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Book Reviews Die Transzendentalienlehre der alten Ontologie. Teil I. By Karl Blirthlein. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1972. Pp. viii + 415. DM 88) There is no doubt that the doctrine of the transcendentals is one of the basic keys for the understanding of medieval and modem philosophy until Kant at least; and it has always distressed me to note that no major attempt has been made in our time to increase our general knowledge of this subject. Thus, Professor B~thlein's project of research, of which this book marks the beginning, answers an urgent need and is a major contribution to the entire field of the history of philosophy. I hope that the promised continuation of this project will follow, but I suspect that pursuing the development of this problem from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century shall prove to be a lifetime's work. Professor B~irthlein specifies his task to be an history of the notions of Being, Unity, Truth and Goodness as transcendentals, which is what they were taken to be in medieval philosophy and later. The purpose of this first volume is to retrace the alleged origin of this view in Aristotle's works. The first important conclusion of this volume, i.e., of the inquiry devoted to the Corpus Aristotelicum, is that Aristotle "can no longer be considered the originator of the doctrine of the transcendentals, but at best as a critic of it.... So that it is more justified to consider Plato and his followers in the Academy, rather than Aristotle, as the fathers of the doctrine of the transcendentals" (p. 397). The author tries to establish a preliminary definition of the doctrine in question as a guideline for his inquiry (pp. 7-17). In so doing he happens to use the expression "the genuine doctrine of the transcendentals" (pp. 10 and 382), whose actualization is "acceptable " (p. 376) in some cases, while in other cases it is "missed" (ver/ehlt: p. 8). I assume that the author uses the expression "genuine" in the sense of "typical" (as an "ideal type," of course), and not in the sense of "more adequate" or else of "predominant." Calling it "more adequate" would imply a very questionable value judgment, and calling it "predominant " would presume to anticipate a conclusion of the whole project, which is unwarranted as yet. Anyhow, it is clear that the author will not only pursue the development of the typical trend of the question, but that he will devote his attention, as he already does in this first volume, to less typical or to antagonistic lines; a basic one, which also should be considered , and which conceives Being only as actually existent Being, is called "principialism " and is supported by Sufirez and by many others until HoUmann (see N. Wallerius, Systema metaphysicum [Stockholm, 1750], I, 1, w 227, for a survey of the history of the question). This leads in some cases to laying at the foundation of the notion of Being the notion of substance. Now, other trends may have played a not less important role than that of the "typical" one. Besides, there is a general meaning of the term "transcendental " which has a history of its own, as shown by Norbert Hinske's excellent studies: "Die historischen Vorlagen der Kantischen Transzendentalphilosophie," Archiv ]iir Begriffsgeschichte , XII (1958); "Verschiedenheit und Einheit der transzendentalen Philosophien," ibid., XIV (1970); Kants Weg zur Transzendentalphilosophie (Stuttgart, 1970). And one must keep in mind that transcendentalia and transcendentia were mostly synonymous (see F. Schmidt, De origine termini Kantiani "transcendens" [diss., Marburgi Cattorum, 1873]. As he tries to establish the standard of transcendentality by tentatively defining the specific meaning of "unity," "truth" and "goodness," the author is forced to use some expressions of his own. "Unity" would be the "mere Something in general," or the 'q'hinkable in general" (p. 375), or else the identity of a thing with itself (p. 373). "Truth" would [5171 518 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY be a "logical minimum" (pp. 10, 15, 16, 372), or the "minimal theoretical relationship" (p. 10), or else a "possible Erleben" related to a "consciousness" in general (p. 372). "Goodness" would be the "practical minimum" (p...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 517-519
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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