Summary Against Modern Thought: Intellects Are Changeable

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Changing your mind is not only a woman’s prerogative.

Chapter 53 That in created intellectual substances there is act and potentiality (alternate translation)

1 FROM the foregoing it is evident that in created intellectual substances there is composition of act and potentiality.

2 For in whatever thing we find two, of which one is the complement of the other, the ratio of one of them to the other is as the ratio of potentiality to act: since nothing is completed save by its proper act. Now in the created intellectual substance we find two things, namely its substance and its being, which is not its very substance, as we have proved. Now this very being is the complement of the existing substance, since a thing is actual by the fact that it has being. It follows therefore that in each of the aforesaid substances there is composition of act and potentiality.

Notes True enough, but that’s making the point the hard way, which proves yet again our good saint was always rigoroulsy thorough. As does the next argument. Remember: learning something new or apprehending a truth properly that was misunderstood is to move from potentiality to act, and it always requires something actual to actualize a potential. Experience alone is enough to show that our intellects are not static, i.e. devoid of potentiality, which means they are not purely actual. Which means that we are not God. Only God is pure act. Now how far our intellects can actualize potentials; or rather, the extent of our potentialities, is unknown. We can bound our potentialities only trivially from below (which is non-existence) and above (which is the infinity of infinities, i.e. God, spoken of last week).

3 Moreover. That which is received by a thing from an agent, must be an act: since it belongs to an agent to make a thing actual. Now it was proved above that all other substances have being from the first agent: and it is through having being from another that the substances thus caused exist. Consequently being is in the substances caused as an act of theirs. But that in which there is act, is a potentiality: since act as such refers to potentiality. Therefore in every created substance there is potentiality and act.

4 Again. Whatsoever participates a thing is compared to the thing participated as potentiality to act: since by that which is participated the participator is made to be actually such. Now it was shown above that God alone is essentially being, and all other things participate being. Therefore every created substance is compared to its being as potentiality to act.

5 Further. The likeness of a thing to its efficient cause results from act: because the agent produces its like in so far as it is in act. Now the likeness of every created substance to God is by being itself, as shown above. Therefore being is compared to all created substances as their act. Whence it follows that in every created substance there is composition of act and potentiality.

Notes This being so, in every created substance is the possibility of change.


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