[58] {62}









[59] {63}

During the modern era, since about 1700, man has lived so persuaded that reality is discovered to him by science that nothing seems able to make him even notice the existence of this basic persuasion. For him, there is no room for the least doubt about it. Perhaps science happens to be somewhat fragmentary and changeable; but modern man sees in these two characteristics something more than a sad human condition: he has elevated them to the category of formal structure of science, and has thus made science a constitutive approximation to reality. Thus, everything there is in reality which is accessible to man, has to be so in a way eminently scientific. This rise of scientism has been determined not so much by rationalism or a positivistic critique of knowledge as by the profound conviction that in science man is served the only parcel of reality which is accessible to him with certainty. Whence the precipitous road along which modern man has embarked, multiplying enormously the number and kind of the sciences not only for the physical world, but also for human affairs and even matters concerning divinity. Among them we may note in passing psychology, sociology, the so-called "comparative religion," and the faith with which history has sought to identify what is known through the science of history with that portion of past reality accessible to man today.

It is not the case, as I have already indicated, that science has not recognized its own limitations; no, there is no question of that. Indeed, the 19th century itself, in its final decades, initiated a thoroughgoing critique of scientific labor, motivated and directed by the very content of science. But for philosophic purposes this critique has been generally muddled and confused. It has taken on various meanings ranging from a prudent "partialism" in the conquest of reality ("only a parcel of reality is accessible to us; we do not know everything about anything"),{64} to a pragmatist symbolism ("science has nothing to do with reality, but with human necessities; it is a group of conventions useful for the manipulation of things"). But at the bottom of all these attitudes lies the profound conviction that the fate of reality accessible to us depends ultimately upon the fate of science, at least in respect of intellectual apprehension. And if in fact man has any other contact with reality, it would have to be through some sort of irrational intuition.

But if one inquires about what should be understood by "science," regardless of the specific reply given, emphasis is [60] always on the science, in the singular, as a univocal effort to intellectually conquer the reality of things. The history of science will thus be nothing more than the sum total of vicissitudes which its field of action has undergone. Having begun in Ancient Greece with unlimited scope, science has successively limited its pretensions and strictly refined the portion of reality it apprehends. Today indeed we perhaps know more and better than the Greeks precisely because we set out to know less. But it is only a question of degree. The grand theoretician of the knowledge of reality was Aristotle, in his Posterior Analytics. And it is almost a commonplace to say that this book constitutes the Aristotelian theory of the "science." When, after 1500, thee came about the rise of the Nuova Scienze, and the offensive of modern thought against Aristotelian knowledge began, the methodology of this new science was presented first and foremost as a critique of Aristotle's syllogistic, as a derogation of Aristotelian science, and as a new substitute for it. But the novelty affected only content and method, not the intellectual intent itself, Everything seems, then, to lead us to the idea that what the Greeks called episteme signifies the same thing which we call "science," and that the great work of modern science has consisted in showing the falsity or at least the poverty of Aristotelian "science," while at the same time giving man a new method for reaching the same goal. Although variously realized, and with different results in different moments of its history, science is thus always a {65} univocal force directed toward intellectual conquering of the reality of things.

Only Kant broke with this univocal conception of scientific labor. He had the genial vision that the concept of reality is not univocal for the effects of human knowledge and that the effort to know radically lacks this very univocacy. His distinction between phenomena and noumena, in fact, is given at the very heart of objects; it is enough to recall the title of one of the paragraphs of the Critique of Pure Reason: "On the Foundation of the Division of of all Objects, in General, into Phenomena and Noumena." Whence it follows that the reality science apprehends is not the reality about which one speaks when referring to the "reality of things" in an unqualified sense. But this Kantian distinction is not always sufficiently clear, whether in regard to the term "phenomena" or with respect to "noumena," especially if this latter is identified with the world of metaphysics. On the other hand, if in fact the Kantian distinction renders clear the [61] non-univocal nature of the concept of reality, and consequently obliges us to distinguish in Aristotle what there is of science from what there is of metaphysics (a distinction rigorously established by Aristotle himself, but within a more elevated and strictly metaphysical concept), it nonetheless seems Kant still believed that Aristotle's science moved in the same line as modern science.

All this invites a meditation on the way science and reality interact. Without pretending to so much as delineate the outline of such an enormous question, I may be permitted to sketch out some observations which I deem essential and which for greater clarity I will group around two fundamental points:

1. What the Greeks termed episteme is essentially different than what we call "science." Although our dictionaries have no other expression, it is an error to translate the word episteme by 'science'.

2. The idea of reality found in the two is radically different. Nevertheless, this does not mean that such a distinction {66} touches the proper object of first philosophy, which remains outside our considerations.

And so if modern science is now justified, then the enormous problem of reality of things, as something extrascientific, urgently calls for attention. [62]

The expression and concept of episteme was born as an autonomous technical term only in the time of Socrates, and the problem it raised was fully developed in Plato and Aristotle.




The Greek language lacks a generic term to designate all modes of knowledge; there is no word which signifies simply "knowledge," with all the neutrality and scope this word has in our languages. There exist, rather, terms which indicate different modes of this which we call knowledge, but with a concretion and richness of shading which unfortunately is nearly always irrecoverably lost when translated into modern languages. For example, there is gignoskein and synienai.

The first points to the knowledge of things acquired in normal dealing with them, especially through sight; and it is a mode of being acquainted with them unequivocally, such as they are present in daily life. It is a knowledge founded upon "having seen through one's own eyes;" for example, knowing that this which I see is an oak and not a maple tree, a rhombus and not a square, etc. The Greeks called the figure (broadly speaking) which things offer to sight eidos. And so the problem of this mode of knowledge was left intimately linked to the problem of unequivocally discerning things through their eidos, based on the real and true impression which they produce in man. There goes along with this mode of knowledge a mode of sensing, thanks to which {68} we have notice of things, in the etymological acceptation of the Latin word, which possesses the same root as the Greek: vision of the notae of the object. Similarly, the notoriety which the nota carries places this mode of knowledge in intimate relation with public opinion, with the doxa, thus transforming the "sensing" into "sentence". [63]

Synienai points up more the power which man has to produce thoughts and formulate propositions and expressions which, in their details, may or may not be adequate with respect to things, but which imply the existence of a capacity to understand them, in perfect harmony and even a symbiosis with the complex structure of reality. It is the power of understanding something complex, of expressing it and being in accordance in our expressions with the way reality is put together. But this in no way prevents such a power in the course of its exercise from leading to thoughts and explanations which are false.

Between these two terms arises the idea of episteme, which designates, provisionally, a mode of knowledge about things which goes beyond the sphere of simple notice. It is something more than knowing, for example, that this is a tree, or that this tree is an oak and not a maple. But neither it is a mere conjunction of thoughts which makes things explicit, because thought thus understood can by itself either conform or not conform with them. Episteme is a mode of intellection which is determined by a vision of the internal structure of things and which, consequently, bears within it the characteristics which assure effective possession of what those things are in their intimate necessity. That to which it most approximates is the idea of a known fact, as opposed to a simple piece of information or mere thought. It is the intellectual precipitate which things deposit, thanks to which we can declare them and explain them from themselves and be present at their internal unfolding. Therefore the concept of episteme involves the idea of a toal body of truths in which the totality of traits constitutive of its eidos (construction of the eidos) is articulated. In this sense, episteme is something which might approximate to what we call science.

Modern science, in fact, is another knowledge which goes beyond the simple notice of things. But in this case, notice does not {69} signify the eidos or the rigorous and pregnant figure which we have of things, but rather the more or less precise, but always somewhat vague impressions which we acquire in daily life about their coincidences and regularities. "Notice" here signifies only empirical knowledge; and opposed to it is scientific knowledge, which purports to discover the inexorable objective necessity of things. Scientific rigor does not mean so much the possession of the internal necessity of things, but rather the objective precision; so it is no accident that science does not achieve what it [64] proposes except by substituting for so-called empirical things (things such as appear in our daily life) others which behave in a way related to the former, and are so to speak limiting cases approximating to them. Whereas the Greek episteme tries to penetrate into things so as to explain them, modern science tries, by and large to substitute others which are more precise for them.

We are not here attempting to compare the positive science of the Greeks with our own, nor the fertility of the methods upon which each relies. Guided by the idea of penetrating into things, Aristotle elaborated syllogistic thought and along with it what is usually called induction, epagoge. Guided by the idea of substituting for the normal world its precise and rigorous limit, modern man has elaborated a new scientific methodology, amply based on a new use of hypothesis. Time itself has undertaken to resolve this case in favor of our science, at least insofar as positive results are concerned. The problem we are addressing refers to something else. What separates our science from Aristotelian episteme is not the richness of positive results it obtains, but something prior and more radical, without which we would not even have an adequate criterion for weighing these intellectual treasures. It is unjust to measure the scope of episteme by comparing it with the positive results which our science achieves, for the simple reason that Aristotelian episteme proposed to do something radically different than what our science proposes. Considered from the point of view of what episteme sought to do, science is neither true nor false; it is something entirely different. In reality, the Greeks were unaware of our problem. And the fact that during the Renaissance Aristotle's logic {70} was taken only as a mere formal, syllogistic organ of knowledge is the most eloquent testimony to what we have said. But at the same time this does not deny that episteme left open the door to the mode of knowledge we call science, or that science represents a difficult task carried to completion with indisputable success after a labor of centuries. The success of modern science has managed to obscure the legitimacy of the Aristotelian problem, even though it is an echo of the most authentic voices of man's being; but perhaps today these voices are beginning to make themselves heard more forcefully in spite of, or maybe because of, the very richness of science.

In order to show the abyss which separates the motive animating episteme from that animating science we shall examine the question from three points of view: the point of departure, the [65] problem which is raised, and the type of knowledge obtained, both in science and in episteme.

1. The Point of departure

For greater clarity, let us direct our attention to the example of physics, because episteme physike and the science of physics are without doubt the two most highly developed products of our endeavors to know things.

What has given rise to this knowledge is the fact of change in the material universe. If ours were a world which remained immobile, as does the mathematical universe, there could be neither episteme physike or a science of physics. Both were born as an answer to the questions raised by the fact that things are one way at one time and a different way at another. Let us agree to call the changes in the universe movements. What attracts man about these changes or movements is just what is manifest through them and what is hidden by them. We designate that which is manifest in these movements by the traditional expression phenomenon, in its purest and near-etymological sense, with no allusion to any philosophical system; it is that which is manifested or shown through itself in something. Movement and phenomenon are, then, the dual point of departure for our knowledge about the physical universe. {71} Let us see how different episteme and science are, even with respect to this point of departure.

a) Movement. Although we have taken movement in its fullest sense, i.e. as a change of state in any respect whatsoever, we shall nevertheless for greater clarity direct our attention to the simplest type of movement, local movement. If a body changes from place A to place B, we say that it has moved from A to B. What is there in this movement which is properly movement?

There is, to begin with, an initial state A and a final state B. As such, they form the limits of the movement; but they themselves are not involved in it; the movement occurs between A and B.

What is there in this "between"?

There is, undoubtedly, a series of intermediate states through which the moving object passes as it goes from A to B. But these intermediate states are, in fact, essentially distinct from the initial state. Among other things, the former are not the limits but the moments of the movements. Moreover, these intermediate states do not have the same type of real existence as the initial and final [66] states. In reality, the conjunction of these intermediate states is, in a certain way, arbitrary. Properly speaking none of them is a "state" because the moving object "is" not in any of them, at least Do in the way it is in the initial and final states. Each intermediate state can only be described as such by means of a real or mental intervention of man through which, really or mentally, we stop the movement, i.e. we consider what the state of the body would be if it did not continue, if it were to remain here where we really or mentally seek to keep it. As such intervention is quite arbitrary, the presumed conjunction of intermediate states is surrounded by a coefficient of arbitrariness which for the moment we need not define more precisely.

Let us suppose, nevertheless, that the Leibnizian fiction of an infinite intelligence has been realized, and that this intelligence has resolved the unity of movement into the infinite number of states which there are between the initial and final ones. A simple linking of all these states would not be enough to reconstruct the whole movement. As {72}Bergson keenly observed, this juxtaposition of states would lead to a cinematographic reconstruction of an unreal movement, rather than to the movement in question; the succession-though perfect and infinitesimal-of states would be a film, but not a movement. And to Bergson's judicious observation something more should be added. There is the simplest and frequently overlooked fact that all these states have to be states of moving thing that truly has "states." The motion picture screen is not a subject which passes through the various states projected upon it; it therefore does not move. Nor is that all. Each one of the intermediate states which the moving object traverses has to be of such a nature that what moves does not remain in it, but through itself carries the object to the following state. Movement is not a remaining in each of the infinite intermediate states, but exactly the reverse: a not-remaining in any of them, a passing always from one to another. In each state there is, then, something which propels the moving object to the following state. Since the 14th century it has been called an impetus, the impulse inherent in a moving object once it has been set in motion, even though the factors which activated it are no longer operating. Modern mechanics was born at the moment mathematical expression could be given to the impetus.

Therefore it is clear that what mechanics considers in movement is the transition from one place to another. It is this [67] change between various states, the course of the movement, which constitutes the point of departure of science. In other words, science considers the unfolding of movement as a function of several variables, the determination of which is its task.

When a Greek finds himself confronting movement, even local movement, his mind directs itself to something different. What interests him in movement is the moving thing in it. He does not ask himself about the unfolding of the movement, but about the state of what moves. Whatever may be the conceptions that the Greeks-at least those of the Academy and the Lyceum-formed of movement, they all agreed on a fundamental point of view, viz. orienting themselves to the point of view of the moving thing. Movement is not a function, but a state of what moves. In brief: from this standpoint, a moving thing is not in {73}movement because it passes from A to B, but rather it passes from A to B because it is in movement. Movement does not arise through an unfolding of states, but just the opposite; through a type of reconstruction of the moving thing itself we discover in it something making it unstable. Episteme does not seek the happening of movement, but the ens mobile; not the changes, nor the various states, but the condition of the changeable thing, its internal instability.

At the very point of departure, then, there is a radical difference of intention between episteme and science. For the former, movement is a mode of being. For movement as a function what counts are the states which "are": the trajectory; for movement as a state what counts are the states which "are not," what remains yet to happen. In episteme one sees the ens mobile perforated, in a certain way, with the opacity of not-being. I have already made this clear in another study. Thanks to this it has been possible for there to be a mechanics. But it is necessary to recognize that the structure of episteme in this case has nothing to do with the structure of science.

b) Phenomenon. In this movement, we said, the moving thing is shown in its diverse states. They are the phenomena. In reality, this is the trivial definition of all physical knowledge: knowledge of natural phenomena.

What does science understand by phenomenon? To be sure, nothing which makes the slightest allusion to what has been called "phenomenalism" in philosophy. A phenomenon is what is manifested in nature, hence something perfectly real from it: rain, the falling of bodies, temperature variations, etc. [68]

When phenomena are thus understood as real happenings, science proposes to determine when, how, and why they appear. It seeks to circumscribe with the greatest possible precision the temporal and spatial arena of their apparition, and for this it preferentially employs some type of measurement. In every case the phenomenon, as object of science, implies an essential allusion to someone before which it appears, and without which it would surely have real existence, but not an appearing. Nature is, in this sense, a spectacle; "spectacle of nature" is the best translation of "scientific phenomena." As such, it involves inevitable reference to a {74} spectator, real or imaginary. This reference is what makes a reality be a phenomenon. Let us imagine, in fact, what would happen for the purposes of mechanics or chemistry if someone suggested one of the following to a scientist. To return to the example of local movement, suppose that in this type of point-by-point movement from one state to another, God annihilated the moving thing in order to recreate it identically in the following state. Such was the conception of axaries, of Geulincx, Malebranche, and others. Or suppose that someone were to say to a chemist analytically investigating the molecules of bread and wine that a supernatural action had made them, instead of bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ. Undoubtedly, our physicist and chemist would continue unperturbed. Neither one nor the other supposition would affect physics or chemistry in the slightest way. Physics would not be affected because the occuring of movement remains the same. Chemistry would not be affected because, as theology says, when the reactants act upon the consecrated bread, they decompose it and, therefore, recreate the natural being of the chemical elements. The spectacle of nature remains unaltered by these transcendental happenings precisely because there is nothing in them to alter the spectacle before the eyes of a human observer.

A Greek encounters the problem of phenomenon in a different dimension. Whereas science considers in a phenomenon or appearance that which appears before someone, the Greek considers the apparition of that which appears. Rather than the spectators, what is important to a Greek are precisely the personages of the spectacle. What is it that appears? Who is it that appears? Rain, the color of someone's complexion, the degree of clarity of things, etc. are events of nature, operations of it which, in the act of occuring, constitute the unfolding or manifestation of [69] the operator. Each even and each thing removes a bit of the veil of nature and partially reveals it to us. Just, as when we were discussing movement the Greek inquired about the ens mobile, so now speaking of phenomena the Greek asks about the ens phenomenale. Thus we have the object of all possible Greek {75} phainomenologia: a thing which appears in its appearance. (Of course, nothing could be farther from contemporary phenomenology). As the men of the Middle Ages would later say, operari sequitur esse. A thing and its action is what episteme seeks to take as its point of deparature. We understand now why the occasionalist hypothesis or the fact of transubstantiation, to which I alluded earlier, are critical for episteme.

Completing the above formula, we may say, then, that what constitutes the point of departure of science is the occurance of the spectacle of nature; the object of episteme is the things manifested in it.

As the phenomena of nature are not, for science, things in the Greek sense (which in this instance has greater affinity with the propensity of ordinary knowledge), it follows that the concepts taken from things, such as mass, energy, etc. acquire a different meaning when they pass into science. Thus it is possible for science to speak of the transformation or equivalence between mass and energy, for example. But it would be a serious error to believe that this involves a type of transmutation of material into pure force or any other similar conception; these interpretations are based upon concepts proper to the idea of a thing, while science is based upon concepts applied to phenomena. The homogeneity of vocabularly can involve us in fatal errors. Thus just as movement for science is a simple occurance, so also all concepts related to the idea of phenomenon involve relation to an observation and a measurement, but not to a "thing.

2. The Problem of Episteme and Science

Regarding movement and phenomena, episteme as well as science tries to study what we call nature. Nature is always envisaged as something all-encompassing from which natural phenomena emerge, as through a process of birth. Regardless of whether this birth is interpreted as a true generation a la Greek philosophy or as a mechanism a la {76}modern science, one still deals with an emergence or coming forth from phenomena with respect [70] to nature, conceived as a font or system of productive forces. And in fact, before that spectacle of nature man is not limited to contemplation; rather he tries to learn about what are termed "forces of nature.'

But in the idea of a natural force, and therefore in the idea of nature itself, this double dimension which we discovered at the point of departure is included.

A force, for science, is in fact something manifested through the intensity of mutation which it introduces in the course of phenomena. Or in other words, a "force" is disclosed by the "strength" of its effects. Consequently when there is no mutation or any physical change whatever, neither can there be any reference to a force, strictly speaking. A force is, then, something which has to be determined taking into account phenomena such as mass and acceleration. Thus understood a reality of the phenomenological order is translated into a force.

On the other hand, a Greek sees in a force primarily an allusion to the being exerting the force. He does not reify the forces of nature; rather, he sees forceful things in them, strictly speaking. Every dynamis, for the Greek, is essentially a mode of being of the thing possessing it. And therefore a thing possessing the power to produce something is called, in a strict sense, the thing-cause, aitia.

Here we have the essential difference between the system of forces handled by science and the causality which Greek episteme tries to describe. For science, a force acts on account of its own proper nature, uniformly. A scientific study of force is only complete when the conditions under which it appears and the way in which it acts are univocally determined. That is, one must determine a conjunction of manifestations which follow other earlier ones. Only when the former are found necessarily linked to the latter can we properly speak of scientific knowledge. In other words, precise formulation of the {77}uniformity in nature's actions is the goal science pursues; this is the lex, law. But in terms of causes, this uniformity, this law, is not an object but the very problem: How must things be so that they act uniformly? Because the concept of cause is not identified with that of uniform [71] determination, causality is not synonymous with determinism. Therefore no crisis of determinism within science implies, however remotely, a crisis of causality.

For science, then, nature is a system of laws. For episteme it is a causal founding of things. Once again, science seeks the lawful course of phenomena; episteme, the causal nature of things.

3. The Type of Knowledge Obtained

All physical knowledge is knowledge of the "why" of things. There is no knowledge except insofar as there is a "why" known. As soon as the "why" is known, then eo ipso the inexorable necessity penetrating reality is also known. But this "why" that is known is different for science and episteme.

Necessity, in fact, has a very precise meaning in science. Knowing for example, why a balloon ascends or why eclipses occur or why water freezes means knowing how crystals form, how aerial navigation is done, or how the interference of shadows of luminous celestial bodies occurs. Knowing how is essentially knowing what things must happen so that others may then occur. The why of science is always a how which recoils upon a who. There is the question how and by whom was what happened produced. The fact that an explanation may be complicated is due to the number of "who's" which must intervene and the way they must intervene.

But on the other hand, for episteme the problem of why is essentially the problem of ascertaining what there is in the cause which causes the effect in question. It is not a matter of determining how things are produced; rather, it is one of learning how the things produced{78} must be. The question is not which agents produced them, but rather what these agents are which produced them. In reality, behind the "why" science seeks the how; episteme, the what.

* * *

To summarize: Science tries to ascertain where, when and how phenomena appear. Episteme tries to ascertain what things must be which are thus manifested in the world. With these preliminaries understood we may now attempt to delineate with [72] greater precision the fundamental suppositions at the base of science and episteme, viz. their respective ideas of reality.

[73] {79}



The contrast of these two attempts to know reality-modern science and Greek episteme-had no other goal than that of revealing to us the meaning which the word "reality" has in each case. But it is necessary to point out that science and episteme do not create that meaning; they do no more than subscribe to it. In themselves these two meanings arise from two wellsprings much greater than the human mind and they embrace zones of man immensely more vast than those which intellectual labor occupies. The fact that it is in the laboring intellect where for the first time the idea of reality has shown its clear outline will require some explanation. We will not delve into that problem, however. But from this fact arises that incipient identification of the real and the scientifically knowable; from it proceeds the flood of scientism, in virtue of which the problem of reality has been posed in a very limited plane, not with respect to knowledge in general, but with respect to a special mode of it, namely the scientific. This nevertheless does not prevent the usual sense of reality, that which the mind employs in its work and in whose element it moves, from having much deeper roots. Scientism, with the rightful triumph of its splendid results, has managed to obscure these roots and drown the germ of true philosophical radicalism in respect to the problem of reality.

We shall not fully delve into this question, nor can it be said that the two meanings of reality about which we have been speaking are the only ones. But limiting ourselves to them let us attempt to expose some of their roots. {80}

As we have already noted, Kant had an inspired vision of the problem with his distinction between phenomena and noumena. We leave aside the philosophy that Kant ultimately wrought on this distinction-the distinction itself is a completely separate question-and direct our attention only to the terms themselves. This will permit us to articulate some important dimensions of the problem of reality. We may note that things are never discovered [74] except in a universe, and their inclusion in it is what patterns the meaning which their reality has in each case. In every one of the three dimensions of the problem-things, universe, and reality we shall see how the basic idea of Greek episteme is opposed to modern science. And this will lead us finally to describe the transcendence of this double perspective for philosophy and for the whole being of man.

1. Things

Since ancient times what we call a thing has been such precisely because it is something circumscribed and separated from all others. That which grants a thing its character as such is the combination of traits which constitute it, what the Greeks called eidos. Nevertheless, it is more than a simple "combination".

The unity of characteristics of the eidos does not derive from an external conjunction or a process of successive addition. Rather, it is in a certain sense prior to that which it unites. More than the bringing together of characteristics, the form of a living being is the result of life itself, the imprint of life in the living thing. The picture of the eidos is molded by this unum. And therefore knowledge of the eidos is the laborious result of mentally reconstructing the unity of a thing. In the unity thus understood the Greeks saw the essence of things encoded. If we were able to position ourselves at the very heart of something understood in this way, we would be present at the root of the internal unfolding of all its characteristics, and, instead of seeing in them "many unified characteristics" {81} we would on the contrary see a "diversifying unity." Viewed from the essence of a thing, its diverse characteristics are in it sub specie unitatis; and Leibniz said more or less the same thing when he claimed that reality is a "unity" endowed with "detail", but in such away that the latter is preincluded in the former. This is what he meant when he called the simple substances monads, unities. (Monadology, No. 1, 12, 13).

The many characteristics of things are then that in which the essence is manifested, and essence is the primary and constitutive being of a thing. Hence these characteristics are called [75] phenomena. And since not everything which a thing possesses pertains to it equally, nor manifests directly what it is-for example, stature, hair color, etc.-the primary unity is something which mind, nous, must seek, i.e. it is a noumenon. "Phenomenon" and "noumenon" do not designate two realities, but rather two modes of being of the same reality. The detail, taken from outside, manifests what a things is; detail is, then, phenomenon. Taken from inside, it is what constitutes the thing itself, it is noumenon. If we compare a thing to a luminous pencil of rays at its focus, the detail will be like the section obtained intercepting the surface by a movie screen. In the pencil, as we proceed from the focus, the detail is there, but sub specie unitatis. Only on the screen is it like pure ordered diversity.

Kant accepted this classical point of view intact. The thesis of Leibniz, to which I alluded earlier, serves as a sufficiently clear historical link.

What Kant did-once again placing himself in the line of traditional philosophy-was to penetrate deeper into the problem. For our purposes here, let us direct our attention to three cardinal points.

In the first place, we have the foundation of the distinction. Man is not the cause of phenomena. The characteristics manifesting what a thing is are in it and pertain to it. Moreover they are the thing itself in its "detail." There is nothing more. {82} My voice, my speech, my movements, the color of my face, really pertain to me. There is no question of mere images produced in another man, as has been superficially maintained by phenomenalism. Man does not produce things, either as they are in themselves or as phenomena, for the simple reason, I repeat, that ..phenomenon" and "thing in itself" do not designate two different "things," one in itself and the other in me, but two modes of being of the same thing. What man produces is only the distinction between these two modes of being. Kant recognized this explicitly: the foundation of the distinction between phenomenon and noumenon is in us. What does this mean? In order to understand it, let us recall that "detail" is not, by itself, a phenomenon. Aristotle had already distinguished carefully [76] between schema and eidos. In the first we have only the aspect of a thing, the pure detail of its characteristics in their radical diversity; whereas in the eidos we have perhaps the same detail, but as a result and manifestation of an essential and constitutive unity. Therefore a cadaver and a sleeping man can have the same schema, though the former lacks the human eidos. Detail is only a phenomenon considered as manifestation of the radical unity.

This unity is immediately operative. Through it things posses their own proper operations, their oikeion ergon. A cadaver has the same schema as a living being, but the absence of the ergon of human life is an index that it lacks the human eidos. It is essential, not only for Aristotle, but also for Leibniz and Kant, to insist upon this dynamic and operative characterisitic of the unum pertaining to the eidos. It is what Kant expresses when he affirms that in sensibility we have a simple multiplicity or diversity, and that it only deserves to be called a thing-in-itself when considered as the root of its many characteristics. The difference between phenomenon and thing-in-itself results, therefore, from the two ways of drawing near to detail. Placing oneself, so to speak, on the outside and looking in, detail appears to us as something manifesting what the thing is; detail is then phenomenon. If we now place ourselves within the detail and look out, detail appears to us as the content of the thing-in-itself; here {83}we have the thing-in-itself. And as this different placement is a human condition, it follows that man is the foundation of the distinction between these two modes of being; he is the foundation in the sense of principio. If we had the power of radically implanting ourselves in the unity of a thing-as Leibniz thought possible with his intellectual intuition-there would be no phenomena for the intelligence; everything, in all its detail, would be noumenon. For Kant however (and with this he returns to the best Aristotelian tradition), man has no other capacity than that of receiving the detail as such; the only thing he can do is consider it as a manifestation of the reality of a thing. In Kantian terms, the proper object of the understanding, when it leaves the sensible world, is phenomena. However if phenomenality and its distinction from noumenality are based upon this human condition, such is not the case with the content of the detail. But is there nothing here which is not perfectly traditional.

In the second place, Kant works constantly with the phrase "the impressions which things produce in us." To understand it [77] properly one must recall what tradition, still very much alive in Leibniz, taught about these impressions. Corporeal things manifest their being not only by acting on other things, but also by acting on man, and especially so in his case, because only then does their manifestation as such arise. Therefore the manifestation of corporeal things is called "sensible impression." But one need not see in this expression what empirical psychology would later call "sensation." Since Aristotle, sensible affection, sensible pathos, has not meant that peculiar human reaction which the word has in its usual meaning; rather, the adjective "sensible" comes to mean what in the impression of something makes this something sensible, and therefore the impression consists primarily in a presence or manifestation. There are two dimensions in it. On one side, in the impression, "I feel affected;" on the other, the quality of the- thing present to me, "I have an impression of the thing. Thus, for example speaking of heat, "I sense heat," and I sense at the same time the temperature of the warm object. Kant refers to this double actualization when he treats phenomena as sensible impressions. {84}They are not an effect which, for example, heat produces on my sight. It is not the case that my sensation of color, as an effect, manifests the activity of a strange cause-the real color-, but that in the color perceived which is my sensation and the color of the object at the same time-there is manifested what the colored thing is. The "being sensed" does not create the content of a phenomenon; it only reveals and makes it clear. To be sure, metaphysics from the 14th century up to Suarez increasingly accented the active role played by man in the constitution of that "patency," and it more and more interleaved the idea of phenomenon with that of subjectivity. But regardless of the mechanism of sensible impressions, and the participation which subjective activity may have therein, their formal result will still be, for this same metaphysics, what we have just finished describing. Without this modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant (including English empiricism) cannot be understood.

In the third place, finally, Kant tried to pin down the formal character of impressions as such. Since the patency of every characteristic for man is constituted in a sensing, it is necessary to determine the latter's formal structure. In sensibility we have, first and foremost, a resolution of the unity of a thing into pure detail. Sensibility takes each characteristic separately from the rest, each [78] being considered outside the others. Exteriority is thus the formal character of detail as regards sensibility, because it is the formal structure of detail as such. And correspondingly sensing each characteristic will be sensing it in a where and in a when. The where and when are for Kant the formal structure of the impression. When we are told that it is likewise with respect to phenomena, we understand that we deal with phenomena insofar as they are sensible, i.e. of this mode of manifestation, peculiar to man, which is called "sensibility," and which consists in making things patent. For the thing itself, on the other hand, the when and where are characteristics which are absorbed in a superior unity. We recall, in fact, that in the face of Descartes Leibniz asked for something imo extensione prius, the vis, force, and considered extension and the corresponding exteriority of its parts as manifestation of the interior unity which the force of impenetrability possesses. {85}

By bringing all these dimensions of phenomenon together, and not forgetting a single one of them, we have clearly before us the Kantian expression, "phenomenon is experience".

Here then is the double dimension of things: their "being phenomenon" and their "being in themselves." In it the difference between the object of episteme and that of science begins to emerge. That difference points to two quite distinct paths of development. In this simple point of departure there is still a fundamental unity. But when thought goes into action, the difference turns into a divergence. We shall see it in the second stage of the problem of reality.

2. The Universe

Man is not limited to having before him each one of the actualized notae in his sensible impressions. He is in addition a thinking being. And what is important to us here is not to investigate the elemental or complex acts which thought realizes or the thoughts which man forges. Rather, the essential thing is still more prior and more radical: the very way in which things are present to man through the mere fact of being objects of thought. Whereas in visual sensation, for example, nothing is produced but a mere "having color," in thought we have this same color as the color of something which is colored. The object of thought, through the mere fact of being so, presents this subtle and delicate [79] unfolding of "that it is" and "what it is". Only then does the possibility exist, rigorously speaking, to talk about phenomena and things. For this same reason the Kantian theory of phenomena appears at times like a theory of sensation and at times like a theory of the understanding.

Thus human thought cannot know what a thing is except by "gathering together", i.e., referring each characteristic to a group of others, whether its purpose be to keep them dissociated or to unite them. Therefore each things is ."something." Human thought can only apprehend things as "something," and this {86} "something" can only be given as the circumscription of a thing in the midst of the rest. Thus, the outcome of its apprehension depends essentially on the primary horizon which confers meaning on the "something," within the universe in which it moves.

On the other hand, when we understand that something, we understand the "someone", the unity of characteristics making up the something. When we collect, when we associate or dissociate the characteristics constitutive of something, thought in fact collects the unity of the thing through the multitude of its possible characteristics. As the "someone" is not given except in its something," so also here the sense of unity, the sense of the someone, will depend essentially upon the universe, upon the horizon within which the mind in its totality moves.

For the Greek it is a question of inferring that there is something in the midst of all the other real things existing in the universe. The Greeks called the aggregate of terrestial things "nature;" above it they placed the sky, and beyond that, the Theos, the one or many gods. This conjunction is, in the expression of the ancients, a kosmos, something ordered and-Aristotle added-something classified (taxis), from prime matter to divinity. Within this cosmos, the Greek seeks to determine what a thing is as really existing, as a source of substantivity and principle of its own operations. And for this he needs to disentangle, step by step, the characteristics which by themselves make up the thing; he tries to discover beyond the simple coexistence of these latter the necessity linking them in the unity of the thing. In this way the Greek little by little continues to bring himself closer-at least that is the idea-to the reasons through which things can exist and act as such in the midst of the cosmos. The something of things is always circumscribed with respect to the real unity of the someone, within the totality of the [80] cosmos.

For science, on the other hand, the "something" is not determined within the horizon of the cosmos. The totality which science presupposes, and within which it moves, is the totality of characteristics or details present in our sensible impressions. As in each sensible impression there is that double dimension through which it is, at one and the same time, my impression and an impression of the thing, it follows that science will undertake to secure for us the apprehension of the pure objective aspect of our impressions. For this it must extract {87}from the connections among the characteristics those that are necessary. But here the necessity of the connection is manifested by exactitude and objective constancy, as opposed to the vagueness and variability of its subjective aspect. Necessity thus becomes synonymous with objectivity. Whence the unity which science pursues in the totality of phenomena is just the objective connection, i.e. the law. The "something" does not function otherwise than as a law in science, and the "someone" itself, as an interference of laws. In Kantian terms, science goes beyond the compass of our impressions; not in order to carry us to things, but to elevate us to the objective synthesis which is actualized in those impressions. The schema is no longer converted into a problem of eidos in order to achieve autonomy. Neither immanent nor transcendent, the conditions of science are purely transcendental.

With this we do not obtain the position of things in a real cosmos. The totum presupposed by science is not the Greek cosmos, but rather what Kant termed world, the totality of objective experience. Taking detail in itself, science does not investigate the reasons for things, but rather the reasons for their objective presentation, through which a surreptitious priority of the ratio cognoscendi over the ratio essendi comes about. It is clear that when the schema loses its character of eidos, what science gives us along with the presumed objectivity is as it were "things," but "things without idea." We leave aside, however, this serious complication.

Here it is most important to emphasize that what differentiates the Greek and Kantian positions and causes modern science to [81] diverge from the paths forged by episteme is not exactly the idea of phenomenon or that of thing, but something prior and more radical: the difference between cosmos and world. World is objective structure of phenomena; cosmos, real ordering of realities. In Kant's idea of world the "things in themselves" remain outside of science; in the idea of cosmos, phenomena {88}manifest and discover what things are. And with this it becomes clear that we are not dealing with a problem limited to science, but one which affects the whole of man's position in the universe.

Face to face with phenomena, the Greek immediately directed his attention to the things which appeared. He did not know how to extract what is called "world" from this subtle structure which he possessed, the world that man has and in which he exists. Science has determined that the passing of phenomena obeys laws and not just causes, i.e. that phenomena constitute a world characterized by its own proper structure, a world which consists in its own occurrence or happening. The Greek paid little attention to the world, and preferentially directed his attention to the things in it; if he sought to discover structures, they were always the structures of things. On the other hand, science lives on the idea that phenomena constitute a world. Naturally the Greek did not regard things as a chaotic conjunction of entities; and it is the Aristotelian taxis which clearly illustrates what we have said. Aristotle did not hesitate to compare the taxis of the world to an army led by a general. In fact, the taxis of the physical world culminates in the Theos. Therefore the purpose of the Aristotelian taxis is, once again, to go to and stop at a thing, at the Theos, which explains the movement of the substances of the cosmos. Science, however, detains its glance in the world and what occurs therein.

The enormous conquest represented by this point of view is undeniable, but likewise undeniable is the fact that it is radically different from the point of view of episteme. For episteme, the concept of cosmos is decisive. So when a Greek is asked, "What are things?" he understands that he is asked about things themselves, independently of whether they form part of the world or their manifestations happen in it. The Greek episteme was never a world-ology. And it is necessary to stress this emphatically so we do not allow ourselves to fall into serious errors. The problem of the reality of things is essentially the problem of what they are, and not simply the problem of intramundane or transcendentally mundane conditions of their occurence. [82] {89}

From here the idea of reality upon which science and episteme are nurtured begins to sprout; but both of them do nothing but receive it from much deeper strata of man.

3. The Idea of Reality

The meaning of what we call "reality" (leaving aside other larger dimensions of the problem) is constituted in a prior horizon which makes it possible. Science is itself the most eloquent testimony of what we have been discussing. To physics, freedom, for example, has no meaning; not because it isn't real, but because its reality has no physical meaning, or as it were the meaning which physics gives to the word "reality" leaves the fact of freedom outside of the world. But this, of course, does not prevent freedom from being a fact nonetheless, i.e. a reality; though in a different sense than that which physics assigns. The idea of reality acquires its meaning through the "all" in which each real thing is inscribed.

In fact, for science, having reality signifies forming part of the world of phenomena, in the strict sense which we can now give these words in view of what was previously explained. Since in all cases the objectivity of a phenomenon is constituted through the where and when of its sensible manifestation, and since at the same time the where, inasmuch as it is an impression, is constituted in the when of its "being sensed," then ultimately reality must signify the following: given determinate conditions, we encounter, we should encounter, or we will encounter "something" in the form of a sensible phenomenon, i.e. have at some time the impression of that "something." Science understands by "real" what is, what was, or what will be, in the Purity of its temporal notation; i.e. for science, to be is to happen. This does not mean that time is taken as the abstract schema of real happenings, but on the contrary as a pure and {90}formal happening in which an impression is constituted and inscribed. Thus Kant says that for science the temporal scheme is the whole meaning of reality. Therefore we have here the extreme purity of happening. To happen is to have place in the world of phenomena or sensible impressions. For science anything [83] removed from this condition would not be real; it might exist, to be sure, but would not happen in science.

When the Greeks speak of reality, they take the word in another way. Something is real inasmuch as it possesses, in one way or another, a place among the things which exist in the world. To have reality means to form part of the cosmos, to exist. And something has a place in the cosmos when it is "someone," and it is someone when it has "something" with which it can be sufficient unto itself, not living at the expense of other things; i.e. when it has in itself the principles and means to be among other things and act as itself. This is what the Greeks called ousia (and which Latin enthroned translating it technically by substantial, and what strictly speaking signifies more "entity," independently of whether or not it is manifested as a phenomenon in a sensible impression. Clearly not everything in the universe is ousia; but what is not has no more existence than that granted to it by ousia. Therefore to form part of the cosmos is to exist, and not simply to happen.

But existence is not an empty mold; it must be understood in each case through the proper nature of what exists. Whereas the reality of a rock is its simple "being there," that of a living thing is "living." "The cause of being," said Aristotle, "is for all things their ousia; being is, for living things, their life, and the cause and principle of this latter is the soul". In every case Aristotle determines the reality of a thing, its ousia, by starting from the mode of being of that thing and investigating its cause or principle. Thus ousia appears as the radical meaning of reality. So for a Greek the word ousia, taken from ordinary speech where it has the meaning we just indicated, becomes the title of a problem the problem of first philosophy: in what does ousia consist, where is it, how {91}does a thing receive its ousia, etc. For the moment, these questions do not interest us. The essential thing for our objective is to make clear that independently of the problems ousia may awaken in first philosophy, its common usage already expressed the meaning which reality had for a Greek thinker, even before he began to philosophize.

To see this with greater clarity and rigor, it suffices to recall a magnificent passage from Plato, where in aporetic form he [84] suggests the whole of the problem which the word ousia encompasses for a Greek. Discussing whether the One does or does not have existence, Plato puts into the mouths of the dialogue's characters the following argument:

"So then! Do not 'was,' 'used to happen,' and 'happened' signify a participation in a past time?"


"And similarly do not 'will be,' 'will happen,' and 'will have happened' refer to a time to come?" reasons which will shortly become apparent."


"And thus, are not 'is' and 'happens' in a time now present?"

"Without any doubt."

"If, then, the One does not participate in time in any way whatsoever, it follows that it never used to happen, never happened, nor was; that now it has not happened, nor happens, nor is; that later it will not happen, nor have happened, nor will be. "


"Now, are there other ways of participating in reality than these?"

"There are none."

"The One, then, has no part in reality?"

"No, as it seems." (Parmenides, 141e).

This is one of the thorniest passages to be found in Plato. Proclus already had noted it, and there are the labors of translation and criticism of Stallbaum and Schleiermacher as [85] confirmation. If the reader {92} has the patience and curiosity to compare this translation with the Greek text, he will first observe that for Plato the various moments of time are presented in intimate unity; they are together, as abstract moments of the unfolding of a real action. The fact of employing the verbs "to be" (enai) and "to happen" (gˆgnomai) character-in a certain way active-of the former. And conversely the use of the second in a substantive way indicates clearly that, when Plato speaks of being, he does not start from its most abstract and vacuous meaning, but rather tries to size it and place it before the eyes of his readers, starting from all the concretion which the verb in question encompasses. Only then does it properly acquire the strict sense of "happen." Thus, being and its modes are expressed through the three modes of a single real action. Clearly "happen" does not refer here-as it does in the case of science-to the schematic "when" in which phenomena are actualized under the form of impressions. Happening does not, in this case, look so much toward the simple temporal notation as to the unfolding of a productive action therein. Happening is not based in time, but rather time is a moment of happening. And here in this passage Plato begins to suggest aporetically that happening thus understood is not the adequate expression of reality. When he expressly formulates the question of whether there are modes of reality other than those of happening, the questionee, after first flatly denying the proposition, finally glimpses the opposite, and limits himself to saying. "No, as it seems."

And in fact the reader will be able to see that those places in the translation where I put reality the Greek text has ousia. Now, it is immediately evident that ousia does not here mean simple existence, but neither does it mean essence or substance. Existence, essence, and substance are the great Aristotelian solution to the problem of ascertaining in what ousia consists and what its principles may be. None of this matters to Plato. Ousia does not represent the solution, but rather the formula of the problem; Plato is concerned only with "having reality," and makes no prior determination of what it means to have it. {93}

In the final words of the dialogue, Plato lets on that having reality cannot be identified with happening. We may be sure that when a Greek read the word ousia in this passage, he would probably have perceived the conceptual game latent in it, and hence the problem which it raised and perhaps even the road together clearly indicates the [86] which led directly to its solution, i.e. its Greek solution. Indeed, according to what we said earlier, ousia indicates the having or existing of each thing's proper resources, those through which the thing is sufficient unto itself, is independent, and consequently has a proper reality in the cosmos. But on the other hand-and this is what Plato most likely wanted to suggest to the reader in this passage of his dialogue-ousia is the abstract form of the present participle of the verb "to be". And, in this sense, it means the quality of what is being." So we understand that after saying there is no other mode of taking part in reality outside of those indicated, Plato still asks if the One has any reality at all. The timid response gives us to understand clearly that, without abandoning the temporal meaning, indeed, starting from it, one must aim at the other. The word "entity" perhaps fortunately involved the same duplicity of meaning. By virtue of containing these two dimensions of the real, the word and the concept of ousia are the point upon which, for a Greek thinker, the problem of reality is concentrated.

And the fact is that a real thing, even when manifesting itself through happenings (ousia = what is being), is not identified with them. It can only have reality, happening can only be real, when it is the unfolding of the proper and peculiar being of a thing (ousia = there being). Reality, in its strict sense, is obtained not through the unfolding of a happening, but through a refolding of it which elevates it to the status of what serves reality as a presupposition. (Whence Aristotle as he developed the problem of ousia saw himself led to treat it as substantial. This "refolding" and the elevation" which mark a happening cause the Greek to call ousia "aei on", that which always is. "Always" in this case {94}does not mean that the thing is going to exist through all time, but that it is above time, not to be sure separated from it, but embracing and absorbing it as its principle and presupposition. The "always" is the schema which leads us to go beyond the meaning of "to be" as "happening" and opens before our eyes ousia as reality. The "always" as the schema of ousia does not principally mean an identical permanence at the base of the happening, but only an [87] elevation toward the principle making it possible. Even Aristotelian substance, though finding its most frequent illustration in the example of a subject which remains the same underneath changes, does not acquire its primary meaning in that example. The guiding motive of the idea of substance is the "always," inasmuch as it leads to the ousia as "there is," making possible the unfolding of a happening. Speaking of material substances, their own materiality requires that this "there is" take on the form of a permanent substrate. But the converse is not true.

The two meanings of the word ousia are only articulated, then, thanks to the elevation of the "always." Therefore ousia is the name of the problem of episteme and all of primary philosophy for the Greeks. The passage from Parmenides is one of the golden treasures from the history of Greek thought. What a Greek understands by reality, for the purposes of episteme, is not simply what was, what is, or what will be, but the very nature of that reality which by virtue of being it, was yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. To this the Greek gave the name einai, to be, to exist substantively.

Science tries to tell us how things happen in the world, and for it reality signifies simply an occuring before our eyes. Episteme tries to tell us how real things are, and to be real signifies having one's own existence.

It is completely superfluous, then, to call upon the science of modern physics to resolve our problem, just as it is unnecessary to point up the physical errors to which use of Aristotle's syllogistic led during the Renaissance. The question is much more serious because it is not limited to the realm of physics, but has a much broader scope, engulfing man's entire being. {95}

Moreover man's actions occur in a world partially mental and partially exteriorizable. And through these dimensions, man finds himself endowed with a happening which possesses an interpersonal plot as well as a temporal and historical plot. Therefore men also constitute a world. We leave aside their relation with the world of physical phenomena. All of these latter, on the one hand, and human actions in their biographical, social, or historical reality on the other, are just this one entire thing, but only this: what happens in the world. Beyond this happening man discerns the problem of what he is. And since neither man's being nor that of things in the world can or should be ignored (which besides being an effective impossibility, would be an unfortunate [88] error and an evident falsehood), it is certain that therein rests the entire destiny of philosophy and the being of man. We must know if philosophy and the being of man are going to nourish themselves ultimately, on what "goes on in the world" or on what things and men "are in reality."

Escorial, April 1941