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NEWMAN'S PSYCHOLOGICAL DISCOVERY: THE ILLATIVE SENSE (V. Continued) 15. The Universals. A long and vehement dispute once raged about the reality of universals. Are they only mental creations, forged by the human brain, without any reality outside them, or have they some independent existence apart from their mental reality? Anyhow, there was an apparent contradiction between die universal character of our ideas and the individual character of concrete things. The Scholastics solved this problem by drawing clear distinctions . An idea is an abstraction; as soon as it becomes applicable to a number of objects or things in the same sense, it is a universal idea. The "direct universal" (universale directum seu metaphysicum) as such has no existence apart from our minds, because an existing thing is always bound up with concrete, determining , individualizing notes, and it is these very circumstances or accidents which are ignored by the mind as it strips the thing of its individual characteristics. When the mind reflects on this "direct universal," i.e., on the abstract essence of the thing, it sees that this is to be found in many more things and that it is identical in all those things, and in this way the "reflex or logical universal" is formed (universale reflexum seu logicum). This same essence or quiddity is not really different from the thing itself, but the mind makes abstraction of all accidents, and this foundation makes it possible to apply this idea in die same sense to all other beings of the same kind, whether they are actually existing or not. In other words the universal as a universal has only reality in the mind but it has a foundation or a ground in the thing itself. Newman was not so well acquainted with Scholasticism that he knew and mastered the solution of the problem. As a matter of fact he approached it from quite another angle. Hence when scholastically trained minds read some of his statements on universals, they may feel shocked. They sound very curious, they seem incon418 DR. ZENO, O.F.M. CAP.419 sistent with each other, they apparenüy imply a negation of the objective reality of universals. This makes it necessary to compare the texts and to explain his meaning. a. Newman Inconsistent. We should never lose sight of the fact that Newman had no intention at all to enter the province of philosophy in the restricted sense of the word. "I am only contemplating the mind as it moves in fact, by whatever hidden mechanism ,"1 that is what could be put as a heading to every page of the Grammar of Assent. And when he virtually deals with metaphysics , he wants us to consider his statements as hypotheses, or as propositions stated only by the way, and in this department he always wishes "to speak under correction." This explains how he could refer to the universale metaphy sicum and the universale directum in a very correct way without realizing he was teaching Scholastic doctrine. As far as I know, it is Professor Walgrave who has first drawn attention to this fact,2 when he dealt with Newman's alleged conceptualism. Newman states that "even one act of cruelty, ingratitude, generosity or justice reveals to us at once intensive the immutable distinction between those qualities and their contraries; that is, in that particular instance and pro bac vice."3 The same holds for the opposites: right and wrong, true and false, just and unjust, beautiful and deformed.4 In one experience, therefore, he sees a thing as an immutable, absolute quiddity, which objectively and in the same sense belongs to all possible things of the same kind, although the mind does not yet explicidy confirm this universal applicability. The contemplated quality remains limited to the particular case; but in its absoluteness it is stripped of all individual, changeable and concrete characteristics. This is the metaphysical universal of the Scholastics. But Newman also mentions the logical universal when he says: "As we form our notion of whiteness from the actual sight of snow, a lily or a cloud, so, after experiencing the sentiment of approbation which arises in us on the sight of certain...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 418-440
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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