Jacques Maritain Center : General Metaphysics / by John Rickaby, S.J.


(1) A WHOLE chapter devoted to the elucidation of so simple a notion as that of Being, must seem to some "Much Ado about Nothing," and quite enough at the opening of a book to condemn it of triviality. "Of Being," writes Mr. M'Cosh,{1} "very little can be said; the mistake of metaphysicians lies in saying too much. They have made assertions which have, and can have, no meaning, and landed themselves in self-created mysteries, or in contradictions. So little can be said of Being, not because of the complexity of the idea, but because of its simplicity. We can find nothing simpler into which to resolve it." On the other hand, there are writers who seem to suppose that Being is an idea too abstruse for human investigation: and we find both Voltaire and Goethe indulging in the thin witticism, that in regard to Being they understood about as much as their teachers, which was very little.

Not because a notion is simple is it therefore beyond the need of accurate determination by reflexion; and not because a notion is the most fundamental of all, is it, therefore, a mystery above our powers of research. Being calls for our investigation, to which call we are competent to respond, nor are we so contemptuous as to withhold the answer in disdain. Therefore, lest anybody should be inclined to persist in the opinion, that every one who has come to the use of reason must sufficiently understand what Being is, without going to Metaphysics; or in the opposite opinion that Being is a notion too subtle for human comprehension, we will set about the refutation first of the one error, and then of the other. A mere assertion may make little impression, but assertion backed by proof ought to leave its mark. We do not want the reader to fathom the meaning of all the passages we are about to cite; we only want him to gather from them a deep-felt conviction, that the term Being has been involved in sad confusion. The point can be established only in one way, and that is by the quotation of instances, to which we at once proceed.

Sparing ourselves the relation of how Hegel manages to identify Being with not Being, we will begin with an author whom we have often to encounter in the course of this treatise. Hume{2} says, "Any idea we please to form is the idea of a Being, and the idea of a Being is any idea we please to form." This is very liberal; but others try to find an opposition between Being and some other term. One common antithesis is set up between Being and Thought, so that the former stands for every object of thought, or as it has been styled, das reine Gegenüber, mere "over-against-ness," or the non-ego as set over against the thinking Ego. Hereupon people begin to inquire whether the opposition is complete, or whether thought itself is not Being; and then, perhaps, they venture on the suggestion that the true antithesis to Being is, not thought, but nonentity or nothing. Meantime Being is not explained.

Another device is to regard Being as the same with actuality or existence. "Being," says Mill,{3} "is originally the present participle of a verb, which in one of its meanings is exactly equivalent to the verb exists, and therefore suitable even by its grammatical formation to be the concrete of the abstract existence. But this word, strange as the fact may appear, is still more completely spoiled for the purpose which it seemed expressly made for than the word thing. Being is by custom exactly synonymous with substance, except that it is free from a slight taint of a second ambiguity, being applied impartially to matter and to mind, while substance, though originally and in strictness applicable to both, is apt to suggest in preference the idea of matter. Attributes are never called Beings, nor are feelings. A Being is that which excites feelings and possesses attributes." In another place{4} he surmises that a distinction which, in spite of many prior claimants,{5} he puts down to the credit of his father, will rid us of an ambiguity, while against certain philosophers whom he accuses of having brought about darkness where they professed to be shedding light, he has strong denunciations to make. "Many volumes might be filled with the frivolous speculations concerning the nature of Being (to on, ousia, ens, entitas, essentia, and the like), which have arisen from overlooking the double meaning of the word to be; from supposing that when it signifies to exist and when it signifies to be some specified thing, as to be a man to be Socrates, to be seen or spoken of, or even to be a non-entity, it must still at bottom answer to the same idea, and that a meaning must be found for it that shall still suit all the cases."

Mill is not exactly leading us to a definite settlement of terms, but he is showing us, and exemplifying in his own practice, the vagueness of usage. Let us take him up at the point where he declares, that "Being is suitable, even by its grammatical formation, to be the concrete of the abstract existence." Then, it means an existent thing, or an actual object; and what we want next to see is, how far Mill agrees with his friend, Mr. Bain, as to the meaning of Being as the same with existence.

Against Mill Mr. Bain contends, that because ideas are knowable only in opposite pairs, and because there is no positive opposite to existence, but only the negation, non-existence, therefore there is no distinct and peculiar idea, existence. "The word existence, in its most abstract form, refers to a supposed something, attaching alike to the object and to the subject, over and above Quantity, and Succession, and Co-existence, which are the attributes common to both. The only meaning of the word is the object together with the subject, for which addition we also employ the synonymous words, Universe, Being, Absolute, Totality of Things. To predicate existence of matter or mind is a pure tautology. Existence means matter, or mind, or both, as the case may be. The only use of the word is to express Object or Subject indiscriminately, there being occasions when we do not need to specify either."{6} Furthermore, he continues, "from the predicate existence there springs no science or department of logical method. Indeed all propositions containing this predicate are more or less elliptical: when fully expressed they fall under co-existence or succession. When we say there exists a conspiracy for a particular purpose, we mean that at the present time a body of men have formed themselves into a society for a particular object; which is a complex affirmation, resolvable into propositions of co-existence and succession. The assertion that the dodo does not exist, points to the fact that this animal, once known in a certain place, has disappeared or become extinct, is no longer associated with the locality; all which may be better stated without the use of the verb exist." Instead of "Does ether exist?" Mr. Bain gives as the more correct form, "Are heat and light, and other radiant influences propagated by an ethereal medium diffused in space?"{7}

If, therefore, Being is taken to mean existence, Mr. Bain tells us that existence either has no meaning or it must be taken as synonymous with some other words less abstract in character. Mr. Spencer, while agreeing that we have no clear idea of abstract existence, yet contends that: we have, in regard to it, an obscure consciousness. "We come face to face with the ultimate difficulty -- how can there possibly be constituted a consciousness of the unformed and the unlimited, when by its very nature consciousness is possible only under forms and limits? Such consciousness cannot be constituted by any single mental act, but is the product of many mental acts. In each concept there is an element which persists. It is alike impossible for this element to be absent from this consciousness and for it to be present in consciousness alone; either alternative involves unconsciousness, the one for want of substance, the other for want of form. But the persistence of this element under successive conditions necessitates a sense of it as distinguished from the conditions, and independent of them. This consciousness is not the abstract of any one group of thoughts. That which is common to them all and cannot be got rid of is what we predicate by existence."{8}

In order that so prominent a body as the Kantians may not be robbed of due acknowledgment for the share they have had in making a regular puzzle of the term Being, we will quote a few words from the master himself. He speaks differently of Thing and of Being: for while he uses the latter for what is actual or existent, of the former he says:{9} "The one concept which a priori represents the empirical contents of phenomena is the concept of Thing in general; and the synthetical knowledge which we may have of a Thing a priori can give us nothing but the mere rule of synthesis to be applied to what perception may present to us a posteriori, but never an a priori intuition of a real object." That is, Thing is an a priori, subjective form of the mind in accordance with which, as a rule for our thought, we must think whenever we direct our minds to objects of experience; but we cannot assign to our notion Thing any corresponding reality beyond thought. So much for Thing: we append a sentence on Being, which has won for itself notoriety.{10} Being is not a real predication that can be added to a concept of a Thing. It is merely the admission of a Thing, and of certain determinations in it. . . . The real does not contain more than the possible: a hundred real dollars do not contain a penny more than a hundred possible dollars. The conceived hundred dollars do not in the least increase through their existence, which is to be outside the mind." Here it is plain that Kant makes Being stand for Existence, and he distinguishes it from Thing, which he makes to be an a priori form. Our sense of Being will be found to make it synonymous with Thing.

Not much more need be done in the way of enforcing, by examples, the conviction that about the notion of Being men's ideas are unsettled; but two instances of a simpler order may usefully be added. First, Mr. Matthew Arnold, whose protest it was that he was no philosopher, took the etymological route to the discovery of what Being means; and he found contrary to what Cousin had imagined, that in different languages the verb to be had borne such original concrete meanings as to breathe, or to grow, or to dwell, or to stand. Thus he fancied that he had taken the mystery out of the word Being. Next, in behalf of the positivist religion, Mr. Frederick Harrison had to meet the assertion that collective humanity is not a Being, and therefore cannot become the object of a cult; he argued his case in the following dialogue, as P. against C.

P. "What do you understand by the word Being?"

C. "O, a palpable, living personality."

P. "Gently, do you mean that the Deity is palpable, or that an elephant is not a Being?"

C. "Well, then, a Being is a living organism."

P. "Quite so; and what constitutes an organism in the scientific sense?"

C. "O, pardon me; I make no pretensions to be a biologist. We are discussing religion, not Physics."

P. "In other words, when you reiterate that humanity is not a Being, you are not very clear what a Being is. Let us see what according to science really constitutes an Organism or Being."

No doubt every organism is a Being; but we can hardly make a simple conversion of the proposition and say, Every Being is an organism. What seems to have been lurking in Mr. F. Harrison's mind was, that if he could prove that humanity formed one organic whole he would establish a right to call it a Being -- a single Being; but with this truth he at least has put on all the appearances of mixing up something untrue and giving it explicit utterance, namely, that Being simply means organism, or is its convertible term.

We repeat that we do not wish the reader, at the present stage, to consider minutely what the foregoing quotations mean: their purpose is fully answered if they simply compel assent to the proposition, that Being is not a notion which everybody has clearly before his mind. We are going to claim rather close attention to a lengthened exposition of the sense which we are about to attach to Being; and in order that our claims might not be pooh-poohed on the score of needlessness, we have taken the rather painful course of inflicting on the reader a number of passages, which in themselves he is not likely to have found very entertaining. But the discipline was salutary, and let us hope that its purpose is gained. We now positively lay down our own account of Being.

(2) a. Being is either actual or possible; but we will begin with the former, because it pre-eminently is Being, and is called by the schoolmen, ens participii, Being as the participle. For the force of the present participle is to signify the actual exercise of that which the verb means. Thus intelligere means to understand, and the force of intelligens, as a participle, is such that homo intelligens must be taken to be "a man in the very act of using his intelligence: " whereas homo intelligens, when intelligens stands as a noun-adjective, is the same as our "intelligent man," who is so called, though at present he may be asleep, or narcotized, or under temporary insanity. Again, when we distinguish between an agent that is hereafter to do something and its future agency or causality, we evidently employ the former term, not as a participle, agens, that which is in the process of acting, but as a noun, that thing which has a power to act, whether it be now using it or not.

Similarly, when we deal with Being, it might mean an actually existent thing; or it might mean simply whatever is capable of an existence, whatever presents an actualizable content, whatever is an existible; or lastly, it might mean existence in the abstract, as when we speak of the Being that is given to some possible essence. The second of these several meanings is found most eligible, when we want to assign Being its place as "the formal object" or special subject-matter of Ontology. Being, then, we do not define, for it is too simple a notion to admit of strict definition, but we explain it to mean whatever is apt to have existence, whether it have it or not. It is not distinctly actual Being, nor distinctly potential Being, but Being left neutral as to the assertion of actuality or potentiality. So when we say that fire explodes gunpowder, we are philosophically indifferent as to whether the occurrence is actually going on at the time of our speaking. Thus we disarm the criticism of two antischolastic writers, belonging to the renaissance period, Valla and Nizolius, who contend that Res "Thing," not Ens "Being," is the truly transcendental{11} term: With us Being and Thing are one: Being means something, somewhat, Aliquid, Ein Etwas, Ein bestimmtes Ding; it means an existible, that which presents a ground for actualization, whether as an individual object in itself, or as a part, or as a real aspect of some individual whole. Being so understood is called Ens Essentiae in contrast to Ens Existentiae; where essence is to be taken in its wider sense {12} for anything that has a whatness or quiddity, even though this be but of the accidental order as opposed to the substantial.

St. Thomas fully sanctions the use of the term Being in the signification which we have just attached to it; but of course it is not anything like his invariable interpretation. In some passages he distinguishes Being from Thing, because he is using the former professedly in its participial force, and therefore is obliged to make it convey the notion of actual existence. For example, "There is nothing affirmable of every Being (ens) except its essence (essentia): and the latter is signified by the word thing (res), which differs from Being (ens) in this, that Being is a term derived from the fact of existing (ab actu essendi), while thing expresses the essence or quiddity;"{13} or again, "that is called simply a Thing which has a definite, fixed nature (habet esse ratum et fixum in natura) but it is called Being so far as it has existence."{14} He refers the distinction to an Arabian philosopher:{15} "According to Avicenna the word thing (res) differs from Being (ens) in that the former expresses the quiddity or essence of Being." Again, on the same point he writes:{16} "While in an object we discover quiddity and Being, it is rather on the Being than on the quiddity that its truth is to be grounded." These passages suffice by way of acknowledgment that many places in St. Thomas are not to be read in the light of our present interpretation of Being, which is made simply with a view to settling the most convenient form for the primary idea in the science of Ontology. But now to prove that we have the Angelic Doctor on our side in the usage which we adopt, let the following words testify:{17} "It is true that Being (Ens) so far as it signifies that which is apt to exist (secundum quod importat rem cui competit esse) means the essence of the thing." Here is just what we want. Against our determination to allow Being to hold itself neutral as regards actual existence, it might be urged that some scholastics, of whose contention we shall say a little, but only a little, later on, strongly uphold a real distinction between essence and existence in created things. But that this view is not brought forward by them against our present position will appear from such a typical writer on their side as Cardinal Zigliara, whose words will serve as a brief recapitulation of all that we have been trying to make plain:{18} "Because Being is described in relation to existence, that is called real Being which either has, or at least can have, an existence in nature. In this way we assert that the world, man, God, are real Beings. Being is divided into actual and possible: it is actual if it de facto exist, possible if it is only in potentia as regard existence." It is an additional pleasure to find even an Hegelian conceding to us, that our use of the word Being is at least nearly in accordance with what men commonly understand in every-day speech. "In the ordinary application," says Mr. Wallace,{19} "Being is especially employed to denote the stage of definite and limited Being; what we call reality. Reality is determinateness as opposed to mere vagueness. To be real it is necessary to be a somewhat." Hence we are led to the most useful remark that, according to our account of it, Being is. in one way a determinate idea; it has a fixed content, though this is the smallest possible. It contains only one note in its "comprehension," but it really does contain one. Therefore we say definitively Being means Thing. As to the logical "extension" of the term that is illimitably large, or, as we say, "transcendental," which means that instead of being confined to the bounds of one class, like mere universal terms, "man," "animal," "substance," it passes over all bounds and reaches to every member of every class and to every single thing. Philosophers have assigned various significations to "transcendental," but the above is our use of it in the present connexion.

(b) It may allay the rising discontent of some if we declare at once that the sense which we have just been assigning to the term Being is in part conventional. The fact that there is such a convention and something about its nature must now be made plain. No doubt there may be an inclination to refuse acquiescence in the arrangement because of a certain unwillingness to let the element of actual existence drop out of the explicit signification of Being, which in its primary force, as a participle of the substantive verb, asserts this very character of existence.{20} Still we have shown that herein Being has only shared the common fate of its kind. Just as a Protestant, in these days of easy tolerance, might pass all his days without ever actually protesting, and yet would have claim to his title because his position is one that might naturally lead to a protestation; so a Being may never actually be, and yet deserve its name, because it truly presents an actualizable nature. It so presents itself to thought, and thus the vulgarism somethink for something is not altogether a useless reminder of of what many suppose to be a correct piece of etymology. They connect thing and think as ding and denken, or as res and reri; thing is thus a "thinkable content." But instead of further apologizing for those who are parties to the convention about Being, we must hasten to quote some documents in which they openly declare that the case is one for settlement by compact, not a matter that settles itself. It becomes a very hopeless controversy when rival disputants try to fix the signification of the terms by the sheer necessities of the words. Yet this is sometimes attempted. Suarez{21} puts the matter thus: "Being in its double acceptation does not stand for two divisions of a common concept, but for a greater and a less degree of abstraction in the formation of one idea. Being as a noun (ens vi nominis) signifies that which has a real essence, prescinding from the question of actual existence, not indeed so as to exclude or deny it, but simply abstracting from it: while Being as a participle (ens vi Participii) signifies an actual Being as existent, and thus it considers Being in a more restricted sense. Accordingly Being, as a noun, does not mean potential Being (ens in potentia), inasmuch as the latter is privatively or negatively opposed to actual Being; but it means Being so far as it is a real{22} essence, a real something. Hence Being, as a noun, may be predicated of God, of whom we could never predicate potential Being." After Suarez two or three contemporary scholastics may be quoted to show how his opinion is still in vogue. A Louvain professor{23} speaks of the option that is given to us thus: "The act of Being may mean either what a thing is -- its quiddity -- or that a thing is -- its existence." A like account is given by Father Palmieri,{24} where he teaches that "the proper object of Ontology is Being in the sense of essence, since Ontology considers the essences of things, prescinding from their actual existence." Essence is here employed in the broad sense of any quiddity, whether strictly an essence or only an accident, whether a concrete essence or only an essence generalized by abstraction; about all which matters we shall have to explain ourselves presently. Essentia as an abstract term means simply that which gives the esse of a thing, as sapientia gives the sapere of a wise man.

It is needless to add more witnesses about the fact of a convention, when that fact is not disputable: but a further remark made by the last-quoted author raises a question. Is it, after all, between two quite distinct significations of the word Being that we have to choose? Does ens existentiae, Being the participle, really add a new note to ens essentiae, Being the noun? Is existence wholly a different idea from essence? Father Palmieri{25} thinks that this cannot simply be affirmed; that at least to some degree the assertion would be incorrect; for, says he, "though the objective concept of Being is made to express both essence and existence, nevertheless it is not a compound notion, that is, not a notion such as can be split up into two elements, each conceivable apart. Essence and existence cannot be so resolved, because the existence signified by the Being is nothing more than the essence itself as actualized,{26} while on the other hand the notion of essence always involves that of existence, a possible existence implying the capability to exist."{27} It may be objected that the implication of one term in others is so widespread, that if we are to refuse to admit plurality of ideas on this score, we shall bring down the number of distinct ideas to a very small figure. This is true: but at any rate a specially close implication of one in the other is found between the two transcendental terms, essence and existence, existence being understood of both the mental and the actual order. In this way it is taken by Father Tongiorgi: "Whatever is conceived as having some reality (an essence) is conceived as either actually existing, or at least after the manner of something existing, for it is such that there is no repugnance in its existence. Nay, more, by the very fact of its being an object of thought, it has a sort of existence in the ideal order." So far from being a subtlety peculiar to scholasticism the above view is frequently expressed by authors of various schools, and even finds a place in the writings of a man so little scholastic as David Hume.28

Of course there is a school-boy desire, not confined to school-boys, to have nothing introduced into the teaching which at all complicates matters; and to minds thus disposed the passages just quoted will prove exasperating. But in study, as in many other things, our wisdom is not to yield to exasperation which is fatal to success, but patiently to grapple with a difficulty, and make, if possible, some tolerable compromise where perfect arrangement is impossible. There is a good suggestion in that title to a chapter in Gil Blas: De ce que fait Gil Blas ne pouvant faire mieux -- "What Gil Blas did when he could do nothing better." Now to fix upon a signification for Being as the subject-matter of Ontology is clearly in part a question of convention. And because of the extreme slipperiness of the terms, no convention will be absolutely as neat as we could desire; no convention will be even maintainable unless we are aware of the ambiguities which it has to provide for; and therefore in arranging the terms of a settlement we must direct attention to a difference, and yet a sort of identity there is between essence and existence, especially when both are taken as well in the possible as in the actual order. Besides what has already been pointed out, Father Palmieri calls notice to a yet further complication, by mentioning the fact that existence itself can be regarded as a kind of an object, a thing, an essence: "Ontology considers the essences of things, abstracting from their actual existence: so much so that when it comes to treat of existence, it regards this not as bare existence, but as being itself something either actual or potential."{29} In face of all these sources of perplexity we must resolutely state our free determination to make words have a certain force and no more. However, the two terms may pass over into one another, we can find a point of distinction between that which does or may exist, and the existence which does or may belong to it, or to which it does or may belong; for perhaps, at a stretch, we can view this matter of belonging either way.{30} As a bargain, we undertake to mean by Being that which does or may exist, whether it exist or not; we commit ourselves neither to its actuality nor to its potentiality. When we want to say something about existence considered as actual or potential, and about its relation to that which does or may exist, we shall be at liberty to do so; but meanwhile Being for us is any existible -- whatever is capable of an actual existence. One reason why some treatises on Ontology are perplexing, is that no single account of Being is made, as we are now making it, the basis of the system, but varieties of meaning are allowed to creep in, and what is said of one of these is apt to be read on the supposition that it is another meaning which is intended. We shall see presently that the principle of Excluded Middle has to be interpreted differently when it is of ens existentiae, and when it is of ens essentia that we say: Quodvis aut est aut non est, "Everything either is or is not;" and this example is only one among many in which it is needful to know exactly how ens is being considered.

(c) But it may be asked, if Ens Essentia, or Being when it is not positively understood to be actual, forms the subject-matter of Ontology, is not the Reality of the Science in jeopardy? No, for first of all we have not made Being quite an empty notion: we have not taken away from, it, as some have done, just the one bit of content, or as logicians say, of "comprehension," which is proper to it, and without which it is left utterly vacuous, and therefore most certainly unreal. Mansel{31} is an offender at this point. "In the act of conception," he says, "when we regard some attributes as constituting an object, we conceive it as thereby limited, as being itself and nothing else. The indefinite ideas, therefore, Thing, Object, Being, are not concepts, because they contain no distinctive attributes, and the general object denoted by such a term is inconceivable."

As far as one requisite is concerned, we have secured that Being shall be "real:" for we have provided that it shall contain one note in its "comprehension." But that one note is "Thing," whether possible or actual: and the question arises, how can the "real" fail to include positively within its idea the actual? How can it leave actuality neutral? We reply, in one acceptation of the word, "real" is identical with actual, but in our present use of it we regard reality as sufficiently provided for, in that things possible are such that they may hereafter exist and do now exist virtually in their causes. They are not mere creatures of the mind, nor are they creatures of the mind to the extent of second intentions, a phrase which needs explanation. In the most rigorous use of the words, they mean something, which, as it is regarded at a given time, is so conceived that it could not, under the present denomination, exist outside the mind. An object literally and "in first intention," is, or may be, a man or an animal, useful or noxious: but to be a subject or a predicate, to be one and the same in many separate individuals, to be a species or a genus, to be known, these are characters which cannot be attributed to anything, except in so far as it is affected by the fact of becoming an object of thought: no actually existent thing, as such, is subject or predicate, or a universal, or a species. When, however, it is said that "second intentions" can exist only as objects of thought, it must be observed that thought itself has an existence other than as an object of thought; it is a psychological activity of the mind, the thought as distinguished from its object, and so far it is of "first intention." Now a possible Being, though it can be looked upon from the point of view of "a second intention," must be admitted to be of "first intention," inasmuch as it is an object producible by creative or by physical causality.{32} It has an extramental existence in its causes or its materials: it is possible as a fact in the concrete, and not merely as an object of thought, though of course this fact cannot be known without a mind knowing it. Its reality lies in the fact that it is realizable by forces, and sometimes also by materials, that are at present actual, and have their power of production, whether we think about it or not. Thus the unreal is reduced either to what is intrinsically impossible, or else to "second intentions,"{33} which have indeed a foundation in things actual, but can never be simply actual things, existing outside the mind. For example, there can be no "human species," physically existing as a species, but there are human beings who can mentally be represented under the form of a species by abstraction from all but specific characters.{34} We conclude, that in the sense assigned, the Being that Ontology deals with, at least primarily, is real, but it may be either actual or potential.

Even yet we have not quite finished with the description of the reality which is attributable to Being. We have seen that it has one note, and that this note points to a real object; but we have yet to declare that the reality of Being is not something actually distinct from the concrete natures of which it is predicated, and that still less is the Being of all things one and the same throughout. We can suppose nothing to be real with a Being other than itself; neither can we suppose that there are any mere phenomena, or any phenomena which are unreal. Every genuine manifestation is a real manifestation, and is declarative of some real object manifested. Being, then, stands apart by itself only as a result of mental abstraction, not as a fact in the constitution of things. Again, as to the other point, the singleness of Being throughout all existences, that likewise is a doctrine quite abhorrent to our principles, though only too congenial to some schools of speculation. Its prevalence among the ancient Hindus, who were so apt to regard all sensible, perceptible nature as empty appearances, is ascribed by Cousin to their want of history, which gives dignity to passing events, to their very poor estimate of human kind, and to their stern theocracy which pushed to extremes the teaching that God is all-in-all. We have not here to refute any of their errors; but the absence of such errors from any system of ours is what we do well to insist upon.

At length we have completed the sketch of our teaching on the subject of the Reality of Being; and the width of meaning which we have assigned to the term "real" will be found highly convenient on various occasions. For instance, it keeps away from us the difficulty which some feel about universal propositions of the categorical kind. They can allow that where the "all" can be definitely enumerated, as when we say, "All the European sovereigns desire peace," the assertion is categorical:{35} but they feel driven to give a hypothetical character to such cases as, "All triangles have the sum of their angles equal to two right angles;" "All men are naturally mortal." Here, because the "all" cannot have its constituent members counted or found in the order of existences, certain philosophers interpret the enunciations thus: "If there is a triangle, the sum of its angles will equal two right angles; " "if there is a man, he will be naturally mortal." We, on the contrary, who make reality neutral to actual or possible existence, and to existence past, present, or future, have no need to introduce any hypotheses. Other conveniences will be felt in the course of our treatise; to call special attention to them at the time will not be necessary, nor does it sound well to be always advertising one's wares, and pointing out how admirably they serve their purpose.

(3) Occasionally we find Being called the highest genus, but according to the schoolmen it is not a genus at all. It is true that Cajetan and Scotus do not quite agree with the more ordinary account of how it is that the generalized notion Being is reduced, by the appendage to it of particular marks, to the idea of determinate Being; but the doctrine of Aristotle{36} is against calling this particularization a descent from genus to species. Commenting on the subject, St. Thomas says:{37} "The philosopher shows that Being cannot stand as a genus; for a genus has dtfferences which are outside its own essence: but no difference can be found outside Being, for not-Being does not constitute a difference." The argument is that a genus must be narrowed down to a species by some idea, such that neither of the two ideas contains the other as its intrinsic and formal constituent. Thus let us suppose, without dispute as to facts, and simply by way of illustration, that the generic term animal means a sensitive organism, and that the specific term rational means a spiritual intelligence acting, not on intuition alone, but by ratiocination -- by "discourse of reason." It is clear that the generic notion here does not include the specific in its "comprehension," for there may be animals that are not rational. And, on the other hand, "rational" does not explicitly contain within its "comprehension" the meaning of "animal." For though it may perhaps be that rationality, as above defined, can go only with animality, still, "using discourse of reason" makes no open mention of "having a sensitive organism."

Unfortunately for the simplicity of our procedure, the scholastics are not clear beyond confusion in working out the idea of Aristotle. St. Thomas argues from the point of view that "no difference can be found outside being;" Carleton says that the differences of Being are outside Being; Father Lahousse{38} repeats the doctrine, making the obvious distinction between "comprehension" and "extension." His view is, that while the differences of Being include Being in their "comprehension," but not in their "extension," Being, on the contrary, includes its differences in "extension" but not in "comprehension." In other words, while you can say that substance, spirit, matter, have Being as one note within the compass of their meaning, you cannot say that Being, as such, is substance, or spirit, or matter, because Being, as such, need not be any particular one of these; on the other hand, Substance, or Spirit, or Matter is Being, but Being does not contain within its meaning Substance, or Spirit, or Matter. Now this last part of the assertion, that Being does not contain within its "comprehension" Substance, or Spirit, or Matter, is obvious if we take the term in its clear explicit meaning; but if we consider its obscure, implicit meaning, then it almost seems as though some authors supposed a sort of inclusion in Being of any difference applicable to it in any particular case. This fact will come out more luminously when, as we shall immediately proceed to do, we take up the subject of the analogousness of Being: at present a single specimen of the style of treatment to which we refer will suffice. It is found in the words of Father Palmieri:{39} "The real modes of Being are Being itself, so that in those objects which are ranked under the head of Being, there is no note other than that of Being, but only Being in some particular mode of its existence." But, of course, he may explain, that it is the differences which "comprehend" Being, and not vice versa.

The question may seem a subtle one, but it is not really difficult. Some authors want to show cause why they should not regard Being as they regard an ordinary generic notion. They appeal to the fact, that whatever other case be brought forward as parallel to Being and its convertible terms, will be found, on examination, to be not quite parallel. Thus the disparity appears if we compare Being to that which comes nearest to it, namely, one of the highest genera, Substance.{40} Comparing the phrases, "Animal Being," "Rational Being," with "Animal Substance," "Rational Substance," we observe that Being, in its abstract form, can be predicated of the abstract forms which are derivable from its differentiating adjectives, while substance, in its abstract form, cannot so well be predicated of the abstract forms which are derivable from its differentiating adjectives. We may say, "Animality is Entity," "Rationality is Entity," more conveniently than we can say, "Animality is Substantiality," " Rationality is Substantiality." The discrimination becomes more obvious when we take something less universal than a highest genus. Starting from "Rational Being," and "Rational Animal," we may write, "Rationality is Being," but not "Rationality is Animality." The root of the doctrine lies in the more usual teaching of the scholastics, against Cajetan and Scotus, to the effect that the unlimited generality of Being is contracted to successively narrower and narrower spheres, not by the addition of ideas other than that of Being -- not as "animal" is contracted by the addition of "rational" -- but by a fuller expression of the same idea.

We are at once launched on that difficult sea of controversy which rages about the analogousness of Being -- of Being, let us remember, taken as ens essentiae. What analogy means is illustrated by the remark of Sydney Smith, which puzzled a very matter-of-fact Scotchman -- the remark, namely, that a certain book was healthy. Clear, however, as this illustration may be, it leaves us under need of further explanation, which we enter upon with the observation that an object, an idea, and a word, as a matter of usage, may each be called by the epithet univocal. Most appropriately objects would be denominated by this epithet, for it is to objects that words (voces ) are primarily applied: but ideas and words have established for themselves a share in the title. A univocal term, strictly so called, must apply to several objects the same notion, without variation of meaning; a condition of things which can be attained only by mentally prescinding from all differences in the objects. Thus if by "animal" we agree to mean absolutely no more than "sensitively-organized Being," in complete disregard of variations in the perfection of the organism or the sensitiveness, and if by "rational" we agree to mean absolutely no more than "intelligence that works discursively," then these terms, because we have effectively willed to make them so, are each univocal when applied to their respective objects. The only dispute that could arise on the point, would be a biological or a psychological one -- whether our definitions are valid. But supposing their validity, then we have, at least under an hypothesis, instances of what is meant by univocal. We have one term applied to a plurality of objects without change of signification. Thus it appears that the power of making univocal terms depends on the power of prescinding from all the differences that exist between a multiplicity of similar things, and of regarding them only so far as they are alike. If, therefore, Being is of such a peculiar character that we cannot perfectly prescind, or prefer not fully to prescind, from its differences, then the term becomes, instead of univocal, analogous, that is, a term which in name is identical throughout its applications, but in meaning is partly the same and partly different. Thus a man, his food, and his book may all be healthy, but with a variation in the applicability of the term. Not to dwell at present on the several sorts of analogy, we will ask at once, does Being refuse to allow us fully to prescind it from its differences? Many authors, resting upon reasons already given for denying that Being is generic, deny also that it is univocal. Their argument often comes ultimately to the plea that fully to prescind from differences is, in the case of Being, impossible or unadvisable. Carleton{41} expressly relies upon the impossibility. Suarez{42} is unsatisfactory in his defence of the analogousness of the term, because, though at times he seems to argue from the transcendentality of Being, and from the impossibility of fully prescinding Being from its differences, nevertheless at other times he implies that he has a better and more radical argument. Authors on the same side as Suarez also cause some perplexity by speaking now as though any of the varieties of Being at pleasure were, in some way, included under "the comprehension" of Being, now as though they were rather under its "extension" only.

By way of specimen Suarez shall be cited. "Being," he contends, "however abstractedly taken, of its own nature implies this order, that it belongs primarily and of itself (primo et per se), to God." Thus, within the limits of the very notion of Being, a hierarchical character is said to declare itself. Being, as it were, asserts of itself that it must be primarily independent, infinite and divine, and can be only secondarily dependent, finite, and mundane. The author sets forth these thoughts as follows: "God, by the very fact that He is a Being, perfectly simple in His essence and infinite, necessarily has in Himself the perfection of all Being in the form of a single, incomprehensible perfection. Hence the notion itself of Being, as found in God, includes the notion of substance, of wisdom, of justice, and therefore -- which is the main point -- God's Being is very Being itself, underived and independent; while on the other hand, in any creature, Being is wholly derived, dependent, and limited to some particular sort of perfection. Therefore in God Being has its essential plenitude, but in creatures it is only participated, or communicated in measure: God is one single perfection, involving the fulness of Being; but other Beings are only partial, dividing among themselves different finite perfections." Hereupon Suarez puts to himself a fair difficulty, which he does not answer with as much clearness as might be desired. He asks whether, instead of considering Being as Being in the above argument, he has not been considering Being as respectively first primitive and then derivative, first finite and then infinite. Unless he again falls back upon the transcendentality of Being, or the impossibility of perfectly prescinding in its regard, it is not so evident how he completely satisfies the Scotist question, "Why do you not prescind from every difference of Being?" Should he reply, transcendentality forbids, his argument would be easily understood. As a matter of fact he does fall back upon transcendentality,{43} but he does not make it his chief support; he intimates that he can do without it, and even implies that he regards another line of proof as more important. For after having proved that the transcendental{44} "notion of Being is intimately included in all the specialized notions of Being," he signifies that he has another argument, more radical, in store. "Secondly, what goes most to the root of the matter (deinde quod ad rem maxime spectat), the general notion of Being itself, and as such, demands the idea of subordination between entities." His mind perhaps may be expressed somewhat in this way: I will forego the direct appeal to the transcendentality of Being, for I have another resource. When I am inquiring whether a term is univocal or analogous, I must consider the special applications that are to be made of it; for it is idle to ask me, without further circumstances, if healthy and smiling are univocal terms; they may be applied univocally to several men, or analogously to men and countries in common. So with regard to Being, I must examine its applications before I pronounce it univocal or analogous. As unapplied it is neither univocal nor analogous, but taken, as logicians say, in "absolute supposition." When I consider the broadest division into Infinite Being and finite beings, I observe an order of dependence constituted within the very notion of Being itself. For "Being of itself essentially demands this order," that the finite can be only by descent from the infinite; thus the one differs in perfection from the other, and the differences are constituted by the very Being of each, not by something that is not formally Being. I can apply the same argument to another broad division of Being into substantial and accidental.{45} I conclude, on the whole, that from the application of the idea Being to its different objects, it is made apparent that the term is predicated of them with differences in the application, in other words, it is analogous.

The position may, perhaps, be illustrated thus. On the hypothesis of creation, and on the not extravagant assumption that the ascending scale in animal life is not of metaphysical necessity, we may say that the actual gradation is not involved in the mere notion of "animal." There might have been an animal creation without our present gradations, or even without any gradations whatever. Whereas in the case of Being, Suarez wsuld maintain that its gradational order is involved in the very notion; Being a se et per se, Being per se sed non a se, Being nec a se nec per se; that is, Uncreated Substance, Created Substance, Accidental Being -- this order is required by the very nature of Being. You might have had man produced alone without a single other specimen of the animal kingdom: but you cannot have finite Being if you have not the Infinite, nor accidental Being if you have not the substantial, and that from the very nature of Being.

Suarez seems quite unconvincing to the Scotists because he does not give a reason satisfactory to them, for arguing about Being as Infinite and as finite, when he professes to be arguing about Being as such -- the famous Ens qua tale, Ens ut sic. If he urges, as sometimes he does, that Being enters into all differences and is affected by them, so that this its universal sympathy, so to speak, is perpetually modifying its mode of application, then he is convicted of want of consistent loyalty to his own principle, by allowing that Being can be predicated univocally of things specifically the same{46} For if Being is affected by all differences, it is affected by the difference between any one individual and another of the same species: therefore of no two individuals can it be predicated univocally.

On the other side of the question, the Scotists resolutely maintain that by disregarding all differences they can, because they will it, view Being as one unvarying notion throughout its applications. For as the ordinary mathematician regards a line simply under the aspect of direction in length, to the utter ignoring of breadth, and as the ordinary schoolman regards "animal" simply under the aspect of "sensitive organism," to the utter ignoring of variations in structure and function: so the Scotist claims to consider Being without regard to any of its variations.

In order that the reader may have some definite teaching on a matter apparently so perplexing, we venture to offer the following propositions as safe.

(a) Two grounds on which many philosophers argue for the analogy of Being, namely, the completeness of the dependency of finite Being on Infinite, and of accidental Being on substantial, are very important: nor are they questioned by the Scotists.

(b) The differences of conclusion which Scotists and anti-Scotists respectively draw from these grounds about the propriety of calling Being analogous, are nothing like so momentous as would be a difference about the grounds themselves.

(c) Those who call Being analogous can give a valid meaning to their words.

The stress of the conflict evidently falls on Being as applied to God and to creatures: and here the analogists imperil their position if they do not cling tenaciously to the proposition which Dr. Dupont{47} has thus formulated: "When we call God Being per se, and creatures Beings by participation, we do not wish to express what are properly styled specific differences, which would have to be conceived as additions to the notion Being; but we mean different modes of Being." The phrase "Beings by participation," leads to a final remark on this subject, and an important one too, as directed against pantheism. Creatures are not one Being with God, and in that sense Beings by participation. To emphasize this fact many writers call the analogy of Being an analogy of "intrinsic attribution." The gist of what they wish to express is, that created Beings are intrinsically Beings and are not called so simply by reference extrinsically to the Divine Being, as food is called healthy, not because intrinsically it is so, but because it conduces to health in man. The latter analogy is said to be of "extrinsic attribution;" healthy is attributed to food because of a health which is outside the food itself, and within man who eats the food{48}

(4) After having laid down the terms of settlement as regards the meaning to be attached to the word Being, there remains a little to be said on three self-evident principles wnich spring straight from the notion itself. We will not pause to engage in the not very profitable controversies as to whether the principle of contradiction is prior to that of identity; whether we should distinguish priority of apprehension from priority of judgment; whether the principle of identity is too tautological to be called a principle at all,{49} and so forth. It is enough to say that positive perception is more directly matter of experience than perception of a negative, but that at the same time, every positive perception implies the perception of some negation. Hence our plan will be to regard the principle of identity as included in that of contradiction; we make one complete principle of the two. In tabular form we may arrange the three thus, so as to show the union of No. 1 and No. 2.

    /          / What is,
   /        1 {    is,
2 {            \
   \                   and cannot
    \          at the same time not be.
             / Between Being and not-Being
          3 {      there is no medium.

Thus No. 2 includes No. 1, as part of itself.

In testing these principles it is requisite to reduce examples to the simple form contemplated in books of philosophy; for of course in a complex case there is a mean between mere is and is not, yes and no; a distinction is often needed. With this proviso we go on to remark that in Pure Logic the principles are formulated for Affirmation and Negation; in Applied Logic these laws of affirmation and negation are shown, notwithstanding Mill's scepticism, to be valid also for things themselves; and in Ontology we must do what most people neglect to do, we must accommodate the principles to our own chosen sense of the word Being. Herein many fail; they assign a fixed meaning to a term and then, under pressure of convenience, or in a fit of forgetfulness, they depart from their own arrangement. We agreed to consider Being as Ens Essentiae, as standing for a somewhat whether existent or not: therefore if now we explain the principles drawn from Being only in reference to Existence, we are changing our plan illegitimately. Many a person who could readily expound the principle of Excluded Middle in relation to existence, would be puzzled to know what it means in relation to essence. The principles, or better, the Principle of Identity and Contradiction, therefore, must now take this shape: "To be a thing is to be a thing, and not to be a nothing: to be any definite thing is to be that definite thing and not something else." The principle of Excluded Middle is less obvious: "Between being a thing and not being a thing, between being any definite thing and not being that definite thing, there is no medium." If we take the form often given, Quaevis res aut est aut non est -- "Every thing or essence either is or is not," we must be careful lest we make the second alternative always an absurdity. For if we take the principle in regard not to existence but to essence, where is the sense in the alternative that an essence may not be, that is, may not be an essence? If we insist on finding a meaning under these circumstances, we can find one that will meet Mill's difficulty when he indulges in the supposition that the word may be unmeaning; "Abracadabra either is or is not." We answer that the hypothesis of Abracadabra without a meaning is against the previous hypothesis, that the principle is applied only to Being, for Being, as we shall show presently, must be true; but if we want to take up Mill's supposition, then we interpret his proposition thus: "Every suggested Essence either really is one or not:" "Every proposal of a Being either satisfies the requirement of a Being or not:" "Whatever is brought forward as something apt to exist, either really is so apt or not." As we shall see later, certain conditions are necessary to make a thing a thing, that is, an intrinsic possibility.

Lest we should be supposed to misrepresent Mill by the assertion, that he does not regard the three primary principles as applicable to things in themselves, we will mention here the single exception which he himself makes, and which does not stand for much, when we take into account his inconsistency in allowing that he can validly make even a single proposition about Noumena. "The only contradictory alternative," he says,{50} "of which the negative side contains nothing positive, is that between Entity and non-Entity, Existing and non-Existing; and so far as regards that distinction I admit the law of Excluded Middle as applicable to Noumena; they must either exist or not exist. But this is all the applicability I can allow to it." We should be sorry to rob Mill of as much credit as is due to him, for having more or less seen that things in themselves either do exist or do not; it is not always that he is ready with such concessions to common sense.

It has already been remarked that examples must be properly simplified before they can be used as illustrations of the three primary principles. As the last of the three is most open to misconception we will exemplify it in the proposition, "All cows either are or are not red." What must we do with the cows that are red and white, or those the colour of which is not simple red but a tint of red? We must fix upon an exact description of a red cow; and say, for instance, that a red cow is a cow presenting a colour that is at least predominantly red, and having that colour without patches of other colour interspersed. Then supposing the physical difficulties of verifying such a definition to be overcome, we are left with the safe metaphysical truth, that every cow either satisfies all our requirements or does not. To satisfy them only partially is failure. Hegelians, of course, object to these rigid distinctions between either and or: we ourselves admit how difficult they are to establish in the complicated cases of experience; but we cannot therefore allow the Hegelian doctrine that, everything merges into its opposite, and that Reason takes up and reconciles the contradictions of the Understanding, by a process wherein "finite categories or formulae of thought work their own dissolution and pass over into the opposite categories."{51} As a mystery guaranteed to us by revelation, we may believe that the God whom natural intelligence discovers to be One God considered absolutely in His Essence, is yet, when considered relatively in His Personality, three Persons; but revelation itself could not make us believe what defies rational belief, namely, that one God was at the same time, and under the same aspect, both one God and three Gods.

At the conclusion of the chapter on Being, the remark is worth making that to Being, as here expounded, stands opposed what the scholastics call nihil positivum, that which positively is a non-entity, or presents intrinsic contradiction so as to defy actualization; not nihil privativum, which means an entity that has not indeed been brought into existence but might be made to exist.{52}


(1) The practice, so much in vogue now-a-days, of appending notes and illustrations to philosophical dissertations has for its chief purpose to be suggestive, to give some glimpses into varieties of thought, to show some of the surroundings that really do lie about the path which author and reader have been mainly intent on following, though it would have been a distraction to have taken express notice of them before. The aim, then, is not to describe whole systems, nor to give complete historic sketches, nor to form a continuous line of thought from one note to another; but to gather a few appropriate fragments here and there, and put them by the side of a continuous chapter, to illustrate different parts of its contents.

In the case of Being, he is a poor sort of philosopher who does not care to know anything about the vast amount of human speculation which, in all ages, has been devoted to that notion. It is hopeless to follow many of the wild flights of imagination in pursuit of the supposed transformations of Being; Oriental dreams before the coming of Christ, and Gnostic fancies shortly after His coming, are specimens of what we mean. The Greeks, who were characteristically a clear-headed race,{53} did not escape the fascination of Being and its dangers; for while the Eleatics held that immutable Being was everything, and that Change or Becoming were unrealities, Heraclitus fell into the opposite extreme, teaching, or at least seeming to teach, that there was no fixed Being, but only perpetual flux. His words are notorious -- panta hrei kai ouden menei, ouden mallon to on to mê ontos esti. Both these errors are perpetuated to the present day, when we find men speaking of phenomena as idle shows without reality, which give no indications of things in themselves; and when we find them so possessed with the idea of ceaseless evolution, that they place Becoming before Being in the order of important ideas. It has even been said that, as Being was the leading idea of an age that believed in fixity of species, so Becoming has grown to be the leading idea of an age that believes in endless transformations. Such is the change of the Zeit-Geist, or Spirit of the age, if indeed a certain class of people are not too self-asserting in their claim to represent the age.

(2) Hegel's identification of Being with Nothing is so notorious, that some interest should naturally arise to see how he describes this Being of his. Being, then, is not a notion, but it is the beginning of thought. "When we begin to think we have nothing but thought in its merest indeterminateness and absence of specialization."{54} Such indeterminateness is not derived by abstracting from previous determinations; it is "original and underived indeterminateness, which is previous to all definite character, and is the very first of all. It is not something felt or perceived by the spiritual sense, or pictured in imagination; it is only and merely thought, and as such it forms the beginning." Impossible as such a feat may seem, Chalybäus is said to have given a popular exposition of Hegel's doctrines; so from the popular account we will borrow the following description of Being:{55} "First of all let us ask, wherein consists this Being, or what do we perceive in it? We can only say that as yet we do not distinguish anything in it nay more, that we are not even capable of distinguishing it from empty and pure nought. . . . Being is the pure want of determination, it is thinking which thinks nothing, it is intuition which looks straight before it, without perceiving anything; it is just as if we were staring into the sky, of which we could not even say that it was blue, or that it was not the earth, or that it was not ourselves." One use of this description of Being will be to bring out, by contrast, the fact that with us Being is a concept, that it has an objective meaning, and that it is the very opposite of Nothing. Even Hegel adds that along with the assertion that Being is identical with Nothing, we must take the equally true assertion that it is not identical with Nothing; else we shall be one-sided in our view. The great means for reconciling this and all other contradictions is the famous "dialectic process" which is at work in the constitution at once of thought and of things, for both meet in one identity. By the dialectic process is meant{56} "an indwelling tendency outward and beyond, by which the one-sidedness and the limitation of the formulae of the understanding are seen in their true light and shown to be the negation of these formulae. Things are infinite just because they involve their own dissolution. Thus understood, Dialectic is discovered to be the life and soul of scientific progress, the dynamic which alone gives an immanent connexion and necessity to the subject-matter of science; and in a word is seen to constitute the real and true, as opposed to the external exaltation above the finite. Wherever there is movement, wherever there is life, wherever anything is carried into effect in the actual world, there Dialectic is at work. It is also the soul of all knowlledge which is truly scientific. . . . The limitations of the finite do not come merely from without; its own nature is the cause of its abrogation, and by its own means it passes into its counterpart. . . . Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being inflexible and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite as implicitly other than what it is, is forced to surrender its own immediate or natural Being, and to turn suddenly into its opposite. All things finite, it is said, meet their doom; and in saying so we have a perception that Dialectic is the universal and irresistible power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself. . . . Take as an illustration the motion of the heavenly bodies. At this moment the planet stands at this spot, but implicitly it is the possibility of being in another spot; and that possibility of being otherwise the planet brings into existence by moving. A Dialectic is recognized in the common proverbs, Summum jus, summa injuria -- 'Pride goes before a fall;' 'Too much wit out-wits itself.'" The "Dialectic process" if watered down to mean some such truths as are often set forth in discoursing on texts like, "Extremes meet," "The knowledge of opposites is one," "Too far East is West," might be acceptable; but in the undiluted form it gets into the heads of Hegelians and drives them to all sorts of extravagant utterances.

(3) Should it be said that the identification of something with nothing, or at least the assertion of the nothingness of all created things is sanctioned by the Fathers of the Church, unless indeed we put the still worse interpretation on their words, that they make out God to be nothing; we reply that they expressly teach the opposite, and that the passages in which they might seem inclining to the errors in question admit of easy reconciliation with the truth. The fact is, that in their desire to bring out the immense difference between Uncreated and Created Being, they affirm on the one side that the latter is a comparative nothing,{57} and on the other side that our predicates, derived from finite experiences, may he denied in regard to the God whom they so inadequately represent. But Scotus Erigena clearly overstrains this style of phraseology. The following are a few specimen utterances of his: "No category can properly include God in its signification;" "God is above all form, and is therefore rather no form than form;" "As the Divine Goodness is beyond comprehension, it is called, per excellentiam, Nothing;" "God is beyond Being, and is in General beyond the utterable and the intelligible;" "The Divine ignorance stands for nothing else than the infinite and incomprehensible Wisdom of God." Such modes of speech cannot be recommended; it being, for example, a very poor reason why God's wisdom should be called ignorance because it is at the furthest possible remove from ignorance and high above all that passes for wisdom among men. Yet on the Scotist model Nicholas de Cusa calls our highest wisdom docta ignorantia: in God he finds all affirmations and negations reconciled.

(4) While treating of Being as not a generic and not a univocal notion, we mentioned Carleton as one who holds that Being does not include, within its "comprehension," its own differences. His words may usefully be given:{58} "The very fact that we have Being narrowed down to some special form (ens contractum) implies that there is some other concept outside the concept of Being, though Being does not lie outside the concept of it. Therefore Being is abstracted from the differences of Being with only the incomplete abstraction known as that of the Including and the Included." While, however, some thus deny that more determinate ideas come under the "comprehension" of Being, others might suppose, that because of the peculiar nature of the term, Being does, after a manner, hold all other ideas even in its "comprehension," though not of course explicitly. In this light, rightly or wrongly, they might read such passages of St. Thomas as these: "There can be no differentiating note which is outside the concept of Being;"{59} "To Being nothing can be added as of a nature extrinsic to it, in the way in which a specific difference is added to a genus, or an accident to a subject. For every nature is, by its very essence, Being; and only in so far can anything be called additional to Being as it expresses the manner of Being, which is not expressed by the word itself."{60} And once more, "an addition may be made to Being inasmuch as the term is brought down to its particular conditions (contrahitur) by means of the ten highest genera. But what these add to Being is not some accident, nor some specific difference outside the essence of Being, but a determinate mode of Being which is founded in the very Essence of the thing." The conciliation of opinions seems possible, since they are settlements of usage that are in dispute rather than truths themselves. Carleton is quite right in the assertion, "that the differences of Being cannot at all be conceived apart from Being. while Being can he conceived apart from its differences;" and that so far the differences lie outside the concept of Being. On the other hand, all these differences are themselves Being after a manner in which no generic notion can be predicated of its specific differences.

(5) This is not the treatise in which to discuss innate ideas; nor are these much in favour among philosophers at present, unless they be reduced to the category of the hereditary effects of habitual experience; but we may mention that Being is specially the idea which is supposed to defy our means of acquiring notions for ourselves. Hence Mr. Veitch says that we have "the notion of existence a priori," and that "if we are only conscious of an object as we apprehend it, and only apprehend it as we affirm it to exist, then existence must be attributed to the object by the mind; and this could not be done unless existence, as a notion, virtually pre-existed in the mind." The idea of Being, such as we have described it, is quite within the reacb of man's ordinary means of acquiring knowledge.

{1} Intuitions of the Mind, Pt. II. Bk. I. c. ii. a. ii. p. 101.

{2} Treatise, Bk. I. Pt. II. s. vi.

{3} Logic, Bk. I. c. iii. s. 2.

{4} Logic, Bk. I. c. iv. s. 1.

{5} St. Thomas, In Aristotelis Peri Herm, Lib,, II.; In Sentent. Lib. III. Dist. vi. quaest. ii. a. ii.; Quodlib. ix. a. iii. et xii. a. i.; Sum. a q. iii. a. iv. ad 2.

{6} Logic, Vol. II. Bk. VI. c. iv. p. 390.

{7} Kant too holds that Existence is no real predicate. (Critique of Pure Reason, Max Muller's translation, Vol. II. p. 516.) Dr. Martineau reckons it an "important fallacy" in Descartes, to have regarded "the existence of a thing as one of its attributes, and not as that which all the attributes presuppose."

{8} First Principles, Pt. I. c. lv.

{9} Critique of Pure Reason. Max Muller's Translation, p. 617.

{10} Critique of Pure Reason, p. 515.

{11} The word is explained later.

{12} See next chapter.

{13} Quaest. Disp. de Veritat. q. i. a i.

{14} Sentent. Lib. II. Dist. xxxvii q. i. a. i.

{15} Quaast. Disp. de Veritat. q. i. a. i.

{16} Lib. I. Dist. xix. q. v. a. i. Compare his reply ad 1um where he says that "judgment' is about the esse of an object, while "apprehension" merely gives it quiddity.

{17} Quodlibet, ii. a. iii.

{18} Ontologia, Lib. II. cap. i. art. 1.

{19} Logic of Hegel, p. cxxxv.

{20} In English there may sometimes be a dispute whether Being is a participle or a gerund: but Ens is clear.

{21} Metaphys. d. ii. sect. iv.

{22} Different senses of "real" will be given afterwards: here it means an essence that at least is capable of receiving an existence of its own, if it has not got it already.

{23} Ontologie, par A. D. Dupont, p. 35.

{24} Ontologia, cap. i. p. 271.

{25} L.c.

{26} This is a disputed point, on which a word will be said later.

{27} Ontologia, Lib. I. cap. i. art. i.

{28} Hume says: "There is no idea that is not conceived as existent." (Treatise Pt. I. Bk. II. s. vi.) Similarly Locke: "Existence and unity are two ideas that are suggested to the understanding by every object without and by every idea within. When ideas are in our mind we consider them as being actually there." (Bk. II. c. vii. 5. 7.) The partially Hegelian author, Mr. F. Bradley, writes: "Whenever we predicate we predicate about something which exists beyond the judgment, and which, of whatever kind it may be, is real either inside of our heads or outside of them. And thus it always stands for exists." Mr. M'Cosh says:" In all knowledge we know what we know as having existence, which is Being." In the Hamiltonian school Prof. Veitch says: "Whatsoever is thought is thought under the attribute of existence." Finally a Louvain professor, Dr. Dupont, tells us: "Being signifies (a) what exists, (b) what has some reality. The two meanings though distinct are inseparable. For nothing can exist without having a determinate reality, and we cannot conceive any essence which does not appertain to some existent Being. whether in the, order of facts or in the order of mental conceptions. In thinking of a possible essence we think of it as it would be if it existed." (Ontologie. p. 35.)

{29} L.c.

{30} Our way of settling the oft-disputed point whether existence can be treated as a real attribute, is straightway to make it one. "Of the Eiffel Tower, I predicate that it really exists." All the same it is quite a peculiar attribute, and an attribute in the wider sense of the term. For strictly attribute is used by the scholastics to signify something over and above what is essential to the subject.

{31} Prolegom. Logica, c. vi. p. 181.

{32} Not in Reid's sense as "physical cause," but in the sense of causality that has an actual influence in producing an effect.

{33} The phrase "second intention" has various other uses, and is often left in the vague. See Whately's Logic, Bk. III. § 10, Mansel's Aldrich, cap. i. § 8; St. Thomas, in Lib. IV. Metaphys. sect. i.; Silvester Maurus, Quaest. Philosoph. Log. q. xlvi.

{34} First Principles Pt. II c. iii. nn. 5, 6.

{35} There is a mode of subtilizing which disputes even this: but we are not concerned with it.

{36} Metaphysics, iii. 3.

{37} Sum. Pt. I. q. iii. a. v. Cf. Quest. de Veritat. i. a. i. "Substance adds no difference over and above Being."

{38} Ontologia, pp. 290, seq.

{39} Ibid. p. 273.

{40} Fonseca, Comment. de Aristot. Metaphys. Lib. III. c. iii.

{41} Philosophia Universa, Disp. xl.

{42} Metaphysics, Disp. xxviii. sect. iii

{43} Kantists should be warned that there is no reference here to Kant's distinction between "transcendent" and "transcendental."

{44} L.c. n. 31.

{45} Disp. xxxi. sect. ii.

{46} Disp. xxxi. Sect. ii. nn. 21, 22.

{47} Ontologie, p. 40.

{48} We omit to consider the case of those who assert more than one term Being, e.g. an ens confusum, an ens distinctum, and an ens medium. Cf. Fonseca, in Lib. IV. Metaphys.. c. ii. q. ii. Suarez also speaks of an ens confusissimum. Disp. xxviii. sect. iii. n. 16.

{49} Against taking the principle of identity for tautological stands the fact, that a most powerful discourse might be delivered to enforce the text from Bishop Butler: "Things are what they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be." How many lives are passed in ignoring this truth!

{50} Examination of Sir W. Hamiltons Philosophy, chap. vi. in fine. cf. chap. xxi. p. 417.

{51} Wallace's Logic of Hegel, p. 125.

{52} Mr. Bradley seeks to lay needless difficulty in the way of our arrival at conception of Nothing through the idea of Thing and its negation. "Take the idea of Reality, I could not admit that in thought all our ideas are qualified by their negations; I should doubt if the highest term we arrive at can be said to have an opposite even in thought, although by an error we are given to think so." (Principles of Logic, p. 548.)

{53} English readers may find some of the Greek doctrines respecting Being illustrated in Professor Jowett's Plato, Vol. IV p. 458.

{54} Logic of Hegel, p. 136.

{55} The History of Speculative Philosophy, p. 365, English translation.

{56} Wallace's Logic of Hegel, pp. 141, 143, cf. 125, 129. See also Professor Jowett's Introduction to Plato's Dialogue, The Sophist.

{57} Cf. Isaias xl. 57.

{58} Universa Philosophia, Disp. xl. sect. vii.

{59} Sum. i. q. iii. a. v.

{60} Quast. Disp. de Veritat. q. i. a. i.

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