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The Giobertian Philosophy, Article 2 (1864)

GIobertian Philosophy, Pt 2


Gioberti, as we have said, places the question of principles before that of method.  Method is the way in which the mind develops and applies principles already in its possession, not that by which it finds or obtains them.  The human mind cannot operate, cannot even exist without principles, and therefore it does not and cannot obtain them by its own operations.  They precede experience, and therefore must be given, and be intuitive, objective, independent of the mind, ultimate, and universal; irreducable to any thing back or outside them, and comprehending all the knowable, omne scibile, and therefore all the real.


That principles precede method, are prior to experience, that without which no experience is possible, and therefore given not found, is not a new doctrine, peculiar to Gioberti.  It has been asserted and ably maintained by Dr. Reid, the eminent founder of the Scottish school, in opposition to Hobbs, Locke, and Hume, who derive them from experience, and even from sensible experience, or sensation.  Dr Reid, after Father Buffier, calls them Common Sense, the principles of Common Sense, the principles of belief, and sometimes, if our memory serves us, the Constituent Principles of Human Nature.  Reid's terminology may be objected to, and he fails to set forth his first principles with the requisite depth and scientific precision; but in asserting them as prior to experience, and as its necessary conditions, therefore as given, not found, he has shown real philosophic genius, and given to philosophical studies a true scientific direction.  He has utterly demolished the empiricism of the sensistic and materialistic schools of Locke and Condillac, and must be honored, unless we are to except Cardinal Gerdil, the able defender of Malebranche, as the most genuine philosopher of the eighteenth century.  His defect is that, though he asserts his principles as prior to experience, and independent of it, he does not show that they are more ultimate than human nature, and are really independent of the human understanding itself.  He goes in the right direction, but not far enough, and not necessarily any farther than Leibnitz went in the amendment he proposed to the peripatetic maxim assumed by Locke in his Essay on the Human Understanding.  The peripatetics adopt the maxim, that "Nihil in intellectu, quod non prius fuerit in sensu," which Leibnitz accepts with the amendment, Nisi ipse intellectus, making it read, "There is nothing in the understanding which was not first in the senses, save the understanding itself."


Locke had rejected the Cartesian doctrine of innate ideas, maintained that the mind originally exists as a blank sheet, and denied all principles not derived from sensible experience.  Leibnitz, by his amendment, asserts that the understanding itself precedes experience, and in experience recognizes or apperceives itself, and supplies the ideal element of experience.  This was something, indeed much, for it introduced into experience noetic or non-sensible principles; but it did not necessarily assert any principles as given prior to experience, or as more ultimate than the human understanding itself, as subsequently maintained by Immanuel Kant.  The understanding might, and he maintains that it does, draw its principles from its own funds, that is, from itself, its own innate and essential faculties.  It is true that he asserts with St. Augustine, eternal ideas, which he calls "the eternal verities" of things, but intent on the question method rather than that of principles, he asserts them as noetically perceived, not as intuitively given.  Man has the innate faculty of thinking them, but they are obtained by the exercise of that faculty. In their affirmation the activity is on the part of the understanding itself.  The only distinction he allows between intuition and reflection, is the distinction between simple perception and apperception, and these are both operations of the mind, and differ only in degree.  Simple perception he defines to be the simple apprehension of the object without noting that we apprehend it; apperception [ad-perceptio] is perception prolonged, or which notes itself, and in which I recognize that it is I that perceives; that is, consciousness [cum-scientia] or a perception that is at once the object perceived and the subject perceiving, perceptum et percipiens.  We find in him no recognition of intuition in any sense distinguishable from the immediate apprehension by the mind of ideas, either in itself or in God, who, according to him, is the place of ideas,- locus idearum, which is far removed from intuition in the Giobertian sense.  Principles, on the Leibnitzian doctrine, are, after all, empirically obtained, and it may, therefore, still be questioned whether they are really objective or simple mental inventions or fictions.


Immanuel Kant, the greatest of the German philosophers since Leibnitz, maintains, with Dr. Reid, the necessity of something in the understanding prior to experience, as the necessary a priori condition of experience itself.  he clearly and accurately distinguishes between analytic judgments and synthetic judgments, judgments a priori and judgments a posteriori; and maintains that synthetic judgments a posteriori are absolutely impossible without synthetic judgments a priori; or in other words, no experience is possible without principles given prior to experience.  These principles which precede experience, and render experience possible, he calls, after Aristotle, categories, and in his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, he professes to give an exact enumeration and a rigidly scientific description of them. But while accepting the amendment of Leibnitz to the peripatetic maxim, he takes it in a subjective sense, and makes the principles or categories forms of the understanding, formae intellectus, which assert, for the understanding nothing beyond or more ultimate than itself.  He thus rendered all science subjective and therefore no science at all; and he himself avows that the effect of his investigation is to demolish science to make way for faith.  On Reid's or Leibnitz's doctrine, principles, if not proved to be objective, real, independent of the mind, are, at least, not denied to be so, and science is possible; but on Kant's doctrine they cannot be, and science is asserted to be impossible.  The Egoistic philosophy, so energetically asserted by Fichte, that God and the external world are only the soul projecting itself, is only a logical deduction from the Kantian premises, and which, though not asserted either by Leibnitz or Reid, is necessarily denied by neither.


M. Victor Cousin, the greatest name among French philosophers since Malebranche, saw clearly enough the defect of Reid's philosophy, introduced into France by M. Royer-Collard; saw also that Kant's doctrine denied the possibility of science, and attempted to assert, in emendation of both, the real objectivity of principles.  He holds, indeed, at once from the Scottish school, the Kantian, the Hegelian, of which we shall soon speak, and the Cartesian.  After Descartes, he holds that the discussion of method must precede the discussion of principles, or that method gives the principles, instead of principles giving the method.  Meaning to be universal, he mistakes eclecticism for synthesism, and gives us syncretism instead of real dialectism.  He reduces, with admiral analysis, the categories of Kant and Aristotle, and asserts their objectivity and priority to experience; he distinguishes between intuition and reflection, and maintains that principles are given intuitively, as Gioberti does; but he defines intuition to be the act of the spontaneous reason, which is, in reality, identical with the reflective reason.  Intuition and reflection are, according to him, only two modes of rational activity.  In both modes reason is one and the same, and one and the same faculty of human nature, only in intuition the human personality does not, and in reflection it does, intervene.  The distinction between them is very like that which theologians make between actus hominis and actus humanus.  As he distinguishes reason in both its modes from God, and makes it either man or an abstraction, he really asserts no objective principles at all.  As he says, the objective reason is only objective in relation to the personality constituted by the will.  It is, therefore, really subjective, and he fails to escape the subjectivism he condemns in Kant, or the Egoism of Fichte, unless he accepts pure nihilism.


Schelling and Hegel, from whom Cousin borrows his ontology, give us what they call the philosophy of the Absolute, still somewhat in vogue among our German friends.  But Schelling maintains the identity of subject and object, and thus asserts, from the subjective point of view, the Egoism of Fichte, and, under the objective point of view, the Pantheism of Spinoza, while under both he denies intuition and even the possibility of science.  Hegel differs in many important respects from Schelling, but really recognizes no principium, no intuition.  The Absolute, he asserts, is no real being, it is only an abstraction, and therefore no real principle of experience, but is obtained by experience, or the operations of the human mind on its own ideas.  It is not primitive, and instead of preceding reflection, is formed by it.  Even by Hegel's own avowal his reine Seyn, which is his primum, is identical with das Micht-Seyn, therefore mere possible being.  It is, then, less ultimate than real being, for the possible is possible only in the real.  It is the real that gives the possible, not the possible that gives the real.  Hegel's reine Seyn or Absolute is therefore empirical, psychological, and less ultimate than the Common Sense of Reid. He is more abstract, more difficult to understand, than the Scotsman, but his philosophy is really less genuine, less profound, and infinitely less worthy of confidence.


All the men we have named, with the exception of Reid and Father Buffier, belong to the Peripatetic school, and however much they may laud Plato, are really disciples, and not always worthy disciples, of Aristole.  The Peripatetics, medieval or modern, doubtless admit the necessity of principles given prior to experience, and they all assert ens as the primitive object of the mind.  But they do not recognize ens as intuitively given, and really hold that it is empirically obtained.  The ens does not affirm itself to the mind, but is affirmed by the mind's own activity, the intellectus agens of St. Thomas.  The being apprehended may be either real being or possible being, a real existence or an ens rationis, or pure fiction.  It is then neither intuitive nor ultimate, and consequently no principium, either in science or in being.  In fact, the disciples of Aristotle make no distinction between intuition and reflection.  Their great principle, called the principle of contradiction, that is, that something cannot both be and not be at one and the same time, is derived from reflection, not intuition.  Doubtless they assert the categories and praedicaments of Aristotle, but then they never assert them as being or things existing independently of the mind, but as laws or forms of logic, proved by Kant to be forms of the understanding, and therefore are neither principles of science nor of things.  They are abstract forms, which reflection in its operations must observe; but they are distinguishable from reality, and may or may not have contents.  Hence the distinction between what is called the logical world and the real world, mundus logicus and mundus physicus, which renders it necessary, after having constructed our logical universe, to inquire if there be or be not a real universe behind it, and represented by it.  These schoolmen deal not with intuitions, but with conceptions or logical abstractions, and their philosophy consists in empty forms and dry technicalities, as lifeless and barren of results as wearisome and repulsive to the student.


Gioberti takes something in transforming it from all these, but among modern philosophers he assigns the highest rank to the Scotsman Reid and the Italian Galuppi.  He accepts these as far as they go.  He himself, however, holds, from Pythagoras, Plato, St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, Malebranche, Vico, Leibnitz, Fenelon, rather than from Aristotle, St. Thomas, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Schelling, and Hegel.  In common with all philosophers of the first line, he asserts immediate intuition of principles or Ideas, the objectivity of the Ideal, and its identity with real and necessary being or with God, regarded as facing the human intellect.  The Idea, or God, affirms himself intuitively, and God is the first principle in science and in being, and hence Gioberti calls principles ideas, and, when formally stated, the IDEAL FORMULA.  To be truly scientific, the formula must contain all that precedes experience, the ideal principle of all reality and of all science.  Idea with Gioberti is never taken in a psychological sense.  He does not mean by the term the intelligible species or the image of the schoolmen, something between the thing and the mind, with which the understanding is immediately conversant, the representation of the object to the mind, nor yet the immediate mental apprehension of perception of the object; but the intelligible object itself, which immediately affirms itself in intuition, prior to all experience, and independent of all operation on the part of the mind itself,- in a sense analogous to that in which it is used by Plato, from whom we hold it.


Plato understood by idea the type or model in the Divine Mind, and the real thing itself formed after it.  In his doctrine the type or model and the thing formed after it are identical, for Plato, like all the Gentile philosophers, had lost the conception of creation.  The Idea in the divine mind, according to Plato, at least we understand him, forms the particular thing by impressing itself on a pre-existing uncreated matter, as the seal upon wax, thus rendering the matter, as the peripatetics would say, materia formata. It is called idea because, considered in the divine mind, it is both seeing and seen, and, considered in the thing, it is that which God sees, and which the human mind must see and know in order to have real science, that is, science identical with Divine science. for Plato would recognize nothing else as science.  The idea is, then, the real, intelligible object, intelligible alike to the divine mind and to the human mind.  According to Plato, the reality is in the idea, the forma of the Latins, and what is not idea, what is sensible, variable, perishable, is phenomenal not real, and therefore no object of science.  His error lies in asserting matter as preexisting, eternal, as Pythagoras did before him; in overlooking the creative act, or confounding creation with formation; in supposing the types or models in the divine intelligence are the essences of things themselves, and in holding that all that is not idea is unreal, phenomenal, unsubstantial, of which science takes no more account than of simple shadows.  Whoever understands his famous cave, sees that he regards precisely as a shadow all that is not idea.  He denied the reality, to use one of his own terms, of the mimesis.  It is impossible, therefore, to clear him of the double error of pantheism and dualism,- pantheism in identifying the divine ideas with the essences of things,- essentiae rerum metaphysiciae of our scholastic theologians, among whom are Vasquez and Perrone,- dualism in asserting the eternity of matter, and therefore God and matter as two originally and reciprocally independent principles, whence is explained the origin of evil by the supposed intractableness of matter, a doctrine which has influenced disastrously many of the ascetic practices even of Christians.


But it is evident that, however in these respects Plato may have erred, he held ideas to be what in science and in things is constitutive, formative, permanent, invariable, immutable, universal, and eternal.  Hence St. Augustine says, "Ideas are certain primordial forms, or persistent and immutable reasons, which are themselves not formed, and therefore, being eternal and always the same are contained in the divine intelligence.  And since they themselves neither begin nor end, they are that according to which are said to be formed all things which may or do begin and end." (Lib. de Divers. Quaest. 82, Quaest. 46, 2)  Ideas, according to Gioberti, are not created things themselves, are not the genera and species of things, the universals of the schoolmen, but they are in all things that which is necessary and eternal, or non-contingent.  This is Plato's sense, freed from the error of denying all reality or substantive existence to the contingent. These "primordial forms, principales formae," these "persistent and immutable reasons of things, rationes rerum stabiles atque incommutabiles," are what Gioberti understands by the Idea or the Ideal.  As ideas are contained in the divine mind, and as what is contained in the divine mind is God, or as St. Thomas says, "idea in mente divina nihil aliud est quam essentia Dei," the Idea or Ideal is and must be identically God himself, real and necessary being considered as facing our intellect.  We say considered as facing our intellect, because idea is related to our intelligence as well as to the Divine Intelligence, and therefore is God in his intelligibleness to us, not God considered in his essence which is superintelligible to us, and intelligible only to himself.  But as no distinction is admissible in God himself, between his essence and his intelligibleness to us, The Ideal is really and truly God, and hence all that in the object of human science is eternal, universal, and necessary, or non-contigent, instead of being forms of the understanding, or abstract categories and predicaments, is simply being, that is, God himself.


This explains the sense in which Gioberti takes the word idea, and wherefore he calls his principium the Ideal Formula.  The Formula itself is, in his language, L'Ente crea L'Essistenze, which we render in Latin, Ens creat existentias, and in English, Being creates existences, substantially the first verse of Genesis,"In principio Deus creavit coelum et terram- in the beginning God created heaven and earth," or the first article in the Creed, "I believe in one God, Maker of heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible."  It is the true formula, for it asserts the real principle, of science and of things, in their real relation.  It is ultimate, for back of God and his creative act, nothing can be thought or conceived into which it can be resolved; it is universal, for God and creature include all that is or exists, omne scibile, all the knowable, because all the real.  It is intuitive, for it precedes experience, and without it no experience is possible.  It is certain, because it affirms itself to the mind, and is not found, invented, imagined, or created by it.


Yet simple and true as this is, men who have been trained in false systems of philosophy find great difficulty in accepting it, and even in understanding it.  "It is true," say some, "but a truth of revelation, not of philosophy; we know it by supernatural revelation, not by our natural reason;" "it is true, and a truth of philosophy." say others, "but is the last word of philosophy, not its first; its end, not its beginning; that which science succeeds in demonstrating, not that with which it sets out."  But both of these classes assume that method precedes principles, and confound intuition with reflection.  The second class assumes that the formula is presented as a theorem, and forget that Gioberti contends that it is an axiom.  The formula, taken as a theorem, is demonstrable only at the end of philosophy, but without it as an axiom no demonstration is possible.  All demonstration must proceed from a principle or axiom, which itself is not demonstrable.  How then proceed to demonstrate the formula without the principles it affirms?  Take the arguments of theologians to prove the existence of God or the fact of creation; they all suppose the mind to be already in possession of the ideas of the necessary and the contingent, of cause and effect, and their relation, which Reid, Hume, and Kant have amply proved are not and cannot be derived from experience, or placed in the mind by reflection.  These ideas are either real intuitions or abstractions.  If abstractions, you can, by starting from them as your premises, end only in abstractions, demonstrate only an abstract God, and you have still to prove that there is a real living God corresponding to your abstract God. This is the difficulty with Cousin.  He attempts to conclude God from what he calls necessary and absolute ideas, but as he has distinguished reason, of which they are the constituent principles, from God, and made it human, he can never assert their objective reality, or show them to be necessary and absolute, save for man.  The God he asserts is an abstraction or generalization, and as far as his philosophy goes, no real God at all.  If these ideas are real intuitions, then the Ideal Formula is conceded as the real beginning or starting-point of science as of things, and philosophy, faith, and common sense are harmonized.


The difficulty arises from the quiet assumption of our modern peripatetics, that abstractions are objects of science, and are intelligible without their concretes.  As abstractions are formed by the mind, and have only a psychological existence, they assume, whether aware of it or not, that the mind can be its own intelligible object, or, what is the same thing, that the subject can think, act, know, without any object really distinguishable from itself.  Hence they direct all their efforts to the solution of what to them is the gravest of all problems, Is knowledge knowledge?  or, Has our knowledge any objective validity?  In knowing do we know any thing beyond the cognitive subject and its own modes and affections?  Those questions are unanswerable, as the whole history of philosophy shows, but they are absurd, and no real philosopher ever asks them.  It is difficult to conceive a man standing over against himself and looking into his own eyes.  Man, St. Thomas held, is not intelligible in himself, or the direct object of his own intelligence, because he is not intelligence in himself.  Human thought is always and invariably the product of two factors operating from opposite directions, and called in recent philosophy subject and object.  This much is formally asserted by Cousin, who tells us thought is a phenomenon which is composed simultaneously and indissolubly of three elements, the subject, the object, and the form.  The subject is le moi, I, ego, the object is le non-moi, not-I, non-ego, and the form is their relation.  But perhaps no one has more clearly shown or established this than Pierre Leroux, who, whatever his faults and fancies, does not, in our judgment, deserve the disdain with which the superb Italian uniformly treats him.  He has, it is true, accumulated more materials than he has digested, and lacks the serenity of temper and that mental equilibrium which we look for in a philosopher; but he has real philosophic aptitude, and his genius occasionally flashes for into the darkness, and throws a brilliant if not a steady light on more than one obscure problem.  His doctrine of Life, that man lives only by communion with his Maker, his fellow-men, and nature, is in perfect accordance with Gioberti's philosophy, though his development and application of it are unscientific, and often absurd.  He denied with Plato, Spinoza, and Hegel, that the mimesis, that is, the individual and the sensible, is real,- held it to be purely phenomenal, and accordingly defined the individual man to be "senation sentiment cognition," thus making the substantive existence that is sensibly affected, that feels and knows, the race, the generic, not the individual man; hence he was led to define death to by the absorption of the individual in the race, or the individual becoming latent in the race,- which is almost asserted by Gioberti himself in one of his unfinished and posthumous works,- and to predicate immortality or the future life of the race only, not of individuals.  Individuals disappear; the race survives.  He is as far from admitting the future life of individuals as are the Oriental Emanationists, but he absorbs them in the race, not as they do in God, the fountain from which they had emanated.


But notwithstanding all this, Leroux has really established that thought consists simultaneously in three distinct though separate elements,- subject, object, and their relation.  Cousin, as we have said, had asserted the same, but virtually abandoned it by restricting the subject to the personality constituted by the will, and maintaining that we observe directly, by an internal sense, the phenomena of our own consciousness, or that by an interior sense we perceive directly the phenomena of our interior world as we do by the external senses the phenomena of the exterior world.  Hence, though no thought without both subject and object in immediate relation, yet man may be himself both subject and object, and therefore think with no object but himself.  Leroux denies this subjectivo-objectivism, so rife in Germany, and shows that the object, by the very force of the term, is opposed to the subject, stands over against it, and therefore must be distinct from and independent of the subject.  By an admirable analysis of the so-called fact of consciousness, he shows that even in consciousness we have no direct perception of ourselves, and, in fact, recognize ourselves as thinking subject only as reflected from the object.  Hence the object is not only distinct from our personality, or reason acting at the command and under the direction of the will, but from our own intelligence, whether reflective or spontaneous.  The ideal, in the Giobertian sense, as in the Platonic, is always and everywhere really objective, and never subjective.  It is always ontological, and never psychological.  The object then must be intuitive, and if intuitive, real, for nothing unreal can affirm even itself.  The fact then that man thinks at all, since he can think himself only as mirrored in the object, establishes at once a real objective world, and avoids the passage from the subjective to the objective, the pons asinorum of nearly all modern as of many ancient philosophers, for both are given distinctly and simultaneously in every mental operation.


Gioberti arrives at the same conclusion by another process, which we shall have occasion to develop before long.  All we say here is, that the doctrine accords with his, and is conclusive against all who maintain that man can be the direct and immediate object of his own intelligence, or that he can know himself in himself, that is, against all exclusive psychologists, who hold or imply that man suffices for himself.  Only a being that has the reason of his existence in himself can suffice for himself; only a being who is intelligence in himself can be his own object, or sufficient in himself for his own intelligence.  Hence only God is intelligible in himself, or in himself the object of his own intellect, or can know himself directly and immediately in himself; and his eternal knowledge of himself in himself, Christian theology teaches us, generates the Eternal Word consubstantial with himself, because generated in himself without the aid or co-operation of another.


Philosophers have so long regarded the categories as the abstract forms of logic, and treated them as neither wholly psychological nor wholly real, that they do not easily recognize the fact that as abstract they are nullities, and no object of the intellect.  Abstractions are formed by the mind operating on the concrete intuitively presented, and are real only in their concretes.  There is no abstract necessary, eternal, universal, and immutable, and these ideas are and can be real only as concreted in real, necessary, eternal, universal, and immutable being; there is no abstract, contingent, particular, variable, or mutable; there are and can be only contingent, particular, variable, and mutable existences, any more than there can be roundness with nothing round, or whiteness with nothing white. Overlooking this fact, philosophers, or many of them at least, take these abstractions as ideas with which, as Locke says, the mind is immediately conversant, and construct with them a formal or abstract universe, which, though rigidly logical, on the supposition that logic is formal and not real science, is of no scientific value, for it has no contents, no objective basis, no reality, no existence a parte rei, as say the schoolmen. Assuming that the categories are formal, that is, are abstractions, they see not that ideas are intuitive, and the intuition of real being.  Forgetting or not heeding that so-called absolute ideas are real only in real and necessary being, we have amongst us men who seek to concrete them in nature, to identify them with the natural principles and laws of the universe, thus speculatively denying God while intuitively affirming him.  Gioberti refutes all these by his formula, which makes the ideal real, and abstractions nullities, save in the concrete.


For these and other considerations, Gioberti integrates the abstract in the concrete or real, and maintains that only real being can be the direct and immediate object of intuition.  What is not, is not intelligible, and, consequently, nothing is intelligible but that which is.  That which is, is being. Only being, then, is intelligible in itself, and what is not being is intelligible only in being, or the intelligibleness of being.  The peripatetics concede this, and contend that only what they call ens can be an object of intellect; but they deny it in maintaining the ens intelligibile may be either ens reale, real being, or ens possibile, or merely possible being; for possible being, not existing save in the mind or ability of the real to create it, can be no intelligible object, and in itself is incapable of being intellectually apprehended.  Understanding that only the real is knowable or cognizable, there is no difficulty in accepting the Ideal Formula, for all the real, therefore all the knowledge, is embraced in it.  God and his creation include all the real.  There is and can be nothing else. The formula is absolutely universal. Discarding the notion that ideas are abstractions, and that abstractions have in themselves any reality, and integrating ideas in the real, or identifying them with real being, it is evident, even to the most ordinary understanding, that there is and can be nothing to be known but God and his creative act or creation.  What is not God is creature, and what is not creature is God.


This, simply stated, is undeniable; and yet there are comparatively few among modern philosophers who clearly and distinctly admit it, and are governed by it in their systems.  They seem to suppose there is something, or that the mind comes into relation with something, which is neither, which is not, strictly speaking, either God or creature.  Such are the absolute ideas of the True, the Good, and the Fair, which, according to Cousin, constitute the objective or impersonal reason.  Cousin certainly does not mean to assert them as something created, and though he makes them the Word of God, the Logos, he denies them to be God, for with him the Word is not God.  What are they, then?  If neither God nor creature, they are nothing, and who but God from nothing can produce something?  Rosmini, who justly ranks among the profoundest and acutest thinkers of our day, falls into the same mistake.  He maintains that the object intuitively apprehended by the mind is being, but being in general, ens in genere.  But this being in general, this ens in genere, is, according to him, neither God nor creature, and yet he holds it to be something very real.  What is this, then?  Had he asked himself this question, and used his simple common sense in answering it, he would have seen at once that if neither God nor creature, it is simply nothing, or purely a psychological abstraction, and, like all abstractions in themselves, a pure nullity.


The theologians find a difficulty in recognizing the idea as God, and conceding that he is the intuitive object of our intelligence, or that the intelligible is God, for this, as they understand it, implies that we have intuition of God in this life, while they hold that intuition of God is reserved as the reward of the blest in heaven, and is naturally possible to no creature.  But the intuition reserved to the blest is the intuitive vision of God, or seeing God as in himself, in his essence, which is indeed naturally possible to no creature, and is possible to man hereafter only through union with Christ and glorification in him, who has, by becoming incarnate, raised human nature to the nature of God, and is distinctly and indissolubly both God and man, or the union without confusion of both natures, the human and the Divine, in one Divine Person.  But the intuition asserted by Gioberti is not the intuition of God as he is in his essence, nor intuition at all in the sense of the theologians.  Their intuition is vision, and also the act of the human intelligence itself.  God in it affirms himself as intelligible object, as the immediate object and light of the understanding; not, if we may so speak, as God, but as real and necessary being, which we know, by revelation preserved in language, and by reflection, is God.  All men, from the first instance of their existence, have the intuition, for it is the intuition that creates and constitutes the human understanding; but it is only through instruction, and their own reflection on the intuition or idea immediately affirmed, that any of them become aware that the idea is God, and most of them never do become aware of it. St. Augustine, who is a great philosopher and a great theologian, as well as a great saint, holds that the idea is present to all minds, but that all do not take note that it is God.  It must be not difficult, therefore, to distinguish between this and the intuitive vision in which theologians find the blessedness of the saints in glory.


It being settled that abstractions are in themselves nullities, it must be held either that sheer negation can be an object of science and intuitively affirmed, or else that only being, and only real being, is intelligible, for the possible being of the schoolmen, and the being in general of Rosmini, are mere abstractions.  No negation is intelligible, save in the affirmation it denies.  Nothing has no attributes, no predicates, and we can never affirm so much of it as to affirm that it is, since precisely it is not.  We cannot think of it, and it cannot present itself or affirm itself as an object of thought.  Hence it is, no man can make an absolute denial, for the denial is intelligible only in the idea affirmed.  It follows, then, that only real being is intelligible.  What is not is not intelligible.  What is not real, independent being, existing and acting in, of, and from itself, cannot affirm itself intuitively to the mind, as its intelligible object.  All intuition is, then, intuition of real, independent, self-existing, and self-acting being, and such being is in all theologies termed God.  Of course we cannot demonstrate or prove from principles more ultimate than the affirmation or judgment, that being is, for the formula is given as an axiom, not as a theorem.  All that we can do is to show that it is impossible to deny it, and that it's denial would be the denial of all science, of all reality.  Axioms are never demonstrable; they are given, and affirm themselves.  This is all that is possible, and all the most rigid logic ever demands.


Only being is intelligible in itself, and consequently, without intuition of being, nothing is or can be known.  But the simple intuition of being does not suffice for science, or is not an adequate primum philosophicum.  The intuition of being is the primum ontologicum, but with the ontological primum alone, it is impossible to advance beyond the judgment or affirmation, being is.  This intuition does not furnish the adequate ideal formula, which must include existences in their principle as well as being itself, and also in their real relation to being.  Hence the Giobertian Formula asserts not only Being is, but Being creates existences; not only God is, but God is creator.  In it you have a real affirmation or judgment, with the three terms essential to every judgment, subject, predicate, and copula.  The subject is being, l'Ente; the predicate is existences, and the copula is the creative act.  Now the ideal formula expresses all the terms of this ideal judgment, or judgment that precedes all experience, or activity of the human mind, and all three terms must be taken in the relation asserted in the formula as the real primum philosiphicum, or scientific starting point of philosophy. 


Descartes and the psychologists start with the predicate, with the assertion of existences alone, Cogito, ergo sum, I think, therefore I am.  They start with a falsehood, that the thinking subject is being, whereas it is only in and from being, that is, existence.  I have not my being in myself, and I stand only in my Creator, in whom I live, and move, and have my being.  But this falsehood superinduces another: that I am capable of thinking myself in myself, or am immediately intelligible to myself in and by myself.  But as no predicate stands by itself, no one is intelligible by itself.  Only being is intelligible per se, consequently no existence is intelligible save in and by being.  Malebranche proved clearly that existences are not intelligible in themselves, or anywhere save in God.  Hence his Vision in God; but in being we, strictly speaking, see only the ideas, archetypes, or possibilities of things, and hence the great Arnaud objected to Malebranche that he gave us only as ideal, that is to say, a possible universe, and no actually created universe at all.  The objection was well taken.  Gioberti while he accepts from Malebranche that assertion that we see in God, adds to it, virtually, and by him.  Being is intelligible per se, and whatever else is intelligible, is intelligible in and by being, in and from which they exist.  It is impossible then to have intuition of existences without the ideal intuition of being creating them, that is, it is impossible to have intuition of the predicate, which is nothing by itself alone, without intuition of both the subject and the copula.  Being can stand alone, be an affirmation or judgment in itself, for he who says being, says being is, but neither the predicate nor copula can stand alone, or separated from being.  Creation is nothing without the being that creates, as an act without the actor is nothing.  Existence separated from being, and the creative act of being, that makes it all it is, is also nothing, and nothing is not intelligible.  Hence the psychologist who starts with the cogito, or the soul alone, starts either with the false assumption that the soul, which is simply existence, is being, and therefore God, and hence, if logical, arrives at the egotism of Fichte, and recognizes nothing as existing but the soul and its own modes of affections; or with an abstraction, and, if logical, ends in the nihilism of Hegel, and all the pseudo-ontologists. 


It will do no better to start with the copula alone.  The creative act, as we have just seen, is nothing without a being whose act it is.  Where there is no actor, there is no act; and a creative act that creates nothing, or produces no effect, is no creative act at all.  The copula unites the subject and predicate, and expresses the relation between them.  But relation is intelligible, because real, only in the related.  The copula can no more stand alone than the predicate, a fact commended to the consideration of those cultivators of the sciences who assert the activity of what they call the laws of nature, the active principles of the universe, without admitting any being who in them is the actor.  Our friends, the Positivists, the disciples of the disciple of Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, would do well to ask themselves if activity is conceivable without an actor, a real actor without a real being who acts?  If we take with the exclusive ontologists, like Fr. Rothinflue, Fr. Fournier, Pere Martin, among the Jesuits, and the highly respected school of Louvain, the subject, Being, l'Ente, or God alone, as our starting-point, or Ideal Formula, in one respect, indeed, we stand better then they who take either the copula or predicate alone; for the intuition of being, as we have just seen, contains in itself a complete judgment, that can stand by itself.  Being is equivalent to being is, and contains in itself subject, predicate, and copula.  But this, though a complete primum ontologicum, is not a complete primum philosophicum, for it asserts nothing distinguishable from being, and philosophy has to deal with existences as well as with being, with psychology as well as with ontology.  The being affirmed in intuition is real, independent, self-existent being, therefore, necessary, eternal, universal, and self-sufficing being, being in itself, being in all its plentitude and perfection.  It is, then, free from all external and all internal necessity of going out of itself to express, realize, or complete itself.  It is the plentitude of being in itself.  How, then, from the intuition of being conclude creation, or the creation of any thing distinct from being?  If nothing without God, or within him, forces him to create, creation must be a free act, which he may or may not perform, as it seems good to him.  Creation is not, then, deducible from the intuition of being.  Cousin has felt this.  No one has better understood that deduction is analysis, and that analysis gives only what in necessarily in the subject analyzed.  He therefore attempts to solve the difficulty by denying that creation is the free act of God, except as free from external compulsion, and making it an internal necessity.  He says God is being, being in that he is substance, and substance in that he is cause.  But this does not solve the difficulty, for it makes creation necessary, and, therefore, no creation at all. Creation on this supposition is necessarily implied in the nature or very essence of God, and whatever is so implied is God.  It also implies that God is not being in its plentitude, is not self-sufficing, but must go out of himself to complete himself.  His activity is not complete in himself, and is completed only in creating or causing externally, or ad extra, as say the schoolmen. This denies that he is, as say the theologians, most pure act, and supposes that his being, his substance, his activity is incomplete, in part at least, potential, and that he actualizes and completes himself only in external creation or production, which would suppose the

potential, which is no real being, can act, and that God depends for his perfection on his own works.


The ontologists among the Jesuits, and the school of Louvain, all worthy, under many relations, of our high esteem, are saved from the logical consequences of restricting the Ideal Formula to its first term only by their theology, which discards pantheism and asserts creation, a universe, not indeed without God, but distinct from him, and related to him as creature to creator.  But, unhappily, their principles of philosophy are not in accord with their theology, and they find themselves utterly unable to harmonize their science and their faith.  The German philosophers, not protected by their faith or theology, push their principles to their logical consequences, and hardly affect to deny the pantheism inevitably involved.  Those among them even who profess to be ontologists, like Schelling, Hegel, and their followers, are really psychologists, for the being they assert is not real being intuitively affirmed, but an abstraction, and their real logical termination is nihilism.  But waiving this, and supposing it to be real objective being, they are, as they hardly attempt to conceal, unable to assert any created universe, or universe distinguishable from God.  The Rosminians would, no doubt, excellent people as many of them are, were we to call them pantheists, feel themselves grossly misrepresented, but if they are not so in principle, it is because they are not ontologists, and do not recognize the intuition of being at all.  Rosmini takes as his principium the idea of being, and with the idea of being alone for his ideal formula, and can by no logical process arrive at any thing but being; and he who embraces in his philosophy only being is a pantheist. Rosmini, however, is really a psychologist, for the being he asserts is being in general, ens in genere, and therefore abstract being, and all abstractions are, as we have shown, psychological nullities, and the Rosminians are psychologically atheists rather than pantheists.


Many ontologists assert, no doubt, both creation and created existences; but where do they get them, or what right have they to assert them, if they are not given in the primitive intuition and included in the Ideal Formula?  Rosmini believes as firmly in creation and the realities of existences as we do, and so did Malebranche; but neither could do so in accordance with his own principles.  Fr. Rothenflue gives us an excellent refutation of pantheism, but in doing so he departs from the exclusive ontology he begins by asserting, and assumes that the mind has the conception of the contingent.  But whence comes this conception of contingency?  Surely it cannot be obtained by logical deduction from the intuition of real and necessary being, because it is not contained in that intuition.  It cannot be obtained by reflection, for reflection originates nothing, and can attain to no matter not contained in the intuition.  Rosmini must then concede that the conception is purely psychological, a creation of the mind itself, as are all abstractions, and therefore worthless, or else acknowledge that it is given in intuition, and therefore that he has mutilated the ideal formula by restricting it to being alone.  He- and he only follows Malebranche- attempts to get at existences as distinguished from being by means of the sensibility.  Intuition supplies the idea of being, the sensibility supplies the particular, and the mind applies the idea to the sensible, and affirms its existence.  This process would not be wholly objectionable, on the supposition that the mind by intuition is already in possession of being, existences, and their real relation; but according to Rosmini the intuition gives only being, and, even at that, only being in general.  Now, how from this intuition affirm that the sensible is a real objective though a contingent existence, especially if contingent existences are not given in the intuition or comprehended in the ideal formula?  In fact, from his data, ens in genere, which is a psychological abstraction, and the sensible, which is simply a psychological sentiment, mode, or affection, Rosmini can logically assert only himself, and both the God and the external universe he arrives at, are only psychological abstractions or generalizations of himself. Or, conceding the being he asserts is real, necessary being, he gets nothing by his sensibility beyond what is contained in the idea intuitively given, and its affections are only phantoms, illusions.


The sensibility can place us by itself in possession of no objective existence or existences.  That the intellect by virtue of the ideal intuition perceives directly, as is so ably maintained by Sir William Hamilton, external things or the external universe may be conceded or asserted; but sensibility itself goes not beyond the sensation, and sensation is simply an affection of the sentient subject, and is purely subjective.  Sensation itself, being an internal affection, cannot advertise us of any external existence.  It feels, it does not know, and hence all pure sensism end in pure nihilism.  Sensibility undoubtedly plays an important part in all our knowledge.  Man can act only as he is, and he is not pure intelligence, or a purely cognitive subject, but soul and body combined, and nothing can be an object of his reflective reason, in which the intellectual activity and action are properly his own, that is not sensibly represented.  But the perception of the object is intellectual, and it is the intellect or noetic faculty that receives the intuition, and consequently the senses introduce no object not contained in the intuition, or presented by it.  The vast labors of philosophers to establish the validity of the testimony of the senses are thrown away, because there happens to be no such testimony.  The senses do not testify, but the understanding testifies through the senses; for sensibility, as distinguished from understanding or the noetic faculty, is not cognitive, and can take notice of nothing.  It is impossible, then, when we have excluded from intelligible intuition the external world, or the created universe, to assert it on the authority of sensibility.  This was the weak point of Malebranche's doctrine, and completely vitiates that of Rosmini.  As the intuition of being does not include that of existences, it is evident that if we make the intuition of the subject our starting-point, and deny that we have intuition of the predicate and copula, we can never arrive at the assertion of contingent existences, and our science will be confined to being alone, which is pantheism.


But, unhappily, pantheism is not philosophy, but the denial of all philosophy.  It is not science, but the negation of science, for if it concedes an intelligible object, it denies the intelligent subject.  All science is dialectic, and is never possible with only one term.  Hence Christian theology, which asserts that God knows himself in himself, or is in himself infinite intelligence, teaches that he is in his essence Trinity, and therefore dialectic.  All knowledge is a judgment, and every judgment as any tyro in logic knows, demands three terms.  How then construct science with only a single term?  Pantheism is the supreme sophism, and undoubtedly the first sophism in the development of the human intellect, and the mother of all the sophisms into mankind have fallen or can fall.  There can be no science unless there be a distinction between the intellective subject and the intellective object, and an affirmation of the object to the subject.  But pantheism denies man, the intellective subject.  If we do not exist, certain it is we cannot know.  God may know himself without nothing hut himself, because he is Tri-unity, and therefore self-sufficing; but his knowledge is within himself and of himself; but if we are distinguishable from him, there is for us no knowledge, because no substantive existence to know or to be known.  According to pantheism, we and the universe have no existence, are purely phenomenal, merely attributes, modes, or affections of God, are, in fact, God, and indistinguishable from him.  There is no humanity, there is only divinity, and how without humanity can there be human science?  Hegel, indeed, seeks to avoid the difficulty by supposing Being to be engaged in developing and realizing, or actualizing himself in the external universe, or that what we call the external universe simply marks in its several orders the various stages in the divine or ontological progress, and that God attains to self-consciousness or to a recognition of himself first in man, or that he is ignorant of himself out of man, or till he has actualized himself to the degree called man.  But this absurd theory, wrought out with infinite subtility and skill, denies the intuition of real and necessary being, with which it professes to start; for real and necessary being excludes all potentiality, and is necessarily most pure act, actus purissimus, and the progress or procession of the Divine Being must be eternal and in the Divine Being himself.  If conscious of himself at all, it must be in himself, and his consciousness must be, like real and necessary being itself, eternal and infinite, which it certainly is not in man.


It is, then, we repeat, impossible to have science without the three terms of the Ideal Formula.  No man has more ably demonstrated the impossibility of deriving all science, by way of deduction, from a single principle, than M. Cousin.  More than one principle, then, must be given by intuition.  But this is not enough.  Several principles avail us no more than one, unless they are given in their real relation.  This is the mistake of the eclectics, both ancient and modern.  There is, no doubt, truth in all systems, and no system can be complete that omits it; but the science of truth cannot be constructed by collecting and adding together the separate truths of partial and incomplete systems; for truth is not made up of separate parts brought together, but is one living and indissoluble whole.  The Eclectic, as Cousin himself maintains, cannot safely proceed at random in his selection, but must have a scientific rule by which to determine what he will take or what he will leave.  This rule is possible only on condition that he has already on principle the truth in its unity and integrity; or in other words, we must have the true system which embraces science in its unity and universality, before we can say what in the several systems is true, or what is false.  The ideal formula must be, not eclectic, but synthetic.  Balmes, who deserves great credit as a thinker and a writer, and who really is one of the great men of our century, while refuting the notion that philosophy is to be deduced from one principle alone, fails to present the several principles he asserts in their dialectic relation.  He is, indeed, more intent on method than on principles, and more engaged with the questions, Can we know? how we know? and how we know that we know? than on the question, What do we know?  But still he recognizes the necessity to science of principles, only he treats them rather as found by reflection than as intuitively given, and confounds, as do many others, the question of principles with the question of the origin of ideas,- a question which in its ordinary sense has no place in the Giobertian philosophy.  He derives all knowledge through ideas and the senses. Ideas are representative, and are all resolvable into the idea or representation of l'ente, or being; but he denies the idea to be being itself, or that we have intuition of being.  Whence then the affirmation of being in science?  He answers that it is affirmed instinctively.  Instinct, as he defines it, is the immediate act of the Holy Ghost, that is, of Being itself, which is virtually what Gioberti means by intuition. But existences, creatures, the external universe, he takes on the testimony of the sentences, in which respect he agrees with Rosmini.  Supposing him thus far right, supposing that he really asserts intuition of Being and of existences, or that we really perceive, as Sir William Hamilton maintains, external things, the external universe, he fails to assert as intuitively apprehended, any relation between them.  He gives you being and he gives you existences, but without the link that connects them; and after supposing both to be present to the mind, Balmes has to settle the question of their relation,- whether or not being creates the existences, or whether they are related as creator and creature.  This question shows a defect in his ideal formula, for it cannot be settled scientifically without the intuition of the real relation between them, or of the creative act.  Balmes supposes both to be given, but not in their synthesis, or dialectic relations, and is therefore no better off than though he had only one term alone.  There is no judgment unless the subject and predicate are united through the copula.


The Ideal Formula, as given by Gioberti, is synthetic, and really dialectic.  It gives the first ontologicum, Being, and the first psychologicum, Existence, in their real relation as the primum philosophicum.  All that is or exists, and the real relation between being and existences, are affirmed intuitively to the mind, as the a priori principles of all the knowable and all the real.  But this does not imply that the knowledge of things is deduced from the terms of the formula, by way of analysis, as if intuition excluded experience, contemplation, reflection, investigation, observation, and induction.  It must be remembered that the formula is intuitive, and gives of actual science only the non-empirical elements, what precedes experience and renders experience possible.  It is the Ideal formula, the ideal judgment, which enters into every judgment of experience, but is not the empirical judgment itself, as we shall hereafter more fully explain.


We call the judgment ideal, or the ideal formula, though it adds to the idea, or real and necessary being, the predicate existences, with the copula which unites them to being.  This is done because the predicate is the subject or being mediante the copula or creative act, and because the copula is being in its act, and the predicate is only the copula in its external terminus.  Also, because though being is a complete judgment in itself, even if it can be a judgment or affirmation to us only in case we exist, and by the creative act of being, which places us in existence.  The ideal judgment, though the judgment of being, cannot be affirmed to us without placing us and including us as one of its terms.  Being is ideal, as we have defined, only in relation to our intelligence, only in that it faces the human intellect, and is its intelligible object.  Idea is itself, then, though really identical with being, a relative term, and expresses being not in itself, but only in its relation to our intelligence; and as relation is real only in the related, it must include our existence as well as real being itself, and, therefore, the formula, l'ente crea l'essistenze, is rightly called the ideal formula.

So much for the present article.  The question of method will occupy us in our next article.