Deriving from Lat.
transcendens (stepping over), the word “transcendentals” was used by the Scholastics (Scholasticism) for that which is far above ordinary categories. In reality, we find transcendentals in both Plato (427–347 b.c.; Platonism) and Aristotle (384–322 b.c.; Aristotelianism) as initial forms of being. We can define what is, in terms of its goodness, truth, or unity. Special features of transcendentals are that they lie beyond the ability of categories to predicate and that they are also mutually convertible:
ens et unum, verum, bonum, pulchrum convertuntur (being and one, the true, the good, the beautiful are interchangeable). Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225–74; Thomism) listed five transcendentals:
res, unum, aliquid, verum, and
bonum (being, oneness, otherness, truth, and goodness). Their particularity consists in the fact that, in contrast to categorial statements, they predicate being in an analogous manner and not univocally (Analogy). Immanuel Kant (1724–1804; Kantianism) accepted the five as a basis when discussing the categories (
Critique of Pure Reason, §12). But Kant also …