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its modes, are impossible with regard to itself. Hence I have said somewhere that the manifest and essential truth of being shines forth in its universality. This universality entirely destroys transcendental scepticism, which gratuitously. assumes that the human mind is endowed only with restrictive and modal forms, whereas, in fact, it has but one universal form without any modes at all. Modes, indeed, have no existence save in the world of reality. It follows directly from this that those who hold being in its universality and simplicity to be a subjective product, that is, a product of the subject man ($ 36), make an assumption not only gratuitous, but plainly false 'and contradictory, inasmuch as man himself is only a limited, modal, and contingent realization of the essence of being


Transition from observation to the proof that observa tion is a valid source of knowledge.

Let us now look back and consider what we have proved. In the first place, by means of simple observation, we established the fact that the human mind knows what being is, leaving undecided the question whether observation was a reliable source of truth. This question we have now decided, and shown that observation is valid. Having found that the result of observation is the intuition of being, we were able to convince ourselves of the truth of observation itself, inasmuch as we found in intuited being that clear light of truth which excludes from our observation all possibility of deceit, error, or illusion ($ 11).

This is a strong point in Rosmini's system, the point at which he emerges from the vicious circle described under § 10, and passes from mere tentative thinking to philosophical, constructive thinking. We must be very careful to remember that being, though reached by a process of abstraction, and in reality abstract, is, nevertheless, not a mere mode or attribute of the abstracting subject, but an objective entity and the very essence of objectivity. In modern times we are wont to confound abstract with subjective, and therefore to imagine that the nature of every abstraction depends upon the nature of the subject. This is utterly false. Our sensations, indeed, are purely subjective, but our concepts of them are purely objective, and could not be thought correctly, even by God, otherwise than they are thought by us.


The same arguments by which we have Error imanswered the sceptical objections of the transcen- in ideas

possible dental idealist and shown that the simple concep- and


specific. tion of being cannot, in any degree, be illusory, are equally valid for special concepts or ideas. If, indeed, there be error in these, it must lie either in the undetermined being which forms their common basis, or else in the particular modes under which they present limited being to us. have already seen that in undetermined being there is no possibility of error. It now remains to be seen whether error can occur in the modes of these same concepts. Now, what do we mean when we say that there is error in the modes of being ?

We mean that a being appears to us in one mode, when, in truth, it exists in another. The possibility of error, therefore, arises from the

But we

fact that the same being cannot exist in more than one mode at the same time, and that if we attribute to it another mode than that in which it is, this other mode is not, and therefore we have made a false judgment, an error.

Such false judgments we make frequently in reference to real beings, which are limited to a single mode. For example, I may make the false judgment that a given being is a man, when it is an animal or a bush ; I am in error because I attribute to it a mode which does not belong to it. But, if I am dealing not with real beings, but with purely ideal being, the conditions of error are altogether wanting. Inasmuch as ideal being is not limited to a single mode, but has potentially all modes, it may be realized in all modes. Therefore, whatever mode of ideal being I may conceive, it is free from error, since it must always be one of its modes. These modes of ideal being are concepts, specific or generic ideas; hence all specific and generic ideas are absolutely free from error. The ancients, therefore, were right when they taught that error can never occur in ideas, but only in judgments, and that the knowledge, so called, that comes from simple intuition, is entirely free from error.

For this reason, moreover, we say that ideas are exemplary truths, and that things (real beings) receive their truth from their conformity to ideas. If, for example, I judge that a certain being is a horse, and it is a horse, we say that it is a real horse, meaning thereby that it corresponds to the idea of horse, to that mode which I attribute to xt and whereby I judge it.

Ideas are the exemplary truths of things.


be no error

But when we say that no error can occur in There can simple ideas, we do not mean to extend this without a

judgment. assertion to the relation of ideas. In these, indeed, there may be error, inasmuch as they are affirmed by means of a judgment, which has the possibility of being false as well as true. Thus, for example, I am in error if I judge that one idea is contained in another when it is notthat two, let us say, goes into five twice without a remainder. In a word, there can be no error where there is no judgment. Simple intuition does not admit error.

Aristotle very correctly says, «Εν οίς και το ψεύδος και το αληθές, σύνθεσίς τις ήδη νοημάτων ώσπερ εν όντων(De Animâ, iii. 6, 1; 430 a, 27 sq). He affirms, on the contrary, that “Η μεν ούν των αδιαιρέτων νόησις εν τούτοις περί & ουκ έστι το ψεύδος” (Ibid., 26 sq.)


free from error.

It does not follow from this that error is There are

judgments possible in every judgment. On the contrary, absolutely there are judgments in which error is absolutely impossible. For example, after I have discovered that in the intuition of being, whether universal or special, no error is possible, I may express this in the form of a judgment, and say, In ideas there is no error. In so doing, I form a judgment absolutely free from error, for the simple reason that what I express in it is free from error. In

the same way, all judgments which express only what the mind intuites are free from error; for example, these two : The object of knowledge is being; Being and not-being, as predicated of the same thing, at the same time, is not an object of cognition. These propositions, these judgments, express only what the intuition of being shows us.

The first expresses the fact that being is the essential object, the form, of the intelligence ; the second, that if being, the object of the intelligence, be removed, it cannot still be present. Here also the simple intuition of being shows itself to be the necessary condition of knowing:

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Although the idea of being is possessed in the way of simple intuition without subjective affirmation, yet there is in it implicitly an objective judgment. This being the origin of all judgments, we must turn back upon it, in order to see how this implicit judgment is developed by man, and how it renders itself explicit.

“ The word being expresses an act,* the absolutely first act. An act may be conceived and expressed in two ways: (1) as an act which is seen taking place ; (2) as an act which takes place. In the former way, that is, as seen by the mind, it is expressed by nouns or the infinitives of verbs, which are also nouns; such is the infinitive mode, TO BE.† In the second way, that is, as an act taking place, without the relation of seen, it is expressed by that inflexion which the grammarians call the third person singular, present tense of the verb, as, for example, when

Act, actus, ¿vépyera, entirely different from action, actio, apačrs. The distinction belongs to Aristotle.

+ This is the literal translation. In English, instead of the infinitive, used in Greek, Latin, German, and the Romance languages, we employ more frequently the verbal noun ending in ing (A.S. ing, entirely different from the participle, which ended in and).

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