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Metaphysical Thoughts: Part 1, Chapter 1.
Concerning Real Being, Fictitious Being, and Being of Reason.

    Concerning the definition of knowledge (Scientia) I shall say nothing, not even of the knowledge of the things here discussed. I shall only attempt to explain some obscure points in those authors who write on Metaphysics.

Definition of Being.
    We shall begin, therefore, with Being, by which I mean, all of that which, when it is clearly and distinctly conceived is found to exist necessarily, or at least to be able to exist.

Chimeras, fictitious being, and being of reason are not real.
    From this definition, or, if you prefer, from this description, it follows that chimeras, fictitious being and being of the reason can in no way be called real. For chimeras [1] by their nature do not exist. Fictitious being precludes any clear and distinct concept, because man by his mere power of Freedom, not unknowingly as in false concepts, but advisedly and intelligently, connects what he wishes to connect, and dissociates what he will. Finally, being of reason is nothing except a mode of thought which pertains most properly to the intellect [understanding], viz., to retention, to understanding [explanation], and to the imagination. It should here be noted that by mode of thought we mean, as was explained in Schol. Prop. 15 Pt. 1., all forms of mental states as understanding, joy, imagination, etc.
[Note N1]: By chimera is understood a being which by nature involves a contradiction as is clearly shown in Chapter 3.

In what way objects are retained in memory.
    That there are certain modes of thought which serve the purpose of retaining objects firmly in the mind, and of recalling them when we wish, is evident to all who use the well-known rule of memory; viz., that by which, for retaining anything in memory and impressing it upon the mind, it is associated with some other thing familiar to us, either by name, or because of its contiguity with that object. In this way philosophers have reduced all natural objects to certain classes called genera, species, etc., and to these they refer all new objects as they are met.

In what way we explain objects.
    Then, for explaining things we have also modes of thought derived by comparing one object with another. Such modes as these are time, number, measure, etc. Of these time serves for explaining duration, number for discrete quantities, and measure for continuous quantity.

In what way we imagine things.
    Finally since we have become accustomed to picture all of those things which we understand, even the images of our fancy at times, it happens that we imagine non-being positively, as an image of some real being. For mind considered as a thinking being has no more power to affirm than to deny. And since to imagine is only to perceive the traces in the brain produced by the movement of the spirits, which in turn are caused by the stimulation of the senses by an external object, such a sensation can only be a confused affirmation. Hence we imagine all the forms of thought which the mind uses for denying as blindness, the limits or termini, the end, shade, etc., are beings.

Why beings of reason are not ideas of things but are so considered.
    It is thus evident that such modes of thought are not ideas of things, nor can they, in any possible way be so considered. They have no object, which necessarily exists, as the source of the idea, nor could such an object possibly exist. The reason such forms of thought are so often held for ideas of things is that they arise so directly from real things, that those who do not very carefully attend to their thought readily confuse such forms of thought with the things themselves. For this cause also, they give names to these ideas as if they signified some real extra-mental object, which being, or rather non-being, they call beings of the reason.

It is not correct to divide Being into real being and being of reason.
    It is easy to see how inapt is the division which divides Being into real being and being of the reason. For they divide Being into being and non-being or into being and a mode of thought. However, I do not wonder that philosophers sometimes fall into these verbal or grammatical errors. For they judge objects from the names and not names from the objects.

In what sense being of the reason may be called nothing and in what sense real.
    Those who say that being of the reason is nothing, however, are not less in error. If you seek for some meaning for these terms apart from the mind you find nothing; but if we understand by the term a mode of thought, then it signifies something real. For if I ask what a species is, I only inquire for the nature of that form of thought as something real and to be distinguished from other modes. These modes of thought, moreover, cannot be called ideas, nor can they be said to be true or false, just as love, e.g. cannot be called true or false but only good or evil. So when Plato said that "man is a biped without feathers," he did not err more than if he had said that man is a rational animal. For Plato knew that man was a rational animal as well as he knew the other. He merely put man into a certain class, so that when he wished to reflect upon man by referring to the class in which he had been classified he would come immediately to recognize certain characteristics as belonging to his nature. Aristotle, indeed, made a grave mistake if he thought that Plato in this definition attempted to express the essence of human nature. Whether Plato did well we may question, but this is not the place to discuss that.

In our investigation of things, real being must not be confused with being of reason.
    From all that has been said above it appears that there is no conformity between real being and being of reason. Therefore, it is easily seen how sedulously we must be on our guard lest we confuse the two. For it is one thing to inquire into the nature of things and quite another to inquire into the nature of the modes of thought under which they are perceived. If we do not keep this distinction clear we will be unable to understand modes of perception, or the nature of things in themselves. But what is more important, since this affects so many things, is that this is the reason we often fall into such great error.

In what way being of reason and fictitious being are distinguishable.
    It should be noted also that many confuse being of reason and fictitious being. They think that the one is equal to the other because neither has an extra-mental existence. But if they would consider the definitions of each, great and important differences would be found, not only in respect to their cause, but in their nature apart from their cause.

    For we affirm that fictitious being is nothing but two terms connected by the mere act of volition without any dependence upon reason. Being of reason does not depend upon the will alone nor is it formed by terms, as is evident without a rational connection between them, from the definition itself. If one should ask, therefore, whether fictitious being, or being of reason is real it should be answered that it is wrong to divide all being into real being and being of reason. The question is fundamentally wrong for it presupposes that all being is divided into real being and being of reason.

The division of Being.
    But to return to the proposition from which we seem to have digressed. From the definition of Being or, if you prefer, from its description, it is now easily seen that Being should not be divided into Being which, because of its own nature necessarily exists, or Being whose essence involves existence, and into Being whose essence involves only a possible existence. This last is divided into Substance and Modes, the definitions of which are given in the Principles of Phil., Pt. 1., Articles 51, 52 and 56. We need not, therefore, repeat them here. In regard to this, however, and I say it deliberately, I wish it to be noted that Being is divided into Substance and Modes, not into Substance and Accidents. For Accident is nothing but a mode of thought and exists only in regard to this. For example, when I say that a triangle is moved the motion is not a mode of the triangle but of the body moved. Therefore, in respect to the triangle motion is only an accident but in respect to the body it is real being or mode; for motion cannot be conceived without a body but it may without a triangle.

    Further, in order that we may the better understand what has been said and what is to follow, we will attempt to explain briefly what is meant by the terms essence, existence, idea, and power. We are the more urged to do this by the ignorance of those who do not recognize the distinction between essence and existence, or if they do recognize it still confuse the terms essence with the terms idea or power. Therefore, in order to help them and to make the matter plain we attempt to explain this as clearly as possible.

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