In this intellection, a thing sends us to a field of reality in order to intellectively know therein what that thing is in reality. In other words, as we have just said, it is above all necessary to position oneself at a certain distance from the thing, or to "step back" from it.

There are then three points to examine:

1. What is distance?

2. What is "stepping back"? [1]

3. What is the structure of that which is apprehended in this act of stepping back?


§ 1



We have seen that every real thing has an individual moment and a moment within a field; this is the structure of its unfolding. When this thing is apprehended in primordial apprehension, the difference between the two moments is in a way abolished; that is what I have termed ‘compaction’. But when a thing is apprehended "among" others, then the unity is just dual. Now, this unity, in unfolding, is what formally constitutes distance. Thus ‘distance’ does not mean a spatial distance, but something essentially different. Let us make this concept more precise.

A) First, unfolding is not distance from reality. Were that the case we would be situated "outside" of reality, which is impossible. A real thing is the terminus of a primordial apprehension of its reality; and this very apprehension is what, because it is of reality (but without our leaving the formality of reality), situates us in the field of reality itself as something expressly distinct from individual reality. This installation in reality itself is the work of the primordial apprehension of reality, from which it is impossible to prescind.

B) But reality itself is not an ocean in which all real things are submerged; it is only a moment of each real thing. It is a moment through which each real thing, in being real in and by itself, is nonetheless in and by itself something "more". This character of "more" is not a "beyond {83} the thing" but rather a "more in the thing". Hence distance is only a moment within the thing itself. We do not go outside of the thing but rather we are "in it". Not only do we not go outside of reality, we do not even go out of the thing itself; distance is a moment intrinsic to the thing, something in the thing itself. What is this moment?

C) In this distancing its two moments are not distanced correlatively from one another. What a real individual thing is in reality is distanced from this reality as individual reality. That is, the reality of an individual thing is maintained as much in its formality of reality as in its content; but we distance ourselves with respect to what it is "in reality". That is, we make the field something autonomous, a field which has to be traversed. In this distancing the real individual thing is installed in the field of reality. Therefore, I repeat, we do not go outside of either the real thing or the field of reality; we remain in its field moment in order to intellectively know from it what, in reality, is its individual moment. Thus we go in the real thing from its field moment towards its individual moment; we intellectively know it in the field manner, as being in a field. That is, we traverse the distance as an internal moment of the thing; we traverse the duality as a unity in unfolding.

This being the case, it is clear that a real thing apprehended among other other real things propels us to the field in a very precise manner: it compels us to "position ourselves at a distance" or to "step back" from the thing. What is this "stepping back"?


§ 2



Naturally, it is to be carried by the thing itself in its formality of individual reality to its moment within a field differentially autonomized. This motion has several important characteristics.

1) First, with respect to what does one step back? One steps back from the thing in the field of reality precisely as that real thing is in reality. In what way? By removing ourselves from its unity within the field moment of reality.

2) The real thing is not thereby eliminated. Quite the contrary, since it is the real thing which impels us from its individual reality to the field of reality itself. Hence, this impelling does not consist in abandoning the real thing, but in maintaining us in it, but only as a point of departure for an intellective unfolding which leaves in suspense what that thing is "in reality". This suspension is a particular kind of movement; it is an effort which I term retraction. Retraction is intellection of a real thing, leaving in suspense what it is in reality. Stepping back, then, is a "movement of retraction". To be thrust by a formally real thing to the field of reality itself is to leave retractively in suspense what the thing is in reality.

3) Thus it is clear that the intelligence, without ceasing to be in reality and without abandoning real things, is surely situated in them but in a certain way "above" them. {85}In "retraction", the intelligence is situated "above" what things are in reality. The articulation of those two moments, between the moment of retraction and the moment of being above things, is essential. Ignorance of it has been the source of a dual error. First, the intelligence "is" not above things through itself—that was the mistake of all of idealism from Descartes to Schelling, and ultimately Husserl and Heidegger as well. Rather, the intelligence "comes to be" above things through a movement of retraction in confronting them. The "above" is grounded on "retraction". Secondly, that on which intellection "is" is not pure and simple reality, but only what real things are "in reality". We have seen that what the intellective movement knows intellectively is not the real qua real, but what the real, already understood as real, is "in reality". I reiterate that it is for this reason that every intellective movement is only a modalization of the primoridial apprehension of reality.

4) That is to say, in retraction we intellectively know reality itself as something open to what things could be in it. Hence, to be in this form in reality itself is to be liberated, so to speak, from what the things are in reality. But this, in accordance with what we said above, is not to abandon them. What we are doing is intellectively knowing what they may be in reality only as a free terminal point of what reality itself is, i.e., intellectively knowing that reality itself is this thing. When what the thing is in reality is thus known, the firm base of this new intellection is reality itself, and what the real might be in each case is nothing but a mere terminal point of reality itself. In retraction, therefore, we bring about a liberation from the "in reality", basing ourselves on reality itself. Seeing what things are in reality is understanding them freely. A thing as a mere free terminus {86}"isn’t" what the thing is in reality, but only what it "might be" in reality.[2] The "might be" is the proper and formal mode by which the thing is maintained in retraction. The reality of the terminal qua merely terminal is reality as it "might be". Real things, present now only as the terminus of a retractive apprehension, have an intrinsic ambivalence. On one hand they pertain to reality, and in virtue of that they are real in their primordial reality. But on the other hand, what they may be in reality is a merely terminal moment of intellection; it is simply what they "might be" in reality. I shall explain this forthwith.

5) In what, more precisely, do these things in retraction consist? In being impelled, intellection is no longer primoridial apprehension of reality, but simple apprehension, the mere terminus of intellection. What a thing is "in reality" is now simple apprehension. ‘Simple’ here means being just the terminus of apprehension. Let us explain in more detail.

Classical philosophy has always conceived a) that simple apprehension is apprehension of something which formally has no character of reality, but on the contrary prescinds from this character; b) that this apprehension is the first proper act of any possible intellection; and c) that the intellection of something formally real is always an ulterior intellection, viz. judgement. Judgement is thus the unique intellection which formally involves the moment of reality. But these three affirmations are, as I see, it incorrect.

In the first place, simple apprehension does not formally prescind from the character of reality, but rather formally perseveres in it; the fact is that the apprehended real is in reality a terminal moment and only a terminal moment of "the" {87} reality. In any simple apprehension whatever we apprehend a thing formally as if it were a moment of something which really and effectively is a reality. We do not prescind from reality; that would be impossible. It is apprehension alone of what the thing might be "in reality". Thus we are not dealing with a retraction from the real qua real, but a retraction from what this thing, formally persevering as real, is "in reality". And this unity of reality and retraction is what constitutes the "might be". It is not the "might be" of "reality" but the "might be" of the "in reality". Hence simple apprehension formally involves the character of reality. Classical philosophy has made of simple apprehension something which reposes upon itself as the material from which judgement is composed. That is, it has considered simple apprehension only as a "material" moment of the logos as judgement. This conception is the result of the logification of intellection. But simple apprehension formally involves reality. Therefore simple apprehension cannot be understood as a moment of the logification of intelligence; on the contrary, the logical moment of simple apprehension should be understood as a mode of actualization, i.e. as a mode of intelligizing of the logos.

In the second place, simple apprehension is not the first proper act of every intellection; rather, each simple apprehension is but a simple apprehension by "retraction". It is an apprehension "retracted" from a primordial apprehension. Hence the first proper act of intellection is not simple apprehension but primordial apprehension of reality.

Finally, and in the third place, formal and effective reality is not the patrimony of judgement, but of the primordial apprehension of reality. We have already seen this: the primoridial apprehension {88} of reality is what formally involves the character of reality prior to judgement. Considering only simple apprehension, the adjective ‘simple’ denotes that what a thing is "in reality" is apprehended only as a terminal moment of reality itself: reality itself is here and now, this or that, "in reality".

What is the structure of what is apprehended in this act of stepping back which is simple apprehension? {89}


§ 3



This structure poses three serious problems. I have already spoken of them but they should be set forth clearly here: What is the origin of a simple apprehension? What is the condition of what is simply apprehended? And, What are the modes of simple apprehension?

1) The origin of simple apprehension. Consider simple apprehension as such. We are not dealing with what, classically, is called the origin of ideas, because not every simple apprehension is an idea. We must confront the problem of the origin of simple apprehension not along the lines of ideas but at its primary root. This origin, as we have already seen, is an act of retraction imposed by the real itself primordially apprehended; its field dimension is what imposes that act.

A) This retraction does not consist in a simple "prescinding", because prescinding is always something which affects the content of what is apprehended, a content which comprises -- as we shall see forthwith -- both what is classically called ‘essence’ and what is called ‘existence’. But retraction conserves the entire content of a thing as reality; and what it leaves in suspense is not "the reality", but what the thing is "in reality". Reality continues to be de suyo, but we do not know what this de suyo is in reality. And this is not an unimportant subtlety. {90}

B) By the field moment of what is primordially apprehended we are thrust toward other things in the field. These latter are certainly real and are apprehended in a primordial apprehension; but through the moment of retraction the content of these things ceases to be the content "of them", and is reduced to being the principle of intelligibility of the thing which directed us to them. To be a principle of intelligibility consists in being that with respect to which a real thing becomes re-actualized. And this is simple apprehension: intellection of a real principle of intelligibility. The content of these things, then, is not the content of a thing but just the principle of intelligibility of one or more other things.

C) This movement, and consequently simple apprehension, takes place within the physical field of reality. But the content of what is simply apprehended in this movement is in the field only as a principle of intelligibility. As such, this content "is" not in itself other than the content of the thing I wish to intellectively know "might be". The "might be" is the character of the content of things reduced to a principle of intelligibility. These things are not left outside of the field of reality, nor are they in it as a content which "is"; rather, they are there as a principle of what the thing in question "might be". The principle of intelligibility pertains to the field of reality; it is there that the movement of retraction takes place and the principle of intelligibility is constituted. If, in primordial apprehension, I see a bulky form, and I do not know what it is in reality, I am therefore impelled to things which are in the surrounding landscape, for example, to the trees. These trees are apprehended in a primordial apprehension the same as the bulky form; but considered as what the form "might be" {91} in reality, they have become converted into a merely terminal moment of the apprehension of what the form is "in reality". I repeat, this does not mean any type of renunciation of their content, but rather its reduction to a real principle of intelligibility. It is a new condition of what, before, was that content. What is this condition?

2) The condition of what is apprehended in simple apprehension. What is apprehended remains, as we have said, as the condition of mere terminus of apprehension as a principle of intelligibility. Being thus a mere terminus is having the content of reality qua content stay suspended, so that this content is no longer properly speaking real, but unreal. In retraction, what things are in reality constitutes, so to speak, the sphere of the unreal. Thus everything depends on what one says is unreality.

Unreality is not just not having reality. If something unreal had nothing to do with reality, if would not be "unreal" but "a-real". To be unreal is thus a way of having to do with the real. This is obvious, indeed, since as we have said, simple apprehension is formally constituted in the very field of reality as reality. What is this way, then? That is the question. The structure of the unreal is comprised of three moments.

a) First, the unreal does not rest upon itself, but upon the real. Everything unreal is constituted by "dis-realization". And the "dis" is not a purely negative moment; if it were, I repeat, the thing would not be unreal but areal. Therefore it is a positive "dis"; it is, so to speak, a realization in the form of "dis". What is this "dis" as a form of realization? To understand that we must recall {92} what reality is. One might think, in fact, that to be real is to be existing; from which it would follow that the unreal is what does not have existence and might be only what used to be classically termed ‘essence’. The "dis" would be nullity of existence. But this is impossible, because reality is not existence but being de suyo. And being de suyo is a formality beyond classical essence and existence. The existent is real only when existence belongs de suyo to it. Otherwise the presumed existence would not make the thing something real (this is what I have termed spectre; it is a subject we cannot get into here). To be real is thus structurally prior to existing. Likewise, the unreal is not an essence in the classical sense, because classical essence is formally the essence of what the thing is de suyo. In virtue of this the "dis" of disrealization includes the real thing in toto with respect to both its classical existence and essence. The unreal has unreal existence and unreal essence. The character of the "dis", then, leaves intact from this discussion. And the fact is that reality should not be understood as existence nor as essence, but as being "de suyo". And then unreality consists in a "dis" of the "de suyo". What does this mean?

In each real thing, in each de suyo, we have distinguished an aspect of individual reality and an aspect of field reality which, autonomized, we call "reality itself". This is the unfolding; these two moments are first and foremost physical and not just conceptual moments. As moments, they are different. In the primoridial apprehension of a real thing, we apprehend them unitarily. Since, however, reality is open in its mode as "towards", we understand being in a field as a distinct moment, in which the real thing is set apart from other real things in reality itself. This means that it is {93} possible to remain in the field even when suspending its unity with a specific individual formality. Then we have reality itself as the ambit but without its own proper individual reality. This "without" is just the negative outline of the positive "dis" of disrealization. Disrealization does not affect what pertains to the field, to reality itself, but to the real thing in the moment of what it is "in reality". That is, reality itself is no longer necessarily here and now this real determinate thing. Disrealizing is not suspending reality itself, but suspending the content which is real here and now, suspending that in which reality itself is realized. Now, reality is the de suyo. Hence reality itself is a "de suyo" which de suyo can be realized in this or that thing. The real thing is no longer de suyo that in which reality itself is realized "in reality". Thence arises unreality. Unreality is the dis-realized mode of being in reality itself. It is the first moment of unreality. Through this moment the unreal involves reality itself. First, it involves it formally, because it can only be unreal by being in reality itself disrealizedly, i.e. without it necessarily having a determinate content. And secondly, the unreal involves reality physically, because in the unreal reality is the reality itself which we apprehend physically in the primordial apprehension of any real thing. Reality itself is not a concept or idea or anything of that nature; it is the physical field dimension—that of being in a field—of real things. It is the "physical reality" itself of this landscape, of this rock, or of this meadow; it is, I repeat, this very physical reality which is constituted within a field in every simple apprehension of whatever type. In a centaur reality itself apprehended is the same as in this rock. What is not the same is the content. Simple apprehension does not prescind from reality itself {94} as is usually claimed, but rather involves it formally and physically as reality without its own content.

b) This ambit of disrealization is a physical ambit of apprehension. And it is in this reality as something physical that the content of every intellective apprehension lies actualized. Intellection, in which reality itself is actualized, is not an empty intellection but one in which the ambit is actualized at the same time that various simple apprehensions are being elaborated in it. Reality itself disrealized in every individual real thing lies actualized in the simple apprehensions of my intellection. This is the second moment of the unreal: the moment of actualization of reality itself in simple apprehensions.

c) But then, simple apprehension remains in reality itself, though freely realized and reduced to an intellective principle of what the content of reality itself "might be". Realization is actualization of something as content of reality itself. It is therefore a liberated realization, and is like the inverse of that actualization of reality itself. It is also the third moment of unreality. In virtue of being a realization that "might be", it is a realization which is constitutively free. The unreal is not some mental object treated as if it were real, nor is it a physical thing; rather it is a free thing. This does not mean that I freely consider this content to be real, but rather just the opposite: I consider freely that the physical reality in a field "is thus", i.e., that it has this determinate content. For example, the real in fictional writing does not consist in being a fiction of reality, nor in feigning reality, but as we shall see forthwith consists in being reality in fiction. What we feign is the content of the reality. Reality itself remains freely actualized in something which is realized {95} in it. That from which it is free is not reality itself but its determinate content.

Actualization of reality itself, and the free realization in it of what is intellectively known, are the two moments which intrinsically and jointly comprise the character of disrealization in a positive way. Of these two positive moments, the second is grounded upon the first: the content is realized because "the" physical reality has been actualized in intellection without content. In virtue of this first moment, that which is apprehended, i.e. the unreal, is really unreal; in virtue of the second moment the unreal is unreally real. The unity of these two moments is what constitutes the unreal, which we express in "might be". "Might be" is the unity of an actualization disrealized and of a free realization. With it the domain of the unreal is characterized. The unreal is thus a free thing, and therefore a created thing. Creation is creation not of reality but of the content in it; correctly understood, a free realization. If one desires to speak of ideas (an odious expression, but quite common as I have said), I would say that to create is not to give reality to my ideas, but just the opposite: to give my ideas to reality. Hence the seriousness of this intellection: physical reality itself comes into play in virtue of its content; i.e. what real things are in reality. To actualize disrealized physical reality in a free content—this is the essence of creation.

To summarize, the apprehension of the real in retraction from content, i.e. in simple apprehension, has the formal character of unreality. Unreality is the intrinsic and formal unity of actualization of "the" physical reality and free realization of its content; it is the "might be". The "might be" is an unreal mode, not in the grammatical sense but in the sense of reality itself in the mode of its free content. {96}

Granting this, we may ask what are the modes of simple apprehension, i.e., what are the structural modes of intellection of the unreal. That is the third point we wanted to examine.

3) The structural modes of simple apprehension. Reality itself is preserved physically and formally as the ambit of free creation of the unreal. But neither disrealization nor creation are absolute. They are a movement which is always based upon a real thing, but which can be based on different dimensional moments of it. In that movement, these moments are actualized. As moments they pertain to every real thing, but the movement of disrealization actualizes them explicitly and formally in intellection. And in accordance with these moments, the movement of disrealization confers different characters of unreality upon simple apprehension. There are different types of simple apprehension which are not numerically distinct, but are distinct structural moments of reality itself as the ambit of free creation. Those dimensions are three, and they constitute in a positive way, and in their radical unity, the definition of what I have called being "in reality". These dimensions of a real thing are, as I said, three.

A) Most importantly, the first thing which can be disrealized in a freeing retraction is the content of the complete real thing. It is not the thing prescinds from reality itself, but reality itself terminates freely in this thing as that which this thing "might be" in reality. In virtue of this, the real thing is actualized in a dimension proper to itself: being "this". Here "this" is not an adjective, i.e. "this" thing, but a noun (i.e., "this" insofar as it is a "this-ness"). Apprehending "this" thing is what constitutes the primordial apprehension of reality, {97} for example, perception. Now, the "this-ness" pointed to of "this" thing, when disrealized, is the "this" no longer "qua real" but "qua perceived"; it is the "this" of the thing qua mere terminus of perception. It is the "this" qua mere terminus of perception that I shall call percept. The first form of simple apprehension reduces the content of the thing to a percept. It is not a percept of reality, but reality itself in percept. It is reality itself terminating freely in "this". The point must be emphasized, because classical philosophy, regardless of its notion of simple apprehension, never included percept among its simple apprehensions. As I see it, not only ought percept to be included among simple apprehensions, but it is in fact the primary form of them and the very possibility of every other simple apprehension.

This percept as such is a free creation. To be sure, its content is given to me. But reducing this content to just a percept is my act of liberation. I have liberated the "this", I have liberated it from the real thing qua real. Moreover, it is a very concrete liberation.

This is because the liberating reduction is not an arbitrary act carried out in a vacuum, but a liberation brought about "in" the apprehension of a primary real thing as real from another thing to which I have withdrawn. Only when seen from this latter thing is the content disrealized. Liberation and therefore disrealization are only possible in a differential actualization; and in virtue of that are only possible as a function of some things determined within the actualization as a field. It is only possible when one thing is referred to the rest. And this reference always has an aura of liberty, because if I had moved toward a different thing, the aspect might have been different as well. The simple apprehension of a real thing {98}as a mere percept is (1) an act which I freely execute, and (2) that which is actualized in it has an intrinsic character of liberty of "ad-spection", or if one wishes, of inspection.

This movement is not only "free", it is a free "creation", because a real thing is certainly a "this", but reducing the "this" to a mere percept is a creation in the rigorous sense. All free "ad-spection", i.e. every free aspect of a percept is a creation. This creation clearly does not concern the content of the thing itself qua real, but does concern its "thisness" reduced to a percept. When "this" content is reduced to a percept, the "this" is a strict aspectual creation; it is the perceptual creation of the "this".

To summarize, when apprehended at a distance by stepping back, a thing is in reality the terminus of a simple apprehension which actualizes it to us as a "this" in a free and creative movement of reduction of this thing to its "thisness", a mere percept. That is what "this" might be in reality.

B) But in the liberating retraction, a thing is in reality disrealized in another dimension. Every "this" is a unitary system of real notes. In accordance with this unitary system, the thing is not a mere complex of random notes, but of those notes systematized in a certain "manner", so that if they were systematized in a different manner it would no longer be the same thing but something else. That is, a real thing in its "thisness" has in addition to its notes the "how" of its systematization. When the "this" is reduced to a percept, it retains its "perceptual how". Now, I can withdraw so to speak, liberating myself in the "thisness" itself from its own "how". Simple apprehension is then free to create the "how". To be sure, I am not limited to creating the "how" by leaving the notes intact; rather, the notes deriving from perceptions can then be freely created in order to make a {99}new "how" from them. The terminus of this creative intellective movement of the "how" is a feigned "how", something fictitious, a fictum. The fictitious is formally fictitious of a "how"; the simple apprehension of a thing as a fictitious "how" is fiction.

Let us clarify a point. Fiction is above all something unreal in the sense that it is disrealized. Therefore fiction is a fictitious thing but still "in" reality. It formally involves the physical moment of reality, that moment apprehended in impression of reality. The fiction, as I have already said, is not a "fiction of reality" but "reality in fiction". Reality itself is not feigned, but only that reality itself is "thus". It is the "how" reality itself "might be", i.e., how the thing might be in reality.

In the second place, the fictional work is something freely created, but it is doubly free. The work has its own "this" which is also something unreal, something disrealized, as in the case of the percept. But its "thisness" is only the notes which constitute it. These notes are given, but reduced to a mere perceptual "this". So we have the first side of the unreality of a fictional work, namely the unreality of its notes. Therein the unreality comes together with the percept; but only with respect to the notes considered each by itself: they are unreal "this-notes". Moreover, the fictional work has freely created the "how", something not done by the percept. The percept is the whole thing given and reduced to a percept. In the fictional work the "how" itself is reduced. That is the second side of the unreality of the fictional work; it is a creation of the second degree, so to speak. The notes are made unreal separately and recomposed in a free "how"; this is free recombination. But it is not a recombination in a vacuum; rather, the most free of the fictional creations is always oriented by the "how" of real things {100} in order to feign them in some way, whether being like them, different from them, or even opposite to them. What does not happen and cannot happen is a fictional work which has nothing to do with something previously apprehended as real.

In the third place, this fictional work is not—as one might think and as is often stated—an image produced by the creative imagination. Creative imagination is something animals also possess. An animal has imaginary creations based on stimuli. What the animal does not possess is intellective apprehension of the creation of what was imaginatively created. The animal lacks the moment of reality. The fictional work is "reality in fiction"; it is "how" a thing might be in reality. Therefore I term this intellective apprehension fantasy; it is a fantastic intellection. Animals do not have fantasies in this sense. Man does with his imagination what the animal cannot do: fantasize. The essence of "human" imagination is fantasy. To contrast the fictional work in this sense to what is imagined, I reserve for the fictional work the word phantasm in its etymological sense.

And in the fourth place, simple apprehension of a real thing as fictional is an act of strict sentient intellection. It is intellection, because it is the intellective apprehension of "how" the thing might be in reality. It is sentient because the imagination is the sentient moment of this intellection. In its unity, this sentient intellection is the simple sentient apprehension of a thing in accordance with how it might be in reality; it is the fictional thing, the phantasm.

Simple apprehension at a distance actualizes for us, then, two dimensions of a real thing: the "this" and the "how". Free expectant intellection has respectively the two forms of percept and fictional work. They are the first two forms of simple apprehension. {101}

C) But there is still more. In the liberating retraction it is not just the "this" and the "how" which are actualized in a stepping back, because "this" and "how" are two dimensions of what—without making any special assumptions whatever —I would call the configuration of a thing. But this configuration refers to a more precise dimension, to what is the thing thus configured. The "what" is the third dimension of things actualized when apprehended at a distance, by stepping back. In retraction the "what" as such is now actualized. In the primordial apprehension of reality there is a "what", certainly, just as there is a "this" and a "how". But these three dimensions are unitarily compact in a thing which is directly apprehended as real. Only in simple apprehension at a distance can they actually be discriminated: this, how, and what. Now, when a thing is disrealized by free retraction, its "what" is made unreal and reduced to a mere "what" qua apprehended; it is exactly what we term concept. A concept is not something primarily logical but something primarily real; it is the "what-concept". A concept formally and physically involves reality; it is "the" physical reality itself as if it were this "what": we conceive what a thing might be in reality. Reality itself, I repeat, is not an intentional but a physical moment, the moment of reality apprehended in primordial apprehension. A concept is, then, reality terminated in a free "what". Hence it is not "concept of reality" but "reality in concept". Then the simple apprehension in respect to intellection at a distance is conception. The concept is what is conceived in the conception. This is not tautological: the concept is the "what" of a thing reduced to a mere terminus of conception. {102}

This concept is an unreal terminus (in the sense already explained). It is reality itself in its mere "might be" terminal. And the movement which disrealizes the "what" and reduces it to a mere concept is a free and creative movement. Let us examine this more closely.

a) It is above all a liberating movement of the "what" as made unreal. It does not tell us what a real thing is, because our intellection is still taking a step back. And in this distance we have the inexorable freedom of conceiving the "whats" in and by themselves. This does not refer to any effort to ascertain which of those "whats" the real thing is as dually apprehended. That will come later. Now we are in the simple apprehension conceiving of those "whats" qua termini of apprehension. In the ambit of stepping back we freely conceive the "whats". These "whats" are, in fact, what reality itself "might be". This is a free movement. But its freedom is bounded by the primordial apprehension of reality from which we have started in the dual apprehension. We always conceive "what" a thing, apprehended "from" one or more others previously apprehended, might be. It is the first real thing which orients us "toward" the conception of what "might be", because despite being free, no conception is an act of freedom in vacuo. It is a freedom which gives us things apprehended in the primordial apprehension of reality in order to conceive the rest. And therefore it is a freedom circumscribed both with respect to its point of departure and the goal to which it is directed.

b) This liberating movement is creative. What it creates is the form in which the field of reality is actualized and the form in which real things in it are. The "what" reduced to a mere concept is the "might be", and is so in two forms. {103}

In the first place, it is an abstract "what". In this aspect, the disrealization of a conception is abstraction. Abstraction should not be confused with any sort of extraction. Extraction is a "division" into parts; its outcome is a "thing-extract". Abstraction does not divide one part from another but, upon intellectively knowing one or more of them, "prescinds" from the others. It is a "precision" in the etymological sense of prescinding. The outcome is then an "abstract". This precisive movement qua movement is what is essential to abstraction. Generally, when speaking of abstraction, one pays attention only to the outcome, to what is "abstracted", thus emphasizing the negative aspect of the process, viz. prescinding. No attention is paid to the "abstraction" itself. Qua abstraction, it is a movement, essentially positive and creative; it is the creation of the very ambit of the "abs" as ambit of unreality. The form as reality itself terminates in a "what" reduced to a concept; this becomes the ambit of the "abs". The abstract is the outcome of this abstraction. This abstractive movement is freely creative, because every abstraction requires a direction and is brought to completion in that direction. Moreover, this direction is never univocally determined. For example, if we abstract what we conceptualize to be the "what" of a man, we can do it in several different ways: with respect to his animal-like figure, his psycho-animal functions (language, etc.), his personal nature, the character of his collectivity, etc. Along each of these lines the "what" created by abstraction turns out to be formally distinct from the others. Abstraction involves a precise intellective direction. What this direction does is to create, in a qualitative sense, the ambit of the "abs". It is not sufficient to consider the abstract character of the result. This abstractive movement prescinds from notes, but does not prescind from {104} the formality of reality within a field. Therefore the abstract is not an "abstracted from reality" but "reality in abstraction".

But, in the second place, the "what-concept" is not only abstract; it is also a construct. I employ this expression here not to designate the "construct state"[3] but as an everyday synonym for something constructed. Traditionally philosophy has thought that concepts are abstract, that they are abstracted from real things. That is correct. But the truth is that the majority of concepts, especially scientific concepts, are not just abstracted but are constructed by the intelligence itself. Intellection of concepts is in itself constructive intellection. The "what-concept" is reality in construction. In a fictional work we are already present at a first manner of construction, viz. the combination of notes in the work. But here the construction has another aspect, because it does not operate on separate notes but only on "prescinded" notes, on abstract notes. Hence the outcome is no longer a fictional work but a concept, a "what". To be sure, these two ways of construction are not necessarily independent. I can certainly construct a fictional work following the thread of a contructed concept; this, for example, is what happens in physico-mathematical construction. I can for now but allude to the problem without stopping to treat it in detail.

In the movement of retraction, in which the real is reduced to a mere concept, we have the third form of simple apprehension in reality itself.

This movement is a free and creative movement. We are habituated to seeing concepts organized, as if their organization were already logically preordained—once again the logification of intellection. To understand this it suffices to consider the organization of {105} concepts according to genera, differences, and species. Its expression is the definition. To say that man is animal "and" rational is not a definition. In order to be so, it is necessary that the concept of "animal" be the genus, that the difference be "rational", and that the "species" then be man. But this is a free construction. To achieve it, a man whom we apprehend in primordial apprehension of reality has directed us to other things also apprehended in primordial apprehension of reality, and it is from these other things that we go on to form the generic concept. Now, these other things are freely chosen. If I choose "animal" as the thing toward which I refer the man apprehended in primoridial apprehension, then clearly "animal" can discharge the function of genus. "Animal" might be a genus which is differentiated into "rational" and "irrational". But this choice of "animal" is perfectly free. I could choose as genus simply "rational". Then "rational" might be the genus, while "animal" might be a simple difference. "Rational" might be divided into "animal" and "spiritual". This was basically the conception of Origen, that man might be a soul, purely spiritual, which has fallen into a material animal. The strict conceptualizaion of what is apprehended in primordial apprehension is, then, the outcome of a free and creative movement.

To summarize, we have inquired about the mode of intellection of a real thing in reality itself, in the field of reality. This intellection has the character of a dual apprehension, and hence a character grounded in the unfolding, within each real thing, of its "reality" and its "in reality". We have then posed the problem of the internal structure of an intellection in this unfolding. And the first thing which must be said is that we are dealing with a {106}movement of retraction in which we step back from what each thing, apprehended in primordial apprehension, is in reality. In this retraction we intellectively know in a simple apprehension what the thing might be. What the real thing is in which reality itself terminates is therefore the apprehension of the real in unreality. This "stepping back" actualizes expressly three dimensions of each real thing: its "this", its "how", and its "what". These three dimensions, reduced from the real thing to the terminus of simple apprehension, give rise to three forms of simple apprehension: the percept, the fiction or fictum, and the concept. The "this" is apprehended in a simple apprehension as "percept"; the "how" is apprehended in simple apprehension as "fictitious", and the "what" is apprehended in simple apprehension as "concept". These are the three forms of intellection of simple apprehension at a distance, the three forms of impelling actualization of the intellection of the real as differentiating.


Now, what we insist on calling ‘being "in reality"’ formally consists in the unity of the "this", the "how", and the "what". Here we have what a thing is "in reality"; or rather, what the thing "might be" in reality. The real is apprehended in primordial apprehension. What reality might be is this same reality intellectively known as "this, how, what". This intellection can be just a retraction; that is what the "might be" expresses.

But in this stepping back, and with this utilization of percepts, fictions, and concepts, the intelligence turns expectantly from its free creation to real things from which it has stepped back, intent on intellectively knowing them not merely as a terminus of apprehension, i.e., not merely as terminus of what a real thing "might be", but as it "is" in reality. The intentum is thus something different from a simple apprehension. {107} It is no longer creation, but affirmation. The expectation leads, by stepping back, in the roundabout way of simple apprehension, to an affirmation. This is the intellection of what a real thing is in reality, an intellection in stepping back. The intentum in now an affirmative intellection.



[1] [As discussed on p. 124, 'stepping back' is used to translate the Spanish tomar distancia, which would literally be rendered in this context as 'positioning oneself at a distance'. The reader should always bear in mind that the 'stepping back' process is related to the concept of distance which Zubiri develops here and elsewhere. - Trans.]^

[2] ['Might be' is used in this context to translate the Spanish sería, which as the conditional literally means 'would be', but here has the sense of the future of probability. - trans.].^

[3] [A linguistic term referring to the grammar of the Semitic languages.-trans.]^