Ontologism

(ontos, “being”; logos, “science”). A speculative system of philosophy which (in a theistic form) maintains that we know God immediately as the primary and natural object of human cognitive powers. The intuition of God is the first act of our intellectual knowledge. This system claims descent from Plato* and Augustine* and was advocated by Malebranche* in the seventeenth century on the basis of his Occasionalism, which maintained that finite things have no efficient causality of their own and that our sensations and ideas are caused not by body or mind but produced by God, the universal Cause. Vincenzo Gioberti* and Antonio Rosmini* were prominent exponents. The term itself first appears in Gioberti's Introduzione allo studio della filosofia (1840). Attacked on the grounds that our idea of God is analogical, not direct, and that such teaching leads to pantheism, seven propositions of the ontologists were condemned by the Holy Office in 1861. In 1887 forty propositions from the works of Rosmini were condemned by the Vatican Council.