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The Secret of the Universe, by Nathan R. Wood, [1932], at

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 *How the mind sees things—Why things are universals and particulars and things-as-related-to-others—Which one is real?—The forms of pure reason. Why they are what they are—Forms of thought versus outer realities—Which are more real? The mighty answer.

This Triunity underlies the forms of reality.

Human reason sees things as percepts,—that means as existences perceived, as things as they simply are, as things in themselves.

It sees them also in a second way, as concepts, as general types.

Then still further it sees the things as related to other things.

It sees, for instance, the individual man. It sees, in addition, humanity in general in him. It sees, finally, the man as related to others.

Reason sees, for further instance, the particular tree, simply as a tree, the thing in itself. It sees also the universal idea or type or fact of tree nature. It sees also the tree in its environment, as related to other trees, to other things, and to all the universe.

We have clearly three things here. First, the percept, the particular thing which we see. Second, the general nature or type, of which the particular thing seen by us is an embodiment. Third, that particular thing as it is related to other things.

Why do things exist in these three ways? Or, if the reason for it is not in the thing seen, but in the mind,

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why are our minds such that we must see all things in exactly these three ways? Whether they are the forms of reality as they exist in themselves apart from us, or o only the forms of reality as we see them, why are they as they are? What is the underlying basis of them?

And which is the more real,—the thing in itself?—or the universal type of which that thing is a particular embodiment?—or the thing as related to other things which it touches and to all other things?

This is the third great problem of thought through the centuries, beginning with the most ancient days of Greek philosophy.


It is very plain that these three things,—the thing in itself, the general type and the thing as related to others,—coincide with the three distinctions in the universal triunity in human existence, or in matter, or in time.

The person is the particular thing which I see and know. Then on the one hand there is the nature of which the person is the embodiment, an individual nature, but shared with all other human beings as a universal human nature. And on the other hand there is the personality, which is the person as related to others.

Or we may, before we go further, put it in the triune order of human existence: first, the universal human nature, of which the individual person is the embodiment; second, the particular or individual person; third, the personality, the person as related to others. That is:—the universal type or nature, the particular embodiment or thing, the thing as related to others.

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So also of matter. Energy is the universal, the source, the unseen. The particular motion is the embodiment of that energy. Phenomena are that particular motion in contact with other existences.

So it is also of time. The future is the universal source, the potentiality. The present is the particular realization, the embodiment, of the future. It is the thing we know and touch. The past is that present as soon as it has related itself to other things.

All of this is very clear. The progress from nature to person, from energy to motion, from future to present, from source to embodiment, is a progress from the universal to the particular. The progress from person to personality, from motion to phenomena, from present to past, is a progress from the thing in itself to the thing as related to others.

We have then this triunity: 1. The universal. 2. The particular thing. 3. The thing as related to others.

Why Things Are Universals and Particulars and Things-as-Related-to-Others

What is the basis of these realities? Why do things exist as universals and particulars and things as related to others?

Because they are nature, person and personality. Because they are energy, motion and phenomena. Because they are future, present and past. Because they are triunity.

Because they exist in the image of the Triune Reality and Ground of the universe.

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Which One is Real?

Which then is reality? the universal? or the particular thing? or the thing as related to others?

That is indeed a much debated question. And the conclusion of the debate depends upon the angle from which one looks upon the question. One comes out where one went in. One may be an idealist, and emphasize the universal. One may be a realist, and emphasize the particular thing. One may be a pragmatist, and emphasize the thing as related to others.

But in the light of the triune reality of the three, the answer is clear at once.

"Which is more real? the universal? or the particular thing? or the thing as related to others?"

Each is real, in that triune reality, and each is dependent upon the other two for its reality.

The nature is real, but not apart from its embodiment.

The embodiment is real, but it cannot exist without its nature which it embodies.

The embodiment, the thing in itself, is real, but it cannot be real without coming into contact with other things and becoming the thing as related to others.

If the embodiment cannot be real without the thing as related to others, clearly the nature, which cannot be real without its embodiment, cannot be real without the thing as related to others.

And manifestly the thing as related to others cannot exist unless it is first the thing in itself, and, back of that, the nature.

Each is real. Each requires the other two for its reality. Each is the whole. All are real, in the light of 

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the triune reality, in the image of the supreme Triune Reality and Ground of the universe.

The Forms of Pure Reason. Why They Are What They Are

The strict forms of pure reason, the formal expressions of reality, which we call deductive logic, are equally an expression of the same underlying triunity. We have only to examine the syllogism to see that in all its forms it is what it is because of that universal pattern.

The major premise is the universal. It is the source. Out of it the syllogism grows. It is the fundamental truth. If it is not fundamental it cannot be a major premise. It is the nature of the thing under discussion.

The minor premise is the embodiment in a particular form of the general nature, the universal principle, in the major premise. It sets forth that universal principle in a specific, particular form.

The conclusion proceeds from the minor premise. It proceeds from the major premise through the minor premise. It brings both major premise and minor premise, both the universal principle and its particular embodiment, into contact with the things under discussion. It applies the syllogism to life and conduct and environment.

The nature or universal, the major premise,—the embodiment or particular, the minor premise, the conclusion, or application of the major and minor premises, of the nature and the embodiment, to the things of life and conduct,—these are the three invariable

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factors. The syllogism, the forms of pure reason, are identical with triunity. They are what they are because triunity in the likeness of the Three in One is the structure of the universe.

Forms of Thought versus Outer Realities

We are ready then to answer in the light of Triunity the essential question about these things.

Are the universal and the particular and the thing-, as-related-to-others forms of outward reality which exist apart from our thinking? Or are they simply mental forms under which our minds conceive reality? Are they forms of reality, or forms of thought? Thinking, ancient and modern, sways to and fro upon that question.

The same question comes in regard to space and time. Are space and time simply mental forms under which we conceive reality? Or are they themselves realities of the outer world?

Ancient philosophy held that space and time are outward realities. Modern philosophy, following Kant, tends to see space and time as forms of thought, through which we conceive the outer world. The modern philosophy which desires to transform itself into psychology is very sure of this. It sees space and time as purely products of the mind.

They are surely forms of thought. We cannot think of the outer world at all without conceiving things in terms of extension, or space, and of consecutiveness, or time.

We can think only in universals, and particulars or things-in-themselves, and things as related to others.

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We can reason only in major premises, and minor premises, and conclusions, in some of their myriad forms.

They are necessary forms of thought.

And they are outward realities. For motion, which we all acknowledge to be a universal outward reality if there is any outward reality at all, apparently cannot take place except in actual space. But if that be doubted, we see motion now definitely, in this new world of triunity, as the result of space. We see it as the motion of space, the outspreading of power, emerging through energy into motion. Motion is not a reality unless space, the outspreading of power, is real. And on the other hand motion cannot take place without generating time.

And as for universals and particulars and things as related to others, we have seen that they are bound up in one reality. We cannot take out one of the three, and say "This one, and this one alone, is real." In their triune relationship and existence, all are real.

Space and time, then, and universals, and particulars, and things as related to others, are both mental forms and outer realities. They all exist in the image of the Triune God who is the Reality and Ground of the inner universe and of the outer universe.

Which Are More Real? The Mighty Answer

Which is more real, the inner world with its forms of thought, or the outer world with its motion and substance? That question, great as it is, loses its meaning in the light of the Triune Reality. For both the inner world of thought and the outer world of

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motion and substance are based on the supreme Triune Reality.

In which then are space and time more truly realities? To which do space and time more truly belong? The question disappears in the light of the Fact of triunity. When we see space and time in their most fundamental aspect, as reflections of the Creator, and see the soul also, and all its forms of thought, as the exact reflection of the same Creator, it makes little difference to which space and time most belong. In both the outer world and the inner soul they are the one image of the Triune Creator.

What is true of space and time is true of universals and particulars and things-as-related-to-others. How largely do these forms of reality exist apart from us, and how largely are they the forms in which the mind works in seeing reality? The answer is truly clear. We can be sure that they are with equal certainty forms of outward reality and forms of thought. For both the world of outward reality and the mind with its forms of thought are made in the reflection of the Triune God.

What is the relation between the mental conception and the outer reality?

Does the outer world suggest Space and Time to the mind?

Or does the mind project Space and Time upon the outer world?

There is a greater answer. The Triune Creator suggests and projects Space and Time upon both the outer world and the mind, and together the outer reality and the inner conception form one operation of the Triune 

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[paragraph continues] God who forever creates both world and mind in His own triune likeness.

In this is the unity of the mind with the outer world. For He made both in His own likeness.

In this is the reason that the forms of reality and the forms of thought exactly fit each other. For He made both in His own likeness.

This is why the mind can know the universe around it. For He made both in His own likeness.

For both together in all these things are one great image of the Triune God.


194:* The general reader may, if he so prefers, omit this chapter, which is unavoidably technical in much of its language, and may continue the reading with the beginning of Chapter 9, on page 203.

Next: IX. The Secret of the Universe and the Problem of Aesthetics, or the Beautiful