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Summary Against Modern Thought: The Intellect Is Not The Senses

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.

Two more Chapters this week, and fairly easy ones (for those who have studied since the beginning). We come to an exciting Chapter next week: how does the immaterial intellect contact the body?

Chapter 66 Against those who maintain that intellect and sense are the same. (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation this week.

1 Thinking that there was no difference between intellect and sense, some of the early philosophers were close to the persons referred to above. But that notion of theirs is impossible.

2 For sense is found in all animals, whereas animals other than man have no intellect. This is evident from the fact that the latter perform diverse and opposite actions, not as though they possessed intellect, but as moved by nature, carrying out certain determinate operations of uniform character within the same species; every swallow builds its nest in the same way. Therefore, intellect is not the same as sense.

Notes It is a good joke to say you never see swallows down the Home Depot on a weekend. See also this Ed Feser article “Da Ya Think I’m Sphexy?” about the determinate behavior of animals.

3 Moreover, sense is cognizant only of singulars; for every sense power knows through individual species, since it receives the species of things in bodily organs. But the intellect is cognizant of universals, as experience proves. Therefore, intellect differs from sense.

Notes The “common sense” takes the input from the disparate senses and paints a picture, a unified whole, which the intellect considers. The intellect knows universals, which cannot be sensed. As the next paragraph emphasizes.

4 Then, too, sense-cognition is limited to corporeal things. This is clear from the fact that sensible qualities, which are the proper objects of the senses, exist only in such things; and without them the senses know nothing. On the other hand, the intellect knows incorporeal things, such as wisdom, truth, and the relations of things. Therefore, intellect and sense are not the same.

5 Likewise, a sense knows neither itself nor its operation; for instance, sight neither sees itself nor sees that it sees. This self-reflexive power belongs to a higher faculty, as is proved in the De anima [III, 2]. But the intellect knows itself, and knows that it knows. Therefore, intellect and sense are not the same.

6 Sense, furthermore, is corrupted by excess in the sensible object. But intellect is not corrupted by the exceedingly high rank of an intelligible object; for, indeed, he who understands greater things is more able afterwards to understand lesser things. The sensitive power therefore differs from the intellective.

Notes Bright lights overwhelm, blinding insights do not (and now you understand the metaphor).

Chapter 67 Against those who hold that the possible intellect is the imagination. (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation this week.

1 The opinion of those who asserted that the possible intellect is not distinct from the imagination was akin to the notion just discussed. And that opinion is evidently false.

2 For imagination is present in non-human animals as well as in man. This is indicated by the fact that in the absence of sensible things, such animals shun or seek them; which would not be the case unless they retained an imaginative apprehension of them. But non-human animals are devoid of intellect, since no work of intellect is evident in them. Therefore imagination and intellect are not the same.

Notes A mental picture produced by sensation of a possibility is not apprehension of a universal. As the next paragraph emphasizes. If you’re stuck for something incorporeal to use as an example, pick a number, any number.

3 Moreover, imagination has to do with bodily and singular things only; as is said in the De anima [3], imagination is a movement caused by actual sensation. The intellect, however, grasps objects universal and incorporeal. Therefore, the possible intellect is not the imagination.

4 Again, it is impossible for the same thing to be mover and moved. But the phantasms move the possible intellect as sensibles move the senses, as Aristotle says in De anima III [7]. Therefore, the possible intellect cannot be the same as the imagination.

Notes Phantasm, the mental image provided by distillation of the senses using the bodily apparatus. (Wow.)

5 And again. It is proved in De anima III [4] that the intellect is not the act of any part of the body. Now the imagination has a determinate bodily organ. Therefore, the imagination is not the same as the possible intellect.

6 So it is that we read in the Book of Job (35:11): “Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and instructs us more than the fowls of the air.” And by this we are given to understand that man is possessed of a power of knowledge superior to sense and imagination, which are shared by the other animals.

32 thoughts on “Summary Against Modern Thought: The Intellect Is Not The Senses Leave a comment

  1. It seems such a simple argument which so obviously false that it’s weird that there are intellectuals defending this. They have started so they have to Finnish, I guess.

    1 Thinking that there was no difference between intellect and sense,”

    Here we have the straw man again. Force the reader into a position which they never held and make them think they’ve been convinced of something.
    Sense can only be defined by aquinas as he would define it in the day. This is not the same as it would be defined today and hence is a place for argument. Furthermore, nobody actually knows or understands the makeup of the body from the perspective which Thomas or a theist argues i.e from the metaphysical. It must be decide which realm we are in and stick to it. To dodge between the two is not rational argument just as talking in feet and inches and then in metres squared to make a sensible mathematical argument.

    2 For sense is found in all animals, whereas animals other than man have no intellect.”
    Oh yes they do. This is an argument to describe how humans are a special case. It has nothing to do with the proposition of the soul, which it is setting out to describe. It is a blind alley and is full of bad examples.

    “This is evident from the fact that the latter perform diverse and opposite actions, not as though they possessed intellect, but as moved by nature, carrying out certain determinate operations of uniform character within the same species; every swallow builds its nest in the same way. “
    This is a variant of YOS’s clip clopping or herding argument. It is shown to be wrong by pet owners. Where one example shows it to be wrong it is shown to be wrong. That’s a disproof of an inductive argument. The truth is somewhere out there still but Thomas’s argument simply implies he didn’t keep pets. Now then if he had said, ‘animals don’t read or write or quote literature or do arithmetic” he might have found agreement.

    “Therefore, intellect is not the same as sense.”
    ….is therefore unproven. Unless one offers a definition which self evidently shows them to be different in which case why state the obvious? Are they defined differently? If so they are not the same!

    “3 Moreover, sense is cognizant only of singulars; for every sense power knows through individual species, since it receives the species of things in bodily organs. But the intellect is cognizant of universals, as experience proves. Therefore, intellect differs from sense.”

    This is muddled. he is arguing about wiring versus central processing. ’sense organs’ being a conduit and central cell in the head as he calls it experiences universals and apprehends them. It is all one thing and there is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost from trying to slice the system up. The intellect cannot act without a body in life. That is the immaterial intellect. It exists within the body.
    The intellect cannot act without the benefit of the sense organ. Only an intellectual would think it could.

    That the intellect is paramount says nothing about the metaphysical. Since the metaphysical is almost entirely unknown outside of existence of mind and experience (which includes, in life, sensation. Sensation which is not simple physical, however Ed and Briggs and Sam Harris et al want it to be.) That is not the same as saying that there is such a thing as a physical sensation.

    “4 Then, too, sense-cognition is limited to corporeal things. This is clear from the fact that sensible qualities, which are the proper objects of the senses, exist only in such things; and without them the senses know nothing.” This is more conduit versus comprehension.
    How does it follow that because the body ceases to possess an intellect after death that it does not continue in some form we do not know of wherein sensation still occurs. There is much assumption in this argumentation which is very cheeky. If a thing can’t be ruled out it is still a possibility.
    On the other hand, the intellect knows incorporeal things, such as wisdom, truth, and the relations of things.” things like love and hope and peace and compassion. All of which are experienced and are informed by emotion. Some want the sense and the thought to be the clear cut black and white parts which are only existent on paper. It’s bad theologically motivated logic.

    “Therefore, intellect and sense are not the same.” If they are different they are not the same. So what?

    “5 Likewise, a sense knows neither itself nor its operation; for instance, sight neither sees itself nor sees that it sees. “ Well it does but it is part of the thinking process which blends with the eye which knows this. Otherwise the assumption is that the daft person who this argument is aimed at is trying to say you can think with your finger or your toes. Nobody thinks that, nor did they ever in any world that has any relevance or interest to us today.

    This self-reflexive power belongs to a higher faculty, as is proved in the De anima [III, 2]. But the intellect knows itself, and knows that it knows.”

    “Therefore, intellect and sense are not the same.” nobody said they were the same, nor do they have to be in order to consider the soul. Only if one wants to say something about morals or reproduction is this so important. That is why this is laboured so and fretted about by those who want control of souls.

    6 Sense, furthermore, is corrupted by excess in the sensible object. But intellect is not corrupted by the exceedingly high rank of an intelligible object; for, indeed, he who understands greater things is more able afterwards to understand lesser things. The sensitive power therefore differs from the intellective.”
    This is also wrong. The intellect is absolutely fallible. it can be overwhelmed by the addition of alcohol, drugs or a build up of metabolic waste which crosses the blood brain barrier. It can also be confused in all sorts of ways without any dirty senses getting in the way.

    “Notes Bright lights overwhelm, blinding insights do not (and now you understand the metaphor).” not a difficult metaphor to understand and we’ve heard it before, hence my comment that this text is repetitive is proved.

    “1 The opinion of those…etc” Not distinct from is tricky wording. I say they are different but not distinct. They are not the same but they are intertwined in a way which cannot be fully understood.

    It relies upon a massive load of assumption that is unspoken about other people’s imaginations, about what imagination actually is and so forth. To simply define classical meanings of the words is not a help at all. Again, if a result is required other than just ’seeing where Thomas is coming from’ which is not a result at all.

    2 For imagination is present in non-human animals as well as in man.”
    That is mind reading. Not allowed!
    Here is where the illuminati say that anything claimed as intellect of an animal is relabelled as imagination. It is necessary self promotion and helps only to sustain the bigger argument which has to do wouldn’t you know it, with control of people.

    Shunning and seeking shows nothing. Thomas had no experience with animals. He can’t be blamed for this. Those promoting this argument though should explain why animals are observed to do what they do and without training or tricks.

    “But non-human animals are devoid of intellect, since no work of intellect is evident in them. “
    I refer to my previous point. He has not experienced animals possessing intellect therefore they do not, is the argument offered.
    Animals show inductive reasoning which has been described by Briggs as the highest form of intellect. That will do for me to show that they can reason with logic but that they can’t express that or write about it is not argued.
    “ If you’re stuck for something incorporeal to use as an example, pick a number, any number.”
    Animals can count, particularly female ones who have just given birth to a litter. Dogs can count to three without much problem. (not out loud) My dog knows her left paw from her right paw.
    (She is right dominant just as most humans are.)
    3 Moreover, imagination has to do with bodily and singular things only; as is said in the De anima [3], imagination is a movement caused by actual sensation.”

    The last eight words are not even coherent.

    Which means the next line does not follow from it.

    “The intellect, however, grasps objects universal and incorporeal. Therefore, the possible intellect is not the imagination.”

    4 Is just nonsense.

    “Notes Phantasm, the mental image provided by distillation of the senses using the bodily apparatus. (Wow.)” Nothing wow, it’s nonsense, Thomas Aquinas or Aristotle was being suggestive.

    5 well it’s claiming by insisting.

    “Now the imagination has a determinate bodily organ.” Which one? Where is the imagination organ? I don’t recall that from Gray’s Mr Derek Field was keeping something from us.

    *6 So it is that we read in the Book of Job (35:11): Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and instructs us more than the fowls of the air.”

    *Yes animals are great teachers and healers. If people only watch them closely enough instead of simply preening all day that they’re better! What a queer pastime. Nobody is claiming they are the same. Nobody sensible, anyway, so it doesn’t do to pretend that those who know of animals doing intelligent things are weird or strange. They are speaking the truth.

    And by this we are given to understand that man is possessed of a power of knowledge superior to sense and imagination, which are shared by the other animals.” Unfortunately the examples Thomas uses are not superior to the animals but the same as. He should have simply stated the obvious things which they cannot do. It’s no good saying after the fact that storks don’t go to home depot because that is to miss the important point of truth by attempting mockery at what is now known to be true about animals.

    Furthermore, plenty of humans couldn’t build a house if their lives depended upon i! Let’s hope they know a good builder and haven’t intellectualised themselves into a corner where there’s only room for a kennel.

  2. Oh! Dear Joy!
    (Y’ grumpy ole bag) (Y’ nutty ole bird) (Y’ Town Crier of Nonsense)

    I could explain that as emphatically as I like to a dear ole sheep and she’d still just look at me blankly with a “I trust you or I don’t trust you” look. Dear ole sheep don’t understand any explanation; they’ve only got a memory of what comes after what was before.

    I suspect that you are trying to impose some rationalism on us rational beings that can know and understand to try and give the impression that non-rational animals are “on-the-way” to intellect and will.

    Sheep have wonderful memories; they can remember people, places and things for years… maybe their whole lives, but they cannot perceive truth or virtue. They also have excellent senses like taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision that would put a human to shame but they don’t have intellect (the ability to perceive truth) and will (the ability to want good).

    A Materialist is necessarily confounded by such observations because they assume that there is no First Cause with a Final Cause i.e. purpose.

  3. Bring on the pirañas!
    Yes, you’re right, Why not address the arguments yourself? Go on, have a go.
    Oldavid,
    After the first line I stopped reading.
    You are using the argument from insult. This si a variant of the ad hominem.
    If you think you have an argument which isn’t vitriolic simply make it. You are letting down your side, whatever that is.
    Do not pretend to understand this text you clearly do not. Most of your comments are incoherent. I’m going to hazard a guess without reading that this one went the same way. So to let you know, I don’t read what you write any more. Life is too short for that.

  4. Thomas had no experience with animals.

    Every medieval man, woman, and child had far more daily experience with animals than nearly every Modern — and was far less likely to project sentimental Disney cartoons onto them.

    This is useful:
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/what-really-are-uniquely-human-traits/

    The intellect is absolutely fallible. it can be overwhelmed by the addition of alcohol, drugs or a build up of metabolic waste…

    Absolutely. But Thomas was not claiming the intellect to be infallible. He believed only God to be infallible. He was claiming that any physical sense is overwhelmed by an excess of its proper object. The proper object of the “eye” is light; but too much light blinds the eye. The proper object of the ear is sound; but too loud a sound deafens the eye. The proper object of the skin is the tangible; but too sharp a blow numbs the skin. And so on. The overload may be temporary or permanent.

    But the proper object of the intellect is the truth; yet while a truth may be called a “blinding truth,” it does not result in the thinker becoming stupid, even temporarily. Thomas simply makes the point that intellection does not behave like the senses and so cannot be explained sensually.

    “imagination is a movement caused by actual sensation.”
    The last eight words are not even coherent.

    Certainly they are. A movement is any reduction of potency to act, as for example when we are moved to tears. Sensation is that which impinges on the external senses: touch, smell, taste, hearing, and sight, and their variants. But these sensations apprehend only those things that are singular and immediately present. You can’t hear something that isn’t happening right now.

    So in addition to these external senses, animals four other powers:
    1. The common sense which unites external sensations into a singular objects: you can’t hear red, you can’t see crunchy, but you can perceive a singular red, crunchy apple even though the nerve impulses reach different parts of the brain and do so at different times.
    2. The imagination. is the ability to form the resulting phantasm. This is the power to apprehend sensible things not only when they are present, but also after they have disappeared.
    3. The estimative power is that by which the animal knows the harmful, the useful, and so on. This is acquired generally by natural instinct and in some cases by learning. It is the precursor to judgment.
    4. The memory is the power to recall to actual consideration those things first apprehended by sense and conserved.

    The combination of common sense+image-ination+memory+estimation results in highly complex behavior, especially among higher animals.

    “Now the imagination has a determinate bodily organ.” Which one?

    The brain. Since the image-ination is rooted in sensation and sensation is processed in the brain.

    4 Is just nonsense.

    No. Because the image-ination is rooted in sensation and perception, which are always of things that are concrete and particular whereas the intellect considers concepts that are abstract and universal. We can imagine an apple. We can imagine an apple with pink polka dots. But we must conceive the abstraction of “apple” itself, as opposed to this apple or that apple or the other apple. We can have sense impressions of Fido, Rover, and Spot, but no sense impressions of “Dog,” let alone of “Mammal” or “Vertebrate.” Those must be conceived, not imagined.

    Try to imagine a concept!

    Imagination, at least the creative imagination, is a sort of threshold to the intellect. It’s as near as you can get without actually abstracting universal concepts from concrete particulars.
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2007/02/16/intellect-imagination-and-sense/

    Animals can count

    Recte: some animals can recognize when a number of concrete particulars have changed. This is not actually the same as counting. Mama dog may know when she perceives three pups instead of four, for example, and may hunt for the missing fourth. But what they do not know is “three” or “four.” It was Descartes who made the famous example of the chiliagon: the thousand-sided polygon. While sensory perception is sufficient to tell the difference between a triangle and a rectangle, the imagination cannot distinguish between a thousand-sided polygon and a 998-sided polygon. Yet, we can easily distinguish them conceptually.

  5. The proper object of the ear is sound; but too loud a sound deafens the eye.

    Particularly after ingesting LSD-25.

    No. Because the image-ination is rooted in sensation and perception, which are always of things that are concrete and particular whereas the intellect considers concepts that are abstract and universal. We can imagine an apple. We can imagine an apple with pink polka dots. But we must conceive the abstraction of “apple” itself, as opposed to this apple or that apple or the other apple.

    Even sensual recognition requires abstraction to universals. Recognizing pathways in am unfamiliar room for example. Cats and dogs don’t usually bounce off of walls when placed in one and horses don’t run into tress during their formative years. Why is this not an example of abstraction to the the universal of “obstruction to be avoided”?

    In fact, recognition is a mapping from many to a few — the functional definition of abstraction. No two of which are identical. Unless you are insisting that each new instance requires learning and memorization, the mapping fits the definition of “universals”. A dog would jump onto the sofa to join me and not wander about aimlessly for a time. Requires recognition of things like height and position and determination of the amount of force and direction needed to do the jump. Jumping over obstacles in the wild during a chase requires abstraction of sensations not previously encountered nor likely to repeat. IOW: reduction to universals.

    The brain is essentially a collection of recognizers with recognizers of patterns of other recognizers (recognition of “universals”). There are many levels of abstraction with no distinct lines of demarcation. The distinction you are trying to make is a very gray one. Much like determining the line separating a collection of trees from a forest.

  6. This is going to be a little repetitive of old arguments. I appreciate that you took the time to read what I wrote. Time is precious.

    Thomas had no experience with animals.

    “Every medieval man, woman, and child had far more daily experience with animals than nearly every Modern” This is to romanticise and sentimentalise the view of “medievals” The word has taken on a whole new meaning for me since returning here, akin to Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers or Minions. I spent several years attending medieval reenactment and camping in the freezing cold, eating the authentic food, made soup for seventy people and won a prize but they didn’t see the preparation process; wearing the dresses. I’m not ignorant about medieval life. Probably know it better than many. Once stood in a ditch in slippery rock near muddy creak in Pennsylvania with just a chemise and wet hair with two strangers waiting to die while the twister passed through the camp site of about ten thousand people. I don’t watch Disney but have no problem with people having fun and enjoyment from playing with animals or the ideas of what animals might be thinking. It doesn’t impinge on whether something is true or beautiful or worthy. There’s no confusion for most people either. Disney has gone too dark for my taste in any event having predicted a comeback of the feminine princess with glitter and magic since that’s been missing amidst all the high kicks and evil carrying on. I was right. Frozen was a huge success and for that reason alone in my view. It’s what girls want. Skip it or I’ll start singing.

    ………

    “Absolutely. But Thomas was not claiming the intellect to be infallible.”

    Yes he was. When he said that the intellect could not and was not overwhelmed. There was no qualifier in his claim.

    We don’t need to go over “disordered towards it’s proper object” again. Nor the eye ear analogy. Eye metaphors and eye function and eye anatomy and physiology are well understood. If they are to be used in analogy or comparative explanation with respect to the mind and how it works it needs to be in the context of current actual knowledge and fact. There are new facts since Thomas’s day. Anatomy and physiology haven’t changed but our understanding of them have.

    For example,, the brain will interpret visual auras not just as in case of migraine but where the retina and or optic nerve are not functioning adequately so that the optic nerve will ‘fire’ (be elicited) without necessarily there being a signal to transmit. Shapes, faces can appear which are figments of the brain due to the malfunctioning eye but in that case the brain itself has ‘joined in’ with the malfunction. This is seen commonly in elderly people who lose their sight quite suddenly due to wet macular degeneration. These are not classed as psychotic episodes.

    In the case of Stargardt pretty ultraviolet purple puddles appear apparently in the eye of the beholder which swirl and break up as they shrink to nothing. This effect happens in the absence of the optic nerve having a signal to transmit. If I rub my eyes hard or screw them shut they occur. They happen spontaneously at times of stress such as when very busy at work. Nobody understands what is causing these and yet they are not actually happening within the tissue of the eye as it is understood. Rather like phantom pains after amputation. They are a signal of cell death of the retina but the appearance is totally generated within the nervous system. Yet they exist.

    The last eight words are not even coherent.
    Certainly they are. A movement is any reduction of potency to act, as for example when we are moved to tears. Sensation is that which impinges on the external senses: touch, smell, taste, hearing, and sight, and their variants. But these sensations apprehend only those things that are singular and immediately present. You can’t hear something that isn’t happening right now.” I refer you to my previous paragraph on proper function of tissue. Where tissue isn’t even there to blame in case of amputation. However, the most important point is that the paragraph is incoherent which it is. I would very much appreciate a blow by blow breakdown of the paragraph and how it is actually sensible. Otherwise it looks like tea leaf reading. If we are to read this like reading Shakespeare or poetry I don’t have a problem but this text is not intended in that way and shouldn’t be handled that way unless I am much mistaken. However it seems Thomas has thrown in some curve ball metaphors, analogies and so on which isn’t a great help when critical analysis is required.

    So in addition to these external senses, animals four other powers:
    1. The common sense 2. The imagination. 3. The estimative power

    What is apparent is the distillation conveniently into arbitrary bins which suit the story being told. Clearly the argument must be considered powerful or it wouldn’t be repeated. What is not credited is what animals do and have done which does not fit the model. Then it’s argued ‘Oh that’s just common sense” or “oh that’s instinct” which was what Thomas alluded to with his ‘all animals of one species claim’. That claim is simply false as well. Some cats act like dogs and vice versa. Some horses have even been known to behave in bizarre ways and display a degree of freedom from the cliche of their species’ behaviour to which some are apparently oblivious.

    “Now the imagination has a determinate bodily organ.” Which one?

    The brain. Since the imagination is rooted in sensation and sensation is processed in the brain.”

    Well I’m glad you brought that up because that’s the contradiction. There is in fact a place where you assert that the mind resides and therefore it is not true to say that it acts without a body. It is in that respect the same as any other part of the body if you couch it in those terms. It isn’t a wise way to argue at all. I’m guessing you won’t see the point. One function, one organ, multi function one brain. So now the difference is that the brain is multifunctioned tissue. It’s another way of saying ’the cell in the head’.

    4 Is just nonsense. It is nonsense. It makes no sense. That you derive something very sensible from it is favourable interpretation. If Thomas were here the conversation would be very different, I’m sure. You have cheekily ‘failed’ to understand the simplest points made by some of my comments on occasion feigning lack of understanding and then claim you make sense of that! It’s that sort of evidence which leads me to make claims of slipperiness!…but you know this.

    “No. Because the imagination is rooted in sensation and perception, which are always of things that are concrete and particular whereas the intellect considers concepts that are abstract and universal. “

    How many times? What is important is the ability of animals to abstract universals. Not the redrawing of the lines to group animals separately. It will not work and there are very good arguments which show that animals can and do abstract universals. The examples are numerous. Ignoring them and claiming without evidence ’that’s imagination’ or ’that’s common sense’ means the discussion really goes nowhere. Rather like calling a person stupid or alluding to it. It’s a cop out, not an argument.

    What would be constructive would be to focus on what everybody agrees upon and argue from there. People inherently recognise truth and will not be badgered into contraverting what they know is true. Any person of any persuasion, religious or otherwise is going to respond this way if asked to accept a thing which goes against their observations or experience. It doesn’t occur to you that you might be wrong here. You simply hold the medievals in higher esteem than is strictly necessary to argue the point and seem to think this is important enough that the entire faith hinges upon it. It does not. Humans are different enough from animals in their higher thinking ability and consequent and reciprocal physical abilities to harnace the powers in the world around them without needing to demote or ignore the real animal. As to the real purpose of the demotion it is rather the demotion of emotion which is at the core of this argument. Cats and dogs are a great distraction, that’s my personal suspicion. I’ve seen what’s done with the conclusions and the consequences thereof.

    “We can imagine an apple….etc”Your description of how you think thinking occurs is all very well but it doesn’t escape the facts about what animals can do. It takes only one example to disprove a claim of an absolute conjecture. Any pet owner can give examples. Those who think dogs are all cartoon characters called spot and fido are hardly thinking carefully about the thinking power of an animal. It can’t be done with imagination alone! Some practical field work and evidence gathering is required.

    “Imagination, at least the creative imagination, is a sort of threshold to the intellect. It’s as near as you can get without actually abstracting universal concepts from concrete particulars.”

    You say there’s a separate group and that you see the distinction but it is just a claim without evidence. For a cat to see a sink and see how it works, then to see another object which is not the same shape, colour, size or type as the first one and then understand that it is still going to behave the same way as the first example of sink is to abstract a universal from, in that case only one example! The cat (Clover) knew that the water would disappear down the plug, she understood that urine is liquid, that the urine needed to be excreted and secreted and worked out that the sink would be her friend that day when she was caught short. You can’t get there by imagination alone without some reasoning in between, some labelling and cross referencing of different concepts of how liquids flow and what things are liquid. That is an abstraction of a universal. I don’t know how small her particulars were.

    If you simply assert ’that’s common sense’ or ‘that’s the distillation of all the senses’ or some other pseudo poetic phenomena then that’s assertion which goes against the evidence of observation.

    “’Animals can count ‘…some animals can recognize when a number of concrete particulars have changed. This is not actually the same as counting. . But what they do not know is “three” or “four.”

    That is language YOS and you will note if you read carefully that this is always conceded. I’m not arguing that they use the terms one two three. I don’t doubt though that there is some place-holder in their mind which gives some kind of recognition to the concept of three or four or one. The limits I don’t know and there’s no evidence that they can subtract more than one and only by knowing one is missing which is not strictly subtraction by deliberate action. It is subconscious subtraction. That is the awareness of the function is not there. It depends what you mean by ‘count’ doesn’t it? The concept of numbers exists before the labels were given by humans. Read my comment and note that this is what I say but you assume all sorts of beliefs which aren’t there. Jus because animals aren’t like Disney in real life it doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to them than the black hatted man assumed. Like I said, he didn’t have the benefit of modern knowledge.

    Incidentally, countries such as islamic or socially backward countries also have very bad understanding of animals and their potentials. Hence their dreadful record of animal treatment and the tendency of many extracted from those areas having terror of animals. This is more akin to the relationship which ‘medievals’ had with animals, chickens running lose, rats everywhere, poor animal husbandry, working animals to death as opposed to keeping pets and so on. This is not knowing an animal it is working with or using the animal which is the first stage in understanding one’s place in the scheme of living creatures. Humans have a responsibility precisely because of their higher powers Animals are at no stage to be regarded as worthless fodder for human abuse. This is not the Christian way. Medievals did not understand this en mass. Knowing and understanding this does not mean a person must be a raving vegetarian animal rights crank. Any more than someone going to church makes them a religious nut. There are nuts everywhere and particularly amongst atheist engineers and religious people, so the experts always tell us. In my experience of people, which is extensive and broad, people are able to discern truth from fiction. In the case of younger adults, the situation is slightly different and there’s nothing terrible about that as long as those in charge are experienced adults. No point getting all bitter and twisted about the errors of youth as the ‘snowflake’ haters do. The sentiments arise from the same place. If the problem is sorted out the symptoms will disappear.

    ‘It was Descartes who made the famous example of the chiliagon: the thousand-sided polygon. While sensory perception is sufficient to tell the difference between a triangle and a rectangle, the imagination cannot distinguish between a thousand-sided polygon and a 998-sided polygon. Yet, we can easily distinguish them conceptually.” A personal observation which everyone can make without reading the man’s writing. That things have been said before and in the past is interesting but most intelligent people come to this thought from personal reflection at some point without reading what the man wrote. The word conceptually is used as a place holder, a word to distinguish one from the other such as X or Y. The example given is where men get in trouble with mathematics and paper, thinking that conceiving a thing and writing it down and manipulating it means the thing is true. It is often theorists who descend into madness about what is real and what is not. The harmless jokers with their animals know what is what. It’s no good pretending, their pretending is their reality.

  7. Thomas: “For sense is found in all animals, whereas animals other than man have no intellect. … Therefore, intellect is not the same as sense.”

    Three Points:

    – What is meant in the original by “sense” is unclear — trying to re-interpret a medieval concept via modern understanding, or whatever, is a too-common mistake.

    – More importantly, the assertion that non-human animals do not have “intellect” is wrong; this has been demonstrated numerous times. Thomas’ example (omitted from the above quote) is a hyper-over-generalization that might of appeared to be true generations ago, but, again, is provably false.

    – The presumption that humans have “intellect” and by extension “free will” — a theme implied — is also misleading as other numerous studies demonstrate that humans routinely behave under the illusion of free will governed by intellect. The painful fact (to some) is that humans routinely apply intellect to delude oneself and/or others that a decision was made by choice … when it really was not (e.g., Choice Blindness, e.g. at http://www.lucs.lu.se/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Choice-Blindness-summary.pdf ).

    Bottom Line: Thomas overgeneralizes about human ability to apply intellect, presuming that intellect is applied when, routinely, it is not, and, at the same time presumes ALL animals lack intellect — both views are provably false (Ed Feser ignores such facts, applying the mental sleight of hand of choosing an explanation that comports with another chosen worldview [tabloid logic] rather than conceding a chosen worldview might be wrong & in need of change. Not stopping there he & his ilk proceed to attack the source of such feedback & resulting cognitive dissonance, science…).

  8. Curiously, I did not read today’s article prior to posting the last comment.
    Hmm. The truth is stranger than fiction.
    Can we please cease with the magnification swishing? it’s very irritating.

  9. Ken, Ed? Now I’m in a pickle Who’s right and who’s wrong?
    1/2 to Ken and 1/2 to Ed!
    Like book ends.
    It’s simply too silly for coloured TV to accept ‘no free will’.
    The only ones deluding themselves are those who deny themselves.

  10. @Ken:

    “Thomas overgeneralizes about human ability to apply intellect, presuming that intellect is applied when, routinely, it is not, and, at the same time presumes ALL animals lack intellect — both views are provably false”

    Thomas presumes no such thing; this is just wrong, if it is intended as a characterization of Thomas’ views.

    St. Thomas is of course completely and totally correct that animals lack intellect for exactly the reasons he gave: there is no evidence that they are capable of abstract thought with its typical manifestations (language, mathematics, culture, etc.), which is what is the mark of “having intellect” consists of.

    Your digs at Ed Feser and “his ilk” and their “tabloid logic” are on the other the typical manifestation of the ignorant idiot talking out of his ass.

  11. “Your digs at Ed Feser and “his ilk” and their “tabloid logic” are on the other the typical manifestation of the ignorant idiot talking out of his ass.” Tabloid sentence there.

    That comment of yours was ad hominem again! It is cathartic isn’t it?
    The statement you made is just to ad a vote to say,
    “He is right because of the reasons he gives” is to say nothing informative. It is content free.

    Below, you split the actual argument offered to restate what Thomas actually says, like the Notes about numbers, the bracketed remark contains the reframed argument.

    “ Thomas is of course completely and totally correct that animals lack intellect for exactly the reasons he gave: there is no evidence that they are capable of abstract thought with its typical manifestations (language, mathematics, culture, etc.), which is what is the mark of “having intellect” consists of.’”
    Firstly, for a man who likes to correct the writing of others you need to check your own sentence construction since we’re into this ’tabloid’ characterisation of commentary.
    If the argument is correct it doesn’t matter whether you like the style or not. It could be written in rap speech if it were coherent enough for common comprehension for twelve good men and true, it would stand, unlikely I know but the point is made. .

    Most importantly it is argued that the measure given by Thomas and more importantly his apologists and their ilk, is that animals cannot “abstract universals”. This is a larger group than is necessary to make the argument. They can and do in order to function the way they are observed. Thomas missed this important qualifier as has been argued above and on many occasions. Whatever you do, don’t point out the errors and omission in the writing. It’s just like the reactions from climate change advocates when the inconsistencies or omissions are pointed out. It’s at that level of rhetoric, sensibility and sensitivity, no better than that. First port of call, insult, then say who or what are you to say that anyway? Very high brow!

    For tabloid philosophy watch Ed Feser give a lecture on morality. He doesn’t take himself seriously. Why should anybody else?

  12. @Joy:

    “If the argument is correct it doesn’t matter whether you like the style or not. It could be written in rap speech if it were coherent enough for common comprehension for twelve good men and true, it would stand, unlikely I know but the point is made.”

    I do not have the faintest idea what you are talking about or what you imagine you have read since I have not talked anywhere about “style” or whether I “liked” it or not.

    “They can and do in order to function the way they are observed.”

    They do not, for the reasons mentioned by St. Thomas, neither they “need” it in “order to function the way they are observed”. There is absolutely no need to invoke the capability to abstract universal concepts to explain animal behavior, since much less will do. Your content-free response, including the abysmal stupidity of St, Thomas not being acquainted with animals, is duly noted, but unless you have anything of any importance or relevance to say do not expect me to say anything about it besides repeating what was already said.

  13. Rodders,
    “I do not have the faintest idea what you are talking about or what you imagine you have read ”

    I do not believe you for a moment.

    Allusion to a lack of comprehension?

    What I read was your insult about Tabloid. Which is rather an open word. You probably meant salacious or a synonym of that rather than the open way I took it which was to mean short, snappy, not completely grammatically or spelling correct? All of which are tabloid characteristics. There is a long list of pejorative which could also be added to the list.

    What I read and you are overlooking was your remark which referred to someone talking out of their rear anatomy. Then the fact that your sentences aren’t complete and warrant some editing. The facts are there to read. No point denying it.

    …since I have not talked anywhere about “style” or whether I “liked” it or not. “ No, but you offer the tabloid remark as a counter to an argument. How else is that to be interpreted? Just your right to give commentary on writing style? Why use the word Tabloid? what was your actual point since you claim I missed it
    …….
    “They can and do in order to function the way they are observed.”
    No, the reasons given by ‘st Thomas’ is what you said before. You reframed the argument as you like it. Thomas didn’t say what you claimed. You are defending something which was not explained, above in this text by Thomas in the way which you explain it. It is the original text we are studying isn’t it? I give a counter example which is true and refutes the very broad claim of Thomas and this is the result?

    I gave a clear example and there are many of how certain actions require abstraction of universals. Your claim is ‘oh that’s imagination’ but it’s weak and it doesn’t hold up under dispassionate consideration. You may keep saying “it does, it does!” but it won’t alter the situation. It is not the opinion which you hold that is being criticised it is your objection to the argument against the text. Your beliefs about what’s going on inside an animal’s head are as good as another with respect to proof.
    “They do not, for the reasons mentioned by St. Thomas, “ Is repetition of the point which I already pointed out was simply to state that you agree without explaining what Thomas actually said. You have done as Briggs did, as YOS did. Thomas didn’t mention mathematics or language in his passage above! It’s tea leaf reading and making your own argument separate from the text. There’s nothing wrong with the argument offered if you accept the premise (which I don’t) of where the demarkation lines are drawn. As I’ve said before the disagreement is small but the noise is deafening. Of that I am suspicious.

    However Thomas is very vague on this. Simply being insulting and dismissive is not achieving anything except making a fuss.
    “neither they “need” it in “order to function the way they are observed”. There is absolutely no need to invoke the capability to abstract universal concepts to explain animal behavior, since much less will do. “

    ……..

    “Your content-free response, including the abysmal stupidity of St, Thomas not being acquainted with animals, is duly noted, but unless you have anything of any importance or relevance to say do not expect me to say anything about it besides repeating what was already said.”

    Here, again, are insults but by copying the phrase ‘content free”
    So again, yours is content free once you extract the ad hominem.

    The difference is that my comment does precisely give content and context and meaning. I don’t expect or even require a response but reserve the right to comment on your over the top and poor approach.

    No one here can read a mind any more than anybody else in history could. That I say Thomas didn’t know animals is a satisfactory and eminently likely reason for his over egging the remarks about swallows and so on. “knowing animals” is a very wide concept. A two year old ‘knows animals” and so does a zoologist. Thomas was a medieval of a certain type. The likelihood of his knowing animals well let alone by today’s standards is zero. Since he isn’t alive today. Animals have been observed working out problems which require the abstract to work them out. Imagination is not enough without the associated reasoning and labelling. They understand that things fall but they don’t know about gravity. They have some other placeholder in order to predict that an item will fall if they knock it. The list is just endless. The example I gave of Clover is evidence enough that memory alone is not enough. Understanding and reapplication of that memory to solve a problem is an abstraction. The other point of objection was Thomas’s assertion that animals behave within the boundaries set by their species. Again, this is not true either, or rather makes humans in the same group because they also do this if you define what it is to be human, which is to say nothing because if we’re all in the same boat then there’s nothing to see.

    If he means the cliche horses only clip clop and herd, then he’s wrong, they play football and can open gates and develop tastes for cameras (see desert Orchid, the race horse)
    See Sheep playing with German Shepherds, we keep hearing how they are frightened of dogs. See lions and tigers and bears living together. See dogs elephants and orang ‘utans making friendships and playing with each other. The certainly aren’t all sticking within the boundaries of expected behaviour of their species in each example. So there are two distinct points of objection but they are small when compared to the point that animals can’t do calculus or read. Why is this distinction so difficult? Well again, I can only guess that those who agree with Thomas are suffering from the same lack of experience with animals, that’s a guess. The book of Job part is correct.

  14. @Joy:

    “What I read was your insult about Tabloid. Which is rather an open word.”

    No, what you read was what you wanted to read. “Tabloid” was in my comment in between quotes (actually it was “tabloid logic”), because I was quoting Ken’s little digs at Ed Feser, who is not even here to defend himself.

  15. @Joy:

    “So there are two distinct points of objection but they are small when compared to the point that animals can’t do calculus or read.”

    Not only are they small they are totally irrelevant. Doing calculus or speak a grammatical language with common nouns are not ad hoc examples chosen to prove a point but the *typical* manifestations of having an intellect, because what Aquinas takes to mean having an intellect is the capacity to abstract from sensory data universal concepts to arrive at general knowledge, combine them in propositions and do logical analysis to infer new knowledge, which are precisely the activities most manifest in abstract thought, hence doing calculus or speak a grammatical language with common nouns, and why St. Thomas gives the reasons he gives in the body of the text.

    There are two way this can go now. Either you disagree that “having an intellect” consists of what Aquinas takes it to mean, and then you are largely talking over him, or while agreeing that having an intellect is as Aquinas essentially characterizes it you disagree with his arguments, those pernicious little buggers that seem to confound you, that animals do not have one. Then actually respond to the arguments and actually present some evidence instead of irrelevant waffle about “lions and tigers and bears living together”. There is not a single example of any animal “working out problems which require the abstract to work them out”. As St. Thomas observes, birds make nests but they do not have a concept of nest, as evidenced by the fact that they make nests in pretty much the same pattern all along their countless generations. Some animals may use stones to crack nuts, but they do not exhibit any industry or make tools that make tools, which is what would be evidence of actual abstract concept formation at play. On and so on.

  16. There is not a single example of any animal “working out problems which require the abstract to work them out”

    Of course there is. Hunting prey for example. The goal itself is an abstraction as are all the subgoals to reach the final goal. All sensory input is reduced to abstractions (pixels to image content for instance) as is any other mapping from many to a few. You seem to be quibbling about the subject of the abstraction.

    As for thought without sensory input, dogs and cats dream (http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/do-dogs-dream). We aren’t privy to the content but dreaming is operating without external sensory input (at least visual).

    Either you disagree that “having an intellect” consists of what Aquinas takes it to mean

    Or disagree about whether his definition of intellect is inclusive enough. While possessing those things may be sufficient to laying the claim of “having an intellect” there is no reason to state they are the only characteristics of intellect. Differentiating between “imagination” and “intellect” does indeed look ad hoc. Much better to assume they are the same thing.

  17. “Doing calculus…St Thomasgives the reasons he gives in the body of the text.” Where? It is the examples in the text which I am objecting to. You keep waving your hand as if it says it up there! The point made about knowledge and building blocks of learning and research and development to cut it short, aren’t really disputed and are irrelevant to whether animals can abstract universals. Why do you think I mentioned calculus and reading?
    Then:

    ~~”There are two way this can go now. Either you disagree that “having an intellect” consists of what Aquinas takes it to mean,”

    Takes it to mean? It is you and the other interpreters or handlers who are “taking it to mean.”

    I’m giving Thomas Aquinas an out you et al are penning him into an indefensible corner. What he’s saying is not the same as what is being said about what he’s saying and I’m not the one to blame.

    ” and then you are largely talking over him,”
    The boot’s on the other foot. Talking over him!

    ~~”or while agreeing that having an intellect is as Aquinas essentially characterizes it ”

    ‘essentially’ is a weasel word. You there retract the absolute, on behalf of Thomas, which is a concession, which is what I tried to do but you simply won’t have it and it’s suspicious and interesting why that might be. It must be on terms that leave the opportunity to ‘use’ the text.

    you disagree with his arguments, those pernicious little buggers that seem to confound you,”

    What things? You are not seeing the point but using rhetoric to pretend something’s happening that isn’t.
    ~~~
    ” that animals do not have one. Then actually respond to the arguments and actually present some evidence instead of irrelevant waffle about “lions and tigers and bears living together”.

    Here it is clear you aren’t following the arguments properly of which there are two. I gave an example of problem solving which must require abstract concepts or ‘abstraction’. You use the lions, tigers bears example to disprove the wrong point which was the second one. The one referring to animals remaining within and being tied to their species type. The one about swallows. Thomas didn’t actually give a proof or examples other than that as I recall. His argument is evidence free. with respect to abstraction. It takes only one case to prove the conjecture wrong and I gave one, Dav gave several.

    Then you claim the following:
    “There is not a single example of any animal “working out problems which require the abstract to work them out”. Absolutely there is and I gave one. As I said, Thomas should have found some other way to make the point that humans are ’special’ but since no one has done this yet without referring to grammatical language I suggest a better way to handle this text would be like the case of the humours in the body. To concede that Thomas did not have benefit of modern science and knowledge…all of which, incidentally, was built upon with the ability of abstraction to inform knowledge.
    ~~~
    ” As St. Thomas observes, birds make nests but they do not have a concept of nest, as evidenced by the fact that they make nests in pretty much the same pattern all along their countless generations. “
    I don’t think the latter is in any way evidence of the former. The two are separate facts. The latter could be used as evidence to prove the opposite and it would be of equal value.
    ~~~
    “Some animals may use stones to crack nuts, but they do not exhibit any industry or make tools that make tools, which is what would be evidence of actual abstract concept formation at play. On and so on.”
    That is what you call restating the point about science or reading in a different way. Which was a point I made at the beginning. However evidence of problem solving is evidence of building of knowledge from more than one area to produce a result. Such as the Clover example or the dog who first moved the chair into the middle of the room then climbed on to reach the toy. No teaching or training by a human took place, simple problem solving which, the more complex the problem, the more abstraction!
    ~~~
    “If the animal is not human it cannot abstract universals from concrete particulars”
    Is just wrong. A better argument would involve language with complex grammar where complex means more than one word or tone association at a time.
    The arguments presented in debate bare little relation to how Thomas actually describes the world. Words are being put into his mouth. It’s not a help.

    To make things worse, there is a universal language which almost all moving living creatures employ to some degree and that is body language. It is simple signalling for communication but that is why the distinction was made to include reading.

    So much time is taken to construction of the mind of an non human in order to say something about the human mind. It’s all mind reading and starting from the wrong premise.
    “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”

    Shakespeare’s not been proved wrong either, yet.

    Some animals build their nests with stones, but some have clever short cuts:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlbxRBfGAr0

  18. Whole comment!
    ‘Tabloid logic’? Googling revealed the assumptions are unchanged with the addition of the word ‘logic’. It’s the same meaning.
    The use of the term in this case was a comment on style or standard by way of comparison with an inferior genre, that of tabloid.
    A fair synonym from the phrase would be “low grad logic.”, perhaps “bad logic” or “phoney logic’.
    No imagination required it actually happened.
    ~~~
    On the two objections you said,
    “Not only are they small they are totally irrelevant.”

    They are not relevant without being relevant with respect to something. Adjectives require nouns to be meaningful.

    Note the next sentence refers to calculus and reading which was my introduction so it’s not clear who you are arguing with about this you seem to miss the point.

    “Doing calculus…St Thomasgives the reasons he gives in the body of the text.” Where? It is the examples in the text which I am objecting to. You keep waving your hand as if it says it up there! The point made about knowledge and building blocks of learning and research and development to cut it short, aren’t really disputed and are irrelevant to whether animals can abstract universals. Why do you think I mentioned calculus and reading?
    Then:

    ~~”There are two way this can go now. Either you disagree that “having an intellect” consists of what Aquinas takes it to mean,”

    Takes it to mean? It is you and the other interpreters or handlers who are “taking it to mean.”

    I’m giving Thomas Aquinas an out you et al are penning him into an indefensible corner. What he’s saying is not the same as what is being said about what he’s saying and I’m not the one to blame.

    ” and then you are largely talking over him,”
    The boot’s on the other foot. Talking over him!

    ~~”or while agreeing that having an intellect is as Aquinas essentially characterizes it ”

    ‘essentially’ is a weasel word. You there retract the absolute, on behalf of Thomas, which is a concession, which is what I tried to do but you simply won’t have it and it’s suspicious and interesting why that might be. It must be on terms that leave the opportunity to ‘use’ the text.

    you disagree with his arguments, those pernicious little buggers that seem to confound you,”

    What things? You are not seeing the point but using rhetoric to pretend something’s happening that isn’t.
    ~~~
    ” that animals do not have one. Then actually respond to the arguments and actually present some evidence instead of irrelevant waffle about “lions and tigers and bears living together”.

    Here it is clear you aren’t following the arguments properly of which there are two. I gave an example of problem solving which must require abstract concepts or ‘abstraction’. You use the lions, tigers bears example to disprove the wrong point which was the second one. The one referring to animals remaining within and being tied to their species type. The one about swallows. Thomas didn’t actually give a proof or examples other than that as I recall. His argument is evidence free. with respect to abstraction. It takes only one case to prove the conjecture wrong and I gave one, Dav gave several.

    Then you claim the following:
    “There is not a single example of any animal “working out problems which require the abstract to work them out”. Absolutely there is and I gave one. As I said, Thomas should have found some other way to make the point that humans are ’special’ but since no one has done this yet without referring to grammatical language I suggest a better way to handle this text would be like the case of the humours in the body. To concede that Thomas did not have benefit of modern science and knowledge…all of which, incidentally, was built upon with the ability of abstraction to inform knowledge.
    ~~~
    ” As St. Thomas observes, birds make nests but they do not have a concept of nest, as evidenced by the fact that they make nests in pretty much the same pattern all along their countless generations. “
    I don’t think the latter is in any way evidence of the former. The two are separate facts. The latter could be used as evidence to prove the opposite and it would be of equal value.
    ~~~
    “Some animals may use stones to crack nuts, but they do not exhibit any industry or make tools that make tools, which is what would be evidence of actual abstract concept formation at play. On and so on.”
    That is what you call restating the point about science or reading in a different way. Which was a point I made at the beginning. However evidence of problem solving is evidence of building of knowledge from more than one area to produce a result. Such as the Clover example or the dog who first moved the chair into the middle of the room then climbed on to reach the toy. No teaching or training by a human took place, simple problem solving which, the more complex the problem, the more abstraction!
    ~~~
    “If the animal is not human it cannot abstract universals from concrete particulars”
    Is just wrong. A better argument would involve language with complex grammar where complex means more than one word or tone association at a time.
    The arguments presented in debate bare little relation to how Thomas actually describes the world. Words are being put into his mouth. It’s not a help.

    To make things worse, there is a universal language which almost all moving living creatures employ to some degree and that is body language. It is simple signalling for communication but that is why the distinction was made to include reading.

    So much time is taken to construction of the mind of an non human in order to say something about the human mind. It’s all mind reading and starting from the wrong premise.
    “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”

    Shakespeare’s not been proved wrong either, yet.

    Some animals build their nests with stones, but some have clever short cuts:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlbxRBfGAr0

  19. @Joy:

    “‘Tabloid logic’? Googling revealed the assumptions are unchanged with the addition of the word ‘logic’. It’s the same meaning. The use of the term in this case was a comment on style or standard by way of comparison with an inferior genre, that of tabloid.”

    For heaven’s sake, are you this stupid or are just feigning one to make a point? I have already told you that “tabloid logic” was a *quote* of a disparaging a comment by Ken on Edward Feser. Here is the quote, from January 17, 2017 at 11:18 AM:

    “Ed Feser ignores such facts, applying the mental sleight of hand of choosing an explanation that comports with another chosen worldview [tabloid logic] rather than conceding a chosen worldview might be wrong & in need of change. Not stopping there he & his ilk proceed to attack the source of such feedback & resulting cognitive dissonance, science…”

    I was responding to Ken and his little digs (in which you joined as well; but hey, by all means continue with your faux, hypocritical outrage) at Ed Feser who is not here to defend himself, neither is he relevant to anything whatsoever being discussed in the OP (unless talking jabs at him counts as making a cogent point), not making a comment about style or whatever other inanity you imputed me.

    It is late, so let us stop here; there would be little point in continuing anyway, since you cannot even read straight.

  20. @DAV:

    “You seem to be quibbling about the subject of the abstraction.”

    This is quite funny; someone that does not know the sense of the terms involved telling me I am seemingly “quibbling”. At any rate, if we are to gauge whether St. Thomas is correct, first we must understand him, and in particular understand what is his theory of rational cognition. He largely borrows from Aristotle and then adds some of his own twists: to know is to grasp forms as known and intelligible — or, to simplify matters somewhat, what today we would call grasping abstract concepts.

    That the predator has a goal, or goals, is quite obvious. But having a goal or goals does not entail having the capacity to abstract concepts (the concept of goal as goal, the concept of prey, etc.), that is simply *your own* projection on the predator. For the typical operations that animal predators engage in, sensory input of concrete particulars, memory and imagination (in the scholastic sense) is enough; it would be most extravagant if animals were endowed with a capacity that they have no use, neither does it manifest itself.

    “We aren’t privy to the content but dreaming is operating without external sensory input (at least visual).”

    This is irrelevant to Aquinas position, and in fact it is mysterious what do you think this shows — but I readily admit that I am the obtuse one here.

    “Or disagree about whether his definition of intellect is inclusive enough. While possessing those things may be sufficient to laying the claim of “having an intellect” there is no reason to state they are the only characteristics of intellect. Differentiating between “imagination” and “intellect” does indeed look ad hoc. Much better to assume they are the same thing.”

    This — the first two sentences — is baffling, because if you are correct in your collapsing imagination and intellect, then it follows that you disagree with St. Thomas and his particular characterization of what having an intellect means, in particular the sharp contrast that he makes, and all the subsequent Thomistic commentators do as well, between imagination and intellect, between the having mental imagery (“imagery” in the broad sense, not just visual) and the entirely different capacity, a difference in kind, of abstracting universal concepts, combine them in propositions and make logical inferences to produce knew knowledge. But if you disagree on this much, then it is exactly as I said, you are talking about something else, which may or may not be relevant to the OP.

    But such a collapse does not have a leg to stand on. I certainly can form a mental image of a triangle, but the image will be of a *concrete particular* triangle; it will appear in some color, against some background, it will be either equilateral, isosceles or scalene, etc. and etc. But none of this applies to the general concept of triangle (triangles have no color, they are not equilateral, isosceles or scalene because they are genus for which these predications do not apply, etc. and etc.), therefore the general concept of triangle cannot be reduced or identified with mental imagery of any sort. There is even no imagery, visual or otherwise, attached to the topos of sheaves in the etale site, the Fourier-Mukai transform, to the concept of justice or rights, etc. and etc. Therefore the intellect, that grasps abstract concepts, cannot be reduced or identified with the imagination.

  21. He largely borrows from Aristotle and then adds some of his own twists: to know is to grasp forms as known and intelligible — or, to simplify matters somewhat, what today we would call grasping abstract concepts.

    Whatever that means. Looks profound though. A New Age guru couldn’t have phrased it better. The rest seems to have spun off from your meaningless sentence.

    … then it follows that you disagree with St. Thomas and his particular characterization of what having an intellect means

    You are catching on. I see intellect is a gradation and not a binary condition and what is being called “imagination” and “intellect” as manifestations of the same thing differing perhaps only in degree.

    Aquinas is restricting intellect within a range of capabilities and, worse, treating it as a binary condition. Much like trying to restrict blue membership in the linked image to y values greater than 0.9. While y values > 0.9 are clearly blue, there is no justification for restricting blue membership to this range.
    http://i2.wp.com/f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/03/binom-pred.png?w=456

    Another example might be: claiming a woman is pregnant only when it becomes obvious and further claiming she is not pregnant when it isn’t so obvious.

  22. You are catching on. I see intellect is a gradation and not a binary condition and what is being called “imagination” and “intellect” as manifestations of the same thing differing perhaps only in degree.

    And yet G. Rodrigues immediately above provides clear examples that show that imaging and conceiving are different in kind and not merely in degree which you simply ignore.

  23. “conceive” Is a placeholder.
    just as understanding for humans varies so it does for animals.
    The difficult concepts to understand have to do simply with processing power.
    For example, Tom Vonk or Professor Thomas Muller would imagine all sorts of things which would be beyond my comprehension to imagine.
    Dav’s right.
    My actual comment is in the sin bin or awaiting moderation.

  24. “For heaven’s sake, are you this stupid or are just feigning one to make a point?“ One what? Does the reply about tabloid logic look like it was written by a stupid person? If so why would you even bring it up?

    I have already told you that “tabloid logic” was a *quote* of a disparaging a comment by Ken on Edward Feser. “

    I didn’t read what you wrote carefully. It’s worked as a perfect front for you to wriggle out of the important matter of the text content about which I am more interested and which I read carefully. Having not reread what Ken wrote, I didn’t notice that you were quoting him. I’m thoroughly bored by the whole event.

    Ed Feser? Briggs introduces him as bait. Hence the fishy remark. Sprat to catch a mackerel. Some small boys keep wasps or spiders in jars and feed them butterflies, lady birds and daddy longlegs. Present or not Ed’s not above criticism is he?

    Plenty present say the most atrocious things about others who aren’t here and to those who are as a matter of duty and with gay abandon.
    Where ’s your innate sensitivity and charming moderating skills then?

    There’s nothing false about my objection to Ed’s satire, anti protestant digs and apparently insincere delivery of his birds and bees lecture. disagree doesn’t make the response phoney. The first fifteen minutes was enough for me.

    “neither is he relevant to anything whatsoever …” Since Briggs invited comment on Ed’s behalf, you are wrong on that point. If you make the unkind remarks and expect to be taken seriously when you complain about others making mere ‘jabs’ you are mistaken as well as biassed and unkind. Ed didn’t call anybody stupid. He’s just too cock sure. Why is a mystery. It’s just a pose.

    “ not making a comment about style or whatever other inanity you imputed me.” I didn’t impute you. it’s clear what happened. It was perfectly reasonable, not remotely inane. I wouldn’t call Ed F’s logic ‘tabloid’. I’ve said what my objections are. Ken has other ideas which I haven’t examined.
    ?It is late, so let us stop here; there would be little point in continuing anyway, since you cannot even read straight.”

    Well at least I can think straight. I’m waiting for you to indicate where Thomas talks about maths or reading. Arithmetic is mentioned separately. The above is one man’s opinion of how the mind is put together. He makes clear distinctions or demarkations that aren’t there, at least his handlers do. I wonder if he knew how this would unfold in years to come. I’m sure he would’t have been so rigid. You can’t write so diligently and conscientiously without having a good degree of honour and regard for the subject matter. I’m assuming of course, that he wasn’t a proud man.

    In medieval times there were none arguing that animals were anything but dumb, beasts of burden and companions to catch mice and rats. Very much the way some humans speak about other humans. No real serious study had been undertaken let alone by the general population in owning animals as pets which is a rich source of evidence. Dogs were still man’s best friend.

    If pets are found to have abstract reasoning to problem solve then there’s no need to assume wild animals haven’t that same capability or potential potentiality doesn’t exist, it is imaginary. Any ape can make jokes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n17TPU-wAA

  25. “conceive” Is a placeholder.

    No, it isn’t. I can clearly conceive the difference between imagining a unicorn and conceiving of justice, for instance, but I can understand your confusion, because if, as you do, conflate conceiving with imagining than ‘visualizing’ the difference’ simply makes no sense without importing the meaning of conceive, ‘grasping an idea’, into the meaning of imagine.

  26. Nope Dover ’tis you who are mistaken about what you can and cannot do. One thing you certainly cannot do is tell me that I am not understanding the difference.
    Today’s definition, which differs from the one previously used as it was adjusted to suit YOS’s aesthetic, now changes to suit yours:

    Conceive is exactly a place holder because to conceive infinity is to do nothing but substitute a word instead. YOS says we can’t imagine infinity. I say we can have a go. We know we aren’t fully understanding it though.

    Infinity has a definition in language which ensures it won’t be mistaken for a frog, that’s it.
    It is possible however that there are differences in degree of ability to imagine and fully understand a thing in a well orbed and complete way. Some people have a higher capacity than others.

    The word conceive is a place holder if YOS’s definition is correct. I was chastised for not complying with his definition months ago, now I’m chastised because you say I’m confusing it with imagination. Slippery eels, words.

    In the example you offer of the abstract word “unicorn” and the abstract “justice”:
    “can tell” the difference would also suffice in place of the word conceive. As would the word grasp or imagine or understand to any normal English speaker who’s not pretending to have solved the mystery of the human mind.

    However it is only ever a claim and can never be proved. You, for instance, claim that I am confused and yet you have no way of knowing this at all. Nor is it relevant to the definitions and meanings of simple words, all of which are available on google’s thousand dictionaries including the urban one in case any person were actually confused.

    So to say you can grasp or understand is to know. Animals know things. You say they don’t evidently because conception is part of the story that says animals cannot abstract universals from concrete particulars. Some of the phraseology varies there, too depending on the day the argument’s being presented.
    1 There’s what Thomas is actually saying in the text, which is never properly analysed.
    2 The facts offered in place of what Thomas often doesn’t say or in place of what he does are not necessarily true or agreed upon.
    Again, without mention. Now I know why! I grasp it. I understand it. I receive, perceive, conceive and don’t have to imagine it but I still can imagine it as well.

    This is more obfuscation and distraction. Spare me the special, the modern versus medieval definitions. They change nothing about the truth.

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