Panentheism.  Revisionism.  Anarchocapitalism.



Essays by Me

Essays by Others


From International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 17, 1977, 59-93.  Father Moleski’s master's thesis was on Isaye, his Ph.D. dissertation on Newman’s “illative sense” and Polanyi’s “tacit knowledge.”  I encourage visits to Moleski’s site.

Re-reading a 2007 e-mail exchange with Bill Vallicella reminded me that it was he who alerted me to Moleski's paper after having read my “Ayn Rand's Use of Retortion.”  After two years I am more inclined to think that retortion is as logically powerful as it is rhetorically delightful.  David Ray Griffin, for example, following a precept of Whitehead’s, argues that we inevitably presuppose a number of “hardcore commonsense beliefs” in our practice, beliefs that we would implicitly reaffirm in any attempt to deny them.  Retortion also informs the metaphysics of Bernard Lonergan (see his notion of the reversible “counter-position,” e.g., Insight, Ch. XIV, section I) and the argumentation ethics of Hans-Hermann Hoppe as well as the distinctive but complementary effort of Frank van Dun In short, retortion is a point of connection among several philosophical traditions explored on this site. 

After noting this post, Vallicella's generated a com-plementary one of his own, Retortion and the Existence of Truth. I thank him for making it complimentary to this site as well.

Anthony Flood

July 27, 2009


Retortion: The Method and Metaphysics of Gaston Isaye

Martin X. Moleski, S.J.



The purpose of this article is to present in synthesis the main lines of philosophical thought of Gaston Isaye, a Belgian Jesuit professor of philosophy at the Facultés Universitaires de Namur, now retired after a lifetime of teaching.  Although the keenness and originality of his philosophical insights have long been appreciated by generations of students and by the readers of his numerous articles, he has never written a book nor have his articles ever been collected for convenient reference, hence his thought is little known outside a small circle of professionals, and almost not at all outside of Europe.  Yet his main contribution to philosophy is one that should be of special interest to contemporary thinkers: it is the systematic use of the method known as “retortion” for establishing and vindicating the fundamental set of positions constituting the core of the various philosophical disciplines, such as metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of God, philosophy of man, and philosophy of science.  The problem of how to establish and argue the basic assumptions of a philosophical position or system without circularity or infinite regress has proved to be one of peculiar difficulty and yet central importance in philosophical discussion today, highly sensitive as it is to questions of methodology.  The unique solution to this impasse worked out by Isaye seems to us, therefore, worthy of serious attention by a wider circle of readers.

This article will discuss Isaye’s work from two main points of view: first, the nature of his method and its historical context; secondly, the conclusions to which he has come through the application of the method in the various areas of philosophy, grouped under Metaphysics and Epistemology.1


I. The Methodology of Gaston Isaye

Retortion and Transcendental Thomism

Isaye is a disciple of another Jesuit philosopher, Joseph Maréchal (1878-1944).  In the decade of the 1920’s, Maréchal published four volumes of a planned six-volume study entitled Le Point de Depart de ta Métaphysique.  In the course of this discussion of the starting-point of metaphysics, Maréchal works out the integration of Kant’s transcendental critique of knowledge and the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas.  From the standpoint of Thomism he shows why the denial of metaphysics is self-defeating, and from the standpoint of Kant’s own critique he shows that the affirmation of metaphysics is an inescapable necessity of thought.2  Those who have followed Maréchal in this synthesis of two great philosophies have been called “Transcendental Thomists.” Although not all the philosophers who might be grouped under this title would endorse it fully, the term does help to identify a significant style of thought within the last fifty years or so.3

Since Isaye’s method derives from Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and Marechal, it seems fair to identify him as a Transcendental Thomist.  Isaye begins by observing that it is impossible to avoid the question of the justification of knowledge.  If reason is not self-critical, it is no better than dogmatism, supersti-tion, or idle speculation.4  However, it is clear from the disagreements of philosophers that the right criteria of knowledge are not given to us as Cartesian ideas.  Isaye suggests that in order to answer the critical question we should try to adopt a hyper-critical position.  By “hypercritical” he means the most skeptical position we can imagine.  Starting with the most extreme criticism of thought as an experiment will lead us to some definite conclusions about knowledge.

Suppose that the best way to test basic assumptions is to follow the maxim, “Take nothing for granted—accept only what is proven to be certain.”  If this were the authentic criterion of knowledge, we would have to conclude that we can know nothing: if nothing is to be taken for granted, we cannot take for granted that this is the criterion of knowledge, nor can we take for granted that we know how to apply it even if it is.  We may not appeal to any sense experience, intuition, induction or deduction—all of these are placed in doubt by the hypercritical assumption.5  If this is the authentic criterion, we must all become skeptics and deny that there is any knowledge, or we must become dogmatists and say that no explanation can be given for our knowledge.

It is at this point that Isaye introduces the method of argument called “retortion.”6  It seems clear that we cannot offer a formal proof of the first principles of human thought.  Either we will beg the question or become committed to an infinite regression of justifying arguments.  On the other hand, if anyone tries to adopt the hypercritical position in order to deny that we have any knowledge, Isaye answers them with a retort: if what the skeptic says were true, then he never could know that we are wrong; if it were true that there is no knowledge, no one could ever say they knew that we can know nothing.  In the very act of denying knowledge, the skeptic makes a knowledge claim. Retortion is the process of pointing out such an inconsistency between a claim and the act of making the claim.

The experiment in hypercriticism yields two important results.  We learn first that it is impossible to deny that, at the very least, we know something. If anyone tries to deny that we have some kind of understanding of the way things are, he involves himself in a conflict between his claim (“We don’t know any truth”) and his action (claiming to know our ignorance of the truth).  To have a valid objection, the skeptic must admit that he understands the position he is criticizing, that he knows what he wants to say, and that his position is closer to the truth than the one he criticizes—otherwise we may charge him with missing the point or with not knowing what he is talking about.  If he persists in advancing his opinion, he simply undercuts his position more and more by making more and more claims to different kinds of knowledge.7

The second important result of this experiment is that we have developed a method by which the “conditions of the possibility of thought”8 can be identified and defended against attack.  If there are universal necessities of thought, they must be present somehow in the formation of any particular thought or expression of thought.  We may claim to have found such a necessity if its denial involves us in contradiction between the denial and the act of making the denial.  If the denial of a principle in question does not lead to this kind of contradiction, then—no matter what else the statement might be—it is clearly not a first principle of thought, for it has not entered into the makeup of the denial.

Retortion is essentially a process of recognizing inconsistency in a philosophical position.  It results in the judgment that no person could adopt such a position without becoming involved in a kind of self-contradiction.  This places it in the genre of ad hominem arguments, although “the Homo in question is every Homo, every human being.”9  An argument which is subject to retortion is rejected because no one can adopt it consistently, not simply because the argument is inconsistent with a particular person’s beliefs.  Since it is implicitly concerned with all men, retortion can lead us to a universally valid statement about the nature of man and the nature of being.10

Maréchal makes an important observation on the logical status of the argument:

Let us admit it, however: the logical contradiction, which we invoke here as a sanction against any rejection of the absolute exigencies of the affirmation, is not directly a formal contradiction between conceptual terms (a contradiction in terms), but a contra-diction between that which is implicit and explicit in a judgment.  Besides, a merely logical contradiction “in the terms,” indepen-dently of any more or less concealed positing, affirming or presupposing, would be unable to yield us (possible or actual) reality on the rebound.  He who tries to demonstrate the ab-solute necessity of being merely and exclu-sively by analyzing concepts—even through a logical analysis of the idea of nothingness—would commit the typical error  of the ontological argument or of the Cartesian rationalistic postulate.11

Isaye insists on the fact that this kind of self-contradiction does not just leave us poised and undecided about which position the skeptic is in. When anyone does something which they themselves have said to be impossible, it is clear that their theory is wrong.  Whoever denies a first principle of thought will concede that same principle by their action of making and communicating a judgment.12  The ramifications of this will become clear when we examine specific cases of retortion in the second part of this article.

Isaye claims that through retortion we can come to affirm necessary truths about our relationship to transcendental realities (being, truth, and goodness).  Retortion does this by showing us that there is an inner structure to our life which underpins all thought:

The first truths cannot be established by argument: the starting point of such an argument would have to be some truths which would be anterior to the first truths, which would be a contradiction in terms.  Outside of argument we have only a single way of knowledge available to us: intuition.  The first truths will be intuitive or they will not be known; in the latter case, we will never know anything.13

It is important to note that Isaye is not saying that these intuitions are self-justifying through some kind of psychological impact.  Instead, we realize that there is simply no way to do without them since every possible denial involves us in a position subject to retortion.  Nor is he saying that this intuition provides us with an infallible illumination or with wholly formed concepts.  He speaks rather of a deep experience of our inner orientation toward the truth which is difficult to articulate but which is nevertheless the real root of all of our striving to know and to speak.  Retortion makes us aware of the fact that our intellect is always poised toward the truth by its very nature.  It is our undeniable nature as human knowers which ultimately justifies our claim to know that we can know.

What Isaye calls intuition is very closely related to what Joseph Donceel, a long-time friend of Isaye and practicer of the method of retortion, calls “necessary affirmation”:

For Transcendental Thomism affirmation is the keystone of metaphysics, and therefore of all human thought and activity.  Maréchal called it “Man’s substitute for intellectual intuition.” We have no intuition of our basic certitudes.  We do not see that or why they are true.  We do not see that or why some of our knowledge is absolutely certain, that or why every event has a cause, that or why the Illimited Being exists.  But we cannot not affirm it.14

It is clear that the kind of intuition which Maréchal and Donceel wish to deny is not the kind of intuition to which Isaye refers.  Retortion shows us that we cannot deny the basic structure of human life; therefore, we must affirm our natural dispositions toward knowing which are present to us intuitively, i.e., which are constitutive of the very fabric of our intellectual life.

In short, retortion works because it is a fact of our human nature that we are knowers and that being is in some way intelligible to us.  We do not possess this fact; it possesses us and forms the ground of every act of the person.  We do not see this first fact, but we come to recognize by retortion that we see all things only through its activity within us.


Retortion in Other Philosophies

Retortion is not the private property of Transcendental Thomists.  It is an argument which dates back to Aristotle’s defense of his principle of identity and non-contradiction which he presents in the fourth book of his Metaphysics.  It has been used, consciously or unconsciously, by generations of philosophers who have struggled to articulate truths which are too close to us to be clear and distinct. Norris Clarke notes that this method can be recognized in the work of Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and other existential phenomeno-logists as well as in the work of Maréchal, Rahner, Coreth, Lonergan, Donceel, and other Transcendental Thomists.15 Joseph M. Boyle, Jr.—who uses the argument himself—reports that it has been used to “refute skepticism, behaviorism, pragmatism, intuitionism, and the coherence theory,” as well as “to defend versions of idealism and utilitarianism.”16  Before considering the details of Isaye’s thought, let us look at some of these other uses of retortion.  This will help us to recognize the importance of his philosophy to other contemporary, non-Thomist schools of thought.

Retortion is a significant part of the history of analytic and linguistic philosophy, although philoso-phers in this tradition have never called it by this name.  They have explored “performative contradic-tions” (which are the necessary condition of making a sound retortion), “denial of a form of life” (which is similar to the reason Isaye gives for the ground of self-contradiction), “charging categorial nonsense,” or “committing self-referential inconsistency.”  G. E. Moore used a kind of retortion in 1925, one year before the publication of Maréchal’s Fifth Cahier, as a way of establishing the claims of common sense against the critique of the more skeptical empiricists:

In other words, the proposition that some propositions belonging to each of these classes are true is a proposition which has the peculiarity that, if any philosopher has ever denied it, it follows from the fact that he has denied it, that he must have been wrong in denying it.

The strange thing is that philosophers should have been able to hold sincerely, as part of their philosophical creed, propositions incon-sistent with what they themselves knew to be true; and yet, so far as I can make out, this has really happened.17

Wittgenstein picked up this style of approach from Moore, and it apparently became the starting-point for his reflections, On Certainty, which were pub-lished posthumously,18 as well as for many of the points made in his Philosophical Investigations, particularly in his attacks on the Cartesian starting-point, the solitary thinker.19  H. H. Price uses the argument very deftly to point out four ways in which we come to practical and useful knowledge; his defense of memory claims is a good illustration of his technique:

Whenever we claim to remember something, it is conceivable that we might be misremem-bering.  In that case, how can we know anything about the past at all?

Now there is something wrong with this argument.  It cannot ever be stated unless we assume that some of our claims to memory are correct, that sometimes when we claim to remember we are really remembering and not mis-remembering.  How do we know that memory claims are ever made at all?  Because we remember making them ourselves and remember hearing others speak as if they were making them.  And how do we know that some of these memory claims were incorrect? Because we are able, somehow, to find out what the facts about the past actually were, we ourselves must rely on memory at some point or other.20

The most outstanding example of retortion’s efficacy in establishing a solid foundation for philosophy cannot be attributed to anyone man. When the Logical Positivists began to claim that the Verification Principle was the standard of all true knowledge, they were shortly confronted with the retort that the Principle could not meet its own standard: “hence, the highly embarrassing conse-quence that the verification principle was itself meaningless.”21

None of these philosophers uses retortion in exactly the same way that Isaye does.  Probably all of them would be uneasy at the lengths to which the argument as used by Isaye can lead us. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that the form of the argument is very much the same: “If what you said were true, you could not have said what you did; you did, in fact, say what you said; therefore, what you said is false.”  The major of this syllogism is given by an insight (or intuition in the sense in which Isaye uses the word) into the nature of language, human nature, and reality.  This insight cannot be denied because every denial simply re-afflrms its importance (e.g., we can only deny memory claims by using our memory; therefore, we cannot discredit memory universally).  The method of Gaston Isaye, then, is highly relevant to Thomists and non-Thomists alike.


Retortion and Self-Referential Inconsistency

Two philosophers who recently have made extensive use of this argument are Germain Grisez and his student, Joseph M. Boyle, Jr.  Grisez directed Boyle’s doctoral dissertation, “The Argument from Self-Referential Consistency: The Current Discus-sion,”22 and Grisez has recently published two books which depend heavily on this argument.23  For the most part, their interpretation of the structure and value of the argument is remarkably consonant with Isaye’s.  However, there seem to be two areas of significant difference between the two positions.

In more than a dozen different places in his doctoral dissertation, Boyle insists that retortion (what he would call self-refutation or the argument from self-refutation) cannot be used to ground a positive statement about reality because its nature is simply to warrant the denial of a self-referentially inconsistent position; e.g., he says:

Both [Urban and Weiss] seek to use this argument to establish general affirmative statements.  It cannot do this.  It can only falsify general statements, as well, of course, as any other self-referential statements.  The argument terminates either in a singular statement or a negative generalization.  In other words, this argument cannot be used to establish a system of affirmative general philosophical theses.24

This marks a major difference between Boyle and Isaye in terms of their understanding of how the argument works and what we can learn through it. Boyle argues that the argument “is based not on an insight into what knowledge or being positively is, but only on the performative inconsistency of the position under attack,”25 and therefore “does not give any understanding of the subject matter.”26 Isaye, as was pointed out above, contends that we do come to possess explicitly what is only implicit in all acts of judgment, and thus are justified in making general statements.  The condition of the possibility of making a sound retortion is that we know something—every negation involves a complex affirmation of our relationship to each other and to all being.  Retortion shows the impossibility of denying necessary affirmations; therefore, indirectly, it leads us to assent to them.  On Isaye’s account, it is virtually impossible that an adequate understanding of retortion should fail to spell out the general outlines of a sound metaphysical position.27

Isaye contends that there are universal principles which govern all of human thought and which we can come to recognize explicitly through retortion.  These principles are constitutive of human nature, a kind of a priori orientation in virtue of which all judgments are made.  Grisez does not recognize such universal principles as constitutive of all our judgments; instead, he discusses “rationality norms”:

Since rationality norms are not laws of thought, one can choose to violate them . . . .

“Be reasonable” is very like a moral demand, if it is not precisely a moral demand. Rationality norms are very like a code of ethics for asking questions, arguing, judging. Some-one who violates them cannot be convicted of self-contradiction for violating them, because rationality norms direct all and only the moves which admit of choice, and one who is face to face with an inconsistency no longer has a choice.28

Grisez speaks of the rationality norms as being shaped by experience.29  Isaye would answer that the first principles of thought are the condition of all human experience, even though it is perfectly clear that their recognition and articulation require a historical development.  Isaye does not deny that there is an element of freedom in the pursuit of knowledge—in fact, he uses this insight to ground his discussion of the human soul—but he would want to hold that there are indeed laws of thought which can only be violated on pain of contradiction between word and deed.  If there are not these laws of thought, then one has no grounds for making a moral demand on others—everyone is free to think whatever he pleases.  That there are such laws of thought in no way diminishes the responsibility of the knower to choose what is right.  We can confront a person with an inconsistency through retortion precisely because there are universal principles of thought, but it is up to that person then to choose whether to resolve the inconsistency or not.30

Despite Boyle’s reservations about how far one can go with the argument from self-refutation, he recognizes that it has an important role to play:

To sum up, it is possible to do metaphysics with self-referential arguments as a basic strategy.  It is hard to guess what such a metaphysics would look like since no one has as yet worked it out, at least with this strategy explicitly stated and operating.31

Gaston Isaye has worked out such a metaphysics “with this strategy explicitly stated and operating.” The purpose of the second part of this article is to grasp the rich and complex outlines of his life’s work in philosophy.


II. Metaphysics and Epistemology

Isaye’s methodology leads us to a metaphysics which is based upon profound self-knowledge.  Retortion forces us to become conscious of our inner activity and the conditions of the possibility of all human action.  The metaphysics which Isaye articulates is grounded in an undeniable experience of a metaphysical reality: oneself.32  No one can deny the importance of the self, for if they do, they are in fact contrasting their self-understanding with mine, and in that act they concede the point in question.33 Although Isaye’s metaphysics is thoroughly subjec-tive in the sense that it is grounded upon an appreciation of the nature of the knowing subject, it is at the same time thoroughly objective in the sense that it attains to a grasp of what is true for all men and what is accessible to the understanding of all men.  Isaye’s metaphysics verifies a definition which Karl Rahner proposes:

. . . there exists one branch of knowledge which assigns their objects to the various sciences, determines the structure of this object, as presupposed by each science, provides the formal principles of knowledge deriving from this structure and shows how the existence and diversity of the sciences follows necessarily from the very fact that they are the activity of man. . . . Hence the statement: every problem of the philosophy of science is a problem of the one first science, metaphy-sics.34

We might add that every problem of the philosophy of philosophy (metaphilosophy) is also a problem of metaphysics, since it is only a metaphysical solution which can answer the question of how philosophy is critically justified.


The Principle of Objectivity

That which guarantees that our subjectivity is the ground of all objectivity is the principle of objectivity. No one formula is sufficient to exhaust the full import of this principle.  Isaye uses several to draw out the different aspects and implications of this notion.  His first approximation is: “There are some true judg-ments.”35  No one can deny this consistently.  If they are right in saying, “There are no true judgments,” then there is one true judgment, and they are proven to be wrong by their own act of judgment.  It is impossible for the skeptic to revise his position by saying, “There is no true judgment except this one,” for if this is the only true judgment, absolutely no reason can be given as to why it is true.  Every possible judgment which might possibly be advanced in support of the thesis must be rejected on the basis of the thesis.  Moreover, the admission of even one true judgment is sufficient for Isaye to ground several others.  If we know even one truth, then we may claim that our subjective experience stands revealed as being conformed to what is objectively the case.36  The skeptic is claiming that he, the subject, knows what objectively is the case.

The first principle of thought, then, is that there is truth and that this truth consists in the conformity of the subject to the object of all thought.  Judgment is the operation by which we recognize and articulate relationship between the subject and the object of thought.  The principle of objectivity may then be restated as follows: Every judgment as judgment, regardless of its content, affirms that the subject who makes the judgment understands the object of the judgment,37 and is conformed to that object.  The object of judgment, considered precisely as object apart from any particular determinations, can only be some being.  This consideration leads to the most universal statement of the principle: being is intelligible; all that is, is affirmable.  If anyone says that not all being is intelligible, he is subject to the retort that he has just claimed to understand all being.  It is important here to emphasize the fact that Isaye is saying that it is the nature of all being to be understandable and it is the nature of the intellect to understand all being; but he in no way is claiming that in fact all being is actually understood by the human intellect.  The aptitude of the mind to affirm all being is a potentiality which strives toward its realization throughout the course of our lives.

Isaye points out that this first principle that being and the intelligible are the same is a synthetic insight because “thought and the real are formally different.”38  We do not affirm this fact because it is an analytic truth but because it is impossible to deny it.  Every possible denial simply returns us to the recognition that our mind judges what is and can never under any conceivable circumstances do other than to judge about what is.39

It is impossible to object to this principle on the grounds that some future event may jeopardize our knowledge.  If anyone makes a claim about what may happen in the future, they are actually claiming knowledge about the true potential of what now is the case.  If they do not base their claim about what is possible in the future on the basis of what is really possible, they have no objection whatsoever, since they cannot distinguish what is really possible from what is really impossible; and if they can make that distinction for the sake of making a sound objection, then they cannot deny that the mind is oriented toward being, for they are claiming to know what is and what is not.40

The skeptic may not simply retreat to the inter-rogative mood and attempt to avoid affirmation of understanding by only asking questions instead of making objections.  Every question necessarily involves the judgment that there is something to be questioned (a being) and something intelligible to ask about that object.  If the question is about nothing or asks nothing about something, then it is not a question at all.  If the question has any meaning with regard to some object, then the questioner is implicitly affirming an intelligible relation between himself and the object of the question.41

The process of retortion thus has led us to affirm the principle of objectivity.  Every act of the mind concedes an order independent of my thought to which all of my thought is spontaneously oriented. Every judgment, whether bearing on the sensible or the purely intelligible, whether it is true or false, whether it is in the form of a statement, objection, or question, necessarily involves the co-affirmation of the subjective order and the objective order.42  Every judgment as judgment bears on being as being; whatever is affirmable, is, and whatever is, is affirmable.43  This is the basic fact of our nature which makes knowledge possible and which therefore is the actual and theoretical foundation of all know-ledge.


The Structure of Judgment

It is not sufficient to stop with the statement that the mind is ordered to the affirmation of what is.  It is possible and necessary to spell out how we make explicit what is given implicitly in the operation of our nature.  Isaye begins with the observation that every judgment necessarily consists of a subject and a predicate.  This is the “principle of duality” which expresses the fact that every judgment is a synthesis of the abstract and the concrete.44  Any denial of this can only take the form, “This notion is false.”  Such a denial confirms the observation, for it links a concrete entity (“This notion”) to a universal predicate (“false”).  It is impossible to deny that there are universal predicates.  If each predicate had only one proper use, then after I have been told that this observation about language is false, I can never be accused of making any other false statements.  It is impossible to deny that there are universal subjects, for it is possible to entertain the denial only by conceiving of a universal subject, e.g., “All subjects are concrete.”  Having shown that there can be universal propositions, Isaye establishes that there are some universal propositions that are true via the same retortion which establishes the principle of objectivity.  It is clear that no one can consistently say: “No universal propositions are true.”

On the basis of these reflections, Isaye claims to have grounded an essential aspect of deductive reason.  Once you concede that there are true propositions of the form “P is Q” or “All P’s are Ps,” you have conceded the validity of syllogistic reasoning.  Isaye sums the whole argument up in one retortion.  If someone claims that there are no valid syllogisms, he presents the major of a syllogism; and if he claims that this syllogism is invalid because there are no valid syllogisms, he has undercut his whole position by using a syllogism.45

The determined skeptic might point out that this whole discussion begs the question because it assumes the principle of identity and non-contradiction.  This was the challenge which first prompted Aristotle to develop the method of retortion.  He answers that no one can object to this principle without using it to specify what is denied and what is affirmed, and consequently the use of the principle is vindicated by the critic’s own use of it. Similarly, Isaye justifies the principle of contradiction with excluded middle: there are some pairs of judgments such that if one is false, the other is true. Anyone who denies this proves that there is one such pair, his denial and my assertion.  It is impossible that both should be false, because any denial of this position is an antithesis to the thesis and exhibits the characteristics of incompatibility.46

Given these notions, Isaye shows that medieval and modern logic are complementary.47 He argues that any adequate metalogic must coincide with metaphysics, for there is no other way to justify the results of logic except through a correct understanding of the universal concept and the exigency of the principle of identity and its corollaries.  These cannot be justified by any higher principles or concepts; hence, the only way to ground logic is through some kind of retortion.48


The Significance of Judgment

Isaye holds that every judgment synthesizes two terms, one concrete and one universal, and affirms this synthesis as objective.  The content of the judgment is given a posteriori, while the objectivity of the judgment is given a priori.  We are therefore dependent for our knowledge in some measure on the action of other beings upon us, and in some measure on the action of our mind upon data.  This interaction is governed by the principle of metaphysical causality.  Although the mind makes a contribution to knowledge by its affirmation of objectivity, it does not create what it knows; this contribution is a condition of the possibility of knowledge, but it in no way specifies the content of judgment (except in the case of reflex judgments which are directed toward knowledge of the conditions of knowledge).  When we interpret an argument or the data of the senses, we are affirming the notion that every effect requires some kind of cause which accounts for its being what it is.  A sound argument causes assent in us.  A sensible object causes a certain impression in us.  Anyone who denies this can only do so by attempting to influence his audience through intelligible arguments commu-nicated by intelligible signs.49

This principle of metaphysical causality is epitomized by the saying, “As a being is, so it acts.” We do not know other beings by entering directly into their self-consciousness; instead, we know other beings by interpreting their actions in light of the principle that they cannot act other than as they are. This, then, is the ground of all analogous know-ledge.50  Since we are the kind of being which we know most intimately, our language will always tend toward anthropomorphic expressions whenever we talk about non-human being, whether it be less than human or more than human.  Without this anthro-pomorphic dimension of analogous language, the propositions would make no sense to us.  “What we discover within us we apply above ourselves by extension and below ourselves by restriction.”51  This is the way in which the knowledge which we possess potentially about all being is actualized and communicated.  There is no doubt that it would probably be much more satisfying to have a direct intuition into all being, but that is simply not how things are for us.  We must “by indirections find directions out,” and in this process the guiding light consists of the principles which make all of our judgments possible.  The ultimate significance of judgment, then, is that we are finite, dependent beings.  This recognition plays a major role in Isaye’s discussion of our knowledge of God, which will be briefly outlined toward the end of this article.


Principle of Fallibility

If it is true that there are some true judgments, it is equally true that there are some false judgments. No one could ever prove us wrong in thinking that men sometimes err, for if they could do that, they would have shown us to be in error and thus would establish our thesis for us.52  It is precisely because we have become aware of so many errors in thought over the last three centuries that we have become skeptical about the possibility of knowing the truth. Rather than leading us toward a skeptical position, this certainty of past and potential error should point us toward a right understanding of man as a finite knower.53  The ultimate significance of the fact of error is that there is an element of freedom in all of man’s reasoning which must be systematically reconciled with the necessities of thought which are picked out by retortion.54

The first principles function within us implicitly in every judgment we make.  We do not even need to advert to them consciously in order to use them in the formation and application of concepts.  No explicit concepts are given immediately by the structure of our knowing nature, even though our nature reveals itself implicitly in every concept which is articulated or affirmed.  Therefore, it is possible to spell out a concept of knowledge which misrepre-sents the relationship between subject and object.  If this were not the case, there would be no need for retortion or for any other indirect approach to an understanding of knowledge.  One would only have to examine the concepts given by nature and every-thing would be perfectly clear.  There would then be no errors in judgment at all, for there would be no need for any judgments.  Intuition would suffice.

There is, then, this paradox: on the one hand, we  are free to say whatever we want to about knowledge because the language we use is at the disposal of our conscious mind and will; on the other hand, we are not free to say whatever we want about knowledge because not everything is equally true. Although we are by nature disposed toward knowledge of all being, it requires a freely chosen, diligent effort to bring the whole of our life to conform to what is true.  From these considerations. Isaye moves to establish the idea that man is essentially free.  Here he develops a more roundabout retortion which takes as its focal point the nature of dialogue rather than the conditions of judgment, and he seeks to develop two points: all dialogue rests on moral obligation: and moral obligation implies that man is free.55

In every dialogue there is an obligation on the one speaking to be sincere and on the one listening to trust the speaker.  If the speaker is not sincere, there is no need to pay any attention to him.  If the listener is overly skeptical, it is virtually impossible to communicate with him.  The responsibility of the one is therefore strictly correlative to the responsibility of the other.56  Insincerity merits mistrust, and mistrust stifles sincerity.  Anyone who tries to deny this double obligation necessarily concedes it, for every objection is an implicit declaration of sincerity.  The more the critic advances compelling reasons, the more he asks to be taken seriously, and the less can he believe that he is right in thinking that we could have a real dialogue without such appeals.57

If we were wholly determined beings, no one could ever tell us we ought to do something.  All we could do would be to follow the law of our nature.  It would be impossible to do otherwise, and consequently it would be impossible to insist that we were required to do otherwise.  No one can say to a hungry lion, “Thou shalt not kill.”  One can and should say that to a hungry man—and if it is possible, one should also feed the hungry man.  Anyone who objects can only reiterate the point by saying, “That’s false.  You shouldn’t say that.”58

It seems clear that our freedom is finite and dependent.  We do not create; the good things which we know or choose but rather we depend upon the experience of good things in order to choose them. We can only choose between alternatives offered by this universe; we cannot choose what will be the context and content of our choices.  We are subject to physical and psychological laws, and yet, within limits set out by these laws, we are free.


The Human Spirit

From the fact that man is a finite, free agent, Isaye comes to affirm that man is a composite being. Since all of the domain of physico-chemical realities is governed by the laws of nature, the phenomenon of freedom in man points to the fact that we are spiritual beings.59  Isaye’s demonstration of the spiritual dimension in man may be summed up in four points:

1. The self grasps itself as being conformed to being.  This is undeniable, for anyone who objects is claiming that he knows what really is the case.60

2. The self affirms itself in every judgment.  There are no disembodied thoughts.  Every affirmation of truth is an act of some particular person.  Anyone who objects immediately shows that there is an opposition between his thought and mine.61

3. The self is an intelligible reality.  It is never given in sense experience, but we can perceive it through its characteristic activity of judgment.  Since judgment is a fact of our experience, that which causes judgment must also be really factual (principle of metaphysical causality).62

4. We distinguish one kind of being from another through the activities which are characteristic of each: ‘As a being is, so it acts.’  We can tell that there is spirit in man as the essence of the knowing self, esse ratione sui, which exhibits the distinguishing characteristics of knowledge, self-affirmation, and free action.63

It is the spiritual dimension which is the root of intelligence, for it alone escapes the determinism of matter and thus is free to reflect upon itself.  We have this spiritual dimension in common with all men, and this is what makes authentic intersubjectivity possible.  The more I come to know my nature, the more I come to know the nature of all men.64

The principle of distinction is the body.  The mélange of material elements which make up each man’s body enter into interaction with each other to establish a unique temperament and personality.65 We must be careful here not to fall into a kind of Cartesian dualism.  The human being is one being, not a mixture of two different beings, one wholly spiritual and the other wholly material; rather, man’s whole being is to be spiritualized matter.  From this fact flows the phenomenon of self-identity through process: there are many things in me which change (you concede this if you try to change my mind on this point), and yet there is something of me which is ever the same (even when I change my mind, I am I).  These are some indications of how the essence of man embraces both the material and the spiritual realms.


The Philosophy of Science

“As a being is, so it acts.” Our knowledge reflects our complex unity as a spiritual body.  Up to this point, the emphasis has been upon the contribution of the human spirit to knowledge; now Isaye opens the question of the relationship of metaphysics to the sciences.  Some argue that we learn from the history of thought that every philosophical position is open to change.  The progress of science has come about through the recognition that very attractive habits of thought simply cannot be verified and in fact need to be discarded in order to understand the world. Euclidean geometry has been shown to be neither the only possible geometry nor the most helpful.  The distinction between matter and energy has been overcome, and the relativity of all spatio-temporal relationships has been established.  One model after another of the atom has been suggested and discarded, and it is clear that no model will ever reign supreme as our techniques of research become increasingly sophisticated.  Therefore, the argument goes, there is no certain knowledge.  Everything which is suggested is only tentative and must be open to revision.66

Isaye answers this position by noting that there is a strict dichotomy between natural science and metaphysics.  Metaphysics takes as its starting point the nature of judgment as judgment and explores the metaphysical conditions of the possibility of knowledge.  Science takes for its starting point the content of judgments about the world and explores the physical conditions of knowledge gained through the senses.  These are quite different points of departure; consequently, it is impossible to deduce metaphysics from science or science from metaphysics, and it is a serious category mistake to think that one can substitute for the other.67

The fact that metaphysics and science are distinct does not mean that they function apart from each other.  Man is one, and knowledge is one.  The first principles of metaphysics inform every judgment, regardless of its content, and so metaphysics may be called the “soul” of all thought, including science. Science, in turn, is necessary for the development of our potential for knowledge.  If metaphysics were the only legitimate form of knowledge, we simply would not know our world as it reveals itself to us through the senses.  If science were the only legitimate form of knowledge, it would be incapable of justifying itself and its own results, for the validity of the scientific method is never given as a datum of the senses.68

Science is particularly in need of a justification of testimony.  No scientist has checked the results of every experiment on which his own work depends. Each scientist begins by accepting an enormous amount of material as others have generated it.  If such a process is not grounded by the principle of objectivity and by a metaphysical understanding of the conditions of dialogue, then all of the achievements of science do not rise above the level of mere opinion.69  If the evidence of science is marshalled to make me change my opinion, it can only be successful on condition that there is an objective order to which I ought to conform my thinking.  To affirm that there is evidence that this is the case is to affirm the principle of objectivity and the principle of metaphysical causality, both of which can be justified only by metaphysics.70

There is real progress in knowledge only if we are capable of closing off dead ends once and for all.  The model of the atom may well be revised again and again, but it will never again be portrayed like a piece of raisin bread with the electrons stuck into it in static positions.  The truths of metaphysics are certain and unrevisable (although their articulation may be revised—there are many ways of formulating these truths).  Anyone who denies this simply opens himself to retortion.  These metaphysical truths are the very grounds of change in science, as was suggested above.  If it were not for the fact that we are by nature committed to the pursuit of the truth, no one could ever give evidence that others ought to revise their positions.  Since we do have this ground to appeal to, and since sense knowledge does not exhaust the intelligibility of the beings of sense experience, it is clear why science is indefinitely revisable.71


Sense Knowledge

Just as it is wrong to think of man as two separable parts, soul and body, so it is wrong to think of intellectual knowledge as separable from sense knowledge.  We are capable of sense knowledge because the soul forms the body and the intellect forms the senses.72  Through the material dimension of our nature we are receptive to the activity of other beings upon us—we take on the form of the other and become what we know.73  Through the spiritual dimension of our nature we posit the opposition of the self and the object and thus immediately transform sense experience into sense knowledge. The senses do not affirm being as being.  They are oriented toward being as activity.  Through the operation of the intellect within the senses, we identify the sources of action as particular beings, depending on the knowledge that there must be a real relation between action and being (principle of metaphysical causality).74

In the same way, the intellect distinguishes the categories of space and time which are implicit in sense experience; sensation of space is a function of time and vice-versa.75

The principles of fallibility and objectivity are both operative in our sense knowledge.  Sometimes we make right judgments about sense experience, and sometimes we don’t.  But it is impossible that we should always be wrong.  Anyone who understands this assertion enough to object to it cannot do so consistently.  The only way such a critic can have come to understand that there is a position to be refuted is by interpreting certain sensible sounds or signs as a particular argument.  The very attempt to deny that sense data are intelligible only serves to confirm that fact.76



The last major element of scientific knowledge which Isaye seeks to justify is the method of induction.  He notes first that it is impossible to justify induction by induction.  Induction is not any particular fact; rather, it is an interpretation placed upon the facts which leads either to the statement of a law or to the predication of some characteristic with respect to a given entity.77  We never see the causes which act upon us or upon other beings. Instead, we know all causes through the requirement of intelligence that every observable effect must have its ground in the activity of some being.  The establishment of the method of induction thus becomes the decisive refutation of empiricism.78

The only way to predict a future event is to know a present necessity.  Every law of science anticipates what will be the course of a future event, given certain conditions, and therefore represents a grasp of the causes which are most significantly active in the matter in hand.  This virtual possession of the future frees man from the bondage of the present and once again reveals the action of his spirit in scientific knowledge.79

Isaye argues that induction is a necessity of all human action, and that action is a necessity of all human life.  In order to make an intelligent decision about how to shape our lives, we are forced to anticipate future events on the basis of what we have experienced in the past and the present.  Anyone who acts on the basis of such anticipation affirms the validity of inductive reason with each choice that is made and carried out.  A denial of the inductive method would have to take the form:  “No one can see ahead into the future on the basis of past experience.  No one can act on the basis of foresight.”  Isaye makes two retorts to this position. First, such a statement is formally an induction.  It states what will be possible in the future based on what is known to be possible now.  Certainly the speaker cannot have visited the future to see whether or not his statement is correct.  Second, the formation of the sounds is a material action based on foresight.  Before the skeptic opens his mouth to speak (or before he takes any steps to communicate his position, whatever medium he chooses), he has in mind all that he intends to say in a single sentence. The sentence takes intelligible shape only because his action is governed by his conviction that he will be able to shape the signs of communication and that he will be able to make himself understood.80

Isaye dwells on this material action in order to draw out the fact that such action implies that there are physical laws which govern the universe upon which all of our intentional actions depend.  Suppose that the critic denies that there are such laws: “There are no physical laws.”  Isaye asks what the probability is that these seventeen sounds could be produced in precisely this arrangement simply by chance.  There are roughly 33 basic sounds in French, so there is only one chance in 3317 random speech events that this particular sentence will be pronounced.  The chances that one minute of speech be produced simply by chance is one out of 33600.  If the environment in which we produce the signs of communication is not ordered by laws, it is impossible to think that we could ever communicate with each other.  If anyone takes objection to this, they concede by their very effort to make an objection that they have gotten the message through a material medium and that they intend to respond in the same way.  Hence, we cannot not affirm that the universe is governed by laws which our intentional actions can exploit.81

Inductive interpretation is the method by which we posit the explanation of our sense experience in the structure of some other being.  When I say, “The page is white,” I am claiming that the way the object is in itself is responsible for my sense experience. When I judge that another object also is white, I infer the similarity of the two exterior facts from the similarity of the two interior experiences.  If it is true that there must be a proper proportion between effects and their cause, then this induction is justified.  It is not possible to deny this consistently, for the whole of human dialogue depends upon our ability to judge that many different locutions are generating the same word or the same meaning.  If the critic contends that there is no necessary relation between cause and effect, in particular between intention of meaning and the spoken word, then I may take his objection to mean precisely the opposite or anything else I please.  If he insists that his objection makes sense, he concedes that we can make sense out of the data of experience by referring them to their source in another being.  We argue analogously in the case of impersonal interpretation that there must be something and not nothing responsible for the particular form which our sense data take.82

Given the justification of mathematics (we have omitted this analysis), sense knowledge, and induction, it is possible to justify the unique starting points of all of the disciplines of science.  Through this analysis of the foundation of natural science, Isaye has confirmed his initial contention that metaphysical and scientific method must be sharply distinguished and yet re-integrated in a completely satisfying account of human knowledge.


Philosophy of God

Isaye’s metaphysics reaches its climax in the affirmation that we can know that God exists.  He offers several suggestions in the course of his reflections which indicate how we can come to recognize God.  Here we will consider only the argument on which he spends the most time and attention.  The structure of the argument is simple:

If God is possible, God exists.

God is possible.

God exists.

The form is identical to Leibniz’ version of the ontological proof, but Isaye claims that his version is not ontological because the proof of the minor term is taken from the data of experience and not simply from the hypothetical possibility which we are willing to concede to virtually any concept.

Isaye establishes the major in the classical fashion.  By “God” he means an infinitely perfect being, one of whose perfections is necessary exis-tence.83  For the sake of argument, Isaye considers all four ways in which the two predicates “to be” and “to be possible” might be combined to speak about God:

1. God is and God is possible.

2. God is and God is not possible.

3. God is not and God is possible.

4. God is not and God is not possible.84

We can eliminate the second arrangement immediately.  If any being exists, then ipso facto it is absurd to say that it is impossible for it to exist.  The third arrangement is eliminated by a twofold consideration: if God does not exist, there is nothing that could cause Him to exist, and He is therefore extrinsically impossible; if God does not exist, the concept must be intrinsically impossible, for it would be absurd to speak about a non-existing necessarily existing being.  We may express this recognition by saying: If God does not exist, God is not possible. This means that we may say with certitude that if God is possible, God exists.  There is no other way for God to be possible.  The ontological fallacy is to assume without more ado that we are sure God is possible. What Isaye does is to show that we must affirm the possibility of God and cannot not affirm it.

Isaye draws out this necessary affirmation in a series of six points:

1. All must admit that the intellect affirms the existence of objects and strives to conform itself to what is.  Anyone who denies this concedes it in the act of denial: they perform a real act of judgment.

2. The intellect seeks knowledge as its proper good.  Every question raised by the intellect implies that an answer is worth having.  Every judgment is a claim to be in possession of the good of the intellect.

3. The intellect is not satisfied by an infinite regression.  An answer which leads to an infinite regression is no answer at all, for the question is never settled, only infinitely extended.  No one who affirms the validity of an argument which proceeds to infinity can ever finish presenting his objection.  If he sums up the significance of the whole of the infinite progression, he is no longer relying on the progression but upon a grasp of the first principles of thought, and his judgment about the significance of his argument concedes the finality of the intellect.

4. The formal object of the intellect is being as being.  Every judgment affirms the conformity of thought to being.  In a reflexive judgment about the nature of judgment, it is impossible to limit the notion of being in any way: to judge that the being which corresponds to our thought is limited is to say implicitly that we know that there is a greater being which cannot be known.  To say there is a limit concedes knowledge of what is beyond limit.  Thus the intellect must judge of itself that it is oriented by nature toward unlimited being.

5. The intellect cannot tend simply toward the abstract idea of unlimited being.  When I am hungry, I want real food, not the idea of food.  When the intellect affirms that being as being is unlimited, it affirms that this being actually exists independent from the concept formed by the intellect.  That alone which satisfies the intellectual appetite is the infinite Being.

6. This proves that the infinite Being is intrinsically possible.  “Desiderium naturae non potest esse inane.  Because intelligence is necessarily a teleological function, it cannot be oriented toward two contradictories.  In effect, nothing is the contradictory of the formal object of the intellect, being as being.  Thus the intellect cannot tend toward nothing.  Thus the intellect cannot tend to become contradictory.  Thus it cannot tend to become a function which would posit a contradictory operation. Thus it cannot tend toward an operation (finis ultimus quo) which is contradictory.  Thus it cannot tend toward being united to an objective final end (finis ultimus qui) which would be contradictory.  Now, this final end, is the infinite Being.  Therefore, the finite Being is not contradictory.”85

The intellect cannot deny its own nature.  Every judgment bears the stamp of its affirmation of infinite Being.  Any time anyone says, “This being is finite,” they affirm the drive of the mind toward the infinite Being.  Even if their intention is to say that all of being is finite, they implicitly concede that the mind leaps toward the infinite.86  This is a natural, not an elicited affirmation; hence it proves that God is possible.  Therefore, God exists.



This article presents only the most general sketch of Isaye’s philosophical system.  Many fine details and distinctions have been glossed over in this effort to present the main lines of his thought, and many issues to which he turned his attention have been omitted entirely for the sake of brevity.  Still, the risks of distortion run by this kind of translation and synthesis seem worthwhile if this will help to make his work better known.

One of the most interesting ideas which has been neglected is Isaye’s notion that metaphysics is natural to all men—so much so that even a young child can be shown to be using basic metaphysical principles in his simplest questions and answers.87 This theme of the simplicity and universality of metaphysics runs throughout the whole of Isaye’s work.  If ours were an age which cared about such things, he should be given two titles: “Master of Retortion” and “Metaphysician for the Man in the Street.”



1 For a detailed analysis of Isaye’s method, see The Transcendental Method by Otto Muck. trans. William D. Seidensticker (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968), pp. 163-180.

2 Joseph Marechal, A Maréchal Reader. ed. and trans. Joseph Donceel (New York: Herder & Herder: 1970).

3 Joseph Donceel, “Transcendental Thomism,” The Monist, 58 (1974), 67-85.

4 For the sake of simplicity in making reference to the works by Isaye. I have numbered his articles (see Bibliography at end). In this and all subsequent references to Isaye, I give only the number of the article and the page number(s); in this case I wish to refer the reader to 16:282,284, i.e., the sixteenth article, pages 282 and 284.

5 13:206; 20:7.

6 Donceel, op.cit., p. 81. Donceel spells the word with an s, “retorsion,” which is identical to the French spelling and practically identical to the Latin (retorsio). I prefer the alternative spelling given by the Oxford English Dictionary because this calls attention to the cognate, “retort.” The O.E.D. indicates that “retortion” was in use as early as 1610 to refer to “an answer made to an argument by converting it against the person using it.”

7 8:68; 29:32.

8 Philosophical Dictionary, ed. and trans. Kenneth Baker (Washington: Georgetown Univ. Press, 197.2), p. 425.

9 Donceel, op.cit., p. 81. Isaye makes the point when he observes that this is an argument “ad objicientem qua talem” (8:209, 218).

10 6:36; 13:209.

11 Maréchal, op.cit., p. 210.

12 13:206, 208; 24.695.

13 13:209, 215-16; 24:673, 677.

14 Donceel, op.cit., p. 82.

15 W. Norris Clarke, “What is Most and Least Relevant in the Metaphysics of St. Thomas Today?” International Philosophical Quarterly, 14 (1974), 415.

16 Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., “The Argument from Self-Referential Inconsistency: The Current Discussion” (Ph.D. dissertation, Georgetown University, 1970; available from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan), p. 5.

17 G. E. Moore, “A Defense of Common Sense,” Classics of Analytic Philosophy, ed. Robert R. Ammerman (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), pp. 53-54.

18 Anthony Palmer, Book Review of On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein, ed. by G. E. M. Anscombe and G. J. Von Wright, Mind, 81 (1972), 454: “What happens in On Certainty is that Wittgenstein treats the propositions that Moore claimed to know as examples of that agreement in judgement needed if language is to be a means of communications. Hence they need to be seen not as opinions about which everyone would agree, but as agreement in form of life. If this seems to abolish logic, this is because our conception of logic is faulty.”

19 Norman Malcolm, “Knowledge of Other Minds,” New Readings in Philosophical Analysis, ed. by Herbert Feigl, Wilfrid Sellars, Keith Lehrer (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts,1972), p. 348.

20 H. H. Price, “Belief and Evidence,” Empirical Knowledge, ed. by Roderick M. Chisholm and Robert J. Swartz (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1973), p. 108.

21 W. Norris Clarke, “Analytic Philosophy and Language About God,” Christian Philosophy and Religious Renewal, ed. by George F. McLean (Washington: Catholic Univ. Press), p. 41.

22 Ph.D. dissertation, Georgetown U., 1970; available from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Boyle has summarized his position in “Self-Referential Inconsistency,” Metaphilosophy, 3 (Jan 1972), 25-42.

23 Beyond the New Theism: A Philosophy of Religion (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1975); Free Choice: A Self-Referential Argument (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1976).

24 Boyle, dissertation, p. 291.

25 Ibid., p. 287.

26 Ibid., pp. 292-93.

27 6:32; 8:71.

28 Grisez, Beyond the New Theism, p. 79.

29 Ibid., p. 80.

30 6:47.

31 Boyle. op.cit., p. 311.

32 24:692-93: “The experience of the self is a metaphysical experience. It is like the affirmation of protons and electrons in that it is an unseen and yet experienced reality, but it is different in that it is an experience from within—we do not feel like electrons or protons, but we do feel like men.”

33 13:211.

34 Karl Rahner, Hearers of the Word, manuscript translation by Joseph Donceel, p. 2.

35 24:675.

36 13:211.

37 8:44, 20: 10.

38 Isaye’s article. “Une Métaphysique ‘intérieure’ et ‘rigoureuse’” (#20 in the bibliography) was translated by Daniel J. Shine and became the first chapter of An Interior Metaphysics: The Philosophical Synthesis of Pierre Scheuer (Weston, Mass.: Weston College Press, 1966). This quotation is taken from page 23 of that book.

39 8:45.

40 11:354.

41 8:71; 13:218.

42 3:220.

43 6:32-33; 9:225.

44 6:46; 24:675.

45 5:3-6.

46 11 :356-59; 8:212.

47 6:35-6; 16:281; 5:30.

48 11:349.

49 3:200; 6:49-50.

50 15:21-3; 29:45, 54-55.

51 20:32-3.

52 13:218.

53 16:284.

54 2:219; 6:42.

55 [“55” was superscripted in the body of the article, but the corresponding footnote text was omitted in error.—A.F.]

56 13:228.

57 8:60; 17:885.

58 18:36.

59 17:885.

60 20:14.

61 9:226; 10:932; 20:16.

62 10:935; 20:18.

63 20: 19.

64 13:221, 21:885.

65 10:925, 17:882, 24:683-87.

66 6:31-4.

67 16:284; 20:800-803.

68 15:6.

69 14:183-R5; 15:3.

70 6:40; 11 :362; 30:207.

71 4: 115·16; 6:45 .

72 12:176-77.

73 24:683.

74 6:46.

75 11 :359-60.

76 25:746-68.

77 3:208-112; 4:113-14.

78 6:38.

79 19:233.

80 3:208.9.

81 6:37-38.

82 19:225; 25:748-49.

83 8:91.

84 8:90-91.

85 The whole of the eighth article, “La Finalite de l’objection kantienne,” is dedicated to the presentation of this argument. This summary is taken from pp. 89-93.

86 8:83.

87 See article #24, ““La Métaphysique des simples,” one of the most interesting and original of his writings.


The Major Writings of Gaston Isaye, S.J. (in chronological order)

1. “La Théorie de la mesure et l’existence d’un maximum selon saint-Thomas.” Archives de Philosophie, 16 (1940), 136 pp.

2. “Logique, dialectique et liberté.” La Liberté: Actes du Quatriéme Congré des Sociétes de Philosophie de Langue Française, 13-16 septembre 1949, pp. 276-81.

3. “Nécessité’ de la science, sa légitimité.” Leçons de Philosophie des sciences expérimentales, par Auguste Gregoire, S.J. Paris: Editions J. Vrin, 1950, pp. 196-228.

4. “Les Sagesses du savant et le dialectique.” Les Sciences et la sagesse: Actes du Cinquiéme Congrés des Sociétés de Philosophie de Langue Francaise, 14-17 septembre 1950, pp. 113-16.

5. “La Logique scholastique devant ses recents adversaires.” Bijdragen. 1952, No. 3, pp. 1-30.

6. “Le Privilége de la metaphysique.” Dialectica, 6 (1952), 30-52.

7. “Antinomies de Ia science historique.” L’Homme et l’Histoire: Actes du Sixiéme Congrés de la Société de Philosophie de Langue Française, 1952, pp. 17-21.

8. “La Finalité de l’intelligence et l’objection kantienne.” Revue Philosophique de Louvain, 51 (1953), 42-100.

9. “Le Principe de dualité et les degrés du savoir.” Épistémologie: Actes du Onziéme Congrés Interna-tional de Philosophie, 20-26 aout 1953, II, 225-30.

10. “Les Robots et l’esprit.” Nouvelle Revue Théologique, 7S (1953), 912-36.

11. “Logique scholastique et logique moderne.” Bijdragen, 1953, No.4, pp. 349-62.

12. “Les Sciences positives et les trois sections de la cosmologie.” Studi Filosofici intorno all’ “Esistenza”, al Mondo, al Trascendente: Vol. 47 of Analecta Gregoriana. Rome: Pontificia Universita Gregoriana, 1954, pp. 173-234.

13. “La Justification critique par rétorsion.” Revue Philosophique de Louvain, 52 (1954), 205-33.

14. “La Spontanéité de la vie et la nécessité de la pensée.” Vie et Pensée: Actes du Septié Congrés de la Société de Philosophie de Langue Françoise, 13-16 septembre, 1954, pp. 181-85.

15. “Métaphysique réflexive et philosophie de la nature.” Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 10 (1956), No. 36. 174-202.

16. “Le ‘Raisonnement’ de la machine et le raisonnement de l’homme.” Actes du Premier Congrés International de Cybernétique, Namur, 1956, pp. 281-287.

17. “La Psychologie rationnelle et les frontiéres de la cybernétique.” Actes du Premier Congres Interna-tional de Cybernetique, Namur, 1956, pp. 879-885.

18. “Tout Dialogue est métaphysique.” Actes du Huitieme Congrés International des Sociétés de Philosophie de Langue Française, 6-9 septembre 1956, pp. 33-36.

19. “La Physique, expression de l’homme.” L’Homme et ses Ouevres: Actes du Neuviéme Congrés des Sociétés de Philosophie de Langue Française, 2-5 septembre 1957, pp. 222-25.

20. “Une Métaphysique ‘intérieure’ et ‘rigoureuse’.” Nouvelle Revue Théologique, 79 (1957), 798-813.

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