Objection (pt. III)

To know what is first requires knowing its ratio or logos.

The ratio or logos of anythig is what an infinite mind intended it to be.

The human mind can only understand the intention of an infinite mind by a multitude of finite ideas it cannot reduce.


The logoi of things are their natural laws

God either is the natural law of thing, or that relative to which these laws are unified and intelligible, etc.

(example: nature clearly intends to work with phi, but we cannot reduce phi to something first.)

Thus, though we can seek what is first, this leads us not to a single ratio, since this is unintelligible to us, but to a multitude of logoi that each appear irreducibly first to us.



  1. Pseudonoma said,

    October 8, 2013 at 2:40 am

    This is a fascinating objection to me, since it seems to espouse a very peculiar sort of idealism over realism (insofar as the latter fittingly names the direction of knowing toward “what is”). The primacy of “ratio or logos” in the knowledge of what is (“to know what is first requires knowing its ratio or logos”) means the privileging of the intentionality of infinite mind over Being, at least in terms of our finite conception. But I wonder:
    1.) how this squares with STA’s claim that the first thing that befalls the intellect is what is, i.e. ens.
    2.) How this can be reconciled with the primacy of the transcendental of Being over that of Truth.

    It is further of interest to me because the claim that a Logos precedes the comportment toward “what is” could also be considered to be Heidegger’s claim…i.e. that a seinsverstaendnis whose where in is Welt is the a priori condition for the possibility of encountering what is, i.e. any being (ens). But Heidegger subtly escapes a direct form of idealism by further insisting on the ontological difference…i.e. that what is means two things and the Being makes possible both a being and the understanding of Being. Thus the logos that enables knowledge of what-is (seienden) hides within it a sense of what-is (Sein) that is not brought to light by the logos save as that which is conceals itself in it as what-is-unthought, indeed as what precedes thought.

    • October 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

      My Phil. 10 class was just struggling with a related problem yesterday of what the “itselfs” are in Plato: what is equal itself, goodness itself, or (as he says in Phaedo) any thing in itself? We unavoidably gravitate towards intentional language in explaining them, i.e. “X itself” is “the idea of X” or “the concept of X”. The first problem with this is that ideas and concepts are all (a.) relations and (b.) existing by mind, but Plato doesn’t talk about the itselfs as though they were like this. It might be fine if people also defined particular things as sensible things, and then said that sensible things depend just as much on sensation and ideas depend on mind, but this is usually not what happens. Rather, the sensible thing is seen as somehow “real” and the “thing itself” – now tendentiously called “abstract” – is degraded to the status of a secondary, fictional construction from the true sensible reality (now tendentiously called “concrete”). I want to reject this metaphysic entirely, and all the way down – though I’m not exactly sure what positive account I want to give. I’m most comfortable with STA’s idea of the “absolute consideration”, which specifies that one and the same nature has two manifestations, sc. a sensible and intelligible one, and both are equally real or unreal, depending on how one is considering them. It follows from this that in the exact same way that there is a problem of universals there is also a problem of particulars – which indeed was always implicit in the problem of universals. Most people, for example, are Platonists about Particulars (capital intentional) in the sense that they think they exist objectively, entirely apart from a cognitive act, in a “world of particulars”, i.e. the real world. But this is just another Platonic heaven given by immediate intuition.

      • Pseudonoma said,

        October 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        Most people, for example, are Platonists about Particulars (capital intentional) in the sense that they think they exist objectively, entirely apart from a cognitive act, in a “world of particulars”, i.e. the real world. But this is just another Platonic heaven given by immediate intuition.

        Well put. My only caveat would be that we ought to question just how immediate this “immediate” intuition is. Hasn’t a world already undergone quite a bit of mediation to be encountered as a world of particulars? As a further introduction to what this question is getting at I need only refer back to your own fine “Scholastic account of a phenomenological claim” and all that is implied therein. Further, if it is true that intuition is never immediate –not because we, in some sort of watered down Kantianism, project aspects into the things themselves, but because there is an inherent difference in what-is (“immediately given”), such that it (what-is) itself IS mediated, i.e. self-revealing only in and through its self-concealment, then not only is the supposition that unmediated reality be an objectively existing ” world of particulars” an illusion (as you say “another Platonic heaven”), but also the Platonic recognition that the thing in itself is something at once known in advance (indeed seen in advance: εῖδος) yet concealed in the given beings we initially encounter gains a new level of profundity –a level which remains freshly outside the universal-particular problematic.

        On a related note, are good Aristotelians included in the “most people” you make reference to in the first line of what I have excerpted above? In my reading of De Anima’s koine aisthesis I have been working toward clarity on this point.

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