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Descartes got it right! Once in a lifetime we ought to stop and ask ourselves the fundamental questions, who we are, what is the status of our knowledge, can we trust what we think we know. He did it, by going into a cabin in a forest and concentrating on the big questions, and especially on the status of our knowledge. What guarantee do we have that what we think is true is actually true?

In his quest, Descartes did not leave out any piece of knowledge, about the world, about our body, about other people, about mathematics, and about the first principles of logic. To his shock and surprise, by the end of the first day, he found that he could not find any evidence or guarantee that what we think we know is actually true.

David Hume, and many of his followers, ended up with the same scepticism about the status of our knowledge, but whereas Descartes managed to find, eventually, one unshakeable truth on which to rebuild his system of truth, Hume and the others had to abandon their quest and rely on custom and habit. Even today, many philosophers in the English-speaking world take it for granted that truth is not available to our limited minds; the only truth is the one constructed by our societies, traditions, and convention, a truth which is relative to groups and not at all universal, eternal, immutable, necessary.

Rosmini produced a most outstanding epistemology, giving an explanation of the origin of ALL ideas, and proving that the same truth is available to all. In his A New Essay Concerning the Origin of Ideas he proves both, with immense clarity and sophisticated logic, basing his arguments purely and entirely on reason and meticulous observation of facts. He did not use God or religion; and not even natural religion. In another of his books, however, he came up with a powerful expression, in which God is mentioned, to indicate the presence of truth in all human beings, and their pain and longing for it when not found: “The Creator God had bound man to truth by the bowels”.


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