An in-depth analysis of the question - By Fr. Raymond Taouk,


‘Life’ does not designate a being like a substance or a person.  Life is an abstract term, like speed, goodness: ‘life’ does not exist.  Life designates a property of the being which has certain acts.  To avoid mistakes it would be technically more proper to speak of the ‘living being’ and ‘to live’ rather than of life, although we will unscrupulously adopt the current use.



I. definition of life


1.    empiric notion. 

·      How can we define ‘life’? This plain observation leads to an empirical notion of life. 

·      St. Thomas Aquinas thus speaks at the bgg of the divine life : “we say that the animal lives when it begins to have movement ex se, and we judge the animal is living as long as such a movement appears.  But when it is not moving itself and is moved only by another (ab alio), then we say that the animal is dead by defect of life”[1].

·      The living being is characterized by a spontaneous movement as the formula goes : ‘vita (est) in motu’ or better said ‘vita in motu spontaneo’ or ‘vita in motu ab intrinseco’.



2.    Scientific definitions.


·      imperfect def. life is the sum of phenomena common to all living beings’; ‘is the sum of functions which resist death’.  These do not show the essence of the phenomena of life.

·      life must be defined by its characterisic operations, showing that they are proper to the living beings.

·      Ar. simply compares the certainly living beings from the non-livings and concludes how life is manifested : by life is meant self-nutrition, growth and self-decay[2]

·      ST adds other activities, power to sense and to think, power to move self locally and to procreate. 

·      Another characteristic of life is that the living being is always an organized being (composed of heterogenous parts harmoniously ordered where the sum of functions operate together for the perfection of the whole being[3]. But latter characteristic follows on the previous ones which are more fundamental (at least quoad nos because firstly known).


3.    Metaphysical definition of life


·      motus ex se (ab intrinseco).  from common experience, we know that life is shown by the ‘spontaneous motion’.

·      motus in se (immanent). this ‘spontaneous motion’, this activity ex se is characterized also not so much by acting on another but rather by acting upon oneself (a sleeping dog is still alive).  Language shows this clearly in the reflexive verbs : I move myself, I nourish myself, I adapt myself.

·      Def. vita significat ‘susbstantiam cui convenit secundum suam naturam movere seipsam’ [4]

·      explanation. 

·      this motion is taken in its broad metaphy. sense, as any passage from P. to Act. 

·      Its origin is within, ab intrinseco or spontaneous, although it is not absolutely spontaneous since it depends on many exterior conditions to act.

·      its term is immanent as opposed to the transitive action which changes the object.  Yet this immanence is not absolute either since in any movement ‘quidquid movetur ab alio movetur’, the mobile is moved by another. 

·      How does this principle square out with the case of the living beings?  Ar. answers : in the living being which is a heterogeneous whole, some part moves another so that, seen as a whole, its action remains within itself[5].  Such an activity is proper to them, the plain bodies being intert.

·      Hence, the degrees of life vary according to the degree of immanent activity.  The proper immanence is that of the intellect, and the absolute immanence is found only in God, where the act is pure i.e. without any change[6].

·      litigious cases.  Re. the immanent spontaneous activity, the def. of life, some cases are border line.  The grain, e.g., seems to exercises no activity, yet it is alive with a latent life because it is capable of germinating.  It is not always easy to know the whether a given body is alive or not, such like the virus, esp. certain cristallizible viruses because other are clearly living.  These litigious cases do not shed doubt on the definition, since it is rather by the clear definition that we can solve these cases.



ii. nature of the living being


            It is classical to present the thomistic thesis as opposed to two opposite modern errors re. the principles of the living being, although the truth is not only a happy medium or a synthesis of  the other doctrines since historically these errors came from decomposing the Thomistic doctrine.


1.    Mechanism.

·      as a merely scientific method ,consists in applying to the living beings the methods and laws of the plain bodies.  A philosopher has nothing to do with it as such, the scientists must by thems. prove the value of their method, which encountered some difficulties.

·      as a philosophical doctrine, is the position of Democritus and Epicurus, followed in modern times by Descartes, with his theory of the animals-machines, and in the XIX by Huxley.  Everything in the living being is explained mechanically by the efficient cause.  Everything is reducible to the physico-chemical laws : organization is nothing but a complex mechanism, movements are mere chemical or electric phenomena and generation is a necessary consequence of nutrition which is but a chain of chemical reaction.

2.    Platonic dualism

·      Body and soul are each a separate and complete substance, Plato and his school held that the int. 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 (per contactum virtutis)’[7].

·      This Platonic dualism found some revival in the XIX c. vitalism (Montpellier school).  The activities of the living being are not subject to the common laws of phsyics or chemistry.  The living is made of a ‘vital principle’, exercising ‘vital forces’ immaterially.  It is a substance distinct from the body, matter and life are juxtaposed and do not compenetrate or join together.  Such theory is a generalization of the dualism of Descartes.[8]

·      Refutation of Ar. and ST : if this is the case

·      a) ‘it follows that a man is not one simply and neither consequently a being simply, but accidentally’[9].  Logically man would be defined without the body and would not belong to the world of physical realities.

·      b) the common experience re. human actions would be senseless.  Such are those involving body and soul, like the passionate movements (fear, anger, any sensations, of soul + bodily alterations): they show the unity of being between body and soul.  Plato would argue that the soul moves the body as an angel by mere contact.  Yet says ST ‘things united by contact of this kind are not simply one, for they are one in action and passion (one unique real movement), which is not to be one simply[10], in other words, virtual contact between 2 different beings cannot render account of the experience that ‘I’  cause and suffer the anger ‘within myself’.


3.    the Animist (Hylomorphic) solution of Aristotle.


·      the living bodies follow the common laws of plain matter (agst the dualist vitalism).

·      but (against mechanism) they present phenomena irreducible to the mere laws of matter and mechanically incomprehensible, like the immanent or internal finality of the operations, which are proper to vital activities, e.g. a glass full of milk will never digest like a stomach is made to assimilate foreign substances.  In other words, there is finality in the living being and biology, unless it uses mechanistic limits, cannot avoid discovering finality as a scientific fact.

·      If there is finality in the living beings, there must be in each of them an internal principle of finalization, a ‘directive idea’, ‘entelechia’[11], ‘vital principle’ or soul, principle superior to the plain matter and in this sense immaterial.

·      What is the soul? Ar. explains it by steps[12] :

·      starting point : it is evident that a living being of nature (vs artificial being) is a corporeal being.

·      substance, the first category is either spiritual or corporal, either artificial or nat., nat. corp. subst. have life others not.  But ‘substance can be taken in three ways, namely, as composite, matter, and form, and since the soul is neither the composite, which is the body having life, nor matter, which is the body as the subject of life, we are compelled by the logic of division to say that the soul is a substance in the manner of form, being the form of a particular kind of body, namely, of a physical body having life in potency’.[13]

·      ‘act of the body’ the soul/body is a part. case of the ontological universal principle of the doctrine of P./Act found in any created being composed of at least two elements, the act or perfection of the being, the potency or capacity of acquiring this perfection.

·      ‘having life in potency’ : ST explains it by the fact that the body does not have life in act until it is informed by the soul.

·      ‘first act of the body’, the couple soul/body is also a part. case of the cosmsological theory of hylomorphism, i.e. the soul is the substantial form of the body (Prime Matter).  It is the first act, i.e. an essential form, and not a second or operative act.  The form insures  the specificity, the unity and the activity of the body.  Thus the soul is the form of the living body.

·      ‘first act of a physical, organic body’.  Since the soul is the principle of life and activity, a) the body must be capable of life which supposes a minimum of organization[14], b) the soul must have many operations which need various organs as instruments and hence, the body must have already a certain organization.

·      Def.

·      ‘actus primus corporis physici organici vitam in potentia habentis’[15],

·      ‘forma corporis organici’. 

·      ‘anima est primum quo et vivimus et sentimus et movemur et intelligimus’[16]

·      ccls : we will not say that philosophy has perfectly explained the mystery of life, but only that it has defined or surrounded the mystery : that is all but that is already much.



iii. origin of life


3 hypotheses can be emitted re. the question :


1.    theory of the spontaneous generation


·      It is was for long the common popular belief, to the point that Ar. integrated it in his Physics as a fact coming from the superficial observation.  Thus St. Thomas Aquinas sees no difficulty that the sun may generate moths by warming swampy mud, but this was because he considered the sun as superior to plain matter.  The materialists held it their credo, against whom Pasteur rose in his famous experiments.


·      The materialist thesis is that life is a consequence of organixation, itself produced by causes merely physical.  At a given moment in the past, life came about when the evolution of the physical forces produced the conditions necessary and sufficient.  In the same way, when science will be well advanced, it will be able to produce the synthesis of life.

·      the critique must be twofold :

·      scientific : a) it is a fact that synthetic bodies doe not live; b) the anticipations of the future progess of science are ‘scientist’ elucubrations and have nothing scientific about them; c) Nevertheless, the experiences of Pasteur, which show that the spontaneous generation does not take place in the given cases, do not prove the absolute impossibility of the spontaneous generation.

·      metaphysical : the spontaneous generation is absolute impossible, taken sensu stricto, i.e. as the production of a living being from the only play of physico-chemical forces[17].  The reason of this is that ‘the greater does not come from the lesser’ (ontologically, not quantitatively understood) i.e. based on the principle that ‘propter quod unumquodque et illud magis’ or simply said ‘causa potior effectu’, ‘nemo dat quod non habet’ [18]. Thus does the philosopher dare setting a priori limits to the progress of science : this is bec. Mphs. gives absolute certitude superior to any scientifc certitude, or said in other words, because its principles are intemporal and do not concern the future since they express the laws of being.


2.    Theory of the preexistence


·      Theory of Bergson in ‘L’Évolution creátrice’, taken by Teilhard de Chardin and E. Leroy under the hypothesis of the ‘biosphere’.  Life, an undetermined reality, would be anterior to the appearance of the living beings, which are its concretions.  For Bergson, Life is a movement, a spontaneous gushing forth, matter is the fall of this movement and the living species appear in the meeting of these 2 opposite movements.

·      critique :

·      such hypotheses are absolute unverifiable, they are not scientific but only philosophical and must be dealt in the philo. realm.

·      Bergon’s doctrine of Life refers to his general Mphsc were there is no being but only becoming or movement.  To which, summarily as in the case of Heraclitus his ancestor, we only need say that motion supposes a being which, while it changes, remains identical to self, or else, there would be no motion, but a succession of appearances and disappearances without bond.

·      to consider Life as an undetermined reality is to consider it as an abstraction realised : it is a genus, an ens rationis,  which does not exist outside the mind which forms it.[19]

·      How can life be inserted in matter if they have contrary movements? only 3 cases are possible : the movements equilibrate and annul each other, or the ascending mvt wins (life absorbs matter) or the descending mvt wins (matter absorbs life).  In other words the beautiful images of Bergson are more poetic than real.

3.    Theory of  creation : The only alternative is that life was created by God when the universe fulfilled the conditions of its possibility (dispositio materiae ad recipiendam formam).  Yet God can very well have created all the living species simultaneously as well as separately[20]


iv. the vegetative life


1.    the vegetal is a living being.  Although its life is less manifest than in the animal, it is clear from its characteristic operations : organisation, nutrition, growth, reproduction, etc...

2.    The vegetal has a soul : since it is living, it has a soul because the soul is the form or principle of life.  This soul is immaterial and present to all parts of the organism which it vivifies.

3.    the vegetal soul is not spiritual : a spiritual being is a being whose existence does not depend on matter.  But the vegetal has no operation intrinsically independant from matter, since they are essentially dependent on an organ.

4.    the vegetal soul is not subsistent (from 3.) : it disappears as soon as the body is too disorganised.




Art. 2. Classification and fundamental phenomena of the conscious life.


I. classification


            To classify the phenomena of the human soul is a difficult task because individuum est ineffabile, and bec. the objects of experience are innumerable.  The only solution is to do a certain abstraction, by unifying similar aspects and leaving secundary things while retaining the essence, the tree rather than the trees.


            1) necessity


1.    psych. phenomena are not describable because they are

·      particular, being marked by the personality, the past, the heritage, the concrete milieu, the concrete experience (sensation, passions, emotions).

·      changing, since the conscious life is a stream in perpetual flux,

·      integrated in past experience, since present acts are dependent on past experiences and sentiments.

2.    psych. phenomena need to be analyzed by abstraction.

·      Proof a contrario : the most intimate diary cannot describe all the internal psych. phen. of a soul.  Marxists psychologists who qualify the analytical psychology as being bourgeois only prove that the principles of their Mphcs prevents them from doing psychology!

·      we need to draw classes (concept taken e.p. extensionis), or types (concept taken e.p. comprehensionis).  The comprehension is always more basic since a concept is +/- extended according as  it  is -/+ defined with notes.  Thus to abstract = to classify = to define certain essences.

3.    such classification is dangerous

·      we run the risk of believing that the essences abstracted exist in their mode of abstraction (as a pure subsistent idea).  This is the psychological heresy of ‘mental atomism’ which considers abstract types to be real.  Bergson, who didn’t withdraw from falling into the reification of Life, fought vigorously against it!

·      conclusion, there are 2 complementary truths : a) what exists is a concrete person, with his psychological life, one and multiple; and b) psychology studies an abstract and classified object.


            2) current classification


1.    What it is.  The current classification is based on the mental function :

·      in general : personality, character, consciousness, attention.

·      in particular :

·      intelligence (perception, sensation, imagination, memory, idea, judgement, reasonning).

·      sensibility (pleasure, dolor, emotion, inclination, passions).

·      activity (reflexes, psychological automatisms, instinct, habit, will).


2.    Value

·      the function replaces the Mphcs notion of faculty, but this concept is

·      a vague notion, half way between the class (static notion, whereas the function is dynamic) and the faculty (function is meant to act, which leads ncssly to the concept of potency/faculty).

·      a purely subjective notion, joining together phenomena as ‘states or facts of consciousness’, i.e. only by their internal characters.  Thus sensation is defined as the mere internal impression from the excitation of a sensitive nerve.  Yet the function is known it its corresponding act, and the act  is known and specified only by its object.  Thus to define a function wo its object (essential to the function) is not to define it.

·      this classification is insufficient and stmes erroneous.

·      consciousness and attention are functions of knowl., and should be in int.

·      intelligence is too broad, and should be either changed into knowledge or divided into int + sst.

·      ‘sensibility’ could designate knowledge  whereas  here it indicates only the appetitive powers, the common term would be ‘tendency’ which should then belong to activity.

·      ‘activity’ is too narrow since all other functions are also activities.  It should be divided into physical (reflex) and psychol. activity (automatisms); and then into instinct (spontaneous) and will (reflexive).

·      ‘habit’ is not a special function, but a way of action of any function.

·      we need to find a more precise classification, which is not purely objective (we deal w. internal phenomena), but which preserves the intentional character of the consciousness which is always the ‘consciousness of something’.


            3) Aristotle’s classification, by the faculties


1.    His classification is not false for being metaphysical given that his Mpcs is based on experience.  It has the advantage of uniting the two sides, the subject and the object, and provides a perfect starting point for the Mphcs of man.

2.    There are two possible reactions of a conscious being with regards to the world : to let the object invade us and bring it in in a certain way (knowl) or to tend towards the object (appetite), each of these two tendencies is subdivided again, according as the object is considered as concrete and particular or abstract and universal, into sensitive or intellectual. 

3.    From this fourfold tendency of the conscious being come the activity.  the activity produces the custom or behavior in the physical realm, the habit in the spiritual realm.  From the acts, we shall remount to the functions and to the soul.  This defines the program of our study of psychology.



ii.  knowledge : the first fundamental phenomena of conscious life[21]


            Knowledge is a first notion, and therefore undefinable bec. it cannot be defined by a clearer and more universal concept, and at the same time, it need not be defined bec. it is the object of a clear experience.  Which one? It is the fact of experience that is a being has no knowledge it does not ask questions, and if it asks questions, it is endowed with knowledge and it knows what knowledge is.

            The experience of knowl. is clear and primitive but it does not dispense philosophy from doing its work, which is of thinking about the facts.  Now this is possible since there exist more universal notions which can be used for a perfect definition by the proximate genus and the specific definition.

            We shall 1º describe the phenomena (phenomenological movement), and 2º try to understand them  (metaphysical movement).


            1) phenomenology of knowledge


Such a description is beyond discussion since it deals with facts verifiable by any one’s own experience.


1.    knowledge is a vital activity


·      it is an activity.  Even if it is primarily passive, I know only if I react, and that reaction is knowledge.  Hence we must exclude the theory that cert. knowledges would be purely passive, in Descartes (the int. is passive re. the knowl. of ideas) and in Kant (sensibility is defined as ‘the receptivity of impressions’, activity is reserved to the int.).

·      it is a spontaneous activity in as much as the exterior cause (object), though ncssy, would not suffice to produce knowl. if the living knowing subject would not react in its own original way.

·      it is an immanent action.  It is distinct from the physical action, transitive and modifying its object.  Knowledge does not modify the object but only the subject.  The immanence of the activity of knowledge is a fact, even if  it will be difficult to explain how we can know an external object.


2.    knowlEDGE is a relation between a subject and an object


·      the proper character of knowledge, compared to other immanent actions,  is that it establishes a relation between 2 correlative terms, the subject and the object.  Both terms and equally necessary since there is no knowl. without a knowing subject nor without an object which gives a content to the act.[22]

·      the nature of the terms.   The subject is a living being, with a certain consciousness, which is not ncssly reflexive, it is a ‘me’, the object, by opposition, is definable as ‘not-me’, ‘another’ than my own subjectivity.

·      the function of the terms.  The subject objectives i.e. constitutes the object or points to it and makes it present to self.  This ‘objectivation’ does not imply idealism since the thing can exist ‘in itself’ wo being known, but this thing becomes object of knowl. only when it is aimed at by the subject.  The object, in return, specifies knowledge and gives it a content.


3.    knowLEDGE. consists in an intentional union


·      It is the synthesis or union of the object with the subject.  Yet this union is not physical or chemical where each element loses its own nature and is fused into a third nature with different activities and acts.  In knowl., the subject, while retaining its identity, grasps the object as such i.e. as another and distinct.  This apprehension is an assimilation whereby the subject becomes the object and makes it present to self.  This is rendered by the formula cognoscere est fieri aliud in quantum aliud.  The subject does not become other, it becomes the other.

·      Such a formula (of John of St. Thomas[23], classic in the School, admits of limits : it is true only of the direct knowledge by man of the world.   Some things will need modification if we speak of the reflexive knowl. and more so of the knowl. of God in natural theology.


            2) metaphysics of knowledge


            The question of the immanence  of the object in the subject is the mystery itself of knowledge.  ‘How is this possible?’  was asking Kant re. the mathematical and physical knowl.  It is the normal and inevitable question, which must be generalized and bear on any type of knowl. whatsoever.  How is knowl. possible? We need to find the principles or conditions of possibility of the fact of knowl.


1.    remote condition.  There must be a proportion or community ‘objecti ad potentiam’[24].  This is clear when I think of myself, bec. there is then real identity between object and subject. It is the knowl. by identity or per praesentiam.[25]  Yet we speak here of the knowl. of the object which exists ‘in itself’ or ‘outside’ the subject.  And the act knowledge does not bring the object physically inside the subject : the stone does not enter the seeing eye, bec. if that was the case it would pierce it and unable it from seeing.


2.    Knowl. is possible only by an image impressed in the subject by the action of the object.  It is the knowl. by similitude or per speciem : “every knowledge occurs by the fact that the object known is in a certain way inside the knower, that is according to a similitude”[26].


3.    This similitude is the condition for knowledge which has 2 elements/relations :


·      a relation to the action of the object which manifests the being of the thing (because operari sequitur esse, omne agens agit simile sibi), and gives knowl. its objectivity.

·      a relation to the knowing subject receiving this action because quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur, which applied to this case becomes : cognitum est in cognoscente ad modum cognoscentis.

·      Is knowl. then totally relative?  Yes, but this does not give a relativist theory of knowl. since the relativists neglect the relation of knowl. to the object.  We should rather say that :

- human knowl. grasps some aspect of things (knowl. is thus limited and gets only one aspect of reality)

- h. knowl. grasps the reality under some of its aspects.


4.    The direct act of knowledge. (Vs reflexive act) reaches not the image but the object, i.e. the species is not ‘id quod cognoscitur’, but ‘id quo objectum cognoscitur’.  We do not know firstly our representations, be they sensitive impressions or concepts, but the things by means of these representations.  Otherwise, there would be no way of reaching the things themselves, no way of  asserting the veracity of our ideas since we  could compare these ideas, copies of the original, only with other ideas, not w. their original.


5.    knowl. presupposes immateriality. 


·      a thing is knowable because of its form, distinct from matter.  Knowing a form reveals the nature.

·      the knower can know only in as much as it is immaterial, i.e. again thanks to its form.

·      Also, its form must not be totally ‘immersed’ in matter in its activity of animating matter, but it must be somewhat ‘open’, or capable or receiving other forms without suffering alteration : and this supposes some immateriality, flexibility.


6.    The degrees of knowl. follow the degrees of immateriality

·      that is a csqce of point 5, which is valid on both sides of knowl.

·      e.p. Objecti: a being is so much the more knowable that it is more immaterial

·      e.p. Subjecti: a being is so much the more able to know that it is more immaterial.

·      yet these 2 planes, object and subject, do not correspond ncssly since a thing can be perfectly knowable per se, et not quoad nos.

·      Experience offers us only 2 degrees of knowledge : sensitive and intellectual knowledge.

·      sense knowl. is that of an object concrete, singular, material, known by the sense, superior to its corresponding organ, yet intrinsically dependent on the organ.

·      int. knowl. is that of an object dematerialised, abstract, the essence.  Its subject is spiritual, though extrinsically dependent on the body.


iii. appetite


            1) definition


1.    general notion: appetite means inclination, tendency, love (De Ver. 22,1).

2.    Appetive and good are correlative terms.

·      Good is relative to the subject.  This correlation of appetite and good already shows that good and evil are relative to tendencies found in their corresponding subjects-beings.  Such is the arist. axiom talis unusquisque est, talis finis videtur ei.[27]

·      Yet if good is relative to the appetite, invertedly, appetite is relative to an object, which must have certain perfection to satisfy the appetite, it must be amiable, a quality independent from our dispositions, desires or liberty.[28]  Hence we do not agree with Sartre that liberty is the foundation of  values

3.    Appetite is realist and even extatic.  It tends to the good ‘in itself’, real and concrete; it is not satisfied with purely imaginary or ideal goods.  If knowledge is an act whereby the thing known becomes present to the knower (by the immanent impressed species), on the other hand, ‘The act of the appetitive power is ordered to the things sec. quod sunt in seipsis, prout sunt extra animam’[29]

4.    Knowledge is the proper of the superior living beings, whereas the appetite is found in any being, be it a mere body.  Non cognitive beings have a natural appetite, i.e. innate to its nature (need).  A natural appetite may become conscious in man who renders it elicit.knowers can have an elicit appetite, result of an act of knowledge (desire). 


            2) the natural appetite


1.    Existence :


·      every being wo knowl. has tendencies towards certain ends.  They come from their very nature.

·      Proof  by the pple of causality which we can formulate as operari sequitur esse, every being tends to act.  It tends to act (natural appetite) either for the sake of the action itself, wo receiving any benefit from it as in the case of brute bodies in a transitive activity, or for its own perfection, as in the case of living bodies whose activity is immanent.

·      Proof by the pple of finalityomne agens agit propter finem,any being is ex sese, orientated toward a goal by nature since it acts always in the same way.  This is opposed to the violent activity.


2.    Origin.


·      remote principle: the Creator of nature, and the ex. of such appetites offers a solid basis for a proof of God’s ex.  It is based on the order of the world, metaph. understood as orientation of ev. bg to its good, which ordination demands a int. creating the nat. of each being able to adapt means to end.

·      proximate principle: its inner appetite come from its form, quamlibet formam sequitur inclinatio.


3.    Value of the natural appetite

·      being appetite it tends to the good, being blind it cannot err. desiderium naturae nequit esse inane[30]

·      Can we argue from the desire of man for God to the existence of such an infinite Good? no since the h. beatitude is not a natural good.  We can only say that it is not impossible.

·      This principle desiderium naturae nequit esse inane’ is at the centre of the theology of grace since we desire heaven but heaven is a gift of grace.  How can we solve the apparent contradiction

·      Ans/ Garrigou : man has 2 ends, one natural and attainable by nat. powers, one sn attained by gr

·      Ans/ Broglie: a) the idea that man have 2 ends is not satisfactory; b) ‘desiderium naturae’ means only that there is no impossibility, wo affirming that man reaches always the end by hims.  Hence the desire of beat. is only a conditional velleity, not an efficacious will. Thus grace is not stg given to a nature wo appetite for such an end and happy with its nat. end.


4.    The elicit appetite, proper to the knowing beings

·      as inclination follows the form and being, by knowl, the knower becomes the object known intentionnally, and thus tends to it. appetitus elicitus consequitur formam apprehensam.

·      it desires what appears good, dependent on the value of knowl : w. true knowl. what appears as good is good and the tendency to it is right, erroneous knowl is of  what is really evil, tendcy vitiated (sin)










Art. 1.  The external Sensitive Knowledge



1.    We leave aside the question of anatomy and physiology, dealing only with the organs of the senses, we leave out also the experimental psychology (more or less psycho-physics of the excitents, or psycho-physiology of the excitation[31]). 

2.    We do a philosophical study of sense knowledge as a whole.  This study must cover : 1) the object, sensibile; 2) the subject, sensus; 3) the act, sensatio.  We study thus each of the terms of sensation before their synthesis in the act, and the first term is the object because it specifies the 2 others.



I.  the object of the senses


1.    In Genere, the material object.  The senses allow the living being to be in relation with its physical milieu in which it lives and to which it needs to adapt in order to live.  The object of the senses is the physical milieu, the material universe, the sum of the bodies we relate to.

2.    the Formal object.  But since these objects are innumerable, we need to leave aside the ‘material objects’ of the senses, all that is too individual in order to consider only their formal object, the aspect under which the things appear to our senses. In such a case, a classification becomes possible and easy, even if it is unable to provide an explanation.  It has the enormous advantage of providing a language and precise ideas.[32]


3.    First Division of the object of the senses

·      the object per se or direct, is that which a sense naturally perceives, the brute or pure sensation (in modern psych.).  The pure sensation is rare in the adult since his mind adds to the first sense data all the memories, ideas, interpretations, judgments.  We find it esp. when we come across an object never seen before, or in the awakening experience of a familiar setting which looks foreign because int. and memory do not function yet.  This first sense data causes the difference between a perception and a hallucination.

·      the object per accidens or indirect is that which the sense does not perceive and is given by the mind.  It is the sum of non-sensed elements joined by the mind to the object seen.  E.g. ‘to see Socrates, to hear the noise of a car in the street’.


4.    Subdivision of the object per se:

·      object per se proper is the object perceptible only by one sense.  It is strictly the formal object of a given sense, called also the adequate excitent or the secondary sensible quality of Locke.  This proper object founds the distinction of the senses.[33]

·      object per se common is the one which can be perceived by several senses.  In this case, each sense reaches the common object in its own way : motion can be perceived by the sight as variation in the position of colour, by the hearing as variation of sounds, in the taste as a succession of savours.  Aristotle finds 5 species of sensibile commune : motion and rest, number, figure and size[34].  The three first ones can be reached by all senses, sight and hearing can perceive all of them.


ii. the senses


            1) existence of the senses


1.    biological reason.  The ex. and variety of the senses comes from the vital necessities of the superior living beings.  This is because, except per accidens, nature endows each being with all that it needs to live.  An accident is always possible which forfeits the natural activity but this produces a ‘monster’[35]


2.    Such a reason is a convenience, found in most cases, but it is not a metaphysical necessity which would permit to deduce the diverse senses from the nature of the living being and from its needs, which in fact would be a vicious circle, because this nature is known to us only by its acts.  The principle of the necessary existence of things necessary to nature allows us only to set in hierarchical order the senses according to their greater or lesser biological utility, after they have been discovered.  The only way is the a posteriori way one and not the a priori or deductive way.


3.    Metaphysical reason.  St. Thomas Aquinas in 77,8 gives the ultimate foundation for the diversity of potencies within the soul in general.  Beings are of diverse degrees and man, an intermediary being destined to a perfect happiness, will reach it only through many movements, hence by diverse acts frorm various potencies.  This reason is persuasive since it is founded not on a mere probability, but on the cause which is at stake in the question of faculties and acts, the final cause.  We needed to found the distinction of pot. on the finality of nature because nature, cause of the diversity of potencies, acts always according to a given end.











Ipsum esse subsistens 3,4

Seipsum infinite 14,3

per naturam 26,1

sine ullo motu 9,1



sine mat, paucis potentiis (54, 59)

sine abstractione 55,2

per gratiam 62,1

per unicam electionem 62,5



cum materia et multis pot. 77,2

cum abstractione a sensibilibus 84,6,7

per gratiam, IaIIae 5,5

per multos actos IaIIae 5,7


4. The distinction and classification of the senses must be done from the proper object. 

·      The new psych. is coming back to the Ar. principle of distinction, by saying that we are endowed with the sense of sight because we have before us and for us a coloured universe : the object reveals the nature of the function which gives it.

·      The traditional distinction comprises the 5 senses :



INTENTIONAL (for the Ancients)





according to the place (motion of air)




distant object

accordg to alteration (heat produces odor)




by object

heat touched heats the hand (resistence)




present (contact)

humidity tasted humidifies the tongue



·      The Ancients know that the touch is a genus which comprises several species I 78,3 ad 3.  Thus the door is wide open for the precisions of experimental psychology which distinguishes the sense between the muscular, kinesthesic, coenesthesic, the sense of suffering, of heat, of orientation and balance.  There might be others.  But the division into 5 senses is narrow enough.


            2) nature of the senses


1.    It is a faculty.  Since the living reacts in different ways to the excitations, we must admit that it has the power to accomplish these acts.  A faculty is  not a being, let alone a substance, since it has no proper existence, and exists only in a living being which is a substance.  It is an ‘accident’, whose ontological status is clearly defined as ‘non est ens sed entis’.


2.    It is a passive potency.  This does not signify that the sense is purely passive since it is a faculty of acting.  We must hold to it against Kant who defines sensibility as a purely passive function, ‘the receptivity of impressions’, and reserves activity to the understanding. Agst him, we assert that there is passivity also in the intellect, and that there is activity also in sensation since sensation knows stg.  True, the sense does not start acting unless it is moved, i.e. excited from without ‘the sense is a passive potency which is naturally moved by  an external sensible object’.[36]


3.    It is neither material nor spiritual. 


·      it is not purely material, corporal, since it cannot be identified with the organ. If sensing was only the product of a physical or natural alteration , all bodies would sense.  The object is known only if it is somewhat present to the sense which becomes the other without being other.  For this, the  object produces in the sense a form-similitude, a vital assimilation of the object called immutatio spiritualis.[37] Hence  the sense can be defined as the facultas recipiendi formam corporum externorum sicut ens spirituale.

·      it is not purely spiritual, since the functioning of organ is constitutive of sensation, sensation is the act of an organ.  ST proves it by the fact that over-exciting the organ corrupts the sense[38].  Hence the principle, sentire est conjuncti.[39]  For Descartes, the thing produces an impression on the body, which impression is transmitted to the soul where (in it alone) sensation occurs.  The thomistic scheme is : the thing makes a impression (naturalis immutatio) on a living i.e. animate body, and this impression provokes an original reaction of the living, the sensation.

·      Sensation is properly experimental bec. it terminates in the thing. 

·      1º) It is experimental already in so far as it begins in the object, necessary condition of knowl. (so is it with the intellect). 

·      2º) But it is so also (unlike the int.) because what the sense refers to is the object directly known.  What we see is not our internal species (as quod), but the colour in the tree. In other words, there can be no sensation wo an object present to the sense (very important for the q? of hallucination). The sense cannot reflect on its act (which would suppose another species, expressed species seen as what is known : the eye cannot know its own vision).  Unlike the int., the sense does not need an expressed species.[40]

·      The sense can be called a faculty of the soul, potentia animae, since the soul gives life to the body, and with it the possibility to sense.  It is the root of sensibility.




iii. sensation


            1) nature of sensation


1.    Sensation is a psychical phenomena

·      Vs. the diverse forms of materialism, mechanistic or ‘nervous shocks’.

·      No!  Bec. sensation is an act spontaneous in its origin, and immanent as to its term, thus an act vital  or psychical.  It is also an act of knowledge and thus immaterial.


2.    Sensation is an act of knowledge

·      Vs. Descartes, Malebranche, all idealist schoolsDesc. said sensation does not reveal things in themselves, but only in so far as they are useful or harmful for life : essentially pragmatist view of sensation wo speculative value (Bergson too in Matière et Mémoire ch.1).  However the truth of it is that sensation is a help to adapt one to his milieu.

·      The senses do not reveal the nature of things as such, but only some exterior accidents of things.  Yet, this suffices to say that sensation is a knowledge as it reveals an aspect of the nature of the object. Desc. should admit the speculative  power of sensation since stg is useful only because we know stg of its nature, sugar is good bec. of its nature.


3.    Sensation is a relative knowledge


·      any knowl. is a relation.  Yet the intrinsic relativity of knowl. does not lead to a relativist doctrine as seen above, and here :

·      it exists only if it is relative to an object.

·      it is relative to the nature of the senses.  Each sense, accordg its own constitution produces a selection among the actions-alterations by the universe on the living being.  It is true that if we had other senses, the world would appear otherwise (as Sceptics say, wo much originality).  Sensation is also relative to the state of the sense : health, fatigue, saturation, lesion.  It is relative to other sensations which precede or accompany it, esp. used by artists in music and painting.  It is relative to the attention and ult. to the tendencies and the will : it is somewhat true that we see only what we like and we sense that which we want to.


4.    Sensation is an intuition

·      Def. An intuition is the immediate knowledge of a concrete object present.  Is sensation thus?

·      its object is stg concrete.  The senses indeed apprehend the singular thing, this man and not man, this colour and not colour.

·      an object present to the sense.  It is not coming physically or materially in the sense like a stone in the eye, but intentionnally by its action or its species.  And that is sufficient to render it present.

·      an immediate knowledge, wo discourse or reasonning.  We must discard the theories of inference which pretend that, to sense, we pass from the subjective impression to the real existing object which supposes applying the principle of causality (Descartes).  In fact, sensation gives us the real, since the impression made in us is immediately objective wo need of reasoning.  By opening my eyes, I perceive a coloured world, not a sensation of colour.


            2) explanation of sensation


To give the metaphysical explanation of sensation means to analyse it, to search the principles needed for it.  We will do so by distinguishing the diverses phases, more logical than chronological.

1.    The sense remains in potency to sense as long as it is not excited, altered by an external action-agent.

2.    the object acts according to its nature, agens agit sibi simile, operari sequitur esse.  This explain why sensation bears on an existing thing since that ‘thing’ acts on the sense, and necessarily reveals an aspect of itself.

3.    This action is not purely material, since it comes from the form of the object, and this correspondance suffices to render the union possible wo having recourse to the planets or angels to explain sensation[41].  In fact,  a body acts but only by its form (not by its matter), on a sensibility i.e. an animate organ (and not on a spirit).

4.    The sense receives the action of the object according to its own nature, quidquid recipitur ad modum reciptis recipitur.This passion of the sense is the ‘species impressa’, identical to the action of the obj[42].

5.    The sense, once excited, reacts according to its own nature, i.e. it knows.  It does not know its own species (as id quod cognoscitur), but it knows the object (sensible quality as quod) by it (as quo).


            3) CONCLUSION


1.    Def. of the nature of sensation : actus communis sensati et sensus[43].  This formula sums up the objectivity and subjectivtiy of sense knowl, the part of activity and passivity of the terms, and their union.

2.    The sense is infallibible with regards to its proper object.  either it functions, or it does not function.

·      If its does not function, there is no sensation

·      if it functions, it ncssly functions correctly since its act is identical to that of the thing. Thus there is no error of the senses.  The only possible error is that of the interpretation of the sense data, and in the judgement which follows.

3.    The senses are the only knowing faculty which puts us in contact with the real-existent

·      The imagination builds representations. 

·      The intellect knows only through abstract concepts which reveal the essence and leave aside all the concrete characters and the existence of their object. 

·      Thus, the judgements of existence need always to be verified by a ‘resolution to the sensible’ i.e. to an experience.   The most important application of this regards the demonstration of God’s existence.  Thomism doesn’t admit the ‘ontological proof’ which proceeds by analysis from the concept of God.  It reasons, yes, but starting from a concrete experience ‘sensu constat aliqua moveri in hoc mundo’, and the conclusion can assert an existing being  bc the starting point is a sensible intuition.



Art. 2  The Internal Senses


I.  in general


1.    The external senses perceive present sensible objects.  Yet experience teaches that sense knowl. can go beyond the immediate perception of objects.  We can store up our sensations and reproduce them at will, compare and relate them, direct them to our practical needs.  These are functions of the internal senses.

2.    ST presents a priori grounds for their existence :

·      more perfect animals have to move from place to place to secure their needs, and so they must represent to thems. absent sensible objects. 

·      They also need a special sensory power to know what is useful/harmful for them.  The sheep flees from the wolf by recognising it as an enemy.

3.    There are indeed ‘objective reasons’ or formalities which are irreducible to the ext. senses, in Ar. tradition there are 4 such objects to which correspond 4 internal senses : common sense, imagination, estimative power and memory.


Apprehension of objects



sensible forms

c.sense (central)



estimative (cogitative)

memorative (memory)



iI.  the common sense


1.    The term. 

·      It is not used by Aristotle/St.Thomas in the same way in usual language where it means the ‘good sense’ common to all men, i.e. the spontaneous activity of the int. or reason as ‘poteny to discern true from false’ (Descartes)[44]

·      it does not mean a special sense which would grasp the ‘sensibilia communia’, grasped by several senses together with their proper object. 

·      It is an internal sense, an ‘intimate sense’, the ‘sensible consciousness’.


2.    Functions and motive to prove the existence of the c.s.


·      we distinguish and unite different sensible qualities, colour and savor.  In order to compare, we must have experienced them as belonging together in the same thing, forming one whole in my sensory awareness.  It relates the sensations to the object.  Without the integral and integrating perception of the c.s., the sensible object would be meaningless. Its physical organ is 1º the brain which joins tog. all the sensations by the nerves, 2º the vertebral column.  C.s. feeds phantasy which keeps the phantasms, objects of the agent int.

·      We not only sense the object, but we also know that we sense it.  Yet, an eye, being organic, cannot reflect on itself[45].  The c.s. is the knowing fac. which has for objects the acts of sense knowl.[46]


3.    Nature of the common sense.

·      It is not a fac. of reflection.  To reflect is to come back over oneself[47].  But here c.s. does not come back over itself, but over the sensations from other senses[48].

·      it is not an intellectual function since its object is not stg abstract but the sensation of stg concrete.

·      it is a function distinct from the external senses, since it bears not on the external objects but on our sensation of the objects.  It is the center or principle of sensibility radix et principium sensuum ext.  It is a common seat for all the outer senses, a relay station whiose particular function is to convey to the higher faculties the first data of sense.  The ext. senses receive from it their aptitude to sense, and transmit back to it the impressions received.[49]  According to Ar. all animals necessarily have this one internal sense, whereas only higher animals are endowed with the others.

·      for these reason, it would not be badly named the sensible consciousness, which would imply that there is no unconscious sensation.  Because if there is a sensation more or less conscious, and stmes subconscious, it is never absolutely unconscious, it would not exist as sensation.  The psychologues who speak otherwise confuse between the psychical sense knowl. and the physical phenomena of excitation.



iii. imagination


1.    Description

·      Imagination is obviously a function of sense knowl. which reaches the phantasm.  It is a fac. of knowledge bec. it gives a representation of an object.  It is also sensible since its object is concrete, even when we represent a scheme which is closer to the abstract state (a silhouette, a number).

·      Unlike sensation[50], its object is irreal.  The image is not the presentation but the representation of a object real but absent.  The object is presented as irreal.   The imaginary knowl. terminates in the consciousness ‘visio imaginaria ad imaginem corporis terminatur sicut ad objectum’[51].  Its object is the phantasm, the imaginary which has no existence besides the act which points to it.  Its esse is its percipi[52].


2.    Conservation and reproduction:


2 functions which are ncssy to explain the representation of an absent object.

·      conservation. 

·      It is what is commonly called, but wrongly the memory.  It is ‘quasi thesaurus quidam formarum per sensum acceptarum’. 

·      Through the senses, the subject receives a new form from the object.  Does he lose this form when the action of the object i.e. the sensation ceases?  In such hypothesis, we never forget anything, and the problem is : how can we explain forgetfulness?  In thomism, forgetfulness and unconsciousness comess from the body i.e. the materialty of man.

·      Reproduction, evocation, reminiscentia, consist in becoming conscious of the form conserved. 

·      Better said, it is the construction of an image, a species expressa from the species impressa.  The imagination has the image or phantasm as its object (quod) and not as act (quo) bec. it is not a reflexive knowl. 

·      Often this image is produced at the same time as sensation and yet it is representation and not sensation.  That is why the imagination is subject to error ‘phantasiae ut plurimum sunt falsae’.[53]  Falsity is taken broadly speaking, since strictly only a judgment can be true or false, the judgment that the image is conform to reality.  The worst cases of error and illusion and hallucination.

·      its role in human conduct.  The Ancients considered imagination to play a vital role in our emotions.  It is the faculty in which our dreams are unfolded. 


3.    Illusion and hallucination

·      illusion is an image evoked by a present sensation, but clearer and more vivid so that we believe we see what we only imagine, e.g. to take a word for another.

·      halluciantion is a vivid and precise image without corresponding object : to see someone in the garden where there is nobody.  Yet even in this case, the hallucination is evoked by a sensation so that the difference with illusion is only of degree.

·      these phenomena cannot be used as basis for the skeptic and idealist argument.  We may ask how and by what mechanism hallucination occurs.  But to ask whether all sensation would not be a hallucination is non-sense, since by asking the question, we have already distinguished the two phenomena.  If they were indistinguishable, there would be no inquiry.



iv.  estimative and cogitative power


1.    Nature.  The estimative is this element of knowledge implied in the instinct, which has other elements, the natural appetite and locomotive factors. The instinct is a natural tendency and innate know-how : the know how is the estimative.  For man, it is called the cogitative since it is perfected by reason[54].


2.    Functions

·      It is a function of knowledge to reveal the usefulness and harmfulness of the things perceived.  ST calls usefulness an intentio insensata, i.e. a relation which cannot be perceived by any external sense, which involves not only the perception of an object but also the future effect of it : it deals with the imagined future.

·      Distinct from the imagination.  This is bec. the animal seeks or flees from certain things, e.g. the sheep flees from the wolf, not bec. of the colour or appeareance, but bec. of his threat to the sheep’s very existence.  Similarly a bird gathers straws not only to gratify its senses, but to make a future nest.  These actions are done bec. of the usefulness or harmfulness however future they may be.

·      The estimative is closer to the intellect.  It operates a beginning of abstraction by grasping a relation.  It is not intellectual yet since it does not see it as universal, the  relation remains concrete : the bird taking this straw for his nest does not grasp the nature of straw or of the nest nor the the relation of means to end.  The senses thus can perceive a relation, like between 2 colours and 2 sounds, yet only the intellect has a grasp of the relation as relation.


3.     Functions of the cogitative


·      Similar reactions are found in the sense activity of man and thus there is every reason to affirm the existence of this internal sense in man as well.  Yet it will have a special role to perform since man has intelligence, and his int. influences the instinctive powers.  It perfects them in such a way that they become human, not animal, instincts[55].  In Augustinian tradition it is called the lower reason, ratio inferior, ST calls it the cogitative power

·      By its closeness to the intellect, it acts as mediator between sense which graps the material singular and intellect, faculty of the abstracted essence.  It serves to prepare the immediate phantasms for the consideration of the intellect. It is located in the middle of the brain.

·      It is called also the ratio particularis, since it works as a gathering, collatio, of the particular cases to draw an empirical rule of activity.  It is the source of human experience, extremely important in practical life which is always concrete[56].  It is quite sufficient for daily living since it was sufficient for thousands of years before the dawn of science and technique.  Even science cannot do away with it since, being universal, it places the universal laws whereas the action always deals with concrete situations.



iv. memory


1.    object

·      Memory is often confused with imagination.  Yet what specifies it is its formal object, past images.  It is the knowledge of the past as such, cognitio praeteriti ut praeteriti.  Purely intellectual memory does not exist in man, since the intellect abstract from time and motion.

·      its proper act is to recognise the souvenirs either as stg past or as souvenir-image[57]

·      This relation is also an intentio insensata, pretty much like the future object of the estimative : past and future do not exist.  In both cases, one of the terms of the relation does not exist and the relation cannot be perceived by the senses.


2.    Conditions

·      memory presupposes, beside an image, a certain appreciation of time.  It does not require an abstract idea of time (the intemporal essence ‘time’ is not necessary to perceive the time) nor a precise measure of objective time (sideral or social-artificial)[58], useful for a precise localisation of the souvenir, not for the souvenir as such which needs only the impression of ‘déjà vu’, relation w. past

·      the memory supposes only the concrete perception of the internal duration (called subjective or proper time, Vs. objective or social time), in fact more real than the objective time.

·      Such a perception of the internal duration supposes : a) the succession of the interior states, b) the personal identity of the subject.  Against Bergson, we must maintain the permanence of the subject so that there be duration[59].  Thus the personal identity is the foundation of memory.  Yet in another sense (meaning possibility of defining who I am), the memory defines the personal identity.  For it is defined by my past : name, surname, birthdate, parents, profession, etc.  An amnesic is unable to say who he is, socially he has lost his identity.


3.    Memory and intellect

·      In man, memory (called reminiscence) is perfected by the influence of the intellect, which organises the memories-souvenirs, binds them and frames them into general ideas, to facilitate their evocation and localisation.  Modern psychology has added much to Ar. in the q? of the revival of past experiences (laws of learning, retention and recall), they have not added to the basic definition and proper object of memory, the  ratio praeteriti.

·      Is there in man a properly intellectual memory? This is a delicate question[60]

·      Taken in the strict sense of memory of the past as past, there is no intellectual memory since the concept, being abstract, represents an intemporal esence, wo time or place[61].

·      taken in the broad sense of conservation and recalling of intelligible forms,

·      ST admits an intellectual memory, part of the possible intellect.  Indeed there is no reason to admit that the acquired concepts be never lost. 

·      However we could also sustain that it is not necessary to admit an intellectual memory and that we should do away with it using Occam’razor entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate’.  It is sufficient to be intelligent (w. an agent intl.) to form a concept from remembered sensible phantasms.  What remains in the int. when it has ceased to think of an esence is not a latent form, as species intelligibilis, but only a habit, an aptitude to conceive quickly and easily such or such type of concepts.

·      ST enumerates the means of better memorizing[62] :

·      order the subject matter,

·      apply your mind to the subject matter ‘profunde et intente’,

·      meditate over them in the proper order,

·      memorise from the beginning whenever you begin to think of it.




Art. 3    The Sensitive Appetite



1.    The sensitive appetite is a tendency towards a concrete object apprehended by the senses as good.  It is called the sensuality as aroused by sensation. 

2.    This appetite follows necessarily sense knowledge, since there is no room for choice which occurs only in comparing a particular good with the pure and perfect Goodness, which cannot be sensed but only intelliged.

3.    The sensitive appetite is analogous to the will because :

·      it is an elicit appetite (it produces the act of desire).

·      it is undetermined prior to sensation.

·      the conduct of the animal is unforeseen since it receives so many sensations.



I.  classification of the appetites


            Leaving aside the love of friendship, spiritual and desinterested as such[63], we speak here of love as in ‘I love chocolate’.  Such love is extatic (it tends to the object) and selfish (it is for the subject). It is source of diverse appetites distinct by the formal object[64]

1.    the opposite of the tendency towards good is the abhorrence of evil, hatred.  Every hatred is founded on a previous love, like evil is the contrary of good.  These two movements of search for and flight from the object belong to the concupiscible.[65]  It is the root of concupiscence.

2.    If the good to be reached is difficult or arduous, love becomes transformed into a fighting instinct  against the obstacle.  Such a fighting instinct differs from the concupiscible appetite since it makes us abandon a pleasure and bear sufferings.  Invertedly, if the evil is threatening, the instinct of flight is changed into the instinct of resistence.  This new tendency is called the irascible appetite.

3.    The irascible per se is ordained to the concupiscible since the fight against the obstacle is justified only to obtain some future good.


ii.  the passions


1.    The Word. 

·      We use the term ‘passion’ as it has been used up to the XVIIth cent. meaning the ‘sentiments’ or the ‘affective states’, instead of the modern sense meaning predominant tendency. 

·      Such traditional definition is justified since a passion is a state one undergoes.  Whereas Knowledge is not purely passive since it is a reaction to an original passivity, the appetite however is always passive, being drawn by an object.

2.    Every sensitive passion or sentiment is constituted by three elements :

·      immutatio corporalis.  Since the sense appetite is an organic power, it involves bodily change.  A sentiment which would not be corporeal would be desincarnate, cerebral, intellectual, but not a state of sensibility[66]

·      knowlegde.  It is the beginning of the process of the passions and specifies the sentiment[67].

·      the appetite itself. Without the appetite, the knowledge would be purely speculative and inert[68].    Passions are properly movements of the appetites.




iii.  classification of the passions.[69] :





ab objecto:



in patiente



arduum consequi

arduum vitandi




















X (23,3)










The interest of such a classification is the order it gives to the complex movements of the human heart.  It is :

1.    a conceptual order.  Such a theory gives a precises definition of the diverse passions, e.g. of the desire, of anger.

2.    a genitic order.  It explains also that :

·      hatred is founded on love since stg appears as evil only in relation to a good we love. 

·      if we do not tend towards stg good, we won’t find any obstacle on the way.

·      stms the satisfaction disappears as we reach the object of desire bec. we had illusory ideas of it.

·      the timid temperaments are seldom angry since they flee evil, so that most of the time they do not face it.

Yet the greatest interest of such a theory consists in its being true, i.e. its correspondence with the reality of the passions and their play as each can judge for himself.


Art. 4.  The Soul of Beasts



1.    Animals have a soul

·      Descartes held the theory of animal-machines.  For him, the soul is a thinking substance and the body is mere extension.  He rightly says that animals do not think since they do not speak, hence they are mere automats, machines only more evolved than man made machines.

·      Against all forms of mechanistic theories, we say that animals have a soul, a principle of immaterial life, i.e. stg irreducible to mere matter.  If they live, they have a soul.  If they have faculties superior to the vegetals, they have a soul of a superior nature, which we call ‘sensitive’.


2.    The soul is unique in each animal.

·      This means that the vegetative life is assumed by the sensitive soul, and that there is no two souls, one vegetative and the other sensitive, in the same animal.

·      the dual theory can be admitted.  There is nothing impossible to a superior form to accomplish the inferior functions ‘qui potest magis potest minus’.

·      this one-soul theory must be admitted, given the metaphysical concept of the substantial form.  As the soul is the form of the living being, and as the form gives being to the substance, there cannot be two forms in one same animal bec. their union would be the accidental union of two juxtaposed beings.  But the animal is obviously one, it is not composed of two substances, one which lives and the other which senses.  It is a fact, and what is more, the contrary position is absurd since the sentient substance would otherwise be deprived of any vegetative life!


3.    the animal soul is not spiritual

·      Unlike the human soul, the sensitive soul of animals is not spiritual, bec. it depends on the body quantum ad esse.[70]

·      What obliges us to admit the spirituality of the h. soul is the presence of inorganic acts, e.g. abstraction and reflection.  But such acts are not found in animals.  The imagination, memory and estimative power suffice to render account of their behaviour.  There is no proper thought, no language (except the spontaneous lgg) i.e. abstract lgg as communication of a sign as such.  To admit a spiritual soul in animals would be purely arbitrary.

·      There are reasons not to admit a sensitive spiritual soul.  To sense is an operation of the living body, sentire est conjuncti, in which the organs concur intrinsecally. And since operari sequitur esse, we legitimately conclude that as the action always involves the body, the principle of action is not independent from the body, it does not exist without the body.


4.    The sensitive soul is engendered and corruptible.


·      It is engendered and corruptible if it is not subsistent or spiritual,.  This is bec. the fieri corresponds to the esse : as it does not exist independently from the body, it begins and ceases with it.

·      It begins to exist when the body is sufficiently organised, by the soul of the parents.[71]

·      It ceases to exist when the body is desorganised beyond repair, death being the result of the fight of the organism agst the forces of destruction.


5.    The sensitive soul can be multiplied...


·      ...At least for certain inferior animals, like the worms.

·      Less duplicable than the vegetative soul since it requires a more perfect organisation.

·      It is not duplicable at all among the superior animals.


6.    Conclusion

·      Bergson’s arguments for the spirituality of the h. soul are drawn from consciousness and memory.  He states that the psychical facts are not spatial, and that the memories are not preserved in the brain cells, and concludes that probably the soul survives the body.

·      Is such a conclusion certain or even probable?  What we criticise in Bergson is the content : he confuses the immaterial with the spiritual.  Consciousness and memory are not the proper of man.  They are sensitive functions which have an principle both immaterial and dependent on matter.  This argument is based on the cartesian prejudice which identifies soul and spirit.





Art.1.   Thought (int. act of knowledge)


I. the experimental aspect of thought


1.    Why is thought is a domain utterly neglected in experimental psychology?


·      Because it is difficult to experiment on thought.  The int. functions are quite distinct from the physical and physiological substratum.  It is easy to prevent them, impossible to provoke them at will.  Thought and cannot be directly provoked but only suggested : we can furnish a subject with an image or a word, hoping for the best, that he may start to think about it.

·      There is also the difficulty to isolate the int. operations (concept, judgt) from the words (or proposition) which incarnate them.  But even then, we can stms use the lgg without thinking.


2.    It is difficult to free oneself from a philosophical view point since the psychology of intelligence is intimately linked to logic, criteriology and metaphysics. 


·      logic deals with the correct laws of reasoning.  But can a non-correct reasoning be reasoning at all?  Can a contradictory concept still be a concept?  It seems not, and thus logic is really true psychology

·      criteriorily deals with the question of value of the int., but the value is intimately linked to the q? of origin, e.g. the theory of abstraction of ideas is a key thesis of criteriology.

·      metaphysics is always involved when speaking of the spirit.  To refuse the word ‘spirit’ risks introducing a materialist conception, which is a prejudice but also a prejudiced metaphysics of its own.


3.    The experimental psych. stms deals with the int. 


·      it  tends to reduce them to the inferior forms.  We gradually pass from the insensible forms to the sensation and the image, to the scheme, to the idea, etc.  

·      Thus the theory of ‘associationism’:the entire psychological life is but an association of simple elmts


4.    Briefly, very little must be retained from experimental psychology, the fact that the intellectual functions are stg original, irreducible to the inferior functions, bec. their object is abstract.  Though distinct, they should not be separated from the sensible functions, since they are dependant on them (extrinsically) bec. it is the same man who senses and thinks.


ii.  the biological aspect of thought


1.    Thought, in biology, is a vital necessity for man.


·      It is a necessary condition of life.  The h. senses and instinct are not sufficiently precise and perfect so as to adapt him spontaneously to his milieu.  Every new situation poses a problem of adaptation.  And we can properly define the intellect as the function which solves problems.

·      It is also a necessary consequence of life.  Man can’t help thinking, he can only direct his thought on one point or another.  Thought is a natural and innate activity.


2.    Intellect is similar to the instinct in as much as :


·      the int. is an innate ‘know how’.

·      it is specific, common to all the individual of the species.  Monsters are found in animals as well.

·      it is infallible, at least relatively.  Bec. the animal instinct is not absolutely infallible either (errors, failing activities).  The h. int., though often erroneous, is infallible in 2 senses : a) bec. it perceives its errors and corrects them and thereby corrects itself since it has no function superior; b) biologically it can solve its problems of adaptation since the humankind survives its milieu.


3.    The int. is distinct from the instinct :


·      its end is not the simple knowledge with or without pleasure (to see, hear) for a biological and practical purpose, but to understand i.e. speculatively or theorically.  The int. is started with the astonishment (bgg of Metaph. Ar.), sign of ignorance and natural desire to know and to understand.

·      its has specific laws, the laws of logic, which are not reducible to a phys. nor psych. determinism, since we can always trespass them.

·      it is capable of reflection.  Whereas the instinct is pure blind spontaneity, and puts means in line with the end wo reflection of the end or of the best means, the int. is not only conscious but also reflexive, i.e. capable of examining its own activity, its orientation and functioning.

Conclusion: our study will be metaphysical, and deal with the object (intelligibile), the subject (intellect) and finally the acts of knowl (intellection).


Art. 2.  The Object of the Intellect



1.    Mat. object.  The sum of the objects knowable in general is the material object of the intellect.  It is everything man can understand, including the future progress.  The answer to this question of delimiting the mat. o. is useless, since it would give us an encyclopedy wo philosophical value. 


2.    Formal object.  In fact whatever their number, things are known by the int. only in as much as they are intelligible.  Thus the real question is what is intelligible in things?  This is to define the formal object of the int.  This can be considered in two ways given that the int. can mean

·      a) any intellective power with its laws of object common to all intellect, finite or infinite, pure or incarnate, and here we consider the object common to any int. called also adequate

·      b) the intellect as human with its proper laws and object, and here we study the object proper to the h. int.  This proper object can be known either :

·      directly : direct o. of the h. int.

·      indirectly, other objects are known by the mediation of the direct o.h.i.



I.  the common object of intellection


            1) thesis


1.    ThThe common or adequate object of the intellect is being.


2.    Remarks :

·      ST does not prove this thesis formally.  It belongs to the general metaphysical thesis of ens et verum convertuntur, every being is true.  However, often, he formulates it as a fact obvious irrecusable “that which the intellect conceives as most known and in which all other concepts resolve is being”.[72]  “What falls firstly in the conception of the int. is being... Hence being is the proper object of the int. and thus is the first intelligible object”.[73]

·      we deal here with the formal object common to any intellect, i.e. the aspect under which the int. can reach its mat. object.  It may seem audacious to set valuable laws for all intellection when we know only the h. int. by experience.  Yet, though finite or infinite, though incarnated or pure, our int. is an intellect.  In it we can discern some characters true to all intellects.  It would be absurd to suppose that an int. would have nothing in common with ours. 


3.    Proof

·      to demonstrate the thesis, it suffices to show that the h. int. in all its acts knows nothing which is not somehow being.  Everything which is known is know as a being, as an aspect or form or type of being.

·      proof itself : 

M. in all its operations, the int. grasps its object sub ratione entis.  These operations are 3 : simple apprehension, judgement and reasoning.

m.  But, by simple apprehension grasps what is the object, by judgement, we enunciate that it is or what it is; by reasoning we demonstrate why it is such or such.

C.  The object of the int. is always being.


            2) corollaries


1.    Being as such is intelligible.


·      this means that being is object of the int, and that stg is intelligible in as much as it is or has being.

·      this does not mean that any being is always proportionate to any int.  e.g. God, pure, perfect, infinite being is sovereignly intelligible in se but not quoad nos, bec. He transcends our finite spirit.

·      this thesis is set agst Kantism which separates being and the phenomena, and limits knowl to the phenomena and declares that being is unknowable.  Using Kant’s jargon, we say that being is noumen, but that the noumen itself is a phenomen in its own way since it appears not to the senses, but to the int.


2.    Nothingness is unthinkable as such (pure non being).

·      we can think of nothingness but never as such and only as negation of being, either as a determined nothingness (negation of such being, of sight in blindness), or as absolute nihil (pure simple negation of being)[74].

·      This contradicts all the philosophies which consider nothingness as anterior to being in knowledge.  “Being appears only it is background of nothingness” (Sartre); “ex nihilo omne ens qua ens fit” says Heidegger, who adds that anguish elevates the whole of being since it is the sentiment of the nothingness of all things.  For ST, being is intelligible per se and it is the bottom line, the stuff of anything knowable : “primo intelligitur ens, et ex consequentia non ens[75]


3.    The h. int., by right, can know all that is.

·      As imperfect and limited as it is our h. int. is an int. having for object being.  De facto an infinitude of things are unknown.  De facto et de jure, the superior forms of being, esp. God, are incomprehensible to it.  Yet nothing is absolutely inaccessible as such “Est enim proprium objectum intellectus ens intelligibile, quod quidem comprehendit omnes differentias et species entis possibilis.  Quidquid enim esse potest, intelligi potest.”[76]

·      This position is set against agnosticism.  It is absurd to suppose a being which would be absolutely and radically unknowable.  To give ‘The Unknowable’ as title of book of 300 pages as did Spencer is absolutely ridiculous.



ii.  the proper object of the h. intellect.



            1) thesis


1.    ThThe proper o. of the is the quiddity of material things represented by the imagination, in their abstract and universal character[77].


2.    Remarks

·      The h. int. is certainly an int., but with special aspect since it is finite and incarnate. Thus it is ruled by special laws, which determine the general laws of any int., and it must have a proper object which determines also the common object.   It knows being and can know any being.  It it grasps directly only one of its forms, the lowest of all : the material being“Intellectus humani, qui est conunctus corpori, proprium objectum est quidditas sive natura in materia corporali existens”[78], “ nostri, sec. praesentem vitae statum, est quidditas rei materialis quem a phantasmatibus abstrahit”[79]

·      the quiddity:

·      is not the essence stricte dicta in metph., which is that by which a thing is what it is.

·      does not mean that we grasp directly the essence of every body since often, on the contrary, we grasp the essence only progressively and oftener it escapes us.

·      Quidditas is taken broadly as quid est res, its nature, as confuse and poor as may be.  e.g. to think ‘an animal’, ‘a tree’, ‘a dynamo’, ‘a thing’, ‘a being’ is already to grasp the quiddity of the thing.  Yet such an object can be called an essence to distinguish it from the sensible qualities and from existence, and to underline its abstract character.


·      the thesis affirms 4 points:

·      the h. int. knows directly the material things.

·      it knows only mat. things directly, and only in so far as they have been known by the senses and presented by the imagination.

·      of these things, the int. grasps their essence at least confusedly.

·      unlike the senses whose object is the thing material and the concrete individual, the int. knows its object under an abstract form, i.e. as universal wo its individuating characters.


3.    Proofs  (only a posteriori proofs can be given)

·      First part.

·      positively.  The concept is always formed from sensible images as we always realise when we study or teach, “quando aliquis conatur aliquid intelligere, format sibi aliqua phantasmata per modum exemplorum, in quibus quasi inspiciat quod intelligere studet.  Et inde est etiam quod quando volumus facere aliquem aliquid intelligere, proponimus ei exempla ex quibus sibi phantasmata formare possit ad intelligendum”[80].

·      negatively.  Wo images, the concepts are also lacking, cf. the blind born man can have no knowl. of colours[81]

·      2d part.  The concept represents its object wo its individuating notes, but as an abstract essence, abstractum ab hoc, hic, nunc.  If abstract, it is also universal i.e. universally applicable to an indefinite number of individual : triangle, man are universals[82]



            2) corollaries



1.    The intellect, in order to have any knowl., depends on the imagination, i.e. needs to turn to an image  conversio ad phantasmata (I 84, 7).

·      the phantasm is an essential element of the theory of knowl.  ST says that the intellect turns not sensation (although it alone makes us in touch with the real) but to the phantasm.  The phantasm is a higher degree of elaboration of sense knowl. and the closest the intellect.  It is already somewhat abstracted bec. it is schematic and esp. free from the conditions of time and space.

·      By affirming that there is no thought without image, are we not opposed to the tests of Binet which led psychologists to admit the existence of a thought wo image?  No, they only show clearly that abstract thought is different from images, but they do not show that there be thought ‘in act’ wo images.

·      the int. is dependent on the imagination, the senses, the body.  It is an ‘objective dependence’ bec. it provides it with the object of thought.


2.    Hence the axiom nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu

·      There are no innate ideas, all the contents of our thought is drawn out of the sensible experience[83]

·      This principle was used later on by the empiricists, Locke part., which led people to believe that Ar. was the first empiricist.  Yet we have no right to confuse their position.  The difference lies in abstraction which Ar. affirms and which empiricists deny.  For Ar., the experience is the starting point of all knowl. but it is not the entire knowl, bec. the int. surpasses and departs from it, it by abstracting the universal essence out of , and away from, experience.


3.    The same idea can be recalled : “in principio intellectus est sicut tabula rasa in qua nihil scriptum”.[84]  Tabula rasa indicates only that the int. is a passive potency, like the senses, and that it does not have innate objects, but only drawn from the exterior.


4.    Another error opposed to this thesis is ontologism

·      Malebranche, followed by Rosmini, said that God is the first object known to the human intellect.  ST formally rejected this idea which was held by several disciples of St. Augustin in his time.[85]

·      God is sovereignly intelligible since He is pure being, but only in se and for Himself, and not quoad nos since we are able to know his existence only through the sensible things. 

·      God is also the light in which we see all things, “in lumine tuo videbimus lumen”, meaning our int. (a light) is a participation of the infinite intel. (The Light).  But the light (int.) is not the object of our vision, but only that by which we see.  Against this theory of the ‘vision of God’, we say that to be able to see the things in God we should firstly see God Himself.  And the vision of God is not possible wo the beat. vision which man obviously is lacking on earth.[86]


5.    Could we define the h. intellect by its aptitude to see God


·      It can be done so.  But it is admissible only in theology and not in philosophy since, whereas the tendency to beatitude is a natural fact, the aptitude to the beat. vision is only a revealed truth (cf. above p.16).  Even by analysing the finality of the int., we can never find there an aptitude to see God.

·      Yet, even you define your int. with relation to God, you still need to deduce from there, the objectivity of the representations it forms about things.  That is the attempt Fr. Maréchal does in Le Point de départ de la métaphysique.  But it seems difficult to base the realism of the our concepts only on the subjective finality of the int.  If one does not start with the real data ffrom experience, there can be no deductive way of recovering it later one.[87]



iii.  the indirect object of the human intellect


            Only material things are proportionate to the h. intellect, and can be direct object of its knowledge.  Yet, it can know something else, all the forms of being, but this will be by a detour, either by reflection or analogy.  The proofs, once more, can only be experimental.


            1) the intellect knows itself


1.    It is a fact : we have an intellectual consciousness as well as a sense consciousness.  The difference is that whereas a sense is not capable of reflection on itself, so that its consciousness must be the act of a superior function, the common sense, the intellect however is capable of such reflection so that we need not find another special faculty to render account of our int. consciousness.


2.    The int. is not a direct object of itself.  It can be known only by reflection upon a direct act of knowledge.  Here is the order of operations (logical or natural rather than chronol) :


·      a direct act of knowledge of a given essence,

·      by reflection, the int. knows firstly its act,

·      the int. then knows itself as principle of its act.  This knowledge of self is not a reasonning but a (reflex) perception or intuition of the intellect in and by its own act.


3.    The int. peceives also its own existence, not in its nature or essence, bec. as such it is immaterial and knowable only by analogy as any immaterial thing.  Moreover, it needs ‘subtilis et diligens inquisitio’[88]


4.    There is in thomism a true cogito. 

·      Cogito ergo sum (valid passage).  “No one can think and assent that he does not exist.  As one thinks, one perceives he exists”[89].  “By the act we know the int. itself whose perfect is the intellection itself”.[90]

·      the pb w. Descartes’s cogito (and St. Aug.) is that for him it is the first truth which allows him to escape scepticism and to base his entire philosophy. 

·      ST does not think he needs to escape scepticism nor to construct his philosophy in a linear fashion as if all truths deduced like geometric theorems. 

·      In thomism, the first truth is the pple of contradiction, which commands all other mental activities bec. it is the first law of being, but we can deduce nothing from it

·      each part of philo. starts from certain facts which are for it the first truths, so that there are severy starting point in the system, which is not linear but constellary (set as stars). 

·      the cogito is not even the starting point of psychology since psych. begins with the experience of living beings, and not even the starting point of the psychology of the int. since acts are known prior to their faculties, and the objective essence prior to the act.

·      ST admits a habitual knowl. of the soul by itself, which is based on the simple presence of the soul to itself and need not go thru all the diverse steps indicated above.  “The mind, bec. it abstracts from the phantasms, has a habitual knowledge of itself, by which it can perceive its own existence”[91]Such habitual knowl. is implicit, as a confused and continuous sentiment, thus unconscious, which is acutalised only by reflection upon one’s act of direct knowl.


            2) The intellect knows the singular[92]



1.    It is a fact that man can have some idea of individual things, some concept of the singular.  ‘Socrates is man’ : this judgment is possible only if the individual subject is somewhat known by the int.


2.    How do know the singular“The int... knows the nat. of the species, either quod quid est, by directly extending itself; it knows the thing singular by a certain reflection, in so far as it returns upon its phantasms from which it abstracted the species.”[93]

·      as by a sort of reflection “Our int. directly knows only the universal, and the singular only by a cert. reflection.”[94]  I.e. there is reflection (but in the inverted sense of the reflection to discover the subject).  There is 1º the direct act of knowledge, 2º reflection upon this act, 3º reflection of the objective source of the act, the phantasm.[95]


3.    Difficulty. 

·      How does the int. perceive the sensible phantasm as such not object of intellection?  Verneaux’s answer : the int. has only universal concepts,  to go back to the individual, the int. joins the concepts so that they could fit only one individual.  Thus we define Kant : German philosopher, born in Koenigsberg in 1724. 

·      The unity of man makes it possible. The reflection brings the int. back to the phantasm, which is perceived by the imagination.  The junction of these 2 functions is made in the unity of man : the same man who thinks the group of concepts imagines the individual.



            3) the intellect knows the spiritual beings.



1.    It is a fact that we can know other objects besides the material things, i.e. the immaterial and spiritual beings.  But we cannot have a proper idea of them, only an analogical one.[96]


2.    The analogical knowledge


·      supposes the knowledge of the existence of the spiritual being (an sit) and tries to know its essence (quid sit).  It does not matter whether the knowl. is obtained by experience (of the cogito for the soul), by reason (God), or by faith (angels and God).

·      e.g. God’s existence being presupposed, then comes the analogical process, negative and positive :

·      negative, via remotionis (negatv theol.).  We discard from the notion of God all the characters which do not suit Him : materiality, extension, parts, movement, man.  Led to the extreme, this movement tends to define God as nihil (Tauler, Suzo; St. Angela of Foligno ‘O unknown nothingness’; ST “De Deo scire non possumus quid sit, sed quid non sit” I 3 proem).

·      positive.  If we posit the existence of God as creator, first cause of the world, we are authorised to attribute to Him at least all the perfections in the word since  causa potior effectu. But such perfections said of God must be pure perfections, i.e. free from any material character, and borne to the infinite : this is the via causalitatis et eminentiae.

·      Obscurity.  Such a knowl. of a perfection which is infinite is beyond our comprehension.  This is why the analogical knowl. is never quidditative, and above it, there is room for the superior forms of knowledge : faith and  beatific vision[97]


3.    The supernatural knowl. of God

·      Fides est de obscuris.  It is an inferior mode of knowl. bec. it is obscure (faith is the sc. of the blind hearer).  Yet, this knowl. is superior to the analogical knowl (of philosophy re. God) because it is intuitive.  It is intuitive in so far as it bears, not on the dogmatic formulae, but on the concrete reality designated by the formulae.[98]

·      the myst. contemplation bears diverse degrees.  The highest of all is called by St. Theresa ‘the spiritual marriage’, which is a ‘contact’ between the soul and God, contact of substance with subst., whereas the faculties of knowl., sensation, imagination and even intelligence are asleep.  This gives an enlightenment of faith, fides oculata, in the sense that what is believed is also experienced.  But it is still obscure, since the last veil is never torn in this life.

·      the beatific vision is the clear sight of God ‘sicuti est’ (I Jn 3,2) ‘facie ad faciem’ (I Cor 15,12). This is possible only with a special grace, ‘lumen gloriae’, which enables the human mind to have God as object.  Yet, it supposes in man the obediential potency to be elevated to the sn state, i.e. a nature apt to be elevated, a radical capacity for its elevation (strong foundations to elevate the building of sn)


4.    The vision of God, and the natural desire of seeing God (cf. above p.16).

·      Pb :

·      there must be some proportion betw. knower and object known, since the known is the pfct of the knower.  Yet “man wants to know the cause of any effect which he sees, and there arises wonder.  But if the int. of the rat. creature could not reach so far as to the first cause of things, the natural desire would remain void.”[99]

·      The principle ‘desiderium naturae nequit esse inane’ is at the centre of the theology of grace : we desire heaven but heaven is a gift of grace.  How can we solve the apparent contradiction

·      The meaning of  natural desire to see God :

·      Scotus understands the vision of God it as a positive requirement of our nature. Natural = innate.

·      ST says no, the desire to see God is an elicited desire, and not an unconscious tendency flowing immediately from nature.  It comes forth from a given act of knowledge.  Then in what can it be called natural? 

·      The commentators explain ST differentely bec. they consider the object of this desire to be :

·      God naturally or supernaturally known : man has 2 ends, one natural and attainable by nat. powers, one sn attained by gr (Garrigou). Thus the desire to see God in his Deity is natural in itself but inefficacious, not innate but free, that is a mere velleitas (cf ST).

·      God only naturally (Cajetan) : = man naturally desires to see the essence of God as  Auctor naturae (the mysteries of His attributes and of His Providence),[100] this desire of nature is not vain.

·      God seen intimately, which desire is not absolute because :  

·      the argument is not apodictic but only probable.  Thus, the vision of God is not impossible to man, i.e. man has an obediential potency, a passive capacity to receive whatever God gives him (cf. Grenier in Ethics, Last end).

·      it is negatively possible (not imposs.), De Broglie vs. Garrigou argues that a) the idea that man have 2 ends is not satisfactory; b) ‘desiderium naturae’ means only that there is no impossibility, wo affirming that man reaches always the end by himself. Hence the desire of beat. is only a conditional velleity, not an efficacious will. Thus grace is not stg given to a nature wo appetite for such an end and happy with its nat. end.

·      Leaving aside the fact that it is a mere possibility-velleity, the nat. desire of happiness does not always include that of God. We naturally and necessarily desire the supreme happiness universally considered.  Does this nat. inclination includes the desire to see God? No, bec. we are not naturally persuaded of it (many do not put their happiness in God’s vision), thus the desire to see God is a conditional one, depending on whether it appears to me to be included in the universal good.  But precisely for one who reasons naturally (provided man develops his reasoning normally wo perverting it), he sees the necessary connection betw. God and the universal good, he sees this desire as natural.  Such a desire cannot be void.  Hence the possibility of the beatific vision is not a self-evident truth, but stg which fits our nature (A. Gardeil).[101]

·      The philosopher cannot acquire more than an analogical knowledge.  Yet everyone uses this knowl. when speaking of God. Even G. Marcel, who is very negative on the theological affirmation, comes back to the analogy when he defines God as the ‘absolute Thou’, i.e. God is a person like man, but transcendant.


iv.  conclusion


1.    These theses constitute of the centres of thomism.  They can be summed up poetically and profoundly by the symbol of Athens, the owl.

2.    Ar. says that man resembles the owl which, blinded by the sun light, can fly only by night.  Because the h. mind is blinded by the purely intelligible objects, it is capable of perceiving only the less intelligible realities.  “As the eyes of the night birds are blinded by the sun light, so the h. int. is blinded by the things more naturally evident”[102].

3.    ST comments on this text thus : “Thus it is manifest that the difficulty occurs in the knowl. of truth mostly because of the defect of our int.  From which it happens that the int. of our soul is to the immaterial being, which among all things are the most manifest according to their nature, as the eyes of the owl (nycticorax) to the daylight, which they cannot see, although they see the obscure things.  And this is because of the fragility of their vision.”[103]


Art. 3.  Nature of the Intellect




With the int. life, we enter properly the spiritual domain, bec. if sensation is immaterial, it is not spiritual since sensation is the activity of an organ, sentire est coniuncti.  The int. life transcends the sensible.



I. remarks


1.    The int. needs the body.  Studying the proper object of the Int., we showed that the body is ncssly linked to its exercise and why.  This is bec. it is originally in potency, and becomes in act only if an object is presented to it.  But the only object which is proportionate to the int. is a material thing given by the senses and represented by the imagination which depend intrinsically on the body.  Hence the exercise of the int. depends also on the body.

2.    The int. as such is independent from the body.  It depends on it extrinsically or objectively, but we can show that it is independent from the body intrinsically or subjectively, i.e. according to its esse.

3.    The proof

·      the principle of causality : operari sequitur esse : the nature of a being is revealed from its acts.  If therefore, the int. has acts which exclude the direct participation of an organ, we shall legitimately conclude that it is in itself inorganic. 

·      The starting point of such proof is, not an act of the sense memory, but any int. act, concept, judgement or reasonning, or the act of reflection, or the fact that the int. can know all bodies.  This last argument is the one used by ST (yet more delicate), 1 and 4 are the simplest.



ii. proofs


1.    By the concept, the int. grasps as its object an abstract and universal quiddity.  But an abstract quiddity cannot be a body, always singular, hoc, hic, nunc.  Hence the act apprehending the quiddity is spiritual and the principle of such an act is spiritual.[104]  Likewise in the case of the judgement : the int. posits and seizes a relation, which is not physical or sensible since it is between abstract concepts.  In reasonning, the mind grasps the bond of necessary dependency betw. the judgements, and such a logical necessity is abstract.


2.    Through reflection, the int. grasps its own act and itself.  But an organ cannot come back upon itself since it has extended parts and 2 physical parts cannot coincide due to the impenetrability of matter.  Hence the act of reflection is spiritual and the int. which exercises it is also spiritual.[105]


3.    The int. can know all bodies, which suffices to prove that it is not a body.[106] 

·      This is bec. a) a faculty cannot know a object if it has within itself the nature of this object : intus existens prohibet extraneum; b) it can know all bodies ‘quodammodo fit omnia’, but a body has a determinate nature and cannot become another without ceasing to be what it is.[107]

·      ‘intus existens prohibet extraneum’ is the principle which may present some difficulty.  Yet it is self evident : if a fac. of know. has within itself and by nature such a form, it will not be able to receive it nor any other form of the same species.  It will know this forms as his, but not as of another.

·      This argument is in fact the most metaphysical of all.  It explains why :

·      matter does not think, since a body is enclosed in a completely determined nature.  And although the int. has also a determinate nature, it is somewhat open to all forms.

·      the int. is superior to the senses, since it is open to all bodies, whereas each of the senses are open only to one given sensible qualities.



iii. corollaries


1.    We must admit 2 theses which look like a typical kantian antinomy.  Th. ‘the intl. depends on the body’; ‘antith. ‘the int. does not depend on the body’.  Ans/  the body is a necessary condition for the exercise of intellection, bec. int. needs an object to pass from potency to act.  But this act as such is not material, nor is its faculty.  “Corpus requiritur ad actionem intellectus, non sicut organum quo talis actus exerceatur, sed ratione objecti”.[108]


2.    “The brain is the organ of thought”?

·      If we mean by ‘thought’ the entire work which terminates in the idea, it is true that the brain, and more broadly, the entire nervous system and the whole body is the organ of thought.  It is more properly said the organ of all the sense operations which are the condition of thought. 

·      If by ‘thought’, we mean the intellectual acts strictly speaking, it does not act through organs.

·      the extrinsic or objective dependence of the int. on the body renders perfect account of why brain lesions provoke mental sicknesses and why certain chemical subst. contradictorily called ‘serum of truth’, provoke uncontrolled thoughts and words.


3.    Re. the relation between the brain weight and the int., the same solution must be given.  For the animal intl., we can admit a direct relation, but that is because strictly speaking there is no int.  For man, the relation is only indirect, extrinsic, and only in the measure in which the brain conditions our thought.


4.    How do we explain that the int. work is accompanied with physical fatigue, esp. brain fatigue?  This is bec. the int. works requires always the concourse of the imagination, which is connected to an organ.  It is also usually accompanied with other activities, reading or writing and a general bodily position (sitting, enclosed) which are physical attitudes.[109]



iv.  conclusion


1.    To deny the physical conditions of the spiritual life is an exagereated and false spiritualism, derived from Descartes and made the official teaching by Cousin (XIX c.).  A sound spiritualism accepts all the facts and is not afraid of any given experience.


2.    There is in ST a recurring humorous phrase: “Molles carne bene aptos mente vidimus[110].  He spoke by experience since he was very fat, thus his text could be translated “it’s a fact that fat people are intelligent”. In fact, he attributes the nobility of the soul and the perspicacity of the mind to the more delicate sense of touch : “ad bonam complexionem corporis sequitur nobilitas animae, quia omnis forma est proportionata suae materiae.  Unde sequitur quod qui sunt boni tactus, sunt nobilioris animae et perspicacioris mentis”.[111]


3.    Hence the basis of a sound humanism, which does not separate mind from body ‘mens sana in corpore sano’.  This does not mean that the bodily health begets ex sese the mental health nor esp. its culture, but that it offers a favorable basis for it.  Juvenal, in his verse, has no philosophical pretention, but put in it a religious note which all neglect citing “orandum est ut sit mensa sana in corpore sano”.[112]


Art. 4  The simple Apprehension



I. description


1.    Apprehension is the act of understanding stg wo affirming or denying.  And since the object of h. int. is the quiddity, apprehension is the act which knows an abstract quiddity, clearly or confusedly[113]Actus quo intellectus cognoscit quod quid est.  Actus qui apprehendit quidditatem aliquam.


2.    This knowl. is obtained by a concept, whereby it is called also a conception. 

·      The concept is not the same thing as apprehension : it is only the means by which the mind grasps (apprehends) an essence.

·      In order to know, the int. needs to produce within itself a ‘representation’ of the object : conceptus, verbum, mentis, species expressa.  This dictio verbi is so essentiel to the intelligence that it is found even in God.  God does not think in abstract terms, but His knowl. is done ncssly by a Word[114].  The concept is id quo intellectus apprehendit quidditatem.


3.    The concept has a double aspect :


·      the objective concept (the objective aspect of the cpt) is the cpt seen as it represents an object : the object thought.

·      the formal concept (subjctv aspect of the cpt) is the cpt seen as conceived by the int. : the thought of the object.  Since the formal concept is simply the vital and immanent act of the int., it needs no explanation.  We need to speak of the objective concept.



ii. existence of the concept


1.    SQ.  We need to establish the existence of the cpt in the int., against nominalism which reduces it to a mere image or a word (position of Occam in XIV c, passed to the empirical schools, Locke, Berkeley, Hume). 


2.    Concept and image

·      we can stms conceive objects wo forming an adequate image of them.  E.g. relations (equality, dependence), qualities (justice, goodness), metaph. notions (possibility, necessity, existence).  Equality is distinct from the math. sign ‘=’; justice (virtue by which one renders each one his due) is more than a mere scale.

·      The image is not ncssly linked to a concept.  From any type of triangular image we form the concept of a triangle.

·      The image is always concrete and sensible, even the composite or schematic image.  The concept, even singular, is abstract from its sensible characters.  The schematic image of a man, a ‘gentleman’ is still a sensible representation quite different from the essence ‘man’, object of the cpt


3.    Concept and word.

·      the written or spoken word is a ‘verbal image’.  But is has a special role in the functioning of the intellect : it fixes the thought, determines it and communicates it.  Yet it is radically distinct from the idea.

·      the word and the idea are independent.  There are ideas wo words (no word corresponds to our thought) and words wo ideas (parrot speech).

·      they are indifferent to each other.  The same idea can be expressed by different words (diffrt. languages, or synonymous in the same lgg), and the same words have different senses (homonymes).

·      in many cases, we do not make an act of intelligence : we say we understand the word when we evoke an image, the gestures for usual things (fork, spoon, ladder, staircase).  To define them int., we would need much reflection, although we vaguely know they are instruments.

4.    Conclusion.  There is no thought without concept.  And the concept is essentially abstract and universal.  Universality is a consequence of abstraction : by abstracting from individual characters, the object is applicable to a number of particular cases.


iii. formation of the concept.



1.    Critique of inneism

·      Th. the concept is abstracted from sensible experience (see above, we need only show the inconsistency of the inneist theories).  Vs. all types of inneism, rationalist or idealist. 

·      Plato admits some sort of inneism of ideas : the ‘reminiscence’ recalls the memory of ideas the soul had before it was united to the body.  

·      Descartes said that the fundamental ideas (God, extension) were innate to the mind ‘I draw them out of the treasure of my spirit’.

·      Leibniz says they are virtually innate, i.e. produced by the mind on the occasion of experience.

·      Kant and co. affirm that a priori forms and categories are all innate, being laws of the knower.

·      Inconsistency of the inneist theories

·      it is wo proof, i.e. arbitrary.  Its objections to the aristotelian theory of abstraction are resolved :

·      a) How could a body cannot act upon a spirit?  That is true, and that is one of the bases for the theory of abstraction;

·      b) the idea of infinite, says Desc., cannot be drawn from the sensible: true, but it is obtained from the sensible by the analogical method, wo being innate;

·      c) the necessary and universal laws cannot be experimental, says Kant: true, but they can be grasped by the int.

·      inneism is illogical unless it develops into an absolute idealism.  If all int. knowl. originates from the subject, how can it not terminate in the subject?

·      inneism is false.  Locke rightly argues agst Descartes : we cannot admit actual ideas which would exist perfectly formed in the mind. The ideas are maybe only virtual, but we need to explain the passage from potency to act, the actualisation of ideas formed by the int.  Leibniz recognises that experience is necessary as giving the occasion for this actualisation : if the exp. brings stg to the mind, moving and exciting, it brings it the object of thought, but that is the theory of abstraction.


2.    Forms of abstraction


·      Broadly speaking, to abstract is to consider one element of a given thing apart from the rest.  Thus, the senses do abstract as they perceive one aspect while excluding the others.  This is how the empiricist speak of abstraction.  In reality, there is no abstraction since the given element is as concrete as the whole : a face is not ‘abstract’, it is as concrete as the other parts of the body.

·      Proper abstraction is the consideration of a particular sensible object according to its nature apart from its individual elements, the proper of the intellect (85,1).  There are 2 forms of abstr [115]:

·      the total abstraction (better called by ST ‘abstractio totius’) abstrahit totum a partibus, the genus from the species or individuals (e.g. we abstract from diverse men the human genus).

·      the formal abstraction (better called by ST ‘abstractio formae’) abstrahit formam a materia, a type from its individuals (humanity from Socrates).  This formal abstraction has various degrees which constitute the great types of h. knowl.[116]


3.    The 3 degrees of abstraction :


·      in physical abstraction, the mind considers the sensible qualities apart from the individual qlties (weight, color, heat, reactions).

·      in math. abstrct., the mind considers quantity apart from all its sensible qualities (length, width, surface, volume, numbers), etc.

·      in metaphysical abstr., the mind considers the being of the object apart from any qtty and qlty (existence, substance or accidt, pot or act,etc.: being as being).  Brunschvicg, saying that there is no science except of things measurable, condemns any metaphysics and restricts sc. to maths.  That is an error : the fact that a thing exists is important and very interesting, although it escapes the mathematician.

·      order : these 3 degrees of abstraction are not produced sucessively by the mind.  Faced to an object, we consider it the way we wish. 

·      Genetically, the metaph. intuition seems prior to the 2 others, a child is a born metaphysician[117].  After, the mind loses its freshness and becomes stifled by the ‘instruction’, and interested in things immediately useful, and metaphysics ‘is good for nothing’ at least directly.

·      to accede to the level of metaphysics it is not ncssy to pass the inferior levels.  Vs. the motto of the Academy “No one enters here who is not a geometer”, that of the Liceus would be the opposite.  Ar. would consider that the mathematical spirit, like the positive spirit, renders inapt for metaphysics.  This is bec. metaph. offers neither the riguour of demonstration of maths. nor the experimental verification of physics. 

·      To try to model  metaph. on mathematics (Descartes) or on physics (Kant) is to confuse the order of science and their respective objects.


4.    The question of generalisation [118]

·      being abstract, a concept is necessarily universal.  But it is yet only negatively universal, or potentially universal (it can be applied to various individuals) : this is the direct universal.

·      a concept is known positively and formally as universal if it can be compared with the individuals from which it was traken.  This reflection is intentio universalitatis, which gives the reflexive universal (really the same as the direct universal : it only recognises as universal what was already so).



iv. metaphysical explanation of abstraction


            After giving the description of the abstract thought, we still need to explain its principles.  The difference between Kant and us is the starting point. Kant exludes right from the beginning the metaphysical knowledge (Intro. to the Critique) and considers only the math. and physical science.  The problem for us is to explain the act by which the int. grasps an essence abstracted from the sensible and represented in a concept.  We will decompose the act of intellection into3 steps, more logical than successive.


1.    The possible intellect.

·      Intellectus possibilis.  The int. is a passive potency, like a tabula rasa wo any innate ideas.

·      The possible intellect is actuated by an intelligible object, which is the impressed species called also intelligible species.


2.    The impressed species.

·      The species (the activator of the poss. int.) must come from sense experience, since nothing comes to the int. which is not given through the senses.  The highest degree of sensible elaboration is the phantasm : the intelligible object will be drawn from the phantasm.

·      The difficulty is that the phantasm is sensible and material, and not intelligible as such.  But what is not intelligible cannot actuate a purely spiritual faculty[119].  The initiative to elevate the object from the sensible to the intelligible level must come from the superior element, the int.  We must therefore admit the existence of an active function, the agent intellect.  The agent int. renders the phantasm intelligible, i.e. renders actual the intelligible elements contained in potency within the phantasm.  ST compares it to an illumination ‘intellectus agens illustrat phantasmata’.[120]

·      Thus, 2 causes are coordinated to produce the species impressa : phantasm and the agt int.  Since there can be no coordination wo subordination, one of them is the instrument, the other the principal cause.  The instrument cannot act or move by itself, but only under the motion of the main cause.  These 2 elements explain why the impressed species is objective, as fruit of the phantasm, and intelligible, as fruit of the agent intellect. 


3.    The mental word


·      The possible int. receives the impressed species and reacts to it.  Passive potency does not mean absolutely passive, but that it must be actuated or impressed and from this impression, is produces an immanent activity.  This activity consists in expressing to itself the essence in a species expressa, mental word or concept.

·      The concept is not the object known by the intellect, id quod cognoscitur.  It is the means by which the essence is known, id quo objectum cognoscitur[121].  The species expressa is the expression or reaction of the int. about the object previously assimilated as impressed species[122].  That is the only way to understand how an immanent act can reach a transcendent object : since the int. is apt to receive within itself the form of the object, its knowledge is both immanent and extatic.  Thus we safeguard what is right about the principle of immanece ‘we know only what we are’, so cherished by the idealists but wrongly bec. they imagine the mind locked within itself.

·      The reason for the production of the word.  In the same C.G. I 53, ST gives 2 reasons for the existence of the mental word (not found in sense knowl.) : 1º to know stg absent, it has to be made present by a representation acting as vicegerent of the object known; 2º in order to be known intellectually, the object material needs to have an immaterial mode of existence, which it can receive only from and within the intellect.  Such reasons are based on the imperfection of the h. intellect and as such cannot render account of the analogy with the Trinitarian doctrine of generation in terms of a mental word.  That is why Jn of ST argues that an intellect has a natural propensity to express what it understands, so much the more that it is more perfect.[123]


4.    Remarks

·      The crux of the matter is the illumination of the phantasm by the agent int.  As ST remarks, neither Democritus nor Plato needed an agent int. in their theory o knowl; Democritus brought all knowledge to sensation, Plato admitted intelligible object separated from the sensible.  Aristotle, because he needs to explain how a material object can be object of an intellect, has to render account of the passage of the sensible plane to the intelligible.

·      The Agent int. does not spiritualise the phantasm which is and remains sensible.  The h. mind cannot transform ontologically things, cannot add to the phantasm stg which would not be already included : it would be the creator of the intelligible object and knowl. would reach only what the intellect would have added.  The only role of the agent int. is to actualise the intelligible, to reveal it, bec. the quiddity is present in the sensible, but not object of the sense : Socrates is man, but as I see Socrates, I do not see the essence ‘man’, only the int. is capable of revealing it.

·      this metaphysical theory of the subject supposes a metaphysical theory of the object.  The way a thing is, the same way it is known.  The aristotelian theory of knowl. cannot subsist wo admitting firstly hylomorphism.  Such a theory supposes that, in every sensible object, there is an idea, an , an intelligible and immaterial form.  This is the conclusion Ar. had to draw from his critique of Plato’s theory of Ideas : the idea is not separated from, but immanent to, the sensible.  Once we admit hylomorphism, there is no difficulty in admitting that the intellect abstracts the intelligible essence present in the sensible phantasm.


Art. 5.  Judgment


            There is little to say re. judgment and reasoning in psychology strictly speaking.  Most scholastic manuals omit them and treat them in logic and critique.  Yet this seems to be erroneous since much needs to be said.


I.  description of the judgment


1.    The essential aspect of judgment is the assertion or the affirmation (or negation which is an affirmation of the contradictory).  The affirmation is properly opposed to the doubt which abstains from affirming or denying anything[124]


2.    The object of affirmation. 


·      There is no empty affirmation, we always affirm stg.  Even ‘yes’ has a meaning only by reference to a question asked.

·      the affirmation is to the thing affirmed like the form to the matter.  This thing which is the object of judgment is a relation between 2 terms, 2 distinct concepts, S and P.  And the form, the affirmation of the judgment (S is P) signifies that these 2 terms are identical in reality. 

·      Thus the verb ‘to be’, the logic copula, has a double meaning : a) simply copulative, bec. it relates 2 concepts, S and P; b) existential, bec. it affirms that the relation is real.  This existential meaning is the proper of a judgment bec. in other cases (question, quote), the 2 terms are related wo affirming anything about them.  And this existential sense is found in any jdgt, including ideal like definitions and mathematical theorems.  They deal then with possible or ideal existence.

·      ccls : the judgment is the intellectual act which affirms as real the identity of 2 distinct concepts.


3.    Judgment is the principal act of the intellect : ‘to think is to judge’ (Kant)


·      the 2 other mental operations are perfected in the judgt.  Judgment presupposes the simple apprehension from which it draws its matter.  But we do not think of isolated concepts, even associated concepts.  We think of judgments more or less complex.  Reasoning in fact is a means to demonstrate the not so obvious truth of the conclusion, which is a judgment.

·      Judgt is the only act susceptible of reaching the truth, and since the int. is the appetite of true, it finds its perfection only in judgt.  This is true bec. the judgt is the only act where the minds seeks to be in conformity with the real.  On the other hand,  in sensation and affirmation, there is communion with the real; the reasoning can be ‘correct’ (rigorous) even if the premises and the ccls are false.  Only the judgt has the intention of conformation, and Ar. could define it “a discourse susceptible of being true or false”[125].



ii. judgment and concept


The priority of simple apprehension over judgt is a bone of contention betw. realism and idealism.

1.    Most moderns (Kant, Brunschvicg) affirm the priority of judgt over the concept, which would be a virtual judgt or a by-product.  The concept would be essentially the S or the P. of a judgt in preparation or termination.  This comes from the thesis that the mind is a pure spontaneity, not ruled by an object imposed from the outset.  The intellect would pose relations and the relation would engender the 2 terms (1.creative int, 2. to engender, 3. father-son).

2.    Such theory comes from idealism, which tends to divinise the human spirit, giving it the power of creating the universe.  On the psycholgcl level we can say that :

·      in the order of exercise, it is true that the judgt precedes the concept : we think with jdgts not w. concepts.

·      in the order of specification, the concept precedes the judgt.  There is no relation wo previous terms.  To give a judgt wo knowl. of the terms would be to affirm blindly and to state a prejudice.


3.    The Judgt is made to perfect knowledge in a double way : [126]

·      Subjectively, it clarifies the confused cpt into its elements, or completes the inadequate cpt.

·      Objectively, it brings the thought outside the subjective world into the real world ‘is’= rlt to reality.


iii. nature of the judgment


1.    It is not a mere association of ideas.  It is easy to confuse them, since often, the association prepares the matter and may have the same pract. applications as the judgt : “I remember, this is like...”,wo seeing the relation betw. the thoughts but mostly wo affirming its conformity with reality.


2.    It is not an act of the will (Vs. the voluntarists, Descartes, Malebranche, Renouvier). 

·      The error comes from stating that the int. is essentially passive while the will active, and the judgt is an act : ergo it comes from the will, esp. since we can make it suspend it.  It is easy to confuse it with a voluntary act since the will must be engaged in any judgt which is not self evident.

·      jugt is an act of the int., esp. noticeable when the evidence forces the judgt independently from and stms against the will.  The voluntarist theory comes from the false thesis that the int. is ttly passive, whereas it is a pple of operation, activity : the judgt is the culmination of knowledge, distinct fr will.


iv.  the causes of judgment


What is it that determines the int. to judge?  Modern psych. call it the ‘factors of belief’, factors of assent.


1.    Evidence.De facto, there are forceful evidences.  Division : immediate evidence (sense experience, first principles per se notae); mediate evid. (obtained by demonstration, the ccls shares in the evid.of prems)


2.    The will

·      it must always intervene to oblige us to think (of a self evdt principle), and to avoid possible objections (the h. mind is subtle enough to find objections to the clearest truths).

·      it intervenes when there is no extrinsic evidence (e.p. objecti).  This happens for knowl. based on the testimony of another (which is never the same as experiencing the evidence oneself) : i.e. all historical knowl, geography, science (in many cases, we rely on the testimony of the learned and teachers).

·      Stms the will makes up for any int. motive : we affirm wo any evidence, intrinsic or extrinsic, simply bec. I want this to be as it is, pure fanaticism, to deny God because I want to live a licentious life.


3.    Affectivity.  Sentiments, passions and interest can affect or command the judgt.  The passion e.g. may direct the attention, and govern our will to affirm what suits the passion of the moment.


4.    The praxis.  Blondel in L’Action (1893) ‘qui facit veritatem venit ad lucem’.  “If we don’t live as we believe, we end up believing as we live” (Chesterton).  This is due to the exigencies of unity of the human conscience, which cannot remain always interiorily divided, and the vicious man will soon find good reasons to justify his behavior before others and before himself.  Invertedly, by living accdg to the demands of truth not clearly known, the truth becomes clear and begets a profound conviction.


v.  the act of faith[127]


1.    It is a judgt. It is very importt to clarify the act of faith for the spiritual life.  Faith is not an affective sentiment, it is a judgment of the intellect.  The act of faith is an assent to a truth revealed, and as any judgt, the affirmation of a relation between 2 ideas considered ad true i.e. real, e.g. “God is”,  “Jesus Christ is God[128].  Thus no invocation, piety, prayer enters as such the act of faith although they naturally follow it.  We can make an act of faith wo piety and even wo charity.


2.    It is a reasonable judgt, and not a blind ‘jump into the absurd’ as said Kierkegaard, echoing Luther.

·      faith is negatively reasonable, since its object is not intrinsically contradictory.

·      It is positively reasonable since there are “motives of credibility”, shown by the apologist, whereby the believer brings to his attention his reasons for believing[129].  They boil down to the testimony of the Ap. and the CC, as witnesses of God’s word ‘propter auctorit. Dei revevltis” (Dz 1789)


3.    It is obscure.  Faith bears on mysteries not demonstrable nor understandable, else it would be science.  Certain dogmas are demonstrable by reason (while demonstrating it, we lose faith in God’s existence).


4.    It is a free act.  We see we must believe (bec. of motives of credblt), we believe freely (bec. not evident),and thus meritoriously.  The will intervenes not only to draw the attention but also to directly ‘imperare’ the jdgt, and determines the propositions it must admit (De Virt in comm. a7). 


5.    Faith as a habitus cannot be discerned, except in the facility of producing acts. Doubts are an integral part and as such do not endanger of virtue of faith : the questions re. the contents are cause of a theological research (fides quaerens intellectum), the objections re. the truths of faith only reveal that they are not evident nor demonstrable.  The CC denies that there be reasonable objection to refuse the assent.


Art. 6  Reasoning


I.  the inference


Logic does treat not so much the judgment than the proposition, nor the reasoning itself than the argument


1.    In psychology, inference is the mental act of reasoning. 


·      It appears at first sight as a succession of judgts, a discursus.  But this is not the essence of reasoning :  e.g. a discourse can be the fruit of the spontaneous thought ‘it’s pretty, I am cold and hungry’, or of history ‘veni, vidi, vici’. 

·      Reasoning demands that these judgments be interdependent, which dependence called logical is objective since it comes from the judgments themselves and not from the dispositions of the subject.  This inference is expressed by the conjonctions : but, for, then etc.

·      Thus the act of reasoning is not to posit judgements nor to pass from one to another but to order them in such a way that they follow either necessarily or at least with a certain dependence.  Strictly speaking, the reasoning can be correct and false.  Yet the reasoner wants to demonstrate a truth.


2.    Reasoning is ordered to the conclusion. 


·       we don’t argue for the sake of argument but to demonstrate the truth.  The conclusion is known beforehand since we rarely reason wo the intention of demonstrating, but its truth which was only probable becomes evident. Reasoning verifies the dependence of the certain judgments to draw a conclusion which will participate in their evidence. 

·      Therefore, it would be absurd to try to demonstrate everything.  The demonstration presupposes evident principles, which rarely explicited, are necessarily implied in the argument.  E.g. the typical reasoning of Maths, A = B, B = C, hence A = C supposes the principle that : two quantities which equal a third are also equal.


ii.  the sense of the term reason


1.    Etymological sense : reor : to believe, to think, to calculate.  Ratus : fixed, assured.  Ratio : account, reasoning, justification.


2.    Objective sense : the relation of a thing w another, a proportion between 2 terms (in Maths, the reason of a progression), the aspect of a thing (ratio entis is the being of a thing formally said), a principle of explanation, like the cause, ratio essendi, ratio cognoscendi.


3.    Subjective sense, and most common one which is of greater interest :

·      natural knowledge including all faculties, int. and senses, as opposed to faith.

·      the faculty of judging correctly, the common sense, when we speak of one having good judgment.

·      the faculty of the absolute being, as opposed to sensation which deals with phenomena and understanding which deals with scientific truths.  This is the Kantian sense of ‘reason’ (for him unable to know its absolute object).

·      strictly, the faculty of reasoning, the ‘discursive’ habit of the intellect as opposed to intellectus, habit which comprehends the essence intuitively (Thomistic sense of ratio).

·      extensively, the faculty which grasps the first self evident principles, which intuitive function is called intellectus principiorum, as opposed to experience  and to discursive reason.


iii. nature of reason


1.    Between intelligence (intellectus) and reason (ratio), there is not a diff. of faculties, but only of repose and motion, of perfect and imperfect, of intuition of truth or of discurring to reach the truth.  They  have the same formal object, truth, reached by diverse modes of activity.  Reason, by the fact that it is discursive, is the sign of man’s imperfection, who cannot grasp the entire truth in one glance, but it is also the instrument of progress.

2.    Reason is divided into parts accordg to the objects it reaches :

·      Intellectus speculativus (knowl. for its own sake).  Int. practicus is a knowl. for the sake of action (applied sc, art, moral life esp. prudence).  Its object is bonum sub ratio veri (non ut appetibile)

·      S. Aug. distinguished the superior and inf. reason accordg as it reached tgs eternal or temporal (equivalent to the distinction of habits, not of faculties, of wisdom and science).

·      Reason needs to receive its self-evident pples from an intuitive habit, intellectus principiorum, which conceives the ncss relation of terms.  For pract. pples (bonum faciendum), it is synderesis




Art. 1   The Will



Knowledge is naturally followed by the appetite.  The int. appetite is called appetitus rationalis, the tendency towards a good conceived by the intellect, called the will.


I.  description of the voluntary act


            1) to want and to desire


1.    it is often difficult to distinguish the sensible tendencies (desire, passion) from the int. tendencies (will).  We often say ‘I want’ when we should say ‘I desire’, and vice versa.  That is bec. the imagination provokes an idea, or bec. the idea is accompanied with images.  In fact, they object is strictly speaking the same since we want a good which is real concrete although it is known abstractly.


2.    The difference is manifest when the object is not sensible.  Justice is an idea obtained through the image of the scales (no concept wo some image), but I can love justice wo desiring the scales.


3.    The difference is obvious when there is opposition between the will and the desire, one bears on the sensible good (known or imagined) the other on the intelligible good (conceived).  The will then must conquer itself, as it is the case in the conflict between duty and passion.  The will becomes manifest in the effort to conquer the passion.


            2) analysis of the voluntary act


            The human act is simple in its production but, analyzed, reveals the 12 steps as indicated in the Summa I II (q.8-17), which show it as an act of the will moved in every voluntary step by the intellect giving it its corresponding object for the end, the means, and the execution.  It also shows the moment of election properly speaking.  Here is the complete diagram given by the DTC article ‘Acte Humain’ by Gardeil.





A) Acts relative to the end (intention)

1. apprehensio simplex (conception): I see goodness.

2. appetitus inefficax boni propositi (complacency or velleity): I love it.

3. judicium de fine (examen de hic et nunc) : I judge rationally that it must be sought after, this object is good for me.

4. intentio efficax : I want to attain it (actus quo voluntas tendit in objectum ut assequibile), it is the intention with implicit desire of the means.

B) Acts relative to the means (election)

5.  deliberatio (consilium) : I seek the means to obtain it.

6. consensus (consent) : I adhere to the means found (hell paved w. good intentions wo consent)

7. judicium practicum (end of deliberation): I judge which is the best means to reach the end.

8. electio (choice, décision): I choose the means[130], and freely (only here there is freedom).

C) Acts relative to the execution (execution)

9.  Imperium (command): nihil est aliud quam actus rationis ordinantis cum quadam motione ad aliquid agendum (I II 17,5)[131].

10.  Usus activus : the will applies the active powers to the action itself.

11. Usus passivus : the execution of acts of diverse faculties moved by the will

12. fruitio : Delight


1.    This quasi chimical purity of the act and of its moments is necessary since, whatever may be the intervention of sensation and of corporeal motion, the human act is human by the int. and will.  And it is very important for the spiritual life to distinguish between indeliberate complacency and intention, and this one with decision.


2.    The parceling made by the analysis does not take away the concrete unity of the act.  This unity is that of a movement and comes from the unity of term of this movement.  The end of the movement unifies each of the steps since it is present intentionally already at the beginning.


            3) compementary aspects


Modern psychology gives some rectifications to the previous analysis of the human act :


1.    It speaks of 4 phases: 1) conception of the goal; 2) deliberation or examination of the motives and mobiles; 3) decision, giving the preference to one of the motives; 4) execution.  This is an unfortunate simplification.


2.    In the act, it distinguishes the motives (int., object of the will) and the mobiles (affective, object of desire), which is right if one considers the entire exterior activity of man since our conduct results from our personality, but it is not right when we consider the proper act of the will, in our conscience since the mobiles intervene only if they are converted into motives.


3.    The deliberation seems to halt the spontaneous action, acting as an inhibitive force demanding to not will before it wills, since it takes time to reflect upon one’s act.  Yet it is inhibitive in the case of impulsive temperaments but not of apathetic temprts which have no spontaneity and would remain inert if they would not decide to act.

4.    In the execution of a physical movement, the will has no action as such on the physiological mechanism, which are automatic.



ii. nature of the will


            1) errors


1.    The sensualist theory.  Condillac considers to will to be a predominant sensible desire.  We already objected to this position, since the will comes from the concept of some good, regardless of the desire.


2.    The intellectualist theory.  Spinoza pretends that the mind is reduced to the intellect and ideas.  Yet an idea is not a ‘mute painting’.  It is dynamic and tends to come to realization by means of acts.  The truth of this position is that there is no will which is not of an idea, although the will is not moved by any idea, e.g. of a triangle, but only of stg good.   The theory of intellectualism is false because :

·      In the moment of deciding, there is a tension, different from the effort of intellection.

·      The clearest ideas do not always move to action, which divorce would make no sense for Spinoza.


            2) The object of the will


1.    It is stg good

·      Thus, evil is not lovable and is never wanted for its own sake.  When we ‘want evil’, it is always some goodness which is wanted, pleasure, emotion, cessation of a greater evil, etc.

·      O/  Can there be room for moral evil and sin, since we want only what is good?  Socrates said no since ‘no one is voluntarily evil’, ‘every sinner is an ignorant’, and since ‘error is not crime’ it seems as if there is no moral fault.

R/  Socrates understood that we never want evil formally, but neglected that we can want an inordinate good with full knowledge of its disorder.  The sinner seeks some good (sensible pleasure or other) ncssly linked with a disorder, so that to wish this good is to wish its ncssy disorder.


2.    it is the good known by the intellect, since the will is the rational appetite.  We do not want what we don’t know : Nihil volitum nisi praecognitum.


3.    The will loves ncssly (vol. ut natura) the pure, perfect and absolute Good, which is its ultimate end.

·      This ultimate end and ideal acts for the will as the first principles for the intellectual affirmation[132].  This voluntas ut natura is opposed to voluntas ut libera which loves freely the part. goods only as means to love the universal good (I II 1,6).

·      In concreto, to precise the reality of this sovereign good is more delicate.  2 ways are possible :

·      the extrinsic and deductive way of nat. theology.  Nat. theology proves that God is Goodness[133], ultimate end of every creature, implicitely loved in everything we love[134] since nothing is good except by participation in the divine Goodness[135].  Many men still ignore God, yet by willing some good, man wants the ultimate Good.

·      the intrinsic and psychological way of the analysis of volition.  We said than man seeks his happiness (absolute goodness)[136].  But this happiness can exist neither in riches, honors, glory, power, concupiscence, nor virtue nor science : it is found in no created good[137].  Thus it must be found only in the infinite good[138].    This analysis is metaphysical, i.e. is based on facts of universal experience that man cannot find his happiness on earth.  Thus this thesis is true absolutely and by right, so that we can affirm that any beatitude based on a finite good is false.  De facto, and leaving room for man’s liberty, man can place his ult. end in anything other than God, cf. ‘Quorum deus venter est’ (Phil iii 19).   In this possible disjunction between voluntas ut natura and voluntas ut libera lies the whole drama of h. destiny.

·      This doctrine of  God as my happiness raises the problem of the motive of this love.  Do I love God only because he is my beatitude?  Is there a desinterested love of things, of God? (see III).


            2) The spirituality of the will


1.    Thesis : Since the will is a rational appetite, its object is spiritual since it is conceived by the intellect.  Thus the act of volition and the faculty of volition is spiritual.


2.    Is the will capable of reflection?  S. Augustine says yes (Confession III 1) : “nondum amabam et amare amabam; quaerebam quid amarem, amans amare.”  We want to want, we love to love.  ST explains that ‘ipsum velle est quoddam bonum’, ideo ‘potest velle se velle’, which is implicitely contained in any direct act of love[139].  To the objection that stms rather than love my love, I may hate it, we must answer that, based on which type of love (sensible or spiritual), we can hate spiritually what we love sensibly, but we cannot spiritually hate stg we love spiritually, unless there is both in him stg good I love, and stg evil I hate in him.



iii.  the problem of the pure love.


1.    Historically, the problem of the desinterested or pure love divided Fenelon and Bossuet in the quietist controversy, distinguishing between the ‘pure love’ excluding any ‘love of self’; or the  ‘physical love’ and the ‘extatic love’ (ST Vs. St. Bernard, in Rousselot), or the ‘selfish éros Vs. the ttly unselfish agapè’ (Nygren).


2.    This thesis is a false problem due to its simplicity, because it is based on abstractions by separating the diverse aspects of a concrete and complex reality.  ST gives the coherent doctrine :

·      Notions : the will tends to some good.  The good wanted for its own sake is end which if wanted for stg else is a means, and if not is the ultimate end.  The end is double : finis qui intenditur (the good thing itself), and finis cui bonum intenditur (the subject to whom we wish the good thing).  The finis cui is either selfish (love of concupiscence) or altruist (love of benevolence or of friendship)[140].

·      ST distinguishes also love, dilection, charity and friendship[141].  Note that the love of concupiscence (spiritual) is not the concupiscence (sensible), and that the love of friendship (not ncssly mutual) is not friendship (always mutual).  Friendship is thus the synthesis of the 2 movements we can call concupiscence and benevolence, bec. friendship establishes a cert. identity betw. friends unum velle, each being for the other an alter ego (II II 23,1.).


3.    Consequences.


·      Since the will only follows the good, no act of the will can be wo motivation (the theory of agape of Nygren which has for object the absolute generosity is absurd).  Even the creative love is motivated by a good represented as such.

·      From the notion of last end, it follows that if God is the last end, we love Him for Himself and above all else including ourselves.  This is a self evident analytical proposition that God being considered as last end, he cannot be the means to attain stg else (the good for me). This is a natural tendency[142], regardless of the subjective dispositions and fruits of original sin.

·      The love of benevolence is desinterested.  But is it pure?  No, not even when it involves the sacrifice of one’s life.  By love the neighbour, we feel great joy in working for him, which is stg ‘extra’, means, not end.

·      The love of benevolence re. God, to want good for God, is even more complex.  Because, God needs nothing, and the only increase we can give Him is His glory, which consists in having Him known and loved by ourselves and others.  But this effort ends ncssly in the direct vision of God.  Psychologically it is false to pretend to love God wo caring for our own salvation for the 2 aspects are inseparable, the glory of God is our salvation.

·      the love of friendship is so reciprocal, seeing the other as alter ego, that the 2 movements of love of self and of the other are inseparable and confused : friendship transcends these 2 concepts. 

·      But ST considers that the theol. v. of charity is a friendship[143], OL said ‘Vos autem dixi amicos’

·      This is because charity produces the maximum of unity and identity compatible with the infinite distance between man and God, since a) charity is man’s answer to God’s first love; b) it is founded on grace, a share in the div. nature which produces a certain identification of man with God; c) it also tends to the unity of vision ‘cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum’.

·      the love of charity, a specific love of friendhsip, is more a desinterested love of benevolence than of concupiscence.  God alone deserves to be loved for His own sake and above all things, as does charity which goes to God  and remains there[144].


4.    Conclusion :

·      Pascal All men seek their happiness, wo exception’, yes beatitude is ncssly wished.  ‘The will does nothing which is not towards this object, motive of all the actions of all men’ : No!  For beatitude or is not the only motive of our actions, nor the main one.

·      ST : every being seeks naturally its own good and perfection ‘Finis uniuscuisque rei est eius perfectio’[145].  Against the appearances, this is not ncssly selfish, since stmes the proper good is not for self but for others, the proper good and perfection of the parents is to work for their children, that of the citizen to be subordinated to the common good, of the creature to refer itself to its Creator[146]


iv.  will and other faculties


            1) will and intellect


1.    Preeminence

·      Simpliciter (intellect)

·      by the formal object : the object most abstract and simple is more noble and eminent, which is that of the int. (ratio boni, abstract) Vs. that of the will (bonum concretum).[147] 

·      by the proper act.  It is better to have in oneself the form of the object than to be ordained to the object existing outside.  Hence, formal beat. consists in an act of int. not of the will.

·      Per accidens (it depends on the material object) : the int. brings the object to man, ‘quidquid recipitur modo recipientis recipitur’ the will tends to the object outside.

·      It is better to know things material than to love them

·      it is better to love God than to know Him (I 82,3)

·      Is it better to know or to love our similar neighbour? (2d  commdt of the Gospel says ‘love neig’)


2.    Mutual influence: int. moves will p.mod. finis, will moves int. p.modum agentis.  Also good and true are mutually implied : good is a true in so far as seized by the int, true is a good as seized by the will.


            2) will and passions


1.    Passions move the will (I II 9,2; 10, 3; 77,1)

·      Stmes the passions produce acts primo primi, not human, which have no action on the will. 

·      The passions never act directly on the will since they belong to 2 different orders.  They will act :

·      ex parte subjecti, man, their common subject.  Passions modify man’s dispositions and his esteem of the goods and evils for self  ‘talis unusquisque est, talis finis videtur ei’.  Or they distract the mind by absorbing it ttly in one aspect of things.

·      ex parte objecti, presenting an object to the int. by means of the imagination, excited by the passion[148].


2.    The will can move the passions (I 81,3). 

·      It has a political power over them, not a despotic one (Arist.), i.e. w. power of resistence and independence.

·      it can besiege the passions, by drawing the attention away from the seducive object (perceived or only imagined), or by commanding physical actions to get away from it (turn away the eyes,go for a  walk).  If the will perseveres, it will obtain the peace of the passions.  Likewise the same processes can inflame the passions.



Art.2  Free Will


            The problem of liberty is one of the most important of philosophy.  According to the answer given to it, the entire human life, part. the moral life, will be changed.



I.  the forms of liberty


Liberty, nor more than life, is not a being, a substance, not a faculty and not even an act.  It is an ‘accident’ of the last degree.  We must distinguish clearly the liberty of action (exterior) and the liberty of the will, which alone is psychological.


            1) liberty to act


1.    Def. 

·      libertas a coactione, is the one not necessitated by an exterior agent.

·      On a positive note, this liberty must be natural, and refers to the natural behavior when left to itself (free fall Vs. accelarated fall). 

·      Such liberty extends to the automatic or reflex act, the passional act and the voluntary act. A voluntary act must be naturally free as any free act, yet applied precisely to the nat. inclination of the will.

·      Its opposite is violentum, what is contrary to the inclination of a thing.

2.    Division

·      physical liberty, freedom from a superior force (weight, chains, jail walls)

·      civil liberty , freedom from the city laws (to infringe on them would deprive one of his phys. liberty)

·      political liberty enables one to act on the government of the city (Vs. tyranny where citizens are serving the regime wo power of influence).

·      moral liberty enables one to act wo being retained by a moral law (obligation).  An obligation limits the exterior acts and also the conscience.  Such obligation, like the previous ones, in fact presupposes the physical and psychological liberty.


3.    Ccls : the libertas a coactione refers only to the execution of the act, and not to the purely interior acts. 


            2) liberty to will


1.    Deflibertas arbitrii is exempt from the necessary inclination to make a given choice or decision.

·      Such an act is not undetermined, since every act must always determined under pain of not existing.  But the free act is not predetermined. 

·      The will, firstly  undetermined, determines itself, domina sui actus, is the arbiter of its act, hence the term libertas arbitrii.


2.    Division (I II 10,2). The liberty of choice can be :

·      libertas exercitii : between action and non action.

·      libertas specificationis : between doing this or that (which cannot exist wo the lib. exercitii).



ii.  proofs of the free will


1.    The moral proof (Kant)

·      Kant, who denied that reason can prove or refuse liberty in his first Critique, shows in his Critique of practical reason, that liberty is a postulate of moral life.  Liberty is a ‘Postulate’, i.e. stg given by pure faith wo any reasons for affirming it.  Kant sees clearly that liberty is indeed a condition of morality, so that if we wish to live morally, we must believe in freedom.  “If I have any duties, the first of them is to believe that I am free” (Alain).

·      Critique.  Liberty is a proposition de fide (Dz 815, 1065), but also, like God’s ex. and immortality of the soul, ‘it can be proved certainly by reason’ (Dz 1650).  Thus the Catholic must believe that liberty can be proved rationally.

·      Solution : although ST takes often the same argument, for him, this argt is not sufficient.  The argument of Kant is insufficient bec. it supposes all metaph. to be impossible, that liberty is not a fact of common experience and that the moral life is absolute in itself (prior to liberty): upside down!


2.    Proof by the universal consent

·      Unless man was free, all counsels, exhortations, precepts, prohibitions, rewards and sanctions would be useless, cf. I 83,1.  To this enumeration, we can add the contracts and promises, because “it belongs to the essence of a promise to be apt to be betrayed” (Gabriel).

·      Critique.  Such things make no sense unless man believes he is free.  This is a serious presumption since it is very improbable that all men be deceived.  Yet it is still only a presumption, since number does not make truth, sometimes the common belief is a common error.  The question remains whole: are all men right when they believe in liberty.


3.    Psychological proof

·      Liberty is a fact.  Descartes spoke of indiferrence, Bergson of an interior spontaneity.  We speak of the free will (libertas arbitrii).  But we do believe that there is indeed an experience of the free will.  It consists 1º in being conscious of the undetermination of the will (a positive moment of hesitation between different possibilities); 2º act of auto-determination of the will (mature decision).

·      Critique.  The proof based on individual experience is valid only for those who performed a free act, the case of men having never taken a decision on their own is possible.  But the experience can only  affirm that liberty as a psychological fact, but only metaphysics can show the possibility of the fact and this is necessary to avoid the critique of possible illusion.


4.    Metaphysical proof

·      Can we demonstrate the existence of liberty? Some deny it under the pretense that : to demonstrate is to draw a necessary conclusion, but to declare liberty necessarily is to deny it.  Hence liberty can only be affirmed freely.  There is a sophism based on the assumption that liberty is absolute or is not.  In fact, only the will, not reason, is free.  Thus there is nothing contradictory in proving rationally the existence of liberty.  The only thing metaph. proves is that liberty is possible based on the human faculties of int. and will.  But it does not pretend to demonstrate the existence of any given free act, but only in general that liberty is found in man.

·      ST proves it clearly[149] :


M.  The will follows the intellectual conception of stg good. 

m1.  This good is a) absolutely good, and then the will tends to it ncssly; b) not absolutely good, and thus can be judged as good or not-good.

c1  The not absolutely good will not provoke necessarily the act of the will.

m2.  But no object beside beatitude is the perfect or absolute good.

c2.  Hence, the will is never necessarily determined by any particular good, i.e. if it wants it, it chooses it and freely.

·      Thus the root of liberty consists in the intellect which knows the perfect Good and compare with It the imperfect particular goods.  We can attribute liberty a priori to any intelligent being, since it is able to judge that some good are only particular goods, and choose between them[150].

·      ST deduces also liberty from :

·      the distinction between speculative reason and practical reason or action.  Unlike in the speculative order, reason can never deduce rigorously from first principles the precise action to be performed hic et nunc[151]

·      the intellectual representation which is universal.  Thus no particular object can equate realise all the potentialities of the universal representation, thus the will which tends to the good remains undetermined by a given part. object (the arquitect thinking of building a ‘house’ in genere, needs to decide and choose whether round or square out of bricks or stone etc.)[152].

·      the capacity to reflect and be master of his own judgment.  If man wasn’t master of his judgmts (which can be only by reflectively judging one’s judgt, bec. man knows the end, the means and their mutual relation), he would not be master of his volition.



iii.  limits of liberty


1.    Liberty has limits.

·      an absolute liberty is an idea intrinsically contradictory

·      It would be the total indetermination of the will, and tendency tending towards nothing, the destruction of the tendency itself, and of free acts. 

·      Or it could be defined as the spontaneity of a being wo a definite nature ‘man creates himself through his liberty’, which understood as is, is absurd (one would have to be to ‘create’ and to not be to create ‘himself’).  In fact, Sartre defines man as consciousness (being for self) and finds in him a natural tendency, the ‘fundamental project’, which is the desire to become God.

·      Human liberty presupposes the human nature, i.e. the will tending toward the good, and the intellect as the power of representing and of judging. If any of the two faculties is missing, there is not choice


2.    Limits of the liberty of exercise


·      The universal good in abstracto. Any act which tends towards the universal good is not deliberate, and is loved necessarily.

·      The universal good in concreto.  As long as it is not represented in its concrete reality by an immediate intuition, we can always think of it or not.  This is because the abstract representation of the Good is not the Good, but a particular good : there is nothing more interesting than God seen face to face who will ravish our souls and wills, but in this world, there are 1001 things more interesting than the thought of God[153].

·      Thus while we think of beatitude, we cannot not want it.  But we can think of stg else and not want it in act although we want it implicitely.  Hence ST says that the will is moved ncssly by no object.[154]


3.    Limits of the liberty of specification

·      while thinking of the absolute Good, we love it necessarily. I am not free to wish another last end.

·      we are not free either re. a means seen as necessary to attain the supreme Good[155]

·      There is liberty only in the choice of the non-necessary means.  We necessarily want one means, but freely this means.


iv. nature of liberty


1.    Descartes’ theory of the liberty of indifference


·      thesis.  Liberty diminishes according as the will is drawn by a motive.  Liberty consists in being indifferent to the motives.  The ideal of liberty is a decision based on equal opposite motive which mutually annull themselves, i.e. a decision wo motives.  The choice is done not bec. one position is better, but only because we want it.

·      Critique.  Although it was considered to be the classic def. of liberty, only able to withstand determinism, in fact liberty cannot be defined as an indifference.  If there is no motive, there is no act of will and no liberty.  In fact, a) liberty supposes deliberation, i.e. the comparison of the motives; b) the hypothesis of the equal motives is chimerical.


2.    Leibniz’s theory of the liberty of spontaneity.


·      Thesis.  There is no voluntary act wo motive (Vs. lib. of indifference) and the strongest motive always wins the will since man is intelligent and chooses always what seems best to him.  Yet, although it follows the strongest motive, the will is free bec. it fulfil the 3 sufficient cdts of liberty.  It is an act contingent (not metaphyscly ncssy), spontaneous (not contrived by an ext. agent), intelligent.  Liberty is the spontaneitas intelligentis.

·      Leibniz influenced philosophers in the XX c.  Brunschvicg is a kantian idealist (the mind constructs the real), and the mind is pure spontaneity, superior and anterior to all natural laws.  Bergson is a psychologist, anti-rationalist and anti-scientist, but the psych. life is pure duration, and the act is considered free when it expresses our profound personality.

·      Critique.  These doctrine identify liberty with the psychological determinism. 

·      Leibniz says : “the human soul is a kind of spiritual automat”, then there is no liberty!  But spontaneity is not sufficient : a decision is necessary to end the phase of indecision.  No motive, however strong, can force my decision, under pain of determining it, in which case there is neither decision nor liberty.

·      Bergson’s view supresses the role of the int. since his lib. needs not a choice of means...


3.    St. THomas aquinas’s liberum arbitrium : the will can determine itself to an act.

·      Freedom is autodetermination.  Something is free which is cause of self ‘quod sui causa est’, not of its being (nihil causa sui), but cause of its own action ‘causa sui motus’[156].

·      auto-determination is not stg contradictory.  The will is in act re. the end, in potency re. the means to reach to end.  It is moved by the end and can move itself to take such means[157]

·      Thus, in the will, there is always a part of spontaneity (natural tendency to end wo freedom) and of indifference (freedom of means).  But the liberty of the act comes strictly from the sole indifference (formally speaking Vs. Reed).

·      the act of decision. 

·      A particular good is not the Good and cannot necessitate and determine the will as such. 

·      The decision renders a motive determinant by choosing it, and stopping the deliberation of the int in the practical judgt by rendering it last : “yes this is best”. 

·      The int. moves the will by specifying its act ‘qt ad specificationem actus’, the will moves the int. by setting it in exercise ‘qt ad exercitium actus’[158], which sets the specification in motion.

·      the mysterious act of choice

·      the free act is not wo a cause, since it co-caused by the will and the motive.  But this cslty is not mechanical, and thus, more intelligible per se, it is less intelligible quoad nos.

·      Like life and knowledge, liberty is a mystery.  But, unlike G. Marcel, we recognise it is a mystery only after we have sought to comprehend it, and we deny that it is ‘ourselves as subject’.  Liberty is a mystery bec. it is analogycally ‘creative’, a beginning and first term of a series of causes, the highest participation of the creature to the creative act of God.



v.  liberty and the determinisms


            We need to answer the objections, called generically ‘determinist theories’, which are applied to the 3 great types of h. knowl : scientific, philosophical and theological.  Needless to say, all these objections in fact are essentially philosophical, even if the starting point leads to think it is not.


            1) the scientific determinism


1.    universal determinism. 

·      theory.  It is the theory of Laplace (XIX c.) which asserts that ‘nothing would be uncertain to a powerful intellect and both the future and the past would be present before its eyes’.  Physical science could deduce everything and foresee everything from a single formula.

·      Critique.  No bec. this universal determinism is neither a fact, nor a law nor a postulate of science.

·      determinism is not a fact.  Man cannot have a total experience of the universe.  

·      it is not a natural law because a) laws have value only once they have been verified; b) on the contrary, we can demonstrate the impossibility of attaining certitudes about the microcosmos.  The apparently precise laws of the world are in fact statistic or average laws, allowing for a certain ‘liberty’ of the elementary phenomena.

·      it is not a postulate of science, bec. the scientist does not suppose the universal determinism since he would have to study all beings and all events before studying only one : in practice, he supposes only a partial determinism.


2.    The physical determinism

·      Theory.  Human liberty is opposed to the pple of conservation of energy (nothing is lost, nothing is created), since a free act is a creation of energy.

·      This principle is neither a fact nor an axiom :

·      it is a physical theory and generalisation of experiences,

·      it is applicable only in a closed system.  But nothing authorises us to say that the universe is a closed system.

·      it is not verified in the biological domain Wundt states the law of ‘increasing energy’ : the reaction is superior to the excitation due to the spontaneity of the living and accumulated energy.

·      the true answer is this : if the free act is spiritual, it is beyond the circuit of physical forces!  The voluntary movement as such follows the phys. laws, but the will power is beyond this.


3.    The physiological determinism

·      Thesis. Our acts are determined by the state of our organism, temperament, heredity, food and climate.

·      Critique.  If these factors have great influence on our liberty, to the point that they can suppress it, we cannot affirm a priori and absolutely that it suppresses it. It is ncss and it suffices that we can deliberate on our conduct.


4.    The social determinism

·      Thesis.  The social pressure determines all the h. acts, so that human behaviors can be recorded by statistic laws.  The freest of acts, weddings, crimes, suicides, can be almost infallibly foreseen.

·      Critique.  Society has a great influence on the individuals so that, in some case it may suppress it.  But what is the value of statistics?  a) They do not register the interior mechanism of the acts but only the objective result.  But precisely, liberty is found in the intimate conscience which is beyond observation; b) even objectively, these laws set only an average and cannot foresee the individual case, which is what a decision is.


5.    The psychological determinism

·      Thesis.  Psychoanalytics believe that the psychological life can be reduced to laws, the character (even unstable char.) is constant, and our behavior is commanded by instincts, esp. libido and violence.

·      Critique.  The premisses are true, but the conclusion is false bec. it surpasses them by far:

·      a) we need to find out whether the habits and character have been somewhat formed freely;

·      b) the instinct is powerful, but not so precise in man that it can determine always the proper behavior : new situations demand to think over the problems before they be resolved;

·      c) the laws of psychology (not qttv as such) are quantitative only bec. they bear on physical or physiological phenomena, where liberty has no room (logical laws of thought, laws of association of imagination, of transfert for sentiments, etc.);

·      d) to foresee the individual’s behavior can never be more than probable.  We bear judgt not on the future, but on the past (Bergson).  One’s liberty can always undo the surest forecast.


            2) the philosophical determinism


1.    The pantheistic metaphysics of Spinoza.

·      Thesis.  There is only one being, the infinite substance which exists ncssly bec. it is a se.  God manifests himself by thought and extension, which develop also into diverse attributes, but always necessarily.  Spinoza says that man is free but this occurs when he understands the necessity of all things when he arrives at the ‘third kind of knowledge’, the intuition of the Subsatnce, whereas he is slave if he receives the world’s action wo understanding them.

·      Critique.  Leaving aside the critique of his pantheism,  we criticize Spinoza for asserting a priori the necessity of all things.  He who for one, must have arrived at the intuition of the Substance, never explains how, de facto, all things unfold ncssly, which is the one thing which could have convinced us.


2.    The logical determinism of Leibniz (based on the pple of sufficient reason and of cslty)

·      the notion of an individual being contains all the attributes ever given him (the notion of ‘Adam’ implies the original sin...); a free act would be wo sufficient reason, and against the pple of causality ‘everything which begins to exist has a cause’; and agst the pple of legality : ‘the same causes produce the same effects.’

·      Critique. 

·      The principle of sufficient reason is not a self evident pple.  It is an invention of Leibniz and a postulate of rationalism which suppresses liberty and contingency.  The closest principle we accept is that of raison d’être which says that, given a being, it has a raison for being.  But a free act is not absurd, it has a reason for being, man who is responsible of his acts.

·      the pple of cslty does not require that the cause produce ncssly its effect.  It only asserts that the cause has within itself the energy to produce its effect.  Re. the free act, the will is cause of it.

·      Re. the pple of legality, the answer of Bergson seems valuable : the ‘I’ never remains ttly identical to itself.

·      In summary, these principles cannot affirm a priori that the effect can be deduced from the cause, but only that given an effect, we can find out its cause.  And that is what happens with the free act : we can always explain it afterwards : ‘I decided this because ...’  But is was not foreseen before.


            3) the theological determinism


1.    Liberty and divine prescience

·      Obj.  God foreknows our future actions, our decisions and choices.  Who could we be still free?

·      In science, determinism = forecast, because he looks at things modo humano.  But such an idea cannot be transfered in the div. knowledge since God is eternal.

·      The solution in the proper notion of the eternity of God.  Instead of saying that ‘God foresees our acts’, we should say more truly that ‘God sees us accomplish our acts’.  His eternity has all moments ever present before Him.  Thus strictly speaking, God does not foreee our act, He sees our whole life, as a contemporaneous witness, unfolded before Him.  That He knows our decisions does not prevent us from taking them freely.


2.    Liberty and divine concourse

·      Obj.  God’s concourse in every action is one aspect of the act of creation.  Specifically, God moves man to will and to decide “Deus est qui operatur in nobis et velle et perficere” (Phil ii 13).  Is there liberty?

·      Reply. 

·      Vs. Malebranche and his theory of occasionalism, we must maintain that creatures have their own activity accordg to their own nature, precisely bec. God gives them being and motion.  God only sustains it, wo taking over man’s act.

·      The case of liberty is no different.  The concourse of God, far from destroying liberty, founds it because ‘sufficentia nostra ex Deo est’ (II Cor iii 5).  As He gives creatures the power to act according to their nature, He gives man the power to to will.  This h. will is necessary re. the end, and free in other cases.  Since liberty belongs to man’s int. nature, God by violating it, would have created man who would not be man, which is absurd.



vi.  nature and liberty


1.    The Existentialists deny the existence of a human nature[159]

·      in moral life, they set liberty as the sole foundation of the ‘values’ : whatever I choose as my good is good because there is no rule to command my choice. 

·      in theology, they change the formulae of the Incarnation and Redemption, which suppose the notions of human nature and mankind (Dz 148, 175, 789). They suppress the supernatural which can be defined only with regards to the h. nature.


2.    Critique.

·      faith forbids the christian philosophier to deny human nature.  But philosophy can prove it rationally.

·      To deny any community of nature between men is a mere joke, because as soon as we speak or write, de facto (in actu exercito) we admit the ex. of other men, as we speak of ‘man’, we admit formally (in actu signato) that the human reality is identical in all men.

·      A problem needs resolving yet, the meaning of nature when applied to man. 

·      Pb.  There is a problem bec. as free, man is not determined to be such or such, “man is only what he becomes” (Amiel’s version of Hegel).  Likewise, the intellect (for Ar. Vs. Kant) is not structured, it can ‘become somewhat anything’ because it is open and plastic, since knowledge consists in becoming the object one knows.

·      Ans/  a) This ‘to be a spirit’ in a body is already a determined nature, distinct from the material nature; b) the h. intellect has a specific nature (it is abstractive and discursive, made to know the truth); c) the h. liberty has more limits (nature, determinations) since the free man makes himself, but can only make himself a man, and it is a tendency to some good, end which is not a matter of liberty bec. liberty feeds on it, and on this conformity to the last end is founded the entire nat. law.[160]






Art.1  Faculties and Habits



I.  the faculties


1.    As the faculties are not object of experimentation, they are metaphysical realities, known by a simple reasoning. 

·      Our conscience shows us that we perform psychological acts.  Which supposes that we have to power to accomplish them.  In the same way as we prove that the opium has a dormitive virtue because it makes you sleepy, we prove that man has the power to understand (intellect) because he understands certain things.  We may call it an unverifiable hypothesis, but it is a necessary hypothesis of real facts, whose cause must be at least real as the effects!

·      We would not need them if we knew that man was constantly in act of thinking, as he is constantly in act of living (his life is his existence). We cannot say that man has a faculty of living, and nothing allows us to distinguish the proximate pple of life from the remote one, man’s existence.  But we must say that man has the faculty of intellect because, although he sleeps, he is intelligent or capable of understanding.[161]

·      These active powers are faculties.  A faculty is a proximate principle of operation(man=remote pple)


2.    There are diverse faculties

·      The potency is relative to the act, potentia ordinatur ad actum, bec. it is essentially potency to do or suffer this, and is known only by its corresponding act. 

·      The act, in turn, is relative to its object, and specified by it actio specificatur ab objecto, (ratio actus diversificatur sec. rationem objecti).  This is bec. the object acts as efficient cause on a passive potency, or as final cause on an active potency.  Esp. in the psychological faculties, the acts are ‘intentional’, i.e. essentially relative to an object (formal not material) which defines them.

·      There will be in man as many faculties as there are diverse objects formally different directing their activity.  Their number is not so important (see I 77).


3.    Relation between the faculties and their subject, man.

·      The faculties are in the subject.  ‘I’ is subject of my actions and therefore also of the pples of action.  The subject of these faculties is the composite of man, although we say also that the fac. are the powers of the soul.  In reality the purely spiritual faculties have the soul for subject, the non spiritual faculties have the composite for subject, and the soul only for principle.

·      the faculties are really distinct from the subject.

·      bec. being distinct between each other, they cannot be identical to their subject.

·      more profoundly, ‘in no creature, the operative power can be identical to the essence’.  If that was the case, their corresponding acts would be  the same, but this occurs in God alone who is His intellection and volition.

·      The faculties are the accidents of the subject, their substance.

·      the substance is what exists in itself, the accident what exists in another.

·      the faculties have no existence of their own, but they must be rooted in the substance.  What exists is not intellect or will but man, endowed with faculties. 

·      the faculties are thus distinct from the substance bec. they have a basic insufficiency of entity.

·      since they do not exist of themselves, they do not act of themselves : man acts through them actiones sunt suppositorum[162].  This reveals the synthetic and concrete character of the thomistic psychology


ii. the habits


1.    Nature

·      habitus is an accident, the first species of quality, disposition.  Among the diverse kinds of dispositions, habitus is stable ‘difficile mobilis’.  Habitus est qualitas difficile mobilis, disponens subjectum bene aut male secundum suam naturam.

·      There are 2 major types of habit accdg to the subject which it affects : a) a substance, the habitus disposes it quoad esse (entitative habit); b) a faculty, it disposes it quoad operari (operative habit).

·      The operative habits are found only in spiritual faculties, int. and will alone, because they are the only ones apt to be perfected by a habit since they are somewhat undetermined as to their object[163].


2.    Origin (I II 51).  Habits are coming from :

·      God: supernatural or infused habits are given directly by God to lead man to his ult. end, which surpasses man’s natural powers either essentially (Gifts of H.G.; inf. virtues), or per accidens (charisms like the gift of tongues).

·      Nature : a) common to all men, found in the soul itself since it is the constitutive of man; b) individual habits are in the soul as animating the body (matter individuates beings).  These natural habits are only present inchoative and need to be developed by repet. of acts.

·      Repetition of the acts.  a) stms one single act suffices to engender the habit (intellective hab. of first pples); b) in general the habit will receive its stability from repet. of acts (ST considers impossible that a moral virtue be created by one single act bec. of too great resistence from the passions).


3.    Division of the habits

·      bad habits dispose to act badly : vices

·      good habits dispose to act well (virtues), subjected in the :

·      intellect (int. virtues)

·      speculative int. (ad cognoscdum, in necessariis)

·      intellectus which sees the evidence of things (habitus principiorum)

·      sapientia remounts to the supreme causes of things (one bec. supreme)

·      scientia “  “                                           proximate causes of things (multiple, because infima)

·      pratical int. (ad agendum in concrete activity, i.e. contingent matter)

·      ars (recta ratio factibilium) : its object is to produce (actus transiens in ext. materiam).

·      prudentia (recta ratio agibilium) : its object is to act (actus permanens in ipso agente)[164].

·      will (moral virtues)

·      prudentia (first moral v.) not in so far as it gives the proper judgt but also the correct command by the will (its motto could be ‘think before you act’, ‘in omnibus respice finem’).

·      justice : disposition to render each one his due.

·      temperance : moderation in the use of pleasures.

·      fortitude : virtue to overcome obstacles.


Art.2  the Human Soul


We need not demonstrate that man has a body (obvious), nor that he has a soul (every living being has a soul).  We need to study the nature of the h. soul and its union with the body.


I.  nature of the soul


1.    The human soul is subsistent (I 75, 1 and 2).

·      It is spiritual, and not only immaterial.  Not only is it not a body, but it does not depend on a body in esse.  This negative aspect (no dependence on the body to be) expresses a plenitude and sufficiency, the subsistence: ‘anima humana est aliquid subsistens, quod per se existit’ (wo saying the soul is a a complete substance, which is false).

·      ST has proved it once he proved the spirituality of the faculties of the soul, because the int. acts wo body.  If they are spiritual, then their subject must be spiritual too.  From the proof a posteriori of the spirituality, we can deduce a priori that the soul is simple and immortal.


2.    The soul is physically simple

·      simplicity means indivisibility (no parts).

·      there are various degrees of simplicity.  

·      God is absolutely simple, having not even metaphysical parts. 

·      Every creature, including the h. soul, has metaph. parts (essence/existence; pot/act; subs/accdts), but the h. soul has no physical parts : being spiritual, the soul has no qtty or extention (properties of the bodies) and no juxtaposed parts (partes extra partes).


3.    The h. soul is immortal (I 75,6)

·      The h. soul, to be corrupted, should be so either per se (in itself directly) or per accidens (by dependence on stg else which is corrupted).  But the h. soul is corrupted a) neither per se bec. it is simple, nor per accidens bec. it does not depend on the body to exist.

·      Kant has recourse to the postulate of prac. Reason : man must survive this world since justice does not reign in the world and justice must be done, under pain of destroying all moral life.  Yet, the moral argument is an ‘argument of convenience’, but it has a lesser foundation than that of liberty  since liberty is a condition of any moral life on earth (justice is hoped for in the other world).  This argument has value within a metaphysical mold which admits the spirituality and immortality of the h. soul and existence of God, wise and just.

·      ST, with caution (a sign), uses the argument of the ‘natural desire which cannot be void’, called psychological argument.  “We can take as a sign of this, the fact that everything desires to exist in its own mode.  Among the knowers, the desire follows on knowledge : but the senses know only sub hic et nunc, whereas the int. apprehends the esse absolute et sec. omne tempus.  Hence, every intellectual being desires naturally to be always.  But a nat. desire cannot be vain.  Hence every int. substance is incorruptible” (I 75, 6). 

The difficulty about this argument is to know why it is not valid for the body, or for the entire man, body and soul, bec. man desires naturally to live always as he is.  Revelation teaches us that death entered the world by Adam’s sin, yet death was natural in as much as the h. body is per se corruptible.  So, Adam was made immortal not by nature, but by grace.

Ccls : the desire of immortality must be distinguished :  a) the desire of immortality of man or of the body is only a velleity, like the desire for beatitude; b) the desire of immortality of the soul is an absolute desire.

·      Could not the soul be annihilated? (I 104, 3-4)  To annihilate is to cease the creative act, and both must belong to the same agent, God.  Could not God annihilate a soul?  De potentia absoluta (his might considered apart from other attributes), yes bec. creation is a free act; de pot. ordinata (in relation w. other attributes, esp. jsut. and wisdom), not bec. this would be a sort of contradiction, the withdrawal of a creature after having given it an immortal nature[165].


4.    Every h. soul is immediately created by God (I 90, 118)

·      the question of origin depends on the q? of nature the rational soul cannot become except by creation.  The reason is that, as the fieri is the via ad esse, stg becomes in the same way as it is’.

·      the soul of a child cannot come from the body of the parents (matter does not produce an immat. effect 118,2); nor can it come from the soul of the parents which, simple, cannot be divided.

·      Such a creation is not a miracle (derogation to the laws of nature) since it is natural that man engenders man even if this requires the specific and individual intervention of God (every man is the fruit of a particular love of God).

·      At which time is the soul created? 

·      it does not preexist the body agst Plato, Origen. a) there is no argument in favor of the hypothesis; b) there are motives of denying the preexistence : 1- theological (condd Dz 203); 2- phil. since the soul is by nature the form of a body (see below), it would be wo raison d’être if it existed before giving life to a body, bec. it is not a complete substance.

·      When is the soul created as infused in a body? 

·      at the moment of conception : the more simple hypothesis. The h. obyd is progressively organised by its own soul present from the bgg.  Abortion is a homicide. 

·      at the moment when the child is apt to live, more conform w. the def. of soul ‘first act of a body organised having life in potency’.  The soul supposes a cert. organisation of the body, and cannot have been infused before the body was sufficiently organised.  Then, abortion is not always a homicide, but close enough since it prevents the natural dvlpt of h. life. 

·      ST, who follows the 2d hypoth. admits a succession of souls in the embryon I 118,2.   The CC has not taken dogmatic position on this question, but she gave practical directives which seem to imply a theoretical position : CIC 747 the foetus, whichever his age is to be baptised absolute, not even conditionaliter.  It is the more probable opinion.



ii. the union of soul and body.


            What is man?  we said that he is a living being, and like all others, he is composed of a soul and body, and the soul is the form of the body.  Yet, since his soul is subsistent and spiritual, we need to proved that it is the form of the body despite the fact of its spiritual nature, far superior to the animal and vegetal soul.


1.    the union of soul and body is substantial

·      Errors.  The union is accidental.

·      Plato who, following Pythagoras, considered that the soul is a pure spirit fallen into a body like in jail as the consequence of a fault. 

·      Descartes who defines body and soul as 2 heterogenous substances

·      Spinoza says that the body and soul are 2 modes of the same substance, the infinite divine Subst.

·      Malebranche and Leibniz say the they remain 2 distinct substances and wo communication at all

·      Man is one : this is a fact beyond discussion.  What needs to be proved esp. is that man is not soul.

·      “The same man perceives that he senses and he thinks”, acts totally different, yet which belong to the same subject ‘I’. But it is impossible that the same sbjct perceive as his other’s acts (76,1)

·      the diverse activities oppose and prevent each other (suffering diminishes y. int. power) : such opposition can exist only bec. they derive from the same pple (C.G. II 58).

·      different agts can produce the same effect, but not one activity by one agent.  Some h. acts involve both body and soul, like to sense, to fear, to be angry changes the body (C.G. II 57).


2.    The soul is the form of the body (bec. it is the principle of being and of activity of the body)

·      re. the esse.  2 elements are in the relation of form/matter if : a) one of them is pple of the substantial existence of the other; b) the 2 elements have the same act of existence (Vs. 2 beings).  Precisely, the human soul makes the body exist as a living and unified substance, it is united to it so as to produce one same substance ‘conveniunt in uno esse’ (C.G. II 68).

·      re. the agere.  The form is the first intrinsic principle of activity of a being   But such is the human soul which is case of all the vital acts, to feed self, to move, to sense and to think (76,1).

·      the subsistence of the soul is no difficulty.  Re. the esse, nothing prevents the soul, as such of a superior existence, from communicating existence to the body.  Re. the agere, nothing prevents a form to be only partially absorded in informing and animating the body, and retaining some proper actvt[166]

·      this doctrine was ‘canonised’ by Ccle of Vienne 1312 and V Lat. (Dz 481, 738) : ‘if anyone affirms or sustains or defends that the rational or intellective soul is not per se et essentlter the form of the h. body, let him be held as heretic’.  Wo adopting the philos. system of Aristotle, the CC expresses that the truth expressed by the arist. formula belongs to the deposit of the faith.

·      Csqces of the soul form of the body.

·      the human soul, though self subsistent, is not a complete substance, since it is made to inform a body.  It is not a ‘hoc aliquid’ i.e. a being, complete and individual.  It is only a part of man, not a person as such (75,4 ad 2).

·      the soul is found at the limits of 2 ontological regions : the region of bodies and that of spirits.

·      the union of soul and body is natural (Vs. Plato) : the h. soul is made ad hoc, to perfect, vivify and use to body for its proper functioning.  Plato, logically professes an ascetic moral life (the soul must recover its former purity, and learn to die, cf. Areopagus in the time of St. Paul). Aristotle’s moral life is humanist : if the passions need refraining to be under the power of reason, the body however is part of h. nature and serves the intellect.  Death places the separate soul is an unnatural state and preserves a desire of the resurrection of its body. 

·      the state of the soul after death is delicate in arist. philo. : it is not either contra naturam nor secundum naturam (else, the resurrection of the body would be a metaphysical ncssty).

·      the soul informs the body and receives from it its individuality.  The 2 elements are ncssly complementary : the form specifies and actuates the matter, and quantified matter individualises the form.  Man’s soul make  him be man, his body makes him be this man a ‘I’ distinct from others.

·      There is no purely ‘mental sickness’.  A ‘mental sickness’ means a sickness of the functioning of faculties, but the int. faculties are affected indirectly by the sensation.  More deeply, the h. faculties are subjected in the soul which is individualted and affected by the body[167].

·      Does the soul lose its individuality together w. its body at death?  No, it retains its ordination to a determinate body, it is forever the form of this body, the soul of this man.


3.    In each man, there is one soul and only one soul

·      Vs. Averroes who sustained that there was only one intellect and thus one soul for all men.  This is taken again in Fichte, Lachelier and Brunschvicg, tied to their pantheist view the Spirit is God.

·      Vs. Platonists, who believed that there was a plurality of substantial forms in each being.  If there can be many accdtl forms in the same being, there can be however only one subst. form.

·      there are as many souls as men (76,2) since each man is a substance, and  is distinguished from others more than only accidentally (as wearing a tunic or a cope) : ‘I’ would be wo reality.

·      there is only one soul in each man (76,3) bec. again each man is one substance.  If there were 3 souls, one vegetative, one sensitive and one inte. they would make 3 different substances and their union could only be accidental.


4.    The soul is present whole and entire in the whole body and in each part of the body.

·      the soul is not circumscribed by the body bec. it is not extended.  There is no point asking ‘where is the soul’?  It is present to the body rather than in the body.

·      it is present entirely in every part of the body bec. it has not part.

·      but it is not in each part of the body accdg to the totality of its energy ‘sec totalitatem virtutis’ but in each of them accdg what fits it, proportionately and accordg to its proper manner.


iii.  the human person


1.    to define person by autonomy, is the Kantian acception, according to whom speculative reason cannot be metaphysical, and the practical reason sets its own laws.  Duty emanates a priori from reason, and man obeys in fact only his own laws.  To this we object, that man cannot be the last fdt of moral obligat.

2.    We can define the person by liberty, since it is a ‘property’ of any person.  But this def. leaves aside the essential aspects.

3.    Persona est rationalis naturae individua substantia (Boetius) : it limits the notion of person by 3 concentric circles : substance (stg existing per se Vs. accident); complete (first susbst. or individual, Vs. parts); of rational nature (I 29,1).

4.    Is there a distinction between individual and person? 

·      the personalist philosophy (Mounier, Maritain, Marcel) opposes them, and says that the individual is the physical man, part of the universe and opposed to other individuals.  Person is the spiritual man, transcendent to the universe by his liberty, open and in communion with other persons.

·      Ans./ there is a dist. of notion or of aspects (indvdl = genus of person), but there is no opposition, much less between body and spirit (cartesian opposition).  In fact, we must reject such opposition and affirm that the h. person includes body and soul, that personality increases individuality, and is subject of duties and rights, based on the last end to which the person (not only indvdl) is ordained.



[1]I 18,1, cf. also In II De Anima lec.1 #219 in which ST clarifies that movement is taken broadly as any kind of change, cognitive, appetitive as well as local.

[2]De Anima II #412 a13.

[3]the parts of the minerals are certainly a well ordered matter, which order indicates the form organising the quantified matter, but they are homogeneous parts, not heterogenous.

[4]I 18,2.

[5]Phys. VIII.

[6] conclusion of the 2ª via of ST Ia 2,3 #2.

[7]C.G. II 57.

[8]Descartes said man is made of 2 separate elements thought and body; Vitalism says the living is made of a ‘soul-psyque’ and body.

[9] ‘relinquitur igitur quod homo non sit unum simpliciter, et per consequens nec ens simpliciter, sed ens per accidens’ Loc cit.

[10]C.G. II 56.

[11]: what has perfection, first principle of the characteristic acts of the living being in Aristotle.

[12] II De Anima c. 1.

[13]cf. ST in II De Anima lec 1 # 221.

[14]A ‘simple’ bacteria is in fact a factory of 1/1000 mill. capable of programming 1.000 differents worlshops!

[15]  ‘the first act (or form) of a physical (natural) organic body having life in potency’.

[16] the soul is the first principle by which we live and sense and move and tkink’ ST in II De Anima lec.2 # 273.

[17] if there were germs of life in matter, potential life, things would be different.  Such possibility could be also extended to the case of a scientist making the synthesis of life, since it would result from an intelligent disposition of elements, and not only of the mere play of physical forces.  Whether this is a metaph.  impossibility is another question.

[18]the ‘propter quod’ of something and (is) greater than it’, the ‘cause is greater than the effect’, ‘no one gives what (perfection) one does not have’ I 2,3 #2; 16,1 ad 3; 95,1; 88,3 ad 2.

[19] Likewise, I may consider the ‘unicorn’ as a mere chimera, but also as really existing in my dream (mistakenly or voluntarily considered as existing, yet still only an ens rationis).  The ‘ontological argument’ of S. Anselm regarding the proof of God’s existence, based on the ‘concept’ of God, as ‘the greatest conceivable being’. It sins by confusing the concept of a thing conceived as real with a real thing. 

[20]there is no Mphscl reason against the evolution of the species starting from a primitive germ, given that God directs the evolution through His Providence.  But man (Adam and each of us) is excluded from such evolution since his spiritual soul can come only from a direct creation of God.

[21] the 2 major groups of activity of the conscious life are knowledge and appetition, studied in I 14,1 and 80,1.

[22]to sense nothing is to not sense, to think of nothing is to not think!

[23] Cursus Philo. de Anima IV, 1.

[24]I 88, 1 ad 3.

[25]I 56,3.

[26]De Anima II 12, #377.

[27]according to the dispositions of each, the same thing can be esteemed very differently (good or bad).

[28]My desire for food will not make me give the stone a nutritive power, as much as I might like to.

[29]I 19,1 16,1; De Ver. 2,1.

[30]cf Garrigou ‘God’ : the principle of the rectitude of nature is an analytical principle, immediately reducible to the pple of finality.  The hypothesis of an omnipotent evil Genius of Descartes is self contradictory : if omnipotent to create, He is infinite, if infinite He is nccly good.

[31]cf. question of  the ‘threshold’ of sensations, the q? of the time of reaction, of the ‘seat’ of sensations.

[32]in De Anima II 13, #384-387

[33]the sensible proper is a body which has a sensible property, i.e. an action capable of affecting a sense.  Here the psycho-physics becomes interesting to determine the necessary conditions of sensibility of a body, e.g. which vibrations must it emit so as to become visible, audible or hot, or emit gas particles to become odorant, or be soluble to become savory, consistent and resistent to become tangible.  More specifically what makes a body be white, red? What must be its chemical constituent to become sweet, sour?

[34] they correspond to the first qualities of Locke, and are all founded on quantity.

[35] ‘Cum natura non deficit in necessariis, oportet esse tot actiones animae sensitivae quot sufficiant ad vitam animalis perfecti’ I 78,4.

[36] ‘Sensus est potentia quae nata est immutari ab exteriori sensibili’ I 78,3.

[37]The species has a double role, to render the  object present, and to elevate it to a pureer state since a material and physical  alteration, far from helping knowledge, prevents it.  It is the image of the object in the subject, called impressed species, a subjective impression essentially intentional or representative of the object.  Hence the formula of Arist De Anima III 2 : ‘sensibile in actu est sensus in actu’. 

[38]compare for instance the brightness produced by the sun to the eye, and the brightness given the int. in front of a self evident principle : the eye is blind for a while, whereas the int. preserves all its activity.

[39]sentire non est proprium corporis, neque animae, sed conjuncti’ I 77,5.

[40]The h. intellect needs to produce an expr. species as vicar form to express the object when absent,and in a form which is proportionate to the potency.  It is the fruit, the term of the act of int. called verbum, conceptus, idea, similitudo intellecta.  Such species is not necessary for the sense which has its object present and proportionate to itself (actu sensibile).

[41] Some thomists, arguing from an obscure text, De Pot. 5,8 pretend that sense knowl. demands the recourse to angels.

[42]because actio et passio sunt idem, ontologically an identical movement, distinct only by the terms.

[43]the common act of the sensient and of the thing sensed (De Anima III 2, #592-593, ‘unus et idem sit actus sensibilis et sentientis, sed ratione differunt’).  ST #592 ‘auditus patitur a sono, unde ncss est quod tam sonus sec actum (sonatio) quam auditus sec. actum (auditio) sit in organo auditus’, the sound (or  sounding) and audition are one and the same act.

[44]This assimilation of the ‘sensus communis’ to mean the good sense found its most profound defensor in Garrigou ‘the common sense, the Philosophy of being and the dogmatic formulae’.  That is a deviation from the doctrine of ST, Gilson ‘Realisme thomiste et critique de la connaissance’ ch.1.

[45] ‘Nullus sensus seipsum cognoscit nec suam operationem.  Visus enim non videt seipsum, nec videt se videre’ C.G. II 65.

[46]in man, it is almost inextricably inwoven w. his int. consciousness.

[47]re-plexis (Gk): to flex arm over itself.

[48]The int. can reflect on itself, and sense cannot.  Thus, we know how we know when it is time to make ready for winter, but how does the squirrel know?  And yet he knows, though he neither knows that he knows, nor, much less, how he knows.

[49]De anima III 3, # 309.

[50]Certainly there is one exception, the hallucination.  But nothing allows us to consider hallucination which is rare as the normal case since it, not sensation, is abnormal.

[51] De Veritate 10, 8 ad 2 in contra.

[52]only acceptable application of the idealist principle of Berkeley.

[53]De Anima III 5, # 645.

[54]the doctrine of the esetimative and cogitative is proper to Aristotle, and like any other in the Peripatetic tradition, comes simply from experience.

[55]ST says the instinct is perfected ‘per aliquam affinitatem et propinquitatem ad rationem universalem, secundum quamdam refluentiam’ I 78, 4 ad 5.

[56]if I want to write something, the intellect knows this pen and starts forming certain characters on this white paper before me, only through the cogitative power

[57]Bergson distinguishes it clearly when he speaks of the memory-habit and memory-souvenir.

[58] in reality time is not a measurable grandeur since only the present time is given.  What we call time measure is the measure of the space covered by a mobile supposedly moving at a uniform speed.

[59]and this for 2 reasons : 1º to maintain the bond of unity : else, events would be instant appearances and disappearances wo being the change of something; 2º to have a perception of change, I need to be identical betw. before and after.

[60]I 79,6.

[61]to think the essence ‘triangle’ as such bears no reference to the past.  To find out when was the last time we thought of a triangle, is to refer to the sense memory.

[62]II II 49,1 ad 2.

[63]I II 26,4.

[64]I 81,2.

[65]As such morally neutral, SS speaks of it as an unrefrained appetite of pleasure leading man away from reason into disordered acts.

[66]I tremble, I am afraid, my fear is constituted by the trembling.

[67]I tremble because I see a bear.

[68]If I am afraid and tremble at the sight of the bear, it is ultimately because I love life and hate suffering and death. 

[69]I II 23,4

[70]I 75,3.

[71]I 118,1.

[72] De Verit. I, 1.

[73]I 5 2; 79,7; 87,3 ad 1.

[74]Bergson understood it but expressed himself wrongly when he said that there is more in the idea of nihil than in the idea of being (being + negation). 

[75]Meta IV 3, # 566; de Pot 9,7 ad 15.

[76] C: G. II 98.

[77]I 84,1 et 6; 85,1.

[78]I 84,7.

[79]I 85,8.


[81]I 84,7.  He can certainly have a scientific notion of light and colours, of vibration and define red as the vibration of a certain frequency.  Yet he konws them by the other senses, hearing and touch, wo having a proper concept of the colours but only an analogical concept, like the seer has only an analogical notion of realities which are beyond the senses.

[82] Sensus non est cognoscitivus nisi singularium... Intellectus autem est cognoscitivus universalium, ut per experimentum patet (C.G. II 66), more briefly : sensus est singularium, intellectus autem universalium  (I 85,3).

[83]I 84,3.

[84]I 79,2

[85]I 88,3.  the ontological principle (not argument) is primum logicum est primum ontologicum (the first being known is the first being).

[86]I 12, 4-6

[87]Gilson, Réalisme thomisme et critique de la connaissance, ch.5.

[88]I 87,1 et 3.

[89]De Verit 10,12 ad 7.

[90]I 87,3, cf. C.G.. III 46.

[91]De Verit. 10, 8

[92]Gardeil, text X, p.272.

[93]De Anima III 8, n.712-713.

[94]I 86,1

[95]De Ver. 10,5

[96]I 88,1 and 2.

[97]I 12, 11 and 12.

[98]Intuition means vision, which Verneaux seem to extend to int. audition for faith.  Other authors say rather that faith is opposed to intuition (sensitive of the eye, intellectual of the evidence of the truth), bec. faith precisely is of things not seen ‘est de non visis’.  Faith is the most obscure and imperfect knowl. humanly speaking since its principles are believed (by the will) and not evident to the int. (so is it with theology), and bec. the terms to say God are inadequate.  Joret, contemplation mystique, p.27.29.

[99]I 12,1.

[100]Plato (the Banquet, c.29): "How blessed would that vision be, could a man be granted to see beauty itself, beauty unalloyed, and divine! Would not this man be the friend of God? Would he not deserve to be called immortal?"

[101]La structure de l’âme et l’expérience mystique, I p.268-348.

[102]Metpha. A 1093, b.10.

[103]Meta. II 1, n.282.

[104]C.G. II 50.

[105]C.G. II 49, and 66.  We speak of the proper reflection, by which a being returns upon itself and knows itself.  Physically, the reflection of a light ray on a mirror is a remote analogy of the real reflection.  Re. sensible knowledge, we said that a sense cannot reflect : the eye sees colour but not its own vision; to touch one’s touch, it would ne needed, not only that one hand touches the other, but that the finger enters within itself like an empty glove finger.   On the int. level, reflection means not that one thinks of stg (cogitatio) but that one thinks of himself, which is the reditio completa.  Thus the reflection is the most direct way to the spiritual and quasi experimental.

[106]I 75,2.

[107]De Anima III 7, # 680-681.  “Omne quod est in potentia ad aliquid et receptivum eius, caret eo ad quod est in potentia et cuius eset receptivum; sicut pupilla, quae est in potentia ad colores, et est receptiva ipsorum, est carens omni colore.  Sed int. noster sic intelligit intelligibilia..., ergo caret omnibus illis rebus quas natus est intelligere, q. sunt res sensibiles et corporales, et ncss est quod careat omnia natura corporali.  Sicut lingua febricitantis, quae habet aliquem humorem amarum, non potest recipere dulcem saporem.  ‘Intus apparens prohibebit cognoscere extraneum et obstruet’,, i.e. impediet intellectum, et quodammodo velabit et concludet ab inspectione aliorum.” 

[108]I 75,2 ad 3.

[109]75,3 ad 2.  Si vero in intelligendo, fatigetur corpus, hoc est per accidens, inqt int. indiget operatione virium sensitivarum, per quas ei phantasmata praeparantur.

[110]I 76, 5.

[111]De Anima II 19; #485.

[112]Satires, X 356.

[113]If, looking at stg, you do not grasp anything for it, there is no int. yet, but as soon as you realise : ‘this is a machine, a man,’ then there is intellection.

[114]The mysterious aspect of the H. Trinity consists in the fact that this ‘word’ which proceeds from God is a distinct Person from the Father.

[115]I 40,3.

[116] 85,1 ad 2.

[117]Brunschvicg is not wrong when he says that metaph. corresponds to the mentality of a 8 y.old child.

[118]De Anima II 12, #378; Meta VII, 13, # 1570.

[119]Nihil corporeum imprimere potest in rem incorpoream.  This difficulty raised by Descartes was known to ST who formulated it clearly.  To eliminate one of the 2 terms of the relation of knowl. simplifies greatly the problem : idealism  denies the material object to the int, and materialism (empiricism) denies the spirituality of the int.  But both fall into greater problems : idealism cannot explain the apparent ‘thing-in-itself’ of the sensible things, and materialism cannot explain how physical forces can beget thought.

[120]C.G. II 76.

[121]the concept is known only by reflection.  John of ST, followed by Maritain, have developed the distinction of instrumental concept and formal concept.  The red disk is the instr. cpt which is firstly known and makes the object known, the train.  In the case of the formal concept, it is a pure sign, i.e. it does not stop the sight to itself but points out to the object.

[122]ST speaks of species (similitudo) of the object and of the intentio intellecta which is the ratio/nature of the object as expressed in its definition (instead of impressed and expressed species) in C.G. I 53.

[123]Yet, the prod. of the mental word, he says, is not an absolute and universal necessity, since the Son and the H.Ghost understand wo producing a word, and the production of the word is not the ultimate term of intellection, since it must be intellection itself (?).  Even for man, there is one case in which he understands wo word, in the beatific vision since God is totally intelligible in himself and never adequately represented by any created similitude.

[124]Together with doubt, we can add mental attitudes which bear no affirmation, like the interrogation, prayer and even command.

[125]I 16,2; de Veritate 1, 3.

[126]I 85,5.

[127] Although the act of faith is essentially supernatural, grace does not normally intervene in the nat. functioning of the mind.  Thus we analyse the act of faith under the natural aspect, abstracting from the sn element (wo denying it).

[128]We need not say “I believe...” since the affirmation “God is” is an act of faith bec. of its content.

[129]Apologetics is a part of theology, and is not meant to convert unbelievers, except per accidens, work far above it.

[130]Liberum arbitrium  ‘nominat... eam (voluntatem) non absolute, sed in ordine ad aliquem actum eius, qui est eligere’ (De Ver. 24,7).

[131]Suarez dicit quod imperium (= electio) est essentialiter actus vol., ST dicit imperium esse actus intelelctus (I II 17,1) praesupponens tamen actus vol.  Eadem opositio auctorum habetur re. legem quae est imperium quoddam, q. sec. ST pertinet essentialiter ad int.

[132]I 82, 1, De Veritate 22, 5; I II 10,1.  The last end in the practical order acts like the principles in the speculative order.

[133]I 6,2

[134]I 44,4.

[135]C.G. III 17,21 and 24.

[136]I II 5,8.

[137]I II 2-3; C.G. III 26-40.

[138] “It is impossible that the beatitude of man be found in any created good.  For the beatitude is the perfect good which satiates totally the appetite; otherwise it would not be the ultimate end if there was still stg to wish.  But the object of the will, which is the human appetite, is the universal good.  From this it follows that nothing can satiate the will of man except the universal good, which is not found in anything created but in God alone : for every creature has a participated goodness.  Thus, only God can fulfill the will of man.’ (I II 2,8).

[139]II II 25,2.

[140]I II 26,4; I II 28,3.

[141]I II 26, 3.

[142] ‘Unumquodque suo modo naturaliter diligit Deum plus quam seipsum’ (I 60, 5 ad 1).

[143]II II 23, 1 ‘manifestum est quod charitas amicitia quaedam est homini ad Deum.’

[144] “Fides et spes attingunt Deum sec. quod ex ipso provenit nobis vel cognitio veri vel adeptio boni; sed charitas attingit ipsum Deum ut in ipso sistat, non ut ex eo aliquid nobis proveniat” (II II 23,6).

[145]C.G. III 16.

[146]II II 6, 3 ad 2.  To refer the Creator to the creature would be metaphysically absurd, and morally unjust.

[147]Verneaux objects and says, this is true logically yes; but this is difficult to accept in psychology, our view point here.

[148] “unde vidimus quod homines in aliqua passione existentes, non facile imaginationem avertunt ab his circa quae afficiuntur.  Unde per consequens, iudicium rationis plerumque sequitur passionem appetitus sensitivi, et per consequens motus voluntatis qui natus eset semper sequi iudicium rationis” I II 77,1.

[149]I II 10,2; cf. I 82,2.

[150]I 59,3

[151]I 83,1

[152]De Malo 6,1

[153]I 82,2.

[154]I II 10,2.

[155]De Malo 6,1 ad 9.

[156]I 83, 1 ad 3.

[157]De Malo 6,1.

[158]De Malo 6,1.

[159]Existentialism (1925-1960) is the philosophy of the personal existence of man, synthetised in the free choice of his destiny. (Thonnard p.885).

[160] I 18,3 , nature is the intrinsic principle of activity of a being.  But in every action there are 3 pples, the end (of the action), the form (where it starts), the execution of the action.  And whereas the living plants move spontaneously only as to the execution, and the animals as to the form (by their sensibility) and execution, man has an indeterminate activity according the 3 elements, including the end which he chooses freely, (but not the last end).

[161]I 77 1 ‘The soul, according to its essence, is act.  Thus if the very essence of the soul was the immediate principle of operation, having always its soul, it would be always in act of the operations of life, as having always a souls, it is always actually living... But we see that one, having his soul, is not always in act of the operations of life”.

[162] “Non enim proprie loquendo sensus aut intellectus cognoscit, sed homo per utrumque” (De Ver 2, 6 ad 3).

[163]We must not confuse habitus with custom (habit) which, in its modern acception, means a physical or physiological behavior produced by nat. mechanism which come from the material inertia and not from the spontaneous activity of the living being.  The habitus deals with the very activity of the faculties.  The physical activity is determined and thus the body is not susceptible of habitus.  Yet there is ncssly interference : the soul’s habitus is pervading one’s bodily behavior and vice-versa, the body can have some influence on the spiritual faculties which depend on it (materialiter).

[164]The purpose of the art is recta facere, to produce a good work (shoes, house, syllogism), regardless of his right will or intention.  The rectitude of one’s conduct depends on the end.  Thus prudence supposes a proper appreciation of the end chosen, which in turn presupposes that the will is rightly disposed (by other moral virtues).

[165]‘Deus, qui est institutor naturae, non subtrahit rebus id quod est proprium naturis earum’ C.G. II 55.

[166] “quanto forma est nobilior, tanto magis dominatur materiae corporali, et minus ei immergitur, et magis sua operatione vel virtute excedit eam.. et qto magis proceditur in nobilitate formarum, tanto magis invenitur virtus formae materiam elementarem excedere.” I 76,1.

[167]This does not infer that psychiatry is useless as opposed to medicine.  Stmes, the origin of evil may be in the mind, like an idea, ignorance, worry.  Jung says “most of psychoses come from the incapacity to see life fr. the metph angle”.