Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART I: On Being and the Common Attributes of Things - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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PART I: On Being and the Common Attributes of Things - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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On Being and the Common Attributes of Things
On Being (De Ente)
In antiquity the accepted division of philosophy was into natural philosophy, which contained all the speculative sciences about both corporeal and incorporeal things; moral philosophy, i.e., ethical and political philosophy; and logical philosophy, which included both logic and rhetoric.
What metaphysics is
The Aristotelians1 shifted all inquiry about the most general attributes of things and about God and the soul, from the territory of physics to that of metaphysics; they called metaphysics “the science of being in abstraction from matter”; and they meant it to contain the whole of the doctrine of the most common attributes, of the more general divisions of being, and of God and of the human mind.
Ontology and pneumatology
A different method has won favor among some more recent [writers]:2 they define ontology, as they call it, as the science of being and of the most common attributes of things (which is inadequate). They follow it up with pneumatology, which is the doctrine of God and of the human mind, and with physics, which is the science of body. In presenting a short summary of these [sciences], we proceed from the more general to the less general.3
How beings are known
Although our minds cannot make contact with anything without the intervention of some idea, whether proper or analogical, since it is not things themselves but ideas or perceptions which are presented directly to the mind, nevertheless we are compelled by nature itself to relate most of our ideas to external things as their images or representations.4 We retain the memory of a past sensation with complete certainty that it previously existed, and that we are able at will to recall a kind of faint idea of it, when the sensation itself no longer remains. This is very good evidence that certain ideas are representations of other things. In addition, every man has a consciousness of himself, or a certain sense which does not allow him to doubt that he remains the same today as he was yesterday, however much his thoughts may be changed or for some time intermitted; and he has no hesitation in ascribing to himself previous sensations, judgments, and feelings of which he retains the memory.5 This is also the source of the notion or intellection (informatio) of a true thing which is different from any idea at all. We are likewise impelled by nature for a similar reason to relate certain impressions which we have received by sight or touch, to things which are wholly external, of which they are images. All of this shows that things are real, different from ideas, and subject to them; and they are usually called objects of ideas.
Now, since things are known by the intervention of ideas, and words are attached to ideas to perform their function in speaking, we must be careful in all our philosophy not to attribute to external things or to objects of ideas those things that belong only to ideas or to words. The carelessness of the scholastics in this matter has caused endless confusion in metaphysics.
Being (Ens), essence, and existence are related
The general and abstract idea of being is utterly simple and rejects all definition; and since it is involved in every other idea, it may be univocally predicated of the objects of all other [ideas]. The object therefore of every affirmative true proposition is something which truly is or exists, at the time to which the proposition relates. Essence and existence are words related to being; and in the abstract signify much the same, so far as they refer to objects, as the actual term being. No essence can be understood in things themselves which does not exist; nor is existence something in things themselves which is added to essence. Since the natures or essences of things seem to be represented to us by our ideas, particularly by our complex ideas which contain the more evident attributes (sensible qualities, powers, and relations), we call these complex ideas essences; and the ones which belong to ideas alone, we often rashly ascribe to things. And since the mind itself often forms ideas of this kind, without the prompting of an external thing, from simple ideas which it had previously received, although it knows well enough that no object corresponds to them at that point in time, some have fondly imagined that certain essences, and eternal ones at that, have been without existence; and if at any time a thing emerges which is similar to such an idea, then they suppose that existence supervening on an essence is forming a true thing or a real being. Hence they have said that essence and existence are principia essendi or constitutive of a being (entis). But [the truth is that] anything which has a real essence has existence at the same time in the same sense in which it has essence or in which it is a being or a thing (aliquid ).
What essence is; what existence is
These words do not mean at all the same thing.6 For essence denotes the primary attributes of things, such as are normally contained in complex ideas, even when there is no object. The notion of existence is always simple, and one which is necessarily suggested to the mind by every sensation as well as by that consciousness of itself as existing which accompanies every thought. It is also suggested by sensations which, at the prompting of nature, seem to portray external things as existing; for no sentient being doubts that he feels or that he exists; and the force of nature itself prevents most men from doubting the existence of external bodies. These general and abstract notions of essence and existence are simple; the idea of a singular or less general essence is often complex, but in the case of existence it is always absolutely simple; it includes only a vague reference to some portion of time; and all notion of essence is abstracted from it.
[Four indications of existence
Things are perceived to exist either by an internal sense, by which means each man knows that he exists; or by an external sense, which by the force of nature sufficiently confirms to every man that other things also exist; or by reasoning from effects, causes, or concomitants known by sense; or, finally, by testimony.
What are the essences of things
Although the inner natures or essences of things are hidden from us, they do arouse various ideas in us by a fixed law of nature, and among these certain primary ideas which we see are necessarily connected with each other and belong to the thing presented (rei objectae), we call the essence of the thing. Of these attributes no one is prior or posterior to another in the thing itself; but in our knowing of them it is often different, and varies according to the method of investigation. Hence there may be several definitions of one and the same thing, depending upon which of its attributes the others are derived from. Some definitions, however, are much more appropriate than others.
Actuality and potentiality
In no matter do the scholastics misuse words more than in their doctrine of actuality and potentiality; to these words they attach a whole host of things in a very confused manner.7Physical actuality, which is the power of acting, is either primary or secondary: primary actuality is the power of acting, while secondary actuality is the action itself. Active, or actualizing (actuosa), physical potentiality is primary actuality itself, while passive potentiality is the capacity to be acted upon, or that natural mutability of a thing by which it is subject to the force of an actualizing nature, and can be variously altered by it.
Metaphysical actuality is the actual existence of a thing, and sometimes any quality which perfects it, particularly its powers of acting. The potentiality which corresponds to this is called the possibility of a nonexistent thing, or the state of an existing thing which is so subject to some actualizing nature that it may be changed in various different ways. God therefore, primary being, creator, and governor of all other things and not subject to change, is called pure actuality; and all other things are said to have been in potentiality from the beginning; and they became real, or true, beings when actuality supervened upon potentiality. But even in this state there remains something potential, because they may be altered in various ways or destroyed by the power of God. There is nothing in all this confused language except that primary being is eternal, without beginning, absolute and immutable in every perfection, and subject to nothing. The ideas of all other things could have been formed before they existed; and though they do exist, yet they may be changed by the power of God. It would be very wrong to conclude from this that actuality and potentiality are principles of being.]8
No idea more general than being
They altogether abuse words who imagine that there is any idea more general than being. What they call an imaginable [thing] is a real notion, for which there happens to be no object. In whatever sense you speak of an imaginable or a something, in the same sense you would speak of a real being, whether you are speaking of ideas or of things subject [to them]. Nor is there anything intermediate between being and mere nothing. Things suggested are relations, possibles, impossibles, external denominations, privations, negations, and beings of reason.9
Relations are certain notions, arising from the thought of two things, which have no object other than the things being compared and their properties and actions; the contemplation of all of which suggests the notion of a relation or link between them. The things compared are called terms, of which one is the subject or relatum, the other the correlate. The reason for comparing them, which is perhaps some action of one or the other of them or a quality or property which they both share, is said to be the ground. Relations are real ideas, whose objects consist of various absolutely real things external to the mind; not, however, something different from the ground and the terms.
Possibles are terms or complex ideas whose parts are consistent with each other. When there is no object, they are said to be purely possible. They are real ideas which have no object.
Impossibles are complex terms whose parts separately denote ideas so contrary one to another that they cannot be combined. They are real words which separately signify real ideas, and nothing more.
External denominations are passively signifying adjectival expressions which represent a real action or quality in some thing which is being referred to in an oblique and confused manner; in the Latin language, however, they are not joined with a substantive noun of the actual agent or of the possessor of the quality.
Negations and privations
Negations and privations are words that denote the sentiment or notion of a speaker that a certain thing does not have a certain real quality. If [the quality] is natural to a thing of this kind, the word indicating that it is absent is called a privation; otherwise, it is called a negation. Of neither is there any real action, property, or predicate.
Entities of reason
Entities of reason are either ideas of which there is no object, which are said to be subjectively beings of reason; or complex terms whose parts conflict with each other, though the parts themselves are objectively beings of reason. All of these are either real ideas, or at least real expressions; there are no objects corresponding to them.
The root of possibility
In the celebrated question whether the root or cause of possibility lies intrinsically in things or comes to them from outside,10 the question may be this: “Where is the power which can make an object appropriate to any idea whatsoever?” This is certainly to be found only in God. Or the question may be: “By what criterion do we know that an object can be made [which is] consistent with this term but not with that one?” This criterion is to be sought in the terms themselves. If their parts agree with each other, they are possible, since there is every power in God. If not, they are impossible, or rather the terms signify nothing. It is pointless to ask whether there might be a thing that would be subject to such a term, since terms have meaning only by the intervention of an idea, and there is no complex idea subject to such a term.
It is hardly within our judgment to say for sure what things can happen and what cannot, for in the weakness of our intellect, we may be unaware of those contradictions between highly complex terms which would not be hidden from one who had a fuller knowledge of things. But when a contradiction is sufficiently obvious, we rightly declare a term to be impossible.
[All ideas are relative except the idea of being
Of the idea of being we say that it alone is completely absolute. All others, whether of substances or modes or attributes of any kind, involve in themselves, whether distinctly and clearly, or confusedly and obscurely, some link or relation of their object to other things. This will be immediately obvious to anyone who thinks about one or two individual [ideas].]11
On the Axioms of Metaphysics
What an axiom is
Metaphysical axioms are defined as the most general propositions, self-evident and unchangeable. Not every proposition which is self-evident is unchangeable; nor is every unchangeable proposition self-evident.
In what sense they are innate
The ancients spoke of these axioms as innate in the sense that it is natural for men to understand them, since we have such a power of reason in us as will lead almost all men to a knowledge of them.1 Some recent writers,2 however, speak of axioms as innate only if they have been known and recognized from the moment that the mind was born. In this sense these axioms are not innate; their most general terms arise in the mind at a very late stage, only after it has made many comparisons of individual ideas and abstractions from qualities, distinguishing one from another. And the fact that all men readily agree to these axioms does not prove that they have been known from the start or impressed on the mind from the start. For all will assent to any proposition, including a singular proposition, which concerns any sensible object presented to it, when there is an obvious connection or opposition between subject and predicate; yet these authors say that singular and sensible ideas are not innate.
[No principle is the first of all
There is no absolutely first principle of human cognition. For there are very many axioms, as well as a large number of less general propositions, which are known of themselves; and in every demonstration or series of syllogisms, each extreme term has to be found once in some proposition which is self-evident; otherwise it will not be licit to draw a conclusion.
Some men have wasted a great deal of effort in elaborating a criterion of truth, since there is no criterion to be found other than the faculty of reason itself or the power of understanding which is native to the mind.
Self-evident assertions, as well as proven truths, are said to be eternal and immutable, because whenever any mind turns to consider them, it will see the connection or contradiction between subjects and predicates which is asserted in the proposition. We do not need to seek any other cause of this connection than that which formed the ideas themselves, since in certain ideas other ideas are necessarily implied by their own nature, so that they cannot be fully and distinctly thought without them. Hence the truth of such propositions cannot be altered even by the power of God, since the subject cannot be conceived or thought without immediately including the predicate.]3 ,4
It is not credible that anyone can seriously doubt these axioms. If anyone doubted about everything, he would certainly be always at a stand. Nor would the assertion I think (although it is the first of all absolute propositions) help to elicit any other proposition in anyone who had doubts about axioms, not even to prove the very fact that he himself exists. Much less will this absolute proposition establish abstract conclusions. For abstract conclusions arise from abstract propositions alone, and absolute conclusions from absolute propositions.
[They are not viewed in God5
However much there may be a common agreement of all men about the truth of these axioms, as well as about all demonstrated truths, among those who understand demonstrations, it must not be imagined that all men view this unique truth in some common nature, as if it were a kind of mode inherent to it. For the fact is that when several men have ideas that are very similar to each other but not the same, they will also see similar connections and relationships between them. The only permissible conclusion is that all men have been equipped with a similar power of reason.]6
Axioms of little use
They are equally in error who think axioms so important that they believe them to be necessary or very useful in every act of knowing.7 For singular and less general propositions become known first even without the help of axioms, though by their help truths previously ascertained are more easily explained to others.
[All axioms are known of themselves once the mind directs itself to see them. Their credit does not come from induction; no credit resting on that ground would be very strong, but their credit we see is very strong.]8
Two axioms which are quite useful
Among metaphysical axioms that are especially useful are two which are completely true when we are speaking of objects, not of ideas: every being exists, and a real quality or property or action is to be attributed only to a being. With their help we avoid a perennial confusion of metaphysics, when things which are proper to ideas or words are ascribed to things external to the mind. We would often avoid the temptation to make this mistake, if in metaphysics we gave ourselves the instruction that “every adjectival term needs its substantive,” even though this is not the case in Latin grammar.
From these axioms this corollary follows: “All abstract, affirmative propositions are hypothetical when they concern things, not ideas,” where the existence of the object is understood as an antecedent condition without which they are not true.
[Other axioms are sometimes collected here in vain. “It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be; everything is or is not; the whole is greater than its parts; things which agree with a third thing agree with each other.” And many others like them, of which some have no use; others are not relevant for common life. But afterward9 some axioms will be proposed which are not useless.]10
On the Properties of Being
The most common attributes of being are certain ideas involved and implicated in the very notion of being, which are interchangeable with being itself, and may be predicated of all its constituents.
There are commonly reckoned to be three attributes of being: unity, truth, and goodness; some add to these a connection with space and time, or the where and the when.1
Unity, identity, difference
Unity is either specific or numerical: the former should rather be called similarity, the latter identity.Numerical identity, which is sufficiently obvious, refuses to be defined. And the doctrine of the scholastics about unity has no use except to rectify their own errors about universal natures. They speak of unity as a property “by which a being is undivided in itself and divided from every other thing.” This means only that no thing is several things in itself.2 No question can be raised about identity unless two ideas occur which are different in some way, when at the very least some thing has been observed at different times or in different places. Any parts of space and time are obviously different from any other parts of space and time, though all are very similar. When ideas of things are different or dissimilar, we know most plainly that the things which arouse those ideas are different.
[Identity] of minds [and] of ideas
Questions arise about identity in the case either of the mind itself or of ideas, or of physical things. A man is conscious that his mind remains the same by a kind of internal perception which is totally certain but inexpressible; by this he also knows that his mind is wholly different from any other mind. But of another mind observed at different times we merely infer that it is the same mind by arguments that are probable but do nevertheless sometimes approximate to certainty. When a perfectly similar idea, judgment, sensation, or state of mind is recalled at different times, these recollections are different in some way simply because of the difference of time, so that they can scarcely be said to be the same as the earlier ones to which they are very similar. However, this difference is rarely so great as that between bodies which occupy different positions at the same time, or from completely similar motions of the same body repeated at different times. However similar physical bodies may be, a real difference between them will become apparent if they occupy different locations at the same time; without this criterion, there will be no completely convincing evidence, but we will be left to decide which bodies are similar and which dissimilar with the help of the ideas which they arouse.
[The principle of individuation
So much for the signs by which we distinguish identity or difference. If it is asked why a thing is one, which is the question of the principle of individuation in a thing, the only answer that can be given is the actual existing nature of the thing. For whatever cause made or created any thing what-soever also made it one or individual in the sense intended by the metaphysicians. But there are several kinds of such unity.]3
[Identity of] physical bodies
A physical thing is often said to be one and the same because we judge that all the parts of its matter remain the same; this is called unity of substance. But organic bodies and some artifacts, when men are not concerned with the identity of their material, are said to remain the same so long as their fabric remains much the same, or when an artificial mechanism continues to be useful for the same purposes, even though its material changes every day, as new parts take the place of former parts. We see this happening in every living body and in all things that grow from the earth.
Truth for logicians and moralists
For logicians and moralists truth means something useful and deserving to be known; for metaphysicians it is nothing other than the fact that each thing is such as the all-knowing God judges it to be, or that it truly is the very thing that it is. Logical truth is the agreement of a proposition with things themselves. Ethical truth is the agreement of a proposition with the sentiment of the mind.
In some noted authors4metaphysical truth means the same as the constancy of nature, its stability, or a kind of metaphorical solidity and grandeur. In this sense that which is infinite is also the truest. Finite things are less true; at least their truth is confined within narrow limits beyond which they have no truth. From the notion of each true quality the mind easily ascends to grasp the highest degree of [that quality], which is comprehensible in a kind of general and obscure notion; and it is a small step from there to believing that a nature endowed with that supreme and absolute perfection exists. As far as concerns duration and extension, the mind can hardly if at all refrain from believing, without any process of reasoning, that there exists a something which is boundless and eternal.]5
Goodness or perfection
The only sense in which all things might be said to be good is that we believe that God has formed all things by his excellent design for the most noble ends which each thing may most appropriately serve, or that no thing is lacking its own essential attributes which metaphysicians call its perfections.6 Why this is called goodness or what it contributes to a knowledge of things no one can easily say. [Physical perfection] Those things are said to have physical goodness, which make and keep any sentient nature happy, and give it pleasure without harm. Likewise living things and things endowed with sense are said to be perfect in virtue of themselves, since they have the qualities and faculties to make or keep themselves happy. Some kinds of such things are more perfect than others, in that they have more senses and higher faculties to experience pleasures. When none of those which are normally found in such a thing is lacking, the thing is said to possess perfection of parts; the greater they are, the more it excels in perfection of degrees. [Moral goodness ] Taking others into account, things which are endowed with life, sense, and powers of reason, are judged to be morally good when they have the ability and, above all, the constant will or character which renders them able and willing to serve the happiness of others. For all men strive to attain this power for themselves; they praise such a character in others; everyone would discover through his internal sense, as he surveyed his acts, intentions, and decisions, that such [a character] would be the happiest for himself.7
Absolute and qualified perfections
There are many species of living things, endowed with different senses, which take pleasure from very different things, and therefore the same powers cannot be regarded as perfections in every kind of thing. Those which are useful and pleasing to one species would be useless and deadly for another. Things which would give one species the highest happiness that it is capable of possessing, another species cannot allow; or if it did allow them, they would afford the very lowest pleasure. Hence has arisen the chief distinction between perfections, that some will make any nature endowed with them happy, and include no imperfection, whereas others can be of benefit only to lower natures, as they involve an imperfection and offer a remedy or mitigation of it. These are called relative perfections, or perfections in a qualified sense, whereas the former are said to be pure and absolute perfections.8
May space and time be predicated of all things?
Among the commonest attributes of being some of the most learned men9 include certain necessary connections with space and time, which they insist are real things if we may trust our ideas at all: they seem to have real attributes: in both cases their own proper extension or quantity extends to infinity; in both cases their parts are immutable; and although they allow things which are distinct from themselves to coexist with them and penetrate them, they are not penetrable by any things which have the same parts as themselves. There is a mutual relation or connection between all space and time, since every time is the same in every space; and every space seems to remain the same in every time, since virtually everything is connected with some part of both. They are the means by which we distinguish the truest difference between things which are very similar, since both have completely distinct parts. Neither motion nor the speed of motion can be understood without both of them. Long duration, more than anything, makes every pleasure or pain significant for the happiness or misery of life. Neither the physical world nor any physical property can be understood without both of them. Without time there can be no properties or activities of the human mind, albeit they seem to be quite unconnected with space. No part of either can exist without the rest, or perish if the rest remain. But whether they are things in themselves made by God, in order that he might make the physical world and successive things, or whether they are infinite modes of the infinite God, it is not easy to determine for certain. Although the first view is so obscure that it exceeds the reach of the mind, it seems closer to the truth, because both [space and time] consist of parts which are truly different. All things known to us and all their properties seem to persist in time; a kind of perception of time accompanies every perception or feeling of which the mind is aware. Only bodies and their properties seem to exist in space, not the properties which seem appropriate to spirits. Hence we quite easily conceive that there was once no extended space before God had made the physical world; but we can scarcely, if at all, conceive that duration or time had a beginning or will have an end.10 And we are totally ignorant what connection the divine nature has with either.
[An opinion different from the former11
Some ancient philosophers12 seem to have believed that both space and time were notions that are absolutely necessary to us, but to which nothing external corresponds any more than to ideas of numbers. They took the view that space is an abstract idea of physical magnitude, reached by the subtraction of all the other properties of body. Likewise time is a similarly abstracted idea of the continuation or succession which we have observed in the movements of the mind or in a series of thoughts. And furthermore [they argued] a certain size or quantity and parts and relations are ascribed to numbers as well as to space and time, albeit all agree that number does not exist apart from things numbered, outside of any mind. However, we will by no means settle the problem by this method. No one, necessarily, imagines number extending beyond every one of the things numbered, and indeed as something which would survive in the absence of any numbered things. No one [imagines] number [as] implicated of itself in the true qualities of external objects. Neither can the position of things or their motion, or succession of thoughts or the so-called coexistence of other things with space and time, be understood, unless something real outside the mind corresponds to these ideas.
But however much these two things are believed to be real, there seems to be no reason why they are believed to be attributes of one thing more than of any other thing that is both extended and enduring. And we cannot therefore properly infer that both things are uncreated and eternal on the ground that the mind can remove neither by thinking, since no more can those who enjoy sight remove colors from corporeal nature, and yet nothing external in the things themselves corresponds to these ideas. There is a great difference between a kind of necessary tendency of the mind to represent certain things to itself, and a sure conclusion of reason that they truly are so. There is no place in philosophy where the weakness of human intelligence is more evident in understanding things which we use virtually all the time and which occur in everybody’s speech, than in this very topic of space and time.
Permanent and successive time
The schoolmen seem to be talking in empty phrases, without advancing knowledge, when they divide time (τò Quando)13 into permanent, or simultaneous, and successive, ascribing the former to God alone; as also when they divide space (τò Ubi)14 into circumscriptive, which is appropriate to bodies, definitive, which is appropriate to created spirits, and repletive, which they ascribe to God alone, who fills all places by his essence without any extension.15 All this seems to be beyond the power and reach of our understanding.
There are learned men16 who confidently maintain that it is to be taken as a necessary axiom in philosophy, that what is nowhere (nullibi) is not, and also that nothing can act where it is not by means of its essence. But they should ask themselves whether being somewhere (τò alicubi esse) means the same as either being diffused throughout space, which belongs only to the infinite, or being diffused through a part of space, which will be appropriate only to things with figure and extension; and whether both do not presuppose a thing composed of parts however combined. They should also ask whether either one of these is appropriate to the qualities or actions of the mind, which are judgment, reasoning, love, hatred, desire, joy, and sorrow. They should also wonder whether they are not being deceived by the wrappings of words, in that they are happy to avoid employing the nouns time and extended space by making use of the adverbs where, anywhere, and when.]17
On the Principal Divisions of Being
Dependence and independence of being; the latter is supreme perfection
The first division of being is into dependent or created being and independent being, which has been made or created from nothing.1Independent things seem to imply perfection, absolute things absolute perfection, and relative things a relative perfection. Indeed, independence which is absolute and full of perfections seems to imply infinity,2 since it is not intelligible that an absolutely primary thing whose nature has not been limited or circumscribed by any prior thing at its discretion should possess any one finite perfection rather than another, or be restricted to perfections of one kind so as not to possess the others. That therefore has supreme perfection which is absolutely primary, and all other things take their origin from it.
[Some learned men therefore do not seem to have correctly expressed their view of independence, in implying that any perfection or attribute of a primary nature could have been the cause or reason why that nature exists, since a primary nature cannot have a cause or ground of being (essendi), as they term it. Nor in a nature which we have represented as not yet in existence can we suppose there is any attribute or internal necessity which brings this about or requires that the thing itself should exist.]3
The sign of dependence
Metaphysicians therefore conclude that every nature is dependent to which any mode, from a certain range of modes, is wholly necessary, if it is equally capable of all such modes. For if it were supposed that it was independent, it would have had, on this hypothesis, some one mode before any action or choice of any cause whatsoever; this one mode therefore would be more connected with the nature or essence of that thing, above all other such modes; and therefore it would not be equally capable of other such modes, nor would it equally admit any of them at all. Every body (corpus) necessarily has some space, some figure, and some state of either motion or rest; it cannot exist without such properties. However, it is indifferent to all [particular] places, and is equally capable of all figures, and of every movement or rest. The thing therefore is dependent and made to be.
Necessary and contingent being
Related to the former is another division of being into necessary and contingent, or rather voluntary, being. Necessary being is that which does not depend on a will; the term is the opposite of voluntary or discretionary being.
[Internal and external necessity
One [kind of] necessity is internal necessity, also called antecedent necessity. It exists in the very nature of a thing; for example, there is a necessity of connection between the terms of a self-evident or proven abstract proposition. It is also called absolute necessity, since it remains the same in every time and place. The other [kind] is external necessity, a subsequent or hypothetical necessity which necessarily follows upon something else which has been previously posited, or a hypothesis.]4 A perception is said to be necessary if it presents itself to us, whether we will or no; a voluntary [perception], on the other hand, is one which we can change, obstruct, or stop. Judgment is necessary; this is either because the nature of the object is such that it cannot be changed for any reason so as to render the judgment untrue, or because the connection or conflict between the terms in the stated proposition is such as to ensure that the proposition will always be true. This necessity of abstract propositions remains the same in every time and place; and the arguments by which it is shown are called causes, i.e., causes of knowledge (an analogical use of the word “cause”). The necessity of being (essendi ), as a result of which beings (entia) are said to be necessary, denotes an existence which does not depend on a will; if entities do not depend on a human will, they are called necessary entities so far as men are concerned. If existence does not depend on any will at all, it is said to be absolute necessity, since the thing is said to have existed of itself from eternity, and to be so constant and perfect that it does not perish of its own accord and cannot be destroyed by any other force. The same necessity is also called intrinsic and is distinct from the necessity which originates externally and on the basis of a hypothesis, since things are only necessary [either] because they depend on the immutable will of God or necessarily follow from other things previously posited. From the absolute necessity of a thing it can only be inferred that it is eternal in itself; its other attributes or perfections do not seem to be able to be derived from this, except by confusing the necessity of judgment with the necessity of the thing itself. Nor should it be said that any attribute of a thing precedes the subject itself or is the ground of its being.
[Simple and multiple being
Beings are divided into simple and multiple beings. Souls or spirits are simpler beings, and we discuss them elsewhere.5 Of these the simplest is a [soul or spirit] which is not only without any parts but has all its virtues so necessarily connected with its nature that nothing adventitious can befall it, nothing new occur to it. Multiple [beings] are either composite, when their parts are joined in a kind of natural bond or union like animal and vegetable bodies, or merely multiple, like a heap, or a corporeal mass endowed with mere power of cohesion, which is distinguished by this alone from a being by aggregation, though that too has its own metaphysical unity.]6
Finite and infinite being
There is another division of being, into finite and infinite.7Finite is self-explanatory from the name. Infinite is “that which is greater than everything finite,” or “that which rejects all relationship with finite things.” All things perceived by the senses appear to be finite. We acquire the notion of infinity not only from the fact that in certain things, namely numbers, sizes, and time, the mind can always go on, and sees that in adding new parts, in extending or amplifying an idea, or in dividing a quantity where it is impossible to arrive at portions which are absolutely the smallest, its progress cannot be arrested; some call this potential infinity. But [we acquire the notion of infinity] above all [from the fact] that in contemplating space the mind sees that no bounds can be anywhere conceived beyond which it cannot reach, and because it is quite certain that there has always been something without a beginning, and that past duration has been infinite. This notion of infinity we transfer to things that are quite different, namely power, wisdom, and goodness, for we want these things to be as great as they absolutely can be.
Difficult questions about infinite things
There are many fierce disputes about infinite things. These are the points that seem most likely. There can hardly be more than one thing of the same kind which is infinite in every way. There cannot be an infinite [thing] which is greater than an[other] infinite [thing] in the respect in which it is infinite. Infinite things, as they are infinite, cannot be multiplied; nor can they have any finite relation to finite parts, though things that are infinite in one respect and finite in another, if there are any such, may be multiplied and divided. If anyone chooses to spend time on these questions, which wholly exceed the powers of our minds, he will receive just one reward: he will be made more aware of his own limitations and any intellectual arrogance he may have will be diminished.
There is another division of being, into cause and thing caused. The idea of power, force, efficacy, action, causality is simple; it arises when we see from the proximity of certain things, and from their motion or their effect on other things, that new sensations instantly follow in ourselves, and new motions or changes of form in those other things.8 Moreover, we find from our awareness of our own intentions that our ideas are changed in different ways in our minds by our own efforts, and movements are aroused in our bodily members. And in these events we not only see that the desired change follows, but also perceive our minds exercising some sort of actual initiative (energia). The notion of action or efficiency, therefore, which should clearly be counted among the simpler [ideas], denotes something quite different from the fact that one thing or an alteration in a thing follows another thing, or that this thing preceded that thing in time, or has normally preceded it, even though this is quite often the only indication of efficiency that we have. And then, since the physical properties which affect the senses are known, namely, the forces of inertia, weight, mobility, and figure, we may infer from the force and nature of these qualities what changes in other things or in themselves bodies which have these qualities may effect by their own motion or impact. [But since the nature of the causes is not perspicuous to us, our knowledge of efficiency is also exiguous, and we more often make inferences by use and wont than by sure reasoning as to what effects are to be expected from any given cause or from what cause a given effect springs. Such is the ignorance of men in this matter that although we are quite aware that we are doing something in changing our thoughts and desires and appetites, yet all the rest of our human efficacy is uncertain, even in the movement and control of our own bodies; of this elsewhere.]9
[As for the forces or attractions attributed to other bodies which seem to give rise to gravity, cohesion of parts, elasticity, and other such things, whether they are necessarily in bodies of themselves or can coexist with the inertia of matter, or whether, on the other hand, they are caused by the continuous power of a nature which is far different and incorporeal in a fixed order in accordance with certain laws, the most learned men are at variance on the question of how it occurs, as also in the matter of the continuation of a motion already begun and its communication after a collision of bodies.10 The arguments which show that more than anything else one must invoke a certain power and design of nature which is far from corporeal are based on the fact that we have seen time and again that we have been able to formulate innumerable laws of nature, of the most diverse and different kinds, and understand them without any contradiction, like those laws which we see affording the highest degree of security and usefulness to all things.]11
Logical causes, moral causes, etc.
We will say nothing here of logical causes, which are said to be causes of knowing, such as the premisses of conclusions, or of metaphysical causes, which are not truly distinguished from effects, such as attributes which are easily enough known and from which others seem to arise. Those are called moral causes which have done or omitted, according to their own wills or states of mind, things from which some good or evil could be foreseen as likely to arise either of its own accord and from its own nature or by the intervention of other causes of any kind whatsoever, which they have aroused or failed to restrain.12Denials therefore and privations, as well as real things, have their own moral causes.
Material causes and formal causes improper
Those causes which are called material causes, formal causes, and final causes have received the name [of cause] by a transference of meaning; only an efficient cause is properly called a cause. A material cause achieves nothing, whereas a real cause effects something either by itself or as a result. A formal cause effects nothing, but is itself effected.13
An end is a certain pleasing and desired thing, in the hope of obtaining which an agent is prompted to act; it may be pleasure perhaps or things which afford pleasure. Pleasure effects nothing by itself, but expectation of it moves a man, so that he wants to do those things which seem likely to produce pleasure.
Therefore when a man acts in view of an end, the end had previously been known to him and desired; innate in him is self-love (philautia, or an appetite for his own happiness), or a certain kindly feeling toward others. Further, when a man desires an end for its own sake, the thing desired has become pleasing to him because he has a certain sense which is prior to all reasoning; for there is no place for reasoning about ultimate ends, but only about aids or means as they are called. And if anyone desires something for the sake of another, again some feeling toward him for whose sake he desires it has necessarily preceded [the desire]. A final end is whatever is sought for its own sake. Hence every man has many ultimate ends, among which indeed a struggle or process of comparison may occur, with a view to discovering which one makes the greater contribution to a happy life. In this struggle there is little room for reasoning, since the question is rather to be settled either by a sense, external or internal,14 which instructs one as to what things afford the greatest pleasure, or by experience of things, which reveals what are the more constant and lasting pleasures.
Axioms about efficient causes
Here are the common axioms about efficient causes, which are either quite true or close to the truth. 1. Every cause is a true or existing thing. 2. Every cause is prior to its own effect, if not in time at least in nature. That is, in order for it to exist, the existence of the thing effected is not required; but the latter is unable to exist if the cause does not exist. For a thing which is endowed with effective force does not depend on its effect, even though it gets to be called a cause because of the effect. 3. No thing is a cause of itself. 4. Nor are several things mutually causes of each other; or, in causes there is no circle. 5. As soon as a cause acts, its true effect exists without any interval of time, though not the whole system of effects which perhaps it was set to bring about by a long chain of actions. 6. There is no true perfection in a created thing, which the cause itself did not possess, if not in a similar manner yet in a superior or at least an equal manner. 7. Any cause will effect nothing at all, if it is not determined by its own character or nature, or by its present disposition in the given circumstances, to ensure above everything that it does this now rather than not do it, but remains indifferent to both directions. These [axioms] seem to carry assent without any reasoning.
From these [axioms] metaphysicians infer: 1. That the continued duration, as well as the first existence, of a made or created thing is to be attributed to the power of the efficient cause, whether this requires continued action on the part of the cause or whether such constancy of nature, or perfection, has been granted to the created thing from the start as may last for the necessary time. 2. No effect, at least no effect which depends on human power, lasts longer than while the cause operates. This will not seem strange to anyone who has studied human efficacy. Human efficacy consists wholly of variously altering one’s own thoughts and feelings and initiating or directing movements in one’s own body. But the motion which we excite in our bodies is often continued without any effort on our part; and the force which we have impressed on contiguous bodies by means of our limbs seems to continue without our will and without our efficacy.
No infinite series of causes
The arguments which show that there cannot be an infinite series of causes without a first and independent cause are very similar, namely, that every term in that series is dependent and effected; therefore the whole series has been effected, even though there may be nothing outside the series on which the whole series depends or by which it is effected; and that it is true of each part of the series that it has been determined by the efficacy of some cause to exist rather than not exist; therefore it will be true of the whole series that it has been determined to exist by the efficacy of another. To these can be added [the argument] that each term in that series, apart from the last, is both cause and caused; and for each term there is one act of effecting and one thing effected; but if a final term is added, the things effected will be more than were the effecting actions; which is absurd. Since, however, arguments equal to and very similar to these (namely the argument which infers that what is true of any part of an infinite is true also of the whole infinite) can be adduced to overturn an infinity of space and time, it does not seem safe or necessary in such a grave question as the existence of God to rely on these arguments alone; for we find everywhere throughout this whole universe traces of so great a power and intelligence, which lead to a certain nature that is supremely excellent, the most wise and most powerful creator of the world. And there cannot be any suspicion that this superior nature sprang from a prior cause, much less that there has been an infinite series of things of that kind, since every cause in that series would have to be regarded as at least equal in virtue to the creator of the world. Anyone, therefore, who, believing that the world has been created, takes refuge in such a series of causes in order not to acknowledge the one eternal God, since it is not credible that things of such great power and virtue should have perished while their works still remain, verily, he will substitute innumerable gods in place of the one God.
Rational causes, necessary causes, and contingent causes
There is a well-known division of causes into rational, necessary, and contingent. Neither contingency, however, nor chance or fortune, denotes a true efficacious nature; these words are used when effects result either from natural causes in such a way that we cannot foresee them, or from free causes when there is no obvious incentive which would certainly direct the cause in one direction or the other, and no indication from which a spectator could predict the choice. Therefore all contingent things are effected either by necessary or by free causes. Furthermore, necessary causes which seem to act without design or will should be regarded as instruments which perform a function rather than as acting, and when they do seem to be acting or impelling, they themselves are also acted upon or impelled. Only deliberately acting things, therefore, seem to have a real power within themselves, or truly to effect anything.
What is liberty?
There is a difficult question about the liberty of deliberately operating causes: do they have within themselves the power to twist and turn, so that they can set themselves to will a thing or its contrary equally, which is called the liberty of contrariety (as if one were to say that he can desire and pursue either that which seems to him pleasant or that which appears harmful and annoying), or do they have at least the power to set themselves to act or not to act, to will or not to will, which is the liberty of contradiction.15 It was the opinion of the Stoics16 that our desires and aversions are excited by the images of good and evil which appear to the mind, together with the character and qualities of the mind itself, in accordance with a certain constant law of our nature, and further, that the character of the mind itself is set by the earliest fabric of [its] nature and then by education and morals. They also held, therefore, that judgments and opinions are always formed from the sagacity, caution, or diligence which the mind possesses at that time on the basis of the indications of good and evil which things themselves display; and volitions and actions emerge from the calm or violent passions of the mind. And all these necessary antecedents of actions were set and foreseen by God himself. [By free causes therefore they mean those which can do what they will and abstain from what they reject, however much they may actually have been impelled to will or to reject. For they take the view that the power of directing oneself, which some imagine to be determined neither by the character of the agent nor by the appearance of good and evil nor by the judgment of the agent, is absurd and useless, and properly does not occur except when incentives are offered which are equal in both directions, which rarely happens; and even in this case the inclination of the self in either direction would have no quality of virtue or vice. And if anyone were to make use of this power to act against what seems to him to be the prevailing incentive, his action would be stupid if not wicked. On this whole question each one will best judge who examines himself to see whether or not in every deliberate intention to act (for few would maintain that when we are blindly carried away by a passionate emotion, we are free in this sense) he has before him some prospect of obtaining a good or repulsing an evil, by which his mind was moved to will. Similarly, in things which are completely equal, let him see whether or not he chooses one thing over the rest because it was the first that occurred to him, or because he has attached a feigned and imaginary image of good to the direction which he chooses. On this question the Stoics argue that nothing arises without a cause; and if anything were indeed effected by a cause which was indifferent and capable of going in either direction, and were not inclined to one direction or the other, either by its own character and nature or by the circumstances assumed to surround it, such a decision would not amount to a cause.
Others, however, respond17 that such is the nature of rational causes that they can move in any direction, that they are themselves the cause of their inclining or turning, and that this characteristic is theirs by nature. They concede that they nearly always follow their own judgments in some way but that there are two particular appearances that move the will, namely, [the appearance] of right (honestum) and duty, or of the pleasant and the useful, and that it is in their own power to incline and turn themselves to either of these.]18
Beings are divided into substances and accidents
Finally, beings are divided into substances and modes or accidents, and not without reason. The first notion of substance, a quite simple notion, arises for each man from the fact that he is aware of himself as persisting, even though his thoughts, sensations, and feelings are constantly changing, and that he cannot imagine himself other than he has always been, despite these mental variations. Similarly, we perceive by sight and touch that bodies take on new colors and new shapes and quietly change their motions, while their quantity or extension, mass, weight, and solidity remain constant. Thus we call the thing that, despite its change of properties, remains itself, a substance; and the changeable properties we call accidents.
What are the truest modes
The principal modes which truly add something to their substances seem to be the power of moving, that is, motions and figures in corporeal things, and in our minds the operations or passions of perceiving, understanding, and willing.19
[Corporeal substances and thinking substances
Substances are either extended or thinking; there are perhaps several kinds of both which are fundamentally different from each other. If there is any reality in space, it is different from every body; and among bodies themselves there have perhaps been from the beginning certain notable differences which are hidden from us. Likewise the kinds of thinking things which are widely different from each other are perhaps innumerable, of which some are far more highly endowed with senses and powers and fitted to lead their lives in quite contrary ways: from the feeblest souls of immobile shellfish, not to speak of plants, to the highest orders of angels and God himself. And though we call them all by the common name of spirit or soul, we should not rush to the judgment that they are all alike in nature and differ only in degree.]20
Body, magnitude and extended things are the concern of physics and mathematics, spirits of pneumatology.
On the Categories and the General Properties of Being
We shall survey the chief general properties of beings by going briefly through the ten categories that Archytas2 is said to have first discovered and Aristotle certainly confirmed, whatever the division of things may actually be. The ten categories are: substance, quantity, quality, relation, action, passion, place, time, position, and state.
Substance is a thing subsisting in itself, and which does not inhere in another thing as modes or accidents do, which are much better known than substances themselves. For the nature of substances is unknown, except that we draw from our own selves a sort of dim idea of a thing bereft of its qualities.3 The other things said about substances in the scholastics are not useful. Here are the definitions of the technical terms.
Subsistence is the completeness of a substance and is lacking in parts of a natural thing which have been separated from the rest of it. A subsistent is defined as an underlying subject (suppositum) or individual nature (hypostasis). A person is a suppositum endowed with reason.
The kinds of quantity
Quantity is an ambiguous word; and the various kinds of quantities cannot be defined because they are represented by simple ideas. These [are] the simple kinds [of quantity]. [First,] magnitude, which is appropriate to body or space. [Magnitude is threefold.] It is itself threefold: linear, surface, and solid; of all three, there is a real nature and a distinct knowledge, though the first two are never found apart from the last.
The second kind of quantity is time, whose space or extension is completely different from the previous kind, and is called diuturnity or duration; it accompanies the actions and passions of the mind and all the motions of which the mind is conscious. For every thought carries with it a sense of a certain time, and every man is as conscious of that as he is aware of himself thinking. Hence it discerns order and sequence among the various operations of the understanding or the will; and it knows which things come first and which come after, and whether it has spent a long or a little time on a thing. Things are said to coexist with this series of thoughts, because they occupy the same portion of time. This coexistence, therefore, of time by no means fully describes the notion, since a third something has to be clearly recognized which equally measures both the sequence of thought and other things or events. And the notion of time should not necessarily be related to motion, even though we find in movements convenient measures of it.4 A good deal has been said about this before.5
True quantities uncertain
Here we mention in passing that we cannot know by any sure indicator whether the true quantities of magnitudes and times equal, surpass or are surpassed by our ideas of them. It will, however, be readily agreed that the same relation among them is preserved in our ideas. It is bodies that excite the first ideas of figures; but the mind itself can variously compound them and can perfect and complete them more than the figures that are found anywhere in bodies themselves. Physics and geometry tell us that these two classes of quantities are infinitely divisible, and by their help so too are movements, angles (inclinationes), and ratios (rationes).
The third kind of quantity, which is widely different from the other kinds, is found in numbers. Though our first notions of numbers are aroused by the bodies perceived by our senses, yet all things can equally be numbered, including some that are very different from bodies. In fact, ideas of numbers can be absolutely perfect without ideas of bodies at all. Ideas of numbers or their relations (rationes ) are not therefore to be necessarily related to magnitudes, since things which are superior in number are often inferior in magnitude, and things which have no magnitude at all can be compared with each other by means of number.6 Indeed, numerical relations, when they can be used, are the most convenient measures of other relations, because they are easier to handle.7
There is no number outside the mind separate from the actual things numbered, and nothing corresponds to the idea of [number] except the things numbered. The power of numbering is most useful, however, in measuring things themselves and their relations (rationes). These three kinds of quantity can achieve nothing by themselves in the absence of bodies, and space and time are not liable to any alteration. Time and space indeed seem to most people to be actually infinite, and clearly number can be increased without end. We cannot, however, understand an infinite number, because the concept of multiplicity (multitudo) is defined by number itself.
There are other notions of quantities in a variety of different things. The quantity which is attributed to motion or moving forces may be related to space and time. A wholly different quantity is ascribed to powers and qualities, e.g., to sharpness of mind and intelligence, the movements and drives of the will, love, hate, virtue, vice, joy, sorrow, and the sensible qualities themselves; but they are rarely counted as quantities.
Two kinds of qualities: motion and thought
There are several types of quality (which also refuses to be defined), and they are different from each other. The most important of those which are really in things are strength, power, active habits, talents, and propensities, all of which are primarily qualities of minds. As for the sensible qualities which are called sensitive, which are perceived by one sense alone, they are senses or states or modifications of the mind itself, although external things often seem to be endowed with them or affected by them. Figure, motion, rest, and position are accessible by several senses (the last pertains to the ninth category). There are, therefore, only two kinds of true qualities or accidents: thoughts and propensities ( propensiones) on the one hand, which belong to spirits, and on the other hand, motion, rest, and figure, which belong to bodies.
Rest and figure
Some learned men8 doubt whether rest is something real, distinct from the inertia by which bodies keep their state or motion by means of a force which is real but perhaps not their own or is derived originally from elsewhere. Likewise some9 hold that figure is the mere denomination of a mass which is derived from the relation of its parts to certain parts of space, and that the parts themselves do not otherwise change when the figure changes. And indeed figure by itself can effect nothing, although a certain configuration of a solid physical mass offers no resistance to gravity and other forces imposed upon it, while solid masses in other shapes do. Hence logs may be split by impacted wedges but cannot be split by objects of other shapes, and spheres and cylinders will roll when a cube would stay still.
Gravity, cohesion, etc.
It is also disputed whether gravity itself, elasticity, cohesion, and some other things of that sort are powers of bodies themselves and essentially involved in physical nature; or whether on the other hand they are powers which are continuously exerted on them by a superior nature in accordance with fixed laws or at least implanted by it in the beginning.10 The latter is more likely; the reason is that, although innumerable laws or systems (rationes) could seemingly be devised, we see that only one is in fact in force, even though it is not a bit more necessary in its own nature than the others. The only qualities, therefore, which clearly add something real to their substances are thoughts and motions; about the rest there is no agreement among the learned.
Quality appropriate to the subject
It is certain of every true quality that the quality of one thing cannot at the same time be a quality of another thing, even though the latter may have a quality of its own which is very like the other. Qualities appropriate to physical mass are divided and diffused through the parts of a body, so that each part has its own portion of a divided quality. If, therefore, there are any individual qualities, they inhere in a simple and individual thing.
There are many disputes among the scholastics about relations. We will briefly expound the more useful points.
When we look at two or more things which are not completely different from each other, and a property is apparent which is common to both or all of them, a relative idea arises which exhibits the connection or relationship between them. In every relation three things (or virtually three) exist: a related thing or subject, a correlate or term, and a ground.11 The first two are the things compared; the last is the property in which they are compared or the action which affords a reason for comparison. Thus the relations among magnitudes of the same kind are defined in terms of magnitude itself, the relations among times in terms of duration, and among numbers in terms of how many. Bodies and spirits may be compared with each other with respect to any other properties or qualities whatsoever. There are innumerable names for relations, according as the related things are similar, dissimilar, equal, greater, smaller, double, triple, etc., and swifter, slower, longer, shorter, more, less, tighter, looser, heavier, lighter, and we could add six hundred others. Moral relations are principally grounded in the actions, duties, agreements, and injuries of the related subjects.
Relation not an external thing
Apart from the related things themselves and the cause of comparison or ground, which is sometimes no different from the nature or essence of the related things, there is nothing more in the things themselves which corresponds to a relative idea; otherwise there would be innumerable other things attached to just about every thing. For there is no part of matter which does not bear some relation to every other part, no spirit which will not be found to be either similar or dissimilar, equal or unequal, to every other. Whenever, therefore, a relation is ascribed to things themselves, reference is always being made, albeit vaguely and obscurely, to a relative idea which either is or may be in a mind.12
Ideas of relations not useless
Relative ideas are not, however, for this reason artificial or useless. For not any and every relative idea arises at random from the known properties of related things, but only the idea which corresponds to the natures and properties of both. And when one of the related things and its relationship to the other are both known, knowledge of the other itself will also be gained. For in all inquiries we are chiefly asking what things lead to other things? what things will help us to carry out our intentions? what things are more fit or suitable to which, for the purpose of being useful to us? All the sciences, therefore, are concerned with investigating connections (rationes) and relations.
The clearest relations are those of numbers
The relations of numbers are clearer and more distinct than all others. And in investigating relations no one can desire anything further than to reduce them to relations of numbers. Hence it is surprising that certain learned men13 have taken the position that almost all knowledge of connections (rationes) has been taken from the connections (rationes) of magnitudes and should be reduced to them, and that there is no relationship among numbers, except so far as they exhibit certain degrees of magnitude which are equal to each other. To the contrary, things which are smaller in number are often greater in magnitude, and relations of numbers may obtain between things which are devoid of all magnitude. We grant that measurements of time and motion in particular have to be drawn from magnitudes, yet the connections between them are most easily measured by numbers when this is possible. But both kinds of measurement are almost wholly rejected not only by the so-called secondary sensible qualities, but also by almost all the properties of spirits.
Every relation is mutual and reciprocal, and [there is] the same foundation in the things themselves when the relation is converted, even though it will have a very different or contrary name.
Action and passion
Action and passion are related, and the relation between them is obvious: they are not two different things distinct from the actual objects of which the one acts and the other is acted upon. For a single thing supervenes, namely, the action as a result of which the state of the passive thing changes. We have previously explained,14 so far as we could, the simple notion of power and action.
One last point remains, which we touched upon before, about any action attributed to bodies: the bodies themselves which are said to act are also acted upon, or are moved at that time by another force, equally with the things which they impact. [Laws of Nature] And since a corporeal nature can neither understand a law properly so called nor obey it of its own accord, everything which is said to happen by the law of nature (as some learned men believe)15 is brought about in a determinate order and uniform manner in response to specific surrounding conditions by the first cause of all things, which sustains all things by its own continuous force as it permeates them all; the qualities, motions, contacts, and collisions of matter merely afford it the occasion. The inertia which is thought to be always necessary to matter does not seem to be consistent with certain actions which are attributed to matter. But no mortal man has adequate knowledge and expertise in these things.
The remaining categories
We have discussed the main points about space,time, and position in chapter 3.16 Concerning state we need say no more than that the powers of neither body nor mind are located in this category. It includes only those things which are substances in themselves but are normally found in union and combination with other things.
THE END OF ONTOLOGY
[1 ]“The Aristotelians”: see above, Hutcheson’s account of the Peripatetics, the Scholastics, and the Eclectics, in “Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy,” pp. 6-8, and discussion in the introduction, pp. xxiii-xxvii.
[2 ]Gerard de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae (Outlines of Ontology) in De Natura Dei et Humanae Mentis (On the Nature of God and the Human Mind). Jean Le Clerc, Ontologia; sive de Ente in Genere (Ontology; or, On Being in General). (This work was dedicated to John Locke.)
[3 ]In the first edition, Metaphysicae Synopsis (1742), the three preceding paragraphs were located in a prolegomena.
[4 ]It will be evident in what follows that in Hutcheson’s exposition of being, the various entities and categories of being are understood (as they were by Locke and Le Clerc) as ideas. In the ontology of de Vries, by contrast, being is predicated directly of objects or things. Hutcheson was also concerned, as some followers of Locke were not, to relate ideas to objects or real existences. See also Part I, chap. 3, sec. 4, n. 11, pp. 84-85.
[5 ]In his letter to William Mace, 6 September 1727, Hutcheson had elaborated a similar theory of the self. See A Synopsis of Metaphysics, II, 3, 3, pp. 140-41.
[6 ]De Vries, in contrast, maintained that existence and essence should not be distinguished: “And like being and essence, so too existence and essence are equivalent terms. So existence is wrongly thought to be something different from the essence of being. …” Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 3, sec. 6, p. 105.
[7 ]The multiple meanings ascribed to “actuality” and “potentiality” by scholastic philosophers were reviewed by Francisco Suarez in Disputationes Metaphysicae (1597, 1st edition; cited from 1963 reprint). Vol. 2: Disputatio XLIII: “De Potentia et Actu,” pp. 633-63.
[8 ]The four paragraphs between brackets were added in 1744.
[9 ]The list of suggested things that are supposed to stand between being and nothing is found in de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 4, pp. 106-11.
[10 ]De Vries had defined intrinsic possibility as “whatever can be conceived without contradiction”; he defined extrinsic possibility as “whatever can be produced by the power of some cause.” Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 4, secs. 11, 12, and 13, p. 108. Hutcheson restates the question in terms of relations between objects and ideas, and between ideas and terms.
[11 ]Section 6 was added in 1744.
[1 ]Aristotle, Metaphysics, 997 a7, 1005 b33. The notion that axioms should be considered innate derives not from Aristotle but from Neoplatonist commentators on his work, remarked above, introduction, pp. xxvi-xxvii and “Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy,” pp. 7-8. De Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 2, sec. 3, p. 102: “Axioms are commonly called innate truths because they so shine out with their own light that … the mind of every man rushes into agreement with them of its own accord.”
[2 ]Locke, Essay, bk. 1, chap. 2, sec. 4, p. 49. Jean Le Clerc, Pneumatologia seu de Spiritibus, chap. 5, sec. 22, p. 102: “Metaphysical axioms are said to be eternal truths, … [and] innumerable men, either idiots or barbarians, declaim that these are innate ideas, as if they were but to no avail.”
[3 ]De Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 2, sec. 4, p. 102: “Hence they are called both immediate propositions and common notions; in fact they are also eternal and immutable truths, seeing that not even by divine power can they by any other means be other than they are.”
[4 ]The three paragraphs enclosed in brackets were added in 1744.
[5 ]Malebranche, The Search After Truth, bk. 3, pt. 2, chap. 6, p. 234: “our view is that we see God when we see eternal truths.”
[6 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[7 ]Le Clerc made extensive use of axioms in his ontology: for example, concerning existence (chap. 6); concerning wholes and parts (chap. 7); concerning causes (chap. 10). In the preface, p. 3, he proposed that he would show “how all our ideas lead to undoubted axioms.”
[8 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[9 ]This note was added in 1749: “See Chapter 4, Section 5 [p. 91]: on causes. Wolff, in his Ontology, has recently given an account of axioms and their usefulness, with a diligence that will appear unclear to some.” Hutcheson had ordered the “Logica,” “Psychologia,” and “Cosmologia” of Christian Wolff during his term as quaestor for the library of the University of Glasgow, 1732 to 1734. The “Ontologia” or “Philosophia Prima sive Ontologia” was ordered for Glasgow University Library in 1736, GUA 26624.
[10 ]This paragraph was added in the third edition.
[1 ]In this chapter, Hutcheson was following the order of topics addressed by de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chaps. 6, 8, 9, and 10.
[2 ]See de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 6, sec. 5, p. 113: “Since it has been shown that identity is intimately linked with unity, there does not seem to be any reason why we should not say that One and the Same are one and the same.”
[3 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[4 ]Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe; Samuel Clarke, A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God; Andrew Baxter, Enquiry. See also Part I, chap. 4, n. 2, p. 87.
[5 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[6 ]De Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 8, sec. 11, p. 119. “So that we may reason more clearly about goodness, we must recognize that what is properly called [goodness] is in fact multiple; namely, metaphysical or transcendental, physical or natural, or, finally, ethical or moral.”
[7 ]The distinctive character of Hutcheson’s idea of moral goodness, as expressed in these sentences, may be contrasted with the definition proposed by de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 8, sec. 3, p. 119: “Ethical goodness consists in the conformity of a rational being with the law of nature or with the practical dictates of right reason. The privation of such is usually called sin. But we will have to discuss this in practical or moral philosophy.”
[8 ]Hutcheson was again following de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 8, sec. 18, p. 121.
[9 ]The learned men whom Hutcheson had in mind are specified in the following note.
[10 ]The following note was added in the third edition (1749): “On this question, consult [John] Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Henry More, Enchiridion Metaphysicum; [Ralph] Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe; Samuel Clarke, in his letters to Leibniz, all famous and learned men, and other well-known writers.”
[11 ]In the following paragraphs, Hutcheson was responding to the more skeptical position taken by Edmund Law, An Enquiry into the Ideas of Space, Time, Immensity and Eternity. Law argued, against Samuel Clarke, and in a manner that he took to be consistent with Locke, that ideas of space and time are abstract ideas, that they have no real or objective existence. He declared of the idea of space, “that it can hardly be any fix’d determinate Object in Nature … but rather one of Entia Rationis, or an Ideal Image arbitrarily set up in the Mind. …” p. 4. See also Part I, chap. 5, sec. 2, n. 5, p. 102.
[12 ]Among ancient philosophers who denied the reality of space and time, the most notable was no doubt Zeno of Elea. Edmund Law referred his readers to Pierre Bayle’s Dictionary article “Zeno,” Remarks E and F, for a demonstration of “the impossibility of Motion … on the supposition of a real Space or Extension infinitely divisible.” An Enquiry into the Ideas of Space, Time, Immensity and Eternity, p. 67, note B; Bayle, A General Dictionary, Historical and Critical.
[13 ]“Time” is a translation of τò Quando, which is a Latinization of Aristotle’s category τò π¿τε; Latin has no definite article.
[14 ]“Space” is a translation of τò Ubi, which is a Latinization of Aristotle’s category τò π¿υ̑.
[15 ]See de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 9, secs. 4, 6, and 7, p. 122, on the division of space into circumscriptive, definitive, and repletive; and chap. 10, secs. 3 and 5, p. 123, on the division of time into permanent and successive.
[16 ]Edmund Law, in An Enquiry into the Ideas of Space, Time, Immensity and Eternity, chap. 1, and earlier in the notes to his translation of William King, An Essay on the Origin of Evil, n. 13, pp. 31-34. In both places, Law was expanding upon the arguments of Leibniz in his exchange with Clarke, in “A collection of papers which passed between the late learned Mr. Leibniz and Dr. Clarke.”
[17 ]The four paragraphs between brackets were added in 1744.
[1 ]De Vries had also made independence and dependence the first division of being: Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 11.
[2 ]Samuel Clarke argued that an independent being must also be an infinite being, “for else it would be impossible there should be any Infinite at all, unless an Effect could be more perfect than its Cause.” A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God, p. 87. See also Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, p. 649: “To assert an Infinite Being is nothing else but to assert a Being Absolutely Perfect, … God, and Infinite and Absolutely Perfect being but different names for One and the same thing.”
[3 ]This paragraph was added in the second edition (1744). The “learned men” in question appear to be “Spinoza and his Followers,” as discussed by Clarke, A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God, p. 122 ff.
[4 ]The sentences between brackets were added in 1744. Samuel Clarke had described the necessity of God as “Antecedent … to our supposition of its Being”; that is, it would be self-contradictory to deny the existence of a necessarily existent being: A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God, p. 28. It was argued against Clarke that the necessity he contended for was more properly considered a consequent or subsequent necessity to be inferred from the order of the creation. “A Dissertation upon the Argument a Priori for Proving the Existence of a First Cause” [by Daniel Waterland] appended to Edmund Law, An Enquiry into the Ideas of Space, Time, Immensity and Eternity: “Dissertation,” pp. 51-52, 56, and Law, chap. 5, “Of Self-Existence and Necessary Existence,” pp. 148-49. Hutcheson was never persuaded of the cogency of Clarke’s arguments from intrinsic or antecedent necessity, as the remainder of this paragraph attests. Hutcheson told William Leechman that he had written a letter [no longer extant] to Clarke, ca. 1717, to express his doubts on this subject. See William Leechman, “Account of the Life and Character of the Author,” prefaced to A System of Moral Philosophy, pp. iv-vi.
[5 ]See Part II, chap. 3: “Whether spirit is a different thing from body.”
[6 ]Section 3 was added in 1744.
[7 ]See de Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 15 (“Infinite, Finite, Indefinite”), pp. 144-46. In the first edition of Hutcheson’s metaphysics (1742), these two paragraphs, on finite and infinite, followed the discussion of causation (sec. 5 below) as it does in de Vries’s work.
[8 ]Hutcheson explained causation in terms of ideas; like Locke, Essay, bk. 2, chap. 26, and Le Clerc, Ontologia, chap. 9. De Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 12, in contrast, explained causation in terms of things.
[9 ]The sentences between brackets were added in 1744. In the 1749 edition, a note was added to “of this elsewhere”: “See Part II, Chapter IV, Section 1,” p. 145 below. See also sec. 6 of this chapter, pp. 96-99.
[10 ]Hutcheson’s note (1749): “On this matter, consult Malebranche and certain Newtonians.” Baxter, Enquiry, reviews the opinions of various Newtonians on the subject in secs. 1 and 2.
[11 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[12 ]Compare Le Clerc, Ontologia, chap. 9, sec. 5, for many distinct ideas of causality: physical, moral, logical (between parts and whole), principal and instrumental, per se and accidental, and so on.
[13 ]De Vries, Determinationes Ontologicae, chap. 12, sec. 22, p. 128, also dismisses material and formal causes as “outside the realm of physics.” Also Le Clerc, Ontologia: see chap. 9, p. 36.
[14 ]See Part II, chap. 2, n. 5, and the introduction, pp. xv and xxvi.
[15 ]The distinction between liberty of contrariety and liberty of contradiction was made by scholastic moralists: Eustache, Ethica sive Summa Moralis Disciplinae, p. 12; Carmichael, Natural Rights, p. 24.
[16 ]On the ideas of the Stoics concerning the necessity of human actions, see the introduction, p. xxv, and below: II, 2, 3, pp. 129-31, and III, 3, 3, p. 171.
[17 ]Peripatetic moralists were critical of Stoic determinism, insisting upon the ability of reason or rational causes to direct the will to beatitude or lasting happiness. Eustache, Ethica, p. 55ff; Burgersdijk, Idea Philosophiae tum Moralis tum Naturalis, Oxford, 1654, pp. 37-38, 52-54. See the introduction, p. xxv, and Part II, chap. 2, n. 8, pp. 130-31.
[18 ]The sentences that appear between brackets were added in 1744. In the 1749 edition, there is a note: “See Part II, Chapters 2 and 3 [pp. 126-44] and Part III, Chapter 3, Section 3 [pp. 171-72]. Read the chapter of Locke cited above, ‘On Power,’ and other frequently encountered writers.”
[19 ]The following note appears in the 1749 edition: “See the letters of Samuel Clarke against Dodwell, and his defenders, on the difference between thinking thing and body.”
[20 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[1 ]This chapter was added in 1744.
[2 ]Archytas, a Pythagorean who influenced Plato, is credited with the authorship of a work on categories by Simplicius in his commentaries on the categories of Aristotle. See Simplicius, On Aristotle’s “Categories 1-4,” p. 18.
[3 ]In the third edition (1749) this note was added: “See the Essay of Locke, cited above, on ideas of substances.” (Locke, Essay, II, chaps. 23-24.)
[4 ]In the third edition (1749) there is the following note: “See Locke, as above, on the modes of time.” (Locke, Essay, II, chaps. 14-15.)
[5 ]The subject of time was examined in Part I, chap. 3, sec. 4, pp. 82-86, where Hutcheson argued that space and time are indeed ideas as Locke contended, not properties inherent in objects. But Hutcheson also held that we would be incapable of understanding things, their position and motion, “unless something real outside the mind corresponds to those ideas.” See the introduction for Hutcheson’s response to Edmund Law, p. xxiv, who considered it a consequence of Locke’s way of ideas that space and time had no real existence.
[6 ]In his letter to William Mace, 6 September 1727, Hutcheson observed that “Numbers are the clearest ideas we have, and their relations are the most distinct, but often have nothing to do with wholes or parts, and are alike applicable to heterogeneous or homogeneous qualities” (European Magazine, September 1788, p. 159).
[7 ]In the third edition (1749) there is a note: “Here we should note in passing the doctrine of the man who is by far the best and most intelligent: Isaac Barrow (Barovius), Lectures on Mathematics (Lectiones Mathematicae ).” It may be significant that it was Barrow’s attempt to apply geometry to optics that prompted Berkeley’s extended critique of “optic axes” in An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision, a theory which was in turn countered by Hutcheson in his letter to William Mace, 6 September 1727: see the introduction, p. xiv and n. 19.
[8 ]In this reference to “learned men” and in the two following references, Hutcheson appears to have had in mind certain physicists whose writings served as introductions to the philosophy of Newton at Scottish universities and dissenting academies: W. J. ’s Gravesande, Mathematical Elements of Natural Philosophy; or, An Introduction to Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy, and Henry Pemberton, A View of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy. On the idea of rest or inertia, see ’s Gravesande, bk. 1, chap. 2, pp. 4-5, and Pemberton, p. 28: “The real and absolute motion of any body is not visible to us: for we are ourselves in constant motion along with the earth on which we dwell; insomuch that we perceive bodies to move so far only as their motion is different from our own. When a body appears to us to lie at rest, in reality it only continues the motion it has received, without putting forth any power to change that motion.” Francis Hutcheson is listed as one of the subscribers to the Dublin edition of Pemberton’s work.
[9 ]On the idea of figure, see ’s Gravesande, bk. 1, chap. 2, p. 5, and bk. 1, chap. 14, pp. 43-44, on the application of the idea of figure to wedges and cylinders.
[10 ]Andrew Baxter, in Enquiry, sec. 1, note K, pp. 33-49, appealed to the authority of the same Newtonians against Newton himself, who had proposed that “a subtle elastic fluid … might be the cause of gravity and the cause of many other phenomena” (cited by Baxter, p. 34). Baxter was determined to vindicate “the universality of Providence, or the immediate presence of God … in all the operations of nature,” p. 39, a project endorsed by Hutcheson. See above, Part I, chap. 5, p. 92, and below, this chapter, n. 14; Part II, chap. 4, p. 145; and Part III, chap. 5, p. 180.
[11 ]See chap. 1, sec. 4, p. 70 on relations.
[12 ]In the course of his argument against Samuel Clarke’s theory that moral distinctions are grounded in the relations of things, Hutcheson affirmed that “Relations are not real Qualities inherent in external Natures, but only Ideas necessarily accompanying our Perception of two objects and comparing them.” Illustrations on the Moral Sense, sec. 2, p. 156.
[13 ]The reference may be to Berkeley, who had argued that mathematicians were in error when they substituted calculations based on fluxions or infinitesimals for magnitudes or quantities; he described fluxions as “the ghosts of departed quantities” (The Analyst , sec. 35; Works, vol. 4, p. 89). Hutcheson was impatient to have this work answered: see letter to Colin Maclaurin, 21 April 1737, in which Berkeley is described as “a man bursting almost with vanity long ago,” Aberdeen University Library MS 206/11.
[14 ]In the third edition (1749), there is the following note: “See above, Chapter IV, Section 5,” pp. 92-93.
[15 ]In the third edition (1749): “namely Malebranche, Baxter and some Newtonians.”
[16 ]See above, pp. 78-86.