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Metaphysical Thoughts: Part 1, Chapter 6.
Concerning Unity, Truth and Goodness.

    By almost all metaphysicians these terms are held to be affects of being. For, they say, all being is one, true and good, although no one knows about this. By examining each one of these terms separately we shall be able to understand their proper use.

What Unity is.
    We will begin with the first, viz., Unity. This term, they say, signifies some extra-mental reality. But what this adds to reality they are unable to say. Which sufficiently shows that they confuse being of reason with real being, so that what is perfectly clear becomes obscure. We, on the other hand, would say that unity is in no way to be distinguished from the thing itself, and that it adds nothing to being. But it is only a mode of thought by which we separate one thing from another, when they are similar or for some reason occur together.

What Plurality is, and in what sense God may be said to be one, and in what sense sui generis.
    To the term Unity we oppose the term Plurality, which clearly adds nothing to things but is only a mode of thought which assists us in understanding the objects of our experience. Nor do I see that anything remains to be said concerning a matter as self-evident as this. We may add, however, that God so far as we separate Him from other objects may be said to be one. But so far as we think of His nature as many-sided He cannot be called simple Unity (unum et unicum). If we examine the matter more accurately, we can show that God is improperly called simple unity. But this is not of sufficient importance to make it worth the discussion; it is a matter that affects not the reality but the names. Therefore we pass to the second point and explain what we mean by 'false.'

What is true and what is false, as generally understood and as understood by philosophers.
    In order to properly understand the terms true and false we will begin with their signification from which it will appear that they are not names of qualities in the things themselves nor attributes at all except rhetorically. Since general usage first fixed their meaning, and they were only used afterward by philosophers, it seems best to inquire for their primary significance. Especially is this necessary since other sources from the very nature of language, are wanting. The significance of true and false seemed to have first arisen from narration. That narration was true which was in accord with the facts which it concerned; that was false which was not in accord with the facts of the case. This use of these terms was then borrowed by philosophers for denoting the correspondence of the idea with the thing it represents, and the contrary. Therefore, that idea is said to be true which represents the thing, as it is in itself. That idea is false which does not so represent its object. For ideas are nothing else than mental narratives or histories of nature. Afterward these are metaphorically applied to other things. As for example, that gold is true or false if we thought that gold which we perceive might tell us what was in itself, or what is not.

True is not a transcendental term.
    Wherefore those who believe that true is a transcendental term, or an affect of being, are plainly deceived. For we only apply this term to things improperly, or if you prefer, rhetorically.

How Truth and a true idea differ.
    If you inquire further what truth is but a true idea, you do the same thing as to ask what whiteness is except a white object.

    Concerning the cause of the true and the false we have already spoken; therefore nothing remains to be noted which would be worth the while, if writers, "seeking a knot in the bulrushes," did not so far entangle themselves in similar folly that they are unable to extricate themselves.

What are the Properties of Truth? Certitude is not in things.
    The properties of truth or of a true idea are: 1. That it is clear and distinct. 2. That it is beyond all doubt, or, in a word, that it is certain. Those who seek for certainty in the things themselves are deceived in the same way as when they seek there for truth. Although we say a thing is uncertain, we rhetorically take the object for the idea, and in the same way we say that a thing is doubtful. Unless, perchance, we understand by uncertainty, contingency or the thing which makes us uncertain or doubtful. But there is no need to delay about this point. Therefore we proceed to the third point and will explain what is meant by this term and its opposite.

Good and Evil only relative terms.
    An object considered in itself is neither good nor evil, but only in respect to another being, which it helps to acquire what is desired, or the contrary. Indeed, the same thing at the same time may be both good and evil in respect to different things. For example, the council of Ahithophel to Absalom is called good in the Sacred Scriptures. But it was the worst possible to David, whose destruction it would have caused. So there are many things which are good, but not good for all. Health is good for man, but neither good nor evil to senseless matter or to plants, to which it does not apply. God is called perfectly good because He preserves all things. He conserves all things by His concurrence, and no greater mark of goodness could be found than this. Nor is there any absolute evil, as is also evident in itself.

Why some conceive of a metaphysical Good.
    Those who seek for some metaphysical good which shall be free from relativity are laboring under a misapprehension of the case. They confuse a distinction of Reason with a distinction of Reality or Modality. They distinguish between the thing itself, and its conatus by which each object is conserved, although they do not know what they mean by the term conatus. For these two things, although they are distinguished by reason, or by words, which fact deceives them, are not to be distinguished in the thing itself.

How the thing itself, and the conatus by which every object endeavors to conserve itself in its present state, are to be distinguished.
    In order to understand this we will notice a very simple example. Motion has the power of preserving itself in statu guo; this power clearly is nothing else than the motion itself, i.e., it is in the nature of motion to do so. If I say that in A there is nothing else than a certain amount of motion, it follows that as long as I consider only this body A, I must consider it as moving. For if I should say that it has lost its power of motion, I necessarily attribute something else to it than that which, from the hypothesis, it possessed, and through this, it has lost its power of motion. If this reason seems obscure --well then we will concede that this conatus of self-movement is something more than the laws and nature of motion. If, therefore, you suppose this conatus to be a metaphysical good, from necessity you must suppose that this conatus will have in it a conatus of self-preservation, and this another, and so on to infinity, than which I do not know anything more absurd. The reason some distinguish between the conatus of an object and the thing itself is this, namely, because they find in themselves the desire of conserving themselves, they imagine the desire is present in everything.

Whether God could have been called good, before creation.
    Moreover, it is asked whether God could have been called good before creation. From our definition it would seem that we could not predicate such an attribute as belonging to God, for we said that a thing considered in itself alone can neither be said to be good or evil. This will seem absurd to many; but for what reason I do not know. We attribute many things of this kind to God, which, before creation, could not exist except potentially; as for example, when He is called Creator, Judge merciful, etc. Wherefore similar arguments should be allowed us here.

In what sense Perfection is relative, in what sense absolute.
    And further, as good and evil are only relative terms, so also is perfection, unless we take perfection for the essence of the thing; in this sense, as we have said before, God has infinite perfection, that is infinite essence, and infinite being. It is not my intention to say much more. For the remaining remarks, which pertain to general metaphysics, I believe, are sufficiently well known. It is not worth while, therefore, to carry the discussion further.
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