  To know any particular thing is to know its idea or ideal, and to know its idea or ideal is to have true science, for it is science of that in the thing which is real, stable, invariable, and permanent.  This doctrine is very true when by ideas we understand genera and species, but not, as we have already seen, and as both Rosceline and Abelard prove, when we take as ideas the abstract qualities of things.  Man is man by participation of humanity; but is a thing white by participation of whiteness, round by participation of roundness, hard by participation of hardness, beautiful by participation of beauty, or just by participation of justice, wise by participation of wisdom?  What is whiteness, roundness, hardness, beauty, justice, or wisdom in the abstract, or abstracted from their respective concretes?  Mere conceptions, as said Abelard, or, rather, empty words, as said Roseline.  When Plato calls these ideas, and calls them real, he confounds ideas with genera and species, and asserts what is manifestly untenable.

                Genera and species are not abstractions; they are real, though subsisting never apart from individuals.  Their reality is evinced by the process called generation, by which every kind geneerates its like. The race continues itself, and does not die with the individual. Men die, humanity survives.  It is all very well to say Plato individuals are mimetic, and exist as individuals by participation if the idea, if we assume ideas are genera and species, and created after the models or archetypes in the divine mind; but it will not do to say so when we identify ideas with the divine mind, that is, with God himself.  We then make genera and species ideas in God, and since ideas in God are God, we identify them with the divine essence – a doctrine which the Holy See has recently condemned, and which would deny all reality distinguishable from God, and make all existences merely phenomenal, and reduce all categories, as Consin does, to being and phenomenon, which is pure pantheism.  The ideae exemplares, or archetypes of genera and species, after which God creates them, are in the divine mind, but genera and species, the real universals, are creatures, and as much so as individuals or particulars themselves.  They are creatures by the direct creation of God, without the intervention of the plastic soul asserted by Plato, accepted by Cudworth, and, in his posthumous essay on Methexis and Mimesis, even by Gioberti.  God creates all living creatures in genera and species, as the Scripture plainly hints when it says: “And God said, Let the earth bring fourth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth.” Not only in the vegetable but also in the animal world, each living creature brings forth its kind—a fact without which generation would be unintelligible, and which our scientific men who dream of the formation of species by natural selection, and are laboring hard to prove that man has been developed from the tadpole or monkey, would do well to remember.

                Genera and species are real, and so far, if we call them ideas, ideas or universals are real, as Plato and the old realists asserted.  But when we understand by ideas or universals the simple abstractions of things or generalizations of the essential qualities or attributes of things, as whiteness, redness, roundness, hardness, beauty, justice, goodness, they are real only in their concretes or subject.  Objects may be really white, red, hard, heavy; things may be really beautiful; actions may be really just, wise, and good; but what we call beauty, ustice, wisdom, goodness, can exist only as attributes or qualities of being, and are real only in their concretes.  They can be reflected by creatures, but have no reality as abstractions.  Abstractions, as St. Thomas says, have a foundation in reality, because they are formed by the mind by way of abstraction from objects presented by experience, and experience can present only that which is real; but as abstractions they are nullities, as Roseline rightly held.

                It is necessary, then, to distinguish between genera and species and abstractions, and it would save much confusion to drop the name of ideas as applied to them, and even as applied to the intermediary world supposed to be inserted between the object and subject, as that world is commonly represented.  This intermediary world, we think, has been successfully assailed by the Scottish school, as ordinarily understood; but we do not think that the scholastics meant by it what is commonly supposed.  These intermediary ideas, or intelligible species, seem to us in St. Thomas to perform in intellectual apprehension the office performed by the light in external vision, and to be very defensible.  They are not the understanding itself, but they are, if we may be allowed the expression, the light of the understanding.  But God, he says, is the similitude of all things, Deus est similitudo omnium rerum.  Now say, with him and all great theologians, that God, who is light itself, is the light of the understanding, the light of reason, the true light that lighteth every man coming into this world, and the whole difficulty is solved, and the scholastics and philosophy so long taught in our Catholic schools and seminaries are freed at once from the censures so freely bestowed on them by the Scottish school and others.  We suspect that we shall find seldom any reason to dissent from the scholastic philosophy as represented by St. Thomas, when once we really understand it, and adjust it to our own habits of thought and expression.

                Supposing this interpretation to be admissible, the Scottish school, after all, must modify its doctrine that we know thing directly and immediately; for as in external things light is necessary as the medium of vision, why should not an intelligible light be necessary as the medium of the intellectual apprehension of intelligibles?  Now, as this light has in it the similitude of the things apprehensible by it, and is for that same reason light to our understanding, it may, as Plato held, very properly be expressed by the word idea, which means likeness, image, or representation.  The error of Plato would not then be in holding that we know only per ideam or per similitudinem, but in confounding Creator and creature, and recognizing nothing except the idea either to know or to be known.  On this interpretation, the light may be identical with the object, or it may not be.  Being is its own light, and is intelligible per se; objects distinguishable from being are not, and are intelligible only in the light of being, or a light distinguishable from themselves.  As being in its full sense is God, we may say with Malebranche that we see all things in God, but must add, and by the light of God, or in Deo et per Deum.

                Assuming ideas as the light by which we see to be the real doctrine of the scholastics, we can readily understand the relation of ideas to the peripatetic categories or predicaments, or forms under which all objects are and must be apprehended, and thus connect the old quarrel of the philosophers with their present quarrel.  The categories, according to the Platonists, are ideas; according to the peripatetics, they are the forms of the mundus logicus, which, as we have seen, they distinguish from the mundus physicus.  The Scottish school having demolished this mundus logicus, by exploding the doctrine of intermediary ideas which compose it, if we take that world as formal, and fail to indentify it with the divine light, the question comes up.  Are the categories or self-evident truths which precede all experience, and without which no fact of experience is possible, really objective, or only subjective? The question is, if we duly consider it, Is the light by which we see or know on the side of the subject or on that of the object?  Or, in other words, are things intelligible because we know them, or do we know them because they are intelligible? Thus stated, the question seems to be no question at all; but it is made a very serious question, and on the answer to it depends the validity of St. Anselm's argument.

                We have already expressed the opinion that the scholastics as represented by St. Thomas really mean by their phantasms and intelligible species, or intermediary ideas by which we attain to the knowledge of sensibles and intelligibles, simply the mediating light furnished by God himself, who is himself light and the Father of lights. In this case the light is objective, and by illumining the object renders it intelligible, and at the same time the subject intelligent. But Reid, who denied intermediary ideas, seemed to suppose that the light emanates from the subject, and that it is our powers that render the object intelligible. Hence he calls the categories first principles of science, constitute principles of belief, or common sense, and sometimes constitute principles of human nature. He seems to have supposed that all the light and activity is on the side of the subject, forgetting that the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not, or t hat the light shines, and the darkness does not compress it, or hinder it from shining, without our perceiving it or the objects it illumines.

                Kant, a German, but , on one side, of Scottish descent, adopts the principles of Reid, but sets them forth with greater precision and more scientific depth. Denying with Reid the mediating ideas, he makes the categories, which, according to Aristotle, are forms of the mundus logicus, or intermediary world, forms of the subject or t he subjective laws of thought. He does not say with Fosceline that they are mere words, with Abelard that they are mere conceptions, nor with St. Thomas that they are, taken as universals, conceptions cum fundmento in re, but forms of the reason, understanding, and sensibility, without any objective validity. They are not dervable from experience, because without them no experience is possible. Without what he calls synthetic judgments a priori, such as, Every phenomenon that begins to exist must have a cause, which includes the judgment of cause, of universal cause, and of necessary cause, we can form no synthetic judgment a posteriori. Hence he concludes that the categories, what some philosophers call first principles, necessary truths, necessary ideas, without which we do not and cannot think, are inherent forms of the subject, and are constitutive of reason and understanding. He thus place the intelligibleness of things in the elemental constitution of subjects, whence it follows that the subject may be its own object, or think without thinking any thing distinct from itself. We think God, man, and nature, not because they are, and think them as we do, not because they are really such as we think them, but because such is our mental constitution, and we are compelled by it to think them as we do. This the reader must see is hardly disguised scepticism, and Kant never pretended to the contrary. The only escape from scepticism, he himself contends, is to fall back from the pure or speculative reason on the practical reason, or the moral necessities of our nature, and yield to the moral imperative, which commands us to believe in God, nature, and duty.

                Kant has been followed by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, who differ more or less from one another, but all follow the fundamental principle he asserted, and end in the doctrine of absolute identity of subject and object. “Cogito, ergo sum,” said Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” “To think,” used to say our old friend Bronson Alcott, “is to thing; to thing is to give or produce reality. My thought is creative: I think, therefore I am; I think God, therefore his is; nature, and therefore nature exists. I by thinking make them, that is, thing them, render them real.” No bad statement, as far as it goes, of the development Kant's doctrine received from his disciple Ficthe. The only defect is that his later disciples, instead of making thought creative, have made it identical with the object. St. Anselm says: “I think most perfect being, therefore most perfect being is;” and so does Descartes, only Descartes substitutes God for most perfect being; but St. Anselm nevwer said it in the sense that most perfect being is because I by my thought make it. Only a modern transcendentalist gone to seed could say that. The trouble with this whole scheme is that it puts me in the place of God, and make me myself God, which I am quite sure I am not. It would be much more philosophical to say: I exist, therefore I think; I think being because it is, not that it is because I think it. Things do not exist because we think them, but we think them because they exist; they are not intelligible because we think them, but we think them because they are intelligible. Yet the germ of our friend Alcott's philosophy was in Kant's doctrine, which places the forma of the thought in the subject instead of the object.

                Whether the categories, as given by Aristotle, are inexact, as Kant alleges, or whether, as given by Kant himself, they are reducible in number to two, as M. Cousin pretends, or to one, as Rosmini maintains, enters not into the present enquiry, which relates not to their number, but their objective reality. Kant in regard to philosophy has done simple what Reid did, only he has done it better or more scientifically. He has fully demonstrated that in every fact of experience there enters a non-empirical element, and, if he he holds with Leibnitz that that element is the human understanding itself, he has still demonstrated that it is not an abstraction or generalization of concrete qualities of the objects presented by experience.

                Take the ideas or categories of the necessary, the perfect, the universal, the infinite, the perfect, the immutable, the eternal. These ideas, it is willingly conceded, never exist in the human mind, or are never thought, without their opposites, the contingent, the finite, the imperfect, the particular, the variable, the temporal; but they do not, even in our thought, depend on them, and are not derived or derivable from them by abstraction or generalization. Take the synthetic judgment instanced by Kant, Every thing that begins to exist must have a cause. The idea of cause itself, Hume has shown, is not derivable from any fact of experience, and Reid and Kant say the same. The notion we have of power which found the relation of cause and effect, or that what we call the cause actually produces or places the effect, these philosophers tell us, is not an object of experience, and is not, obtainable from any empirical facts. Experience gives only the relation of what we call cause and effect in time, that is, the relation of antecedence and consequence. Main de Biran and Victor Cousin, it is true, deny this, and maintain that the idea of cause is derived from the acts of our own will, which we are conscious of in ourselves, and which not merely precede their effects, but actually produce them. We will to raise our arm, and even if our arm be paralytic of held down by a stronger than ourself, so that we cannot raise it, we still by willing produce and effect, the volition to raise it, which is none the less real because, owing to external circumstances not under our control, it does not pass beyond our own interior.

                But even granting this, how from this particular act of causation conclude universal cause, or even from universal cause necessary cause? We by willing produce the volition to raise our arm, therefore every thing that begins to exist must have a cause. The argument from the particular to the universal, non volet, say the logicians, and still less the argument from the contingent to the necessary.

                Take the idea of the perfect. That we have the idea or category in the mind is indisputable, and it evidently is not derivable by abstraction or generalization from the facts of experience. We have experience only of imperfect things, and no generalizing of imperfection can give perfection. Indeed, without the category of the perfect, the imperfect cannot be thought. We think a thing imperfect, that is, judge it to be imperfect – and every thought is a judgment, and contains an affirmation – because it falls short of the ideal standard with which the mind compares it. The universal is not derivable from the particular, for the particular is not conceivable without the universal. We may say the same of the immutable, the eternal, the infinite, and the one, or unity.

                By abstraction or generalization we simply consider in the concrete a particular property, quality, or attribute by itself, and take it in universo, without regard to any thing else in the concrete thing. It must then be a real property, quality, or attribute of the concrete thing, or the abstraction will have no foundation in reality. But the universal is no property, quality, or attribute of particulars, the immutable of mutables, the eternal of things temporary, the necessary of contingents, the infinite of finites, or the unity of multiples, otherwise particulars would be universals, mutables immutables, temporals eternals, contingents necessaries, finites infinites, and multiples one – a manifest contradiction in terms. The generalization or abstraction of particulars is particularity, of mutables is mutability, of temporals temporality, of contingents contingency, of finites finiteness, of multiples plurality or multiplicity. The overlooking of this obvious face, and regarding the universal, immutable, eternal, &c., as abstractions or generalizations of particulars, mutables, temporals, and so on, has given birth to the pantheistic philosophy, than which nothing can be more sophistical.

                The ideas or categories of the universal, the immutable, and the eternal, the necessary, the infinite, the one or unity, are so far from being abstractions from particular concretes that in point of fact we cannot even think things as particular, changeable, temporal, contingent, finite, or multiple without them. Hence, they are called necessary ideas, because without them no synthetic judgment a posteriori or fact of experience is possible. They are not abstractions formed by the human mind by contemplating concrete things, because the human mind cannot operate or even exist without them, and without them human intelligence, even if supposable, could not differ from the intelligence of the brute, which, though many eminent men in modern science are endeavoring to prove it, cannot be accepted, because in proving we should disprove it.

                The question now for philosophy to answer, as we have already intimated, is, Are these ideas or categories, which precede and enter into every fact of experience, forms of the subject or human understanding, as Kant alleges, or are they objective and real, and , thought necessary to the existence and operation of the human mind, are yet really distinct from it, and independent of it, as much so as if no human mind had been created? This is the problem.

                St. Thomas evidently holds them to be objective, for he holds them to be necessary and self-evident principles, principles per se nota, as may be seen in his answer to the question, Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum? And we need strong reasons to induce us to dissent from any philsosphical conclusion of the Angelic Doctor. Moreover, Kant by no means proves his own conclusion, that they are forms of the subject. All he proves is that there is and can be no fact of human knowledge without them, which may be true without their being subjective. He proves, if you will, that they are constituent principles of the human understanding, in the sense that the human understanding cannot exist and operate without their initiative and concurrence; but this no more proves that they are forms of the subject than the fact t hat the creature can neither exist nor act without the creative and concurrent act of the Creator proves that the Creator is an inherent law or form of the creature. To our mind,  Kant confirms a conclusion contrary to his own. His masterly Critik der reinen Vernunft establishes simply this fact, that man's own subjective reason alone does not suffice for science, and that man, in science as in existence, is dependent on which is not himself; or, in a word, that man depends on the intelligibleness of the object, or that which renders it intelligible, to be himself intelligent, or knowing. Man is, no doubt, created with the power or faculty of intelligence, but that power or faculty is not that power of faculty to know without an intelligible object, or to know what is not knowable independently of it. Hence, from Kant's facts, we conclude that the ideas or categories, without which no object is intelligible and no fact of intelligence possible, are not subjective, but objective, real, and independent of the subject.

                The matter is simple enough if we look at it freed from the obscurity with which philsosphers have surrounded it. Thought is a complex fact, the joint product of subject and object. God is his own object, because he is self-existent and self-sufficing: is in himself, as say the theologians, actus purissimus,  most pure act, which permits us up to a certain point to understand the eternal generation of the Son and the procession of the Holy Ghost. God, being self-existent and self-sufficing, needs and can receive nothing from his own most perfect being. But man is a dependent being, a creature, and does not and cannot suffice in himself for either his own existence or his own intelligence. He cannot think by himself alone or without the concurrence of the object, which is not himself. If the concurrence of the object be essential to the production of our though, then that concurrence must be active, for a passive concurrence is the same as no concurrence at all. Then the object must be active, therefore real, for what is not real cannot act or be active. Then the object in our thought is not and cannot be ourself, but stand over against us. Now, we know that we think these ideas, and that they are the object in our thought without which we cannot think at all. Therefore, they are objective and real, and neither ourself nor our creations, as are abstractions.

                This conclusion is questioned only by those persons who have not duly considered the fact that there can be no thought without both subject and object, and that man can never be his own object. To assume that he can act, think, or know with himself alone, without the concurrence of that which is not himself and is independent of him, is to deny his dependence and assume him to be God – a conclusion which some think follows from the famous “Cogito ergo sum” of Descartes, and which is accepted and defended by the whole German pantheistic school of the present day. Indeed, as atheism was in the last century, so pantheism is in the present century the real enemy philosophy has to combat. In concluding the reality of object from the fact that we think it, we are far from pretending that thought cannot err; but the error is not in regard to what we really think, but in regard to that which we do not think, but infer from out thought. We think only what is intelligible, and what is intelligible is real, and therefore cannot be thought. But in converting out thought into a proposition, we may include in the proposition not only what we thought, but what we did not think. Hence the part error, which is always the part not of knowledge, but of ignorance. It is so we understand St. Augustine and St. Thomas. *

                   These considerations authorize, or we are much mistaken, the conclusion that the ideas or categories, which the schoolmen hold to be forms of the intermediary or logical world, and Kant to be forms of the subject, are objective and real, and either the intelligible object itself or the objective and real, and either the intelligible object itself or the objective light by which it is rendered intelligible or knowable. Plato, Aristotle, and the scholastics, if we have not misapprehended them, regard them, in explaining the fact of knowledge, rather as the light which illumines the object than the object itself. Yet, when the object is intelligble in itelf, or by its own light, St. Thomas clearly identifies it with the object, and distinguishes it from the object only when the object is not intelligible per se. Thus, he maintains with St. Augustine that God know things per ideam; but to the objection that God knows them by his essence, he answers that God in his own essence is t he similitude, that is,  the idea, of all things: Unde idea in Deo nihil est aliud quam essentia Dei. Therefore, idea in God is nothing else than the essence of God.

                The doctrine of St. Thomas is that all knowledge is by ideas, in the sense of image, likeness, or similitude. In God the idea, image, likeness, or similitude, the species is not distinguishable from the divine essence, for he is in his essence similitudo omnium rerum. Now, though we are created after the idea exemplaris, or model eternal in his essence, and therefore in our degree copy or imitate him, we have not in us the types or models of all things, are not in ourselves similitudo omnium rerum, and therefore are not intelligent in ourselves alone. The ideas by which things are intelligible and we intelligent must be distinct from us, and exist independent of us. As no creature any more than we has in itself the likeness of all things, or is in itself its own idea exemplaris, no creature can be in itself alone intelligible. Hence what the schoolmen call idea or intelligible species must be equally distinct from and independent of the object when the object is aliquid creatum, or creature.  Hence, while both the created subject and the created object depend on the idea, the one to be intelligible, the other to be intelligent, the idea, intelligible species, the light-- as we prefer to say-- is independent of them both. The idea in re is not something intermediary between subject and object, as is sometimes supposed, but the light that intervenes between them, as the necessary condition of knowledge in creatures. This seems to us to be the real doctrine of the scholastics, as represented by St. Thomas, and is, in our judgment, indisputable.

                We call the idea, regarded as intervening in the fact of knowledge, the light, and thus avoid the question whether all knowledge is by similitude or not.  It may be that the idea is light because it contains the image or likeness of the object, but that seems to us a question more curious than practically important.  We cannot see that the explication of the mystery of knowing is carried any further by calling the idea image or similitude than by simply calling it the intelligible light.  The Platonists and peripatetics seem to us to come no nearer the secret of knowledge by so calling it than do our philosophers to the secret of external vision, when they tell us that we do not see the visible object itself, but its image panited by the external light on the retina of the eye.  How do we see the image or picture, and connect it with the external object?  When we have called the object or the idea light, we seem to ourselves to have said all that can be said on the point, and to retain substantially the scholastic doctrine of ideas, or intelligible species, which asserts, we add, by the way, what is perhaps very true, but which after all brings us no nearer to the secret of knowledge, or the explanation of how in the last analysis we do or can know at all.

                How we do or can know seems to us an inexplicable mystery, as is our existence itself.  That we do know is certain.  Every man knows, and in knowing knows that he knows; but how he knows no man knows.  To deny is as much an act of reason as is to affirm, and no one can deny without knowing that he denies.  Men may doubt many things, but universal doubt is a simple impossibility, for whoever doubts knows that he doubts, and never doubts that he doubts or that doubt is doubting.  In all things and in all science we arrive at last, if we think long and deep enough, at a mystery which it is in no human power to deny or to explain, and which is explicable only in God by his divine science.  Hence it is that philosophy never fully suffices for itself, and always needs to be supplemented by revelation, as nature to attain its end must not only be redeemed from the fall, but supplemented by grace.  Man never suffices for himself, since his very being is not in himself; and how, then, shall philosophy, which is his creation, suffice for itself?  Let philosophy go as far as it can, but let the philosopher never for a moment imagine that human reason will ever be able to explain itself.  The secret as of all things is in God and with him.  Would man be God, the creature the Creator?

                If we have seized the sense of the scholastic philosophy as represented by St. Thomas, and are right in understanding by the intelligible species of the schoolmen the light by which object is intelligible, therefore the object itself when the object is intelligible per se, and the intelligible light when it is not, the idea is objective and real, and both the old quarrel and the new are voided.  Abstractions are null; genera and species are real, but creatures; ideas, as the intelligible light by which we know, are not forms of the subject, but objective and real, and in fact the light of the divine being which, intelligible by itself, is the intelligibility of all created existences.  St Anselm's argument is, then, rigidly sound and conclusive: we think most perfect being in re; and therefore such being is, or we could not think it, since what is not cannot be thought. If the most perfect being, a greater than which and the contrary of which cannot be thought, be only in our thought, then we are ourself greater than the most perfect being, and our thought becomes the criterion of perfection, and we are the greater than God, and can judge him.

                This follows from the fact that the ideal is real.  The ideas of the universal, the infinite, the perfect, the necessary, the immutable, the eternal, cannot be either the intelligible object or the intelligible light, unless they are being.  As abstractions, or as abstracted from being, they are simple nullities.  To think them is  to think real, universal, infinite, perfect, necessary, immutable, and eternal being, the ens perfectissimum of St. Anselm, the ens necassarium et reale of the theologians, a greater than which or the contrary of which cannot be thought.  That this ens, intuitively affirmed to every intellect, is God, is amply shown in our other papers, and also that ens or being creates existences, and hence there is no occasion for us to show it over again.

                But it will not do to say, as many do, that we have intuition of God.  The idea is intuitive; and we know by intuition that which is God, and that he is would be indemonatrable if we did not: but we do not know by intuition that what is affirmed or presented in intuition is God. When Descrates says, “I think God, therefore God is,” he misapprehends St. Anselm, and assumes what is not tenable.  St. Anselm does not say he thinks God, and therefore God is; he says,” I think most perfect being, a greater than which cannot be thought,” and therefore most perfect being is. The intuition is not God, but most perfect being.  So the idea formula, ens creat existentias, would be indefensible, if Deus were substituted for ens, and it read, God creates existences.  That is true, and ens, no doubt, is Deus; but we know not that by intuition, and it would be wrong to understand St. Augustine, who seems to teach that we know that God is by intuition, in any other sense than that we have intuition of that which can be demonstrated to be God.  We know by intuition that which is God, but not that it is God.

                St. Thomas seems to us to set this matter right in his answer to the question, Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum? He holds that ens is per se notum, or self-evident, and that first principles in knowing, as well as in being, evidence themselves, but denies that Deum esse sit per se notum, He holds that ens  is per se notum, or self-evident, and that first principles in knowing, as well as in being, evidence themselves, but denies that Deum esse sit per se notum, because the meaning of the word Deus or God is not self-evident and known by all.  His own words are: Dico ergo haec propositio, Deus est, quantum in se est, per se nota est, quia praedicatum est idem cum subjecto; Dues enim est suum esse, ut infra patebit.  Sed quia nos non scimus de Deo quid est, non est nobis per se nota, sed indiget demonstrari.

                St. Thomas adds, indeed, Sed indiget demonstrari per ea quae sunt magis nota quoad nos, et minus nota quoad naturam, scilicet per effectus; but this is easily explained.  The aint argues that it is not self-evident that God is, because it is not self-evident what h is; for, according to the scholastic philosophy, to be able to affirm that a thing is, it is necessary to know its quidity, since without knowing what the thing is we cannot know that it is.  What God is can be demonstrated only by his works, and that it can be so demonstrated St. Pauk assures us, Rom. I, 20: Invisibilia ipsivs, a creatura mundi, per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta, conspiciuntur: sempiterna quoque ejus virtus et divinitas; or as we venture to English it: “The invisible things of God, even his eternal power and divinity, are clearly seen from the foundation of the world, being understood (or known) by the things that are made.”  St Paul appeals to the things that are made not to prove that God is, but to show what he is, or rather, if we may so express ourself, to prove that he is God, and leaves us, as does St. Thomas, to prove, with St. Augustine, St. Anselm, Fenelom, and others, that he is, by the argument derived from intuitive ideas, or first principles, commonly called the argumentum a priori, though that, strictly speaking, it is not, for there is nothing more ultimate or universal in science than is God himself, or rather, that which is God.

                The ideal formula is true, for it is contained in the first verse of Genesis, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth,” and in the first article of the creed.  “I believe in one God, maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible;” and what it formulates is, as we have shown, intuitive, and the human mind could not exist and operate if it were not so; bu the formula itself, or, rather, the formulation as an intellectual judgment, is not so.  The judgement was beyond the reach of all Gentile philosophy, which nowhere asserts or recognizes the fact of creation; it is beyond the reach of the mass even of the Christian people, who hold that God creates the world as an article of faith rather than as a scientific truth; it is denied by nearly all the systems of philosophy constructed by non-Catholics even in our own day, and it may well be doubted if science, unaided by revelation, could ever have attained to it.

                This relieves the formula of the principal objections urged against it.  The ideas formulated are the first principles in science with which all philosophy must commence, but the formulation, instead of being at the beginning, does not always appear even at conclusion.  The explanations we have offered show that there is no discrepancy between its assertion and the philosophy of St. Thomas.  Indeed, the formula is substance is the common doctrine of all great Catholic theologians in all ages of the church, and may be seen to be so if we will only take the pains to understand them and ourselves.  The objection, that the doctrine that we have intuition of most perfect being assumes that we have intuition vision of God even in this life, cannot stand, because that bision is vision of God as he is in himself, and this asserts only intuition of him as idea, which we even know not by intuition is God.  The result of our discussion is to show that the sounder and better philosophy of our day is in reality nothing but the philosophy og St. Anselm and St. Thomas, which in substance has been always, and still is, taught with more or less clearness and depth in all our Catholic schools.