« ÎnapoiContinuați »
man who means to philosophize (see under $ 9). It involves no presupposition, and in this respect differs from all other possible starting-points. It ends in the discovery of a principle of certainty, from which philosophy may begin.
Philosophy, therefore, sets out with a certainty, and not with an hypothesis, and Rosmini on several occasions combats Hegel, who held the opposite view. Speaking of the question, With what must philosophy begin ? he says, "Hegel felt the importance of this question, and replied that whatever philosophy may begin with, that beginning must always be an hypothesis, since all immediate knowing is purely hypothetical.* This doctrine was suggested by sensism, from which the German school could never purge itself, although it assumed the title of Transcendental Idealism. In fact, it recognizes as immediate nothing but sense - experience, and this it calls the starting - point of philosophy.t It accepts the Aristotelian dictum, Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensu, f and its system consists in adding that Nihil est in sensul quod prius non fuerit in intellectu. Hence it admits the two dicta as reciprocally true, and sums itself up in these words : "What is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational.'S Now, it is plain enough that, if philosophy have no other point of departure than sense-experience, internal or external, inasmuch as pure sense is non-cognition, and the cognition of sensible things presents itself to the mind of the philosopher as so many subjective cognitions, he must regard these as hypotheses, as data not yet fully verified. But is it true, as this philosopher asserts, that the startingpoint of philosophy is experience? This is, indeed, an hypothesis of his, and it is a curious thing to see, while he refuses to admit anything that is not demonstrated, and
Hegel, Encyclop., vol. i. p. 4, § 1; p. 25, § 17. † Ibid. $$ 1-12.
Η “Μή αισθανόμενος μηθέν, ουθέν αν μάθοι (ο νους) ουδέ ξυνείη” (De An., iii. 8, 3; 432 a, 7 : cf. De Sens., 6, 445 b, 16, and Leibniz, Nouv. Essais, ii. 1). Hegel is hardly right when he says that this dictum is falsely attributed to Aristotle (Encylop., Einleitung, § 8).
$ “Was vernünftig ist, das ist wirklich ; und was wirklich ist, das ist vernünftig" (Philosophie des Rechts, p. 17; cf. Encyclop., vol. i. p. 10, $ 6).
denies philosophical value to all immediate knowledge, with what confidence he sets out with this assertion, supposing it to be an infallible truth that experience is the starting-point of philosophy, and not only omitting to prove it, but even neglecting to subject it to any examination. This habit of placing the starting-point of philosophy in sense-experience is peculiar to that class of philosophers who begin with the subject, that is, the soul. But Hegel, by admitting that to begin with experience is to begin with an hypothesis, admits, at the same time, that this is not truly the beginning of philosophy, which is not an hypothesis, but is, on the contrary, as we have said, a necessary doctrine. For this reason, it is only where the necessary begins that theoretic philosophy can begin.
“Moreover, when Hegel, assuming that philosophy sets out from experience, lays down the universal dictum, “Whatever philosophy may begin with, that beginning must always be an hypothesis,' he only takes a leap from the particular to the universal, drawing one of those illogical conclusions so frequent in our philosopher, who persuades himself that there cannot be anything but what presents itself to his imagination, and that is very little. If he had reflected that external and internal sense, the sources of experience, as well as the other faculties of the human subject and the human subject itself, are merely material conditions, necessary, not to the existence of the truth, but to making possible its communication to man (it could not be communicated to a subjcct which did not exist or had not the power of receiving the communication), he would have readily understood that these material conditions cannot constitute the principle of the required theory of truth, albeit the search for the truth presupposes them, exactly as a scaffolding, though necessary for the construction of a building, is neither the principle of the building nor even the smallest part of it. How afterwards experience and the subject of it enter into the theory of the whole, which absorbs them without being the principle of them, remains to be seen from the theory itself" (Theosophy, vol. i. $$ 19, 20; cf. § 53).
Rosmini distinguishes internal from external observation thus : “ Internal observation has for its matter intuition and the objects intuited, the feelings, the perceptions, and all that a man perceives within himself. Hence internal observation is the source of the initial sciences of philosophy, Ideology and Psychology. External observation is the starting-point of all the physical sciences. To the faithful, practical application of this principle must be ascribed the wonderful progress made by the physical and mechanical sciences in modern times; and it is to the neglect of internal observation that is due the backward condition of those sciences which rest on it. The strangest feature in the case is, that these sciences were even dwarfed and loaded with most superficial prejudices by those very persons who with most ostentation proclaimed the method of observation and experience. The reason was that they prized external observation, but did not know internal observation. They preached and lauded observation in general, at the same time ignoring that species of observation which would have been most useful to them. Directing their attention only to external observation, which is valid only for material things, and not for mind (spirito), they arrived at two unfortunate results : (1) They sterilized the metaphysical sciences by rejecting certain things not supplied by external experience; (2) They materialized and wasted these sciences, transferring to the sphere of spiritual things what was derived from external observation, and could belong only to material things” (Logic, $ 951).
Objection to the validity of observation answered.
It will perhaps be objected that, until the validity of observation be demonstrated, it cannot be used as an authority. Such objection, however, has no force, inasmuch as we do not set out by assuming observation as a means of demonstration, but merely accept it provisionally as a means of fixing what is to be demonstrated further on. Then the results of observation, assumed at first as mere appearances, will show themselves to be true and certain, carrying with them a proof of their own truth, so irrefragable that the contrary of them shall be impossible.
Let us, then, carefully observe human cog- Human
cognitions, nitions. These are innumerable, so that, if we though inwere to consider them one by one, the task would able, have be infinite. However, we are not looking for that element. wherein they differ, but for that wherein they coincide. Now, they all coincide in being cognitions, and what we are trying to observe and study is neither more nor less than the nature of cognition itself. We must, therefore, first of all, try to find out what all our cognitions have in common, since this common element will be the essence of cognition.
Rosmini here calls into play a faculty entirely different from that of observation, viz., abstraction. It is, of course, only by abstraction that we can discover a common element in any class of things or thoughts. However, as the validity of the whole process is not assumed, and, indeed, is indifferent, the subsequent reasoning is not vitiated. That we do abstract is as much a fact as that we observe, whatever its meaning and conditions may be.
Cognition of real entities is an internal affirmation or judg. ment.
When the problem is thus narrowed down, I see that, in the case of a very large number of cognitions at least, I can have them only by means of an act by which I affirm something. For example, I know that I exist; I know that there exist other beings similar to me; I know that there exist extended bodies, having length, breadth, and thickness. For the present I do not ask whether my knowing deceive me or not. I have what I call a knowledge of all these things, and I am trying to discover how I came by it. Now, I see that I should not know that there exists even a single entity, if I did not say, or had not sometime said, to myself that that entity exists. To know, therefore, that an entity exists, and to say to myself that it exists, are one and the same thing. My cognition, therefore, of real entities is only an internal affirmation or judgment. Knowing this, I have only to analyze this judgment and observe what are its elements. In this way I shall, perhaps, have advanced a step toward the discovery of the nature of cognition itself.
This section contains the pith of what is distinctive in Rosmini's philosophy, viz. the doctrine that in thought synthesis must precede analysis, virtual judgment go before actual conception or particular cognition. Most previous systems of philosophy and logic had assumed the order of thought to be—(1) Ideas, (2) Judgments, (3) Reasoning or syllogisms (see New Essay, vol. i. § 227, n. 1). Even Kant, who admitted that “ we can reduce all the acts of the understanding to judgments, so that the understanding