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In the foregoing pages we have discussed what rational intellection is. Now, knowledge [conocimiento] is what formally constitutes rational intellection. In order to conceptualize knowledge it is worthwhile to briefly recount what has already been said in order to frame the question adequately.

Above all it is necessary to eliminate a false but very current idea, that knowledge is substituting concepts of reality for sensible representations. According to this theory, sensible impressions are mere empty representations of reality, and the intellection of reality is only in knowledge, above all in scientific knowledge. But that is not true, because sensible impressions are not representations but presentations. That which is representation is scientific knowledge; but representation not in the sense of substitution of impressions by other intellections (vor-stellen), but in the sense of re-explaining that which is already present (dar-stellen). In this sense (and only in this one) is knowledge re-presentation, i.e., rational re-actualization.

With this mistake eliminated, let us continue with the problem.

Rational intellection is intellection above all. As {160} such, it is the apprehension of something as real, an apprehension in which the real itself is just actualized. This intellection has two moments. Everything real, in fact, has an individual and a field moment. Upon apprehending something as real one apprehends its reality in accordance with both moments but in a different mode. If one attends more to the individual moment, then intellection is apprehension of the thing as real. But if one attends to what the real thing is in a field, it is then apprehended as actualized in the field manner, among other things similarly actualized. And then apprehension does not intellectively know only that a thing is real, but also what this real thing is in reality. These are the two moments of intellection, viz. intellectively knowing something as real, and intellectively knowing it as being, in the field sense, something "in reality". They are the two moments of pure and simple intellection.

But it can happen that a real thing, together with the field which it determines, thrusts us beyond this field reality toward reality "itself" as reality beyond the field, i.e., to the world. This beyond is not the beyond of one thing toward others—that would be an intra-field beyond. We are dealing with a "beyond" of a real thing and of its whole field toward reality itself as reality; i.e., we are dealing with a beyond which is beyond the field and toward the world. This beyond is not a beyond the "subject" (so to speak), because in this sense in field intellection we are already installed beyond what that interpretation would take for the subject in field intellection, and we continue being so in every intellection. This "beyond", the whole field, can be so in different directions: toward the inside of things, toward other extra-field things, etc. But we are always dealing with going toward the world as the ground of what a real field thing is. Thus we are not considering a thing with respect to others of the field, but {161}rather we are considering each thing as a mode of grounded reality. Qua ground, I have called extra-field reality ‘reality in depth’. Now, intellection of the real in depth is certainly intellection, but not just intellection; rather, it is a special mode of intellection, the "grounding" mode. Reality is not actualized in this intellection as something more than is there; rather, it is actualized in a mode which consists formally in being actually grounding. ‘The ground’—as I have already said—is here taken in its widest sense. It is not identical with ‘cause’. To be a ground is not necessarily to be a cause; a cause is only a mode of grounding. There are others, for example, physical law, i.e., the mode by which the real happens based on reality, and is being so taken. The ground is all that which determines from itself, but in and by itself, that which is grounded, so that this latter is the realization of the ground or foundation in what is grounded. Being grounded makes of in-depth reality the principle of this mode of intellection. It is the principle which measures not what something is in reality with respect to other things which are sensed in the field manner, but measures its ground or foundation in reality. The intellection of the real in-depth is intellection as principle and measure; it is rational intellection. Now, the intellection of something in its in-depth reality, i.e., rational intellection, is what formally constitutes knowledge [concimiento].

Knowledge is intellection in reason. To know what a thing is, is to intellectively know its in-depth reality, to intellectively know how it is actualized in its own ground or foundation, how it is constituted "in reality", as a measuring principle. To know green does not only consist in seeing it, or in intellectively knowing that it is in reality one determinate color among {162}others. Rather, it is intellectively knowing the ground or foundation of greenness in reality; intellectively knowing, for example, that it is an electromagnetic wave or a photon of some determinate frequency. Only having intellectively known it thus do we really know what the real green is; we have intellection of the greenness, but in reason. The reason or explanation of green is its real ground or foundation.

Whence arises the radical difference between knowledge and intellection. Knowledge is intellection by virtue of being apprehension of the real as real. But it is only a special mode of intellection because not every intellection is knowledge. To intellectively know without intellectively knowing the reason or explanation—this is not knowledge. Intellection is always an actualization of the real, but there is only knowledge when this actualization is a ground. That is intellection in reason.

This might make one think that mere intellection is inferior to knowledge, so that it would be necessary to inscribe intellection within knowledge; intellection would then be, formally, a rudimentary knowledge. But, the truth is just the opposite: it is necessary to inscribe knowledge within intellection. And with this, intellection does not formally consist in rudimentary knowledge; rather, knowledge receives all of its richness and its value from being an intellection. Knowledge is only a sketch of subsequent intellection. And there are several reasons for this.

In the first place, intellection is not knowledge; it is intellection which, through its sentient deficiency, determines knowledge. Intellection is an actualization of the real. But if the real, for example this color green, were exhaustively actualized in my intellection, there would be no opportunity of speak of knowledge. Full intellection of the real, i.e., its full {163} actualization, would make knowledge radically unnecessary. We would then have intellection without knowledge. On the other hand, the converse is impossible: one cannot have knowledge without intellection, without actualization of the real. There is only knowledge when the insufficiency of intellection requires it. This insufficiency stems from the sentient moment of intellection. Without sentient intellection there is not nor can there be knowledge.

In the second place, intellection and knowledge are different but not independent. In what sense? We have already indicated it: intellection is what determines knowledge. Sentient intellection calls forth knowledge. In order to make up for the insufficiency of intellection, intellection needs to determine not another intellection, but another mode of the same intellection; i.e., what is determined is an expansion of intellection. Knowing is an expansion of intellection. It is intellection, i.e., actualization of the real as real, but an intellection which actualizes rather what that thing already actualized as real is really; it is actualization as search. And herein consists what an expansion is, viz. An inquiring actualization of what is already actual. Therefore, knowledge is not only different from mere intellection; it is an expansion of that intellection. But there is more.

In the third place, in fact, knowledge is not only expansion of intellection and therefore something based upon it; in addition, knowledge consists, in principle, in bearing us to a greater intellection, to a greater actualization of what is known. Intellection is actualization of the real, and therefore knowing is but a leading to actualization. Knowledge is not just an expanded actualization but an expansion which leads to a new actualization of the previously actual. Knowledge does not {164} rest upon itself but upon the intellection of what preceded it and upon the intellection to which it leads us. The final terminus of all knowledge is an actualizing of the very reality previously intellectively known, an actualizing of it in its in-depth reality. If it were not for this, knowledge would be but a mental game. Hence all knowledge is the transition from one intellection to another intellection. It is an intellection in progress. Knowledge is intellection seeking itself.

As anchored in intellection, as expansion of intellection, and as transition to a new intellection, knowledge is an intellective mode which is formally inscribed in mere intellection. To intellectively know is not a rudiment of knowing. Intellection is not formally a rudimentary knowledge; rather, it is knowledge that is the sketch of an inquiring intellection qua intellection. To know [conocer] is not a primary intellective phenomenon, as if the essence of intellective knowing [inteligir] were to know [conocer]. On the contrary, the essence of knowing [conocer] is intellective knowing. Knowing is not the status possidens of intellection; only intellection itself is that. Therefore every theory of knowledge must be grounded upon some previous conceptualization of intellection, and not the other way around, as if to intellectively know were to know [conocer]. Some think that to know [conocer] is better than to intellectively know. But this is not correct. That which is intellectively known in knowing [conocer] is certainly more than what is just known in mere intellection; it has a richer content. But to know [conocer] is not just elaborating an intellectively known content; rather, to know [conocer] is intellectively knowing that this content is real, i.e., actualizing this content in the real. Only at this price do we have knowledge. And this reality is given to the knowledge by mere intellection, and it is to that that all knowledge leads in order to be knowledge. All knowledge is {165} always and only an elaboration of an intellection. And this elaboration is just reason or explanation. Knowledge is, then, intellection in reason, i.e., intellection of the real in its in-depth reality.

On this point it is necessary to contrast this concept of knowledge with others which I deem incorrect because they do not have an adequate concept of what it is to be a fundament.

By ‘knowledge’, Kant understands every objectively grounded judgement. And we have already seen that this is unacceptable because to intellectively know in the affirmative sense is not by itself knowing. At the very least the ground is necessary. For Kant, this ground is determining the objectivity of affirmation (and it does not matter that this objectivity, for Kant, has transcendental ideality). But this is not what formally constitutes the fundament in knowledge. The ground is "ground-reality", and not determining the objectivity of a judgement. Kant has cast the problem of knowledge along the lines of judgement and judging. And this is wrong, for at least two reasons. First, identifying knowledge with judgement is an extreme logification of reason. To know is not formally to judge. And second, the ground in question is not the determining objective of the judgement but the ground-reality. Knowledge naturally involves judgements, but not every judgement is knowledge. It is only knowledge when the judgement is a judgement of in-depth reality. Field judgement is not knowledge.

The Greeks employed the inchoate verb gignoskein, to know, with many meanings. That which is important to us here is the one which encompasses strict and rigorous knowledge, and which in the Greeks culminates in what they called episteme, strict knowledge, a word which is almost (and only almost) synonymous with ‘science’. {166}

Plato, in the Thaetetus, criticizes the last of the three definitions of strict knowledge (episteme) which the interlocutor proposes: true opinion with logos. Here ‘logos’ means reason. Reason, then, would be that which, in this definition, formally constitutes the specific part of knowledge. Plato criticizes this definition, but he understands by ‘reason’ what in all likelihood his interlocutor understands, viz. the elements of which something is composed. After his criticism, Plato left open and without express solution what logos is in a more radical sense. Understandably Plato himself said that this dialogue is of the peirastikos type, i.e., an attempt or effort, as we would say today. The fact is that ultimately Plato, in his critique, wishes to point out another meaning of the logos, with which he will be occupied in the Sophist: the logos which enuntiates not the "elemental" being but the "intelligible" being. That is to say, the logos which Plato asks of knowledge is the intellection of intelligible being, of the Idea. The rest will be only "true opinion". Now, it is not this which we have discovered as reason in our analysis. Reason is not judgement of "intelligible being" but of "in-depth reality". Above all, there are not two beings, the being of the sensible and the being of the intelligible, but a single being, the being of the real. Moreover, we are not dealing with being but with reality, and not with intelligible reality but with in-depth reality. Therefore, whatever the meaning of that "true opinion" to which Plato alludes, such true opinion cannot be counterposed to truth simpliciter, to the truth of the intelligible, because there is no dualism of sensing and intellectively knowing; rather, there is only the formal and structural unity of sensing and of intellectively knowing in sentient intellection. Whence it follows that reason itself is sentient; and that to which it bears us sentiently is in-depth reality. {167}

This in-depth reality, this reality fundament, is not what Aristotle thought either, viz., the cause. At the beginning of his Physics, Aristotle tells us that we believe we know something (gignoskein) when we know its cause. Knowing would thus be specified and constituted by the apprehension of causality. But this concept is, as I see it, too restrictive. Every cause is a ground, but not every ground is necessarily a cause. And I do not refer to knowledge such as mathematics, whose grounds are not causes in the strict sense, but rather principles. I refer to something deeper; I think that regardless of what a principle may be, it is necessary to conceive of it from the standpoint of the ground, and not the other way around. I explained this above. Causes and principles do ground; but on this account are not grounds. To ground is a very precise mode of grounding.[1] To ground is certainly to be a principle, but to be a principle is not just to be that "from which" (hothen) something comes, but that which from itself and by itself is realized in what is grounded. Then and only then is a principle a ground. To know is not to know causes, nor to know principles which ground, but to know grounds, to know "fundamentally". But Aristotle thought about strict knowledge, about episteme, about science. And for him, the object of science is what always is as it is, without being able to be in any other way. Now, this concept is even more restrictive than that of causal knowledge. And neither episteme nor causal knowledge are knowing formally, because not every ground is causality. To know a friend in depth is not a question of either causality or of scientific necessity. To know a friend well is not to have a detailed account of his life, nor to know the motives of his actions and reactions, but to intellectively know these motives as a manifestation {168} within his form and mode of reality, of an in-depth reality.

Let us add, finally, that ‘in depth’ is not synonymous with the ultimate. Everything ultimate naturally has depth, but not everything with depth is ultimate. There are degrees of "in depth", even an infinite number of them; indeed, it has an unfathomable depth. To know something in depth is not to know it in its ultimate reality. Moreover, intellection in depth is a fact; but the access to the ultimate is constitutively a problem which is always open, even to infinity. It is because of this that intellection in depth is not synonymous with absolute intellection. Ground-reality is not absolute reality. That was Hegel’s great mistake. The progression toward what is in depth is not the unfolding of an absolute knowledge. In depth-ness is always an open dimension, and therefore reason is not absolute knowing but open intellection in depth. Thus, just as the field of the real is constitutively open, in the same way the in depth "toward" to which the field sends us is a "toward" which is also constitutively open. Therefore Hegel started from a false premise, thinking that the real (he said "the Idea") is the closure of the absolute, so that each reality would be but a moment of this ultimate closure. But that is unacceptable, because reality is "constitutively" (and not just in fact) open. Moreover intellection itself, as mere actualization of the real, is also constitutively open. One cannot assume, along with Hegel, that each level of consciousness is just a progressive manifestation (phenomenon) of the absolute as spirit, i.e., an unfolding toward absolute knowledge. The progression of the intellect is not, nor can it be, a "phenomenology of the spirit".

In summary, that which specifies intellection, making of it knowledge, is in-depth reality. And this {169} in-depth reality does not consist in either objective ground (Kant), or in intelligible entity (Plato), or in causality, still less in necessary causality (Aristotle), or in the absolute (Hegel). In-depthness is the mere "beyond" as "ground-reality" in all the multiple modes and forms which this beyond can assume. Causality or the principles of a deductive form of knowledge are not thereby excluded, nor are the possible steps toward an absolute reality. What is excluded is the idea that something of sort formally constitutes the in-depth reality in which reason is installed by the movement of intellection as thrown from from the field to the beyond.

Let us summarize what has been said so many times. Reason is (1) inquiring intellection of reality; (2) intellection in depth, of worldly reality, i.e., intellection of reality "itself"; (3) intellection which is formally measuring as principle and canon of the reality of the real, in accordance with sensed suggestions. The three formulae are identical; they expound the three moments whose intrinsic and formal unity is the very essence of reason. To know is to intellectively know the real in accordance with these three moments, i.e., knowledge is intellection in reason. This reason is a modalization of sentient intellection, and is therefore sentient reason. Knowing is, then, the work of sentient reason. What is the formal structure of this knowledge? {170}


[1] [Zubiri is here drawing a distinction between "to ground", fundar, and "to ground", fundamentar. "To ground" means "to establish", whereas "to ground" means to be the ultimate foundation of, the principle support of, the in-depth explanation of something.-trans.]^