Review of Metaphysics 19 (2):346 - 365 (1965)

In saying that sensible things exist "by convention" he does not, of course, mean that the sensible world is something we will or make up. He no doubt was aware of the fact that "sweet, bitter, hot, cold, and color" are given to us, that we do not establish them or enact them the way we establish an institution or enact a law. It is in the logic of his thesis that sensible things are appearances of atoms in configuration. They exist by convention in this sense: we refer to them as if they were individuals, things; as if their character and existence were self-contained and not entirely conditioned and dependent on something else. Strictly speaking, instead of referring to "honey" we should refer to "the constellation of atoms which we experience as something sweet, fluid, etc." The mental attitude which treats animals, plants, houses, tables as ultimate, the attitude which stops with sensation is "obscure knowledge"; the attitude which sees through and beyond these is "genuine knowledge." The thesis is that we never see the world as it is; the nature of things, the reality of the world is something to be apprehended by rational inference, to be seen by a sort of mental vision. For a man who wants to know, the logically correct attitude toward the familiar sensible world is one of going beyond, penetrating beneath, transcending it.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1965192277
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