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Foundations of Philosophy


Intellectual Conversion

The transition from the neglected and truncated subject to self-appropriation is not a simple matter. It is not just a matter of finding out and assenting to a number of true propositions. More basically, it is a matter of conversion, of a personal philosophic experience, of moving out of a world of sense and of arriving, dazed and disorientated for a while, into a universe of being.1

Preliminary Exercises

  1. Is space real? If God were to remove all the matter and energy from the universe would there be empty space left over?
  2. Are relations of cause and effect real? If a football player kicks the ball and it moves, how do you know that he is the cause? Can you see him causing the ball to move? Can you see causes? [280]
  3. An old Latin tag says, Actio in distans absolute repugnat, namely, action at a distance is absolutely impossible. How does gravity work across the absolute vacuum of space?
  4. Do Newton's laws of motion belong only in the mind or do they belong somehow to matter in the real world also?
  5. Is there a fundamental difference between a complicated machine and a live worm? What is the difference?
  6. Where is the human soul located? In the heart? In the head? Wholly present everywhere in the body?

1. Dialectic

In the previous chapter we considered the proximate criterion of truth, namely, the imperatives that are operative in the immediate context of considering data, understanding correlations and verifying conclusions. Mistakes do occur in that context but the self-correcting process of knowing usually kicks in; we can recognize and correct our mistakes, learn from them and so attain truth. Having noted that judgments depend also on a larger context, in this instance we are concerned, not with the proximate context of other judgments, but with the remote context of desires, ambitions, expectations motivating the person in the search for truth. For Lonergan the remote criterion of truth is the proper unfolding of the pure detached unrestricted desire to know.2 What that proper unfolding is will be examined in this chapter. We are human persons; we are a whole of many parts; intellect is one potential among many; the desire to know is one desire among many other desires. Just as our knowing is an achieved synthesis of sense and intellect, so the unfolding of the desire to know is an achieved balance between the many sometimes conflicting desires of the human heart.

Much needs to be said - and done - about the appropriation of our desires, feelings and actions.3 In the interests of doing one thing well, we have concentrated until now on the self-appropriation of the process of knowing. However, the deepest source of division, controversy and misunderstanding arises not out of the immediate [281] context of cognitional structure but out of the remote context of the drives, anticipations, and presuppositions underlying our search for understanding. The most radical distortion of understanding comes from twisted motivations and mistaken imaginative anticipations. Our method of self-appropriation can help us to recognize and purge these unconscious and unquestioned background influences. We will consider bias and the hermeneutic of suspicion when we deal with normative objectivity (chapter ten). Here we concentrate on the most basic dialectic involved in the search for knowledge: the presence or absence of intellectual conversion.4

There is a radical dualism at the heart of knowing which we have noticed in passing already in this text: sense knowing and intellectual knowing, imagination and intellect, the animal criterion of the real and the human criterion, the >body > and the thing. It is time to examine these explicitly in order to pin down this dialectic which is at the heart of the unfolding of the desire to know.

A dialectic, in the sense we are using here, is the unfolding of two linked but opposed principles. It is development by way of a tension of opposites.5 The two principles are linked together and unfold in relation to one another. We are not aiming at eliminating one at the expense of the other but of maintaining the tension, discriminating between them, pivoting from one to the other, harmonizing their various activities. We can distinguish sense knowing and human intellectual knowing as the two dialectical principles at work here. We are both animal and rational; we are a unity in tension. Neither term can be eliminated. We grow and develop through the tension of opposites rather than becoming either animals or angels.

We have taken issue with various philosophers on particular points in a specific context. Now it is time to go to the root of philosophical differences and controversies. It is hard to accuse such great philosophers as Descartes, Hume and Kant of being inattentive, unintelligent, or unreasonable, yet we do claim that they are basically and fundamentally wrong in their theories about human knowing. How can this be? Our answer is that at the very root of philosophical differences are unquestioned presuppositions and anticipations of what human knowing must be like. In this chapter [282] we try to uncover those false assumptions and put them in dialectical contrast with our own position.

The theme of intellectual conversion is not a new topic that we meet here for the first time; it is what we have been working at since the beginning of this text. We are now in a position to face it head on explicitly with hope that you are in a position to understand. Working through the exercises you may have become aware of being introduced to a new way of looking at things and you may have realized the enormous importance of some of the insights that you have had. What we have been working towards is a full implementation of what we are now going to call intellectual conversion. In this chapter we will try to encapsulate the transition to intellectual conversion, to thematize it, to help you recognize it as it happens in your own experience.

Perhaps it will seem a bit unusual to use the word 'conversion' in the context of a philosophy of understanding. We are accustomed to encountering the word conversion in the context of religion or moral activity. In such usage 'conversion' signifies a major turnaround in our moral or religious behavior. We associate conversion with decisions to lead a good life, to change from one religion to another, to take seriously the demands of a religious creed. Similarly, we will show that intellectual conversion is a major turnaround in our way of thinking about the world, and that it can be legitimately and helpfully referred to as a conversion.

We are no longer talking about a single insight, or even about a single higher viewpoint. We are not talking about looking at things from different points of view, discovering new theories, or even what has been referred to as paradigm shifts. We are not now talking about particular theoretical developments. We are talking about rejection of the myth that knowing is like looking, and about implementing fully the implications of the idea that the real is the verified.

A conversion is a turning away from and a turning to. It is a radically new beginning, not just a new area of research but a new way of thinking about things. It is a change in the criteria that we use to determine what counts as human knowing. It is a radical break-through in the fundamental area of how we know at all. We [283] will be using many metaphors and images to try to express this but the crucial thing is, as always, not so much to look at the words in the book as to refer them to your own experience of some of the shifts suggested in earlier chapters. This involves a radical transformation of our way of sorting out what is true from what is false.

We might characterize this shift in terms of a vertical horizon change. A horizon is the limit of our viewpoint, the way we customarily approach things, the categories into which we fit our experiences. These horizons can develop horizontally or vertically. Horizontal developments are such that development takes place along a certain line, the horizon is being expanded but within the same bounds. Changes in the horizons take place, more information is added but the horizons remain intact. There is continuity with the previous horizons. But there are also vertical shifts of horizon when the horizon framework itself is radically overhauled and changed, where there is little continuity with the previous horizon, where there is a real challenge to shift into a new way of thinking. A new sequence begins, something new is born.

This involves a personal decision. It may not be the kind of moral or religious decision involved in turning away from sin and believing the gospel, but there has to be a willingness to change and an acceptance of the challenge and the invitation of intellectual conversion. Teachers will often reflect sadly that you can bring a horse to the water but you can't make him drink. You can do so much for students but in the end it is their decision what they are going to do with your pedagogical pearls. Some will be too lazy to do the work required on their own. Some will resist change simply out of stubbornness, fear of the unknown, or resentment. Some will misunderstand what is required and fall into subjectivism or whatever. Some will grasp what is required but decide that that is not their vocation in life and turn to more practical areas. Teaching is an invitation that is conditional on willing acceptance.

There is a startling strangeness about the world of intellectual conversion, rather like suddenly seeing the world for the first time even though we have been living in it all our lives. It is not in any way an exotic or mystical experience, simply an experience of liberation from confusion and skepticism into a knowing that this is [284] it. It is the experience of Plato's cave man liberated from the darkness and exposed to the light of the noon day sun - as long as we realize that the light is not the light of the sun but of insights and judgments.

We will approach the subject using four terminologies, each of which says the same thing in a different way. Hopefully these four approaches will complement one another and at least one will succeed in communicating the full message. The important thing is to focus on relating these accounts to your own cognitive history so as to identify the beginnings of intellectual conversion in your own life. Hence we will study, from >body' to thing; from naive realism to critical realism; from >looking= to judgment; and from the world of immediacy to the world mediated by meaning.

2. From 'Body' to Thing

If you reflect on the process of solving some of the puzzles presented in the preliminary exercises you might wonder why did it take so long. Presented with a problem like the fish (chapter two) we automatically assume that to reverse the fish the tail must become the head. But that doesn't work, no matter how hard we try. It is only when imagination allows us to consider other possibilities that we get it. The difficulty is in breaking free from unquestioned imaginative assumptions as to where the solution lies. Similarly, when asked to join nine points with four lines drawn continuously (chapter two), we automatically assume that the lines must be within the square represented by the points. You can try within those assumptions but you will never solve the problem. Again the breakthrough is to extend lines outside the square and then you get it. Unquestioned imaginative presuppositions are a block to the solution. If you examine other problems you will recognize these blocks to understanding at work. If you ask your bridge partner why he did not lead a spade he may reply, 'Oh, I didn't think of that!' meaning actually that he did not imagine the possibility. We understand what imagination presents to us; if it is not presented it cannot be understood.6 [285]

A similar block exists when we ask questions about human understanding. Powerful, unquestioned, imaginative presuppositions impose on our thinking like blinkers on a horse. These assumptions are dangerous and powerful precisely because they are unquestioned; if they were the result of questioning, you could name them, evaluate and discriminate between them. Because they are unquestioned they continue to exert a powerful background influence frustrating the finding of the correct solution. The predominant unquestioned image concerning knowing is that it is some kind of contact or bridge between a subject 'in the mind' and an object 'outside the mind.' Intellectual conversion involves questioning, identifying and breaking this imaginative presupposition which distorts all considerations about knowing.

1. Animal 'knowing'. Animals live in the biological pattern of experience. They have five external senses and they do have a limited ability to remember, to imagine and to coordinate responses to different stimuli. Their particular interests are very limited and specialized. The whole orientation of their sensing is to successful survival and the satisfaction of basic needs, to protection and the preservation of life. Animal sensation can be sharper, more sensitive, more specialized, than our own human sensing.

We can talk about 'animal knowing' in the restricted sense of a knowing limited to sense or to experience. But it is a knowing that is preintellectual and preconceptual. Animals do not have insights and they do not make judgments. We may speak of some animals as being intelligent and others as being dumb, but this is a very loose use of the word intelligence; few would put animals in the same category as humans when it comes to intelligence. There is a limited learning in animals, based on principles of stimulus and response, which can be satisfactorily explained in terms of the biological pattern of experience of sensitive living.

Animals recognize objects and that is what we mean by 'body'. Dogs recognize their masters; cats recognize mice; a kitten will recognize a saucer of milk; a male weaverbird will recognize a female weaverbird. But again what we mean by recognize here is simply at the level of physical seeing with a minimal reference to memory, to imagination and to instinct. Animals recognize 'bodies'; [286] they recognize what can be sensed and what comes with the orbit of their needs and the imperatives of survival. It is a purely sense knowing.

Let us characterize this elementary knowing as 'the already, out, there, now, real' of the 'body'. An animal finds the world already constituted; there is no transition from potentially intelligible to actually intelligible; the animal does not grasp intelligible relations, causes, species: it sees what is there to be seen; it just opens its eyes and sees; it is automatic, at the level of sensation. There is no process of questioning, insights, hypotheses, and judgments. The 'body' is 'already' there.

The orientation of this elementary knowing is outwards to the environment. Animals do not have identity crises or epistemological problems, and do not reflect on their destiny or lot. The senses are oriented outwards towards external objects. What is real for the animal is an object of sense and it is real if it comes within the range of the interests of survival. It is there now in the sense that animals have to situate 'bodies' in time and place; they live predominantly in the present. They do not have an abstract notion of space and time.

Animals do have a criterion of the real. They can distinguish between a saucer of milk and a picture of a saucer of milk. They can often distinguish between a man and a scarecrow; they can sense traps, fear guns, suspect an unfamiliar smell, etc. Their elementary knowledge is often highly successful and ensures that they preserve their niche in the ecological system. What is real is what can be sensed and what is important in the biological pattern of experience. Animal sensing is dominated by the external senses and the predominant orientation of their sensing toward the already, out, there, now, real.

2. Human knowing. Human knowing, as we have seen, is by way of questions, insights and judgments. We already distinguished the insight into the thing and the insight into properties; most of the insights which we have considered concerned laws, conjugates, properties, solutions to puzzles. These kinds of insights focus on one aspect of the data to seek the intelligibility immanent in that particular data. [287]

But there is an insight that takes the individuality of the thing into account and where all the properties of the concrete thing are relevant. We recognize things by having an insight into the unity and wholeness of the data that pertains to that particular object. There is an insight into properties that is abstractive; there is an insight into a thing that is inclusive, grasping the unity, identity, whole in all the data. It is by way of insight that we recognize the difference between satellites, planets, shooting stars and fixed stars. It is by way of insight that we recognize the difference between oxygen and carbon dioxide, between the black smoke of a flame that is unburned carbon and the white smoke of a just extinguished candle that is vaporized wax.

This is what we mean by a thing, a unity, identity, whole grasped by insight. It is an object of human knowing. It is known by a particular kind of insight into the concrete, individual identity and wholeness of the thing. We do distinguish different substances even though they look very much alike, such as sugar and salt, a real person and a dummy in a shop window, food and a picture of food, between malaria and typhoid even though they may produce the same symptoms. Chemistry distinguishes the hundred elements and the millions of compounds; botany distinguishes between the different genera and species of plant life. These are distinctions between things and they are verifiable. Some classifications have been abandoned in favor of better ones, ones that satisfy the data better. The four elements of earth, air, fire and water of the Greeks have been replaced with the periodic table of the elements on the basis of countless experiments into the properties of different subdivisions of the crude Greek categorization. They are verified not by sense differences but by way of insights and judgments.

In the intellectual pattern of experience, then, we ask questions about the data given in our experience of the world; we formulate possible explanations as to why things are like that; and finally we check as to whether these possible explanations can be verified. We proceed by raising further questions about these and related matters to build up a system of verified terms and relations that constitutes an organized scientific knowledge of some particular area of experience. Our developing understanding pivots from the thing [288] understood as a whole to properties of the thing which we compare with other data; from terms to relations and from relations to terms.

3. Distinction not elimination. We have outlined two kinds of knowing; the elementary sense knowing of 'bodies' of the animals and the intelligent verifiable knowledge of things in insights and judgments. The problem is that we as human beings start predominantly in the biological pattern of experience and only move gradually and partially into the intellectual pattern of experience. We are animals and have inherited the senses of animals and operate first on the criterion of the real which goes with the biological pattern of experience. Emerging within that, we have the transforming influence of intelligence directing our attention, going beyond our senses to the intelligible, and implementing a new criterion of the real as what is known in correct judgments. The difficulty is that the two kinds of knowing, of 'bodies' and of things, are almost inevitably confused. It is only with the greatest difficulty that we have been able to disentangle the different threads. It is only after the exercises and explanations of this book or similar books that we can even approach the subject of 'bodies' and things with some hope of being understood.

Both kinds of knowing are successful in their own way, according to their own criteria. The elementary knowing of animals is highly successful in complicated operations such as building nests, or webs, finding food in the oddest of places, mating patterns and rituals that ensure the survival of the species. Elementary knowing is valid if it succeeds in helping the animal to survive and thrive in its particular niche.

Human knowing is valid in its more complicated way, if it is verified in instances. Its criterion is the virtually unconditioned; it constitutes valid knowing if there is a link between the conditions and the conditioned and if the conditions are fulfilled. We know we are right if no further pertinent questions arise. The matter is closed off, we move on to other questions.

What is needed is not the elimination of either of the two kinds of knowing but their critical distinction. What is needed is to be able to see that there are two criteria of the real and where each operates. That is what we have been getting at and that is one way of [289] describing intellectual conversion. It is recognizing that the criterion of the real in true human knowing is verification and judgment while the criterion of the real in elementary animal knowing is sense and imagination of the 'already out there now real'.

4. Confusion. The biological pattern of experience can be so dominant in our psyche that we assume that criterion of the real into what is supposed to be fully human knowing. Most people survive in a sort of in-between world; they have a great respect for Science but are frankly doubtful about the reality of those abstruse theories and laws. This does not do much damage in ordinary everyday life but can be disastrous if it introduced to science and philosophy. The survival of unquestioned assumptions, expectations and presuppositions of elementary knowing in what is supposed to be fully human knowing is the source of endless confusion.

The majority of scientists and philosophers have not learned to distinguish these two criteria and thus live in a kind of confusion of the two criteria. Newton is a good example of a scientist who insisted that the basic principle of science is that everything must be verifiable and verified; he implemented this principle rigorously until he came to the question of space and time. Certain relations of space and time that could be verified he called relative space and time, because there was always some relation by which the space and time was defined and verified. But he was unable to accept this as the whole story; his imagination and expectation was so strong that he was forced to postulate an absolute space and time which was not relative. Although Newton claimed to verify this postulation by means of the bucket experiment,7 this was just rationalization. Absolute space and time is an example of the 'already out there now real' of animal knowing. Newton's expectation that to be real something must be touchable or seeable or imaginable was so strong that he could not believe that the reality of space and time was fully encapsulated in his laws and relations of motion and time. His absolute space is the invisible intangible empty receptacle which Plato imagined preexisted the work of the Demiurge in the formation of the world.

5. Unverifiable Images. Closely related to this is the question of the unverifiable images. We have already seen that in the field of [290] descriptive relations there are verifiable images, as we are by definition relating things to our senses. But we also saw that in the field of explanation there are no verifiable images because by definition we are relating things to one another.

On the criterion of the out there now real, this is unacceptable. If something is real it has to be imaginable; the image is the criterion of the real. Atoms are little marbles, particles constituted by a nucleus with electrons spinning around in various orbits like the planetary system. Electrons, protons and neutrons are smaller marbles which are also real because they can be imagined. If there are smaller particles out of which these are constituted then those quarks or whatever you want to call them are still smaller marbles. If when you point out that nobody has ever seen an atom, people operating out of this criterion of the real are not put out. They say that this is what atoms will look like when we do see one! If you insist that atoms are explanatory concepts, they will accuse you of idealism and still insist that atoms are real and hence imaginable.

The problem with this whole line of thinking is that the atom is a unit of explanatory knowledge. It is defined in terms of relations of things to one another; it is one of the terms defined by the relations of an explanatory system. There is no verifiable image. There is no 'out there now real'. There is no foothold for the imagination. For pedagogical reasons we construct a model which embodies and symbolizes the relations of things to one another, but the reality is in the equations and not in the model. When the scientist, having verified his equations and laws, tries to tell us what the sub-atomic world really looks like, he is foisting on us unverifiable images. He does it because he cannot distinguish the real as the out there now and the real as what is verified in instances. Such confusion is a perennial source of nonsense.

6. Reductionism. A crucial case is the question of things within things.8 The scientists tell us that there are about one hundred basic elements out of which everything else is made. Atoms combine to form the compounds that are studied in chemistry; they combine in even more complicated ways to produce living cells which are studied in biology. Cells develop and evolve and form more complicated systems so that eventually we have plant life. Again [291] plants evolve and develop and become more complicated and integrated systems. Then behold, we have animals. The question of things within things is the question, is water nothing more then hydrogen and oxygen? Does hydrogen and oxygen continue to exist as hydrogen and oxygen in water? Is an animal nothing more than the sum of its cells? Do the cells have an existence, meaning, identity, apart from the larger whole? Are atoms things within molecules? Are cells things within organisms?

What is an animal made out of? The biologist will probably reply that it is made out of water, carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen in such and such percentages; if you reduce an animal to its parts these are the parts out of which it is made. This response is explicitly reductionist. An animal is what it is made out of and nothing more. It is made out of chemical elements and compounds and this is what makes an animal. In this kind of thinking an animal is simply a very complicated machine, no more than the sum of its parts. For such scientists there is no problem of things within things: the atoms survive as atoms in the wholeness of the animal. An animal is simply the sum of its parts and the parts ultimately are atoms and compounds and cells. Cells are nothing more than a complicated system of compounds, and compounds as everybody knows are just combinations of elements. If you think of atoms as imaginable entities flying around in space then you will inevitably arrive at this position. This is thinking in terms of 'bodies'.

We have given quite a different account of knowing a thing. A thing is a unity, identity, whole that we grasp by understanding and judging data in its concrete individuality. In descriptive knowing there is a verifiable image; in explanatory knowing there is implicit definition of terms and relations and no verifiable images. The elements that form the basis of the periodic table are terms defined by their relations to one another in an explanatory construct based on atomic weight. Symbols and images for these elements are constructed for pedagogical reasons, not seen. What about chemical compounds? Are they simply the sum of the parts or are they more than the sum of the parts?

Aristotle faced this problem with the syllable.9 Is the syllable C A T simply the sum of the three individual letters or does it have [292] something more? He answered that it has something more but that 'more' is not a material entity but precisely the unity of the three letters, which he called a form. We would agree with him. Reality is known not by the senses alone but by insight into verifiable intelligibilities. Chemical compounds are different from mixtures. They have a unity, an identity, a permanence that the chemist studies and explains; they become the terms defined by the explanatory relations of chemistry. The compounds of chemistry have something more than the parts out of which they are made; this more is not another material element but an intelligibility, a unity, an identity, a permanence which is grasped not by sense but by insight and judgment.

To our way of thinking, there is a problem of things within things. We cannot simply say that compounds are the sum of the elements out of which they are made; we cannot say that cells are simply the sum of the chemical compounds and reactions out of which they are made. We cannot say that an animal can be fully explained by enumerating the various parts out of which it is made; an animal is not simply a complicated machine. There are different kinds of unities and identities pertaining to different levels of the real. These are not grasped by imagination but by explanatory insights and judgments. Aristotle distinguished between the material cause (what is a thing made out of?) and the formal cause (what is it?). Those who think in terms of 'body' and 'out there now real' tend to think in terms of material cause as if it were the complete explanation. People who think in terms of knowing as understanding and judging realize that knowing what a thing is made of is useful and helpful; but that there is a further question as to what is a thing. The further question cannot be answered in terms of its parts, but must be answered in terms of its form, its formal cause, what we refer to as the intelligibility, the unity, the identity of the thing.

7. Conclusion. Our theme is intellectual conversion. We are defining a transition from elementary knowing to the knowing constituted by experiencing, understanding and judging. The point of the above is to give an example of this transition. It is of crucial importance. Confusion over the criterion of knowing has pervaded philosophy since the beginning and still pervades and underlies [293] every philosophic discussion. In most cases it is simply taken for granted that what is real is what is 'already out there now'. This is the unquestioned assumption of all forms of empiricism but is also implicit in many other brands of idealism and realism. Our point is not to teach about the history of philosophy or science but to invite the reader to recognize the dialectic of these two criteria of the real in his own consciousness. To be able to differentiate between these two realms, that of elementary knowing and of the knowing of judgment, is one way of defining intellectual conversion.

3. Naive Realism to Critical Realism

We continue to focus on intellectual conversion but we now approach this in terms of what a philosophy considers to be real. We will take a few sample philosophers to try to penetrate their unspoken assumptions about what is real and then outline the critical realist position, which is another way of defining intellectual conversion. At the heart of every philosophy there is the question of what the philosophy considers as real. Some philosophies do give an explicit answer to this question in others the answer is implicit in the criteria they use. Sometimes it is very difficult for a philosophy to face up to this fundamental question and its answer may not be always clear. It is such a fundamental question that the position on the real sets the agenda for the rest of the philosophy

1. Naive Realism. The naive realist is blissfully unaware that there are two criteria of the real, hence he is unable to recognize or distinguish between them. Consequently he operates sometimes on the basis of imagination, sometimes on the basis of verification, in a haphazard and indiscriminate manner. The person of common sense embodies a confused mingling of the realism of the 'out there now' real and the criterion of judgment. Both elementary knowing and critical knowing are operative but in a confused undifferentiated mess. No great harm ensues as long as the person does not try to become a philosopher or a scientist or a philosopher of science. But if he does become a theoretician he will carry the criteria and the mentality of elementary knowing with him into the field of theory and explanation and system. The predominant image in the naive realist is that of the real as out there; if this is assumed into a [293] philosophy or science then nothing but confusion and nonsense can follow.

2. Plato. We cannot pretend here to do justice to the wealth of Plato=s thought on knowledge and his related metaphysics. There have been so many critical studies of Plato's thought that one is almost afraid to say that he held any particular position. Our sketch intends only to illustrate his way of thinking and some of the apparent presuppositions behind that way of thinking. Our route into the mind of Plato is the expressions of the characters in his dialogues. We center on the question of what is real; not on the answers so much as on how Plato went looking for an answer. We can only assemble some fragments hoping that it will be sufficient to make our point.

The problem of negative or false statements was an area of great difficulty for Plato.10 His difficulty stemmed from his expectation that for every concept or statement in the mind there was something outside the mind corresponding to it. But what exists outside the mind corresponding to negative or false statements? It suggests the ultimate absurdity that there is a non-being that corresponds to these falsehoods, namely, that non-being is. This Plato was not willing to accept so he had to leave the question unresolved. It did not strike him that he might question his unspoken assumption that knowing was a perfect correspondence between in here and out there.

In the Sophist Plato explicitly faces the issue as to reality and unreality.11 He begins with a consideration of the history of the question. Some have said there are three real beings, some have said two, and the Eleatic set say there is only one real thing. All of these fall to the same argument. If we take the Eleatics as an example; they say that the real is only one. But the one is not the same as the real, and the real is not the same as the one; and so there are at least two things, the one and the real! Reading the passage and the rather labored arguments it seems to be that Plato=s real difficulty lay in the expectation that corresponding to every concept in the mind like real, one, being, hot, cold, there must be a corresponding something outside the mind in a sort of one to one correlation with the concept.

Another of Plato's assumptions seems to have been that real knowledge must be 'infallible and of what is'.12 When he then comes [295] to distinguishing between different kinds of knowledge he divides it into sense knowledge and intellectual knowledge. Only the latter constitutes true knowledge because it is knowledge of 'what is' and what does not change. The trouble with knowledge of sense is that its object is constantly changing. How can you have permanent knowledge of what is always changing? Hence in the metaphor of the divided line and of the cave he teaches that sense knowledge cannot be of 'what is' because the world is constantly changing. Intellectual knowledge can be of 'what is' because of the existence of the subsistent Forms.

The implication of this theory of knowledge is that outside the mind corresponding to sense knowledge you have the material, visible, changing world; corresponding and as it were validating intellectual knowledge you have the changeless, perfect subsistent Forms. The dominant unspoken assumption of all of this discussion is the attempt to correlate what goes on in the mind to the corresponding realities outside the mind. But does this image of correspondence derive from imagination or understanding?

3. The reality of Universals. This dispute dominated the early Middle Ages but has a long history in medieval and contemporary times. Universals include concepts such as man or dog, laws of physics or chemistry such as the law of gravity, virtues such as justice or courage, or accidental forms such as qualities or quantities. The problem arose as to in what sense are they real. Our interest is not so much in the universals but in what was intended by the word real. This examination should help us to see the different meanings of real assumed by various philosophies. For the same of convenience and simplicity we will divide them into three groups.

Firstly, the Nominalists and Positivists deny that there are any natures or essences or universals at all; there are only individual, concrete, particular things. They deny any reality to universals or natures outside the mind. They will admit that we formulate categories of things in our minds, like trees, and atoms, and dogs, but that is only for convenience; the only thing they have in common is the same name, hence, nominalism. There is nothing outside the mind in dogs or atoms or trees corresponding to this linguistic classification. [296]

Secondly, there are the Ultra-Realists, who hold that universals are real, not only in the mind but also outside the mind, as universals. The standard interpretation of Plato would exemplify this position: the Forms or Universals exist apart, perfect, subsistent, unchanging, eternal. Particular things, trees, beautiful art, virtuous people participate in or imitate these Universals and draw their reality from them.

Thirdly, the moderate realists hold that the universal exists as a universal in the knowing subject but that it exists individualized in the particular, outside the mind. This would be the position of Aristotle, Aquinas and mainstream scholasticism. In contrast to Plato, who held that Forms were transcendent, Aristotle held that they were immanent. For Aristotle forms are received materially in the concrete particular; they are received immaterially in the mind; but it is the same form or universal.

The reality of universals is still a contentious issue today particularly in the philosophy of science. Our approach of self-appropriation invites us to ask the following questions: Where do universals come from? What function do they perform? Are they real?

Universals come from the process of generalizing and the correct expression of that generalization in a concept or definition. >Humanity= is a philosophical generalization expressing the idea that all human beings have something in common, belong to the came category, and are somehow the same. We can further define what we have in common as rational animal or symbol-making animal; you can further specify or explain these terms. It is the act of basic human understanding that produces the universal and without that process of generalizing, of grasping a universal, there is no intellectual knowing. The senses know particulars as particulars; intelligence can only know the universal in the particular, namely, the particular as belonging to a category or class or universal. Earlier we outlined the heuristic process by which the human mind produces ideas from images.

Universals function in that they enable us to know individuals as members of a class. The universal is a means by which we distinguish chalk from cheese, humans from non-humans, living [297] from non-living. First we understand the differences between these categories; then we express the reasons why they are different; by a reflex action we can attend to the universal as an object and define it. Primarily, universals function in our science of objects as that by which we classify, distinguish and relate. Secondarily, we reflect on the categories, define clearly the criteria for belonging to that category and formulate the definition clearly.

Are universals real? The Nominalists claim that there is no reality to universals outside the mind; there are only individuals. But we know individuals as individuals by way of the senses; our experience of the process of intellectual knowing indicates that we know things as particular examples of universals, we generalize, we put them into categories; it seems there is some reality to universals apart from our thinking or talking of them.

Few follow the line of Plato today asserting the reality of universals as universals. Individual trees we encounter; trees in general we do not. Individual horses we see; but horseness itself we do not see. Things can be numbered but number itself we do not encounter.

The experience that we have outlined of the process of going from the particular to the general and vice versa seems to indicate both that there are individuals and that they do belong to genus and species. They can be grouped together and this grouping is not artificial and extrinsic but how things are. Awareness of the activity of understanding seems to indicate the kind of understanding appropriate to this world of ours. We do not encounter natures or essences apart from particulars. It is one aspect of organizing intelligence to categorize individuals in classes. This does not seem to be an artificial or arbitrary procedure and seems to be capable of verification. Our experience would seem to indicate that as understanding pivots from the particular to the general, so also the individual is one of a species or genus. We will answer the question of the reality of universals when we state the criterion of critical realism.

4. Descartes. Proceeding from his methodic doubt, to the cogito, to the existence of God, to the reliability of our knowledge, Descartes then faces the question of what he considers to be real. He [298] divides the real into two, Matter and Spirit. Matter is identical with extension and therefore there can be no vacuum, no void, no space with nothing in it. Here, metaphysics is determining science: his exclusion of a void is not based on observation but on a deduction from metaphysics. Spirit is thought and does not occupy space. It seems that this distinction between Matter and Spirit is based on imagination rather then judgment as we see from two examples, of qualities, and the mind/body relation.

Matter is extension. Extension is one of the primary qualities that belong to matter; these primary qualities are real. Secondary qualities like color and taste and smell are not real; they are not in the matter as qualities but they are in the matter as powers to create these sensations in us. Secondary qualities do not exist outside the mind as qualities but as powers, virtually present in that somehow they cause these reactions in our senses. We can catch a glimpse of the unquestioned assumption that to be real is to be 'out there' while to be unreal is to be out there not in essence but only as a power. But does the model of in here and out there provide the criterion of the truth?

If there are two real things, Matter and Spirit, how are they related, particularly in the case of the human person who is both body and mind? Descartes seems to have thought of Spirit as invisible, intangible, outside time and space, but still real meaning, a 'stuff', a ghost, an imaginable, ethereal entity. If matter is coterminous with extension, it is hard to see how it can be affected by Spirit. How can mind, which is spiritual, affect body, which is material, when they belong to such distinct realms? Descartes solved this for himself by postulating one point of contact in the pineal gland. This may have satisfied his imagination, but his successors were more critical and had to invent more complicated theories of occasionalism and parallelism to account for contact between mind and body.13 Descartes started modern philosophy off on a false dichotomy between Spirit and Matter, soul and body, ghost in a machine, from which it has not yet recovered. Try to recognize the influence of imagination in the definition of spirit and the question of interaction between matter and spirit. [299]

5. Immanuel Kant. Although Kant attempts to break into a new critical philosophy and leave behind the rationalistic scholasticism of Leibniz and Wolff, his thinking continues to depend on some of the basic assumptions of these philosophies. One of these was the assumption of inner and outer, knowing being inner, and the known being outer.

According to Kant, "There can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience."14 "The capacity (receptivity) for receiving representations through the mode in which we are affected by objects, is entitled sensibility."15 Phenomena can be known because we have an intuition of them; even though sensibility needs the pure forms of space and time, it is clear that at the level of sensibility we have a knowledge of what is really out there by way of the senses. By sensible intuitions we have direct contact between the mind and phenomena.

But at the level of understanding there is a problem for Kant; if all our knowledge comes through the senses, how can the senses know causality, substantiality, unity, etc.? "But all thought must, directly or indirectly, by way of certain characters, relate ultimately to intuitions, and therefore, with us, to sensibility, because in no other way can an object be given to us."16 The only channel between the knower and the known, the inner and the outer, is the senses which by definition can only receive representations. Therefore, we have no way of contacting substance or cause to know if it is really out there. In Kant's terminology, we have no way of knowing the thing-in-itself, the noumenon.

If the reality of substance, cause, etc. cannot be grounded in the out there now real, then Kant's Copernican revolution proposes, let us ground it in the mind itself. We need these categories if there is to be any understanding, so let us propose that these concepts are a priori concepts of the Understanding. Hence he elaborates his twelve categories, among them the category of Inherence and Subsistence. He uses both the notion of permanence and the notion of substratum in proving this inner reality of substance: "In all changes of appearances, substance is permanent; its quantum in nature is neither increased nor decreased."17 "But the substratum of all that is real, that is, of all that belongs to the existence of things, is [300] substance; and all that belongs to existence can be thought only as a determination of substance."18

This thinking led Kant to the impossibility of pure reason knowing the thing-in-itself, the noumenon; nevertheless he supposed that the noumenon lies out there now behind the appearances. His theory of knowledge denied him the possibility of knowing a noumenon but his imagination demanded that we presume a noumenon. Thus he was left with the strange alternative of grounding knowledge in the a priori categories and still supposing that there is a noumenon out there corresponding to these concepts.

6. Critical Realism. The phrase 'critical realism' is sometimes associated with Kant's approach to thinking in terms of the a priori conditions for the possibility of knowing. For Kant the principal task of philosophy it to establish these a priori conditions for the possibility of knowing. There is, however, a certain contradiction involved in establishing the preconditions of knowing when at the same time you are already knowing. Can you look at the mind and at reality from the outside as it were to establish what it can know and what it cannot know? Our strategy has been quite different. We have been examining many concrete examples of successful and correct knowing and examining the mental activities involved in this process. We have been appealing not to any Authority but to successful knowing in each person. We have been appealing to our own experience of the different criteria of the real, and the implications of this for philosophy. We have been discovering for ourselves the actual limits of our knowing, from the inside, not from the outside.

For us, then, critical realism is a realism in which "the real is the verified. It is what is known by the knowing constituted by experience and inquiry, insight and hypothesis, reflection and verification."19 It is a break with the criterion of the out there now real; it leaves behind predominant influence that imagination imposes on us in terms of in here and out there. It distinguishes elementary knowing and critical knowing. It recognizes the need for explanation and theory and yet accepts that at the level of explanation there are no verifiable representative images. Our [301] knowing is coterminous with verification and verification occurs in judgment. Our knowing is nothing more or less than that.

Are universals real? Very often the question was posed in the context the animal criterion of the real, in other words, are universals 'bodies', are they out there now real. Put in the context of our criterion of the verified, the question becomes can universals be verified. Can you verify that Africans and Europeans belong to the same human race? Can you verify the law of gravity? Can you verify that this is green and that is red? Humanity is real, not in the sense of being apart from individuals, but in the sense that all human beings are really fully human beings. The law of gravity is real not in being apart from matter, but in being intelligibility of matter. To ask where are the laws of physics, or where are the universals is to regress to imaginative presuppositions that to be real they must be in place.

Plato, Descartes and Kant in their own different ways were dominated by the imaginative assumption that knowing is a matter of crossing the bridge from thinking in here to reality out there. Intellectual conversion can be understood as abandoning that imaginative schema altogether. It is correct judgments that define what is real. It is not a question of imagination but of judgments. The question of subject and object will be faced, but it will be done in terms of judgments and not in terms of unquestioned imaginative expectations.

4. From 'Looking' to Knowing

1. Insight/Intuition. Another way of talking about the transition involved in intellectual conversion is to grasp the difference between knowing modeled on ocular vision and the knowing of cognitional structure. Seeing is the predominant sense and offers itself as a ready and dominant paradigm when it comes to intellectual knowing. Many philosophers have fallen into this temptation and talk about knowing as an intuition; for them knowing is conceived on the model of looking. Just as looking is one simple operation of direct sensation, for these philosophers intellectual knowing is simple direct intellectual perception. Just as the sense of seeing is predominantly passive, i.e., we open our eyes and we see [302] what is there to be seen; so also intellectual knowing is passive, i.e., we see with our intellectual vision what is already there to be seen. Just as seeing is immediate - there is no obstacle or intermediary involved in the direct vision of objects - so intuition is a direct vision of essences, causes, being or universals.

In this section we will consider a few philosophers who have elaborated a theory of knowledge based on this assumption that intellectual knowing must be something like seeing. We use the word 'intuition' to describe that sort of knowing which is modeled on 'looking'; Webster defines intuition as "the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge without evident rational thought and inference."20 Intuition is quite different from insight. Insight we have already explained at length; it is understanding of relations perceived in data under the influence of questioning; it can be direct or reflective; knowing is not just insights but experiencing, understanding, and judging; the only distinction we have between sense knowing and intellectual knowing is that between elementary knowing, which is animal knowing, and the human knowing constituted by experiencing, understanding and judging. To avoid possible confusion in the English language between insight and intuition and we have explained the difference. In French there is only the one word l'intuition for the two meanings differentiated above. Yet it is clear that the two French authors that we will be considering are using l=intuition not in the sense of 'insight' but in the sense of 'intuition'.

2. John Duns Scotus. Aquinas held quite explicitly that the primary and proper object of the human intellect is the essence of the concrete individual. Hence for Aquinas knowing is always through phantasms by a process of abstraction, i.e. understanding. For Scotus however the primary and proper object of intellect is being as being, the universal as such. Here Scotus had to distinguish two kinds of knowing, intuitive knowing and abstractive knowing. Because being as being does not exist as such separate from individual beings, how do we come to know something as a being? By abstractive knowledge we know something as a universal, by intuitive knowing we know something as actually a being and actually existent. "Intuitive knowledge is knowledge of an object as [303] present in its actual existence and it is against the nature of intuitive knowledge that it should be knowledge of an object which is not actually existent and present."21

For Aquinas the proper object of human intellect is the essence of the concrete thing; primarily we know the essence, secondarily by a kind of turning around we can know the individual; but we can never have intellectual knowing of the individual as an individual. For Scotus we have a direct intuitive clear knowledge of the individual. For Scotus there is an intuition that accompanies every act of human knowing, whether it is the intuition of being or the intuition of the concrete individual. One has reason to suspect that what he means by intuition is having a good direct look at something.

3. Henri Bergson.22 Bergson was not particularly happy with the philosophical system builders of his time. Philosophy had become too abstract and systematic and too far removed from concrete concerns or the life of the spirit. Philosophers were trying to understand all possible and even impossible worlds. His was an attempt to bring philosophy back into the stream of life.

For Bergson there are two ways of knowing, the analytic and the intuitive. The analytic is the method of science and of the philosophical system builders. Intuition on the other hand is immediate consciousness of an object. The object of intuition is reality. Science deals with matter using the method of analysis. Philosophy deals with spirit and its method is intuitive. It is only in intuition that the mind can have direct awareness of the actual movement of life.

The primary object of such intuition is movement, becoming, duration. For Bergson this is reality. There are changes, but there are not, under the change, things which change; change has no need of a support. This is a point of fundamental importance in his philosophy. It is a philosophy of change or of evolution or of life. Analysis kills what is being analyzed; only intuition enables us to grasp a living changing reality. Bergson accuses traditional philosophers of abstracting a lifeless system of concepts from reality and losing touch with the vitality of reality. The philosopher should take as his point of departure an intuitive or immediate awareness of [304] the inner life of the spirit as it is lived, then prolong this intuition in reflection.

It is clear that Bergson is reacting against a conceptualist kind of philosophy which we also reject. But while it would be nice to think that we have direct intuitions of movement, life and duration, all this boils down to a matter of fact. We have constantly appealed to the data of consciousness to identify the characteristics of insight and have found no evidence for Bergson's immediate intuition of the elan vital.

4. Jacques Maritain. Jacques Maritain gave a series of lectures in Paris in which he attempted to popularize his renewed Thomism. These were published in Preface to Metaphysics.23 Even allowing for the fact that it was a popular lecture series we get a clear idea of the role of intuition from these extracts from Lecture three:

For the intuition of being is also the intuition of its transcendental character and analogical value. It is not enough to employ the word being, to say 'being'. We must have the intuition, the intellectual perception of the inexhaustible and incomprehensible reality thus manifested as the object of this perception. It is this intuition that makes the metaphysician.....

We are confronted here with a genuine intuition, a perception direct and immediate, an intuition not in the technical sense which the ancients attached to the term, but in the sense we may accept from modern philosophy. It is a very simple sight, superior to any discursive reasoning or demonstration, because it is the source of demonstration. It is a sight whose content and implications no words of human speech can exhaust or adequately express and in which in a moment of decisive emotion, as it were, of spiritual conflagration the soul is in contact, a living, penetrating, and illuminating contact, with a reality which it touches and which takes hold of it....

Even allowing for the rather poetic language, we can see the importance of intuition in Maritain's philosophy. You cannot be a metaphysician without it. Even Kant, he goes on to explain, did not have this intuition, this gift, this revelation which he calls an intellectual perception, a sight. It is an intellectual vision, a looking directly at being. It is direct and immediate with no complicated abstractions of universals from images or insights into the sufficiency of the evidence. It is a confrontation model of knowing where the known is over against the knower. We get in contact with this reality, we touch it by way of this direct intuition. [305]

Perhaps Maritain is describing a mystical experience proper more to religion than to philosophy. But as philosophers do we have these intuitions? Is this how we know universals? Is this how we know being? The simplest test is the question of fact. Is this a correct objectification of the process of knowing? Is this what actually happens in our minds when we understand something or judge something to be true? Do we have experiences of direct intellectual visions of an 'inexhaustible and incomprehensible reality'?

5. Correspondence/Confrontation/Identity. If you envisage knowing on the model of looking you will tend towards a confrontational model of knowing. Looking readily suggests a looking subject and a looked at object in immediate contact by way of ocular vision; the object is quite separate from, opposed to, in confrontation over against the subject. This model of knowing will suggest that the intellect has direct immediate contact with its intelligible object in a kind of intuition but the object is quite distinct from and in confrontation with the subject. This in turn will probably lead to an imaginative version of the correspondence theory of truth: truth lies in correspondence between what is in the mind (looking) and what is outside the mind (the looked at).

Aristotle proposed a quite different theory of knowing, not by confrontation but by identity. Even at the level of sense knowing the confrontation model limps - for Aristotle the sensible in act is identical with the sense in act. For sensation to occur there must be some kind of assimilation, identity, rather then simple confrontation. If a tree falls in a forest with nobody within earshot does it make a sound? I think Aristotle would answer that there is potential sound but no actual sound; to have sound you have to have a hearing; there are vibrations in the air (potential sound) but no hearing and so no actual sound. Even at the level of sensation there must be some kind of assimilation or identity between the sensing and the sensed. Sensation is passive reception of sense impressions assimilated according to the mode of the receiving sense.

More so at the level of human intellectual knowing, Aristotle insists on the model of identity rather than that of confrontation: the intelligible in act is identical with the intellect in act; the form received materially in the concrete thing is received immaterially in [306] the intellect but it is the same intelligibility or form; intellect is in potency to become all things. When we know a stone we possess the intelligibility of the stone; the intelligibility of a particular stone is received immaterially in the intellect as an idea. For intellectual knowing to occur there must be some kind of assimilation or identity between the knowing and the known.24

Can we transpose this discussion into a terminology with which we are now familiar from examining the experience of insight and judgment? My experience of cognitional process is that it is a complicated procedure combining many activities at different levels into one structure of knowing. It is not simple in the sense of one act with one object, but is instead a series of acts which are components of one whole. It is passive in the sense that the data is given in the senses; but intellect is active in questioning, in searching for theories that explain the data, and in sorting out which theories can be verified and which are to be rejected because they cannot be verified. Knowledge is not immediate, intuitive or simple but is mediated by the senses, the images, the questions, the hypotheses that contribute to a true judgment.

At the level of understanding we can agree with Aristotle that we grasp the intelligibility in an immaterial reception. Our definition of water grasped as a universal concept in the mind is identical with the intelligibility of the individual concrete instance of water. But there does also have to be a differentiation by which we distinguish the universal from the particular, the intelligible from the sensible, the subject from the object but this happens in the judgment. 'This is water', asserts that this sensible data is an instance of the definition of water.

We could espouse a correspondence theory of truth in the sense that there must be a correspondence, not in terms of in here and out there, but between our judgments and what is. How do we know if a judgment is true? It is true if the evidence is sufficient; if other alternatives have been excluded; if there is a proportion between the evidence and the conclusion; if the judgment corresponds with what is. You know your judgment is true if you are sure of your grounds, no further pertinent questions arise, you are sure that your motives are honest and your methods above board, your inquiry has been [307] exhaustive, there is nothing further to be gained by delaying, you move on to other matters. It is inquiring intelligence which explores every possibility, which ensures that other alternatives are excluded, that there are sufficient grounds for this judgment; and posits the judgment. A wrong judgment will soon be shown not to be in correspondence with the facts, the evidence, the data. If you do not uncover this for yourself, someone else will surely have the pleasure of pointing out your inconsistency.

In conclusion, we do not appeal to the authority of the Aristotle but the witness of cognitional facts. What are the facts of your own experience of understanding and judging? It seems to me that knowing is a complicated series of activities, both sensitive and intellectual, both active and passive, involving elements of identity and elements of differentiation. One single imaginative model cannot do justice to the complexity of human knowing. To think of knowing as looking is most tempting but ultimately fails. Intellectual conversion is accepting the witness of what actually happens when we know and abandoning the oversimple image of knowing as looking. Knowing may begin in seeing, but includes also understanding and judging.

5. From Immediacy to the World Mediated by Meaning

Another approach to intellectual conversion is to trace the evolution from one way of thinking about reality to another as it emerges in the infant, the child, and the adult. What follows is just a sketch of the relevant aspects of intellectual development. More detailed and complete analysis of intellectual development could be found in Piaget or any of the other cognitional psychologists. Unfortunately, none of them focus on the precise development of insight and reflection in which we are interested.

The infant starts in the world of immediacy.25 What is real is the sum total of what is seen, heard, touched, tasted, smelled and felt. The infant is a bundle of sensations, emotions and experiences. What is real is what can be grasped physically, what can be felt by the hands and usually put in the mouth. The infant has difficulty at [308] first developing a sense of identity or, even identifying the parts of his own body, but soon develops a sense of what is inside and what is outside. The infant lives in the present, is dominated by its needs and the satisfaction of those needs, and is thoroughly egocentric. There is little to distinguish the development of the infant from that of the animal. An infant's sensorimotor development is very slow compared to other animals and the period of dependence on the parent is longer than for other animals. This is the world of immediacy, the world of what is immediately present to the senses. The criterion of what is real in this world is what the senses can see, grasp and put in the mouth.

But the infant slowly and exultantly moves into a world mediated by meaning. Perhaps the first clear expression of intelligence is by way of naming; the parents are named and hence identified, recognized, distinguished from other objects and persons. Other basic objects and needs are named as the process of moving into the world of meaning advances. All sorts of other developments take place. In identifying shapes, distinguishing noises and colors, and knowing the cause and the meaning, associations are built up and general categories and conclusions reached. The world of immediacy is giving way to the expanded world mediated by meaning.

Eventually the child's world is not simply the present but also a past that is remembered, promises that were made and have to be fulfilled, a rule that was laid down which must be kept, a routine that has to be fulfilled. There is the future, the possibility of postponing gratification, plans laid down for future activities, looking forward to future events. The world is not only what is physically present but what is absent for the moment; places can be named and visited. People who are absent are still part of the child's consciousness and concern. What is learned by understanding is passing into the habitual texture of the mind.

Beliefs about God, fairies, monsters, Santa Claus, mingle in a confused bundle of fiction, fantasy and fact. Each culture will feed the child with its own language, its own stories, its own way of behaving, its customs, clothes, music, prayer and duties. Being so dependent on adults the child accepts most of what it is told on the [309] authority of the parents. The child will move into that world of values, beliefs, causes, and mores which is usually a mixture of fact and fantasy. Stories about Jesus from the Bible are followed by Santa Claus, Cinderella, the man in the Moon, etc., according to the different cultures.

The child is usually very anxious to know about these things and incessantly asks, "Why?" But some answers do not satisfy; a period of silence might ensue while the child digests the answer and then replies, "but..." raising an objection to the proposed answer. It is reason that is immanent and operative, now beginning to distinguish between what makes sense and what does not make sense, that for which there is evidence and that which contradicts the evidence. At a certain point the story of Santa Claus no longer stands up to criticism, the evidence is against it, suspicions are aroused, a test is made, the presents are found hidden in a closet, a myth has been exploded, the child is moving into the hard reality of fact.

A new criterion of meaning and truth is becoming operative: it is verification, in a basic rudimentary way. This is the world of meanings conferred on objects, values that guide behavior, truths about how things work, mathematics that determine what you can buy with so much money, how things are to be shared, how things are made. Natural properties are recognized: gravity in sliding down an incline, fire that burns, water in which you can float and swim, paper airplanes that fly through the air. This is the world of meaning, constructed by insights and generalizations, and gradually being checked against the available evidence.

This world mediated by meaning will expand enormously through education; it can move in many different directions depending on the culture, the educational possibilities available, and the choices of the person. He can move into the world of nuclear physics, the world of scriptural exegesis, the world of historical scholarship, computer programming, literary studies, theology or mysticism. These are worlds not given in the direct data of sense but mediated by insights and judgments and embodied in technology and systems of theories.

Again we can see that two different criteria of what is real are operative. For the infant in the world of immediacy, it is the senses [310] that prove what is real by touching, seeing and tasting. But in the world mediated by meaning it is the more intangible criterion of verification, sufficient evidence, the correctness of a judgment, that is the criterion of the real. The criterion of verification emerges spontaneously in the context of the prior criterion of sense. The two criteria coexist in a state of tension and perhaps confusion. Most people of common sense never realize that these two criteria are there. It is when you move into theory that you need to distinguish explicitly between these two criteria.

The difficulty arises when a scientist tries to tell us what scientific reality really looks like. It arises when a philosopher gives us a theory of reality without having distinguished the two criteria of the real. The difficulty arises by the persistence of the earlier criterion of the real when what should be evoked is the mature criterion of verification and judgment. But judgment is a very impalpable criterion and we often revert to the basic instinct that what is real is what can be sensed, seen and touched. This is the bane of every philosophy, the underlying and basic dualism unfolding throughout the history of philosophy, yet it is seldom adverted to, seldom recognized, seldom overcome.

Hopefully, we have identified in our own consciousness the operation of these two criteria of the real; our objectification of the process of knowing should have laid bare this basic dualism. It is a constant struggle to apply the principle of sufficient evidence and to deny the expectations of imaginative representation. This again is the theme of intellectual conversion.

6. Clarifications on Intellectual Conversion

From one point of view intellectual conversion can be said to be simple, from another to be very difficult. It is simple in the sense that we spontaneously substitute the criterion of verification for the criterion of animal sensing as we move from the world of the child to the world mediated by meaning. The child rejecting the story of Santa Claus is operating on the principle of sufficient reason. The world mediated by meaning is not confined to philosophers or [311] intellectuals; it includes anyone who operates on the criterion of verified meaning.

The difficulty is in objectifying this process, distinguishing the two worlds and implementing this distinction consistently and universally. It can be very difficult, as we have seen, to identify this dualism in our knowing; it is also very difficult to talk about it as it, as this presupposes some sophisticated awareness of mental processes. Most philosophers and scientists have failed to disentangle this dualism and are in fact unaware of the dialectic between the two ways of knowing. This has led to endless confusion as to what is real, what is objective and what scientific reality really looks like.

Intellectual conversion is not just awareness of the distinction between elementary knowing and cognitional structure but it is the application of the distinction in science and philosophy. It would be of great benefit to scientists to do a basic course in critical realism before they pronounce on reality, truth and objectivity. Not having done technical philosophy the scientist uses the unquestioned assumptions of naive realism as the basis for his pronouncements on what is real and what is objective.

Intellectual conversion is particularly important for philosophers and theologians. It is not just a question of subscribing to a new list of propositions to replace the propositions or the fashions of old. It is not just a new philosophy to be learned, and taught. It is more like a conversion experience, a revolution in thought and method which challenges us to implement a new way of doing philosophy and science

7. Performance and Content

The pillar of our approach to the theory of knowledge has been self-appropriation. The foundation of self-appropriation has been to start with the actual activities of human knowing - to describe them, define them, relate them together, formulate an explanatory account where at each stage and for each term there will be a validating reference to the data of consciousness. The key, then, to our approach has been coherence between the activities and the theory: [312] the activities verify the theory; the theory explains, relates, objectivizes the activities.

There is only one human knowing; there is only one basic set of interrelated activities which produce true human knowing. It is the same human knowing whether it is Aristotle or Sartre, Ireland or America, Africa or Japan. If there is only one set of basically unrevisable activities there is also only one explanatory theory which adequately relates, defines and objectivizes these activities. Hence there can be only one theory of knowledge which is coherent with the actual activities involved in human knowing. We claim that that is our theory and that it is basically unrevisable. We are not talking here about differences in terminology or detail but the fundamental stance on the structure of knowing.

It follows, as night follows day, that in all other theories of knowledge which differ fundamentally from the above, there will be an incoherence between what the philosopher is actually doing and what he is actually saying: there will be a fundamental incoherence between performance and content. The activities of knowing as performed are a constant. These are the activities of attending to data, (doing research, making observations, performing experiments); of being intelligent, (grasping the relevant and leaving aside the irrelevant, defining terms clearly, thinking things through to the end, moving from images to ideas, from ideas to concepts and theories); and finally being reasonable, checking results, evaluating, asserting, denying, proposing as true, publishing and proclaiming). These are the activities performed by Descartes as he sat down to write his Meditations, or to instruct the Queen of Sweden on his new philosophy. These are the activities performed by Hume as he worked on his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: he was not satisfied with what Locke had written; he thought he could do better; he wanted to show that his understanding was indeed better, clearer, truer, more to the point, more radical. These are the activities performed by Kant in his study at Konigsberg and his daily walks through the town; thinking, reflecting, creating, accepting, rejecting, etc.

The human mind is the same; the activities performed are the same; but oh! what different theories they came up with! The [313] content of the theories was so different from the activities of human knowing that produced the theories.

Descartes taught that clear and distinct ideas were the criterion of truth; but if he attended to his own knowing he would have found many clear and distinct ideas which were not true; and many confused and vague ideas which are true. He taught a distinction between Matter and Thought; but was this based on imagination or on intelligence, the out there now real or the verified? He taught that science could be deduced from principles of philosophy; but does that the way scientist actually work?

Hume taught that all mental activities could be reduced to sensation. Was what he was doing in writing his book at the same level as what an animal does eating a banana? Are images and ideas really the same? What about the creativity of his own work, the evaluations, the concepts, the judgments, the progress, the truth or error? His theory of knowledge did not seem to allow him the power of writing about a theory of knowledge.

Kant claimed that knowledge has a threefold structure, sensibility, understanding and reason. By sensibility we intuit phenomena; understanding imposes the twelve categories on the intuitions of sensibility; reason imposes regulative principles to organize all our knowledge. But his own thinking in writing the Critique was more flexible, creative and original than the twelve categories would allow. His actual judgments on the truth of his own philosophy, his rejection of Descartes and Hume, don=t seem to have a place in the content of the philosophy. His actual moral behavior seems strangely different from applying a universal categorical imperative.

Descartes, Hume and Kant did not use a method of self-appropriation; they did not check their conclusions - except partially perhaps - against the data of their own consciousness. We cannot really expect them to have done so in their age of the breakthrough to theory; historically we seem to advance only one step at a time. Only at the end of the twentieth century do we seem to be ready for self-appropriation and the third stage of meaning. [314]

Nevertheless, we do have to point out the fundamental incoherence in these philosophers between the activities they performed and the content of their theories of knowledge. Because they did not do self-appropriation they could not articulate the dialectic unfolding in their own minds between sense and intelligence, looking and knowing, the animal sense of the real and the real as the correctly affirmed, the world of immediacy and the world mediated by meaning. Being unaware of this dialectic they were unable to resolve it. And so their theories reflect this unresolved dialectic, containing elements that are truly and correctly affirmed in a confusion with other elements which are the result of imagination and the animal criterion of the real.

Descartes, Hume, and Kant were the founders of modern philosophy; almost all contemporary philosophy has derived from them either directly or indirectly, in agreement or disagreement with them. The critique we have applied to them can be applied to their followers and opponents. But just as they the founders were unable to lay bare the root of the dialectic involved in correct human knowing, so also their successors. Just as their philosophical positions are a dialectical mixture of the real and the imagined, so also their successors. One can point to individual improvements, advances and corrections, but there has been no sweeping reorganization going to the root of the matter.

So our approach to other philosophical positions can only be an invitation to self-knowledge: is what you are saying consistent with what you are doing? No one likes to contradict himself; we are embarrassed if we are caught out in a self-contradiction. But this is the most fundamental incoherence of which we can be guilty. That is how you get to the root of the matter. This invitation to check the consistency between performance and content applies to all schools of philosophy, all varieties of contemporary or ancient philosophy. We have already noted this in relation to skepticism and relativism; but it can also be applied to process philosophy, to Marxism, to Structuralism, to Post-Modernism, to Existentialism, etc.

That is how each one of us can return to the foundations and build the third stage of meaning. We do not use this approach only to bash our opponents, but to continually develop and clarify our own [315] position. It can be extremely difficult to objectivize this dialectic, as we have seen in this chapter; there is certainly room for more accurate studies, self-observation, improved terminologies. In our time literature commonly indulges in self-observation and acute descriptions of feelings, decisions, inner dramas and fears. Perhaps it will become more common to describe how something was discovered, how concepts emerged, how positions were seen to be valid, how the intellect actually works in practice.

We mentioned earlier the possibility of learning from the mistakes of the past. How can we profitably read from the history of philosophy which is so full of mistakes, contradictions and confusions? Can all the data of the history of philosophy be brought together as contradictory contributions to the one goal? We somehow have to be able to account for the repeated mistakes of even great philosophers. Having once identified this basic dualism in our own knowing, we are in a position to be able to recognize it in others. We can understand any philosopher by a combination of direct insights into his positive contributions and inverse insights into the unquestioned imaginative assumptions within which he posed his questions.

In all of the metaphors or ways of speaking about intellectual conversion we noticed this dualism. On the one hand, we recognize an elementary knowing, a simplification of the process of knowing to the analogy of looking. We note the predominance of the image of confrontation, the 'in here' opposed to the 'out there'. We recognize attempts to overcome this separation by means of various bridges such as looking or intuition, or denials of the possibility of crossing the bridge. All this we identified as a kind of sense knowledge of the 'body' characterized by the biological pattern of experience.

On the other hand, we recognize the critical position: that knowing is by way of judgments; that judgments presuppose understanding and experiencing; that knowing is by way of an integrated structure of interrelated operations; that judging uses imagination and images but is not dominated by them; that judgments take place in the intellectual pattern of experience. The real is what is affirmed in correct judgments. Imaginative schema no [316] longer dominate. In explanatory knowing the image is a symbolic constructed image and is not verifiable as an image.

We are in a position to distinguish these two kinds of knowing in our own consciousness. We can also recognize this distinction at work in the history of philosophy. It is the root source of contradictions and opposed positions in the history of the discipline. We are able to discriminate between understandings based on judgments reached in the intellectual pattern of experience, and assumptions taken on board from the biological pattern of experience. We do not have to just condemn those who disagree with our position, but can instead point out the source of what we consider to be mistaken assumptions.

We have attained a viewpoint from which every philosophy can be judged discriminatingly, on the basis of the root criterion of the source of error and the source of correct understanding. We have attained a philosophy of philosophies. That is the power of intellectual conversion.

Comments on Exercises.

  1. The reality of space is the reality that can be verified in movements, distances, times, geometries, etc. What is real is the verified relations of what Newton called relative space. What is not real is the imaginative imperative to think of space as an empty receptacle waiting to be filled.
  2. Do you see causation or do you see succession of events? It depends on what you mean by 'seeing'. If you mean by seeing the biological activity of vision as in a cow, simply at the level of experience, then we do not see causes. But if you mean by 'seeing', the experience of vision along with understanding and judging, then you can see causes. You can know that the football player is kicking the ball not because you see it, but because you see, you understand and you judge about what you see. Knowing is not simply physical seeing, it is a compound of cognitional operations. [317]
  3. The old Latin tag makes sense at the level of commonsense experience of kicking, pushing, throwing, etc. Yet efficient causality is a verified statement of a relation of cause and effect. Whether and when and how that happens is a job for the scientists to find out. But even the scientists tend to think in terms of images and have difficulty with action over a distance unless there are a stream of particles passing over the distance to connect physically the two bodies. They call them gravitons. If they are really thought to be particles, or little marbles, then the imagination might be satisfied but are they verifiable? Does this really help to explain action at a distance? Even at the level of the imagination it seems to cause as many problems as it solves.
  4. If you say that the laws of motion belong only in the mind, then you are in danger of subjectivism. If you say that they belong also to the real world then you have the problem of where are they? and you might, like Plato and Popper, have to invent a place for them. Our approach is that the laws of motion are a formulation of the intelligibility of matter in motion and to the extent that they are verified they are real. Real does not mean out there now, but the verified.
  5. It is not just a matter of degrees of complication. What is at issue is different kinds of intelligibilities, different levels of things. Reductionism reduces everything to the same level. Reductionism thinks of the real in terms of 'bodies'. But we think in terms of unities, identities and wholes that are distinguished from one another by their explanatory properties. Things are grasped not by seeing alone, but by understanding and verifying. Just as laws are verified in relations, things are verified as the terms of the relations.
  6. The soul has been much misunderstood and often rejected. Again it is a problem of imagination and intelligence. If man is recognized as a unity, identity, whole, different and distinct from animals by his activities of knowing and deciding, then he is a different kind of thing. The traditional philosophical term for this is form or soul. The human person does have a [318] unity or integration of acts of different levels and we are justified in saying that he is one thing, therefore one form, one soul. The soul is the principle of unity and integration. Where is it? It is everywhere in the sense that all the physical, chemical, biological and sensitive elements and activities of man are subsumed into a new unity. The soul is localized by its powers, the power to see is localized in the eyes and brain, the power to walk in the legs, etc. Such was the answer of Aquinas and it makes sense. The misunderstandings of soul come from trying to imagine it as a kind of ghost as happens in Descartes.

End Notes

1 Bernard Lonergan, A Second Collection: Papers by Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S. J. Edited by William Ryan and Bernard Tyrrell, (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1974) 79.

2 Insight, 573. Here Lonergan distinguishes between the remote and proximate criterion of truth.

3 Bernard Tyrell, Christotheraphy etc

4 See Method in Theology, 237-244, 267-271. The term intellectual conversion is not used in Insight, but the reality is there in other terminology. See also William Mathews, "Intellectual Conversion and Science Education," in Lonergan Workshop Vol. 5, 115-141. Also Richard M. Liddy, Transforming Light: Intellectual Conversion in the Early Lonergan, (Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1993).

5 Insight, 242.

6 Insight, 432. Lonergan explains the per se infallibility of intelligence. If misunderstanding occurs it is always because the imagination has presented only some of the data, or distorted data, or no data.

7 Insight, 176. A bucket of water suspended from a twisted rope is allowed to spin. Slowly the surface of the water forms a hollow because of the centrifugal force of the spinning water. Stop the spinning and the hollow will persist for a time. Newton argued that as the hollow occurs both when the bucket is spinning and when it is stationary, therefore the spinning must be in relation to an absolute space. This is quite specious.

8 Insight, 283-284.

9 Metaphysics, Book 7, Chapter 17, 1041b 10-30. At this point Aristotle discovers that substance is the essence or cause of the unity, identity of the thing. He used the syllable B A.

10 Theaetetus, 187-190.

11 Sophist, 242-246.

12 Theaetetus, 152c. The metaphor of the Divided Line is to be found in the Republic at the end of Book VI and the metaphor of the Cave at the beginning of Book VII.

13 Occasionalism claimed that the body moved on the occasion of the mind deciding; God is the real cause, the mind is the occasional cause. Parallelism, proposed by Malebranche, claimed that the two realms of psychic and physical were preordained from the beginning to run parallel and in harmony.

14 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965) 41.

15 Idem 65.

16 Idem 65.

17 Idem 212.

18 Idem 213.

19 Insight, 252.

20 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1997).

21 Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. 2 Medieval Philosophy, (New York: Image Books, 1993) 498.

22 Henri Bergson (1859-1941) an influential French philosopher who wrote, La pensée et le mouvant, L'évolution créatrice; Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion. For a useful summary see Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. 9 Modern Philosophy: From the French Revolution to Sartre, Camus, and Lévi-Strauss , (New York: Image Books, 1994), 178-215.

23 Jacques Maritain, Preface to Metaphysics,

24 Comparison between confrontation and identity is a theme in Lonergan's Verbum, eg. 192-193.

25 Method in Theology, 238.

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