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METAPHYSICS


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METAPHYSICS


inp the matorialism of the atomlsts with the spiritual- ism of the scholivstics. Locke, liy limiting all oitr knowledge to the two sources, sensation and rellection,

f)reclu(les the pcxssihility of metaphysieal sjx'culation )oyon<l the facts of experience and of consciousness: in fact, he maintains (Essay, I\', .S) that all metaphysi- cal formuhe, when they are not merely tautological an<l, therefore "trifling", have only a hypothetical value. This line of thought is taken up by Hume, who emphatically declares that "it is impossible to go lx>yond experience", and by Mill, who maintains the hypotlietical nature of all so-called necessary truth, mathematical as well as metaphysical. The .same position is taken by the French sensists and material- ists of the eighteenth century. Berkeley, although his professed aim was merely to remove the mist and veil of words" wh.ich hindered the clear vision of the truth. pa.ssed from empirical immaterialism to a sy.s- tem of Platonic mysticism based on the metaphysical principle of cau.sality.

Begiiuiing with Kant, the question of the existence and scope of metaphysical science assumes a new phase. .Metaphysics is now the science which claims to know things in themselves, and as Kant sees it, all post-Cartesian metaphysics is wrong in its starting- point. Kant holds that both the empiricist's rejection of metaphysics and the dogmatist's defence of it are wrong. The empiricist is wrong in asserting that we cannot go beyond experience: the dogmatist is wrong in allirniing that we can go beyond experience by means of the tlicoretieal re.i.son. The practical reason, the faculty of moral consciousness, can alone take us be- yond experience, and lead us to a knowledge of things in themselves. Practical reason, therefore, or the moral law, of which we are immediately conscious, is the only foundation of metaphysical science. The successors of Kant, namely, Fichtc, Schelling, Hegel, Schopen- hauer, and Von Hartmann, no matter how much they may differ in other respects, hold that the aim of meta- physics is to attain the ultra-empirical, or absolute, reality, whether this be called self (Fichte), the abso- lute of indifference (Schelling), the dynamic abso- lute, spirit or Idea (Hegel), the Will (Schopenhauer), or the I'nconscious (Von Hartmann). Another group, the empiro-critics, who also acknowledge their depenclence on Kant, assign to metaphysics the task of discussing the fundamental principles of knowledge by means of a critical examination of experience. Fi- nally, there Is among German philosophers of our own day, an inclination to use the word metaphysics to designate any view of reality which, transcending the limits of the particular sciences, strives to combine and relate the results of those sciences in a synthetic formula ( Weltanschauung) .

English philosophers either define metaphysics in terms of mental phenomena, as Hamilton does, or re- strict its fielfl of in<iuiry to the problem of the value of knowledge, thus confounding it with eplstemology, or go over to the Hegelian point of view that metaphys- ics is the science of the genesis and development of dynamic categories of reality. The evolutionist school, represented by Herbert iSpencer, while they deny the cogency of ' metaphysical reasonings", attempt a general synthesis of all truth under the evolutionist formula, which is in reality metaphysics in disguise. Their effort in this direction is, at least, an acknowl- edgement of the justice of the scholastic claim that there must be a hegemonic science which unifies and co-ordinates in an articulate system the conclusions of the various sciences, and which corrects the ten- dencies of those sciences towards a specialization which ends in fragmentation.

In so far as pragnjatisin, represented by James, Dewey, and Schiller, rejects absolute truth, it may be said to cut the ground from under metaphysics. Nevertheless, the latest phase of pragmatism, in which interest is shifted from the epistemological problem to


the question, What is reality? is manifestly a step towards a rehabilitation of metaphysics. An analysis of reality is followed inevitably by an attempt to syn- thesize. The pragmatic synthesis, naturally, will have for its foundation neither the law of identity, that being is being, nor the law of contradiction, that being is not not^being, but some principle of " value ", akin to that of the Wcrth-Thcorie of Lotze. Of quite sfiecial interest is the attempt on the part of Professor Royce to interpret reality in terms of " loyalty ". With the exception, then, of Trendelenlnirg's "Studies", and critical expositions of the text of .Aristotle, the only philosophical literature in recent times which adopts the Aristotelean view of the nature and scope of metaphysics, is that which has come from the pens of the Neo-Scholastics. The Neo-Scholastic doctrine on at least one point in metaphysics is given in the fol- lowing paragraph.

VIII. Doctrine op Being. — The three ideas which are most important in any system of metaphysics are Being, Substance, and Cause. These have a decisive influence, and may be said to determine the character of a metaphysical system. Substance and Cause are treated elsewhere under separate titles (see Caiise and Subst.\nce). It will, therefore, be suthcient here to give the outlines of the scholastic doctrine of Being, which, indeed, is the most fundamental of the three, and decifles, so to speak, beforehand, what the scho- lastics teach regarding Substance and Cause.

(1) Description of Being. — Being cannot be defined: (a) because a definition, according to the scholastic for- mula, must be " by proximate genus and ultimate dif- ference ", and Being,'having the widest extension, can- not be included in any genus : (b) because a definition is the analysis of the comprehension of a concept, and Being, having the least comprehension, is, as it were, indivisible in its comprehension, resisting all efforts to resolve it into simpler thought elements. Neverthe- less, Being may be described. The word "Being", taken either as a participle or as a noun, has reference to the "act" of existence. Whatever exists, there- fore, is a Being, whether it exists in the mind or out- side the mind, whether it is actual or only potential, whether it requires a subject in which to inhere or is capable of subsisting without a subject of inherence. Thus, the broadest division of Being is into, notional, which exists only in the mind (p«s rationis), and, real, v.'hich exists independently of the created mind (c?is reale). Real Being is furtlier divided into the poten- tial and the actual. Thfa is an important point of scholastic teaching, which is sometimes overlooked in the exposition and still more in the criticism of scho- lasticism. For the scholastics, the real world extends far beyond the actual world of our experience or even of possible experience. Beyond the realm of actually existing things they see a world of tendenciw, poten- cies, and possibilities which are truly real. The oak is really present, though only potentially, in the acorn; the painting is really, though only potentially, jiresent, in the mind of the artist : and so, in every case, before the effect becomes actual it is really present in the cause in the measure in which its actual existence de- pends on the cause.

(2) ReJatinn of Being to other Concepts. — Scholastic psychology, adopting Aristotle's doctrine that all our ideas are acquired through the senses, teaches that the first knowledge which we acquire is sense-knowledge. Out of the material furnished by the senses the mind elaborates ideas or concepts. The first of these ideas is the most general, the poorest in representative con- tent, namely, the idea of "Being". In this sense, therefore, the idea of being, or, more correctly, per- hap.s, the idea of ".something", is the first of all our ide.as.

Turning, now, to the logical relation, how, ask the scholastics, is the idea of Being predicated of the lower, or less general concepts, such as substance, acci-