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Throughout the course of this study we have examined what sentient intellection is and what its modulations are, viz. primordial apprehension of a real thing, intellection of a real thing among others in a field (field intellection, logos), intellection of each thing already apprehended in the field but actualized now as a moment of the reality of the world (reason). In the first modal form, a real thing is actualized for us in and by itself as real; in the second, we move toward an actualization in logos, where the now-real thing is in reality; in the third modalization what the real thing is in reality is actualized for us as a moment of the world, i.e., we intellectively know the measure of the reality of that thing qua real. Reality in and by itself, what it is in reality, and the measure of its reality: here we have the three modes of sentient intellection of each thing.

In these three modes, each one of the last two is based upon the previous one and formally includes it without being identified with it. This means that intellection has a peculiar unity; and it will be necessary, then, to say in what this unity formally consists. {320} But that is not enough, because this unity confers upon intellection a unitary quality, so to speak. We do not have intellection on one hand and diverse modalities on the other; rather, in every case, we have intellection as a whole, because its diverse modalizations are imposed by the real itself from its primordial apprehension. What does this unity mean? We must, then, examine two questions: the unity of intellection as a problem, and the intrinsic structure of this unity of intellection. Those are the themes of the two chapters comprising this General Conclusion.




It is necessary to pin down, with some rigor, what the unity of intellection is in itself.

It is not some unity of stratification. Primordial apprehension, logos, and reason are not three strata of intellection, even if one adds that each is based upon the previous one. Nor are we dealing with the fact that we apprehend something as real and then advance to a higher level, that of what sensed things are in reality, and then finally we ascend to pure and simple worldly reality. Primordial apprehension, field intellection, and rational intellection are not three levels or strata which comprise some type of geology of intellection. Such a conception is nourished upon the idea that each intellection, i.e. the primordial apprehension, the field intellection, and the rational intellection each has its own complete unity, independently of the unity of the other two modes of intellection. Hence intellection would move in each of these planes without having anything to do with the other two. The most that could be said is that each stratum rests upon the previous one, in a way which is ultimately extrinsic; each plane would have its own {322} exclusive structure. Strictly speaking, we would then be dealing with three unities; the unity of intellection would then be purely additive. But this is incorrect; each one of those things we called ‘strata’ not only presupposes the previous one as support, but includes its intrinsically. Primordial apprehension is formally present and included in the logos, and both intellections are formally present and included in reason. They are not three unities but a single unity. And the fact is that we are not dealing with three planes of intellection but three modalities of a single intellection. They are three modes and not three planes. To be sure, each mode has its own irreducible structure. It would be false to attribute to primordial apprehension the structure of the logos or of reason. But by being modalities of a the same intellective function, they confer a precise structure upon this unity. What is it?

One might think that because there are three distinct modalities, they would at least be successive modalities. We would then be dealing with three successive modes of intellection. As modes they would be modes of something like an underlying subject, of the intelligence. First we would apprehend something as real. Later, conserving this apprehension, we would intellectively know what this real thing is in reality, and finally, conserving the real and what it is in reality, we would intellectively know it as a moment of the world. But this is not correct, because field intellection does not come after primordial apprehension but is determined by it. And this determination has two aspects. On one hand, there is the moment by which primordial apprehension determines the logos. However, primordial apprehension is not just prior to the logos but is logos inchoatively, albeit only inchoatively. We are not dealing with mere anteriority but with inchoateness. But there is another aspect. What is determined, logos, then involves {323} primordial apprehension as something in which this latter unfolds. So there is not just anteriority but inchoation and unfolding. The same must be said, mutatis mutandis, of reason: logos, and therefore primordial apprehension, determine rational intellection, which is then inchoatively determined by these two intellections as an unfolding of them. The modes are not merely successive but have a more radical unity.

One might think, finally, that these three modes, thus mutually implicated, at least comprise a lineal unity. That is, we would be dealing only with a trajectory of that which we could vaguely call ‘intellective knowing’. But the fact that there is a trajectory is not the same as this trajectory constituting the formal essence of the three modes of intellection. Each mode not only unfolds the previous one and is inchoatively in the following one, but is formally included in the following one as well. This formal character I have been stating monotonously, but without emphasizing it. Now we must occupy ourselves with it, because if matters are this way, then it is clear that in virtue of this inclusion, the prior mode is in some way qualified by the following one. Each mode has its own intrinsic structure, but by virtue of being formally included in the following one, it is thereby affected by it. So we are not dealing with just any type of trajectory of intellective knowing, but with a growing, a maturation. There is a trajectory of intellective knowing, but it is grounded upon something more refined, in a maturation. The trajectory is only a derived and secondary aspect of maturation itself. The unity of the three modes is the unity of a maturation.

This is a structural unity. Maturity enriches, but that is because it is necessary to mature. For what? To be fully {324} what it already is. This need for maturity is thus an insufficiency. In what way? Not, to be sure, with regard to reality simpliciter—that has been grasped since primordial apprehension, since the first mode. But the real thus apprehended is doubly insufficient; it does not actualize to us what a thing is in reality or what it is in reality itself. Without primordial apprehension, there would be no intellection whatsoever. Each mode receives from primordial apprehension its essential scope. Logos and reason do no more than fill the insufficiency of primordial apprehension; but thanks to this apprehension—and to it alone—they move in reality. Modal maturation is not formally constitutive of intellective knowing, but its inexorable growth is determined by the formal structure of the first mode, of primordial apprehension of sentient intelligence. Sentient intellection, in its mode of primordial apprehension, intellectively knows, in impression, reality as formality of a thing in and of itself. This impression has different moments. In its moment of "toward", it actualizes the respectivity of each real thing to other sensible things and to worldly reality. This respectivity is constitutively essential to the impression of reality. Therefore, although it is not formally constitutive of intellection, it is nonetheless something structurally determinant of the other two modes. This structure is then something which enriches the impression of reality, but does so not qua reality but in its respective terminus. But then it does not go beyond the impression of reality; rather, it determines that impression as logos and as reason. Logos and reason are incremental fulfillment of something that cannot be lost and is present as a font, the impression of formality of reality. This is the radical unity of the three modes of intellection. But that is not enough, because we may ask, in what does {325} the formal unity of this impression of reality, in its modal determinations, in its maturation, consist? Here is the question which we must treat as the conclusion of this entire study. {326}




Sentient intellection is, formally, a mere actualization of the real in accordance with what the real is de suyo. This formal structure determines the actualization of what the real thing is in reality, and of what it is in reality itself. These two actualizations modalize the formal part of intellection. In this modalization, the act of intellection and also intellective knowing itself are modalized, as well as the intellective state in which we are. What is the nature of the modalized act? What is the nature of modalized intellective knowing itself? What is the intellective state in which we find ourselves, in this modalized fashion? We must then expound three essential questions:

§1. The unity of the act of intellection.

§2. The unity of intellective knowing itself.

§3. The state in which we find ourselves intellectively.





The formal structure of intellective knowing, I must reiterate, consists in mere actualization of a real thing as real in sentient intellection. But ulteriorly, this same thing gives rise to two intellections: the intellection of what the apprehended is in reality (logos), and the intellection of what that which is in reality, is in reality itself (reason). So as not to make the expression unduly complicated, I shall forthwith designate both intellections with a single expression: the intellection of what a thing "really" is. ‘Really’ here encompasses both "in reality" and "in reality itself". Therefore we shall deal with both intellections as if they were a single one as distinct from primordial apprehension. These two intellections, the primordial apprehension of reality and the intellection of what really is, have the unity of being actualization of the same real thing. But they are not merely two actualizations; rather, the second is a re-actualization of the first. And this is the decisive point. Actualization determines the re-actualization, but then this latter re-actualizes, and in turn determines the first actualization. The primordial intellection of the real is then on one hand determinant of the reactualization. But in turn this re-actualization determines in some way the first actualization. This is the very essence of the "re-". It is a "re-" in which one expresses the formal structure of the unity of the two intellections. What is this structure? {329}

To be sure, we are not dealing with an effort to do a representation of a real thing, because intellective knowing is not representing but reactualizing. Intellective knowing is always presenting, i.e., having what is intellectively known present. Intellection is making something "to be here-and-now present" insofar as it "is here-and-now". Therefore the second intellection, by being re-actualization, determines another mode of presentation. Of what? Of the same real thing. This is re-actualization. How? In every reactualization we return from the second actualization to the first. And in this reversion consists the unity of the "re-". How?

Reactualization is "re-turning". That is, with the second intellection in hand we return to the first. Given the photon, we return to the color green. And in this returning, the second intellection involves the first. We intellectively know the color green from the photon, returning to this real color green from what it really is. Therefore the first intellection is as if encapsulated or enclosed in the second. The apprehension of the green is comprehended by virtue of the photon. Comprehending is not merely apprehending, but encompassing something. Here, ‘to comprehend’ has the etymological sense of comprehendere. Comprehension is what is going to constitute the mode of a real thing being newly present. It is a peripheral circumscription, so to speak, of the primordial apprehension of the real. This comprehension of a real thing incorporates what it really is; the photon is incorporated into the color green. And this incorporation has a precise name, viz. comprehension: we have comprehended and not just apprehended the real green. Here the word ‘comprehension’ does not have its etymological meaning but rather its ordinary one, that of understanding something. The "com-prehension" of a real thing, {330} from the intellection of what it really is, makes us understand or comprehend what that real thing is. The "re-" of reactualization and its dependence on the real already actualized in primordial apprehension is what "comprehension" is. The unitary act of this intellection is then comprehension.

What, to be more precise, is this comprehension? It is fitting to address this question with some rigor.

To do this, it is convenient to conceptualize comprehension in this sense vis-à-vis other senses. To be sure, it is not what medieval philosophy called a comprehensive science, viz. the intellection of all that is intelligible in an intellectively known thing, because what we usually call ‘comprehending’ is not this total comprehension. And the fact is that we are but dealing with a mode of intellection according to which something really is.

Nor are we dealing with a logical moment of the so-called comprehension of notes as opposed to the extension of their possible subjects.

Nor does ‘to comprehend’ here mean what, in Dilthey’s philosophy, has been called Verstehen of a personal experience as opposed to the explication of it and of its content. For Dilthey, comprehension falls back upon personal experience and upon what is experienced in it. For him, personal experiences, be they explained as they may, are not thereby comprehended. Only will they be so when we have interpreted their meaning. To comprehend is, for Dilthey, to interpret the meaning, and conversely a meaning is interpretation of personal experience. With the law of gravity we do not comprehend the mortal fall of a man, i.e., whether it is suicide, accident, homicide, etc. Things are explained, experiences are comprehended and interpreted.

But this not adequate.

To comprehend is not to interpret; rather, to interpret is only a mode of comprehending. Moreover, as a mode of {331} comprehending it does not encompass all real things, but just some, the personal experiences of which Dilthey speaks. Now, even considering personal experiences, comprehending is not interpreting their meaning. The formal terminus of comprehension of a personal experience is not a meaning. In the idea of personal experience there is a possible ambiguity. The experience is reality. And what is comprehended is not the meaning of that reality but the reality of that meaning. The meaning is but a moment of the reality of the personal experience. What is comprehended is not the personal experience of reality but the reality of the personal experience. Meaning is but a moment of the reality of the personal experience. What is comprehended, I repeat, is not the personal experience but the reality of the personal experience qua reality; it is, if one wishes, the personal experiential reality, the fact that this reality has, and must have, a meaning. Then the ultimate difference, assumed by Dilthey, between explication and comprehension disappears. The problem of comprehension as such remains intact only with the problem of interpretation. Moreover, it is not just personal experiences—personal realities—which are comprehended; the same applies to all realities. Every reality intellectively known in primordial apprehension can be, and in principle must be, re-intellectively known in comprehension.

This limiting of comprehending, of Verstehen, to meaning can take on different characteristics, as seems to have happened in Heidegger. I say "seems to have happened" because the matter is not clear with respect to him. On the one hand, for Heidegger, Verstehen is interpreting. Despite all of the changes in it that one may wish to consider, it is the same idea that one finds in Dilthey, and in Rickert as well. On the other hand, Verstehen is at other times employed by Heidegger as a simple translation of intelligere, as for example in the beginning of his great work.[1] Now, this is untenable. Intellectus is not comprehension but intellection. And {332} apart from any historical and translation problem, ‘to comprehend’ is not synonymous with ‘to intellectively know’; comprehending is only a mode of intellective knowing. There are millions of things which I intellectively apprehend, i.e., which I apprehend as real, but which I do not comprehend. I such cases there is intellection without comprehension.

Comprehension, then, is not comprehensive science or notional comprehension, nor interpretation of meaning. It is a special mode of intellective knowing. And then we must ask ourselves what comprehending is.

We have already given the answer: in comprehension one turns to apprehending something already apprehended as real, in light of which we have apprehended what it really is. There are, then, three intellective actualizations of the same reality. In the first place, there is the intellective actualization of a thing as real, viz. the primordial apprehension of reality. In the second place, there is the intellective actualization of what a real thing is really, viz. modal intellection in logos and reason. Finally, in the third place, there is the intellective actualization of the same real thing (which was already apprehended in primordial apprehension), but modally incorporating into it what has been actualized in the intellection (logos and reason) of what it really is. This third actualization is comprehension. Comprehending is apprehending the real based on what it really is; it is intellectively knowing how the structure of a thing is determined based on what it really is. It is just the act of intellection as unitary and modal.

The question therefore consists in our saying precisely what the formal object of comprehension is. This question turns into two others: what is it that comprehension incorporates, and in what does the incorporation consist?

1. What does comprehension incorporate into {333} primordial apprehension of the real? When a real thing is apprehended in primordial apprehension as real, it is intellectively actualized in the formality of reality, both in its individual moment as well as in its field and worldly moments. The individual moment radically determines the field and worldly moments; without individual real things, there would be neither field nor reality nor world. But in turn, what is of the field and what is of the world, once determined, determine the individual. In virtue of this, the individual, field, and worldly moments comprise a unity which is not additive but rather is a structural unity of determination. In order to intellectively know this unity one may follow two different paths. In the first path what is individual determines what is of the field and what is of the world. The individual is not lost, but absorbed into the field and worldly moments, as a determinant of them. As we have seen, this intellection of the individual as determinant of the field and of the world is what constitutes the intellection of what, really, the individual real thing is. To intellectively know what something is really is to intellectively know what the individual real thing is in the field of reality and in the world.

But this is not the only possible path for intellection. I can also intellectively know the individual thing as determined in turn by that field and world moment which the individual thing itself has already determined. Then the structural unity takes on a different intellective character. Upon intellectively knowing what the individual really is, the structural unity is intellectively known in the real, but only "materially": we have intellectively known in what the real consists as structured. But upon intellectively knowing the individual, not just as determinant but as determinant and determined, what we have intellectively known is not just the structured, but the very nature of the structuring of {334} the real. This is structural unity considered "formally". What is really determined is the real structure of a thing. Then we see the radical unity of the "really" and the "real"; it is the formal structural unity of the real and really. We see a real thing based on what it really is. Now, this intellection is just comprehension. The formal terminus of comprehension is not what is structured, but the nature of the structuring itself. It is structure as formal (not just material) molding of the in. The nature of structure is the ex determined by the in. To comprehend is to intellectively know the nature of the structure of the real by which a thing really is. Naturally, the boundaries between intellectively knowing what something really is and comprehending what that something is, are often almost imperceptible. Therefore it is at times quite difficult to differentiate the two modes of intellection. Nonetheless these two modes are different. Their difference is not just a de facto difference in my intellection, but a constitutive difference of human intellective knowing. To see that, let us take the simplest example, one which will most clearly reveal the difference in question, viz. intellectively knowing that this piece of paper is green. I intellectively know, in primordial apprehension, this piece of paper with all of its notes, including greenness. But if I affirm that "this piece of paper is green", I not only have intellectively known the piece of paper with its note, but have intellectively known this piece of paper "among" other colors, from which only one was realized in the green piece of paper. That affirmation is therefore an intellection of what the paper, chromatically, is in reality. But I can also consider this piece of paper by saying, for example, "what green really is, is the color of this piece of paper". This turn of phrase points up not just the mere realization of the green of this piece of paper, but the very nature of the structuring by which this piece of paper is green. That goes beyond {335} having intellectively known what the piece of paper is chromatically; it is to have comprehended the greenness of the paper. Every affirmation is the intellection of a realization; and when I intellectively know this realization as the nature of its structuring, then the structural unity is formally intellectively known—this is comprehension exactly. The triviality of the case shows that the difference between these modes of intellection is not a mere fact, but stems from the very nature of intellective knowing, viz. from its double moment of "real" and "really". This triviality likewise shows that the difference between intellectively knowing what something is really and comprehending what this thing is can be almost imperceptible. I shall return to this point forthwith. Because of this imperceptibility, the point has generally remained unnoticed. But that this difference is only "almost" imperceptible expresses the fact that it is nonetheless a real difference.

In summary, the formal terminus of comprehension is the nature of structuring. To comprehend is to intellectively know the nature of the structuring of the real as real, to intellectively know in the real as its own internal moment, the manner in which what really is determines the structural notes of a thing. The nature of structure is internal determination. The structural unity of what is comprehended is therefore the formal unity of "real" and "really". The intellection of this formal unity is what is incorporated into the real based on intellection of what this piece of paper is in reality. To comprehend is to "see" how what something really is, is determining, or has determined, the structure of that real thing. But, in what does this incorporation itself consist? That is the second question we must address.

2. In what does incorporation consist? Incorporation is not, to be sure, some "addition", because what the real really is, is intellectively determined by the real itself; therefore we are not dealing with an addition to the real {336} of something from outside. Nor is this a mere "application". We are not trying to intellectively know what something really is and then apply that intellection to the concrete real which I have in my intellection. It is not a case of application but intrinsic determination of the notes according to what they really are. To intellectively know it I must intellectively know, in a thing, how its notes are issuing forth, so to speak, from what a thing really is. This is just what I have called ‘the nature of structuring’. The nature of structuring does not consist merely in possessing a structure, but in intellectively knowing this structure, possessed intrinsically, as a mode of reality. And here is the difficulty. Clearly, intellection of the nature of the structuring of the real stems from intellection of the real. And as intellection is actualization, it follows that that from which it stems, and that where the nature of the structuring is intellectively known, is just that actualization. To incorporate, then, means first of all to form a body, to constitute in a certain way the corporeity of the actualization of the real. But this is not enough, because in the second place, what corporalizes this actualization is just the nature of the structuring. And in order to reach intellective knowledge of it, we have had to go to the field and worldly moments of the real, distancing ourselves in a certain way from its strictly individual moment. It is in this distancing that we intellectively know what the real really is. Now I turn from this distancing to the individual thing. This turning is the return in which I intellectively know what the thing was in its structuring nature, i.e., I intellectively know how what it really was constitutes the very nature of the structure of the real. But then it is clear that the return consists not in a mere "returning" to the real, but in intellectively recovering, from what a thing really is, its structure and its notes. And therein consists the corporeity of actualization; it is {337} recovery of the fullness of the real. This fullness consists just in nature of the structuring. Therefore the incorporation is neither addition nor application but recovery. In distancing from the real, I have intellectively known its structure; in the return, I have recovered what was left at a distance, viz. its nature as structuring. To comprehend a thing is to recover its notes and its nature as structuring from what it really is. It is to intellectively know how the photon determines these green notes.

Comprehension consists in this. Its formal object is the nature of structuring, and the mode of actualization of this nature is recovery. With this we have intellectively known something more than before. It is not, strictly speaking, "more", but rather "better"—better actualization. And this is what was lacking in the primordial apprehension of reality, viz. comprehension. If we call primordial apprehension ‘intuition’—though very inappropriately, as we saw—it will be necessary to say that intuition simpliciter is not comprehension. Bergson always believed that intuition was comprehension. That was, in my view, one of his two serious methodological errors. Intuition is something which must be recovered for there to be comprehension. Comprehension is not intuition, but recovery of what was intuited based on what really is. The richness of intuition, an undeniable moment of it, tends to hide its poverty of comprehension.

Intellection is apprehension of the real, and therefore every intellection, even comprehensive intellection, is a maturation of primordial apprehension. And what matures in this maturation is ultimately comprehension itself. Therefore full intellection is comprehensive apprehension.

This is the unitary structure of modal intellection as act; it is the actualization which goes from the "impression of reality", by means of the intellection of what "really" is, to the {338} intellection of the recovery of the real based on what really is.

This comprehension is not just a fact; it is a necessity. And it is so because the real is always intellectively known in sentient intelligence. Comprehending is, in man, comprehending sentiently, i.e., impressively. And this is what is manifested in some of the characteristics of comprehension, about which a few words are appropriate.

1. That comprehension is intrinsically and constitutively limited. Comprehension, as I said, is not the comprehensive science of all that is intelligible, as Medieval philosophy thought. We only comprehend something about something. And this is true in various senses.

Comprehension is limited insofar as it can only take place in definite directions, because what something really is, is also directionally definite. Comprehending something as interiority, as manifesting, or as actuation of something, are all different. What comprehension is in one direction may not be, and in general is not, comprehension in another. Even limited to one direction, comprehension is gradual. One can comprehend more or less, better or worse. There is, then, a limitation not only by reason of direction but also by reason of amplitude.

2. Moreover, there are differences by reason of the level to which one takes the intellection. Comprehending a real thing such as a dog at the biochemical level is not the same as comprehending it at the phylogenetic level, or at other levels. Comprehending man at the phylogenetic level is different than comprehending him socially, and so forth.

3. But above all, it is necessary to stress that there are different types of comprehension. One of them is {339} causal explanation, or explanation by means of laws. Against Dilthey it must be said that explanation itself is a mode of comprehension. Another mode is interpretation, which is not limited to meaning but includes the reality of the personal experience, etc. But the most important thing is that there are types of comprehension different from causal explanation and interpretation. As I see the matter, it is essential that we introduce a type of what we might call ‘personal causality’. The classical idea of causality (the four causes) is essentially molded upon natural things; it is a natural causality. But nature is just one mode of reality; there are also personal realities. And a metaphysical conceptualization of personal causality is necessary. The causality between persons qua persons cannot be fitted into the four classical causes. Nonetheless, it is strict causality. As I see it, causality is the functionality of the real qua real. And personal functionality is not the same as "meaning". Persons find themselves functionally linked as personal realities, and this linking does not consist in "meaning". I cannot here delve into this great problem of causality; suffice it to state the problem briefly so that we are able to see that comprehension can assume different types.

All of these differences of limitation, level, type, etc. are not just differences of fact, but are radically constitutive; they have their roots in the formally sentient character of our intellection. The necessity of comprehending the real is determined by sentient intellection. Comprehending is always and only recovery, in intellection, of a real thing’s nature of structuring as sensed reality.

Here we have the unity of modal intellection as act: it is the act of comprehension. And after having examined the {340} unity of this act as a modal act, we must ask ourselves what intelligence modalized as a function of intellective knowing is, and what intellective knowing as modally constituted is.




This is the problem which concerns not the act of intellection but intellective knowing itself as such. To employ a common expression, we could say that we are dealing with the modal unity of the intellective faculty. Comprehension is the proper act of this modalized intelligence. Now, intelligence thus modalized is what should be called understanding. The act proper to understanding is just comprehending, i.e., understanding what something really is. As I see it, intellective knowing and understanding are not the same. I call the capacity of apprehending something as real ‘intellective knowing’. There are thousands of things that we intellectively know, i.e., which we apprehend as real but do not understand what they really are. Understanding is intellectively knowing something real such as it really is. In Spanish and in some other languages (but not all) we have the two words ‘intellective knowing’ [inteligencia] and ‘understanding’ [entendimiento]. In contrast, Latin itself has only a single word, intellectus, to designate intellective knowing and understanding. Understanding is, then, the intellective knowing which understands what something, already apprehended as real, really is; i.e., what a thing is in reality (logos) and in reality itself (reason), the real thing understood in both the field manner and considered in the worldly sense. This understanding is not, then, the same as intelligence. A posteriori we may designate logos and reason with the single word ‘reason’, given that field, and therefore the logos, are the world as sensed, i.e., sentient reason. Then in order to conceptualize {342} what understanding is, it will be necessary to trace it out with respect to it what reason is and what intellective knowing is.

I. Understanding and reason. By primordial apprehension, I apprehend a thing in its formality of reality. And this formality, by being respective, brings us to understand the thing as a moment of the field and of the world. We thus intellectively know what the thing is really, and this intellection is reason. If I now intellectively know that same real thing based on what it really is, i.e., based on reason, I shall have a much richer intellection of the thing; I shall have understood it. Therefore understanding is the modal outcome of reason. For classical philosophy and for Kant, reason is the supreme form of intellection, because reason, in their view, must be the faculty of principles—assuming that a principle is a fundamental judgement—and that therefore reason would be a synthesis of judgements of the understanding. On that basis, reason would be something grounded in the understanding. But such is not the case; understanding something is only to intellectively know it based on what it really is, based on reason. Understanding is then the outcome of reason and not a principle of it. Understanding is the supreme form of intellection, but only along modal lines, because a principle is not a fundamental judgement but reality itself. This reality is not the patrimony of reason, but comes to it from the primordial apprehension of naked reality. Therefore understanding is the outcome of reason but only along modal lines. This brings us to the question of staking out the boundaries of understanding vis-à-vis not just reason but also naked intellection.

II. Understanding and intelligence. We understand what something really is, i.e., understanding presupposes intelligence, because the apprehension of something as real is just intelligence. The real thus apprehended, by being {343} respective, really leads to other real things both of the field and of the world. What is apprehended itself has a content, but also has the formality of reality, of the de suyo. This formality is thus apprehended in sentient intelligence. But its content is insufficient. Whence the necessity to go to what the thing really is. We do not go to reality, but to what the real really is. The root of this new intellection is, then, the insufficiency of the content. But with respect to the formality of reality, primordial apprehension, naked intelligence has an essential and ineluctable prerogative. From the point of view of its content, the intelligence is partially grounded in what the understanding may have investigated. But from the point of view of reality, understanding is grounded in the intelligence. Without naked intelligence there would be no understanding. Neither would there be reason. For traditional philosophy as well as for Kant, understanding is the faculty of judging. But this is not the case. Understanding is the faculty of comprehending. For Hegel, on the other hand, reason would be the principle of all intellection, not just along modal lines, but also in the direction of naked intellection. This is a conception which ignores the problem of the modal unity of the intelligence in which the primordial apprehension of reality situates us.

In this way, ultimately, intellection has two sources. One, which is primary and supreme, is naked sentient intelligence; the other is modalized intelligence, understanding. They are not two faculties, but rather understanding is the supreme modalization of intelligence. The unity of the two dimensions is the respectivity of the real. Understanding is but sentient intelligence modalized in the field direction (logos) and in the worldly direction (reason).




Every act of intellection leaves us in an intellective state, i.e., in a state of intelligence itself. Which state? That is the difficulty. To address it, we must examine three points: What is a state? What is being in an intellective state? And What are the diverse intellective types of this state?

I. What is a state? A state is always a mode of being and "staying" determined by something. It is necessary to return the idea of a state; as a difficulty, it has been absent from philosophy now for many centuries. Precisely on account of this it is necessary to conceptualize carefully what we understand by ‘state’ in this problem. For psychology, a state is a quiescent mode in which the human subject stays by virtue of an affection of things or the other moments of his psyche itself or other persons. A state is how he "is". This is the concept of a psychological state. Here we are not dealing with that concept of state, for two reasons. Above all, we are not dealing with it because what is in a state, in the problem of concern here, is not a human subject but intelligence qua intelligence; this idea can only be extended to man as a whole insofar as he can be in turn determined by intelligence. In this respect, the state to which I am referring is more restricted than the psychological state. But that is not enough, since we are not just dealing with a mere restriction of it. And that is because—here we have the second of {345} the two reasons to which I just alluded—we are not dealing with intelligence as a structural note of human reality, but with intelligence in accordance with its formal structure, i.e., intelligence qua intellectively knowing. And in this respect the state to which we are referring is not more restricted than the psychological state, but is a state which has nothing to do with it; it is merely an intellective state, the state of intellection itself considered formally. What is this intellective state qua state? It is just a being or "staying" in what is intellectively known. It is not being or staying psychologically affected as a subject, but a being situated in what is intellectively known, a being situated which in Spanish we express by saying, for example, "We agree that ...".[2] It is not a quiescent state but rather an acquiescent one, so to speak.

In what does this being or standing in what is intellectively known consist? That is the question of what the intellective state is, not just qua state but qua intellective.

II. What is an intellective state? What an intellective state is depends upon what is intellectively known. Now, what is intellectively known as such is reality. Therefore an intellective state is a staying or being situated in accordance with the real insofar as the real Is, with whatever desired degree of elementality and provisionality one wishes, the "law of the real". This staying or being situated is at one and the same time of the real and of intellection. These are not two different "staying’s" or "being situated’s", but a single one in which the real and the intelligence are together. By being a staying or situation of the real, this staying or being situated is intellective. By being of intellection, it is a state. They are not two stayings or situations, but a single "being situated together". And this unity is clear: the real is situated in intellection and intellection itself is grasped in the real. This is what I call retentivity. The real retains, and in this retention {346} the real is constituted qua retinent, its intellective actuality as a retained state.

This retentivity has precise characteristics. 1) It is retention by the real. We are not dealing with the question of what, for example, retention by a stimulus sensed as a stimulus is. Rather, we are concerned with retention by the real as real. 2) It is retention in the real, not a retention in this or that thing, according to its importance, for example; rather it is a retention in the real qua real. We stand in reality. 3) It is retention by the real and in the real, but only in the actualized sense. We are not dealing with a retention along the lines of actuity, only actuality. And for this reason the retention is formally intellective, since mere actualization of the real qua real in intelligence is just intellection.

Intellective activity is, then, an intellective retained staying by the real and in the real as such.

Granting this, let us ask ourselves in what form we are retained in intellection. Staying intellectively retained by the real and in the real as such is just what, strictly speaking, we call knowing [saber]. Knowing is staying intellectively retained in what is intellectively known. Every apprehension has its own force of imposition, and this imposition in the intellective state is knowing. Let us fix some of its characteristics.

Knowing is not an intellection simpliciter. That would be a very vague notion. Knowing is not an act but a state, a staying retained in the sensed explained above. This must be stressed. And precisely for this reason, its most exact linguistic expression is the perfect tense, the per-fectum, something intellectively known in a terminal way. In Latin novi, in Greek oida, and in Vedic[3] veda: these terms do not simply mean "I know", but {347} strictly speaking something more like "I have it known", "I already know it", etc. They are present perfect expressions, or perfect expressions in the sense of present. Thus, among the epithets of Agni in the Rig Veda is that of being jata-vedas (456,7 and 13); Agni is he who knows all that has been born (from the verb jan-). For the Veda, things are not "entities" but "engendered things", "products", or "born things", bhuta-, jata-. Differentiated in the various Indo-European languages there appears the root gen-, to be born, to engender, which gave rise to the Vedic jan-, the Greek egnon, and the Latin novi. Now, he who has known the "engendered things" is he who has veda. Knowing comes designated in the perfect. As an infinitive, Latin expresses knowing with the verb scire. I believe that its primary meaning is perhaps "to cut", and I think that it is found in the verb scire as knowing in a definitive or cutting way, i.e., as designation of a conclusive state, of conclusivity. The idea of conclusivity is perhaps the meaning of scire, viz. finding oneself in a conclusive state (by cutting).

This state as expressed in oida and veda is designated by a single root veid- which directly means ‘vision’. Knowing would thus be a state of having already seen something. But this is a great limitation; knowing is a state of intellection, and intellection is not just vision. Even in the case of vision, we do not refer to vision as an act of the eyes but to intellective vision. Only because of this has the root associated with seeing been able to mean knowing. It is a vision which is not optical, but to my way of thinking, a vision of sentient intellection. And as I have expounded at length, I believe that all of the senses are moments of a single sentient intellection. Therefore it is not strange that the state of knowing comes designated in Latin, and above all in the Romance languages, with a root connected to {348} the root word for pleasure, sapere. Knowing [saber] is more tasting [sabor] than seeing. Whence the word sapientia, wisdom [sabiduría]. With various roots we thus have, in Latin, a single idea, the idea of an intellective state expressed in a gradual progression from scire, knowing, through scientia, science, to sapientia, wisdom. German expresses this same progression with a single root taken from the visual: Wissen (knowing), Wissenschaft (science), Weisheit (wisdom). Just as the root of scire can mean, as I see it, conclusivity, I think that scire is what most closely approximates that conclusive intellectual state which consists in standing intellectively retained in the real by the real as such. Knowing is, then, a state and not an act. It is a state, a standing, and an intellective state: a standing, retained in the actualized real. It admits of various types.

III. Diverse types of knowing. We are dealing with states, and so it is not a question of enumerating the different forms of knowing, but of qualitatively differentiating some modes of intellection.

1) Above all, there is naked intellection, the primordial apprehension of reality. It is a sentient intellection, and for that very reason it leaves us in a certain state. Its content is more or less rich, but with respect to what concerns the formality of reality its richness is maximal. In this intellection we stay, first of all, not in this or that thing. That in which we formally and moreover ineluctably stay is in naked reality. By simple intellection, that in which we stay is in reality. This is a radical and primordial knowing: the intelligence is retained in reality by reality itself. This is the impression of reality. All other intellections and everything in them which is actualized in them to us is owing to the fact that we are in reality. {349}

2) Granting that, the real thus apprehended gives rise to the intellection of what that real is really, viz. logos and reason. The intellection of a real thing, based on what it really is, is the second type of knowing. It is staying in having intellectively known what a thing really is. Knowing is then not a staying in reality, but a staying in what the real really is. This is the second type of knowing, viz. knowing not as being in reality but knowing as being in the respectivity of the real. In turn, this second type of knowing is diversified in accordance with what each thing really is. And here the differences can become enormous.

Thus, in Greece, the first form of intellection of respectivity was discerning. This was, ultimately, the direct idea of Parmenides. Knowing is not taking one thing for another. In the final instance error would be confusing what a thing is with something which it is not, with something else. As recognized by Plato this idea was philosophically elaborated by him in a distinct and richer form. Knowing is not determined only by discernment but as a distinct and richer form of respectivity, the definition. Now knowing is not only not confusing one thing with another but is in turn defining. Finally Aristotle received this conceptualization and elaborated it further: knowing is not only discerning and defining, but also—and above all—demonstrating, in the etymological sense of "showing from where", showing the internal necessity of the fact that things must be as they are. In Aristotle, this demonstrating has different moments: rigorous reasoning, the intellection of principles upon which one is based, and the sensible impression of that to which they are applied. What happens is that these three moments do not have the same root. The first two are ascribed to nous, to intellective knowing, but the {350} third to sensing. This is the radical dualism of intellective knowing and sensing. Hence these three moments have run as dissociated throughout the course of the history of philosophy, precisely because they are found radically dislocated in the contraposition of intellective knowing and sensing. Now, it is, on the contrary, necessary to conceptualize their radical unity, viz. sentient intellection. It is from there that the three moments of discerning, defining, and demonstrating ought to be differentiated. For this reason those three acts are clearly diverse, but they are only three intellective modalities anchored in a single formal structure of sentient intellective knowing. Clearly they are not anchored directly in it in the same way. Sentient intellective knowing thus determines two types of intellection and therefore of knowing: the intellection and knowing that something is real, and the intellection and knowing of what this real thing is really. Only sentient intellection determines the duality between real and really. Now, discerning, defining, and demonstrating are not, for the purposes of our problem, three sufficiently distinct intellections, but only the three modes of intellective knowing of what something really is.

3) But there is yet a third type of knowing, that in which we stay comprehensively in reality. It is a type of intimate penetration into a real thing from which we know that it really is. The state of knowing is now the state in which we stay retained in the real by the real itself as intellectively known in comprehension. It is properly the state in which we stand by virtue of the understanding.

Thus we have the three great types of knowing: being in reality, being in what the real is really, and being comprehensively in reality.

Let us repeat once again: the object of knowing is not objectivity or being; the object of knowing is reality. The {351} intelligence is not the faculty of the objective nor the faculty of being; it is the faculty of reality. This reality is not something distinct from what impresses the senses. Reality is a formality of the otherness of what is sensed; it is the de suyo. As the formality that it is, it is something impressively sensed; it is impression of reality. As the faculty of reality is the intelligence, it follows that the impression of reality is the act of an intelligence which apprehends the real in impression; it is a sentient intelligence. Human intelligence is sentient intelligence. It is not a conceiving intelligence or anything of that sort. To be sure, our intelligence conceives and judges; but that is not its formal act. Its formal act consists in sensing reality. Conversely, human sensing is not a sensing like that of animals. An animal senses what is sensed in a formality which is merely a stimulus. Man, though he senses the same thing as the animal, nonetheless senses it in the

formality of reality, as something de suyo. This is an intellective sensing. Sentient intelligence is not a sensible intelligence, i.e., an intelligence directed to what the senses offer to it; rather, it is an intelligence which is structurally one with sensing. Human intelligence senses reality. It is not an intelligence which begins by conceiving and judging what is sensed. Philosophy has counterposed sensing and intellective knowing, concentrating solely upon the content of certain acts. But it has gone astray with respect to formality. And here is where intellective knowing and sensing not only are not opposed, but despite their essential irreducibility, constitute a single structure, one which, from wherever one looks, should be called ‘sentient intelligence’ or ‘intellective sensing’. Thanks to it, man stands unmistakably in and by reality; he stands in it, knowing it. Knowing what? Something, very little, of what is real. But, nonetheless, he is retained {352} constitutively in reality. How? This is the great human problem: knowing how to be in the midst of reality.

The analysis of this structure has been the theme of this prolix study of sentient intelligence.


[1] [Being and Time—trans.] ^

[2] [In the original Spanish, the verb quedar can mean 'to be', 'to stand', 'to be situated'; it is here translated as the latter. The expression Zubiri refers to in Spanish is quedamos en que..., which is an idiomatic one that translates into English as "We agree that ...".—trans.] ^

[3] [I.e., Sanskrit. -- trans.] ^