A Demonstration of Their Necessity.

B. Speculation About Their Origin.

C. The Impression of Their Reality.

[33] {35}


Suppose that we are shown a cup of wine. We take it as such. But it turns out not to be so: it is imitation wine. What does this mean? In order to understand, let us reflect upon how we correct our error. We call upon another liquid which is undoubtedly authentic, i.e. which presents all the characteristics or traits of wine. That is to say, our error stems from the fact that the wine, there in front of me, is imitation, is false, and is false because it presents a deceiving aspect obscuring its true aspect. It appears to be wine, but it isn't. To correct the error, we oblige the liquid in question to reveal its true aspect, and we compare it with that offered earlier as real wine. All this supposes, then, that in one form or another what we call things are constituted by the conjunction of fundamental traits which characterize them. For this reason it is possible that they may seem to be one thing and be another. This type of "physiognomy" or "aspect" is what the Greeks called eidos, literally 'figure'. The denomination truth was reserved for its patency. From here on we shall employ the term "aspect" not in the sense of appearance, but in this other of true figure of things.

Let us direct our attention now to a particular issue. When we wish to teach someone ignorant of it what wine is, we do nothing but show it, i.e. manifest the true aspect of the {35}wine to him. Upon apprehending it through his experience, the first thing he has apprehended, even without realizing it, is something peculiar to wine, and consequently not exclusively of this glass. The "aspect," in the sense we are here giving to this word, is something which has no particular significance, but is so to speak typical. For this reason Plato called it Idea. "Idea" for Plato does [34] not primarily mean a mental act, as it does today, nor the content of such an act, but the conjunction of those physiognomical traits or characteristics of something. It is, then, what is in something, its proper traits.

The word 'aspect' gives rise to some confusion. In its most obvious meaning it signifies the conjunction of all and only actual traits. This primary meaning is not foreign to the Platonic eidos. But the inspired discovery of the latter caused men to concentrate more on another dimension of 'aspect'. A thing, in fact, is not limited to possessing certain characteristics or lacking them. The fulfillment or defect of certain perfect characteristics (and those to which reality approximates either positively or privatively) is reflected as much in their possession as in their absence. In a government we see not only how it governs in fact, but we see as well by exemplification or privation the qualities of good government. In this second meaning the aspect a thing presents to us is not made up only of the conjunction of its true characteristics, those which it really possesses, but also of this conjunction of these other "perfect" traits, which realized in varying degrees are reflected in the form. These latter characteristics are found in reality, but in a different way. The so-called 'real characteristics' simply "exist" in reality; the others "are" not in it, but rather "shine" positively or negatively therein. Plato was most concerned with this second point of view as the resplendence of something, and he called it Idea, the aspect of things in their second dimension. Sensible reality in itself does nothing but realize in varying degrees the idea which shines in it. This can be seen from the point of view of sensible things: these things approximate well or poorly the ideas which are resplendent in them. Now, a little reflection will show that the qualities of good government, which through absence or presence {37}shine in all politics, are identical for everyone dedicating himself to the task of governing. Ideas are thus converted into "the essential" of things, something common to all of them. And this is the decisive step.

We leave aside all theoretical complications; this recursion to the idea is an immediate event of our everyday experience. To be sure, if we had nothing more than senses, it would be impossible. By itself each sense does no more than give a few characteristics of things. Neither does the sum total of the senses suffice, because wine is one thing and not many, be they isolated or conjoined. Therefore what we call a "thing" is, for the senses, a simple [35] "appearing" to be such a thing, and they have no ability to decide whether it is so or not in truth. But, besides the senses, man has a mode of experience with things which gives him, fully and completely, in a simple and unitary way, a contact with them, such as they are "from the inside," so to speak. One who suffers from an infirmity has a knowledge of it, he "knows" what it is to be sick and what his sickness is better than the healthy doctor, however extensive the doctor's knowledge may be; likewise one who "knows" a friend, "knows" who he is better than any of his biographers. It is a knowledge which touches the intimate nature of each thing; it is not the perception of each of its characteristics, nor their sum or conjunction, but something which situates us in what it truly and intimately is; "one" thing which "is" in truth, such and such a way, and not simply what it "seems." It is a kind of sense of being. It is not, then, a mystical or transcendental act: every comportment with things carries within itself the possibility of this "experience". And that alone is what properly speaking we call "knowing" what a thing is, knowing to what to direct our attention, what precisely it is and not merely what it seems to be. To this experience the Greeks gave the name nous, mens. So the aspect of things to which we earlier alluded is not merely the content of the senses, but above all, this elemental and preeminently simple phenomenon of the mental act, of the noein, which gives us what a thing is. Thanks to it, I said, we "know" things in the most excellent sense; we can, in fact, univocally and indubitably discern what they in truth "are" from what they only "seem" to be; who "is" a friend, or a just man, from who only has the appearance of such.

{38}Man is not simply before things, but moves among them, deciding in each case what they are. Thanks to this experience which we have described summarily, he can formulate a judgement or verdict about them; he can rely on things and confide in them. This decision or verdict is a "making his own" what things are, "surrendering" himself to them. Such is the "judgement." It is like a judge who makes his own the result of judicial proceedings, "giving" himself to it, i.e. speaking the truth about what has happened. Upon "judging" that such and such thing is true, he "discerns" the real from the apparent, and passes judgement on these true things, separating those that are true from those that are not. He does not concern himself with what things seem to be, but with what they are. This decision is one of [36] the essential dimensions which the logos possessed for the early Greeks. And, in accordance with it, to know meant primarily to discern what is from what is not, or as they said, being from apparent being; in other words, to possess the idea of things. The truth of our decisions, of our logos, consists entirely in containing this "experience." Parmenides was the first to perceive it clearly, and Plato accepted this old lesson from him.

[37] {39}


But here new difficulties arise. Up to what point can this discernment be called "knowledge," however radical it may be? Plato saw the problem quite clearly. Knowledge is more than discerning appearance and reality. One can distinguish a circle and a triangle perfectly, without being a geometer. In order to be the latter, besides knowing "that" this is a circle or a triangle, it is necessary to be able to say what a circle or triangle is. It is not simply discerning what is from what only appears to be, but discerning "what" a thing "is" with respect to other things which also "are." This presupposes a kind of split between "that it is" and "what it is," between the "thing" and its "essence." We only "know" what a thing is when, after the split or unfolding has been effected, we can go on linking to the thing (taken as a firm point of departure and of reference) that which, by our unfolding, we have "extracted" from it, And what is it that we have extracted? Precisely the characteristic traits of the thing in question, one by one, taken separately with respect to each other an the thing in question of which they are the characteristics (auto kath'auto, as Plato said). That is, the unfolding is nothing but an explanation of each of the moments of the "idea," of the " aspect;" of each one of the characteristics of the "physiognomy" of the thing. Hence, not only do we discern a thing from its appearance, what it is from what it is not, but moreover we circumscribe precisely the limits where the thing begins and ends, the unitary profile of its aspect, of its idea. This is the "definition." Knowledge is not discerning, but definition. Such is the great accomplishment of Platonism.



But neither is this sufficient. Plato himself sensed the inadequacy, but it remained for Aristotle to give the question its decisive architecture. Knowledge is, in a certain sense, more than discerning and defining. We know something completely when, besides knowing "what" it is, we know "why" it is. This is what lies at the base of all pre-Aristotelian knowledge. Having made it patent, historically and systematically, is one of the immortal creations of Aristotelianism. And in order to understand that this is so, one need only reflect attentively upon the significance of the "idea" or aspect which we have been discussing. When we have been shown the true aspect of authentic wine, not everything has been said that can be said merely by proclaiming this the aspect or idea of the wine. In reality there is something more: the true wine has such an aspect because it "is" wine. This idea or aspect is nothing but the patentization of what it is, of what it already was prior to being shown. The truth of the thing is based in its very being. If one desires to continue speaking of idea, it will be necessary to understand by it the conjunction of traits, not only insofar as they are "characteristics" of the wine, i.e. insofar as this conjunction offers itself to whomever contemplates the wine, but as traits which antecedently "constitute" the wine in question; the essence, not only as the content of a definition, but as what essentially constitutes the thing. The idea or "figure" is what antecendently "configures" a thing, gives it its proper "form", and with which it is established sufficiently and peculiarly with respect to other things. This "being proper," {42}this "property" or "peculiarity" and the sufficiency it fittingly bears, is what the Greeks termed ousia, substance of something, in the sense that this expression has even in English, when we speak of a meal "without substance" or of an "insubstantial person." Although coinciding through its content with this "why," the "what" has a [39] completely different meaning. Previously we had a simple what;" now, a "what" which is so "because" things "are" the way they are and not another way. Upon knowing things in this way we know the necessity for their being as they are and consequently why they are not another way. We have not only defined the thing, but have demonstrated in it its necessity. De-monstrate does not mean here a rational proof, but an exhibition of the articulation of something, as when we speak of a "demonstration" of military force or public opinion in a popular demonstration. Knowledge par excellence is demonstrative knowledge of the necessary "why" of things. In this demonstration we have done nothing but explain once again the traits of the idea, in a way different than the simply indicative fashion. Knowledge is not discerning or definition: knowledge is understanding, demonstrating. Only the internal articulation of the "what" and of the "why" makes possible a science sensu strictu telling us what things are. This is when the idea fully acquires the distinction of "being constitutive" of a thing. The question about what things are is thus linked definitively to the question about the Idea. And that will be essential for the future of the human mind. From this moment, in fact, human knowledge is going to be a road directed toward conquering "ideas."


A) "De-monstration," in the very full sense we have given to this word, is something which is nonetheless problematic and difficult. Perhaps not everything is demonstrable in the same sense. Not everything can be understood in the same way. Not all {43}things, nor everything in them, are equally accessible. To the path of access to things the Greeks gave the name methodos. The problem of method thus acquires, on top of its apparently propadeutic character, a genuine metaphysical meaning. Method is not limited to any special way of access to things: the senses quite as much as the logos are methods. But preferentially attention was concentrated upon the logos, because it is the path leading us to understand things. The internal articulation of the elements of the logos is the object of logic. The problem of method is thus converted into "logic," through an elaboration of the idea [40] of the logos itself; and bearing in mind that the idea is, as we have said, the form of things, that which formally constitutes them, we can understand that logic studies what formally constitutes the logos; and in this sense formal logic is something eminently real. Thus logic was the organon of real knowledge, that which permits us to conquer new ideas and therewith new traits of things.

And, even at this point, we observe that the traits of an idea or form, when removed or separated from a thing, do not naturally subsist independently of it, even when they are joined together by a definition. Hence, when a thing is separated from its essence or form, and that essence or form is broken down into its component traits, we do not attribute to these traits any independence, except mentally, i.e. except by the very act of nous which separates them. Thus separated they are nothing but concepts or modes by which the mind, when it captures a thing, captures along with it all of its traits and each one of them in and by itself. Whence it follows that if in one or more concepts we find others necessarily implied, these will also be traits necessarily pertaining to the thing in question. Hence demonstration acquires a special form: the mediated discovery of ideas; it is not a simple logos, but a syllogism, what in a more common sense is usually called "a demonstration." It is natural that maximum effort be put into this task, and that it not be considered as a science sensu strictu, but rather that knowledge which refers concepts to things via a reasoning process. Knowledge, understanding, {44} is thus reasoning, disputing, argument. Something is understood insofar as discourse or reasoning manifests it as necessarily true; everything else is uncertain or unscientific. Ockham said, Scientia est cognitio vera sed dubitabilis nata fieri evidens per discursum. Science is true knowledge, but possibly false, which by its nature can be made evident through discourse. Thus it was throughout the Middle Ages, and likewise after the 16th century (despite the different type of reasoning) in almost every science; mathematics and theoretical physics are an authentic testimony of this triumph of demonstration and rational knowledge. Philosophy itself has suffered, for a long time, under the tyranny of this "model."

B) But the foregoing is not sufficient for knowledge. If reasoning is supposed to make us understand things, it must not be limited to discussing their momentary aspects. It is supposed to [41] present them in their internal necessity, based or founded upon each other. Some of them, therefore, come necessarily from others. Since antiquity this "to come from" has been called "to begin," "to originate," and that from which something comes, its arkhe, beginning principle, source. Knowing a thing is not only proving that we must necessarily admit such and such characteristics pertain to it, but seeing, demonstrating why they pertain to it necessarily; and moreover showing how some conduce inexorably to others. If reasoning has cognitive force, it is owing to its demonstration of this necessity, and not to any sort of polemical necessity. Knowing a thing is to know it through its principles. If one desires to continue speaking of logic, it will have to be a logic of principles, infinitely more difficult than the logic of reasoning.

Since the principle has to be a principle such that a thing is truly what it is, it cannot be discovered except in that intimate contact with things which we call mens, nous. But the mens is not limited to seeing what a thing truly is. It begins by "making it" visible. Anyone not endowed with enough sensitivity to make friends and see in others more than copies, partners, or companions, cannot himself be a friend. Only one {45}possessing that sensitivity can discern in someone else's personality the quality of being a friend, or not being one but only another person. Aristotle compares the mind in this respect with a light illuminating an object, "making it" visible for whomever possesses that light: the mind confers, simultaneously, "visibility" on the object and "capacity" to see on the man; it makes, simultaneously, of the former a noema and of the latter a noesis. This obscure relation, dimly perceived by old Parmenides, becomes fully mature in Aristotle. Thanks to this double dimension of the mind (the "active" and the "passive," said Aristotle), it is possible to look at things from the point of view of what they truly are, and seek, therefore, the primary being of things, in order to come to see what they are. Aristotle called nous the "principle of principles"; the Fathers of the Church and the Scholastics gave one of its essential qualities the name lumen, something carrying us to the intimate part of each thing: intima penetratio veritatis, said St. Thomas.

How is the mind the principle or source of principles? How do [42] we know things in their principles?

The multiplicity of facets of something is what makes it possible that its true being not shine through, and justifies the question as to which are its true principles. Every error comes from a falsification, and every falsification supposes a duality, in virtue of which something can seem to be one thing and actually be another. Every "falsum" leads to an "error." If, then, we resolve a thing into its ultimate and most simple elements, these cannot be untrue: the simple is, by nature, true; it can be ignored or overlooked, but once discovered, cannot deceive; it lacks "duplicity." Every other facet is based on these simple facts, which will therefore be its principles. Let us recall now that the facets of the idea are expressed in concepts which the logos ties together. Treating of simple elements, the logos cannot err, since it finds itself before relations which are "manifest" and "obvious" by themselves, which do not require, in order to be made patent, anything more than a simplex intuitus into things, as St. Thomas said. The "principles" of things are expressed thus in primary truths, and these are perforce primary in every act of understanding. It is possible for man to ignore some of them, if they concern {46}certain objects exclusively; but there are those which cannot be ignored. He perceives them by the mere act of existing, because they refer to things in the mere act of being things. Such truths (for example, the principle of contradiction) are primary, and not just because their truth is prior to all others, but moreover because they are effectively known before all others, though perhaps we are not aware of it. The internal necessity characterizing each act of knowledge is realized in them in exemplary fashion; they deserve to be called knowledge in the most dignified sense. For this reason the Greeks called them axioms, which means "dignities." As they do not require anything to be true, they cannot be false, and are necessarily known. They are truths, in a certain way, which are connatural to the mind, and which constitute the primary sense of a mind which explains what it understands, the primary sense of what it is "to be truly." The principles are thus principles that something is, in truth, what it is. The mental vision which makes them patent is not a simple opening of the eyes, but an inquiry into the roots of a thing. The Latins gave this vision the name in-spectio, "inspection." The simplex intuitus is a simplex mentis inspectio, resolving a thing into its ultimate simple components. One can easily comprehend [43] that once principles are obtained in this way, knowing a thing will be showing the internal necessity with which the thing itself is the way it is, and not another way. It is no longer enough to prove that we must necessarily affirm that it is the way it is.

So we take the principles, irresoluble in themselves, and we combine them in an orderly way so as to reconstruct something, without taking leave of this inspective vision in truth. If we succeed, the reconstruction will demonstrate the true necessity of the thing. Resolve into basics and recompose with them that which was resolved: this is the principle mode of knowledge culminating in Descartes and Leibniz.

But perhaps this is not sufficient for knowing things through their principles. We want to know what wine is truly, because the mind, as we saw, makes us look at it from the point of view of what it truly is. The resolution and combination give me to know, in its principles, what the wine is; but not that what is here in front of me is truly wine. If knowledge is de-monstrating {47}by principles, it is not enough to understand what the wine is truly: it is necessary to understand how that which it truly is, is here and now wine and not something else; it is necessary to understand not only the essence, but the thing itself; not only the idea in itself, but as principle of the thing. The first is expressed by saying, "The wine is red..."; the second by saying, "What this truly is, is wine." Now. in "being truly" everything is encompassed, and what we call "everything" is nothing but the entirety of all things insofar as they "truly are." Being wine truly and not something else then signifies discriminating from among everything which truly is, "being wine" from everything else. Understanding wine based upon its principles will then be understanding it based upon "being truly." The principle of things is this "being truly," and, therefore, everything, the "all." That which we determinately call each" thing is that in which the principle, the all, has concentrated what has "come to be." Everything in principle is then in each thing; any individual thing is nothing but a type of mirror, speculunt, which when the light of the mind strikes it, reflects the all, the one which in the most full manner truly is. The being of things is a "specular" being (taking this word as an adjective). The "all" is in a thing "specularly"-and knowing a thing through its principles will be knowing it speculatively; it is seeing everything which truly is reflected in its idea; seeing how what "truly" is has come to be wine in this case. When a thing is [44] understood along these lines we also understand, in a certain respect, everything else. This radical and determinate community of each thing with everything else is what has been called a system. To know something is to know it systematically, in its community with everything. Science is thus a system. This system expresses the way in which what truly is has come to be "this," wine. The logos systematically enuntiating the specular being of things does not simply say what is, but expresses this very "coming to be"; it is not syllogism, but dialectic; whereas the former deduces or induces, the latter educes. It is not a combination but a principle-oriented generation of truths. Ideas are captured dialectically. When this has been accomplished, then not only "why" that which truly is, is wine, has been understood; but also why it had to seem like something else. "Being truly" is, at one and the same time, the principle of {48}seeing. Speculative knowledge is absolute. Thus we come full circle. The nous not only has discovered the principles of what it sees, but the principle of visibility itself, of being truly. Upon making them visible, the mind sees itself reflected in the mirror of things inasmuch as they are. Truth is made patent in the things which truly are. Speculative knowledge is thus, finally, a discovering of the mind to itself. Only then is the mind effectively and in the fullest sense the principle of principles, the absolute principle. Such is the inspired work of German Idealism from Fichte to Hegel.

The first half of the 19th century witnessed the romantic frenesi of this speculation. The scientist was the elaborator of speculative systems. But in his face was raised the hue and cry of "return to things." Knowing is not reasoning or speculation; knowing is attending modestly to the reality of things.

C) Principle-oriented knowledge of things, in its speculative form, contains a justified exigency which confers upon it its special strength in the face of any rational discursive knowledge. Knowing is not only knowing the essence, but also the thing itself. The thing itself: here we have the question. Up to what point is it described through speculation? When I want to know what this truly is which seems to be wine, the thing itself, the wine itself, the "truly" is not an addle "being true," filled with predicates and notae. In [45] the expression "the wine itself," the "itself" means this real thing. The thing "itself" is the thing in its reality. Reality does not mean exclusively "material being." Numbers, space, and fiction also have, in a certain sense, their reality. Three is not the same as the idea of three; nor is the idea of a character in a novel the same as the character in the novel. Likewise a true idea of wine is not the wine, here and now in front of me. Speculative knowledge has developed the problem entirely from the side of truth, leaving in abeyance-though intending to return to it-the question of the reality of what is. But it did not succeed in going from the idea to reach things. Hence that which we used to be able to call ideism was, in the final analysis, idealism. This is its downfall. Knowledge {49}is not only understanding what a thing is from its principles, but really gaining possession of the reality; not only the the " truth of reality, " but also the " reality of truth. " In " reality of truth" is how things must be understood.

Reality is a characteristic of things which is very difficult to express. Only one who has been sick, or who "knows" a friend, "feels" the sickness or "feels" the friendship. Let us prescind from every other reference: feeling, qua feeling, is real reality; the man without feeling is like a cadaver. But feeling is a reality sui generis. In every sensation a man "feels himself," so to speak; he feels "himself," whether good or bad, agreeable or disagreeable, etc. Moreover this sensation of his is feeling something which in that sensation acquires its meaning; he senses a sound, an aroma, etc. The feeling or sensing, as reality, is the "real" patency of something. In virtue of it, we can say that feeling is being truly; i.e. feeling a sensation is the primary reality of truth. It is possible that not everything a man senses is reality independently of his sensing. But the illusion and the irreality can only be given precisely because every sensing is real and makes patent to us reality. Illusion will consist in taking for real some [46] thing which isn't. More precisely: the reality of truth really manifests to us the truth of a reality sensed in our sensing. So the problem now will be to distinguish within this truth the reality, the really true thing, and the true reality of a thing. These three expressions are thus found constitutively united: reality of truth, truth of reality, and true reality. Together, they pose the problem aforementioned, for which not only will a logic of principles be required, but also, in a certain sense, a logic of reality. How does sensing assure us of the knowing possession of reality?

{50}In order to see how, it is necessary to clarify a little of the matter of human sensation. Man senses, of course, through the "senses." The salient characteristic of the senses in man is not their being "sensory," but rather "senses." The sensory is not what sensation is, but rather sensations are the root of the sensory. The eyes, ears, etc. are nothing but sense "organs"; the sensation itself is something having a deeper and more intimate root. As sense organs they are special ways of sensing things, that way of sensing them which occurs when material things "affect" these organs. Affections or impressions of things: this is the primary mode of sensing. When man feels himself affected, the sensation of his affection is plain to him. That which we call the "given" or "datum" of each sensation is the sensation of its affection. Each organ, as I said, is a special mode of sensing; but sensing or feeling itself has a root still more intimate. Sensing is something primarily unitary, it is my sensing, and each one of the senses is nothing but a diversifying facet of that primary sensing. Hence Aristotle said that man possesses an intimate or common sense. He was not referring to the "synthesis," which is described in scientific works, but to a primary unity in the face of which the organs would be rather an analysis, or analyzers of sensation. Thanks to this, a "sensible thing" is "a" thing constituted in the sensation" of our affections or impressions. The eidos or idea of a thing is, therefore, primarily a schema, or figure of it, what is expressed in the impression produced in us. As a sense [47] impression, it outlasts the thing itself. A thing leaves an impression on a man which lasts longer than the action of the thing itself. The impression is prolonged, said Aristotle, in a type of consecutive movement. Upon lengthening the impression of things, {51}the figure of the sensation no longer is eidos but image. The image is not exactly a photograph of the thing which a man keeps in his soul for the duration of the impression. When something is shown to him, especially through the senses, the Greeks referred to it as "phenomenon," from phaino, to show. The enduring of something being shown is expressed by a verb derived from phaino, phantazein. imagining is "fantasing," making the showing of something last. The essence of imagination is fantasy. The image is what is sensed in the fantasy. It is no longer a phenomenon, but a phantasm. But the sensing is not always patent; it can be latent as well. This being latent iw what the Latins called cor, and the act of making it patent is, therefore, a recordare or recalling. Thanks to memory, perception is refined; whoever possesses a sure sense we say is an expert and skillful; he has experience. Emperia, experience, primarily refers to this experience of the expert. It is only then that an impression may conserve just the traits common to many others. The idea that it is only an image then gives way to the idea that it is a type common to many individuals. And whoever possesses this sense of the common is skilled or tekhnites, as Aristotle said.

Nevertheless, if man had no other way of sensing than this, could not say that he possessed a "knowledge" of things.

Because in fact, in every sensing, the thing sensed in the impression is a "thing," but "at the moment", as we say, and quite rightly. It is a thing while I sense it. To be sure, the impression as such prolongs the "act," as we have seen; but this very thing which guarantees a longer duration makes the thing insecure. We have an impression without being affected; the "figure" of the thing has disappeared as an affecting reality, and only its "phantasm" is left. If one desires to continue speaking of a thing, it will be the thing as sensed. I can now no longer say that this is wine, but that this, in my sensing, is wine. When something is only in my sensing, then it only seems to be what it is. Now we understand why the senses do not give us the being of things, but only their appearance. In other words, an impression, as such, only discovers to us reality, but things are not necessarily real: without an impression there would be neither things nor [48] phantasms; but with just these impressions we do not {52}know if what there is is a thing or a phantasm. It is only one or the other "in our sensing," and therefore a thing is one or the other "at the moment." In the reality of truth, which is sensing, we have the truth of reality, but not the true reality.

But this does not mean that it is something frivolous or elusive. When something is "in my sensing," as we saw, it "seems" to be what it is. This "seems" is always a seems "to me." When I say that this seems to be in such a way, I pronounce an opinion (doxa). To understand, then, what the real knowledge is, it is necessary to see what this opinion is.

To utter an opinion is, provisionally, to say something about my sensing. But this "saying" itself need not be taken as a declarative sentence, but as a "speaking." When we speak we say things. But we say this and not something else, because a type of interior "voice" tells us what things are. When something unexpected surprises us, we are left speechless. The logos is, then, fundamentally a voice which tells us what must be said. As such, it is something which forms part of sensing itself, of "intimate" sensing. But, at the same time, this voice is the "voice of things," it tells us their being and makes us say it. Things support man by their being. Man says what he says by the force of things. With respect to this voice of things, Heraclitus said that the logos was the substance of them all. My intimate sense senses the voice of things; and this sensing is in the first place a "listening to" in order to "follow" what is said and thus "give" ourselves to these things. Hence, our speaking is just and right. As a decision or verdict the logos is an intimate sense of the rectitude of speaking, and is based in sensing its voice. Whoever is deaf to this voice speaks by talking "without sense," and this mode of being among things is dreaming. In it there is nothing but the voice of each thing. On the other hand, whoever attends to the voice of things is awake to them, is vigilant. This is in fact a vigil. When one discovers a thing, it is as if he awoke to it. And the first logos of awakening, therefore, is an exclaiming. Each thing carries with it its voice, and this voice, in its turn, unites all things in a unitary voice. {53}Therefore all men who are awake have the same world; it is the cosmos. Joining or uniting is termed in Greek legein. Hence, this vocalizing is called "logos." The speech of a man awake is not [48] the pure "loquacity" of one asleep; it is not a pure lexis, but the diction of a spokesman of things. Man awake is the spokesman of things.

Now, just as impressions endure in the sensing, the logos "composes" the sensations of sensing as it unites them; since each offers nothing but things of the moment, the logos as an expression of the cosmos, or of the unity of things sensed, will be a composition of moments, of movements. Knowing something will be knowing that it has "become" such in this instant. This becoming has nothing to do with the becoming of the dialectic. The latter deals with the all coming to be "this." Here we are concerned rather with something "at the moment" coming to be, and "at the moment" turning into something else. Knowledge, for the senses, will be possessing the direction of this movement, predicting.

But this knowledge which opinion represents, on account of the fact that it is a knowing only "through impressions," is insufficient. Anyone who knows only what is in his impressions proceeds on the basis of impressions; in spite of everything, he does not have a "sense of things," of what is always true. For this reason we call him insensate. The "sensate" man has a sense of things different than their pure impression. Through having a sense, which is that of things and not his own, the sensate man is at one with all those who are likewise sensate. This sense of thing is mens, nous. Anyone lacking it is mindless or demented.

This being of things, proper to the sensation of them, must be taken literally. The sensation is of them; man has it as a type of gift; on this account the Greeks called it something divine. And thanks to it, the mens has in itself the security, not only of its reality, but of the true reality of what is "mented", i.e. "thought." This unity caused Parmenides to say that the reality of the mind and its object are "the same." This is the supreme manner of sensing, and therefore Aristotle compares it not only to light, but also to touch. The nous, he says, is a "touching," a "feeling." Among all the senses, in fact, touch is the one which most surely gives us the reality of something. Eyesight, aside from being clear vision, senses a type of contact with {54}light. And with just this clarity we would have, in the majority of cases, "ideas", but "ideas" which would not be anything but "visions", "specters"; therefore the mens, besides seeing clearly, is a "touching," a "tactile" seeing which puts us into actual contact [50] with "palpitating" things, i.e. real things. So much so that at bottom it is more a palpitating of us in things than things in us This palpitating affects the intimacy of each thing, at its deepest and most real point, as when we say that an event "touched the heart" of something. The actuality of the palpitating is what the Greeks called "actuality." Real things have, in a certain sense, palpitating actuality before the mind. Nevertheless, things are not their actuality before the mind. Rather, actual things have actuality because previously they are actual. And this other actuality is what the Greeks called reality: a type of operation in which something is affirmed substantially. Aristotle called it energeia. The ,mens, upon touching a real thing, touches what it "is" actually, not just its actual impression. This is how man discerns what is "at the moment" from what is "at every moment," i.e. always. That which is always true presupposes that it is always. To be is to be always. The ens of Parmenides is, therefore, immovable and invariable. Each thing eo ipso must be always the same as it is. The idea or essence of things is converted thus into what is essential to them so that they can always be the same. The essence is ousia. Thanks to the ousia, the 'momentary" manifestations of things are movements of that which is not essential, which emerge from what the thing is and not what it was at the previous moment. Ousia is thus the nature of things, Nature presupposes ousia, and ousia the "being always". This connection is fundamental.

The logos which announces this new voice of things is not an opinion about what has become something "in our sensing," but what "is" with sensation. Before, something was, inasmuch as it was sensed; now, something is sensed, inasmuch as it is. Therefore the logos which predicts what will be, presupposes a logos which predicts what is. Each "sensation," in the act of sensing, "is" insofar as in it the real and true being is "declaimed" which always is. This declamation or accusation in Greek is called kategorema, or predication. The modes of declaration are, therefore, categories. Thanks to it the logos can {55}have a congruent sense; if I am asked "where" we are and I answer "yellow," the answer is neither true nor false; it has no [51] meaning; it is an "incongruity" between the being which is declaimed in the "where" and that which is declaimed in the yellow." The truth or falsity is not primary, either in things or the logos; both presuppose a meaning, and this in turn presupposes the categories. The meaning here is not a "signification," but the meaning of mental sensing. The nous, the mens, is sensing itself put in the open, clarified; conversely, this clarity is of a sensation.

Thanks to this, true reality is found in the truth of reality. And thus, the search for principles is more than speculation; it touches the thing itself, and its results are real principles. Whoever has conquered principles this way, whoever deals with things in this radical intimacy which is found in their principles, is said to enjoy their reality. He has gusto for things, he tastes them. Therefore he is said to have a sapere, a taste, sapientia, a cultivated desire for the principles of the really true. Wisdom is not simply a logical manner, but a refinement and radical inclination of the mind, a "disposition" of it toward real and true being; knowledge not only knows what always is, but also in a certain respect, always knows it. For this reason, the ancients termed it a hexis, a habit of principles.

This sense, I said, is something interior to us, at the same time as it is likewise interior to things. And not only is it interior to us, but it is what is most interior, the "intimate." To this "intimacy" of sensing the ancients gave the name "abyss of the soul"; the soul has an essence, in the sense of abyss, bottom. This idea passed into mystical theology with the name of scintilla animae, the spark of the soul.

Knowing "what this is" truly and knowing in "what" this wine consists is only possible as an explanation of what is sensed in this luminous sensing. Therefore, the principles or elements of things are not for Aristotle primarily just concepts, as I said with deliberate imprecision a few pages back; rather, they are also the elementary sensations of our organs. What is sensed, as such, is always true: error can arise when the logos bases itself on sensing and goes to a thing, mentalizing it without thinking, {56}so to speak. The search for real and true being hinges, then, in the last analysis, on the search for those infallible and elemental sensings, so that attending to their infallible truth, one can have the same true reality of things.

A large segment of philosophy and science have gone off on this search. It is necessary that the ideas constituting the being of [52] things should be reduced to these elements which are real, besides being true, and are so infallibly, so that they can be true and actual ideas or forms of things. This does not mean "speculating" with or combining" truths to discover ideas, but encountering their real origination. The origin of ideas was the problem of human knowledge during much of the Middle Ages and the first centuries of the Modern era.

The problem is implied in what we have just finished saying. Knowing is knowing things and not just impressions; and this is the work of the mens. But this mens, whose sensing gives us things, is not sufficiently delineated but only set forth as a problem in Aristotle's description. Regardless of how many things there may be, this sensing of the mind will always be human. In every sensation, in fact, whether of the senses or the mind, not only is something sensed, but man senses himself. In the sensing of the mind, man senses himself among things, but he senses himself. As in any sensing, then, so in the sensing of the mind man is "con-sensing," "conscious"; alongside the "science" of things which gives rise to sensing, we have a "conscience" of man. The mens has been converted into conscience. And thus, just as man senses the real, so he senses at the same time himself in his real and true being. Hence the mens can serve man as a "guide" in the universe: hegemonikon, the Stoics called it, for this reason. Its proper mission is not, then, just sensing, but rather pre-sensing the universe. In a certain respect it carries the universe within itself. Thus the entire problem is centered on this governing or managing, this "pre-sensing" function of the mind. The mind receives its special security and penetration within human sensing precisely because its sensing is presensing the entire universe. How?

The mind as a way of sensing which man possesses implies an "organ" of his sensing; it is no longer "the" sensation, but his "organ". As such, it does not sense things otherwise than by affection. Hence it will be necessary to say that besides sensible impressions, {57}man possesses other mental affections which give him the real and true idea of the thing itself. But as the mind senses things in this special way of "pre-sensing" them, the affection has no other role than awakening the presentiment, changing what is presented into what is sensed. The ideas of [52] things will therefore be radically creative-innate, the 17th century would say-for man, illuminated and made clear by the "mental" affection of things. Such is rationalism, from Descartes to Leibniz.

But even this is not enough. As an organ of sensing which does not sense otherwise than by affection, the only thing which the mens can give us is things "in its sensing"; and this is a sensing different from the sensible, but a sensing which does not give anything but the presensing as human sensing. The mens is nothing more than the "organ" of an "interior" sensing. The origin of ideas must be referred then to two distinct sources of equal rank: external sensation, and internal reflection, as Locke said. There is no more reality than what is sensed in these two types of sensations. Reality is empeiria. If there is a logos of ideas, an idealogy, it will be essentially empiriology. Everything else is absolute truth, but only "truths," i.e. relations of ideas. Such is the work of Hume. Empiricism, besides being a reduction of reality to empeiria, is an affirmation of the absolute meaning of the idea as such. This excision is going to have grave consequences.

If this in fact were true, man would never be able to know things, but simply "consider," skeptomai, ideas. Therefore any empiricist philosophy is necessarily "scepticism," i.e. simple consideration of what is sensed in our impressions. To speak about things requires something more, something which, without separating us from our impressions, "elevates" them to the rank of a sensation of things. As a sense "organ," the mind is not so much a font of new impressions as a distinct mode of sensing things, the same things sensed by the sense "organs." Through the mind, man does nothing but "give" meaning to sensations. The mind is not juxtaposed with sensible impressions. An animal senses" the wine; man senses that it "seems" or "is" wine. This is an essential difference: that between "naked" sensing and "sensing that it appears", or "sensing that it is" wine. We would not have this latter without{58} mens. The mind is interpenetrated with a sensible impression. And its mode of penetration consists in "giving" meaning: the "pre" of presensing consists in "giving" meaning in order to sense. Thus, in sensing itself the characteristics of true being which the mind discovers in itself are [54] found. Thanks to these "categories" of the mind human sensing has meaning. Man not only senses, but gropes, so to speak, with impressions until he gives them meaning. Without being given a second impression of things, we elevate these impressions to the rank of true an real "ideas" of things. This elevation is what is termed "transcending." Therefore, the action of the mind on impressions is transcendental. The problem of nous conduces, then, to the problem of transcendentality. When impressions are "probed," or become the object of groping, things are no longer a simple experience, but an experiment. As such, they are not simple entities which are there, but "facts." Science is experimental knowledge. Such is the work of Kant. It would be a serious error to consider it only from the perspective of abstract ontology. The presentiment of the Stoics has been converted into a mental pre-sensing. Man does not carry within himself the universe of things, but only their real meaning. (Here the word "meaning" does not signify a simple meaning such as "the meaning of a sentence," but involves the essential dimension inherent in sensing.) Impressions give us true reality when they have meaning, the meaning of things.

With this, we do not lose the security of moving among real things, but the "meaning of reality" steadily gains in importance. Man has found in the meaning a mode of probing and sizing up impressions and therefore of capturing things, not just ideas. While speculative knowledge leads to the true idea, without arriving at real things, now we move more and more among things, with a gradual obscuring of the idea. The man of the second half of the 19th century was interested in conquering things. But in this conquest, by dint of taking ideas back to things, he pursued things without ideas. Consequently he looked not at what things naturally always are, but rather at their invariable connections, their laws. And such is the characteristic, ever more prevalent, which physical science is acquiring. If in antiquity ideas predominated over things, sight over touch, now {59}things predominate over ideas to such an extent that our knowledge of the world is being converted into a touching of realities without seeing them, without having an idea of what they are. Even Kant called mental synthesis a blind faculty. Facing ideism without reality there is reism without ideas. Positivism is the culmination of this mode of knowing: things are facts, nature is law, science is experiment. [55]

Summarizing: human knowledge was at first discerning being from appearing to be; it was made more precise later, as defining what is; it was finally seen as an understanding what is defined. But, "understanding" could mean either demonstration, speculation, or experimenting. The three dimensions of understanding in Aristotle, viz. apodictic necessity, intellection of principles, and impression of reality, which arise from the linking of the problem of being to that of the idea, have meandered along various more or less divergent paths through history. But in this way the philosophical problem has been dislocated. I do not mean to imply that the entire history of philosophy has been a commentary on Aristotle. When one speaks of expounding systems, it is necessary to stress the absolute abyss separating our intellectual world from that of the ancients. Rather, I speak of something different. In the first place, I refer to discovering motives, and it is clear that however great the distance separating us from Aristotle, it is not such as to constitute a "mistake" in the employment of the word "philosophy" as applied to Aristotle's work and that of today. In the second place, I would dare say that Aristotle is interesting only accidentally; he interests us because through him emerge "from things," and not from theories already forged, the essential motives of the first mature philosophy, which has in large measure predetermined the later course of human thought.

Cruz y Raya, September 1935