Imagini ale paginilor

them" (§ 86). "Assent is a species of judgment; but not all judgments are assents. Judgments are of two

[ocr errors]

kinds, ideal and real. Ideal judgments are those which present themselves to the mind as possible, without assent or dissent on the part of the person to whom they are presented. Real judgments are those which, after being presented to the mind as possible, receive assent" (§ 87). "Possible judgments are of two kinds, those which are composed of mere ideas, as, The genus is more extensive than the species; and those which are composed of ideas and realities, as, Rome exists" (§ 88). "Hence, assent is that act whereby a man produces real judgments, . . . which he does only after having discovered by intuition the possible judgments" (§ 89). "Between the possible judgment and the assent there lies the question, Shall I assent to the possible judgment?" (§ 93). "So long as the question lasts, . . . and is not answered by assent, there is a mental condition which is termed ignorance' ($96). "The effect which assent produces in the mind (animo) is persuasion, that is, persuasion that the judgment assented to, whether positive or negative, is true. Persuasion is not cognition. On the contrary, there are erroneous persuasions produced by assents given to ideal judgments" (§ 102). "This appropriation of cognition, termed persuasion, and performed by means of assent, is usually denominated subjective cognition, the term objective cognition being reserved for the cognition, properly so called, which precedes the assent" (§ 103). "Subjective cognition adds nothing to objective cognition, but it adds something to the subject, namely, the persuasion of that cognition" (§ 104). "To what faculty does assent belong? To the will or to the understanding?" (§ 129). "We reply that the power of assent is a special function, which must be accurately distinguished from both understanding and will" (§ 130). "The subject performs certain acts by means of its faculties, others directly through itself, without employing any faculty. . . . The act of affirming what it understands the subject performs directly through itself, since in that act it does nothing but accommodate itself

to what it understands" (§ 131). "A man cannot give assent to a possible judgment present to his mind (spirito), unless he sees an efficient ground which attests its truth. What then is a ground? By ground we mean, that light which enables the mind to know that what any given judgment affirms in the order of possibility, IS" (§ 188). "Be it observed that this IS signifies the truth of the affirmation, because, if a thing is, it is true" (§ 189). "This light is logical necessity" (§ 191). "The grounds which justify assent to any possible judgment are either intrinsic or extrinsic" (§ 193). “Evident judgments are those which are made in regard to the idea of being and its immediate applications" (§ 196). "The extrinsic grounds which show the truth of possible judgments and render assent to them obligatory are (1) primitive judgments with respect to all judgments which are not primitive but derivative; (2) an infallible authority" (§ 212). "Authority, in its proper sense, means the external testimony which a trustworthy person renders to the truth of a possible judgment" (§ 215). “That which induces a subject to give an assent is (a) either an instinct, not guided by any ground, as when the assent is determined by the instinct of the marvellous; or (b) a purely spontaneous act of will, such as takes place in perceptions and in all voluntary assents given without reflection; or (c) an act of free will, which chooses between the ground for assent and that for non-assent, a choice which always takes place in the order of reflection; or (d) an act of free will, which creates or forges a reason, in accordance with which the assent is given in the same way as happens in formal errors, which likewise belong to the order of reflection" (§ 221). "By means of reflection, the will becomes free from necessity. The force of free volition, under certain conditions, overpowers instinct and voluntary spontaneity. By means of this force, a person may prevent instinctive assent" (§ 222). "Gratuitous assent is different from that assent which a man gives without being able to assign a ground to himself or to other people. . . The really gratuitous assents . . . are those which have no ground, but are determined by blind cause" (§ 226).

"There is error every time that there is attributed to a subject a predicate which does not belong to it. Hence the point where the error lies is the nexus between the predicate and the subject" (§ 244). Much to the same effect may be found in Dr. Newman's Grammar of Assent.


and philo


But this lower form of mental quiet is not Popular necessarily lasting. A mind possessed by strong sophical and firm convictions, of which it has never examined the ultimate grounds, may suddenly find itself confronted by an ultimate why. Will it then remain in a state of unquiet and uncertainty, until it has found the needed reply? Here we must distinguish between repose of mind and repose of spirit. The former demands demonstration, the latter only persuasion; and these are two widely different things. Demonstration has something necessary, almost fatal, about it, while persuasion has much that is voluntary. Hence it is that a man may have firm persuasions, without being able to assign the precise grounds of them. Moreover, among these unreasoned convictions there are some that are blind, and some that are rational. Blind convictions are arbitrary, groundless, and often erroneous, although, by accident, they may be true. Rational persuasions, which a man holds, without being able to assign the grounds of them, are such as rest upon really solid grounds, known indeed directly, and comprehended sufficiently to command assent, but not sufficiently analyzed by reflection to enable him

to express them either to himself or others, if he is questioned about them. The mind, the persuasions of such a man lack something, namely, the development of reflection; nevertheless, he possesses truth and a persuasion of the truth, strong enough to produce repose of spirit. He may even enjoy repose of mind, if, by refusing attention to his inner questionings, he succeed in stifling them. He is then in the same condition as if the questions had not been put.

Philosophy the

restorer of repose of intellect.


But the mind of such a man, that is, his faculty of demonstration, considered with reference to itself, and not with reference to persuasion and quiet of spirit, or to the possession of truth and certitude, has not satisfied its own demands, and, hence, has not found repose. Philosophy is what restores scientific repose of intellect.

Difference between demon


and per



There is, therefore, a popular knowing, sufficient for the purposes of ordinary life, and there is a philosophical knowing, calculated to satisfy the demands of the faculty of demonstration. The latter is the work of reflection, carried forward to the discovery of ultimate grounds.

Rosmini devotes a considerable number of pages in his New Essay to clearing up the distinction between direct, popular, and philosophical cognition. "Direct cognition,"

he says, "consists of intellective perceptions and the ideas which detach themselves from perceptions. Reflection, set in motion by language, then comes forward, and its first steps are those whereby it marks the relations, immediate or almost immediate, of the things perceived and apprehended. This first operation of reflection does not yet analyze the single perceptions and ideas of things. It leaves them entire as they were when it first acquired them, merely contemplating them together. It is still a synthetic operation of which all persons are capable. Hence, it forms a large part, not to say the whole, of common or popular science. Philosophical science, on the contrary, begins with the analysis of simple objects. When things perceived submit themselves to analysis, they acquire a singular light, which is what ennobles the wisdom of the wise. This analysis may be considered the starting-point of philosophy. Setting out from it, philosophy proceeds to confirm those great relations between beings (esseri) which the great mass of mankind have already observed, and, we might almost say, intuitively noted. Hence, popular science occupies an intermediate position between direct science on the one hand, and philosophical science on the other. It springs from a first reflection, whereas philosophical science requires a second reflection. The first strong reflection of popular cognition adds no new matter to cognition, but merely discovers new immediate relations in it. The reflections which follow bring out other relations between the preceding cognitions. If direct cognition enjoys immunity from error, the case is very different with popular cognition, which is already partly the fruit of reflection, not to say also partly of imagination. Philosophical cognition, moreover, is, of all the forms of cognition, the most liable to error, being the offspring of a more remote reflection" (§§ 1264-1267). Rosmini's distinction between the three kinds of knowing is almost exactly the same as that which Aristotle draws between perception (alo0nois), experience (μπeipía), and

* Zvykexvμéva, as Aristotle says: see Physica, i. 1, 184 a, 21 sq.


« ÎnapoiContinuă »