Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 13.djvu/234

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ROSMINI


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ROSMINI


i. e., a firm persuasion conformable to truth. The truth of a thing is, in last analysis, its being, and since being is the form of the human intellect, it follows that a criterion of truth and certainty lies at the base of all thought and reasoning. The principles which govern reflection and argument are founded on the primitive intuition of being. "Being is the object of thought " ; this is the principle of cognition, and it is antecedent to the principle of contradiction. Error is found, not in the idea of being, which is without any determination, nor in the principles of reasoning, which simply express the essential object of the mind in the form of a proposition without adding anything foreign, but in reflection, and hence in the will, which usually initiates reflection. Logic shows us how to use reflection so as to attain truth and avoid error.

The Sciences of Perception are psychology and cosmology. The subject of psychology is the ego in its primal condition, i. e., stripped of its acquired relations and developments. The soul is felt by and through itself; it is essentially a principle of feeling. "The human soul is an intellective and sensitive subject or principle, having by nature the intuition of being and a feeling whose term is extended, besides certain activities consequent upon intelligence and sensitivity." This "extended term" is twofold: space, which, simple and immovable, underlies all sense phenomena as the idea of being underlies the phenomena of thought; and body, a limited ex- tended force which the sentient principle passively receives and thereby acquires individuation. It is a favourite doctrine of Rosmini that the extended can exist only in synthesis with a simple, immaterial principle. Considered apart from this principle, the material corporeal term lacks the unity and co- herence necessary for existence and permanence. Our own body, the "subjective body", is felt directly as the proper term of the human sentient principle and is the seat of corporeal feelings. Other (external) bodies, since they modify not the soul, but the bodily term in connexion with the soul, are felt by an extra- subjective perception. We feel our own bodies as we feel external bodies, through vision, touch etc.; but we al.so feel them immediately with a funda- mental feeling, always identical and substantial, in which no distinct limits, figure, or relation of parts can be assigned. Shape, hardness, colour etc., belong to the extra-subjective world. But the body is not merely felt by the soul; it is also intellectually perceived by the soul in a primordial and immanent judgment, whereby being is applied to it (the body) in the way above described. In this perception is found the true nexus intimately uniting soul and body. The body is the felt-understood term of the human principle which in this intellective synthesis performs its first act as a rational soul and exerts a real physical influence on its bodily term. Hence Ro.smini's defi- nition of life as "the incessant production of all those extra-subjective phenomena which precede, ac- company, and follow parallel with the corporeal and material feeling (subjective)".

Every time that by generation an animated organ- ism is produced, perfectly constituted according to the human type, the vivifying, sentient principle rises to the vision of the intelligible object, ideal being. This happens in virtue of a primordial law, established by Gou in the creative act. There is, however, no chrono- logical passing from sentience to intelligence, as if one could assign an instant in which the human soul was purely sentient and another following in which it ha/i become rational. All is consuiurnitfcd in a single pointof time. The soul's immortality isdc^duced from its nature as an intellective principle having for its object-term thf eternal and necessary idea of being. This is independent of space and tim(!, and the act of intuition continues even after the bodily term has been


dissolved by death, and the soul's immanent percep- tion of its body has been for a period destroyed.

Cosmology, which considers the ordered universe, the nature of contingent real being and its cause, is not a complete science in itself; it must be treated in connexion with the sciences of reasoning in which re- flection, testing the observations of intuition and per- ception, discovers new truths and arrives at the exist- ence of beings beyond the reach of intuition and perception.

The Sciences of Reasoning are ontological and de- ontological. The former comprise ontology and natu- ral theology. Ontology treats of being in all its extent as known to man, viz., ideal being, the necessary object of the intellect; real being, i.e., subjective force and feeling; moral being, the relation between real and ideal — a special act of recognition and adherence on the part of the subject harmonizing it with the object. Light, life, love; intellect, sense, will — -these are the forms under which the essence of being manifests itself in man's world; they are also the foundation of the categories. Natural theology treats of the Absolute Being, God. The existence of God is known, not through perception or direct intuition, but through reasoning. Ideal being is being under only one of its forms and therefore incomplete; in the real world we meet only partial realizations of being. Comparing in reflection the products of our perception with the essence of being manifested in intuition, we see that they do not exhaust the possibilities of that essence; yet this must find its full realization in some way far transcending our experience; it cannot, in that ful- ness, be finite and imperfect as are the things of this world. This knowledge of the Absolute Being Ros- mini calls negative-ideal; it tells us not so much what God is as what God is not.

Definite proofs of God's existence are furnished by being in its essence and in each of its forms. The essence of being is eternal, necessary, infinite; but these attributes it would not possess if it did not sub- sist identical under the other two forms of reality and morality, complete and perfect. Where it exists under all these forms, it is being in every way infinite and absolute, i. e., God. Again, the ideal form that creates intelligence is an eternal object and hence demands an eternal subject with infinite wisdom — God. The real form of being is contingent, and it therefore postulates a First Cause in whose essence subsistence is included. Finally, the binding force of the moral law is eternal, necessary, absolute, and its ultimate sanction must be found in an Absolute Being in whom the essence of holiness subsists. Thus man naturally does not per- ceive God; his knowledge of God is but of a negative kind. In the supernatural order of grace, the real communication of God to man, a new light super- added to that of reason brings man into conjunction with God's own realitj^ which reveals itself to him in an incipient and obscure manner, yet acts upon the soul with positive cfiicacy. Thus the Christian be- comes a new creature, consors divimc naturae.

The deontological sciences treat of the perfections of beings and the ways in which these licrfections may be acquired, produced, or lost. Amongst them, ethics, the science of virtue, is prominent (see "Com- pendio di Etica", Rome, 1907). Each moral act con- tains three elements: the law, the subject's free will, and the relation (agreement or disagreement) between law and will. Man is not a law unto himself; the moral imperative must come from a higher source, from the necessary and universal object of the under- standing Being, manifested to the mind, has an order of its own, and the various entities we know though it oc(!upy different places in the scale of excellence. We cognize them by an art of intellect; we ncognize them by a practical act of our will, ad- hering to the gr)0(l we see in them with an intensity determined by the moral exigence of the object. The