Saturday, May 08, 2010

Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri (1898-1983) - An Introduction

Xavier Zubiri is a very interesting philosopher who I had never heard of until just recently - and apologies to whoever it was who posted about him - I seem to have forgotten. I am not totally in agreement with many of his views, but he offers a radical reinterpretation of God as the ground of being (sound familiar?) Integral Christians in particular might be interested in his philosophical and religious writings.

Here is the Wikipedia summary:

Xavier Zubiri (Donostia-San Sebastián, 4 December 1898 - Madrid, 21 September 1983) was a Spanish Basque philosopher noted for his intellectual rigour. Zubiri's main accomplishment is the creation of an entire metaphysical system stemming from his view of man as a "sentient intelligence" situated in reality. In this system, man is "relegated" by the "power of the real", so that his personal reality is intimately connected with being situated in a real context. At the same time, man can be considered the author of his own personal being, his "I", through the appropriation of experience and the exercise of personal freedom within this real context, so that Zubiri can refer to man as the "animal of realities". This openness of man to possibilities is what makes man an "open essence", as opposed to a "closed essence" (i.e., a structure that simply operates according to rules of functionality). Many of his works have been translated into English by Thomas B. Fowler, Robert Caponigri and by Nelson Orringer. After his death, the Fundación Xavier Zubiri and the Xavier Zubiri Foundation of North America were set up as charities to disseminate his work.

Zubiri's critique of classical metaphysics

Probably the most innovative aspect of Zubiri's metaphysical system is his critique of classical metaphysics, and particularly of the notion of reality as "subject" in the Aristotelian sense, that is, a reality that is somehow autonomous apart from its context. Zubiri reconceives reality as an interconnected structure of "notes", which structure is "in its own right" to a certain degree (a property Zubiri refers to as "substantivity", in contrast with the classical notion of "substantiality"). The notes themselves are reality's ways of "giving-of-itself" in being, so in this respect reality is actually prior to being rather than being identifiable with being. Thus, Zubiri can criticise the "logification of intellect" that identifies what is intellectively known with being, which in turn leads to the "entification of reality" (identification of reality with being). This critique spans the entire history of philosophy, from Parmenides to the medieval scholastics all the way to Hegel and Heidegger (who himself was one of Zubiri's philosophical mentors, along with Edmund Husserl).

The possibilities for applying Zubiri's metaphysics in a theological context are quite diverse, owing to its ability to adapt classical metaphysical formulations of theology into Zubiri's own terms. Zubiri himself applied such adaptations to the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, and the Real Presence of the Eucharist, as well as other diverse theological subjects. Of note is the intrinsic compatibility of Zubiri's notion of reality as prior to being with the earlier patristic notion that God Himself is beyond being. Thus, Zubiri's system has significant potential for reconciling what appear to be inherent contradictions between Eastern and Western theology, such as the debate over the so-called "essence-energies distinction" and the filioque. Unfortunately, the application of Zubiri's work in the theological sphere has been relatively limited apart from Ignacio Ellacuría's work in liberation theology.

There is a whole English language website devoted to his work, THE XAVIER ZUBIRI FOUNDATION OF NORTH AMERICA. The bibliography includes many essays translated.

A full-length introduction to Zubiri's philosophy is available at the site, but I'm offering this more simple introduction - and briefer - so that you can get a sense of his philosophical project.
Informal Introduction to the Philosophy of Xavier Zubiri

Thomas B. Fowler
President, Xavier Zubiri Foundation of North America

Are you ever moved by a piece of music, or transfixed in front of a great work of art, or left in awe by a magnificent poem? Did you not believe at that moment that some great truth is being conveyed to you? When you read a great work of literature, do you not talk about Hamlet and Lear and Don Quijote as if they were real persons? When you study mathematics, is there not a time when the beauty and power of the subject struck you, and you wondered about the reality of the objects you studied? And what of your everyday experience of life: touching and seeing and hearing….Do they not convey an overwhelming experience of the reality of the world: people, places, things, events, one which must ultimately be the basis for explanation, not something explained away? Do you not sense the self-guaranteeing characteristic of your perception of reality at some level? Is not your experience of other people similar: are they not real in a fundamental, non-compromisable way? But at the same time, don't you think that science tells us something real about the world as well?

Aristotle said that philosophy begins with wonder, and if you have wondered about any of these things, you will find Xavier Zubiri and his philosophy to be immediately appealing and approachable. Zubiri takes the foregoing aspects of human experience as the imprescindable raw materials for philosophy, and builds a solid edifice with them and with modern science, all the while in dialog with the history of philosophy so as to extract from past thought what is most valuable. The goal is to create a new way of understanding the world and man-always the goal of serious philosophy-which is rigorous, thorough, and comprehensive, but at the same time believable and integrated with our most basic experiences.

How we understand

Zubiri long pondered the great philosophical questions, and as befits serious philosopher, he did not adopt a "motto"; but had he done so, it would undoubtedly have been his friend Einstein's keen observation: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them". Zubiri believes that previous philosophers have gone astray because they started to construct elaborate theories about human understanding, things of the world, and so forth, without first looking very hard at and trying to describe and understand the most basic aspects of human experience. This has led to bizarre theories which even their creators admit they do not believe. Start at the beginning, Zubiri says, and you will see that human understanding is divided into three modes or phases. These three modes or phases unfold logically if not chronologically as follows:

  • Primordial apprehension of reality (or basic, direct installation in reality, giving us pure and simple reality). This is what one gets first, and is the basis on which all subsequent understanding is based. Perhaps it can be most easily understood if one thinks of a baby, which has only this apprehension: the baby perceives the real world around it, but as a congeries of sounds, colors, etc., which are real, but as yet undifferentiated into chairs, walls, spoken words, etc.
  • Logos (explanation of what something is vis à vis other things, or as Zubiri expresses it, what the real of primordial apprehension is in reality). This is the second step: differentiate things, give them names, and understand them in relation to each other. As a baby gets older, this is what he does: he learns to make out things in his environment, and he learns what their names are, eventually learning to speak and communicate with others verbally.
  • Reason (or ratio, methodological explanation of what things are and why they are, as is done in science, for example). This is the highest level of understanding; it encompasses all of our ways of understanding our environment. One naturally thinks of science, of course; but long before science as we know it existed, people sought explanations of things. And they found them in myths, legends, plays, poetry, art, and music-which are indeed examples of reason in the most general sense: they all seek to tell us something about reality. Later, of course, came philosophy and science; but no single way of access to reality, in this sense, is exhaustive; all have a role.

These three modes of human understanding or 'intellective knowing', as Zubiri terms it, deserve further explanation. Of the three, primordial apprehension is the most important; it is the product of our somatic structures, and it puts us into direct contact with reality. Thus it comprises the foundation for all other knowledge. Zubiri's point of departure for describing primordial apprehension is the immediacy and sense of direct contact with reality that we experience in our perception of the world; the things we perceive: colors, sounds, sights, are real in an extremely fundamental sense that cannot be overridden by subsequent reasoning or analysis. In other words there is associated with perception an overwhelming impression of its veracity, a type of "guarantee" which accompanies it. Implied here are two logically separate but operationally inseparable aspects of perception: first, what the apprehension is of, e.g. something green, and second, its self-guaranteeing characteristic of reality. Zubiri terms these content and formality of reality, respectively. They form a tight unity, characterized by an intrinsic moment of otherness; and together they install us, however modestly, in reality.

The impressions given in primordial apprehension need to be sorted, understood, named, and related to other, usually prior impressions. For example, if a piece of green paper is apprehended in primordial apprehension, one has indeed apprehended green; but knowing that it is green requires knowledge of colors and a comparison of this newly apprehended color with known colors and their names from prior apprehensions. And the same is true with regard to paper. This mode of intellection, based on primordial apprehension, is a second or derivative mode termed 'logos'. Thus knowing, in the logos stage of intellection, is primarily concerned with relating what a thing, apprehended as real in primordial intellection, is called as a thing, and what it is in relation to other things. As Zubiri puts it, the logos is what enables us to know what a thing, apprehended as real in sentient intellection, is in reality (a technical term, meaning what something is in relation to one's other knowledge).

The third level of intellection, ratio or reason-with the broad acceptation of explanation-encompasses far more than what is usually associated with this word in English-speaking countries, viz. discursive knowledge. In particular, knowledge is not just science and mathematics (important though they are); there are other modes of knowledge, for example poetic knowledge and religious knowledge, which fall under the scope of reason as Zubiri understands it. Correlatively, there are realities which are not things in the sense of objects of science; for example, there is the reality of the person. In Zubiri's words, reason is "measurant intellection of the real in depth", which means that reason seeks to know the real in a very probing, insightful way. There are three moments of reason to be distinguished: (1) intellection in depth, e.g., electromagnetic theory is intellection in depth of color; a poem or song may be intellection in depth of someone's emotions; and a great painting can be intellection in depth of a religious doctrine or of the beauty of nature. (2) Its character as measuring, in the most general sense, akin to the notion of measure in advanced mathematics. This may be, but is not necessarily quantitative; certainly a play can "take the measure of" a person or experience. (3) Reason as intellectus quaerens-which means that reason, with its dynamic, directional, and provisional structure, is only able to conquer things in a provisional manner. But provisional in the sense that our intellection cannot conquer all of reality, or all of any given thing; reality is too rich for our finite minds. 'Provisional' does not imply skepticism; it only means that we go on seeking the fullness of truth about reality which we shall never obtain, but of which pieces are delivered to us by science, art, music, literature, architecture, and all of the "higher" forms of knowledge.

Zubiri's insight is that while human intelligence is not fundamentally flawed, and therefore is capable of truth, it is fundamentally limited, in ways not realized prior to this century because the pretensions of what he terms 'rational knowledge' were not recognized. In general, 'rational knowledge' was identified with some combination of philosophy and science, often combined with some form of reductionism (e.g., all experience and all of reality can be explained by science). Always there was the belief that somehow everything is capable of rational explanation. In no case was this ambitious program ever carried out, and in general it was only sketched as a project; but the belief was propagated with religious ferver. Alas, the bottom fell out in the 20th century, when even science was forced to come to grips with fundamental uncertainties. In Zubiri's view, far from this being a catastrophe, it was most liberating to the human mind, because it freed us from slavish adherence to excessively rational explanations that are inadequate to capture all of human experience, and at the same time opened other areas of knowledge as capable of delivering reality to us as well: history, literature, theology, art, and so forth. Correlatively, there are realities which are not things in the sense of objects of science; for example, there is the reality of the person. These multiple ways of understanding reality reflect its ultimate "openness", as opposed to the view held in previous philosophies which implied that reality is "closed" and hence fully capturable, usually by science.

Essence: what makes something what it is

The reader may be familiar with some famous notions from the history of philosophy, such as essence and causality, and be wondering about how they fit in with Zubiri's thought. Let us begin with essence, which may be traced back to Aristotle (possibly further). Why are cats different from dogs, and people from roses, and cows from houses? Aristotle too wondered about this, and believed that in view of the evident breakdown of things into such distinct classes, there must be something which makes each thing be what it is, and which, in a sense, made it to be what it is when it was created. In view of these functions, Aristotle referred to that mysterious item with an unusual but descriptive expression in Greek: to ti en einai, which became quod quid erat esse in the Latin of the Middle Ages, and which may be translated as what it was to be [the thing]. We generally use the term essence today. Aristotle and the medieval philosophers sought to capture essence in a particular type of definition involving genus and species; the most famous example, of course, is "Man is a rational animal".

Zubiri believes that Aristotle was really onto something with his original approach; there is something about cats which makes them to be cats, and sets them off from other animals and other things. But Zubiri thinks that Aristotle blew it when he tried to force essence into the genus and species definition mold: it just won't fit; reality is too complex. Furthermore, few if any other definitions of essence were ever produced, and there are evident shortcomings even in that for man. For starters, it really doesn't explain how man came to have two arms, two legs, what his emotional life is about, why he dies, and a host of other questions. What reason do we have to think that the essence of anything can be captured in a brief formula? Despite the intuitive need for it, essence got a bad name because in the end, Aristotle's definition-based version didn't really explain anything.

So Zubiri rethought the notion, and by returning to its deepest roots, came up with something which is intuitively satisfying, yet has explanatory power. Essence is "...the basic, constitutive system of all the notes [characteristics] which are necessary and sufficient for a substantive reality to be what it is." For Zubiri, it is the interrelationship of the notes making up essence which is important; each constitutive note is present by virtue of its place in constituting the whole. The notes are mutually dependent, and often lose their individual identity in the constituted system. Every reality is thus a systematic unity. This general discussion is in agreement with the modern scientific concept of things as dynamic systems, in which the interrelationship of the components makes the thing what it is, with its own behavior, different than that of its constituents and often obscuring them.

In light of Zubiri's discussion, it is apparent that old concepts of essence are not congruent with modern-day knowledge, in particular science, because they are what may be termed "flat", i.e., they assume that there is an absolute character of everything that can be captured by some act of the mind, usually unaided, on the basis of which we then "know" the thing. The primary example, of course, is the classical definition in terms of genus and species, as in "man is a rational animal", which we discussed above. Zubiri points out that all such concepts of essence are inadequate because they fail to capture its key physical property, that of structural complexity, from which emerge all of a thing's properties or notes, including its dynamics. (The word 'physical' should be understood in the broadest, etymological sense: nature; do not become bogged down with the unsustainable Cartesian duality of thinking things and extended things. Zubiri is not a reductionist or a materialist, both of which notions he explicitly rejects.) Behavior, such as we now understand it, from biological evolution to chaos, is of an entirely different, more subtle order than that envisioned by the creators of the old concepts of essence; and it involves layers of structure which point to a far richer and more complex reality than those concepts are capable of expressing. Indeed, it is unclear that essences can be adequately expressed at all in normal language.

The probing activity of science, through sketching of possibilities and use of experiment, is the principal route to knowledge of essences. Zubiri's concept of essence is thus much more profound, but also much more difficult to achieve, than earlier conceptions of it. Essence cannot be sought in metaphysical analysis of the predicates attributed to a thing, as Aristotle thought (i.e., it is not an armchair exercise), but must be sought in the analysis of its structures and characteristics, and the function they fulfill in the overall system which the thing represents.

Causality or functionality?

The notion of causality also deserves some attention, since it has been a pivotal concept throughout the history of philosophy. Aristotle made causality one of the cornerstones of his philosophy, and it has been used ever since to ground various types of inferences such as our knowledge of reality and the existence of God. The notion of cause involves what we may term the productive influence of one thing upon another. The general idea is fairly clear from everyday experience: "The hot water caused the burn"; "The car caused the accident"; "The invasion caused the war". Zubiri agrees that we speak and reason this way, but argues that cause is not the proper word to use, because in the vast majority of cases, what we are dealing with is a functional relationship rather than true causality. What is the difference? A functional relationship relates several phenomena in a describable way, without any implication of causality. For example, water at a certain temperature reacts in a particular way with skin. Did the hot water cause the burn? Perhaps someone set the water heater too high, or turned on the hot water spigot by mistake, or forgot to wear protective clothing, or was in the wrong room, or…you get the general idea: the causal nexus is too complicated to unravel. We can never directly perceive the productive influence of one thing upon another; rather, we can perceive and describe the functional relationships, and they are what we refer to when we typically speak of causes. Nor is this a problem, because Zubiri (unlike Hume) does not rely upon causally-based chains of reasoning to put us into contact with reality; as we saw above, we are already installed, however modestly, in reality. It does however mean that causal inference cannot be used as a basis for metaphysical demonstrations, such as the existence of God (not that such proofs ever did much good anyway; who would pray to an unmoved mover-the whole idea is ridiculous!). Do causes ever have a role to play? They do, and a supremely important one, but only in the one area where we can perceive them: the realm of the human person. To this subject we turn next.

Human reality and how it is different

Naturally, we like to think of ourselves as different; but in what way? A higher form of life? Like other animals, but more intelligent? For Zubiri, the difference is far more radical: a person is a different kind of reality. The justification for this notion is based on all of Zubiri's other philosophy:

An intellection much more difficult than that of quantum physics was needed in order to understand that the real can be real and still not be a thing. Such, for example, is the case of person. Then not only was the field of real things broadened, but that which we might term 'the modes of reality' were also broadened. Being a thing is only one of those modes; being a person is another. Thus not only has the catalog of real things been changed, i.e., not only has a reality beyond the field reality been discovered, but the character of reality itself as a measure has changed, because a person is something different from a stone or a tree not just by virtue of his properties, but by his mode of reality...

As a consequence, his role in the universe is different; and between persons (and only between them) there is a strict causality, which in turn implies a moral obligation. This causality is not a simple application of classical notions of causality to persons, but something irreducible to the causality of classical metaphysics, and still less reducible to the concept of a scientific law. This is what Zubiri refers to as personal causality. "And however repugnant it may be to natural science, there is...a causality between persons which is not given in the realm of nature."

Elaborating on this point, Zubiri notes that there are innumerable interpersonal relations which do not fit into the mold of the traditional four causes (material, formal, efficient, final):

When I am with a friend or a person whom I love, the influence of friendship or tenderness does not reduce to mere psycho-physical causation. It is not just an influence of what the friend is, but of the friend by virtue of him being who he is.

Zubiri notes that physical causality is exercised through means such as force, pressure, and attraction; whereas in personal causality, it is through friendship, companionship, love, and support, for example. This personal causality is the basis for morality and the moral dimension of the human person. The moral dimension of man is a "physical" dimension (as well as a spiritual dimension), in the sense that it represents a real, physical "appropriation" by each person of specific possibilities for his life. Morality, in the sense of values, the good, and obligations, is possible only through the foundation of this physical dimension.

Man's access to God

If traditional metaphysical proofs of the existence of God are out, are there any routes available? Before we answer this question, Zubiri feels that we must do something akin to what we did in the case of our perception of reality: we must step back and reexamine the whole explanatory paradigm and its assumptions. Traditionally, theologians have approached God in a conceptual fashion, in which He is what Zubiri terms a "reality-object" more or less like you and me and rocks and other things of our experience, albeit it of some higher degree. Given this approach, all effort is inexorably concentrated on establishing ways of "demonstrating" God's existence. The main problem with such a paradigm is that it produces proofs which (1) fail to convince because they rely upon abstract metaphysical arguments with premises that are themselves difficult to establish; and (2) the God whose existence they purportedly demonstrate is far removed from the personal God of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition and quite incapable of serving as the basis of a religion.

Zubiri thinks that this whole approach is too anthropomorphic. God is not a "reality-object", but what he terms a "reality-ground"-something to which we must be be "re-ligated", that is, re-connected. (This is much more in line with the approach of mystical thinkers). In contrast to the demonstrative ways of proving God's existence, which are purely idealistic (i.e, based on abstract reasoning), Zubiri proposes the way of religation, ultimately based on our experience of reality. Indeed, for Zubiri we are religated to reality since it imposes itself on us, and does so as something ultimate which both impels us and makes it possible for us to "create", so to speak, our lives. It is the experience of this imposition, of this power of the real, that is the experience of the ground of reality. And it is the fundamental experience which each man possesses whether a theist, an agnostic or an atheist. These latter three diverge with respect to intellectual discernment and volition when they confront this ground.

The theist finds in his experience of the ground an experience of God, a God not transcendent "to" things, but transcendent "in" things. Accordingly, to reach God one need not abandon the world (à la Buddhism), but to enter more into it, so as to reach its ground. This, of course, does not mean to live life in the fast lane, or become a hedonist, but to experience life deeply, in what may be termed the "spiritual" sense: reflection, love of other people and service to them, doing good, and so forth. God is ultimately the ground of things (including persons), and it is in his experience of them that man has the fundamental experience of God. Since man's life is a tapestry woven from his experience with and of things, and since this experience in turn is an experience of God, it follows that each man's life is in some respects a continuous experience of God. What does this mean? That no searching is necessary? That no spiritual life is required? That anyone's God is as good as anyone else's? No; those issues only arise at a subsequent stage, one which would be impossible without this one. What it does mean is that the real God of each person is not a concept or the outcome of some reasoning process, but something much deeper: the very life of man. In making or working out his own life, in configuring his own life, each man configures (or disfigures) God in himself, because the life of man, Zubiri concludes, is always and formally an "experience of God".

For the atheist, the power of the real is still there, and as an intellection, stands in need of some ground. The atheist does two things: he considers the power of the real only as a "fact", suppressing its other dimensions (etymologically 'a-theist' means 'not theist'). In this way he chooses to live a life which is sufficient unto itself; autosufficient, as Zubiri puts it, which means a life that is what it is, and how it is, and nothing else:

…the atheist formally surrenders to his own formal reality as unique and sufficient true personal reality. And it is in this surrender to himself as true that the faith of the atheist consists. The atheist understands himself as surrendered to himself and accepts himself as such. Therefore he makes a choice; atheism is no less a choice than theism.

The salient characteristic of atheism, then, is faith in oneself-or by extension, in a social class, human knowledge, mankind, or another similar surrogate.

This leaves agnosticism. Etymologically, the word means 'not knowing'; but as the experience of the power of the real is always present to the agnostic as well as to the theist and the atheist, its intellection still requires a ground-one which the agnostic searches for diligently but does not find. In Zubiri's own words:

…agnosticism is a frustrated intellective search. It is in this frustration where unknowability and ignorance of God take on their structure, where the suspension of faith occurs. But as ignorance, as unknowability, and as frustration, agnosticism is a strict form of intellective process which rests upon a real moment of reality known intellectively as such.

So the agnostic is someone who recognizes the need to find a ground for his experience of the power of the real, but has not accomplished his goal.

Where to go from here

Hopefully this brief overview has whet your appetite to learn more about Zubiri and his philosophy. Philosophy is a difficult subject, make no mistake about it; few are the visual aids that can be brought to bear! And there are no videos! But Zubiri's works will reward careful study. Always remember that philosophy, like theology, operates at the deepest levels of our knowledge hierarchy. That means that studying philosophy is akin to living in your house while you're trying to rebuild its foundation, and perhaps make it a completely different kind of foundation! Just as every house has a foundation, whether examined or not, everyone subscribes to a philosophy, whether they are aware of it or not. For these reasons, the study of philosophy is not fast-paced; it takes time for ideas to sink in-often months or years of reflection are required. Leisure-time for contemplation and reflection-is the basis of culture; the Greek word skolé, from which our word school comes, means leisure, not education. Serious thought cannot flourish in an MTV environment.

To begin your journey, you may wish to read the formal introduction to Zubiri's philosophy on this Web site, and then review the Reading guide to determine the first Zubiri work you'd like to tackle. Sentient Intelligence is Zubiri's magnum opus, and his most important work; but you may wish to read a few of the essays in Nature, History, God as a warm-up exercise. If the subject of essence is of particular interest to you, Zubiri's On Essence may be a good place to begin. Please note that in addition to the online material of this Web site, the Information and Resources section has a page devoted to purchasing printed copies of Zubiri's works, which are of course easier to read than a computer screen.

Bon voyage!
Some books available through Amazon (all books in English are free for download in various formats at the site):

Dynamic Structure of Reality
One Essence
The Fundamental Problems of Western Metaphysics

Key books not available in print:

Nature, History, God (out of print, HTML or MS Word 6.0 version)
Sentient Intelligence (out of print, HTML of MS Word 6.0 version)

This is from the introduction to Sentient Intelligence (pdf version):
It is important to understand at the outset just how radical Zubiri’s rethinking of philosophy had to be in order to achieve his goal. Though in constant dialogue with the history of philosophy, and recognizing that this history must be the starting point for his (or any effort), Zubiri

· rejects the traditional view of reality as a zone of things, whether “out there” beyond perception, within the mind, in the realm of ideas, or anywhere else, replacing it with a more fundamental and general notion, that of formality, which refers to the nature of what is present to the intelligence;

· rejects the traditional four-part division of philosophy into metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and ethics as the primary basis for its organization, instead recognizing that no such strict division has ever been achieved or is even possible, and that a new approach to human intellection is necessary;

· rejects the traditional notion of God as a reality object, instead conceiving of Him as a reality fundament or ground;

· rejects the traditional idea of reality as “closed” and static, as implied in most conceptions of essence, in favor of a new view of reality and essence as “open”;

· rejects the traditional notion of a person as another type of “thing,” arguing that personhood is a separate, distinct kind of reality.

· rejects the agreement of thought and things as the fundamental notion of truth; rather this dual truth is founded on a more fundamental truth, real truth, the impressive actuality of the real in sentient intellection.

· rejects the traditional notion of sensible intelligence founded on opposition between sensing and intelligence, replacing it with a fully integrated conception, sentient intelligence.

The first major work of his grand synthesis was Sobre la esencia (1963; English edition On Essence, 1980). It dealt primarily with the object of knowing. The present work deals primarily with the process of knowing, which is founded upon an analysis of intelligence. These two subjects—object and process of knowing—should not be identified with “metaphysics” and “epistemology”, respectively, for two reasons: (1) the latter two topics are theoretical and of more restricted scope than the problems Zubiri addresses; and (2) Zubiri explicitly rejects the modern notion that the problems of object of knowing and process of knowing can be or indeed ever have been rigorously separated, as the distinction between epistemology and metaphysics
in post-Kantian thought generally suggests. The two are completely intertwined, and any comprehensive philosophy must address and encompass both together in its vision. At the outset, this requires not an epistemology, but rather an analysis of intelligence—something which must logically precede any type of rigorous epistemology or Kantian critique.

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