A Summary of Unification Thought


Theory of the Original Image
I.   Content of the Original Image
II.  Structure of the Original Image
III. Traditional Ontologies and Unification Thought

Ontology: A Theory of Being
I. Individual Truth Being
II Connected Being

Theory of the Original Human Nature
I.   A Being With Divine Image
II.  A Being with Divine Character
III. A Being with Position
V. A Unification Thought Appraisal of the Existentialist Analysis of Human Existence

Axiology: A Theory of Value
I.   Meaning of Axiology and Significance of Value
II.  Divine Principle Foundation for Axiology
III. Kinds of Value
IV. Essence of Value
V. Determination of Actual Value and Standard of Value
VI.Weaknesses in the Traditional Views of Value
VII.Establishing the New View of Value
VIII.Historical Changes in the View of Value

Theory of Education
I.   The Divine Principle Foundation for a Theory of Education
II.  The Three Forms of Education
III. The Image of the Ideal Educated Person
IV. Traditional Theories of Education
V. An Appraisal of Traditional Theories of Education from the Standpoint of Unification Thought

I.   The Divine Principle Foundation for Ethics
II.  Ethics and Morality
III. Order and Equality
IV.Appraisal of Traditional Theories of Ethics from the Viewpoint of the Unification Theory of Ethics

Theory of Art
I.   The Divine Principle Foundation for the New Theory of Art
II.  Art and Beauty
III. The Dual Purpose of Artistic Activity: Creation and Appreciation
IV. Requisites for Artistic Appreciation
V. Technique, Materials, and Style in Artistic Creation
VI. Requisites for Artistic Appreciation
VII.Unity in Art
VIII.Art and Ethics
IX. Types of Beauty
X.  A Critique and Counterproposal to Socialist Realism

Theory of History
I.   The Basic Positions of the Unification View of History
II.  The Laws of Creation
III. The Laws of Restoration
IV. Changes In History
V. Traditional Views of History
VI. Comparative Analysis of Providential View, Materialist View, and Unification View

I. Traditional Epistemologies
II. Unification Epistemology
III. Kant's and Marx's Epistemologies from the Perspective of Unification Thought

I.   Traditional Systems of Logic
II.  Unification Logic
III. An Appraisal of Traditional Systems of Logic from the Perspective of Unification Thought

I.   Historical Review
II.  Unification Methodology - The Give-and-Receive Method
III. An Appraisal of Conventional Methodologies from the Perspective of Unification Thought

I.   Principle of Mutual Existence, Mutual Prosperity and Mutual Righteousness
II.  Three Great Subjects Thought
III. Significance of the Four Great Realms of Heart and the Three Great Kingships




Epistemology is that field of philosophy which seeks to solve the various fundamental problems about cognition (Erkenntnis). It is the theory of how the correct knowledge of an object can be obtained. Its goal is to bring to light the origin, method, and development of cognition. The English word epistemology is a combination of the Greek words episteme, which means knowledge, and logia, which means logic. It is said to have been used for the first time by J. F. Ferrier (1808-64). The German word Erkenntnistheorie is said to have been coined by K. L. Reinhold (1758-1823).

Epistemology already existed in ancient and medieval philosophies, but only in the modern period did it emerge as a central topic in philosophy. Unification Thought sees it as part of the call for the restoration of human nature and humankind’s dominion over all things. Epistemology and ontology came to form the two major branches of philosophy.

As already mentioned, Unification Thought advocates the standard which claims to be able to fundamentally solve all actual problems. Today, enthusiasm about the study of epistemology has waned, and attention has instead moved to medical science. Yet, medical science has not given a complete solution to the problems of epistemology.

Undoubtedly, medical science has contributed to solving the problems of epistemology by giving a physiological foundation to the process of cognition. Yet, there are still unsolved problems in the work of medical research as regards cognition. Unification epistemology has solved these problems, as well as many traditional ones.

Epistemology is related to the fundamental problem of ontology, namely, the conflict between idealism and materialism. Cognition, or knowledge, is closely related to one’s practical activities. Therefore, unless we can establish a correct view of epistemology, we can not solve actual problems effectively. Thus, it follows that a new theory of epistemology-one that can solve the problems of all traditional epistemologies-is needed. In order to respond to this call, Unification epistemology is presented here, based on Unification Thought.

I will begin with an outline of traditional epistemologies, pointing out their weaknesses. Then, I will present Unification epistemology, clarifying the following points: (1) Unification epistemology is capable of solving the problems that remain unresolved in traditional epistemologies; and (2) this epistemology is, literally, a Unification epistemology, in the sense that it has the capacity to unify all epistemologies. It should also be clarified that this epistemology was systematized under the instruction of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, in the same way as was done in the other sections of this book.

I. Traditional Epistemologies

Epistemological studies have been carried out since ancient times. It was only in the modern period, however, that epistemology became a central theme of philosophy. The philosopher who first explained epistemology systematically was John Locke, whose An Essay Concerning Human Understanding became known as an epoch-making work.

The most important questions with regard to the cognition of an object have been those of the origin, the object, and the method of cognition, each of which has two opposing positions. In terms of the origin of cognition, two opposing schools of thought have arisen: empiricism, which asserted that cognition could only be obtained through one’s sensations, and rationalism, which asserted that cognition could be obtained only through one’s thinking about ideas, innate in the mind. With regard to the object of cognition, two views have come into op realism, which asserted that the object of cognition existed independently from the human being, and subjective idealism, which asserted that the object of cognition was merely those ideas or representations present in the mind of the subject. Concerning the method of cognition: the transcendental method and the dialectical method were both proposed.

Let me offer a brief review of some major historical developments in the realm of epistemology. As the conflict between empiricism and rationalism developed, empiricism finally fell into skepticism, and rationalism lapsed into dogmatism. Immanuel Kant made an effort to synthesize these two opposing positions by means of his critical method, or transcendental method.1 This was his theory of an “a priori synthetic judgment,” which holds that the object of cognition is synthesized by the subject. Later, plagiarizing Hegel’s dialectic materialistically, Marx presented his materialist dialectic. Epistemology based on the materialist dialectic is Marxist epistemology, or dialectical epistemology. This is a “copy theory,” or “reflection theory,” which asserts that the content and form of cognition are no more than reflections on the mind of things in the external world.

I would like to clarify at this point that it is not my intention to introduce in any concrete or academic detail the contents of traditional epistemologies. This section is presented simply for the readers’ reference; I will introduce briefly the relevant problems in a traditional epistemology for the sole purpose of showing how the Unification epistemology is able to solve the unresolved problems of traditional epistemologies. Therefore, in terms of an understanding of the Unification epistemology itself, this section can be skipped.

A. Origin of Cognition

Empiricism holds that all knowledge is obtained from one’s experience, whereas rationalism claims that true cognition can be gained only through the operation of one’s reason, independently from experience. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, empiricism was advocated in Great Britain, and rationalism was advocated in continental Europe.

1. Empiricsm

a) Bacon (1561-1626)

Francis Bacon established the foundation for empiricism. In his renowned work, Novum Organun (1620), he considered traditional learning to be merely a series of useless words, empty in content, and that correct cognition is obtained through observation of nature, and experimentation. According to him, in order to obtain correct cognition, one must first renounce one’s pre-conceived prejudices. As prejudices, he listed four Idols (idola).

The first is the Idols of the Tribe. This refers to the prejudice into which people in general are likely to fall, namely, the prejudice whereby the real nature of things are reflected distortedly, because the human intellect is like an uneven mirror. An example is the inclination to view nature as personalized.

The second is the Idols of the Cave. This prejudice arises due to an individual’s unique nature, habits, or narrow preconceptions as if one were looking at the world from inside a cave.

The third is the Idols of the Market Place. This refers to the kind of prejudice that derives from one’s intellect becoming influenced by words. For example, words may be created for things that do not exist, which could lead to empty arguments.

The fourth is the Idols of the Theatre. This is the prejudice that arises from blindly accepting authority or tradition. In other words, it is the prejudice that arises from relying on an authoritative thought or philosophy.

Bacon said that we should first remove these four Idols, and then observe nature to find the essence within each individual phenomenon. For that end, he proposed the inductive method.

b) Locke (1632-1704)

John Locke systematized empiricism, and in his major work, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, he developed his views. Locke denied what Descartes called “innate ideas,” and considered the human mind to be like a blank sheet of paper (tabula rasa): All the ideas coming into the mind are drawn on the blank paper of the mind just as a picture or letters are drawn on a white paper. Thus, all ideas come from experience.2

Ideas come into the mind from two sources: one source is sensation, and the other is reflection. For Locke, experiences through sensation and reflection are the origin of cognition. Sensation refers to one’s ability to perceive external objects through one’s sense organs. The ideas of yellow, white, hot, cold, soft, hard, bitter, sweet, and so on, derive from sensation. Reflection refers to our perception of the operations of our mind such as thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning and willing.

Ideas consist of “simple ideas” and “complex ideas.” Simple ideas are those obtained individually and separately from sensation and reflection. When simple ideas become higher ideas through combination, com-parison and abstraction under the operations of our understanding, they become complex ideas.

Simple ideas include those with objective validity, namely, solidity, extension, figure, motion, rest, number, and the like; in addition, simple ideas include qualities with subjective validity, namely, color, smell, taste, sound, and the like. The former qualities are called “primary qualities,” and the latter are called “secondary qualities.”

There are three kinds of complex ideas, namely, mode, substance and relation. Mode refers to an idea expressing the state or quality of things, that is, the attributes of things, such as the mode of space (distance, immensity, figure), the mode of time (succession, duration, eternity), the mode of thinking (perception, recollection, contemplation), the mode of number, and the mode of power. Substance refers to an idea concerning the substratum that carries the various qualities. Finally, relation refers to the idea that comes into being by comparing two ideas, like the ideas of cause and effect, identity, and diversity.

Locke regarded knowledge as “the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our Ideas.3 He also said, “Truth is the marking down in Words, the agreement or disagreement of Ideas as it is.” 4 He sought to answer the question concerning the origin of cognition by analyzing ideas.

Locke considered certain the existence of the spirit, which is recognized intuitively, and the existence of God, which is recognized through logical proof. But he considered that there can not be certainty regarding the existence of material things in the external world, because they can be perceived only through sensation.

c) Berkeley (1685-1753)

George Berkeley rejected Locke’s distinction between primary qualities and secondary qualities, and described both primary and secondary qualities as subjective. For example, distance seems to exist objectively as extension; namely, it seems to be an idea of the primary qualities. According to Berkeley, however, it is a subjective idea. The idea of distance is obtained as follows. We perceive a certain object from a distance with our eyes, and then we approach it and touch it with our hands. When we repeat this process, a certain visual sensation leads us to expect that it will be accompanied by certain tactile sensations of walking. Thus arises the idea of distance. In other words, we do not look at distance as extension itself.

Locke affirmed substance as being the carrier of qualities, but Berkley rejected this view and instead, viewed things as being mere collections of ideas. He asserted that “to be is to be perceived” (esse est percipi). Thus, Berkeley denied the existence of the substance of material objects, but he had no doubt as regards the existence of spirit as the substance that perceives.

d) Hume (1711-76)

David Hume developed empiricism to its logical conclusion. He considered our knowledge as being based on “impressions” and “ideas.” An impression is a direct representation based on sensation and reflection, whereas an idea is a representation that appears in the mind through memory or imagination, after the impression has disappeared. Impressions and ideas make up what he called “perceptions.”

Hume enumerated resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect as the three laws of the association of ideas. He held the cognition of resemblance and of contiguity as being certain and posing no problem, but there is a problem with cause and effect, he said. With regard to cause and effect, Hume gave the following example: when one hears thunder after a bolt of lightning, one usually thinks that the lightning is the cause and the thunder the effect. Hume, however, claimed that there is no reason to connect the two as cause and effect, for they are merely impressions; the idea of cause and effect is established on the basis of people’s subjective customs and beliefs, he asserted. As another example, the phenomenon of the sun rising shortly after a rooster crows is empirically well known. But we can not say that the rooster’s crowing is the cause, and the sun’s rising is the effect. Knowledge accepted as cause and effect is thus based on subjective human customs and beliefs.

In this way, empiricism, with Hume, became transformed into skepticism. Concerning the idea of substantiality, Hume, like Berkeley, doubted the existence of substance in material objects. He went even further by doubting the very existence of the spiritual substance, considering it to be nothing more than a bundle of perceptions.

2. Rationalism

In contrast to empiricism, which developed in Britain, and discussed above, rationalism expanded over continental Europe, represented by Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff, and others. Rationalism held that it is not through our experience that we can obtain correct cognition, but only through our thinking. Correct cognition can be obtained only through deductive logical reasoning. This is the position of Continental rationalism.

a) Descartes (1596-1650)

René Descartes, regarded as the founder of rationalism, began by doubting everything, as a method of obtaining true knowledge. This technique has been called “methodic doubt.” Descartes believed that our sensations can deceive us, and so he doubted everything related to sensation. Why did he adopt such a method? He did so in order to obtain genuine truth. If there remains something that can not be doubted after we have doubted the existence of all things in the world and even ourselves, it is because it is indeed truth. Thus, he doubted everything. As a result, he came to realize that there is one thing which can not be doubted: the fact that I am engaged in the act of doubting. Hence, he established his famous proposition, “I think; therefore, I am” (Cogito, ergo sum).

For Descartes, the proposition “I think, therefore I am” is the first principle of philosophy.5 That proposition is certain, he argued, because one’s perception of it is clear and distinct. He then derived the general rule (the second principle) that, “things we perceive very clearly and very distinctly are all true.”6 “Clear” implies that something is present and obvious to the spirit, and “distinct” implies that it is distinguishable from other objects.7 The opposite of “clear” is “obscure,” and the opposite of “distinct” is “confused.”

The existence of the spiritual substance, an attribute of which is thought, and the existence of the material substance, an attribute of which is extension, can be recognized as certain. In other words, the Cartesian dualism of matter and spirit is established from the first and second principles: The existence of mind (thought) is proved from the first principle, and the existence of matter (extension) is proved from the second principle.

In order to guarantee a clear and distinct cognition, one must not allow cases in which evil spirits secretly deceive people. In order to prevent such a thing, one must assume the existence of God. If God exists, no mistake can occur in our cognition, because the honest God can never deceive us.

Descartes is said to have proved the existence of God as follows: First, the idea of God is innate within us. In order for this idea to exist, the cause of this idea must exist. Second, the fact that we, who are imperfect, have the idea of a perfect Being proves the existence of God. Third, since the idea of the most perfect Being necessarily contains existence as its essence, the existence of God is proved. In this way the existence of God was proved. Therefore, God’s essences, namely, infinity, omniscience, and omnipotence, become clear; honesty (veracitas), as one of God’s attributes, is secured. Accordingly, clear and distinct cognition is guara-nteed.

Descartes ascertained the existence of God and the existence of spiritual and corporeal substance, or mind and body; among these, the only independent being, in the true sense, is God, for mind and body are both dependent on God. Descartes also held that mind and body-with the attributes of thought and extension, respectively-are substances independent from each other; thus, he advocated dualism. Descartes proved the certainty of clear and distinct cognition, thereby asserting the certainty of rational cognition based on the mathematical method.

b) Spinoza (1632-77)

Baruch de Spinoza, like Descartes, thought that truth can be cognized through rigorous proofs, and tried to develop logical reasoning, particularly by applying the geometrical method to philosophy. The premise of Spinoza’s philosophy was that all truth can be cognized through reason. That is, when one perceives things “in their eternal aspects” (sub specie eternitatis) through reason and also perceives them wholly and intuitively in their necessary relationship with God, true cognition can be obtained.

To perceive things “in their eternal aspects” means to understand all things in the process of necessity. Let me explain. When we look at things from such a standpoint, we need not be attached to or disturbed by transient things or passing phenomena, but rather we can come to comprehend things, phenomena, and even ourselves as being expressions of God’s eternal truth, hence, as precious things. Then, we can reach our perfection, and obtain true life, boundless joy, and true happiness. This is what is meant by perceiving things in their eternal aspects. Such perception can be obtained through clear and distinct reason and our spiritual sense.

Spinoza divided cognition into three types: imagination, scientific knowledge (which is on the level of reason), and intuitive knowledge. Among these three, he held that if imagination is not properly ordered by reason, it is imperfect. He thought that true cognition can be obtained through scientific knowledge and intuitive knowledge. For Spinoza, intuitive knowledge is not separated from reason, but rather it is based on reason.

Descartes considered mind, with thought as an attribute, and body, with extension as an attribute, to be substances independent from each other. In contrast, Spinoza held that God alone is substance; and that both extension and thinking are God’s attributes. Spinoza asserted that God and nature are in the relationship of natura naturans (the origin of all things) and natura naturata (everything which follows, by necessity, from the nature of God), and are inseparable. Thus he developed a pantheistic thought, claiming that “God is nature.”

c) Leibnitz (1646-1716)

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz placed great importance on the mathe-matical method, and considered that the ideal was to derive every proposition from a few fundamental principles. He classified truth into two kinds: first, there is truth that can be arrived at logically through reason, and second, there is truth that can be obtained through experie-nce. He labeled the former as “eternal truths,” or “truths of reason,” and the latter as “truths of fact,” or “contingent truths.” He held that that which guarantees truths of reason is the principle of identity and the principle of contradiction, and that which guarantees truths of fact is the principle of sufficient reason, which says that nothing can exist without sufficient reason.

Yet, such distinctions among kinds of truths apply only to the human intellect. This is because God can cognize, through logical necessity, even that which is regarded by humans as truths of fact. Therefore, ultimately, truth of reason was held to be the ideal truth.

Leibniz also held that the true substance is the “monad,” or a living mirror of the universe. He explained the monad as being a non-spatial substance having perception and appetite, whereby apperception arises as a collection of minute unconscious perceptions. Monads were classified into three stages: sleeping monads (or naked monads) in the material stage; souls (or dreaming monads) in the animal stage, possessing sensation and memory; and spirits (or rational souls) in the human stage, possessing universal cognition. In addition, there is the monad on the highest stage, which is God.

d) Wolff (1679-1754)

Based on Leibniz’s philosophy, Christian Wolff further systematized the rationalistic position. Yet, in the process of this systematization, Leibniz’s original spirit was lost or distorted, and so the main part of Leibniz’s theory is missing from Wolff’s system. Especially, the theory of monads and the doctrine of pre-established harmony were distorted. Kant belonged to the Wolffian school at first, but later strongly criticized him as representative of rational dogmatism.

Wolff held that true knowledge is the truth of reason, derived logically from fundamental principles. He proposed that all truths be established solely on the basis of the principles of identity and contradiction. He accepted the existence of empirical truths as fact, but according to him, truths of reason have nothing to do with empirical truths, and empirical truths are not necessarily true, but only contingently so. In this way, Continental rationalism attached little importance to the cognition of facts, considering that everything must be cognized rationally, and ultimately ended in dogmatism.8

B. Essence of the Object of Cognition

We must next consider the question of the object of cognition. Realism asserts that the object of cognition exists objectively, and independently of the subject, whereas subjective idealism states that the object of cognition does not exist in the objective world, but exists only as an idea within the consciousness of the subject.

1. Realism

Realism is a general perspective, which includes naive realism, scientific realism, idealistic realism and dialectical realism. Naive realism, also called natural realism, is the common sense view that the object is composed of matter and exists independently from the subject; moreover it exists just as we see it. In other words, our perception is a faithful copy of the object. Scientific realism is the view that the object exists independently of the subject, but sensory cognition, as it is, is not necessarily true. True existence can be correctly known only by adding our scientific reflection to the empirical facts already obtained from the object, and this is done through the function of understanding, which transcends mere sensory cognition.

For example, the sense of color is a visual phenomenon. Science examines this phenomenon and clarifies that color (say, red color) is the sensation caused by an electromagnetic wave with a definite wave length. Also, lightning and thunder which are sensed by our eyes and ears are regarded as caused by the electrical discharge taking place in the air. Thus, scientific realism adds scientific reflection to the common sense view of realism.

Idealistic realism, which is also called objective idealism, is the view that the essence of the object is spiritual and objective, transcending human consciousness. Specifically, this view holds that the spirit not only exists in human beings, but existed at the origin of the world even before the appearance of humankind, and that this original spirit is the true reality of the world, and is the prototype of the universe. In this view, all things are the various expressions of the spirit. For example, Plato regarded Ideas, which are the essences of things, as true reality, and asserted that this world is nothing but the shadow of the world of Ideas. Hegel asserted that the world is the self-development of the Absolute Spirit.

Dialectical materialism holds that an object exists independently of human consciousness, and that it is an objective reality that is reflected in our consciousness. Thus dialectical materialism, also, is realism. It asserts that cognition is the reflection from things outside, on human consciousness, just as things are reflected in a mirror. It does not, however, assert, as does naive realism, that an object exists as it is reflected on the subject’s consciousness; rather, it asserts that true reality can only be cognized by verification through practice. That is the position of the dialectical epistemology, namely, Communist epistemology.

2. Subjective Idealism

Realism, as was mentioned, views the object of cognition as existing independently from the subject, whether the object is a material being or an idea.  Subjective idealism, on the other hand, holds that the object does not exist independently of the human mind and that its existence can be recognized only to the extent that the object appears in the human mind. Berkeley was its representative exponent, and his proposition “to be is to be perceived” (esse est percipi) eloquently expresses this position. In addition, Johann G. Fichte (1762-1814) held that no one can ever say for sure whether or not non-ego (the object) exists apart from the function of ego, and Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) said “The world is my representation” (Die Welt ist mein Vorstellung), both taking similar positions.

C. Epistemologies in Terms of Method

As we have seen, empiricism, which saw experience as the origin of cognition, developed into skepticism, whereas rationalism, which saw reason as the origin of cognition, developed into dogmatism. They reached these conclusions because they did not examine the questions of how experience becomes truth, and how cognition is made through reason, in other words, the method of cognition. It was Hegel, Marx and Kant who attached importance to the method of cognition. I will introduce here the main points of the Kantian and Marxian methods.

1. Kant’s Transcendental Method

British empiricism fell into skepticism, and Continental rationalism fell into dogmatism, but Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) synthesized these two positions and established a new viewpoint. He considered empiricism to be mistaken because it ascribed cognition to experience, disregarding the function of reason, whereas on the other hand, rationalism was mistaken because it regarded reason as almighty. Thus, Kant held that in order to obtain true knowledge, one has to start from an analysis of how experience can become knowledge. To achieve this, one has to examine, or critique, the function of reason.

Kant wrote three books of critique, namely, Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique of Judgment, which, respectively, deal with how truth is possible, how good is possible, and how judgment of taste is possible. Accordingly, Kant dealt with the realization of the values of truth, goodness, and beauty. Among his works, the one concerned with epistemology is his Critique of Pure Reason.

Main Points of the Critique of Pure Reason

Kant tried to unify empiricism and rationalism on the basis of the fact that knowledge increases through experience, and that correct knowle-dge must have universal validity. It is self-evident that cognition starts from experience. Then, Kant proposed that there existed within the subject of cognition “certain a priori forms of cognition.” In other words, the object of cognition is established when the sense content (which is also called material, sensation, manifold of sense, or sense data) coming from the object is put in order by the a priori forms of the subject.

All former philosophies had held that the object is grasped as it is; in contrast, Kant said that the object of cognition is actually synthesized by the subject. Through this insight, Kant believed he had effected a Copernican revolution in philosophy. Thus, Kant’s epistemology did not seek to obtain knowledge of the object itself, but sought to clarify how objective truthfulness might be obtained. He called it the “transcendental method.”

For Kant, cognition is a judgment. A judgment is made in terms of a proposition, and in a proposition there are subject and predicate. Knowledge increases through a judgment (a proposition), in which a new concept that is not contained in the subject appears in the predicate. Kant called such a judgment a “synthetic judgment.” In contrast, a judgment in which the concept of the predicate is already contained in the concept of the subject is called an “analytical judgment.” Hence, new knowledge is obtained only through a synthetic judgment.

Among the examples given by Kant of analytical and synthetic judg-ments, there are the following: the judgment that “all bodies are extended” is an analytical judgment, for the concept of body already includes the meaning that it has extension. On the other hand, the judgment that “between two points, the straight line is the shortest line” is a synthetic judgment, for the concept of a straight line indicates only the feature of straightness without containing the quantity of length or shortness. Therefore, the concept of the shortest line is a completely new addition.

Yet, even though new knowledge can be obtained through synthetic judgment, it can not become correct knowledge if it does not have universal validity. In order for knowledge to have universal validity, it should not be merely empirical knowledge, but should have some a priori element independent of experience. That is, in order for a synthetic judgment to have universal validity, it must be an a priori cognition, namely, an a priori synthetic judgment. So, Kant had to cope with the question: “How are a priori synthetic judgments possible?” 9

Content and Form

Kant tried to accomplish the synthesis of empiricism and rationalism through the unity of content and form. “Content” refers to the repre-sentations given to our senses through the stimuli from the things in the external world, namely, the content of our mind. Since the content is material coming from the outside, it is an a posteriori, empirical element. On the other hand, “form” refers to the framework, or determinative, that synthesizes or unifies the material, or the manifold of sense. It is the framework that unifies various materials formed in the stage of sensation. In other words, sense content is synthesized by a priori forms. A priori forms consist of the forms of intuition that arrange the manifold of sense in the frame of time and space, and the forms of thought that gives the frame to cognition in the stage of understanding. He argued that, through these a priori forms, synthetic judgments with universal validity become possible.

The forms of intuition are frameworks that perceive the manifold of sense in space and time. Cognition, however, does not take place through intuition alone. Kant said that it is necessary for the object to be thought through understanding, and asserted that a priori concepts, the forms of thought, exist within understanding. In other words, he held that cognition takes place when the content, which is perceived intuitively, and the forms of thought are combined. Kant described it in the following way: “Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind.”10 Kant named the a priori concepts within the understanding “pure concepts of understanding” or “categories.” Based on the judgment forms used in general logic since Aristotle, Kant derived the following twelve categories:

In this way, Kant asserted that cognition becomes possible as the sense content is perceived through the forms of intuition and is thought through the forms of thought (categories).Yet, the sense content in the stage of sensation and the forms of thought in the stage of the understanding are not combined automatically. Sensation and understanding are both faculties of cognition, but they are essentially different. A third force common to the two faculties is necessary. That is the power of imagination (Einbildingkraft), with which sense content and the forms of thought are unified, whereby fragmented manifold of sense is synthesized and unified.

Thus, the object of cognition, as Kant says, is the result of the synthesis of the sense content and the forms of thought through the power of imagination. Hence, the object of cognition is not what exists objectively in the external world, but rather it is synthesized in the process of cognition.

We can understand, therefore, that the object of cognition, as Kant says, is something in which the a posteriori element of empiricism and the a priori element of rationalism are unified. The consciousness at the time of cognition should not be empirical or fragmentary, but there must be a pure consciousness underlying empirical consciousness, which has the power to unify. Kant called it “consciousness in general,” “pure apperception,” or “transcendental apperception.” As for the question of how the functions of sensation and understanding are connected, Kant said that imagination serves as the mediator between the two, as mentioned above.

Denial of Metaphysics and the Thing-in-itself

In this way, Kant discussed how certain knowledge is possible in the phenomenal world, namely, in the natural sciences or mathematics, and then examined whether or not metaphysics is possible. Since a metaphysical entity has no sense content, and therefore, can not become an object of perception, it can not be perceived. Since, however, the function of our reason is related to understanding alone and not directly to sensation, there are some cases in which one has an illusion whereby something that does not really exist appears to exist. Kant called this type of illusion “transcendental illusion.” The transcendental illusion consist of three types: the idea of the soul, the idea of the world, and the idea of God.11

Among these, he called the idea of the world, namely, the cosmological illusion, the antinomy of pure reason. This means that when reason pursues the infinite being (the infinite world), it will reach two entirely opposite conclusions from the same basis of argument. An example of this is the two contradictory propositions: “the world has a beginning in time and is also limited in regard to space” (the thesis) and “the world has no beginning in time and no limits in space, but is infinite in respect to both time and space” (the antithesis). Kant held this to be an error derived from trying to grasp the sense content as the world itself.

Kant held that cognition takes place only to the extent that the sense content coming from the object is synthesized through the a priori forms of the subject, and that the object itself, namely, the “thing-in-itself,” can never be cognized. This is the agnosticism of Kant. The world of “things-in-themselves” is the reality lying behind phenomena, and is called the “noumenal reality.” Nevertheless, Kant did not totally deny the world of things-in-themselves. In his Critique of Practical Reason, he held that noumenal reality is to be postulated in order to establish morality. He also claimed that, in order for noumenal reality to exist, freedom, the immortality of soul, and the existence of God must be postulated.

2. Marxist Epistemology

Next, I will explain the epistemology that is based on the materialist dialectic. This is called Marxist epistemology, or the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge.

Theory of Reflection (Copy Theory)

According to the materialist dialectic, the spirit (consciousness) is a product or a function of the brain,12 and cognition takes place as objective reality is reflected (copied) onto consciousness. This theory is called the “theory of reflection” or “copy theory” (teoriya otrazhenia). Of this, Engels said, “we comprehended the concepts in our heads once more materiali-stically -as images [Abbilder] of real things.” 13 Lenin stated that, “From Engels’ point of view, the only immutability is the reflection by the human mind (when there is a human mind) of an external world existing and developing independently of the mind.”14 In Marxist epistemology, what Kant called sense content is not the only reflection of the objective world upon consciousness. The forms of thought are also the reflection of the objective world; they are the reflection of the forms of existence.

Sensory Cognition, Rational Cognition, and Practice

Cognition is not merely a reflection of the objective world, but it has to be verified through practice, according to Marxist epistemology. Lenin explains this process as follows: “From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice,-such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality.”15 Mao Ze-dong explained the process of dialectical materialist cognition more concretely in the following quotes:

This dialectical-materialist theory of the process of development of knowledge, basing itself on practice and proceeding from the shallower to the deeper, was never worked out by anybody before the rise of Marxism…. Marxism-Leninism holds that each of the two stages in the process of cognition has its own characteristics, with knowledge manifesting itself as perceptual at the lower stage and logical at the higher stage, but that both are stages in an integrated process of cognition. The perceptual and the rational are qualitatively different, but are not divorced from each other; they are unified on the basis of practice.16

The first step in the process of cognition is contact with the objects of the external world; this belongs to the stage of perception [sensory stage of cognition]. The second step is to synthesize the data of perception by arranging and reconstructing them; this belongs to the stage of conception, judgment and inference [rational stage of cognition].17

In this way, cognition proceeds from sensory cognition to rational cognition (or logical cognition), and from rational cognition to practice. Now, cognition and practice are not something that take place only once. Mao Ze-dong said “Practice, knowledge, again practice, and again knowledge. This form repeats itself in endless cycles, and with each cycle the content of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level.”18

Kant said that cognition takes place insofar as the subject synthesizes the object, and that it is impossible to cognize the “things-in-themselves” behind the phenomena, advocating agnosticism. In contrast, Marxism asserted that the essence of things can be known only through phenomena, and that things can be known fully through practice, thus rejecting Kant’s notion of “things-in-themselves.” About Kant, Engels said the following:

In Kant’s time, our knowledge of natural objects was indeed so fragmentary that he might well suspect, behind the little we knew about each of them, a mysterious “thing-in-itself.” But one after another these ungraspable things have been grasped, analyzed, and, what is more, reproduced by the giant progress of science; and what we can produce we certainly can not consider as unknowable.19

Now, in the continuing process of cognition and practice, practice is  held to be of greater importance. Mao Ze-dong said, “The dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge places practice in the primary position, holding that human knowledge can in no way be separated from practice.” 20 Practice usually refers to human action on nature and social activities, but in Marxism, revolution is held to be the supreme form of practice among all kinds of practice. Therefore, it can be said that the ultimate purpose of cognition is revolution. In fact, Mao Ze-dong said, “The active function of knowledge manifests itself not only in the active leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, but-and this is more important -it must manifest itself in the leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice.” 21

Let us next consider the forms of thought in logical cognition (rational cognition). Logical cognition refers to such acts of thinking as judgment and inference, which are mediated by concepts, and in which the forms of thought play an important role. Marxism, which advocates copy theory, regards the forms of thought as the reflection of the processes in the objective world upon the consciousness, that is, as the reflection of existing forms. Among the categories (forms of existence, forms of thought) in Marxism, there are the following: 22

matter                                      proportion

motion                                      contradiction

space                                       the individual, particular, and universal

time                                         cause and effect

the finite and the infinite               necessity and chance

consciousness                            possibility and reality

quantity                                    content and form

quality                                      essence and appearance

Absolute Truth and Relative Truth

Knowledge, according to Marx, grows through the successive repeti-tion of cognition and practice. That knowledge grows means that the content of knowledge is enriched, and that the accuracy of knowledge is enhanced. Therefore, the relativity and absoluteness of knowledge becomes an issue.

Marxism says that truth is what reflects objective reality correctly. It says that, “If our sensations, perceptions, notions, concepts and theories correspond to objective reality, if they reflect it faithfully, we say that they are true, while true statements, judgments or theories are called the truth.23

Furthermore, Marxism asserts that practice-ultimately revolutionary practice-is the standard of truth. In order to know whether or not cognition is true, all one needs to do is to compare it with reality and ascertain that cognition concurs with reality. Of this, Marx said, “Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-worldliness of his thinking in practice,”24 and Mao Ze-dong said, “Man’s social practice [class struggle in particular] alone is the criterion of the truth of his knowledge of the external world.”25 In sum, revolutionary practice is the criterion of the truth of knowledge.

According to Marxism, knowledge in a particular period is partial, imperfect, and remains as only relative truth, but with the progress of science, knowledge approaches absolute truth to an infinite degree. Thus, Marxism affirms the existence of absolute truth. Concerning this, Lenin says, “There is no impassable boundary between relative and absolute truth.”26 Also, the elements which are absolutely true are contained within relative truths, and as they are accumulated steadily, they become absolute truth, according to Marxism.27

This concludes my explanation about the traditional epistemologies. As mentioned earlier, I introduced, in summary form, certain traditional epistemologies for the reader’s reference.

II. Unification Epistemology

We have surveyed an outline of previous epistemologies; now I wish to explain the epistemology of Unification Thought, or Unification epistemology. Unification epistemology has been established on the basis of concepts about cognition in the Divine Principle, Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s speeches and sermons, Rev. Moon’s responses to direct questions by the author, and so on.28

A. Outline of Unification Epistemology

Unification epistemology has, among its other features, the characteri-stic of being an alternative to traditional epistemologies. Thus, I will introduce Unification epistemology in terms of the topics dealt with by traditional epistemologies, such as the origin, object, and method of cognition.

1. The Origin of Cognition

As already explained, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, empiricism, holding that the origin of cognition lies in one’s experience, and rationalism, holding that the origin of cognition lies in one’s thinking, emerged. Empiricism fell into skepticism in the hands of Hume, and rationalism ended in dogmatism with the work of Wolff. In order to overcome this impasse, Kant tried to unify empiricism and rationalism through his transcendental method, but he was left with an agnostic world of things-in-themselves. It is in the context of such a background that I will introduce the position of Unification epistemology.

In the former epistemologies, the relationship between the subject of cognition (human being) and the object of cognition (all things) was not well-clarified. Since they did not know the relationship between the human being and all things, emphasis was placed either on the subject of cognition, as in rationalism, asserting that cognition is achieved exactly as reason (or understanding) infers, or else emphasis was placed on the object of cognition, as in empiricism, asserting that cognition is achieved by grasping the object as it is, through sensation.

Kant held that cognition is achieved when the sense content coming from the object and the forms of thought of the subject are synthesized and unified by means of imagination, whereby an object of cognition is finally formed. He was not aware, however, of the necessary relationship between the subject and the object. So for Kant, cognition can be made only within the framework of the categories of the subject, and in the end, he held that the things-in-themselves are unknowable.

Hegel held that in the self-development of the absolute spirit, Idea becomes nature by alienating itself, but eventually restores itself through the human spirit. In this system, nature is merely an intermediate step leading up to the rise of the human spirit, and has no positive meaning as a permanent existence. Finally, in Marxism, the human being and nature are in an accidental relationship of opposition.

When we look at the problem in this way, how to understand correctly the relationship between the subject of cognition (human being) and the object of cognition (all things) becomes a crucial issue. From an atheistic position, the necessary relationship between human beings and nature can not be established. Even in the theory of the natural generation of the universe, human beings and nature are no more than accidental beings to each other. Only when the significance of God’s creation of human beings and all things has been clarified, can the necessary relationship between human beings and all things become clear.

From the perspective of Unification Thought, human beings and all things are beings created in the relationship of subject and object. That is to say, the human being is the lord of dominion, or the subject of dominion over all things, and all things are objects of joy, beauty, and dominion for human beings. Subject and object are in an inseparable relationship. This might be compared to the relationship between the motor and the working parts in a machine. The working parts are meaningless without a motor, and vice-versa. The two components are designed to form a necessary relationship of subject and object. By the same token, human beings and all things have been created in such a way that both exist in a necessary relationship.

Cognition is the judgment of a human subject on all things, which are the objects of joy, beauty, and dominion. In this connection, cognition (i.e., judgment) involves “experience,” and judgment is carried out through the function of “reason.” Therefore, experience and reason are both necessary. Thus, in Unification epistemology, experience and reason are both indispensable, and cognition takes place through the unified operation of the two. Furthermore, since the human being and all things are in the relationship of subject and object, we can know all things fully and correctly.

2. The Object of Cognition

Unification Thought, first of all, acknowledges that all things exist objectively, outside the human being; that is, it accepts realism. As the subject of all things, the human being exercises dominion over all things-activities such as cultivating, raising, dealing with, processing, and making use of all things-and also cognizes all things. For that reason, all things must exist outside and independently of the human being, as objects of cognition and of dominion.

Furthermore, Unification Thought holds that the human being is the integration of all things, a microcosm-and therefore, that the human being is equipped with all the structures, elements, and qualities of all things. This is so because all things of the natural world have been created in symbolic resemblance to the human being, with the human body as the model. Therefore, the human being and all things have a mutual resemblance. Moreover, within the human being, the body is created in resemblance to the mind.

Cognition is always accompanied by judgment, and judgment is an act of measurement. For this measurement, standards (criteria) are necessary, and there are ideas existing within the human mind which serve as the standards of cognition. These ideas are called “prototypes.” Each prototype is an image within the mind, and it is an internal object. Cognition takes place as a prototype within the mind (internal image) and an image coming from an external object (external image) are collated.

Realism insisted on the objective existence of the object of cognition, independently of human consciousness. Marxism, which advocates copy theory, is its representative exponent. Subjective idealism, as represented by Berkeley, asserted, on the contrary, that the object of cognition is nothing but ideas in human consciousness. In Unification epistemology, realism and idealism (subjective idealism) are unified.

3. The Method of Cognition

The method in Unification epistemology differs both from Kant’s transcendental method, and also from Marx’s dialectical method. The give and receive method, that is, the principle of give and receive action between subject and object, is the method in Unification epistemology. Accordingly, in terms of method, Unification epistemology can be called a “give and receive epistemology.”

In the give and receive action between the subject (human being) and object (all things) in cognition, both subject and object must have certain requisites. As already explained in the Theory of Art, for example, subject and object must possess certain requisites in appreciation. In the appreciation of a work of art, the conditions that the subject (appreciator) must possess are: a concern for, or an interest in, the object, a desire to seek value, and the subjective elements of education, taste, and so on. The object (work of art) should be equipped with a purpose of creation, and should possess harmony among its various elements. In cognition, the condition for the subject is to have a prototype and a concern for the object, and the condition for the object is to have content (i.e., attributes) and form.

In accordance with the two-stage structure, give and receive action in cognition consists of both inner and outer give and receive actions. Cognition takes place first as outer give and receive action, and then as inner give and receive action. Again, we mention that this theory of cognition is called a “give and receive epistemology.”

Give and receive action takes place between a subject (human being) possessing the necessary requisites and an object (all things) possessing the necessary requisites. First, the content (attributes) and form (forms of existence) of the object are reflected in the human mind at the sensory stage, forming sensory content and form, which may be called an “external image,” since it is brought about by the outer give and receive action. Then, give and receive action (of the collation type) takes place between the external content and form (external image) and the prototype (internal image) which the human subject possesses a priori. This is the inner give and receive action, or the formation of the inner four position foundation. Cognition is accomplished through this inner give and receive action.

Here, I can explain the differences between the method of Unification epistemology, the Kantian transcendental method, and the Marxist dialectical method. In Kant’s method, the content (sense content) comes from the external world (object), and the forms (the forms of intuition and forms of thought) are a priori and subjective elements within the subject. Thus, the content belongs to the object, and the form belongs to the subject. In contrast, in the Unification Thought give and receive epistemology, content and form both belong to both subject and object. That is, both subject and object possess content and form.

In the Marxist method, content and form both belong to the object in the external world, and the consciousness of the subject simply reflects them. Thus, it can rightfully be said that the elements of both Kantian and Marxian epistemologies are contained in Unification epistemology. In other words, in Unification epistemology, there is an element of copy theory in the outer give and receive action, and there is an element of the transcendental method in the inner give and receive action. Thus, within Unification epistemology the dialectical method (copy theory) and transcendental method (Kantian method) are unified.

B. Content and Form in Cognition

Usually, in speaking of content and form, we call what is contained inside a thing its content, and its external appearance, its form. The content dealt with in epistemology, however, refers to the attributes of a thing, while the form refers to a certain framework through which those attributes are manifested.

Content of the Object and Content of the Subject

Since the object of cognition is all things, the content of an object refers to the various attributes it possesses, namely, shape, weight, length, motion, color, sound, smell, taste, and so on. These are material content (or Hyungsang content). On the other hand, the subject of cognition is a human being; therefore, the content of the subject refers to the various attributes that a human being possesses, which actually are the same as the attributes of all things, that is, material content, such as, shape, weight, length, motion, color, sound, smell, taste, and so on.

Usually when we talk about human attributes, in many cases we are referring to reason, freedom, spirituality, etc., but in epistemology, since we are dealing with the resemblance in content, we focus on the same attributes as those of the object (all things). As the integration of the universe (microcosm), the human being possesses, in miniature, all the structures, elements, qualities, and so on, that all things possess. Therefore, the human being is equipped with the same attributes as all things.

Give and receive action in cognition, however, does not take place merely because the subject (human being) and the object (all things) possess the same attributes. Since cognition is a phenomenon of thinking, the mind of the subject should also possess a certain content. The content in the mind of the subject is the prototype, or more accurately, that part of the prototype that corresponds to the content. This refers to the “protoimage,” which appears in the protoconsciousness (subconscious-ness in the living being, which will be further explained below). The protoimage is a mental image that exists in correspondence with the attributes of the human body.

The attributes of the human body are in correspondence with the attributes (material content) of all things in the external world. Therefore, the mental image (protoimage), or prototype, becomes the mental content that corresponds to the attributes of all things. Thus, the attributes of the human body correspond to the attributes of all things, and the mental image (protoimage) of the human mind corresponds to the attributes of the human body. Then, accordingly, the human mental image corresponds to the attributes of all things. Therefore, in cognition, the mental image (protoimage) of the subject (human being) and the material content (sense content) of the object are in correspondence with each other; give and receive action takes place between them, thus giving rise to cognition.

Form of the Object and Form of the Subject

The attributes of all things, which are the object of cognition, always appear in a certain framework. This framework is the form of existence. The form of existence is the form of relation among the attributes of those things. This form of existence, or form of relation, becomes the form of the object in cognition. The human body is a miniature of the universe (microcosm), and the integration of all things; therefore, the human body has the same form of existence as that of all things. The form in cognition is the form within the mind, that is, the form of thought. This is a reflection of the form of existence of the human body in the protoconsciousness, in other words, the image of form (or the image of relation), forming a part of the prototype.

Elements Making Up a Prototype

The mental image within the subject, which becomes the standard of judgment in cognition, is called the prototype. The prototype is made up of the following elements.

First, there is the protoimage. This is the image of the attributes of the cells and tissues (elements making up the human body) reflected in the protoconsciousness. In other words, the protoimage is the image of the attributes of the cells and tissues reflected in the “mirror” of the proto-consciousness.

The second element is the image of relation, that is, the form of thought. Not only the attributes of cells and tissues of the human body, but also the form of existence (form of relation) of those attributes are reflected in the protoconsciousness, forming the image of relation. This image of relation gives certain restrictions to the action of thinking, forming the form of thought.

The above-mentioned protoimage and image of relation (form of thought) are ideas that have nothing to do with experience, that is, they are a priori ideas; but in prototypes, there are also acquired ideas that are added through our experiences. The ideas obtained through experiences (i.e., prior to the current cognition) are empirical ideas and form a part of the prototypes in subsequent cognition. Therefore, when we encounter things that are similar to what we learned before, we can easily recognize them. Thus, a prototype consists of the protoimage, the image of relation (form of thought) and empirical ideas.

As stated above, a prototype consists of an a priori element, which exists prior to experiences, and an element acquired through experience, namely, the empirical element. The a priori element is the prototype which consists of the protoimage and the image of relation within protoconsciousness. This is an “a priori prototype” that has nothing to do with external experiences. It is also called an “original prototype.” The empirical element refers to the empirical ideas that have been acquired through our daily life experiences, and once they have been acquired they become a part of the prototype. This is called an “empirical prototype.” A prototype which consists of an a priori prototype and an empirical prototype is called a “complex prototype.” As a matter of fact, all the prototypes in our daily life are actually complex prototypes.

Pre-existence of the Prototype, and Its Development

In any instance of cognition, a prototype that has been formed prior to it, namely, a complex prototype, functions as a standard of judgment. This means that, in any cognition, a standard of judgment (a prototype) already exists. Kant maintained that the forms possessed by the subject of cognition are a priori, whereas Unification epistemology asserts the pre-existence of the prototype which is possessed by the subject.

The original prototypes (protoimages and images of relation) with which people are born are imperfect in the case of a newborn baby because the cells, tissues, organs, nerves, sense organs, brain and so on, of the infant, are not well developed yet; therefore, the infant’s cognition can not but be vague. However, as the infant’s body develops and grows, the protoimages and images of relation gradually become clearer and clearer.

Furthermore, new ideas acquired through experience are added one by one. In this way, the prototype grows in quality and in quantity, which means that there is an increase in the amount of memory and an increase in new knowledge; namely, the progress of the empirical prototype and the complex prototype.

C. Protoconsciousness, Image in Protoconsciousness, and Category


According to the Divine Principle, “all beings in the creation grow by virtue of the autonomy and governance given by God’s Principle” (DP , 43). Autonomy and governance (or dominion) are characteristics of the life force. Life is the subconsciousness existing within the cells and tissues of living beings, and it has the capacity of sensitivity, perceptiveness, and purposiveness. Sensitivity is the ability to perceive the information of things intuitively; perceptiveness is the ability to maintain the state of perception; and purposiveness is the will-power to maintain and actualize a certain purpose.

“Protoconsciousness” here means original consciousness, and refers to that cosmic consciousness which has entered into a cell or tissue. From the perspective of the function of the mind, the protoconsciousness is the mind functioning on a lower level.29 Therefore, it may be said to be a lower level function of the cosmic mind, or a lower level of God’s mind. Protoconsciousness is also life. Once the cosmic consciousness enters cells and tissues, it becomes individualized and we can call it protoconsciousness or life. In other words, life is that cosmic consciousness which has entered cells or tissues. Just as an electric wave enters a radio and produces sound, so, too, does cosmic consciousness enter cells and tissues and give them life.30 In short, then, protoconsciousness is life, and it is subconsciousness with sensitivity, perceptiveness, and purposiveness.

In Unification Thought it is asserted that when God created the universe through Logos, He inscribed all the information pertaining to each living being (i.e., Logos) in the cells of that being in the material form of a code. This code is the genetic code, which is a specific arrangement of the four kinds of bases (adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine) in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). This is because God wanted each living being to be able to multiply and maintain its species from generation to generation.

It is written in Genesis 2:7 that “the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” With regard to things in the natural world, it could also be said that “God formed cells out of dust and poured life into them. So the cells became living cells.” The cosmic consciousness which has entered into the cell is protoconsciousness, or life. Living beings become alive once cosmic consciousness has entered into their cells, tissues, and organs.

Function of Protoconsciousness

Let me explain the function of protoconsciousness. Protoconsciousness has various functions, including the reading of the genetic information (code), acting according to the direction of the information, and trans-mitting the information.

Let me explain these in turn. First, when cosmic consciousness enters into a cell, it reads the genetic code of the DNA of that cell. Following its reading of the genetic code, the protoconsciousness then causes the cells and tissues to act according to the instructions contained in the code. It acts to make cells and tissues develop, and these  and new organs to grow and to form relationships with other cells, tissues, and organs. All this information about the cells and tissues is transmitted to the central nerves along the peripheral nerves (centripetal nerves), and the central nerves send directions to the cells and tissues through the peripheral nerves (centrifugal nerves). It is the protoconsciousness that transmits all this information; that is to say, the protoconsciousness plays the role of the giving and receiving of information between the center and cells and tissues. These are some of the functions of the protoconsciousness. All of these functions are based on the sensitivity, perceptivity, and purposiveness of the protoconsciousness. As the protoconsciousness carries these functions out over time, the protoimage and the image of relations develop, and become clearer.

Formation of the Image in Protoconsciousness

The subconsciousness within living beings, namely, the protoconscious-ness, possesses sensitivity. Therefore, the protoconsciousness senses intuitively the structure, constituents, qualities, and so on, of the cells and tissues. Furthermore, the protoconsciousness even senses changes in the situation existing inside the cells and tissues. This content sensed by the protoconsciousness, that is, the image that is thus reflected onto the protoconsciousness, is the “protoimage.” The idea that a protoimage is produced in the protoconsciousness can be compared to the phenomenon wherein a material object is reflected in a mirror, or in the way a material object is caught on film through exposure. Protoconsciousness has perceptiveness, which is the ability to maintain the state of perception, in other words, continuing to keep the protoimage. Thus, perceptiveness might also be regarded as a kind of memory.

The various elements within a human body, such as cells, tissues, and organs, exist, function, and grow through performing inner and outer give and receive actions as individual truth beings and as connected beings. In the case of a cell, for example, give and receive action between various elements (such as nucleus and cytoplasm) within the cell is inner give and receive action, and give and receive action between the cell and other cells is outer give and receive action. In these give and receive actions, various relationships are established. The condition or framework allowing for such relationship is called the “form of relation.” All things, without exception, can exist only in accordance with this condition; therefore, the form of relation can also be called the “form of existence.” The form of existence is the framework that was established when all things came to exist.

The form of existence is reflected on the protoconsciousness, forming a certain image there; we call this image an “image of relation” or an “image of form.” Protoconsciousness thus has protoimage and image of relation (image of form), which together we call the “image in protoconsciousness.”

Formation of the Forms of Thought

As already explained, the content possessed by the subject of cognition (human being) includes material content (Hyungsang content) and mental content (Sungsang content). The material content is the same as the attributes of the object (things), and the mental content is the protoimage. The material content is related to the mental content, as its corresponding element.

Here, a corresponding element refers to the partner element among the paired elements that are in the relationship of one-to-one. The relationship between a material object and its shadow is an example. When the material object moves, the shadow also moves, and when the material object stops, the shadow also stops. In this case, the material object is called the corresponding element to the shadow.

In the relationship between body and mind, when the body is healthy, the mind becomes healthy, and when the body is weak, the mind also becomes weak. Hence, the body is the corresponding element to the mind. Similarly, in the relationship of the material form (Hyungsang form) and the mental form (Sungsang form) of the subject of cognition, the former is the corresponding element to the latter. The material form is the form of existence of the object.

As already mentioned, the human body is the integration of the universe; therefore, the attributes of all things become directly the attributes of the human body, and the attributes of the human body are reflected on the protoconsciousness, forming protoimages, namely, the mental content. In the same way, the form of existence of all things is the same as the form of existence of the human body, which is itself reflected on the protoconsciousness, thus forming the mental form, namely, the image of relation. The mental form is the form of thought. That is, the root of the form of thought is the form of existence. Thus, the corresponding element of the form of thought is the form of existence.

The forms of relation (forms of existence) in cells and tissues are reflected on the protoconsciousness, forming the images of relation. The images of relation in the protoconsciousness are passed from the peripheral nerves to the lower nerve centers as bits of information and gather together at the upper center (cortex center). In this process, the images of relation are synthesized and arranged to shape the forms of thought at the cortex center. Forms of thought, therefore, come to exist as mental forms corresponding to the forms of existence in the external world.

When we engage in thinking, these forms of thought function as the framework which our thinking follows. That is, thinking is carried out according to the forms of thought. In other words, the forms of thought guide, restrict, or limit our thinking. Forms of thought are the same as categories, which are, in any philosophy, the most fundamental, general basic concepts.

Forms of Existence and Forms of Thought

Since the element corresponding to the form of thought is the form of existence, in order for us to understand the form of thought, we must first understand the form of existence. In order for things to exist, individual beings (or elements) should be related to each other, whereby the form of relation is the form of existence. From the Unification Thought perspective, there are ten basic forms of existence, as follows:

(1) Existence and Force: The existence of every being is always accompa-nied by the operation of force. There is no force apart from existence, and no existence apart from force. This is because the Prime Force from God makes all things exist by exerting power on them.

(2) Sungsang and Hyungsang: Every being consists of an inner, invisible, functional aspect and an outer, visible mass, structure, and shape.

(3) Yang and Yin: Every being has the characteristics of yang and yin as attributes of Sungsang and Hyungsang. Yang and yin are at work both in space and in time. Beauty is manifested through the harmony of yang and yin.

(4) Subject and Object: Every being exists through performing give and receive action between correlative elements within itself and between itself and another being in the relationship of subject and object.

(5) Position and Settlement: Every being exists in a certain position. That is, an appropriate being is settled in each position.

(6) Unchangeability and Changeability: Every being has both unchanging and changing aspects. This is because every created being embodies the unity between the identity-maintaining four position foundation (static four position foundation) and the developmental four position foundation (dynamic four position foundation).

(7) Action and Effect: Whenever the correlative elements of subject and object in a being enter into give and receive action, an effect always appears. That is, through give and receive action those elements form a united being, or give rise to a new being (multiplied being).

(8) Time and Space: Every being is a temporal and spatial being, exist-ing in time and space. This is because to exist is to form a four position foundation (a foundation in space) and to engage in the Origin-Division-Union Action (an action in time).

(9) Number and Principle: Every being is a mathematical being, and at the same time a law-governed being. In other words, in every being, numbers are always united with laws, or principles.31

(10) Finite and Infinite: Every being has the aspect of being finite while at same time possessing an aspect of being infinite: Every being is a momentary being and at the same time endures by carrying out circular movement.

These ten are the most basic forms of existence and are established on the basis of the four position foundation, give and receive action, and Origin-Division-Union Action as explained in the Divine Principle. These are the forms of existence of all things, which are the objects of cognition, and at the same time they are the forms of existence of the components of the physical body of the human being, who is the subject of cognition.

The mental forms corresponding to these forms of existence are the forms of thought. That is, (1) existence and force, (2) Sungsang and Hyungsang, (3) yang and yin, (4) subject and object, (5) position and settlement, (6) unchangeability and changeability, (7) action and effect, (8) time and space, (9) number and principle, and (10) finite and infinite are, just as they are, the forms of thought. The forms of existence are material forms of relation, whereas the forms of thought (mental) are basic concepts, which are the forms of relationships among ideas.

Of course, there can be other forms of existence and forms of thought in addition to those mentioned above, which are the most basic in the Unification Thought perspective. It is not true that the forms of thought are, as Kant maintained, unrelated to existence; also, it is not at all the case that the forms of existence of the external world reflect, or give rise to, the forms of thought, as is stated in Marxism. Human beings, themselves, from the very beginning, are equipped with forms of thought, which correspond to the forms of existence appearing in the external world. For example, because human beings are themselves beings with temporal and spatial natures from the very beginning, they possess the forms of thought of time and space, and because they are themselves beings with subjectivity and objectivity, they possess the forms of thought of subject and object. Thus, human beings are endowed with forms of thought, which precisely correspond to the forms of existence.

D. Method of Cognition

Give and Receive Action

In the Divine Principle it is stated that when subject and object elements of an entity are engaged in give and receive action, forming a common base, this action generates “all the forces the entity needs for existence, multiplication and action” (DP , 22). Here “multiplication,” in a broader sense of the term, means coming into being, generation, increase, and development. “Action” means movement, change, reaction, and so on. Since cognition means the acquisition or increase of knowledge, it can be included in the concept of “multiplication” through give and receive action. Accordingly, the proposition can be established that cognition takes place through give and receive action between subject and object.

“Subject” in cognition refers to a person with certain conditions, namely, an interest in the object and appropriate prototypes; “object,” on the other hand, refers to all things having content (attributes) and form (forms of existence). Cognition takes place through the give and receive action between these two parties.

Formation of Four Position Foundation

Give and receive action between subject and object always takes place centering on a purpose, and cognition occurs as a result of give and receive action. Therefore, cognition is accomplished through the formation of a four position foundation (fig. 9.1).

The four position foundation is composed of four positions, namely, the center, subject, object, and result. Each of these will be explained next.

(1) Center

It is purpose that becomes the center of give and receive action. In purpose one can find the principle purpose and the daily, more ordinary purpose. The principle purpose refers to the purpose of creation for which God created humankind and all things. From the perspective of created beings, this is the purpose for which they were created. In God’s purpose of creation, Heart (love) was the motivation for creation. Therefore, the original way of cognition for human beings is, also, to cognize all things with love as the motivation.

The purpose of creation (purpose of being created) consists of the Sungsang purpose and Hyungsang purpose, each of which consists of the purpose for the whole and the purpose for the individual. For human beings, the purpose for the whole in cognition is to acquire knowledge for the sake of serving one’s neighbors, society, nation, and the world, while the purpose for the individual is to acquire knowledge for the sake of the individual’s life of food, clothing, shelter, and cultural life. On the other hand, the purpose for the whole of all things, which are the objects of cognition, is to give knowledge and beauty to human beings and to give them joy by receiving dominion from them, whereas the purpose for the individual of all things is to be recognized and loved by human beings, as well as to maintain their existence and growth. However, due to the human fall, things can not fully fulfill their purpose of creation (the purpose for being created), and have been “groaning in travail together until now” (Rom. 8:22).

The daily (or actual) purpose refers to the individual purpose based on the principle purpose, namely, the purpose of each person in his or her daily life. For example, a botanist observing nature will acquire knowledge from the perspective of occupying an academic position; a painter observing this same nature will probably acquire knowledge from the position of pursuing beauty. Also, an economist may try to acquire knowledge about nature from the viewpoint of conducting business by developing nature. All of them do so in order to obtain joy. In this way, even though the principle purpose may be the same, the daily purpose for each individual person differs from person to person.

(2) Subject

In cognition, the subject’s interest in the object is one of the requisites for the subject. Without interest, no common base can be established, and no give and receive action can take place. Consider, for instance, the case of a person walking down the street who happens to cross the path of a friend. If the person’s mind is deeply absorbed in thought, the friend may pass by totally unnoticed. Also, the wife of a lighthouse attendant may not be awakened by the noise of the waves, but she can easily be awakened by the sound of a crying child, which may actually be much softer than the sound of the waves. The reason the noise of the waves is not perceived is that the wife has no real interest in that; in contrast, the sound of the crying child is more easily perceived because she is always concerned about it.

On the other hand, it is also often the case that we recognize things by chance. An obvious example is that, even though we may not expect it, we may suddenly see lightning and hear the sound of thunder. In such a case, it might seem that cognition takes place even if the subject has no interest. Even in this case, however, interest is always at work, though perhaps only unconsciously (or subconsciously). All of us remember, in the years of childhood, when we faced everything with a fresh sense of wonder and curiosity. This wonder and curiosity derive from our interest. When we visit a new place for the first time, we usually look at everything with a great deal of interest. As time goes by, however, we become familiar with the place, and our interest recedes to the subconscious mind. Yet, even then, interest is not gone completely, but is at work in the subconscious mind.

Another requisite for the subject is to possess prototypes. No matter how much interest one may have in a given object, if one does not have appropriate prototypes, cognition will not take place. For example, when listening to an unknown foreign language for the first time, we will not understand what is being said. Also, when meeting a person never seen before, we will just feel that the person is a “stranger”; but if we have seen that person before but forgotten him or her, that person will seem familiar. Accordingly, in order for cognition to take place, the subject must always be in possession of prototypes, which serve as the standards of judgment.

(3) Object

According to the Divine Principle, all things were created as objects to the human being, and the human being was created as the subject (the ruler) over all things. The human being, who is the subject, exerts dominion with love over all things, the objects, whereby he or she engages in appreciation and cognition of them. Therefore, all things are equipped with elements that enable them to become objects of beauty and objects of cognition. Those elements are the attributes of all things (which are the content) and the forms of existence of all things (which are the form). Such “content” and “form” are requisites that all things must have. They are not something that all things have acquired by themselves; rather, they have been endowed by God with these elements.

The human being is the integration of all things and a miniature of the universe (or microcosm); therefore, as a microcosm, the human being is equipped with the content and form that corresponds to the content and form of all things. As objects of cognition, there are all things in nature, as well as things, events, and persons in human society.

(4) Result

When a subject and an object engage in give and receive action, centering on a purpose, a result comes into being. In order to understand the nature of this result, we need to understand the nature of the four position foundation. As is explained in the Theory of the Original Image, the four position foundation can be classified into four kinds: inner identity-maintaining four position foundation, outer identity-maintaining four position foundation, inner developmental four position foundation, and outer developmental four position foundation. Cognition is basically the process of collating and uniting, through give and receive action, the “content and form” of the subject and the “content and form” of the object. When that happens, an identity-maintaining four position foundation is formed. On the other hand, a developmental four position foundation is formed in the case of the human activity of dominion.

Cognition is closely associated with dominion. There is no dominion without cognition, and there is no cognition without dominion. Cognition and dominion form reciprocal circuits of give and receive action between human beings and all things. That is to say, the process of cognition is one circuit (from the object to the subject), and the process of dominion is the other circuit (from the subject to the object). Then, let us examine the relationship between the developmental four position foundation in dominion and the identity-maintaining four position foundation in co-gnition. Dominion here refers to the exercise of one’s creativity; therefore, the four position foundation in dominion is the same as the four position foundation in creation.

As explained in the Theory of the Original Image, God created all things through the two stages of creation, namely, the formation of the inner developmental four position foundation (i.e., the formation of Logos) and the formation of the outer developmental four position foundation. In this sequential process, first the inner developmental four position foundation was formed, and then the outer developmental four position foundation was formed. Thus, all things were created in sequence, “from the inner to the outer four position foundations.” In contrast, in the formation of the identity-maintaining four position foundation for cognition, first, the outer identity-maintaining four position foundation is formed, and then the inner identity-maintaining four position foundation is formed. Thus, cognition takes place in sequence, “from the outer to the inner four position foundations.”

Hence, cognition is accomplished as the result of the formation of the inner identity-maintaining four position foundation, whereby the external element and the internal element are collated. Then, more concretely, what is cognition? This will be clarified next.

E. Process of Cognition

We acquire various bits of knowledge through cognition, whereby cognition is accomplished through the three stages of formation, growth and completion, namely, a sensory stage, an understanding stage, and a rational stage, in the same manner as that in which all things grow through the three stages of formation, growth, and completion.

1. Sensory Stage of Cognition

This is the formation stage of cognition. In this stage the outer identity-maintaining four position foundation is first formed. Centering on either a conscious or an unconscious purpose, give and receive action between the subject (human being) and the object (all things) takes place, and the content and form of the object are reflected in the sensory centers of the subject, thus forming an image, or an “idea.” This sense content and sense form can be called the “sense image” (fig. 9.2), which is the image existing in the sensory stage of cognition. Even though the subject may have interest and prototypes at this stage, the prototypes are not yet actively participating. The sense content and sense form at the sensory stage of cognition are only fragmentary images, which have not yet been unified as cognition of the object. Therefore, it is not yet clear what the object is.

2. Understanding Stage of Cognition

In the understanding stage of cognition, or the growth stage of cogni-tion, the inner identity-maintaining four position foundation is formed through the inner identity-maintaining give and receive action, and the fragmentary images transmitted in the sensory stage of cognition become a unified image of the object.

The purpose at the center of the inner identity-maintaining four position foundation is the same as the purpose at the center of the outer identity-maintaining four position foundation at the sensory stage of cognition. This is a principle purpose or an actual regular purpose. What comes into the position of subject here is the inner Sungsang, namely, the functional part of the mind, which, in cognition, is the unity of intellect, emotion, and will. Mind refers to the union of the spirit mind and the physical mind, which is the “original mind” of human beings; this is different in dimension from the instinct in animals.

In cognition, the spirit mind makes a judgment of value, while the physical mind manages sensation, and they jointly engage in the work of memory. Thus, the original mind, which is the unity of the spirit mind and physical mind, manages sensation and memory while oriented to values (truth, goodness, and beauty).

Here, we use the special term “spiritual apperception” to refer to the functional part of the mind in cognition.32 In cognition, the spiritual apperception, or inner Sungsang, functions as the power to apperceive, the power to make a comparison, the power to make a judgment of values, and the power to memorize, while in practice, it also functions as subjectivity and works as the power to realize values.

Next, what comes in the position of object in the inner four position foundation? First, the sense image, namely, the sense content and sense form that have been formed in the outer four position foundation in the sensory stage of cognition, is transmitted to the position of the object in the inner four position foundation, that is, to the inner Hyungsang. Then the protoimage and the form of thought (that is, the prototype) corresponding to the sense content and sense form are drawn by the spiritual apperception from within the memory. These two elements, namely, the sense image and the prototype are held in the inner Hyungsang.

Under these circumstances, give and receive action of the collation type takes place. This is so because the spiritual apperception, which is the subject, compares the two elements (i.e., the prototype and the sense image) and makes a judgment as to their agreement or disagreement, whereby the inner identity-maintaining four position foundation is formed as shown in fig. 9.3. Cognition takes place through this judgment, which is called “collation” in Unification epistemology. Thus, we come   to the conclusion that cognition, per se, takes place through collation. Consequently, Unification epistemology is a “theory of collation” in terms of method, whereas Marxist epistemology was a “theory of reflection” and Kant’s epistemology was a “theory of synthesis.”

Sometimes, however, cognition may not be sufficiently well established through a single cognitive process (inner give and receive action) at the understanding stage.33 In such a case, inner give and receive action continues together with practice (i.e., experiments, observations, experiences, etc.) until a new, and sufficiently clear, cognition is obtained.

3. Rational Stage of Cognition

Next is the rational stage of cognition, which is the completion stage cognition. Reason refers to the ability to think by means of concepts and ideas. Reason operates as the function of judgment and conceptualization in the understanding stage, while in the rational stage, new knowledge is obtained through reasoning on the basis of the knowledge obtained in the understanding stage.

Cognition in the rational stage is what is called thinking. This corre-sponds to the formation of Logos (a plan) through the inner develop-mental four position foundation in the Original Image. Thinking takes place through give and receive action within the mind, which is collation type give and receive action. That is, necessary elements are chosen from among the various ideas, concepts, mathematical principles, laws, and so on, already existing in the inner Hyungsang, and under the influence of the inner Sungsang, various mental operations, such as association, separation, synthesis, and analysis, are performed, utilizing those elements.

These operations are all performed on the foundation of give and receive action of the collation type; in other words, the inner Sungsang compares idea and idea, concept and concept, and so forth, whereby new ideas or concepts are acquired. For example, one might compare the idea of “man” and the idea of “boy,” and if they are related to each other, one arrives at the new idea of “father and son.” For another example, one compares the idea of “society” and the idea of “system,” and if they are related to each other, one can arrive at a new concept, “social system.” Thus, operations using ideas refers to the acquisition of a new idea or a new concept from the various ideas and concepts contained within the inner Hyungsang. Knowledge increases through the repetition of such operations. In these operations (inner give and receive actions) as well, the inner Sungsang functions as spiritual apperception. Cognition in the rational stage is the formation of the inner developmental four position foundation (fig. 9.4).

In the rational state of cognition, acquisition of new knowledge takes place continually through completing each stage of judgment. That is to say, each new bit of knowledge that is obtained (completed judgment) is transmitted, in turn, to the inner Hyungsang, and can be used in the formation of new knowledge at the next stage. This is the way knowledge develops. That is, knowledge develops by repeating the formation of the inner four position foundation (fig. 9.5).

Development of this kind of inner four position foundation takes place together with practice. The result (new being) obtained through practice is passed on to the inner Hyungsang of the Sungsang (inner four position foundation), and is used for the acquisition of new knowledge. When new knowledge is obtained, its truth can be tested through yet another instance of practice. In this way, repetitive instances of practice, that is, repetitive formations of outer four position foundations, take place together with the development of inner four position foundations for cognition (fig. 9.6).

F. Process of Cognition and Physiological Conditions

Unification epistemology is a theory based on Divine Principle and Unification Thought. Therefore, it is inevitable that this epistemology may contain concepts and terms different from those of traditional epistemologies. However, if any assertion of Unification epistemology turns out to be contradictory to established scientific theories, then it will stand as nothing more than an unsubstantiated claim, just as was true for many past epistemologies, and its universal validity will not be ascertained.

Traditional epistemologies, such as empirical, rational, transcendental, and materialist epistemologies, have shown themselves to be theories having little if anything to do with accepted scientific knowledge; in other words, it has been proven that they are in disagreement with established scientific views. Consequently, they have little persuasiveness today, in view of the great development the sciences have achieved. This section offers evidence to show that Unification epistemology is, in fact, a valid theory, and that it is supported by scientific knowledge. Let me elaborate on this.

Parallels between Psychological Processes and Physiological Processes

Unification Thought asserts that all things have dual characteristics, namely, Sungsang and Hyungsang, since they are created in the likeness of the dual characteristics of the Original Image. The human being is a dual being of mind and body; and cells, tissues, and organs making up the human body are united beings of mental and physical elements as well. Furthermore, all human actions and operations are dual-which means that psychological and physiological actions are always at work in parallel. Therefore, from the perspective of Unification Thought, in cognition as well, psychological and physiological processes are always at work in parallel. This means that mental action occurs through the give and receive action between mind and brain (fig. 9.7). Here, mind refers to the union of the spirit mind (mind of the spirit self) and the physical mind (mind of the physical self).

Wilder Penfield (1891-1976), a world-renowned authority in the  study of the brain, compared the brain to a computer, saying that “the brain is a computer, and the mind is a programmer.” 34 Another renowned researcher of the brain, John C. Eccles (1903-1997), also said that the mind and the brain are different things, and that it is necessary to grasp the mind-brain problem as the interaction between the mind and the brain.35 Their assertions are in accord with the view of Unification Thought that mental activities are made through the give and receive action between the mind and the brain.

The Elements that Correspond to Protoconsciousness and Protoimage

Next, certain scientific views can be cited that arguably support the concepts of protoconsciousness and protoimage, concepts unique to Unification epistemology. As explained before, protoconsciousness is the cosmic consciousness which has permeated the cells and tissues of living things, that is to say, it is life; and protoimage is the image reflected on the protoconsciousness, which is a film of consciousness. Protoconsciousness is purposeful consciousness, and protoimage is information. This means that cells have purposeful consciousness and perform certain functions on the basis of information contained in them.

Let us verify protoconsciousness and protoimage from the standpoint of the theory of cybernetics. Cybernetics is the science of the transmission and control of information in living beings and automatic machines. In living beings, bits of information are transmitted through sense organs to nerve centers, which integrate them and send proper instructions, through peripheral nerves, to effectors (muscles). This is regarded as one of the phenomena of cybernetics in living beings, which is similar to the auto-matic operation of a machine.

When we look at even a single cell, we can see cybernetic phenomena taking place within it. That is to say, a continuous repetition of the trans-mission of information from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and a response back to it from the nucleus is made autonomously in a cell, whereby the cell exists and multiplies. Accordingly, based on these phenomena of cybernetics, we can find autonomy even in a single cell. The autonomy of a cell is none other than life and protoconsciousness.

The French physiologist Andrée Goudet-Perrot, for example, explains in Cybernétique et Biologie that the cell nucleus, which contains the source of the cell’s information, gives instructions to the cytoplasmic organelles (mitochondria, Golgi complex, etc.) so that they may carry out the chemical reactions necessary for the life of the cell.36 The cell’s information includes all the information concerning the anatomical shapes and essential functions of living beings.37

Here, the following questions may arise. First, the code (information) must be decoded and memorized, but what is the subject that decodes and memorizes these codes? Second, in order for the cell nucleus to issue instructions to cause the chemical reactions necessary for the life of the cell, the nucleus must be accurately aware of the situation inside the cell. What is the subject of this awareness?

These questions can not be answered exclusively from the position of science (physiology) alone, since science deals only with phenomeno-logical aspects. Unification Thought, however, with its theory of dual characteristics, can clearly state that there is a purposeful element of Sung-sang, namely, consciousness, working within the cell. The consciousness within the cell is protoconsciousness (inner Sungsang), and the information is the protoimage (inner Hyungsang).

Correspondence of Psychological and Physiological Processes in the Three Stages of Cognition

As discussed above, the three stages of cognition are the sensory stage, the understanding stage, and the rational stage. According to cerebral physiology, there are physiological processes corresponding to these three stages of cognition.

The cerebral cortex can roughly be divided into three areas, namely, the sensory area, which receives signals from the sense organs; the motor area, which sends out the signals related to voluntary movements; and the association areas, which are divided into frontal, parietal, and temporal association areas. It is believed that the frontal association area is concerned with the functions of will, creation, thinking, and emotion; the parietal association area is concerned with the functions of perception, judgment, and understanding; and the temporal association area is connected with the mechanism of memory.

First, the information about sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch is transmitted through peripheral nerves to the sensory areas of the visual sense, the auditory sense, the gustatory sense, the olfactory sense, and the tactile sense (somatic sensory), respectively. The physiological process that takes place in the sensory area corresponds to the sensory stage of cognition. Next, the information from the sensory areas is gathered in the parietal association area, where it is understood and judged. This process corresponds to cognition in the understanding stage. Based on this under-standing and judgment, thinking is carried out in the frontal association area, where creative activities are carried out. This process corresponds to the rational stage of cognition. In this way, the three stages of cognition have corresponding physiological processes within the brain (fig. 9.8).38

Correspondence between Psychological Processes and Physiological Processes in the Transmission of Information

In the human body there are functions operating constantly to receive various bits of information from both the outside and inside of the body, to process these bits of information, and to respond to them. The stimulation received by a receptor (sense organ such as eyes, ears, skin, etc.) becomes an impulse and passes through the afferent path of the nerve fiber to reach the central nerves. The central nerves process that information and send out an instruction, which is transmitted as an impulse through the efferent path of the nerve fiber to the effector which responds to it (fig. 9.9).

When a response toward the stimulation takes place in a manner that is unrelated to consciousness at the higher center, it is called a reflex. The spinal cord, medulla oblongata, and midbrain, are reflex centers, sending appropriate orders in response to stimulation.

Once a bit of information has entered the body through a receptor, how is it transmitted? The information that has entered through a receptor becomes a nerve impulse, which is an electrical impulse. A nerve impulse is a change in the electrical potential across the membrane between the excited and non-excited parts of the nerve fiber. The nerve impulse moves along the nerve fiber. The change in the electrical potential that takes place at that moment is called an “action potential.”

The inside of the membrane of a nerve fiber is negatively charged in an unstimulated state, but when an impulse passes through it, this charge is reversed, and the inside becomes positively charged. This phenomenon takes place when sodium ions (Na+) flow into the membrane from the outside. Then, when potassium ions (K+) flow out from the inside of the membrane, the balance of charge is restored to its former state (i.e., a negatively charged state). In this way, a change in the electrical potential across the membrane takes place and moves along the nerve fiber (fig. 9.10).

Next, how is a nerve impulse transmitted across the gap between neurons, namely, at a synapse? There the electrical impulse is converted into a discharge of chemical transmitter substances and moves through the gap of the synapse. When these substances reach the next neuron, the chemical process is again converted into an electrical process. In other words, an electrical signal in the nerve fiber is converted into a chemical signal at the synapse, and when it reaches the next neuron it is converted back into an electrical signal. The transmitter substance in the synapse is said to be acetylcholine in motor and parasympathetic nerves, and noradrenaline in sympathetic nerves. The mechanism for the transmission of information explained here may be expressed in a diagram as in fig. 9.11.

The above explanation is the physiological process of the transmission of information, but from the perspective of Unification Thought, there is always a conscious process in parallel with a physiological one. That is, associated with the movement of the action current in the nerve fiber and the transmitter substances at the synapse, there is always protoconsciousness at work, perceiving the content of the information and transmitting it to the center. In other words, protoconsciousness can be seen as the bearer of information. In sum, it can be understood that the occurrence of the action current in the nerve fiber and the chemical material at the synapse are accompanied by protoconsciousness, which is the bearer of information.

Corresponding Aspects in the Formation of Prototypes

It has already been explained that the corresponding elements of protoimage and image of relation are the content of cells and tissues and the mutual relationships among these elements. We call the protoimage and image of relation in the cell and the tissue the “terminal protoimage” and the “terminal image of relation,” respectively. On the other hand, we can call the protoimage and the image of relation that arise at the understanding stage of cognition the “central protoimage” and the “central image of relation,” respectively.

In the process whereby the terminal protoimages reach the higher center through nerve paths, they undergo selection at each level of the central nervous system and are combined, associated, and arranged, to form central protoimages. In the case of the terminal images of relation as well, they undergo selection at each level of the central nervous system and are combined, associated, and arranged, to form the central images of relation, which, when they reach the cerebral cortex, become the forms of thought. Here, each level of the central nervous system stores the protoimages and images of relation appropriate to its own level.

Among the elements from which prototypes are composed, there are also the empirical images (or ideas), in addition to the protoimages and forms of thought. These empirical images are the images (ideas) gained through past experiences and stored in the memory center. They constitute a part of the prototypes, which can be used for later cognition. As mentioned before, protoimages and images of relation together are called a priori prototypes, or original prototypes, and the empirical images are called the empirical prototypes.

As information is passed upwards from the lower to the higher levels, the amount of information received in the central nervous system (input), and the amount given out (output) increases. At the same time, the ways of processing information become more inclusive and universal. This is similar to an administrative organization: the higher the level, the greater the amount of information dealt with and the more inclusive and universal the way of processing that information.

In the highest center, namely, the cerebral cortex, the reception of information is cognition; the storage of information is memory; and the output of information is thinking (conception), creation, and practice. Although it is different in dimension, the integration at the lower centers is similar to that at the cerebral cortex. Purposive integration by consciousness is exercised at each center. The purposive integration consists of physiological and mental integrations. To put this in another way, at each level of the central nervous system, physiological integration is accompanied by mental integration. In other words, the physiological process of trans-mitting information (nerve impulses) in the central nerves is always accompanied by psychological processes of judgment, memory, conception, and so on.

As for the transmission of the images of relation (images of form), the fact that the processing of information becomes increasingly universal as it goes from the lower to the higher centers means that, as particular terminal images of relation are passed on to the higher centers (whereby various types of information are simplified and classified), those images of relation gradually become universalized and generalized. At the point of reaching the cerebral cortex, they have been completely conceptualized into the forms of thought, or categories. This is also similar to administra-tive organizations: the lower the level, the more individual and particular the information is; the higher the level, the more general and universal it becomes.

Prototypes and Physiology

Prototypes are the ideas and concepts possessed in advance by the subject at the time of cognition, and can also be called memory. It has previously been explained that the human being possesses a priori prototypes (original prototypes) and empirical prototypes, which can also be expressed-borrowing physiological expressions-as “hereditary memory” and “acquired memory,” the latter gained through experience. 39

The “hereditary memory” which is the information concerning the cells and tissues of a human being as a living being, is believed to be stored in the limbic system-that part of the cerebrum that consists of the older cortex, covered by the new cortex, according to cerebrophysiology. Then, how and where is the “acquired memory” stored?

Memory can be divided into short-term memory, which lasts only a few seconds, and long-term memory, which lasts from several hours to several years. Short-term memory is believed to be based on an electrical reverberating circuit. With regard to long-term memory, two theories have been proposed, i.e., the “neuron circuit theory” and the “memory substance theory.” The neuron circuit theory is the view that each memory is stored in a particular network of neuron circuits, whose junctions (synapses) receive changes through the repeated nerve impulse. The memory substance theory is the view that such memory substances as RNA, peptides, etc., have something to do with each memory. Recently, however, the number of researchers who advocate the memory substance theory is decreasing.40

As for the area in which the long-term memory is stored, it is considered to be as follows: There is a part of the limbic system called the hippo-campus, which is located within the cerebrum. This hippocampus first plays a role in the initial processing of the information to be memorized, and then the memory is thought to be stored in the new cortex (temporal lobe) for a long time.41 That is, memory is believed to be stored in the temporal lobe through the hippocampus.

Goudet-Perrot explains that in cognition, such memory (stored knowle-dge) is collated with the information of an object in the external world coming through the sense organs, and is judged: “The information received by the sensory receptors is collated with the knowledge that was acquired by the sensory center in the cerebral cortex and was stored in memory, and judgment is made.”42 This view is in accord with the position of Unification Thought whereby information coming from the external world is collated with prototypes (inner images), and is judged as to whether it is in agreement or in disagreement with the prototypes.43

Encoding of Ideas and Ideation of Codes

In the process whereby a human subject cognizes an object, the information coming from the object, upon contacting the sense organs, becomes an impulse, which is a kind of code. This impulse is then ideated in the sensory center in the cerebral cortex and is reflected on the mirror of the consciousness as an image (an idea). This is the “ideation of a code.” On the other hand, in the case of practice, an action is taken based on a certain idea. In this case, the idea becomes an impulse, passes through motor nerves, and moves an effector (muscle). This is the “encoding of an idea,” since an impulse is a kind of code.

According to cerebrophysiology, an idea comes into being through cognition and is stored in a specific area of the brain as memory, encoded as a particular pattern of combinations of neurons. In order to recall a particular memory thus encoded, consciousness decodes the code and understands it as an idea. That is, in the storage and the recollection of memory, the “encoding of ideas” and the “ideation of codes” seem to be carried out. With regard to this matter, neurophysiologists M. S. Gazzaniga and J. E. LeDoux have stated the following:

Our experiences are indeed multifaceted, and it is our view that different aspects of experience are differentially stored in the brain….  We may be faced with the fact that memory storage, encoding, and decoding is a multifaceted process that is multiply represented in the brain.44

This kind of mutual conversion between an idea and a code can be regarded as a type of induction phenomenon arising between the Sung-sang-type mental coil, which carries the idea, and the Hyungsang-type physical coil (neurons), which carries the code, just as electricity moves between the first coil and the second coil through induction. The mutual conversion of an idea and a code provides support for the assertion that cognition is carried out through give and receive action between psycho-logical and physiological processes.

III. Kantian and Marxist Epistemologies Seen
from the Perspective of Unification Thought

Next, Kantian and Marxist epistemologies, which are the most impor-tant ones among traditional epistemologies, in view of the method of cognition, will be evaluated from the perspective of Unification Thought.

A. A Critique of Kantian Epistemology

Critique of the Transcendental Method

Kant asserted that the subject is endowed with a priori forms of thought (categories). However, when we examine things closely, we realize that there are forms of existence that correspond to the forms of thought. For example, all things in the objective world exist and perform their motion in the context of time and space. Also, scientists can accurately replicate certain phenomena in the form of time and space in the objective world. Therefore, the form of time and space is not only a subjective form, but an objective form as well. The same can be said of the form of causality. Scientists have discovered numerous relations of cause and effect in the phenomena of the natural world and have been able to reproduce similar phenomena on the basis of the relations of cause and effect. This indicates that there are indeed relations of cause and effect in the objective world.

Also, Kant asserted that an object of cognition is established through the combination of the form of the subject and the content coming from the object. From the perspective of Unification Thought, the subject (person) as well as the object (all things) have both content and form. What the subject possesses is not what Kant called “a priori forms” alone; rather, they are previously existing prototypes, which have both content and form and, therefore, include the forms mentioned by Kant. Also, what comes from the object is not a chaotic manifold of sense, but rather sense content organized by the forms of existence.

Furthermore, the subject (person) and object (all things) are in a correlative relationship and bear resemblance to each other. Therefore, cognition is not carried out through mere synthesis of the object; rather, cognition is carried out as the “content and form” (the prototype) of the subject, and the “content and form” of the object are collated through the give and receive action between them, with a judgment being made.

Critique of Kantian Agnosticism

Kant held that only natural, scientific knowledge in the phenomenal world is true, and he considered the world of things-in-themselves (the noumenal reality) uncognizable. Consequently, he entirely separated the phenomenal reality from the noumenal reality. This led to the separation between pure reason and practical reason, and between science and religion. From the perspective of Unification Thought, the thing-in-itself is the Sungsang of a thing, while the sense content is its Hyungsang. Sungsang and Hyungsang are unified in all things, and since Sungsang is expressed through Hyungsang, we can know the Sungsang of a thing through its Hyungsang.

In addition, according to Unification Thought, the human being is the lord of dominion over all things, or the lord of creation, and all things were created in resemblance to the human being, as objects of joy for human beings. This means that the human being and all things resemble each other in structure and in elements; accordingly, they resemble each other in content and in form as well. Therefore, in cognition, the content and form possessed by the subject (human being) are similar to the content and form possessed by all things, and they can be collated. In addition, since through its content the thing-in-itself, namely, the Sungsang of the object, is expressed, the subject can cognize not only the Hyungsang (sense content and sense form) of the object, but also its Sungsang (the thing-in-itself). Since Kant was not aware of the principled relationship between humans and all things, nor of the fact that a human being is the united being of spirit self and physical self, he could stray into agnosticism.

B. A Critique of Marxist Epistemology

Critique of the Theory of Reflection

As explained in the section on Unification epistemology, if there is no prototype within the subject of cognition that corresponds to the things in the external world as criteria for judgment, cognition can not be made, even if the external world is reflected on the consciousness. Moreover, since cognition is carried out through give and receive action between subject and object, it is necessary for the subject to have interest in the object. Even though an object in the external world is reflected on the consciousness of the subject, if the subject has no interest in the object, cognition will not take place. This means that cognition is not carried out through a passive material process like reflection, but becomes possible only through the participation of an active mental process (i.e., interest in the object and the function of collation).

Critique of Sensory Cognition, Rational Cognition, and Practice

In Marxist epistemology, the process of cognition consists of three stages, namely, sensory cognition, rational cognition, and practice. The important question here is how consciousness, which is held to be a product or a function of the brain and to merely reflect the objective world, can achieve rational (logical) cognition (i.e., abstraction, judgment, inference), and moreover, how it can direct practice (revolutionary practice). Even though there exists a wide gap between the passive process of reflecting the external world on the one hand, and rational cognition and the active process of practice on the other, no reasonable explanation is given. This means that here there is a logical gap in the Marxist view.

From the perspective of Unification Thought, logical cognition and practice can never be made based solely on the physiological processes of the brain. This is because cognitive action takes place through give and receive action between mind and brain. In other words, logical cognition and practice are carried out through the give and receive action between the mind, which possesses the function of understanding and reason, and the brain.

Another question concerns the role of practice in cognition. Lenin said that cognition proceeds to practice, and Mao Ze-dong asserted that cognition and practice are inseparable. On this point, Unification Thought has no objection. All things were created as objects of joy for human beings, and we are to exercise dominion (practice) over all things according to the purpose of creation. Accordingly, we cognize all things in order to exercise dominion (practice). Cognition and practice form a correlative circuit of give and receive between human beings and all things (fig. 9.12). Thus, there is no cognition apart from practice (dominion), and no practice (dominion) apart from cognition.

Practice, as advocated by Marxism, is ultimately directed toward revolution. Contrary to this, however, Unification Thought asserts that neither cognition nor practice is ever carried out with revolution as its objective, but rather, they are carried out in order to actualize the purpose of creation. The purpose of creation is actualized when God exercises dominion over human beings with love, and human beings exercise dominion over all things with love, whereby joy is realized in God and human beings. Therefore, both cognition and practice are carried out for the purpose of obtaining joy through love.

Critique of the Marxist Concepts of Absolute Truth and Relative Truth

Lenin and Mao Ze-dong acknowledged the existence of absolute truth, saying that human beings infinitely approach absolute truth by repeating cognition and practice. Yet, their concept of “absolute” is ambiguous. Lenin said that the sum-total of relative truths is the absolute truth. No matter how we may sum up relative truths, however, the result is simply relative truths summed up, and can not become absolute truth.

Absolute truth refers to the universal, eternal truth. Therefore, without having the Absolute Being as the standard, the concept of absolute can not be established. Absolute truth is one with, and inseparable from, the absolute love of God, as explained in Axiology. This is the same as the way in which the warmth and brightness of sunlight are one and inseparable. Therefore, there can be no absolute truth apart from God’s absolute love. Consequently, only when centered on God’s love, will the human being understand the purpose of creation of all things and obtain true knowledge of them. Therefore, if God is denied, there is no way to obtain absolute truth, no matter how strenuously one may engage in practice.

>> Go to top

© 2006 The Research Institute for the Integration of World Thought. All rights reserved.