William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Category: SAMT (page 2 of 30)

A tour through Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Our Nature And Possible Intellect

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.

We’re still on makeup and workings of the intellect and soul. Rough hoeing this week: long and meaty. Put all that turkey and potatoes to work in exercising your little gray cells.

Chapter 60 That man derives his specific nature, not from the passive, but from the possible, intellect (alternate translation) We’re using the alternate translation this week.

1 These arguments are countered by others in keeping with the doctrine considered above. For Averroes says that man differs specifically from the brutes by the intellect which Aristotle calls passive and which is the same as the cogitative power that is proper to man, in place of which the other animals have a certain natural estimative power.

Now, it is the function of this cogitative power to distinguish individual intentions and to compare them with one another, even as the intellect which is separate and unmixed compares and distinguishes universal intentions. And by this cogitative power, together with the imagination and memory, the phantasms are prepared to receive the action of the agent intellect, whereby they are made intelligible in act, just as there are certain arts which prepare the matter for the master artificer. Accordingly, this power is given the name of intellect or reason, which physicians declare to be seated in the middle cell of the head. And according to the disposition of this power, one man differs from another in genius and in other qualities pertaining to understanding. And by the use and exercise of this power a man acquires the habit [habitus] of science. Hence, the habits of the sciences are in this passive intellect as their subject. Moreover, this passive intellect is in the child from the beginning, and through it the child receives its specific nature as a human being, before it actually understands.

Notes Instead, the body’s sensory apparatus serves up phantasms to the intellect, which digests them, if you will. So much, too, for the rumors medieval science was ignorant: [the intellect], which physicians declare to be seated in the middle cell of the head. And there, as before, is inequality: one man differs from another in genius and in other qualities.

2 But it is quite obvious that these notions are false and involve an abuse of terms. For the vital operations are compared to the soul as second acts to the first act, as Aristotle makes clear in De anima II.

Now, in the same thing first act precedes the second in time, just as knowledge precedes reflection, Consequently, in whatever thing we find a vital operation we must place a part of the soul which will be related to that operation as first act to second act. But man has a proper operation higher than the other animals, namely, understanding and reasoning, which is the operation of man as man, as Aristotle says in Ethics I.

Hence, we must attribute to man a principle that properly gives him his specific nature and is related to the act of understanding as first act to second act. Now, this principle cannot be the aforesaid passive intellect, because the principle of man’s proper operation must be impassible and not mixed with the body, as Aristotle proves [De anima III, 4]; whereas, the contrary is clearly true of the passive intellect. Therefore, it is impossible that man’s specific nature, whereby he is distinguished from the other animals, should be given him by the cogitative power, which is called the passive intellect.

3 Furthermore, an affection of the sensitive part of a thing cannot place it in a higher kind of life than the sensitive, just as an affection of the nutritive soul does not place it in a higher kind of life than the nutritive. Now, it is clear that the imagination, and like powers consequent upon it, such as the memory and so on, are affections of the sensitive part, as Aristotle proves in the De memoria [I].

Hence, an animal cannot be placed by these powers or by any one of them in a higher category of life than the sensitive. But man’s life is of a higher kind—a point clearly explained in De anima II, where Aristotle, in distinguishing the kinds of life, places the intellective, which he attributes to man, above the sensitive, which he ascribes to all animals in general. Therefore, it is not by virtue of the aforesaid cogitative power that man is a living being with a life proper to himself.

Notes We should have it by now, but if not, re-read that paragraph until you have it cold.

4 Then, too, every self-mover is composed of mover and moved, as Aristotle proves in Physics VIII. Now, man, in common with the other animals, is a self-mover. Therefore, mover and moved are parts of him. And the first mover in man is the intellect, since the intellect by its intelligible object moves the will.

Nor can it be said that the passive intellect alone is the mover, because the passive intellect has to do with particulars only, whereas, actual movement involves both the universal judgment, which belongs to the possible intellect, and the particular judgment, which can belong to the passive intellect, as Aristotle explains in De anima III, and in Ethics VII. Therefore, the possible intellect is a part of man. And it is the most noble and most formal thing in him. Hence, man derives his specific nature from it, and not from the passive intellect.

5 The possible intellect, moreover, is demonstrably not the act of any body, because it is cognizant of all sensible forms universally. Therefore, no power whose operation can extend to the universals of all sensible forms can be the act of a body. Now, such a power is the will, for our will can reach out to all the things that we can understand, at least our will to know them. And the act of the will is clearly directed to the universal; as Aristotle says in the Rhetoric [II, 4], “we hate robbers in general, but are angry only with individual ones.” Therefore, the will cannot be the act of any part of the body, nor can it follow upon a power that is an act of the body.

Now, every part of the soul is an act of the body, with the single exception of the intellect properly so called. Therefore, the will is in the intellective part; and that is why Aristotle says in De anima in: “Will is in the reason, but the irascible and concupiscible appetite are in the sensitive part.” So it is that acts of concupiscence and irascibility involve passion, but not the act of the will, which involves choice.

Now, man’s will is not outside him, as though it resided in some separate substance, but is within him. Otherwise, man would not be master of his own actions, since he would then be acted upon by the will of a separate substance, and in him there would be only the appetitive powers functioning in association with passion, namely, the irascible and concupiscible powers, which are in the sensitive part, as in other animals that are acted upon rather than act themselves. But this is impossible and would destroy all moral philosophy and sociality. It follows that there must exist in us the possible intellect, so that by it we differ from brute animals, and not only in terms of the passive intellect.

Notes Free will again. And try dropping “concupiscible appetite”, especially among those who have stuffed too much stuffing into themselves.

6 Likewise, just as nothing is able to act except through an active potentiality in it, so nothing can be passive save through an inherent passive potentiality; the combustible is able to be burned not only because there is a thing capable of burning it, but also because it has in itself a potentiality to be burned. Now, understanding is a kind of undergoing, as is stated in De anima III [4]. Therefore, since the child is potentially understanding, even though he is not actually understanding, there must be in him a potentiality whereby he is able to understand. And this potentiality is the possible intellect. Hence, there must already be a union of the possible intellect to the child before he understands actually. Therefore, it is not through the actually understood form that the possible intellect is brought into connection with man; rather, the possible intellect itself is in man from the beginning as part of himself.

7 Averroes, however, has an answer to this argument. For he avers that a child is said to be understanding potentially for two reasons: first, because the phantasms in him are potentially intelligible; second, because the possible intellect is able to come in contact with him, and not because the intellect is already united to him.

8 Now we have to show that neither of these reasons suffices. Thus, the potentiality that enables the agent to act is distinct from the potentiality that enables the patient to receive action; and they differ as opposites. So, just because a thing is able to act, it does not follow that it is capable of receiving action.

But ability to understand is ability to be passive; for as Aristotle remarks, “understanding is a kind of undergoing.” The child, therefore, is not said to be able to understand simply because the phantasms in him can be actually understood; this has to do with the ability to act, since the phantasms move the possible intellect.

9 Moreover, a potentiality derivative from the specific nature of a thing does not belong to it as a result of that which does not confer upon the thing its specific nature. Now, ability to understand is a consequence of the specific nature of man, for understanding is an operation of man as man. But phantasms do not give man his specific nature; rather, they are consequent upon his operation. Therefore, it cannot be said that the child is potentially understanding because of the phantasms.

Notes As above, even animals have sensations.

10 And it is likewise impossible to say that a child is potentially understanding because the possible intellect can be in touch with him. For a person is said to be able to act or to be passive by active or passive potentiality, just as he is said to be white by whiteness. But he is not said to be white before whiteness is united to him. Therefore, neither is a person said to be able to act or to be passive before active or passive potentiality is present in him. Consequently, it cannot be said that a child is able to understand before the possible intellect, which is the power of understanding, is in contact with him.

11 Furthermore, a person is said in one way to be able to act before having the nature by which he acts, and in another way after he already has that nature, but is accidentally prevented from acting; thus, a body is in one sense said to be capable of being lifted upwards before it is light, and in another, after it is made light but is impeded in its movement.

Now, a child is potentially understanding, not as though he has not yet the nature enabling him to understand, but as having an obstacle to understanding, since he is prevented from understanding “because of the multiform movements in him,” as is said in Physics VII [3]. Hence, he is not said to have the power of understanding because the possible intellect, which is the principle of understanding, can be joined to him, but because it is already in contact with him and is prevented from exercising its proper action; so that, upon the removal of the obstacle, he immediately understands…

Notes More science! The mechanisms are even now not fully understood, and may never be fully understood. But that a thing happens is different from understanding why it happens.

15 Then, too, the perfection of a higher substance cannot possibly depend upon a lower substance. Now, the perfection of the possible intellect depends on the operation of man, for it depends on the phantasms, which move the possible intellect. Therefore, the possible intellect is not a higher substance than man. Consequently, it must be part of man as his act and form.

Notes Under the category Decartes was wrong, these next two paragraphs:

16 Again, things separate in being also have separate operations, because things are for the sake of their operations, as first act for the sake of second act; that is why Aristotle says that, if any operation of the soul does not involve the body, then “it is possible for the soul to have a separate existence.” But the operation of the possible intellect requires the body, for Aristotle says in De anima III [4] that the intellect can act by itself, namely, it can understand, when it has been actuated by a species abstracted from phantasms—which have no existence apart from the body. Therefore, the possible intellect is not altogether separate from the body.

17 And again, every thing naturally endowed with a certain operation has by nature those attributes without which that operation cannot be carried out. Thus, Aristotle proves in De caelo II [8] that if the movement of the stars were progressive, like that of animals, nature would have given them organs of progressive movement. But the operation of the possible intellect is accomplished by bodily organs, in which there must be phantasms. Therefore, nature has united the possible intellect to bodily organs. Consequently, it has no being separate from the body…

Summary Against Modern Thought: Our Intellect Is Not A Separate Substance

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.

We have several more weeks on the makeup and workings of the intellect and soul. None of this is easy material, and as comments to the series have shown, it is too easy to be confused. The most common error is using words in different senses that Aquinas did. Stick to the original.

Chapter 59 That man’s possible intellect is not a separate substance(alternate translation)

1 OTHERS there have been, who discovered another reason for maintaining that the intellectual soul cannot be united to the body as its form. For they say that the intellect which Aristotle calls possible, is a separate substance not united to us as a form.

2 They endeavour to prove this from the words of Aristotle, who says, speaking of this intellect, that it is separate, not mixed with the body, simple, impassible; which could not be said of it, if it were the body’s form…

Notes Aquinas is talking of the potential intellect, i.e. our intellects as being in potential. Those potentials are not actual, i.e. they are not a body.

4 Further. If it were the form of a material body, the receptivity of such an intellect would be of the same kind as the receptivity of primary matter; because that which is the form of a body, receives nothing without its matter. Now primary matter receives individual forms, in fact they are individualized through being in matter. Therefore the possible intellect would receive forms as they are individual: and consequently would not be cognizant of universals, which is clearly false.

5 Further. Primary matter is not cognizant of the forms which it receives. Consequently if the receptivity of the possible intellect were the same as of primary matter, neither would the possible intellect know the forms it receives: and this is false.

6 Moreover. There cannot possibly be an infinite power in a body, as proved by Aristotle (8 Phys.). Now the possible intellect is, in a manner, of infinite power, since by it we judge of an infinite number of things, inasmuch as by it we know universals, under which potentially infinite particulars are contained. Therefore the possible intellect is not a power in a body.

Notes In a body there cannot be infinite power, but in God, who is not a body, yes. We do often judge of the infinite, and we know something of it. Every universal and mathematical axiom, for instance, are statements of the infinite. But recall, there are infinities and there are infinities.

7 For these reasons Averroes was moved, and likewise some of the ancients, as he says, to hold that the possible intellect, by which the soul understands, has a separate being from the body, and is not the form of the body.

8 Since however such an intellect would nowise belong to us, nor should we understand thereby, unless it were in some way united to us, he defines the way in which it comes into touch with us, saying that the species actually understood is the form of the possible intellect, just as the actually visible is the form of the visual power. Hence there results one thing from the possible intellect and the actually understood form. Consequently the possible intellect is united to whomsoever the aforesaid understood form is united. Now it is united to us by means of the phantasm which is a kind of subject of that understood form: and in this way the possible intellect also is in touch with us.

Notes If this potential intellect were a body, it wouldn’t be us; it would have to be separate from us. But since clearly our intellects are in potential to unknown things, we’d have to have a way to communicate with this separate thing. And in that communication, our intellects would have to be in potential, which would be impossible, since our potential intellects would be separate. Next paragraphs clarify.

9 But it is easy to see that all this is nonsensical and impossible. For the one who understands is the one who has intellect. And the thing understood is the thing whose intelligible species is united to the intellect. Consequently though the intelligible species united to the intellect is in a man in some way, it does not follow that the man is the one who understands, but only that he is understood by the separate intellect.

10 Further. The actually understood species is the form of the possible intellect, as the visible species in act is the form of the visual power, or of the eye itself. Now the understood species is compared to the phantasm as the visible species in act is compared to the coloured object outside the soul: in fact he uses this comparison himself, as also does Aristotle. Therefore by the intelligible form the possible intellect is in touch with the phantasm which is in us, in the same way as the visual power with the colour that is in the stone. But this contact does not make the stone to see but to be seen. Therefore also the aforesaid contact of the possible intellect with us, does not make us to understand, but only to be understood. Now it is clear that it is properly and truly said that man understands, for we would not inquire into the nature of the intellect except for the fact that we understand ourselves. Therefore the aforesaid manner of contact is not sufficient.

11 Again. Every knower by its cognitive power is united to its object, and not vice versa, just as every operator by its operative power is united to the thing operated. Now man is intelligent by his intellect as by his cognitive power. Therefore he is not united to the intellect by the intelligible form, but by the intellect he is united to the intelligible.

12 Moreover. That by which a thing operates must be its form, for nothing acts except in so far as it is in act, and a thing is not in act except by that which is its form; wherefore Aristotle proves that the soul is a form, from the fact that an animal lives and senses through the soul. Now man understands, and this by his intellect only: wherefore Aristotle when inquiring into the principle whereby we understand describes to us the nature of the possible intellect. Therefore the possible intellect must be united to us formally and not merely by its object.

Notes Incidentally, this is why if computers are to become “self-aware”, it would all have to happen inside the box. But rapid calculations do not a mind make. The intellect is still not material, so there can never be strong AI.

13 Further. The intellect in act and the intelligible in act are one, just as the sense in act and the sensible in act. Not so however are the intellect in potentiality and the intelligible in potentiality, nor the sense in potentiality and the sensible in potentiality. Wherefore the species of a thing according as it is in the phantasms is not actually intelligible, for it is not thus that it is one with the intellect in act, but as abstracted from the phantasms: even so neither is the species of colour actually perceived according as it is in the stone, but only according as it is in the pupil. Now according to the opinion stated above the intelligible species is in contact with us only according as it is in the phantasms. Therefore it is not in contact with us according as it is one with the possible intellect as its form. Consequently it cannot be the means of bringing the possible intellect into contact with us: since according as it is in contact with the possible intellect it is not in contact with us, nor vice versa.

14 Now it is evident that he who devised this opinion was deceived by an equivocation. For colours existing outside the soul, given the presence of light, are actually visible as being able to move the sight, and not as actually perceived, according as they are one with the sense in act. In like manner the phantasms are made actually intelligible by the light of the active intellect, so that they can move the possible intellect, but not so that they be actually understood, according as they are one with the possible intellect made actual.

Notes Pay attention to the next paragraph.

15 Again. Where the living thing has a higher operation, there is a higher kind of life corresponding to that operation. For in plants we find only an action pertaining to nutrition. In animals we find a higher operation, namely sensation and local movement: wherefore the animal lives by a higher kind of life. But in man we find a yet higher vital operation than in the animal, namely intelligence. Therefore man must have a higher kind of life. Now life is through the soul. Therefore man will have a higher soul, whereby he lives, than is the sensitive soul. But none is higher than the intellect. Therefore the intellect is man’s soul: and consequently it is his form…

Notes Pay even more attention to the last paragraph.

18 Moreover. If man takes his species from being rational and having an intellect, whoever is in the human species, is rational and intelligent. But a child, even before leaving the womb, is in the human species: and yet it has not phantasms that are actually intelligible. Therefore a man has not an intellect through the intellect being in contact with man by means of an intelligible species the subject of which is a phantasm.

Notes Yes, that “clump” of cells (and makes you not a clump?) is still human even though “is has not phantasms that are actually intelligible”, i.e. it is not yet capable of assimilating and understanding sensory data.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Man Has But One Soul

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.

We are all of a piece, and not put together like AI robots, nor are we mere animals.

Chapter 58 That the nutritive, sensitive, and intellective faculties in man are not three souls (alternate translation)

1 BUT the foregoing arguments, according to the opinion of Plato, can be answered, so far as the matter in hand is concerned. For Plato holds that in us the same soul is not intellective, nutritive, and sensitive. Hence, even if the sensitive soul were the form of the body, we should not have to conclude that an intellectual substance can be the form of a body. That this opinion is impossible, we must show as follows.

Things that are ascribed to one same thing according to various forms, are predicated of one another accidentally: for a white thing is said to be musical accidentally, because whiteness and music are ascribed to Socrates. Consequently if in us the intellective, sensitive, and nutritive soul are various forces or forms, those things which are ascribed to us in respect of these forms will be predicated of one another accidentally.

Now in respect of the intellective soul we are said to be men, according to the sensitive soul animals, according to the nutritive soul living. Therefore this predication Man is an animal, or An animal is a living thing, will be accidental. But it is a per se predication, since man, as man, is an animal, and animal, as animal, is a living thing. Therefore it is from the same principle that one is a man, an animal, and a living thing.

Notes Socrates in the choir?

2 If, however, it be said that even if the aforesaid souls be distinct, it does not follow that the predication mentioned will be accidental, because these souls are mutually subordinate: we reply to this also.

For the sensitive power is subordinate to the intellect, and the nutritive power to the sensitive, as potentiality is subordinate to act: for the intellect comes after the sensitive, and the sensitive after the nutritive in the order of generation; since in generation an animal is made before a man.

Consequently if this order makes the aforesaid predications to be per se, this will not be taking per se in the sense that arises from the form, but in that which arises from matter and subject, as a superficies is said to be coloured. But this is impossible. Because when we use per se in this sense, that which is formal is predicated per se of the subject, as when we say: The superficies is white or The number is even.

Again when we use per se in this way, the subject is placed in the definition of the predicate, as number in the definition of even. But here the contrary happens: because man is not predicated of animal per se, but contrariwise: and again the subject is not placed in the definition of the predicate, but vice versa. Therefore the aforesaid definitions are not made per se by reason of the order in question.

Notes Plus everybody knows, or used to before they pretended not to, that plants are lower than animals are lower then men.

3 Further. A thing has unity from the same cause as it has being; for one is consequent upon being. Since then a thing has being from its form, it will have unity also from its form. Consequently if we say that there are in man three souls, as different forms, man will not be one being but several. Nor will the order of forms suffice for the unity of man: because to be one with respect to order is not to be one simply; since unity of order is the least of unities.

4 Again. The aforesaid difficulty will again arise, namely that from the intellective soul and the body there results one thing not simply but only accidentally. For whatever accrues to a thing after its complete being, accrues thereto accidentally, since it is outside its essence. Now every substantial form makes a complete being in the genus of substance, for it makes an actual being and this particular thing. Consequently whatever accrues to a thing after its first substantial form, will accrue to it accidentally. Hence, since the nutritive soul is a substantial form,–for living is predicated substantially of man and animal,–it will follow that the sensitive soul accrues accidentally, and likewise the intellective. And so neither animal nor man denotes one thing simply, nor a genus or species in the category of substance.

Notes The statement “For whatever accrues to a thing after its complete being, accrues thereto accidentally, since it is outside its essence” is almost tautological, following directly from the definition of essence. The tattoo you adorn yourself with is accidental (and we can only hope in both senses of the word).

5 Moreover. If man, in Plato’s opinion, is not a thing composed of body and soul, but a soul using a body, this is to be understood either of the intellective soul only, or of the three souls, if there be three, or of two of them. If of three or two, it follows that man is not one thing, but two or three, for he is three souls or at least two. And if this be understood of the intellective soul only, so that the sensitive soul be understood to be the body’s form, and the intellective soul, using the animated and sensified body, to be a man, this would again involve absurdities, namely that man is not an animal, but uses an animal; and that man does not sense but uses a sentient thing. And since these statements are inadmissible, it is impossible that there be in us three souls differing in substance, the intellective, the sensitive, and the nutritive.

Notes Later—much later—we’ll see how angels (good or bad) can use a body in a crude sense of a ghost in a machine. But an angel in a body is not a man.

6 Further. One thing cannot be made of two or three, without something to unite them, unless one of them be to the other as act to potentiality: for thus are matter and form made one thing, without anything outside uniting them. Now if there be several souls in man, they are not mutually related as matter and form, but are only supposed to be acts and principles of action. It follows consequently, if they be united to form one thing, for instance a man or an animal, that there is something to unite them. But this cannot be the body, since rather is the body united together by the soul, a sign of which is that when the soul departs, the body perishes.

It results then that there must be something more formal to make these several things into one. And this will be the soul rather than those several that are united by this thing. Wherefore if this again has various parts, and is not one thing in itself, there will still be need of something to unite them. Since then we cannot go on indefinitely, we must come to something that is one in itself. And such especially is the soul. Therefore there must be but one soul in one man or in one animal.

7 Again. If that which belongs to the department of the soul in man is composed of several things, it follows that as the whole together is to the whole body, so each of them is to each part of the body. Nor does this disagree with Plato’s opinion: for he placed the rational soul in the brain, the nutritive in the liver, and the appetite in the heart.

But this is shown to be false, for two reasons. First, because there is a part of the soul which cannot be ascribed to any part of the body, namely the intellect, of which it has been proved that it is not the act of any part of the body. [NOTE: our intellects are not material!]

Secondly, because it is evident that the operations of different parts of the soul are observed in the same part of the body: as evidenced in animals which live after being cut in two, since the same part has the movement, sensation, and appetite whereby it is moved; and again the same part of a plant, after being cut off, is nourished, grows and blossoms, whence it is evident that the various parts of the soul are in the one and same part of the body. Therefore there are not different souls in us, allotted to different parts of the body.

Notes Besides the most important note inserted inline, it appear Aquinas was a fisherman: think worms.

8 Moreover. Different forces that are not rooted in one principle do not hinder one another in acting, unless perhaps their action be contrary, which does not happen in the case in point. Now we find that the various actions of the soul hinder one another, since when one is intense another is remiss. It follows, then, that these actions, and the forces that are their proximate principles, must be reduced to one principle. But this principle cannot be the body, both because there is an action in which the body has no part, namely intelligence; and because, if the body as such were the principle of these forces and actions, they would be found in all bodies, which is clearly false.

Consequently it follows that their principle is some one form, by which this body is such a body: and this is the soul. Therefore it follows that all the soul’s actions which are in us, proceed from one soul. Wherefore there are not several souls in us.

9 This is in agreement with what is said in the book De Ecclesiasticis Dogmatibus: “Nor do we say that there are two souls in one man, as James and other Syrians write; one, animal, by which the body is animated, and which is mingled with the blood; the other, spiritual, which supplies the reason; but we say that it is one and the same soul in man, that both gives life to the body by being united to it, and orders itself by its own reason.”

Notes Next week, more proof the intellect is not something separate from us, but is us.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Plato On The Soul

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.

The ghost in the machine, we learn, is an old fallacy.

Chapter 57 The opinion of Plato concerning the union of the intellectual soul with the body (alternate translation)

1 MOVED by these and like reasons some have asserted that no intellectual substance can be the form of a body. But since man’s very nature seemed to controvert this opinion, in that he appears to be composed of intellectual soul and body, they devised certain solutions so as to save the nature of man.

2 Accordingly, Plato and his school held that the intellectual soul is not united to the body as form to matter, but only as mover to movable, for he said that the soul is in the body as a sailor in a boat. In this way the union of soul and body would only be by virtual contact, of which we have spoken above. But this would seem inadmissible. For according to the contact in question, there does not result one thing simply, as we have proved: whereas from the union of soul and body there results a man. It follows then that a man is not one simply, and neither consequently a being simply, but accidentally.

Notes Ghost in the machine is an old problem! But it’s more of an evocative metaphor than sailor-in-a-boat.

3 In order to avoid this Plato said that a man is not a thing composed of soul and body, but that the soul itself using a body is a man: thus Peter is not a thing composed of man and clothes, but a man using clothes.

4 But this is shown to be impossible. For animal and man are sensible and natural things. But this would not be the case if the body and its parts were not of the essence of man and animal, and the soul were the whole essence of both, as the aforesaid opinion holds: for the soul is neither a sensible nor a material thing. Consequently it is impossible for man and animal to be a soul using a body, and not a thing composed of body and soul.

Notes The soul is the form of the body, as Aquinas points out again and again. Our intellects are not material, it’s true, but our intellects are part of our form. The fallacy of ghost in the machine nowadays arises, I think, because people falsely discredit the non-material, i.e. the supernatural.

5 Again. It is impossible that there be one operation of things diverse in being. And in speaking of an operation being one, I refer not to that in which the action terminates, but to the manner in which it proceeds from the agent:–for many persons rowing one boat make one action on the part of the thing done, which is one, but on the part of the rowers there are many actions, for there are many strokes of the oar,–because, since action is consequent upon form and power, it follows that things differing in forms and powers differ in action.

Now, though the soul has a proper operation, wherein the body has no share, namely intelligence, there are nevertheless certain operations common to it and the body, such as fear, anger, sensation, and so forth; for these happen by reason of a certain transmutation in a determinate part of the body, which proves that they are operations of the soul and body together. Therefore from the soul and body there must result one thing, and they have not each a distinct being.

Notes So much is easy to see. The remainder of this chapter is Aquinas examining Plato’s attempt at evading the force of paragraph 5. There are some interesting bits, but it can be skipped. Dog lovers might enjoy paragraph 8—and then not.

6 According to the opinion of Plato this argument may be rebutted. For it is not impossible for mover and moved, though different in being, to have the same act: because the same act belongs to the mover as wherefrom it is, and to the moved as wherein it is. Wherefore Plato held that the aforesaid operations are common to the soul and body, so that, to wit, they are the soul’s as mover, and the body’s as moved.

7 But this cannot be. For as the Philosopher proves in 2 De Anima, sensation results from our being moved by exterior sensibles. Wherefore a man cannot sense without an exterior sensible, just as a thing cannot be moved without a mover. Consequently the organ of sense is moved and passive in sensing, but this is owing to the external sensible. And that whereby it is passive is the sense: which is proved by the fact that things devoid of sense are not passive to sensibles by the same kind of passion. Therefore sense is the passive power of the organ. Consequently the sensitive soul is not as mover and agent in sensing, but as that whereby the patient is passive. And this cannot have a distinct being from the patient. Therefore the sensitive soul has not a distinct being from the animate body.

8 Further. Although movement is the common act of mover and moved, yet it is one operation to cause movement and another to receive movement; hence we have two predicaments, action and passion. Accordingly, if in sensing the sensitive soul is in the position of agent, and the body in that of patient, the operation of the soul will be other than the operation of the body. Consequently the sensitive soul will have an operation proper to it: and therefore it will have its proper subsistence. Hence when the body is destroyed it will not cease to exist. Therefore sensitive souls even of irrational animals will be immortal: which seems improbable. And yet it is not out of keeping with Plato’s opinion. But there will be a place for inquiring into this further on.

9 Moreover. The movable does not derive its species from its mover. Consequently if the soul is not united to the body except as mover to movable, the body and its parts do not take their species from the soul. Wherefore at the soul’s departure, the body and its parts will remain of the same species. Yet this is clearly false: for flesh, bone, hands, and like parts, after the soul’s departure, are so called only equivocally, since none of these parts retains its proper operation that results from the species. Therefore the soul is not united to the body merely as mover to movable, or as man to his clothes.

Notes A dead man is no longer a man, merely decaying flesh. A lump of tissue, as those keen on killing the young might say.

10 Further. The movable has not being through its mover, but only movement. Consequently if the soul be united to the body merely as its mover, the body will indeed be moved by the soul, but will not have being through it. But in the living thing to live is to be. Therefore the body would not live through the soul.

11 Again. The movable is neither generated through the mover’s application to it nor corrupted by being separated from it, since the movable depends not on the mover for its being, but only in the point of being moved. If then the soul be united to the body merely as its mover, it will follow that neither in the union of soul and body will there be generation, nor corruption in their separation. And thus death which consists in the separation of soul and body will not be the corruption of an animal: which is clearly false.

12 Further. Every self-mover is such that it is in it to be moved and not to be moved, to move and not to move. Now the soul, according to Plato’s opinion, moves the body as a self-mover. Consequently it is in the soul’s power to move the body and not to move it. Wherefore if it be united to it merely as mover to movable, it will be in the soul’s power to be separated from the body at will, and to be reunited to it at will: which is clearly false.

Notes So much for astral projection.

13 That the soul is united to the body as its proper form, is proved thus. That whereby a thing from being potentially is made an actual being, is its form and act. Now the body is made by the soul an actual being from existing potentially: since to live is the being of a living thing. But the seed before animation is only a living thing in potentiality, and is made an actually living thing by the soul. Therefore the soul is the form of the animated body.

14 Moreover. Since both being and operation belong neither to the form alone, nor to the matter alone, but to the composite, being and action are ascribed to two things, one of which is to the other as form to matter; for we say that a man is healthy in body and in health, and that he is knowing in knowledge and in his soul, wherein knowledge is a form of the soul knowing, and health of the healthy body. Now to live and to sense are ascribed to both soul and body: for we are said to live and sense both in soul and body: but by the soul as by the principle of life and sensation. Therefore the soul is the form of the body.

15 Further. The whole sensitive soul has to the whole body the same relation as part to part. Now part is to part in such a way that it is its form and act, for sight is the form and act of the eye. Therefore the soul is the form and act of the body.

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