The transcendentals (Latin: transcendentalia, from transcendere "to exceed") are the properties of being, nowadays commonly considered to be truth, beauty, and goodness. The concept arose from medieval scholasticism. Viewed ontologically, the transcendentals are understood to be what is common to all beings. From a cognitive point of view, they are the "first" concepts, since they cannot be logically traced back to something preceding them.
From the time of Albertus Magnus in the High Middle Ages, the transcendentals have been the subject of metaphysics. Although there was disagreement about their number, there was consensus that, in addition to the basic concept of being itself (ens), unity (unum), truth (verum) and goodness (bonum) were part of the transcendental family. Since then, essence (res), otherness (aliquid) and, more recently, beauty (pulchrum) have been added. Today, they are found in theology, particularly in Catholic thought, as unity, truth, goodness and beauty.
Aristotle's substance theory (being a substance belongs to being qua being) has been interpreted as a theory of transcendentals. Aristotle discusses only unity ("One") explicitly because it is the only transcendental intrinsically related to being, whereas truth and goodness relate to rational creatures.
In the Middle Ages, Catholic philosophers elaborated the thought that there exist transcendentals (transcendentalia) and that they transcended each of the ten Aristotelian categories. A doctrine of the transcendentality of the good was formulated by Albert the Great. His pupil, Saint Thomas Aquinas, posited five transcendentals: res, unum, aliquid, bonum, verum; or "thing", "one", "something", "good", and "true". Saint Thomas derives the five explicitly as transcendentals, though in some cases he follows the typical list of the transcendentals consisting of the One, the Good, and the True. The transcendentals are ontologically one and thus they are convertible: e.g., where there is truth, there is beauty and goodness also.
In Christian theology the transcendentals are treated in relation to theology proper, the doctrine of God. The transcendentals, according to Christian doctrine, can be described as the ultimate desires of man. Man ultimately strives for perfection, which takes form through the desire for perfect attainment of the transcendentals. The Catholic Church teaches that God is truth, goodness, and beauty, as indicated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each transcends the limitations of place and time, and is rooted in being. The transcendentals are not contingent upon cultural diversity, religious doctrine, or personal ideologies, but are the objective properties of all that exists.
Modern integral philosophy seeks to integrate these values, Will, Intellect, and Emotion within the individual at the microcosmic level.