Thursday, October 20, 2005

Verum est ens

Still on the first chapter of Raztinger's book, but I want to stop and share this. It's a bullseye, I think:
The Italian philosopher Giambattista (1668 - 1744)... was the first to formulate a completely new idea of truth and knowledge and who... coined the typical formula of the modern spirit when it comes to dealing with truth and reality. Against the Scholastic equation verum est ens (being is truth) he advances his own formula verum quia factum. That is to say, all that we can truly know is what we have made ourselves [ie. what we can see: seeing ~ making. -ed.]. It seems to me that this formula denotes the end of the old metaphysics and the beginning of the specifically modern mind... For the ancient world and the Middle Ages, being itself is true... apprehensible, because God, pure intellect, made it, and he made it by thinking it. To the creative original spirit... thinking and making are one and the same thing. His thinking is a creative process. Things are, because they are thought. In the ancient and medieval view, all being is, therefore, what has been thought... Converesely, this means that since all being is thought, all being is meaningful, logos, truth.*
There is a footnote here as follows:
This statement is of course only fully true of Christian thinking, which with the idea of the creatio ex nihilo attributes to God the material too; for the ancient [pre Christian -ed.]world, this remained the a-logical element, the universal matter alien to the divine... and the limit to which reality could be comprehended.
Ratzinger continues:
Vico advances the diametrically opposite thesis... he asserts that real knowledge is the knowledge of causes... all that can be known is the factum, that which we have made ourselves. [Being] is not [a subject] for the human mind... Man did not produce the cosmos, and its bottommost depths remain opaque to him... The factum was discovered as the dry land on which man could try to build a new existence for himself.

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