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International Phenomenological Society

The Neo-Scholastic Critique of Nicolai Hartmann


Author(s): James Collins
Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Sep., 1945), pp. 109-132
Published by: International Phenomenological Society
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THE NEO-SCHOLASTICCRITIQUE OF NICOLAI HARTMANN


I

A common feature of the many contributions to the Kant centenary of


twenty years ago was a noticeable trend in the direction of realism. While
he claimed that the phenomenological method must be strictly located this
side of the dispute between idealism and realism, still Nicolai Hartmann's
views on the nature of cognition and the place of epistemology in philosophy approach the realist position. With Edith Landmann he maintained the transcendence of knowledge, although he did not share
Landmann's entire repudiation of Kant. Others who undertook a renewed study of Kant and who were also influenced by the concern of
phenomenology for intentionality, furthered the movement from essence
to being. This was notably the case with Martin Heidegger, who considered genuine philosophy to be an inquiry into the meaning of being,
culminating in a general metaphysics or fundamental ontology. From
the standpoint of infinite openness rather than of finite enclosure, a similar
conclusion was reached by Eugen Herrigel in his remarkable book on
The Metaphysical Form. In the structural form of being, Herrigel recognized the underlying principle of continuity between the non-given and
that which appears in experience. He also sought to guarantee thereby
the uniqueness of personality in the face of the sachlich alienation of pure
subjectivity as only the means to scientifically rigorous knowledge of
things.
Among the followers of Husserl and Scheler were some thinkers whose
application of the phenomenological method to speculative and moral
problems gradually led them to revindicate the main theses of classical
philosophy without relinquishing the more recent insight. While not
many phenomenologists have subscribed to the "real ontology" of Hedwig
Conrad-Martius, yet the investigations of Edith Stein, Aurel Kolnai,
and Dietrich von Hildebrand into psychic, social, and ethical aspects of
human life have considerable value for contemporary minds. Stein's
comparative study of Thomas Aquinas and Edmund Husserl in the Festschrift edited in 1929 upon the occasion of the latter's seventieth birthday
opened up a new field for cooperative effort between students of a master
of the past and of a master of the present. From the side of Neo-Scholasticism this collaboration was prepared by the careful examination and
criticism of phenomenological writings by outstanding exponents of
Christian philosophy. Elsewhere the bearing of this traditional evaluation
upon the direction of thought today has been discussed,' while a chapter
1 Cf. my articles on "Edith Stein and the Advance of Phenomenology," Thought,
vol. XVII, 1942; and "The German Neo-Scholastic Approach to Heidegger," The
Modern Schoolman, vol. XXI, 1944; also "Catholic Estimates of Scheler's Catholic
Period." Thought.vol. XIX. 1944.

109

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has yet to be added from this standpoint to the account of Max Scheler's
so-called Catholic period as outlined previously in this journal by Hanna
Hafkesbrink.
One striking lacuna in the contemporary American philosophical
scene is the absence of that common participation in the search for wisdom
by phenomenologists and Scholastics which proved so fruitful for both
in Europe during the past three decades. In part this is traceable to
the limited general acquaintance many American Scholastics have with
other present day positions. Yet this condition is not due merely to a
sectarian spirit in philosophy or to the complacent inertia often generated
in those who adhere to a comprehensive body of doctrines as perennially
true. Much of the work done thus far in our country by phenomenologists has been of an historical, introductory, and expository nature. In
the preface to his recent study on The Foundation of Phenomenology,
Marvin Farber has announced the preparation of extensive independent
treatments of transcendental phenomenology, perception, philosophy of
history and culture, and the theory of value, which should be welcomed
by Scholastic philosophers and brought into fertile communication with
their own views on these questions. The important results that may be
expected from this sort of rapprochement,when entered into honestly and
fearlessly, can be gathered from the reception accorded by European Scholastics to the theories of Nicolai Hartmann.
II
That he himself anticipated this inevitable comparison and criticism is
evident from Hartmann's care to determine the relation between the old
and new teachings on being as he saw it.2 A good portion of philosophic
originality consists in recognizing a new element in old doctrines, a sofid
kernel of truth that must be rescued and set forth again in terms of a
different intellectual climate. Like Hegel in the preface to the Encyclopaedia, Hartmann finds in Plato and Aristotle inexhaustible sources of
human insight into the nature of reality as exhibited in the problems
they raise and the solutions they propose. The temper, direction and
ordering of classical speculation are permanent achievements that can be
repudiated by us only at the cost of severing our historical roots and
distorting the genuinely human attitude. In their scrupulous regard
for facing and stating the most serious obstacles in the path of their thinking,
the Greeks developed the great art of the aporetic in a magnificent way.
Moreover, the natural inclination of their theorizing was in the direction
2 Cf. especially Grundzfigeeiner Metaphysik der Erkenntnis, Berlin, 1925, second
edition; forewords to 1921 and 1925 editions, introduction, chs. I, XXIII-XXV;
Zur Grundlegungder Ontologie,Berlin, 1935,introduction.

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i11

of objects. They studied things first of all, and only thereafter did they
examine their own thinking and their own selves. As a consequence,
metaphysics was for Plato and Aristotle the supreme philosophical discipline, the theory of knowledge arising as a subsequent moment in the
progression of their thought.
On all these counts Hartmann announces his agreement, yet he does
not wish the repristination of the Greek outlook to entail any negation
of the intervening philosophical experience. A critical metaphysics
aims to unite the orientation of the Greek mind to being with the modern
reflection upon the structure, grounds, and process of knowing. Here
a certain ambiguity creeps into the discussion, since Hartmann fails to
distinguish clearly between Aristotelian Scholasticism and the rationalist
metaphysics of Wolff. Most of the defects he attributes to the preKantian theory of being are found only in eighteenth century rationalist
metaphysics, leaving untouched the older tradition. The systematic
rather than historical treatment of the problem of antecedents illustrates
in a pointed way the shortcomings that Hartmann himself decries in other
systematic reconstructions.
Since the problem of knowledge and all other genuine philosophical
problems are at bottom metaphysical, their investigation supposes the
aporetic awareness of their ontic content that can be supplied only by
a critical ontology. Recognizing the constant presence of the irrational
in that aspect of being which is unknown and unknowable to us, this
metaphysics of problems avoids all uncritically neat divisions of the various fields of philosophy as well as all purely speculative standpoints.
Metaphysics as the minimally rational priming-point of philosophizing
is confronted with an irreducible residuum which is unanalyzable, since
fundamentally inconceivable. Here Hartmann intends to repudiate the
rationalist attitude which he unfortunately couples with the Scholastic.
For Wolffian apriorism being is immediately and completely transferable
into thought, since the ideating structure is projected into the real order
as an inference from essence to existence. No room is allowed for the
irrational in such a system of hypostasized essences. In sharp conflict
with this dogmatic construction is the Kantian critical analytic of pure
reason, which has the advantage of subjecting logic itself to critical examination and of admitting the unknowable at least as a limiting concept.
Critical ontology, as Hartmann conceives it, is the third and final stage
in the movement from natural realism through the idealist standpoint
to a new vision of being that admits its limitations without despairing
of attaining real as well as ideal being. There is an actually existent
entity beyond consciousness and the bounds of reason which can be partially
understood through a knowledge of the object, even though the cognitive

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representation is neither adequate to nor like that which is. The natural
attitude is correct in its thesis concerning the independence of reality from
any knowing subject and in the objective direction of its inquiry, but
the contention that the image we form of the thing adequately represents
it must be rejected in the light of Kantian criticism. From the older
ontology must be removed the identity of the ideal and real forms, the
equation of form with reality and the correlative depreciation of matter,
the exclusive reliance upon the deductive method to derive an entire theory
of being from a few first principles, and the perfect coincidence established
between the ideal structure of being and thought. Only a partial identity
can be admitted today between real being, ideal being, and thought, for
while these three spheres overlap, one cannot be completely superscribed
upon the other. A critical ontology must discriminate between thought
and ideal objects, yet a phenomenological discipline limited to the consideration of essences is only a half-way house that must eventually lead
to a comprehensive ontology of real and ideal being.3
The object of first philosophy remains for Hartmann what it was for
Aristotle being as such, being in its generality and inclusiveness. Because
it embraces both the ideal and the real manifestations of being, ontology
transcends the alternative between idealism and realism by including
both the subject and the object within a wider ontic context in which they
are imbedded. While the Kantian teaching on the thing-in-itself effectively
distinguishes the new ontology from the old in its emphasis upon the
unknowable in a negative sense, Hartmann seeks to orientate philosophy
to the transobjective factor in the object of knowledge.4 For the reality
of a thing is not exhausted by its entering into relation with a mind as
an object of knowledge, although to become an object is to permit a certain acquaintance with the structure of that thing. The possibility of
infinite progress in reducing the limits of the unknown dismisses a superficial rationalism, but idealism itself must finally be overcome by the principle of transcendence. While the object is not exalted at the expense
of the subject, it is to be admitted both that the intentio recta of cognition
is toward the object and that being itself is transobjective. Hence the
boundaries of the real cannot be determined a priori, nor is man capable
of more than a partial apprehension of being.
III
In his general conception of the nature of philosophical thinking and
disciplines as well as in the particular content of his own teaching, Hartmann
3M. Landmann, "Nicolai Hartmann and Phenomenology," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research,vol. III, no. 4, 1943.
4For a Neo-Scholastic report on Hartmann's Diesseits von Idealismus und Realismus, cf. E. Przywara, Ringen der Gegenwart,Augsburg, 1929, 2 vols., vol. II, pp.
771-778.

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is admittedly indebted on many points to the Aristotelian-Scholastic


tradition without ceasing to maintain an independent and critical attitude
toward natural realism. His doctrine has been examined by contemporary
Scholastics as well as by phemomenologists and Neo-Kantians, thus
providing a valuable analysis and critique in the light of one of the main
sources he draws upon and claims to surpass. In an important essay
appearing in Hochland,5Peter Wust hailed the publication of Hartmann's
The Metaphysics of Knowledgeas a sign of the resurrection of metaphysics,
a return to the object after the unsatisfactory experiment of basing speculation upon the empirical or transcendental subject. Man is given a
new stability and a new freedom when his capacity to explore the realm
of being is recognized and exercised in a scientific way. A similar opinion
was expressed fifteen years later in the same journal by Heinrich Getzeny,6
reviewing the writings of Hartmann to date. The rejection of the claim
of the Marburg leader, Hermann Cohen, to produce the object and the
world of objects is justified in view of the receptive, progressive, and
fallibly limited notes of human understanding and emotional experience.
In the reintegration of perception and knowledge into the totality of
emotional life, Getzeny recognizes the strength of the new ontology. Yet
the weakness of The Problem of Spiritual Being lies precisely in its underestimation of death and anguish, and in its failure to admit freedom as
the power to choose evil as well as good. In principle this latter defect
rests upon the postulatory atheism of the Ethics, which seeks to preserve
the responsibility of the moral agent at the expense of divine providence.
The foresight of God and the- liberty of man are both required to give
meaning, personal dignity and direction to our activities in the world of
values. Thus Hartmann's early teaching that there is a fundamental
antagonism between value and being has not been appreciably altered
by assigning value a place in the order of ideal being. Between the ontological and the axiological there is an unending conflict, with man as
the midpoint where these two spheres meet in tragic self-consciousness.
Since Hartmann's theories on ethics, history, and cultural development
arise from his ontological presuppositions, the Scholastic Auseinandersetzung has been concerned chiefly with the theory of being and knowing
as proposed in The Metaphysics of Knowledge and Toward the Foundation
of Ontology. Several stimulating studies on the former work have contributed to the appreciation and evaluation of these views, including a comparison by Georg Koepgen between critical ontology and the Christian
5

"Die Rtickkehr der Philosophie zum Objekt," Hochland, vol. XIX, no. 2, 1922.
"Vom Wesen zum Sein: Der Weg der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart,"
Hochland, vol. 34, no. 2, 1937.
6

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philosophy of religion.7 Noting their affinity on the distinction between


the task of the particular sciences and the philosophical inquiry into the
eidetic structure of being and its grades, Koepgen observes that the ground
for the primacy of metaphysics can be expressed in Scholastic terms as
an affirmation of the non-mutual character of the cognitive relation.
While the subject is intentionally modified in knowing its object, the thing
known undergoes no real change in becoming an object for the mind.
That there is an unsounded depth of ontic richness beyond what is directly
given was the conviction that led the Scholastics to make their well-known
distinction between objectum and res,8 and to formulate the problem of
knowledge as that of the objectification of the thing rather than of thought.
The partial but not complete identity between the ontological principles
of the subject and object permits, indeed, an escape from the Kantian
dilemma of an exclusive determination of subject by object or of object
by subject. Yet Hartmann's insistence upon homogeneity in being not
only overlooks the differences and only analogical sameness but also fails
to explain the peculiar noetic relation established by knowledge. Here
the traditional teaching on the intentional oneness of mind and thing must
be introduced. In so far as it is known, the object is present according
to the manner of the knower without being distorted thereby, for to assimilate in a psychic way is not the same as to construct or reconstruct.
Thus, natural realism permits endless progress in our approximation to
the thing known, corresponding on the natural level to the theological
concept of mystery as partially known truth that may always be grasped
more fully in an asymptotic approach to comprehension. Hartmann
need not have turned to idealism for a counterpart of the transcendence
thesis.
This equivocal significance of Hartmann's theory of knowledge led
the medieval scholar, Max Horten, to term it a modern version of Platonism.9 The content of logical, mathematical, and axiological knowledge
is considered as constituting an ideal sphere, a realm of ideal Ansichsein
having a kind of existence proper to itself and distinct from that of real
things. But in order to maintain the reality of the universal objects of
science, it is not necessary to accord them an existence of their own apart
from the world of individual things by an hypostasization of concepts
7 "Die Gegenstandstheorie und ihre religionsphilosophische Anwendung," Philosophisches Jahrbuch, vol. XXXVII, 1924.
8 Among modern treatments, cf. J. Maritain, The Degrees of Knowledge, London,
1937, pp. 110-122; G. Phelan, "Verum sequitur Esse Rerum," Medieval Studies, vol.
I, 1939, p. 15.
9 "Zu jtingsten Erkenntnistheorien: Eine kritische Betrachtung der Aufstellungen
von Scheler und N. Hartmann," Philosophisches Jahrbuch,vol. XL, 1927.

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or metaphysical essences. In spite of the repudiation of extreme realism


as well as of nominalism, the notion of ideal existence remains for the
Neo-Scholastics an unsatisfactory and ambiguous substitute for the moder?te realism of abstraction. A further difficulty has been mentioned
by J. Kl6sters, in his acute interpretation of The Metaphysics of Knowledge.'0 In proof of the uniqueness of the ideal sphere is adduced the
impossibility of an immediate knowledge of its objects. Why that which
has being in itself should lose this property when brought into direct
relation to consciousness is not clear, nor is the situation improved by
drawing a subtle distinction between being for itself and being in itself.
Irreal or ideal notions have only a relative or referential being; they are
only essences and do not possess existence in their own right. While the
foundation of ideal being in the real thing allows us to consider the essence
apart, the latter cannot stand by itself in any existential order.
In objectively directed knowledge the essence as well as the existence of
the thing can be known to some extent and made the proper object of
philosophical study, while even the intentio obliqua reaches reflectively
to the nature of the subject and not merely to its factual existence. Yet
the arrival at an ontological object and subject does not entirely justify
Hartmann's (and Heidegger's) reduction of consciousness and the process
of conceptual formation merely to a mode of being. Such a simplification
fails to account adequately for the phenomenon of knowledge, which is
not explained as a unique factor in this real relation. The apprehension
of an independent object and the recognition that it lies outside the sphere
of consciousness forbid our considering cognition in a purely static ontic
way. With the note of intentionality comes also the conviction of the
dynamic trait in knowing. Here something transobjective is rendered
rational by an active determination based upon the logical requirements
of evidential insight and not solely upon the initial affinity and correlation
between subject and object in the order of being. This Hartmann admits
in his teaching on the function of thought as one of completion, of achieving
the full perfection of reality in a specific way through conscious intention
and meaningful explication of images.
Approaching the notion of a projective ontology from still another angle,
Kl6sters is not satisfied with Hartmann's explanation of the process of
intellectual discovery and certitude. Is it possible to derive certain knowledge of what was previously an irrational region by extending the lines
of convergence of two or more consciously given relational factors to the
same transobjective thing where they tend to intersect? To be performed
legitimately, this projection requires both that the related categories
10

"Nicolai Hartmanns kritische Ontologie," ibid., vols. XLI-XLII, 1928-1929.

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be valid and that their applicability to an identical thing be somehow


assured. Since for Hartmann the categories are never ontologically isolated but imply and depend upon each other, they are all correlated and
involved in a dialectical system as the foundation for their validity. Apart
from this system, the categories have merely hypothetical value, demanding
incorporation in the system as contradictionless correlates to assure their
truth. But this criterion of coherence supplies a purely formal determination, one that scarcely avoids the idealism Hartmann seeks to replace. The will to systematic thinking can never provide the sufficient
basis for applying categories to real structures, nor is there any way out
of the dialectical dilemma apart from a recognition of intrinsic objective
evidence as the ultimate criterion of truth. Because of his teaching on
the radical irrationality of being, however, this alternative is not congenial
to Hartmann, who appeals to the dual instance and prefers to guarantee
the openness of knowledge by the theory of Erkenntnisponderanz.
This latter notion has been made the subject of a comparison with Joseph
Mar6chal's theory of cognitional dynamism by A. Guggenberger." Our
initial and direct contact with reality, according to Hartmann, is effected
through our emotional experiences rather than through some formally
cognitive medium. Consequent upon these emotional acts are the mental
representations of the determinations and relations they manifest to us.
Inasmuch as these images are formed within the immanent zone of consciousness, some assurance must be given that they bear upon the actual
nature of the real. That the representative function is not limited
to consciousness appears from the discrepancy constantly experienced
between the image and its object, between the aspects that are and can
be conceptualized and those that remain impervious to knowledge. The
latter insert an element of obscurity and difficulty into our systematic
constructions, which are revealed through this awareness of problems to be
discoveries rather than decreed creations. While the real always presents
an opaque aspect that is not knowable, along other avenues some progress
can be made in correcting errors and in removing relative ignorance.
These factors in cognition-problems, errors, and progress-indicate
that what is known does not owe its origin in the first place to the productive activity of the subject, that it is only one relation into which the
real can enter, and that beyond the circumscribed portion of the known
extends a vast stretch which partially admits of apprehension without
even being completely assimilated to the rational. The knowing act
is attracted as by weight or center of gravity to the infinite content of
11 "Zwei Wege zum Realismus: Ein Vergleich zwischen Nicolai Hartmanns 'Erkenntnisponderanz' und J. Mar6chal's 'Erkenntnisdynamismus,"' Revuenko-scolastique, vol. XLI. 1938.

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being. What is felt and what is known are finally one in the influence
they exert -upon the cognitive subject.
In the fifth volume of his study on the point of departure of metaphysicsThomism and Critical Philosophy-Mar6chal is faced with a similar problem
of rejoining the real in terms of the Scholastic theory of knowledge. When
the intelligible species or idea is treated statically in epistemic isolation
from the actual tendencies of the knower, it fails to take us beyond the
limits of conscious immanence to that which simply is. Only when this
formal principle of knowledge is reinserted in the total bent of the human
subject does it transcend the realm of ideal constructs. For the intellect
contains a dynamic orientation which propels it naturally toward being.
Intellect is "the faculty of being," a power that can only be defined in
terms of the real it intends to grasp. But it is capable of understanding
being only because it is first capable of understanding the absolute being.
This latter entity plays a r6le in Mar6chal's thought somewhat similar
to the infinite transobjective in the system of Hartmann. Both are
finalizing forces that attract and specify the mind by drawing it beyond
its own limits in order to receive its full perfection in a reality given but
never exhausted. For both thinkers the inadequacy of thought and its
disproportion with the thing compel us to locate the point of contact where
knowing is reimbedded in being somewhere beyond and independent of
consciousness itself. For Guggenberger this involves the danger of treating consciousness as a mere epiphenomenon, an incidental and largely
irrelevant moment in the dialectic of being which only brings to light a
junction made elsewhere and by other means. What must be supplied
is a justification of the realist bearing of thought in a way that assures
the direct access of knowing as such to being through some cognitive
principle. It is only stating the problem when both thinkers agree that
the concept is not the direct object of knowledge but rather the medium
quo pointing beyond itself.
Yet Guggenberger sees an essential difference between the attitudes
of Hartmann and Mar6chal. For while the former finally chooses a realism
of the emotional order that cannot in principle be prolonged into a realism
of the intelligence, Marechal does allow for such an extention of his position. For the Neo-Scholastic admits an understanding of being that is
strictly excluded by Hartmann's theory of the unknowableness of being.
Mar6chal does offer a metaphysic of knowledge that cannot find a counterpart in the naturalistic and perhaps even materialistic conception Hartmann has of the relation of subject and object. Emotional realism, as
G. Sohngen has observed,'2 supplies the basis for an ontology entirely
12 "Die NeubegrUndung der Metaphysik und
die Gotteserkenntnis," in Probleme
der Gotteserkenntnis,by A. Dyroff, etc., Minster, i.W., 1928.

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different from the traditional notion of that science. Since Kant, there
has been a constant struggle for an irrationalistic concept of metaphysics.
Yet we must not confuse the irrational metaphysics of the philosophy of
life with Hartmann's strictly scientific metaphysics of the irrational.
For the former doctrine maintains that being can be known in an irrational
manner, whereas Hartmann is chiefly concerned with the irrationality
of being as the object of philosophical investigation. Except for its
indispensable function as immediately confronting the real, emotion is
subordinated here to the systematic exposition of the heterogeneity of
the ontic and noetic categories. At least in method, the critical ontology
comes close to the traditional affirmation of the primacy of speculation in
philosophy.
IV
In his study on Being and Object,"3Sohngen examines the respective
ontologies of Thomas Aquinas and Nicolai Hartmann in the light of the
Scholastic axiom that being and truth are convertible. Both teachers
maintain that the mutuality of being and truth demands a theory of being
as the foundation of every epistemology. Yet in order to overcome
Kant's treatment of the irrational as a limiting concept, Hartmann not
only accords it value as a limit and as an indication of the receptive nature
of thought, but also identifies it simply with the real. Unless there is a
bridge of being between the rational and irrational, however, the latter
will figure merely as that which is beyond thought. For Aquinas prime
matter as such is the transintelligible precisely because of its purely potential nature, its tenuous reality and precarious grasp upon being. In
proportion as being is determined in content and actuality, however, it
is likewise capable of being understood by the intellect. This view of
the correspondence between actuality and intelligibility is "from above,"
whereas Hartmann's approach is "from below." What the old ontology
admits only on the lowest level of reality is extended as the universal
trait of all being by the new ontology. S6hngen's further appraisal is
made in terms of the three major theses of The Metaphysics of Knowledge.
(1) The Gnoseological Transcendence of Our Knowledge. Since our
knowledge involves the ordination of a subject to the object, it has the
essential character of a relation between the knower and that which is
known as an object in itself. What Hartmann terms the gnoseological
relation has been further specified by Aquinas in his analysis of the phenomenon of knowing. Being informed by the likeness of the object,
13 Sein und Gegenstand:Das scholastische Axiom ens et verum convertuntur als
Fundament metaphysischerund theologischerSpeculation, Minster i.W., 1930.

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the mind receives this determination according to its receptive capacity.


By a spontaneous inner reaction it exercises the activity of intellection,
forming in a productive way a concept within itself that represents objectively the thing known. That the object is grasped rather than produced
and that its being is not conferred upon it by the mind are convictions
common to both men. To Hartmann's doctrine on receptivity toward
the object and spontaneity toward the image may be compared the Thomistic teaching on impressed and expressed notions. Unfortunately,
spontaneity is understood Kantianwise as a form of production rather
than as an immanent activity. Receptivity alone cannot adequately
safeguard the objectivity of thought, for it is the ontic basis and preparation for the act of apprehension, rather than this act itself. The epistemological question is precisely whether the object as received by the mind
has been formed by our thought or whether it has been accepted in a
genuinely cognitive way leading to the spontaneous immanent operation
that grasps the thing in its own nature. That our knowledge is directed
to the thing itself rather than to the object as known is called by Hartmann the transcendence character of knowledge. The direct tendency
of the mind is to understand the thing in its real being and not merely
as an intentional entity. Something similar to this is found in the Contra
Gentiles of Aquinas, where it is taught that the similitude of the thing
in the intellect is not the thing itself but a way to grasp the thing. Hence
to know the thing is not the same as to know its representation; only by
reflection upon its own medium and activity does the intellect advert
to the intentio intellect.
Yet it would be a superficial report that did not also signalize profound
differences between the old and the new view of cognitive transcendence.
This notion is stressed much more by Hartmann than by the Scholastics,
for the latter never set being over against knowledge and intelligibility in
so absolute a fashion as does The Metaphysics of Knowledge. While there
is agreement about the phenomenon, its metaphysical and epistemological
significance is construed differently by Aquinas and Hartmann. In all
knowledge, the subject knows an object distinct from itself and, in knowing
that which is apart from itself, the subject goes beyond or transcends
itself. This thesis is inexceptionable in the case of knowing the world
about us, but difficulties creep in when duality is viewed from the standpoint of self-knowledge. Here the subject remains within itself and
understands itself in its own personal identity. Reflection is centered
upon an object cognitively but not entitatively distinct from the knowing
mind. It is not sufficient to observe the objective note attaching to
the self in this regard, for objectivity is not the same as being an
object. But even here the thing is apprehended as it is in itself

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rather than as known, requiring us to modify the notion of transcendence.


While the object known is in both instances distinct from the similitude
whereby it is known, it is entitatively distinct from the knowing subject
only in the knowledge of things other than the self.
From this comparison we can conclude with Aquinas that there are
degrees in knowing corresponding to the increasing intimacy of the cognitive operation as a process of immanent union between the mind and
its object. The Thomistic doctrine on knowledge stands midway between
the idealistic immanence of being in thought and Hartmann's theory of
the immanence of thought in being. Actions that result in an increase
of perfection for the agent itself rather than for some other and extrinsic
end are properly termed immanent operations, constituting the minimal
basis common to all living things. . If life be considered the power of directing all activities and their objects from a central referent and in view
of the agent's own good, then the enhancement of this power will follow
on a heightened mode of existence. Aquinas remarked a constant proportion between the ability to select and appropriate suitable factors
from the environment and the disinterestedness of this appropriation.
Here it is that the pragmatic and vitalist accounts of knowledge break
down for lack of suppleness in dealing with various and graded sorts of
life. Sensory acquaintance with things is superior to mere contact by
ingestive union, since it shows a greater respect for the integrity of its
objects. But both the range and the depth of insight are increased and
elevated to a new order of vital operation when the mind grasps the essence
itself in an intentional way without destroying or impairing the physical
constitution of the thing known. Here the union between the agent
and term is so intimate that the former can reflect upon his cognitive
possession of the object. In so doing, he realizes that what is known
need not always be something other than himself, and even that a perfect
cognitive act can completely transcend the opposition between the knower
and a distinct known thing.
To know another and to know oneself as other do not belong to the
essence of knowledge, but only comprise two of its varieties on the human
and lower levels of cognition. In itself, knowledge is constituted by the
union of mind and its object, a union that need not always be prefaced
by a unification of two distinct or opposed terms. Because the oneness
of knower and known approaches sameness parn pass with the more
perfect immanence of the cognitive act, an indication is furnished that
knowledge in a purely actual being would involve identity of mind with
its object as well as with its knowing operation. Hence duality of epistemic subject and object as proposed by Neo-Platonism and revived by
IHartmann is no sufficient objection to the Aristotelian description of

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divine knowledge as noesis noeseos. While the distance is partially removed


in human self-knowledge, the identity between knower and thing known
and likeness is complete where activity is most perfect and hence most
perfectly immanent. Since God is rather than has His own being and
operation, He knows Himself and other things in Himself comprehensively
in a single simple act where being and knowing and being known are the
same. Thus, the Scholastic teaching on the analogy of being is required
in order to distinguish between essential and accidental features in the
transcendence of knowledge.
In line with this doctrine is the concept of truth as an agreement between
knowledge and thing, a definition that recalls the Scholastic formula:
veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus. Hartmann agrees with the Aristotelian rather than with the Platonic tradition in locating truth more
properly in the mind than in things. However, he unduly simplifies the
problem by overlooking the ontological aspect of truth. Thought not
only agrees with being; being also agrees with thought. To sustain this
mutual conception of truth apart from the Kantian view of cognitive
productivity or the particular case of human making, however, it is necessary to admit the divine intellect as the primary measure of all things.
Since this would also entail the ultimate correlation of being and intelligibility, Hartmann is led to assert a metaphysical atheism as the support
of his irrationalistic realism.
(2) The Ontological Immanence of Our Knowledge, and (3) The Metaphysical Irrationality of Being are examined together by Sdhngen, since
the force of the former thesis is its imbedding of the rational in the irrational
at both poles of cognition. At the core of this theory is a recognition of
the indubitable inadequacy or incommensurability of thought and being
in human experience. There is only a partial agreement between what
we know concerning the thing and the total reality of that thing. A
gnoseological distinction may be drawn between the known, the not yet
known and the unknowable. These three levels are not, Hartmann warns,
grades of being or of the object, but limits of the objectivity of our knowledge. The irrational is not the non-rationally apprehensible but that
which cannot be known, that which offers a limit to thought as something
foreign and incompatible.
Since the Scholastic theory of knowledge is not a crude doctrine of
mirroring or copying of the object, the limits and imperfections of abstractive knowledge are a common theme. Just as other things are known
by their likenesses rather than through their own essence, so the human
intellect knows itself by means of a similitude that is consequent upon the
apprehension of other objects. There is no immediate actual intuition
of the self. Nor is any direct insight into the essence of things admitted

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for the human mind, which reaches essential understanding through the
various properties. We can know the essence, but not the essence through
the essence, as Scheler averred. Similarly, the judgments and reasoning
processes required in order to grasp truths not immediately apparent,
are subject to uncertainty and error. The formal demonstration of God's
existence and nature, for instance, is beset with many pitfalls represented
by the conflicting opinions on this problem that abound in the history of
thought. Yet this admission of limitation need not lead to metaphysical
irrationalism or skepticism, even though it does serve to discredit the
extreme claims of idealism. By distinguishing between the entitative
and intentional modes of the essence, Aristotle laid the foundation for an
ontological as well as logical theory of the categories The ideal essence
or second substance is grounded referentially in the individual real thing
or first substance, permitting us to know something of the intelligible
constitution of the concrete thing without making any exorbitant claim
to comprehension. When it is known, the essence is freed from its proper
way of existence and yet is known as it is in itself because of the analogy
between the modus cognoscendi and the modus essendi of that essence.
The basis in reality assures the conformity of thought with the thing,
which is knowable in itself and to a perfect mind without being entirely
accessible to us.
As an index of the inadequacy of thought, Hartmann advances the fact
of antinomies, the location of which he is hesitant to determine. An
antinomy need not be in the reason or in the thing, but rather in the objective relation we establish. Granting that there can be a contradiction
in the phenomenon, he holds that there may also be a contradiction in
the being. This conception is far removed from the Stagirite's method
of the aporetic, where the difficulty in the way of philosophical progress
lies in our thought rather than in the thing being investigated. The
problems posed at the beginning of the Metaphysics are fundamentally
soluble and provide the starting-point for a fruitful study, rather than
an evidence of the irrational nature of the real as the final word of first
philosophy. The very word contra-diction indicates that the antinomy
is logical rather than ontological. When we speak of the contrast between
matter and form in the constitution of the material world, we refer to
the contrasting relations of factors of the thing itself. Contradiction only
enters in when the mind considers these aspects in exactly the same way.
But the contradiction is present in our way of thinking, which is thereby
shown to be false. To solve an antinomy means to remove an apparent
contradiction rather than to violate the principle of contradiction either
in thought or in being. Hartmann's favorite example is the antinomy
of consciousness, which must go beyond itself in order to know a thing
and yet which cannot go beyond itself in so far as it can grasp only its

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own conscious content. For its resolution, we need not have recourse
to the theory of representative knowledge. Consciousness in its entitative
reality does not, of course, go beyond itself, but it does so in its intentional
reference to the thing known. Although consciousness understands
the objective content of its concepts, these latter are known reflectively
rather than as the immediate and direct terminal of thought.
The consequences of this critique are felt when Sbhngen evaluates the
Hartmannian conception of metaphysics. Because of the unknowable
character of the irrational, it cannot be positively determined but only
approached negatively as unknowable. A critical metaphysic is thus the
limiting extreme of reason and can be nothing other than a metaphysic
of problems. Not the content of these problems but their status as problematic and radically insoluble is considered by this new version of first
philosophy. For Aristotle and the Scholastics, on the contrary, the
primary goal and purpose of metaphysics is to understand being in itself.
Only in a secondary way does the critical problem of the truth or falsity
of being as present in the mind arise. What is problematic is the thought
about being, and not being itself. Being is metaproblematic, to employ
the term of Gabriel Marcel, and by the same token genuine metaphysics
must break through the arbitrary negative boundaries assigned to it by
Hartmann and must acquire a positive appreciation of the real. Only
as a second intention does the metaphysician also fulfill a critical function
in reflecting upon his actual metaphysical activity. The Aristotelian
concept of this primary discipline cannot be confused with the Wolffian
and so dismissed as a mere Gebietsmetaphysik. Metaphysics is not merely
one field among others, one surface area cut out of the whole region of
being. As the study of being as being, it is unique both in its universal
scope and in its formal approach to all reality. Although cosmology and
rational psychology find no room in the classical notion of metaphysics,
there is place for natural theology precisely because of the supremely
causal character of this science and because of the rational requirements
of being as contingent. When Hartmann replaces this with his theory
of a minimum of metaphysics, he is in turn assuming a particular standpoint. The view that the weight of our awareness of problems must
drive us to posit an irrational zone of being independent of thought will
seem to many Neo-Kantians an excessive maximum of metaphysics.
Likewise, the postulation of an actual infinity of things in themselves
would appear to modern Scholastics a removal at the start of the distinction between the finite and the infinite in a way reminiscent of Hegelian
monism. Neither a maximum nor a minimum of metaphysics must be
sought, but only the metaphysical mean or mesotes that embraces the
common characteristics of phenomena, essences, and existence.
In view of the Scholastic insistence upon the inadequacy of human

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thought, Hartmann's charge that the so-called Aristotelian ontology is


only a logic of ideal being based upon the twofold identity thesis cannot
be sustained. Hartmann himself has reacted from the idealist extreme
of identifying thought and being by advancing the equally untenable
proposition that thought and being are contrasted as antinomies. Neither
identity nor contradiction accounts for cognition. Aquinas declares
that only the weakest form of opposition, relation, can characterize this
act at the human level. Here thought and being are two members of a
relation inadequately related to each other as measured to measure. Such
a relation is real only on the side of the mind, being logical from the standpoint of the existent thing. Thus knowing is a non-mutual relation in
which the cognitive act refers,to the thing known as that to which it is
ordered and by which it is measured. One member does not supplant
the other, but is ordered to it in a complete or incomplete way. Human
thought can apprehend only a portion of real being, but this portion is
known in its own entity. While the cognitive representation is not adequate to the thing known, Hartmann speaks equivocally when he adds
that neither is it in any way like the real. When the object known is
material, there is doubtless a difference between its natural and its mental
mode. But there is at least an objective or intentional identity between
that which actually exists and the content of the inesse intentionalis.
When the relation between the thing and the knowing mind is established
and recognized, truth is then present. In view of the axiom that truth
and being are convertible, the Scholastics teach not only the determination
of thought by being, but also the determination of being by thought.
A twofold meaning of subjectivity and objectivity emerges from the conception of truth as acknowledged conformity. Natural things stand
midway between two sorts of intellect, divine and human. They are
measured bv the divine intellect, which is their ground and measuring
norm, and in turn they measure the human speculative intellect by their
aptitude to communicate a true likeness of themselves to the mind. While
man's theoretical knowledge is thus determined by the things known,
his practical intellect provides the pattern to the likeness of which artificial products are constructed. Traditional ontology has a wider range
and a more complex account of truth and being than that offered by Hartmann.
V

From Scholastic quarters the most important study devoted to Hartmann's Toward the Foundation of Ontologywas contributed by J. Geyser,"4
14 "Zur Grundlegung der Ontologie: Ausffihrungen zu dem jtlngsten Buche von
Nicolai Hartmann-" Philosophisches Jahrbuch, vols. XLIX-L, 1936-1937.

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tNho has also written extensively upon phenomenology, philosophy of


religion, epistemology, and ontology. Commenting upon the renewed
interest in metaphysical problems as well as the justness of according to
the problem of the universals a central position, Geyser observes in a
preliminary way that for Hartmann a critical ontology involves the partial
repudiation of Aristotle and Wolff in the light of the Kantian Wendung.
A service is rendered in returning first philosophy from Wolff's abstract
supramundane region of a priori speculation to the actual world dealt
with by the particular sciences. Like the Stagirite, Hartmann recognizes
the close cooperation required between the factual sciences, the lesser
philosophical disciplines, and ontology, although new problems must
be faced that were not considered by Aristotle.
In remarking that the being of a thing does not consist in its being
known, that its objective status is something secondary and resting upon
its independent reality, Hartmann teaches correctly that what appears
in appearance is the being itself, for otherwise the phenomenon would
be an empty deception without the referential import that alone gives
it meaning. Without closing our eyes to the critical problem as it has
been presented to philosophical consciousness since Kant, we must nevertheless recognize in the background the metaphysical question as decisive.
This follows from the designation of the cognitive relation as an ontic
one, at which point Hartmann touches at some points upon one of the
central theses of Scholasticism. Yet ambiguity is present in his rooting
of knowing in being, unless we admit at once the many senses being can
have. Certainly, no physical assimilation is meant here, since it is not
according to its natural being but rather according to its intentional mode
that the. thing is present to the knowing subject. Hartmann himself
holds that no existent is essentially an object of consciousness, but effects
a modification of the subject through the formation of some representation.
Whether it is possible for the thing itself to be known by the subject becomes problematic when the mediation of an image is always demanded,
even leading to an infinite regress should we advert to the reflective knowledge we can have of these likenesses.
Not only here but also in his conception of first philosophy, Hartmann
has not completely overcome his Marburg antecedents. The view of
metaphysics as the sum of all questions that are unavoidable but also
unanswerable is far removed from the Peripatetic teaching. On this
reckoning metaphysics has no single formal object; it is not a unified
distinct science, but merely the meeting ground for a manifold of various
ultimate problems arising in the particular philosophical fields, problems
that can be gathered under one heading only because of their common
insolubility and the unknowability of their objects. Yet the reason why

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a systematic investigation of the metaphysical problems underlying the


particular sciences is undertaken lies in the affirmation that ontological
difficulties are fundamental in all scientific inquiries. Only by recalling
the common feature of all sciences as a search after the principles of things
can we provide an adequate basis of distinction between the particular
sciences and philosophy, for the latter study is most directly concerned
with causal knowledge and with knowing the ultimate causes of all things.
Because it can be intelligibly formulated and distinguished from all others,
a metaphysical problem is not entirely irrational. The thing about which
the difficulty is proposed can be known to that extent at least, although
it may never be comprehended to the extent of removing its aporetic
aspect entirely. As knowable, such problems fall within the scope of
ontology defined in Hartmann's sense, thus forcing his distinction between
metaphysics and ontology to break down.
The contrast between the old and new ontologies cannot be presented
as simply an alternative choice of philosophia prima or philosophia ultima.
For Aristotle went beyond the rationalists in admitting the inavoidable
necessity of appealing to experience in every sort of human science, including the metaphysical. Thus the universally valid concepts of act
and potency have their immediate origin in an attempt to explain the
meaning and implications of the becoming and change observable in the
sense world. Metaphysical notions and principles are not derived by
purely deductive methods, nor is Aristotle forced to make the Hartmannian
assumption that the world as a given totality is a preliminary certitude.
It is scarcely possible to avoid circular reasoning when ontology is treated
as only the culminating moment in the development of the particular
sciences. While ontological problems and concepts are said to arise only
upon the basis of results obtained from the particular sciences, the latter
cannot make scientific advancement apart from the general notions supplied by ontology alone. If the special sciences could supply the content
of ontological notions, then no distinct science of being would be required.
That ontology treats of being as being is the common heritage of Aquinas
and Hartmann. Because of its formal object, this science is the most
universal; all differences of being are themselves ways of being. Thus
Hartmann is led to affirm that being is the identical element in the manifold
of that which is. It is not so much the concept of being, however, as
being itself that is investigated by the metaphysician and brought to clear
consciousness. In its generality, being is an abstraction and a kind of
concept without existence of its own. Hartmann agrees with the Rchoolmen
that being as such is not patient of any strict definition or of any particular differentiation from this thing or that. Under some form or other
the general notion of being is given together with all knowledge, naive

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as well as reflective. But the natural realism at the root of the natural,
scientific, and philosophical attitudes orientating the mind first of all
to being as an independent thing, is a starting-point rather than a basis
for ontological investigations. For this outlook already supposes some
obscure conception of being, the world, and the knowing subject which
must themselves be clarified and justified to serve as the groundwork for
any scientific account. Geyser is included among those Scholastics who
maintain that naturalism can and must be proven, a position that is contested by Gilson, Olgiati, and other exponents of methodic realism.
What Hartmann asserts of being as such is founded on his conviction
that its nature is directly given in the cognitive phenomenon. But to
what extent the conscious grasp. conditions as well as presents the known
object can be decided only after reflective thought. Only in this way
can valid principles that have survived the critical test be provided.
Granted, moreover, that we can discourse upon that which is only in so
far as it is an object of knowledge, the question arises concerning how we
can distinguish one thing from another in our knowing. This is only
possible through the determinate relation this thing bears to the knower,
a relation that allows it to be known but not to be constituted in its own
being. One thing by its very nature is related in such and such a way
to us when we know it, and so it is distinguished from other things that
are otherwise related. While for Hartmann the state of being an object
excludes that of being in itself, the object is for Geyser a useful noetic
means of that which is. Although the concept of object involves the
relation of the known thing to consciousness, the constitutive note of
the object as such is its state of opposition or standing over against the
knowing act in an independent way. Hence, Geyser concludes that
nothing which is can escape being confronted with the subject when it
is judged upon or intuited.
Like the Scholastics, Hartmann gives much attention to the relation
between essence and existence. Whereas traditional metaphysics examined
the distinction between essentia (Wesenheit) and existentia (Existenz)
as it is found in real being, critical ontology substitutes for this the problem
of whatness (Sosein, quidditas) and thatness (Dasein). The consequence
of this shift in perspective is that for Hartmann essence is itself existence,
and existence itself essence. Since every being has a certain determination
and in some way is, a quidditative as well as existential moment must
be assigned to everything. There is existence in the sphere of ideality
and essence in the sphere of reality. From the textual examination of
an opusculum by the thirteenth century English Dominican, Thomas of
Sutton, Geyser seeks to remove some misconceptions about the Scholastic
doctrine on this capital point. The essence, while really distinct from

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existence, is a real constituent of the finite existing thing, rather than a


kind of ideal being. Reality is conceived as something wider than bare
existence, since it includes the real and individually determined essence
as well. Thus the import of the distinction for the Scholastics by no means
implies a separation between ideal essence and real existence. Yet the
ontological question concerning concrete essences of things must not be
confused with the logical inquiry into the nature and validity of our ideal
universal notions, for the latter constitute the region of abstract and nonreal essences.
Hartmann is not altogether clear in the meaning he attaches to whatness
and thatness, for the mere words are in no sense new or self-explanatory
as adequate substitutes for the traditional analysis. Scheler's radical
separation of whatness and thatness is to be rejected with reason, since
it forbids any transition from one to the other and reduces the latter to
complete unknowability as being exclusively extra mentem. This extreme
separation is also denied by those who maintain a real distinction between
essence and existence, since both moments enter into the structure of
the actual entity. Nor do pure essences and laws positively exclude real
existence as altogether incompatible, even though it is not involved in
their ideal meaning. Aristotelians as well as Hartmann distinguish between
the questions quid sit and an sit. But from the fact that a transition can
sometimes be made from essential to existential judgments, it need not
be concluded that whatness and thatness themselves pass over into each
other. For the questions remain distinct, nor can the answer to the one
question suffice as an answer to the other. The reason for this lies in
the fact that the relations one thing bears to another are grounded in the
essence, without constituting it. Thus essence admits a certain indifference to existence, since the existential act belongs to it in virtue of its
extrinsic relations rather than as an intrinsic factor of its own inner content.
Without granting the argument, Hartmann would nevertheless allow for
some indifference in his theory of neutral whatness that need not have
existence in the real order.
Without pressing for the moment the vagueness of the notion of ideal
existence, it must still be asked whether there is here any genuine indifference of essence with respect to ideality and reality. Is essence a tertium
quid distinct from these two spheres of existence? While essence can
but need not exist really, yet it must have at least ideal existence. Only
in reference to the real sphere does it enjoy any authentic indifference.
A third essence apart from the ideal and real essences is a purely logical
entity. Since the essential content does not necessarily require actual
existence, it must have the ground for its existence outside itself and must
form some sort of duality or compositeness with its existence. Yet essence

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and (existence are not conjoined as thing an(I thing; they are mut1tu4ally
ordered I)Iinciples---quiSbws
(c'lia ----ofthe actutialbeiiig they coinstiitute, rather
than distinct

entities

themiselxrves. That the contrast

l)etween

themii is

only a relative one is Hartmann's contention, leading him to identify them


eventually. Undoubtedly, nothing in the world is solely essence or solely
existence. That which is, is determined and has existent being as so
determined. So much the Scholastics also admit, yet they go on to observe
that the alternative between separation and identity is not absolute, and
that the real question concerns the nature of existence and what relation
it bears to essence. Hartmann argues that the existence of the tree is
the essence of the forest, but it would be more correct to state that the
essence of the tree shares in the essence of the forest, and the existence
of the tree in the existence of the forest.
The gnoseological assumptions of critical ontology are also examined
by Geyser, who notes that we cannot know the existing thing as it is in
itself, if it be supposed that all our knowledge is conditioned by the organizing activity of the knower. The conformity between what is and what
we know remains problematic because Hartmann derives the content of
categorical concepts with Kant from the subject rather than with Aristotle
from the existent thing. Too rigorous a contrast is drawn between logical
and real categories. Hence the appeal to emotional sources is here inevitable. Geyser questions whether the object is directly manifested
through emotional experience, or whether the emotional reaction of the
subject is not rather consequent upon some cognitive representation of
the thing. Emotionality bears primarily upon the self-experience of
the human person, revealing him in his concrete living essence. Only
thereafter (without demanding any temporal succession) is it directed
to other persons and things. Hartmann's study of objective emotional
reference is a valuable contribution that tends to confirm the realist thesis
without supporting the extravagant claims of Scheler for the directly
cognitive function of emotion. Yet apart from strict acts of knowing,
emotional experience is an insufficient source for the awareness of being
in itself. What are reported as really present may be only affections of
the self, although a stronger case can be made for the characteristic feelings
of confrontation, opposition, obstacle, and the like. Here there must
be an experiential difference in the content of consciousness to make us
aware of something other than ourselves. Emotion can indicate only
the fact of an independent existence, leaving to cognitive analysis the
specification of the nature of that which is other.
Fundamental to Hartmann's ontology of ideal being is the assertion of
a manner of existence different from that exercised by the essence in the real
order. If the universal has no basis in the real and is not to be confused

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with its state of being apprehended by the mind, then it must exist in a
way peculiar to itself. But these premises need not be granted, since
universal knowledge can be sufficiently guaranteed and explained in terms
of an essential grasp of the ideal in the concrete. What must be clarified
is the relation between the abstract thought which gathers the general
aspects of individual reality and the ideal intuition of the universal. Hartmann approaches the Scholastic view in maintaining that mathematical
relations, for instance, are not simply created by the mind but observe
their own intrinsic laws. From his admission that detachment from the
real world is possible only mentally and not really, however, we may
conclude that the mental activity of prescinding from reality involves
the formation of essences as understood rather than as existing. In this
way, the knowing subject is the bearer of known but non-existent universal
notions which intentionally refer to the world of being in itself, without
themselves having any subsistent existence of an ideal sort. Abstraction
is not merely a negative disregard, but also a positive apprehension which
differs from the phenomenological Wesensschau in seizing the essence
in the individual existing instance itself. The pure essence as isolated
by thought has no being in itself, but is considered in itself according to
its inner determination.
VI
Finally, brief mention may be made of a study on Hartmann's ontology
by Sofia Vanni Rovighi,15 who has also written a competent book on
Edmund Husserl. Reviewing the theory of natural realism, she notes
that critical ontology is an immediate realism in seeking to transcend the
subject without having recourse to a formal demonstration of the objective
validity of thought. Yet its mediate character is evident when knowledge
is said to consist in the representation of an object that is thought.
Whether that which is thought makes contact with the thing itself can be
determined only by extra-theoretical or emotional methods. Because
he has lost sight of the importance of intentionality, Hartmann's gnoseology is inferior to Husserl's with respect to the object of knowledge. It
confuses a necessary condition of knowledge, the representation, with
knowledge itself. Cognition is an act sui generis, in which being is made
present and manifested to the mind through an intentional union or
identification. There is no need to search behind the object of knowledge
for the being itself, since it is the being which is known as an object by
means of the representation. The object is not an intermediate reality,
but designates the thing as actually known by a mind.
Despite his rejection of psychologism in company with the phenomenolo15i "L'ontologia di Nicolai Hartmann, "Rivista difilosofia neo-scolastica,vol. XXXI,
1939.

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gists, Hartmann nevertheless is led astray by psychological preoccupations


in his defense of realism. What stands in the place of the thing is called
an image by Hartmann, and a species impressa by the Scholastics. When
the thing is not present or is known in another way than as it is in the
order of nature, our cognitive act terminates in a representation or species
expressa of the thing. These psychological conditions of knowledge
suppose its presence and are not themselves direct proof of its validity.
They suppose the fact of knowing, moreover, precisely as an apprehension
of being through an intentional identification. It is inverting the problem
and the order of cognition to begin with the impressions and representations and ask how we can "pass" from them to reality. For they have
neither being nor meaning except as moments in a "passage" that has
already transpired. Formulated in terms of the problem of the bridge
between mind and thing, the cognitive act loses its proper nature as an
immanent vital operation and is submitted to the deceptive requirements
of spatial imagery.
In his work on Possibility and Actuality, Hartmann rejects the Aristotelian position in favor of the Megaric doctrine of possibility. The
Peripatetic axiom that potency is for the sake of act, an orientation or
predisposition to actuality, is challenged as being teleological and as reducing act and potency to mere stages in a process. Potentiality, however,
is not only ordered in a final way to act; its formal nature cannot be understood apart from this ordination. Nor is reality reduced to pure process
in this way, since apart from denying change altogether there is no escape
from pan-metabolism except by assigning some end and norm of change
and changing things. To state that the real is possible and that possibility
is a component of reality, does not further the investigation unless some
basis for the distinction between logical and real possibility be offered and
some ground given for distinguishing between the possible and other real
factors. If the various degrees of perfection are distinguished in terms
of potency and act, it becomes impossible to accept Hartmann's identification of these concepts. The monistic tendency latent in his univocal
or homogeneous notion of the being of subject and object receives its
ontological expression here. Taking necessity in the Kantian sense of
dependence upon and determination by another, Hartmann is led to deny
any absolute necessity and to characterize the ultimate basis of all necessary beings as a contingent principle without sufficient reason in itself.
When God is termed the completely contingent being, the continuity
between an irrational theory of knowledge and an irrational theory of
being is strikingly manifested. Only because necessity is defined initially
as dependence upon another can Hartmann conclude to the irrationality
of being and the contingency of its ground. Hence, he is forced to deny
the principle of non-contradiction in his fundamental assumption that

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132

PHILOSOPHY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH

the world as an autarchic totality is an indubitably given truth. The


previous teaching on essence and existence as correlative moment in an
identical reality now receives explication in the view of the UIlaVei6
as
a progressive divine identity. Corresponding to the hypothesis of the
Bestehen of ideal being as requiring an ideal form of existence, is this final
enclosure of being in the world of possibility,"8an enclosure no less radically
atheistic than Heidegger's doctrine on finite existence in the world of
time. Thus the final import of the Scholastic critique of Hartmann centers
about the philosophy of creatureliness and the age-old problem of the
relation between the world and God. Behind the critical question lies
the aporetic of being. And the structure of our general ontology in turn
commits us with regard to the meaning of finiteness and the ground of
contingent existence. Hartmann's greatest claim to respect t1 n the
Neo-Scholastics is his clear appreciation of the importance of the problem
of being and his frank statement of the main issues at stake today.
JAMES COLLINS.
ST. Louis UNIVERSITY.

EXTRACTO
La filosofia de Nicolai Hartmann ha sido estudiada y criticada cuidadosamente, desde su proprio punto de vista, por los Neoescolasticos principales
de Europa. Los puntos en que concuerdan son la importancia central
del problema del ser, la primacia del acceso ontol6gico, la coo dinaci6n de
la mente con una realidad no hecha por ella misma, y la investigaci6n ieria
de los problemas permanentes relatives a las categories, a los atri itos
trascendentales y a la distinci6n entre la esencia y la existencia. En
muchos puntos particulares, sin embargo, los Escolasticos consideran
inadecuadas las soluciones propuestas por Hartmann. La distinci6n que
introduce entre ontologia y metafisica no puede mantenerse: el factor
critico en la "ontologia critica" obra en oposici6n a su tendencia, por otra
parte realista; la noci6n de existencia ideal no esta esclarecida; el sentido
anal6gico de la posibilidad y de la necesidad no se ha explorado a fondo.
Se aconseja que se vuelva a considerar la ensefianza tradicional de la cosa y
del objeto, la intencionalidad del conocimiento, la convertibilidad de la
verdad y del ser, la inmanencia vital del acto de conocer, y la relaci6n entre
el conocimiento divino y la cuesti6n de la realidad inteligible. Las opiniones escolasticas de la abstracci6n, del problema de los universales, de la
contingencia y del dinamismo no6tico, son apropiadas para una apreciaci6n
y una valuaci6n ma'scompleta de la doctrina de Hartmann.
16 E. Przywara, "Essenz- und Existenz-Philosophie: Tragische IdentitAit oder
Distanz der Geduld," Scholastik, vol. XIV, 1939.

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