St. Thomas Aquinas on Faith and Reason | Jonathan Jergens - misjon.info
All this is necessary by way of a preface to Ockham on faith and reason. as a dispute about the exact way in which this successor-relation should be spelled out.. According to Aquinas, Christian theology is a successor to classical .. another infinite absolute perfection is actually possessed by some being, unaided. One topic that Aquinas dealt with was faith and reason. . Fides Et Ratio [ Encyclical on the Relationship between Faith and Reason], Cited Accessed enquire and understand, restricted only by its finiteness before the infinite mystery of God. aquinas In addition to his moral philosophy, Thomas Aquinas () is . For this reason, Aquinas describes God's existence not as an article of faith but as . it appears that the order in question must consist of an infinite chain of causes. .. We'll say more about the relationship between love and faith in the following.
Reason generally is understood as the principles for a methodological inquiry, whether intellectual, moral, aesthetic, or religious. Thus is it not simply the rules of logical inference or the embodied wisdom of a tradition or authority. Some kind of algorithmic demonstrability is ordinarily presupposed. Once demonstrated, a proposition or claim is ordinarily understood to be justified as true or authoritative. Faith, on the other hand, involves a stance toward some claim that is not, at least presently, demonstrable by reason.
Thus faith is a kind of attitude of trust or assent. As such, it is ordinarily understood to involve an act of will or a commitment on the part of the believer. Religious faith involves a belief that makes some kind of either an implicit or explicit reference to a transcendent source. The basis for a person's faith usually is understood to come from the authority of revelation. Revelation is either direct, through some kind of direct infusion, or indirect, usually from the testimony of an other.
The religious beliefs that are the objects of faith can thus be divided into those what are in fact strictly demonstrable scienta and those that inform a believer's virtuous practices sapientia.
Religious faith is of two kinds: The former views faith as closely coordinated with demonstrable truths; the latter more strictly as an act of the will of the religious believer alone. The former includes evidence garnered from the testimony and works of other believers. It is, however, possible to hold a religious belief simply on the basis either of faith alone or of reason alone. Moreover, one can even lack faith in God or deny His existence, but still find solace in the practice of religion.
The basic impetus for the problem of faith and reason comes from the fact that the revelation or set of revelations on which most religions are based is usually described and interpreted in sacred pronouncements, either in an oral tradition or canonical writings, backed by some kind of divine authority. These writings or oral traditions are usually presented in the literary forms of narrative, parable, or discourse. As such, they are in some measure immune from rational critique and evaluation.
In fact even the attempt to verify religious beliefs rationally can be seen as a kind of category mistake. Yet most religious traditions allow and even encourage some kind of rational examination of their beliefs.
The key philosophical issue regarding the problem of faith and reason is to work out how the authority of faith and the authority of reason interrelate in the process by which a religious belief is justified or established as true or justified.
Four basic models of interaction are possible. Here the aims, objects, or methods of reason and faith seem to be very much the same. Thus when they seem to be saying different things, there is genuine rivalry.
This model is thus assumed both by religious fundamentalists, who resolve the rivalry on the side of faith, and scientific naturalistswho resolve it on the side of reason. Here the aims, objects, and methods of reason and faith are understood to be distinct. Compartmentalization of each is possible. Reason aims at empirical truth; religion aims at divine truths. Thus no rivalry exists between them. This model subdivides further into three subdivisions.
First, one can hold faith is transrational, inasmuch as it is higher than reason. This latter strategy has been employed by some Christian existentialists. Reason can only reconstruct what is already implicit in faith or religious practice. Second, one can hold that religious belief is irrational, thus not subject to rational evaluation at all. This is the position taken ordinarily by those who adopt negative theology, the method that assumes that all speculation about God can only arrive at what God is not.
The latter subdivision also includes those theories of belief that claim that religious language is only metaphorical in nature. This and other forms of irrationalism result in what is ordinarily considered fideism: Here it is understood that dialogue is possible between reason and faith, though both maintain distinct realms of evaluation and cogency.
For example, the substance of faith can be seen to involve miracles ; that of reason to involve the scientific method of hypothesis testing. Much of the Reformed model of Christianity adopts this basic model. Here it is understood that faith and reason have an organic connection, and perhaps even parity. A typical form of strong compatibilism is termed natural theology. Articles of faith can be demonstrated by reason, either deductively from widely shared theological premises or inductively from common experiences.
It can take one of two forms: An example of the former would be the cosmological proof for God's existence; an example of the latter would be the argument that science would not be possible unless God's goodness ensured that the world is intelligible. Many, but certainly not all, Roman Catholic philosophers and theologians hold to the possibility of natural theology. Some natural theologians have attempted to unite faith and reason into a comprehensive metaphysical system.
The strong compatibilist model, however, must explain why God chose to reveal Himself at all since we have such access to him through reason alone. The interplay between reason and faith is an important topic in the philosophy of religion. It is closely related to, but distinct from, several other issues in the philosophy of religion: Moreover, an analysis of the interplay between faith and reason also provides resources for philosophical arguments in other areas such as metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology.
While the issues the interplay between faith and reason addresses are endemic to almost any religious faith, this article will focus primarily on the faith claims found in the three great monotheistic world religions: Judaism, Islam, and particularly Christianity. This rest of the article will trace out the history of the development of thinking about the relationship between faith and reason in Western philosophy from the classical period of the Greeks through the end of the twentieth century.
The Classical Period Greek religions, in contrast to Judaism, speculated primarily not on the human world but on the cosmos as a whole. They were often formulated as literary myths. Nonetheless these forms of religious speculation were generally practical in nature: Most of these religions involved civic cultic practices. Philosophers from the earliest times in Greece tried to distill metaphysical issues out of these mythological claims.
Once these principles were located and excised, these philosophers purified them from the esoteric speculation and superstition of their religious origins.
They also decried the proclivities to gnosticism and elitism found in the religious culture whence the religious myths developed. None of these philosophers, however, was particularly interested in the issue of willed assent to or faith in these religious beliefs as such.
Aristotle and Plato Both Plato and Aristotle found a principle of intellectual organization in religious thinking that could function metaphysically as a halt to the regress of explanation. In Plato, this is found in the Forms, particularly the Form of the Good.
The Form of Good is that by which all things gain their intelligibility. Aristotle rejected the Form of the Good as unable to account for the variety of good things, appealing instead to the unmoved mover as an unchangeable cosmic entity. This primary substance also has intelligence as nous: Both thinkers also developed versions of natural theology by showing how religious beliefs emerge from rational reflections on concrete reality as such.
An early form of religious apologetics - demonstrating the existence of the gods -- can be found in Plato's Laws. Aristotle's Physics gave arguments demonstrating the existence of an unmoved mover as a timeless self-thinker from the evidence of motion in the world. Stoics and Epicureans Both of these schools of thought derived certain theological kinds of thinking from physics and cosmology. The Stoics generally held a cosmological view of an eternal cycle of identical world-revolutions and world-destructions by a universal conflagration.
Absolute necessity governs the cyclic process and is identified with divine reason logos and providence. This provident and benevolent God is immanent in the physical world. God orders the universe, though without an explicit purpose.
Humans are microcosms; their souls are emanations of the fiery soul of the universe. The Epicureans, on the other hand, were skeptical, materialistic, and anti-dogmatic. It is not clear they were theists at all, though at some points they seem to be. They did speak of the gods as living in a blissful state in intermundial regions, without any interest in the affairs of humans. There is no relation between the evils of human life and a divine guidance of the universe. At death all human perception ceases.
Plotinus Plotinusin the Enneads, held that all modes of being and value originate in an overflow of procession from a single ineffable power that he identified with the radical simplicity of the One of Parmenides or the Good of Plato's Republic. Nous, the second hypostasis after the One, resembles Aristotle's unmoved mover. The orders of the world soul and nature follow after Nous in a linear procession. Humans contain the potentialities of these creative principles, and can choose to make their lives an ascent towards and then a union with the intuitive intelligence.
The One is not a being, but infinite being. It is the cause of beings. Thus Christian and Jewish philosophers who held to a creator God could affirm such a conception. Plotinus might have been the first negative theologian, arguing that God, as simple, is know more from what he is not, than from what he is.
The Rise of Christianity Christianity, emerging from Judaism, imposed a set of revealed truths and practices on its adherents. Many of these beliefs and practices differed significantly from what the Greek religions and Judaism had held. For example, Christians held that God created the world ex nihilo, that God is three persons, and that Jesus Christ was the ultimate revelation of God.
Nonetheless, from the earliest of times, Christians held to a significant degree of compatibility between faith and reason. Paul The writings attributed to St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures provide diverse interpretations of the relation between faith and reason. First, in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul himself engages in discussion with "certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers" at the Aeropagus in Athens Acts Here he champions the unity of the Christian God as the creator of all.
God is "not far from any one of us. It reflects a sympathy with pagan customs, handles the subject of idol worship gently, and appeals for a new examination of divinity not from the standpoint of creation, but from practical engagement with the world. However, he claims that this same God will one day come to judge all mankind. But in his famous passage from Romans 1: Here he champions a natural theology against those pagans who would claim that, even on Christian grounds, their previous lack of access to the Christian God would absolve them from guilt for their nonbelief.
Paul argues that in fact anyone can attain to the truth of God's existence merely from using his or her reason to reflect on the natural world. Thus this strong compatibilist interpretation entailed a reduced tolerance for atheists and agnostics. Yet in 1 Corinthians 1: He points out that the world did not come to know God through wisdom; God chose to reveal Himself fully to those of simple faith.
These diverse Pauline interpretations of the relation between faith and reason were to continue to manifest themselves in various ways through the centuries that followed. Early Christian Apologists The early apologists were both compatibilists and incompatibilists. Tertullian took up the ideas of Paul in 1 Corinthians, proclaiming that Christianity is not merely incompatible with but offensive to natural reason. Jerusalem has nothing to do with Athens.
He boldly claimed credo quia absurdum est "I believe because it is absurd". He claims that religious faith is both against and above reason. In his De Praescriptione Haereticorum, he proclaims, "when we believe, we desire to believe nothing further.
In his Dialogue with Trypho he finds Christianity "the only sure and profitable philosophy. But he maintained that Greek philosophy is unnecessary for a defense of the faith, though it helps to disarm sophistry.
He also worked to demonstrate in a rational way what is found in faith. He claimed that "I believe in order that I may know" credo ut intelligam. This set Christianity on firmer intellectual foundations.
Clement also worked to clarify the early creeds of Christianity, using philosophical notions of substance, being, and person, in order to combat heresies. Augustine Augustine emerged in the late fourth century as a rigorous defender of the Christian faith.
He responded forcefully to pagans' allegations that Christian beliefs were not only superstitious but also barbaric. But he was, for the most part, a strong compatibilist.
He felt that intellectual inquiry into the faith was to be understood as faith seeking understanding fides quaerens intellectum. To believe is "to think with assent" credere est assensione cogitare. It is an act of the intellect determined not by the reason, but by the will. Faith involves a commitment "to believe in a God," "to believe God," and "to believe in God.
He points out that if a pagan science studies what is eternal and unchanging, it can be used to clarify and illuminate the Christian faith. Thus logic, history, and the natural sciences are extremely helpful in matters of interpreting ambiguous or unknown symbols in the Scriptures. However, Augustine is equally interested to avoid any pagan learning, such as that of crafts and superstition that is not targeted at unchangeable knowledge.
Augustine believed that Platonists were the best of philosophers, since they concentrated not merely on the causes of things and the method of acquiring knowledge, but also on the cause of the organized universe as such. One does not, then, have to be a Christian to have a conception of God. Yet, only a Christian can attain to this kind of knowledge without having to have recourse to philosophy. Augustine argued further that the final authority for the determination of the use of reason in faith lies not with the individual, but with the Church itself.
His battle with the Manichean heresy prompted him to realize that the Church is indeed the final arbiter of what cannot be demonstrated--or can be demonstrated but cannot be understood by all believers. Yet despite this appeal to ecclesiastical authority, he believe that one cannot genuinely understand God until one loves Him.
Pseudo-Dionysius Pseudo Dionysius was heavily influenced by neo-Platonism. In letter IX of his Corpus Dionysiacum, he claimed that our language about God provides no information about God but only a way of protecting God's otherness. His analysis gave rise to the unique form negative theology. It entailed a severe restriction in our access to and understanding of the nature of God. In his "Mystical Theology" Pseudo-Dionysius describes how the soul's destiny is to be fully united with the ineffable and absolutely transcendent God.
The Medieval Period Much of the importance of this period stems from its retrieval of Greek thinking, particularly that of Aristotle. At the beginning of the period Arab translators set to work translating and distributing many works of Greek philosophy, making them available to Jewish, Islamic, and Christian philosophers and theologians alike.
For the most part, medieval theologians adopted an epistemological distinction the Greeks had developed: An established claim in theology, confirmed by either scienta or opinio, demanded the believer's assent. Yet despite this possibility of scientia in matters of faith, medieval philosophers and theologians believed that it could be realized only in a limited sense.
They were all too aware of St. Paul's caveat that faith is a matter of "seeing in a mirror dimly" 1 Cor 1: In the Proslogion, he argues that "the smoke of our wrongdoing" will prohibit us from this knowledge. Anselm is most noted, however, for his ontological argument, presented in his Proslogion. He claimed that it is possible for reason to affirm that God exists from inferences made from what the understanding can conceive within its own confines.
As such he was a gifted natural theologian. Like Augustine, Anselm held that the natural theologian seeks not to understand in order to believe, but to believe in order to understand. This is the basis for his principle intellectus fidei. Under this conception, reason is not asked to pass judgment on the content of faith, but to find its meaning and to discover explanations that enable others to understand its content.
But when reason confronts what is incomprehensible, it remains unshaken since it is guided by faith's affirmation of the truth of its own incomprehensible claims. Peter Lombard Lombard was an important precursor to Aquinas.
Following Augustine, he argued that pagans can know about much about truths of the one God simply by their possession of reason e. But in addition, pagans can affirm basic truths about the Trinity from these same affirmations, inasmuch as all things mirror three attributes associated with the Trinity: Islamic Philosophers Islamic philosophers in the tenth and eleventh centuries were also heavily influenced by the reintroduction of Aristotle into their intellectual culture. Avicenna Ibn Sina held that as long as religion is properly construed it comprises an area of truth no different than that of philosophy.
He built this theory of strong compatibilism on the basis of his philosophical study of Aristotle and Plotinus and his theological study of his native Islam. He held that philosophy reveals that Islam is the highest form of life. He defended the Islamic belief in the immortality of individual souls on the grounds that, although as Aristotle taught the agent intellect was one in all persons, the unique potential intellect of each person, illuminated by the agent intellect, survives death.
Averroes Ibn Rushdthough also a scholar of Aristotle's works, was less sympathetic to compatibilism than his predecessor Avicenna. But in his Incoherence of Incoherence, he attacked Algazel's criticisms of rationalism in theology.
For example, he developed a form of natural theology in which the task of proving the existence of God is possible. He held, however, that it could be proven only from the physical fact of motion. Nonetheless Averroes did not think that philosophy could prove all Islamic beliefs, such as that of individual immortality.
Following Aristotle in De Anima, Averroes argued for a separation between the active and passive intellects, even though they enter into a temporary connection with individual humans. This position entails the conclusion that no individuated intellect survives death. Yet Averroes held firmly to the contrary opinion by faith alone. Jewish Philosophy Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, allowed for a significant role of reason in critically interpreting the Scriptures.
But he is probably best known for his development of negative theology. Following Avicenna's affirmation of a real distinction between essence and existence, Maimonides concluded that no positive essential attributes may be predicated of God. God does not possess anything superadded to his essence, and his essence includes all his perfections.
The attributes we do have are derived from the Pentateuch and the Prophets. Yet even these positive attributes, such as wisdom and power, would imply defects in God if applied to Him in the same sense they are applied to us. Since God is simple, it is impossible that we should know one part, or predication, of Him and not another. He argues that when one proves the negation of a thing believed to exist in God, one becomes more perfect and closer to knowledge of God.
He quotes Psalm 4: Those who do otherwise commit profanity and blasphemy.
Faith and Reason
It is not certain, however, whether Maimonides rejected the possibility of positive knowledge of the accidental attributes of God's action. Thomas Aquinas Unlike Augustine, who made little distinction between explaining the meaning of a theological proposition and giving an argument for it, Aquinas worked out a highly articulated theory of theological reasoning.
Bonaventure, an immediate precursor to Aquinas, had argued that no one could attain to truth unless he philosophizes in the light of faith. Thomas held that our faith in eternal salvation shows that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. But he also claimed that one could attain truths about religious claims without faith, though such truths are incomplete.
In the Summa Contra Gentiles he called this a "a two fold truth" about religious claims, "one to which the inquiry of reason can reach, the other which surpasses the whole ability of the human reason. However, something can be true for faith and false or inconclusive in philosophy, though not the other way around.
This entails that a non-believer can attain to truth, though not to the higher truths of faith. A puzzling question naturally arises: Isn't one truth enough? Moreover, if God were indeed the object of rational inquiry in this supernatural way, why would faith be required at all? In De Veritate 14,9 Thomas responds to this question by claiming that one cannot believe by faith and know by rational demonstration the very same truth since this would make one or the other kind of knowledge superfluous.
On the basis of this two-fold theory of truth, Aquinas thus distinguished between revealed dogmatic theology and rational philosophical theology. The former is a genuine science, even though it is not based on natural experience and reason.
Revealed theology is a single speculative science concerned with knowledge of God. Because of its greater certitude and higher dignity of subject matter, it is nobler than any other science. Philosophical theology, though, can make demonstrations using the articles of faith as its principles. Moreover, it can apologetically refute objections raised against the faith even if no articles of faith are presupposed.
But unlike revealed theology, it can err. Aquinas claimed that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. Faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect.
From the side of the subject, it is the mind's assent to what is not seen: Moreover, this assent, as an act of will, can be meritorious for the believer, even though it also always involves the assistance of God's grace. Moreover, faith can be a virtue, since it is a good habit, productive of good works.
Faith and Reason | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
However, when we assent to truth in faith, we do so on the accepted testimony of another. From the side of what is believed, the objective aspect, Aquinas clearly distinguished between "preambles of faith," which can be established by philosophical principles, and "articles of faith" that rest on divine testimony alone.
A proof of God's existence is an example of a preamble of faith. Faith alone can grasp, on the other hand, the article of faith that the world was created in time Summa Theologiae I, q. Aquinas argued that the world considered in itself offers no grounds for demonstrating that it was once all new. Demonstration is always about definitions, and definitions, as universal, abstract from "the here and now.
Of course this would extend to any argument about origination of the first of any species in a chain of efficient causes. Here Thomas sounds a lot like Kant will in his antinomies. Yet by faith we believe he world had a beginning. However, one rational consideration that suggests, though not definitively, a beginning to the world is that the passage from one term to another includes only a limited number of intermediate points between them. Aquinas thus characterizes the articles of faith as first truths that stand in a "mean between science and opinion.
Though he agrees with Augustine that no created intellect can comprehend God as an object, the intellect can grasp his existence indirectly. The more a cause is grasped, the more of its effects can be seen in it; and since God is the ultimate cause of all other reality, the more perfectly an intellect understands God, the greater will be its knowledge of the things God does or can do.
So although we cannot know the divine essence as an object, we can know whether He exists and on the basis of analogical knowledge what must necessarily belong to Him.
Aquinas maintains, however, that some objects of faith, such as the Trinity or the Incarnation, lie entirely beyond our capacity to understand them in this life. Aquinas also elucidates the relationship between faith and reason on the basis of a distinction between higher and lower orders of creation. Aquinas criticizes the form of naturalism that holds that the goodness of any reality "is whatever belongs to it in keeping with its own nature" without need for faith II-IIae, q.
Before Aquinas, many philosophers and theologians had a difficult time reconciling the two. The result was an imbalance, favoring faith over reason, pitting one against the other in a manner that harmed both faith and reason alike. The scales have slid where once society embraced faith, reason now holds more weight.
Aquinas, through his writings, sought to find the balance that was lacking in his time. Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI both attempted to correct the balance after the modern age abandoned faith for reason, relying on the works of Aquinas to rectify the misperceptions associated with faith. Aquinas recognizes a division between the two in a time where mingling between them occurred frequently.
The second point Aquinas makes argues why there must be a sacred science built upon revelation. As mentioned, without divine revelation only a few would come to the true knowledge of God.
Even if those few did come to grasp an understanding of God through reason alone, over time error would creep in, and whatever truth that had been discovered would have been at best tainted, and at worst, completely lost.
Aquinas builds upon this understanding of faith and begins to add definition to it as a science, as well as to equate it with wisdom. Aquinas also describes faith as wisdom: This doctrine is wisdom above all human wisdom; not merely in any one order, but absolutely… he who considers absolutely the highest cause of the whole universe, namely God, is most of all called wise.
Hence wisdom is said to be the knowledge of divine things, as Augustine says De Trin. Even more so, it must be the highest wisdom since it studies the highest principle, God. Through the process of delineating faith and philosophy, and establishing faith as a science that contains wisdom, Thomas provides a natural separation, where each has their place and neither diminishes one at the expense of the other.
Establishing faith as a science places it on equal footing with reason, as well as validating the wisdom it contains. While he is brief in the Summa on the topic, he establishes a foundation for his other works, and for others after him including Pope St. Some enduring thing changes place or quality or quantity. But enduring things like men and trees and horses and the like have also come into being and are destined some day to cease to be.
Such things are called substances. It is a given that there are substances and that they come to be and pass away. Can the analysis of surface change be adjusted and applied to substantial change?
What would its subject be? The subject of substantial change is known on an analogy with the subject of incidental or surface change. That is, if substances come to be as the result of a change, and if our analysis of change can apply, there must be a subject of the change.
The subject of a surface or incidental change is a substance. The subject of a substantial change cannot be a substance; if it were, the result would be a modification of that substance, that is, an incidental change. But we are trying to understand how a substance itself comes into being as the result of a change. There must be a matter or subject but it cannot be matter in the sense of a substance. In order to signal this, we can call the matter prime matter, first matter.
But it is important to recognize that this prime matter is not a substance, and does not exist apart from any particular substance. It is always the matter of some substance that exists. When the discussion moves on from what may be said of all physical objects as such to an inquiry into living physical things, the analyses build upon those already completed.
The peculiar activities of living things will be grouped under headings like nutrition, growth, sense perception, knowing, and willing. Since a living thing sometimes manifests an instance of such activities and sometimes does not, they relate to it in the manner of the incidental forms of any physical object. But they are not incidental in the way that we might think of the shade of color of one's skin at any particular time, or the particular height or weight of an individual, since as activities the ability or power to engage in them proceeds from what the substance in question is.
Thomas at times will call the powers through which they are achieved necessary accidents, using accident in a sense different from more recent philosophy. While the abilities need not be exercised at any particular time or may be impeded from exercise by some condition, the substance nonetheless possesses them in principle as long as it exists.
The form such a subject takes on as the result of the change cannot be an incidental form like size or location or temperature. Substances do not become or cease to be substances as a result of changes in these incidental features. As the analysis of incidental change makes clear, the substance previously existed without the form it acquires in the change and it could lose it and still be itself.
In a substantial change, the substance itself simply comes to be, or ceases to be. The form in a substantial change must be that which makes the substance to be what it is. Call it substantial form. Here we see the semantic plasticity of the term 'matter'. Initially in the analysis of change, 'matter' refers to the substance that takes on or loses some incidental categorical modification of that substance.
Then the term is extended by analogy to cover whatever is the subject of a change of substance. Socrates or Bucephalus is a substance strictly speaking. The forms and matter of Socrates and Bucephalus are not. They are substantial principles without being substances or quasi-substances in their own right.
So the point to notice about this analysis is that substantial change is spoken of on an analogy with incidental change. The analysis of incidental change is presupposed and regulative. Moreover, the language used to speak of the elements of incidental change are extended to substantial change and altered in meaning so as to avoid equivocation. The philosophical vocabulary arises out of analysis of what is most obvious to us and is then progressively extended to more and more things insofar as the later is made known by appeal to the prior.
We see that matter and form apply in an analogous way to the various kinds of incidental change and then to substantial change. The analysis of form and matter provides a rule for knowing and naming that will characterize Thomas's use of Latin in philosophy and in theology as well. Perception and Thought Focusing specifically upon perception—seeing, feeling, hearing, and the like—how can we best analyze it?
In continuity with what has gone before, the questions are put in this form: How best to analyze coming to see, coming to feel, coming to hear, and the like? Seeing these on the analogy of change as already analyzed, we look for a subject, a privation, and a form. The sensing subject is the animal, but the proximate subjects to which they are attributed are the powers of sight, touch, hearing, and the like.
An instance of seeing is describable as the power's moving from not seeing to seeing. Since the object of seeing is color, the change from not seeing to seeing issues in the power having the form of color.
Consider an ordinary physical change, a substance acquiring a color. Coming to see a color is not the same kind of physical change as a substance acquiring a color. To be sure, while there are physical changes involved in sensation—the organs are altered in the way physical bodies are—that is not the change involved in perception as such. Consider again that in feeling a warm or cold body the hand's own temperature is altered by the contact.
But feeling cannot be just that, since any two physical bodies that come into contact undergo a similar alteration of temperature. But not all physical bodies feel the temperature. Feeling the temperature, becoming aware of it, is another sort of change, however much it involves a contemporaneous change in the organs of sense similar to ordinary physical change. Having the color or temperature in this further sense is thus made known and named by reference to physical change.
The fundamental difference between the two ways of acquiring a form is this: In grasping or sensing a color, a numerically new instance of color does not result. And yet what was potentially visible becomes actually visible. There is actuality in the world where before there was only potentiality--an actuality of the seen color, and an actuality of color not in the mode of existence that color has in physical things.
We have here the basis for talk of immateriality in perception. If the acquiring of a form by matter in physical change results in a new instance of the form and this is not the case with perception, we can make the point that acquiring the form in sensation is not identical to the acquiring of the form by matter in the primary sense. Thus, we both want to speak of the subject of sensation on an analogy with physical change and to distinguish the former from the latter.
This is done by speaking of the immaterial reception of a form. Nonetheless, the sense power is implemented in a physical organ, and thus matter for the change of form in sensation in an analogous sense. Because in sensation the sense organ is physically altered and the matter of sensation in this analogous sense, we can say that actual sensation is in some respects physical, and in another not.
It is important to pay attention again to the order of learning and naming, and what we are justified in saying at this point about the use of the words involved in describing this change.
Now, in his interpretation of Aristotle's De anima Thomas defends a view that was as contested in his own time as it is almost an orphan in our own. Among the tenets of so-called Latin Averroism was the view, first held by Averroes, that the move from perceptive acts to intellection is not one from a lower to a higher set of capacities or faculties of the human soul.
Aristotle contrasts intellection with perception, and argues that the former does not employ a sense organ because it displays none of the characteristics of perception which does employ an organ. Thus insofar as sensation can be said to be in some respects material and in others immaterial, intellection is said to be completely immaterial.
But on the Latin-Averroistic view, Aristotle is not thus referring to another capacity of the human soul, the intellect, but, rather, referring to a separate entity thanks to whose action human beings engage in what we call thinking. But the cause of this, the agent intellect, is not a faculty of the soul. Aristotle had distinguished at least two intellects, a possible and an agent. The proof for incorruptibility which results from an activity that does not employ a corporeal organ is therefore a statement about the incorruptibility of this separate entity, not a basis for arguing that each human soul is incorruptible because it has the capacity to perform incorporeal activities.
The Latin-Averroists consequently denied that Aristotle taught personal immortality. Given this consequence, Thomas's adoption of the opposite interpretation—viz. Thomas is frequently said to have baptized Aristotle, which seems to mean that he fitted him to the Procrustean bed of Christian doctrine. Of course, the full Christian view is not simply that the soul survives death but that it will be reunited with body, and Thomas nowhere suggests that there is any intimation of this in Aristotle.
Oddly enough, it is often friends of Thomas who suggest that he merely used Aristotle and was not chiefly concerned with what Aristotle might actually have intended. However, this is an extraordinary approach to reading Thomas. It would be less of an accusation to say that he got a passage wrong than that he pretended it meant something he knew it did not.
However, the important point is whether Thomas's reading is or is not supported by the text. When he commented on the De anima, he seems not to be concerned with the flare up in Paris over Latin Averroism. This is the basis for dating the commentary inbefore Thomas returned to Paris. The commentary, accordingly, cannot be read as though it were prompted by the controversy. Of course, some might still say that Thomas had long term interests in taming Aristotle to behave in a Christian way.
On the contrary, as it happens, during the second Parisian period in the thick of the Latin-Averroist controversy, Thomas wrote an opusculum dedicated to the question: The work is called in the Latin, De unitate intellectus contra averroistas, On there being only one intellect contra the Averroists.
This little work is absolutely essential for assessing the nature of Thomas's Aristotelianism. He provides us with an extended textual analysis to show that the rival interpretation cannot be sustained by the text and that the only coherent reading of the De anima must view the agent and possible intellects as faculties of the human soul.
His interpretation may be right or wrong, but the matter must be decided on the basis of textual interpretation, not vague remarks about Thomas's intentions. Body and Soul Philosophers nowadays will want to know how this account of substance places Aquinas on the question of the relation of body and soul with respect to Dualism and Physicalism.
Aquinas maintains that the soul is capable of existing apart from the living body after the death of the body, because the soul is incorruptible. However this picture fails to recognize the Aristotelian terms of the account that Aquinas provides of soul and body. Thomas knows and accepts Aristotle's assertion in De anima II.
The soul is indeed capable of existence apart from the body at death. This incorruptibility results from the actualities of understanding and willing that are not the actualities of any bodily organ, but of the human animal as such distinguished by the rational form.
A subsistent is something with an operation of its own, existing either on its own or in another as an integral part, but not in the way either accidental or material forms exist in another. Existing on its own is not distinctive of substances alone. A chair is a particular thing, and thus a subsistent. But on Aquinas' account it is not a substance; it is rather an accidental unity of other subsistents which may or may not be substances.
A hand has an operation distinctive of it as an integral part of a living body, an operation different from the operation of the stomach; it is a particular thing and also a subsistent.
And yet being an integral and functional part of a substance, it does not have the complete nature of a substance. A substance, on the other hand, is something that is both subsistent and complete in a nature—a nature being an intrinsic principle of movement and change in the subject.
A human soul is a constitutive element of the nature of a human substance. It is the formal principle of a human substance. It is what is specified when we say what the substance is. But it is incomplete. What it is for a soul to be is to be the form of some substance. As the principle of a nature, its nature is to be the formal element of a complete substance.
Consequently, it doesn't have its own nature and is not a substance in its own right, even if it is capable of subsisting apart from the living body. It is because it is naturally incomplete as subsisting apart from the body that Thomas sees this state as unnatural for it, and an intimation of, but not an argument for, the resurrection of the body.
Thomas begins 75 by pointing out that his concern is the concern of a theologian, and that the theologian is concerned with human nature primarily in relation to the soul. He is concerned with the body only in its relation to the soul. The body of the question is filled with philosophical argument, and yet its order and point is theological.
That theological order and point, however, can lead to certain philosophical distortions concerning the soul if one isn't careful. So Thomas is very careful. Considered as a substantial form of a material body, the soul exists in a living being as the substantial form of an animal. Here it is important to clarify. In the first way, any form as such is immaterial because it is not a material principle.
It is distinguished as a principle of actuality in a being from the material principle which is a principle of potentiality and change in corporeal beings. In that sense, any substantial form whatsoever will be immaterial, including the substantial form of an oak tree or the substantial form of a dog.
And so also is the substantial form of the human immaterial in that sense. Aquinas is explicit about this when he proves that the human soul is immaterial in Summa Theologiae Ia. It is immaterial in just the way in which any form whatsoever is immaterial. But in the second way, 'immaterial' is said of subsistent forms—forms that subsist without matter like angels or spiritual substances in general.
But then immediately in The souls of other animals are incorporeal in the sense of Socrates, the man, has vital activities that are the activities of a living animal, like sensation, nutrition, reproduction, and so on, activities that are not distinctive activities of the soul itself as intellect is in the human case.
Since these are activities of Socrates and not activities of the soul, Socrates and the soul are not identical. And so Socrates, if anything, is a living animal just like the other animals. Tacitly this leaves open the possibility that there might be an animal soul for Socrates that is not identical to the intellectual soul, and as shown in This possibility of two souls in Socrates, an animal soul and an intellectual soul will only be excluded later in question But in conjunction with the result of This result shows the soul to be a subsistent form that can exist without out matter.
And so it is now seen to be an immaterial subsistent in the second sense described above, not just the first sense. Now 'immaterial' characterizes its mode of existence, not just the negative fact that it is immaterial like all other forms are immaterial. So the difference between the human intellectual soul and the souls of other animals is that while both are immaterial in the first sense, the sense of not being material principles, the intellectual soul is an immaterial subsistent in the second sense while the souls of other animals are not immaterial subsistents.
A material form is a form that is not an immaterial subsistent; it exists either as an accident in a corporeal subject or as a substantial form in a corporeal subject, and does not subsist.
So the substantial forms of bodies, particularly the souls of living bodies, are in general material forms with the exception of the intellectual soul.
The souls of other animals are immaterial in the first sense and material with regard to the second sense, while the human soul is both immaterial in the first sense and immaterial in the second sense. Confirmation of this distinction of senses of 'immaterial' comes when in the very last article of the question, The souls of other animals are not directly generated and do not directly corrupt.
It is the living animal that corrupts. But their souls can be said to corrupt with the animal. Quaestiones Disputatae De Anima 2 However, the human soul, because it is a subsistent immaterial form, does not corrupt with the death of the human being.
So when all these results are put together the intellectual soul is an incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistent, an immaterial form in the second sense, which looks an awful lot like an angel, since angels are also incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistents, and immaterial forms in the second sense. Angels are complete in their natures as incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistent forms—they are thus substances properly speaking.
But Thomas had insisted all along that the soul is incomplete in its nature, even as it is an incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistent form—it is not a substance properly speaking.
Still, the soul can be called substance by analogy, insofar as it is the formal principle of a substance. The argument of We've already seen that Thomas, following Aristotle, thinks asking questions about the union of soul and body makes little sense for the philosopher. But because of the potentially distorting view of the theologian, the latter in a sense is forced to do so; the theologian has to ask philosophical questions the philosopher need not ask, in order to avoid a distorted view of the soul.
So in question 76 Thomas argues for the complete unity of soul with body against various alternative positions to be found among his contemporary theological interlocutors. Thus question 75, proceeding as it does from the theological perspective, gives rise to philosophical aporiae to be solved in question And just as it was the theologian's use of philosophical arguments in 75 that threatened a distorted view, it is the theologian's use of philosophical arguments in 76 that solves the aporiae, and avoids the distortion.
Apart from anything else Thomas does in the two questions, taken together they provide an exemplar of the use of philosophy within theology, not just to advance certain theological positions but to assist the theologian in avoiding error given the exclusivity of his theological perspective.
Thomas fulfills what he himself had said is one of the roles of philosophy within theology in the first question of the Summa. There are at least three important results of Ia. In the first place, in It might be tempting to think of the human substantial form as a kind of layering of quasi substantial forms or as composed out of them. One substantial form for the corporeality of the body, perhaps one to account for the vegetative activities of the human being, yet another for the animal activities, and then a final one for the intellectual activities of the human being.
However, Thomas decisively rejects this plurality on the basis of the manifest unity of the human being in his acts. If there were multiple substantial forms there would be no unity to being human—multiple substantial forms implies multiple substances and multiple beings.
And yet the human being is one, a single substantial unity manifested in his or her acts. Here Thomas is relying upon the substantial unity that is obvious to the philosopher to reject a kind of substance plurality, not just soul-body dualism.
In particular he relies upon the fact that it is Socrates himself who engages in intellectual activity. However, what he did not claim in In fact, now in 76 he claims it is Socrates' activity.
Socrates has vital activities that do not belong to the soul alone, and yet the activity that belongs to the soul alone, understanding, is one of Socrates' activities. But the soul is the principle of activity in living things.
Thus the animal soul and for similar reasons the vegetative soul is identical in Socrates with the rational soul. There is no plurality of substantial forms because of the unity of Socrates' activities, including both animal activities and reason.
Neither is the human soul composed of any quasi-substantial forms. This is the second striking result of Socrates and his soul, while not being identical, are subjects of the same activity—not subjects of the same type of activity, but subjects of the same token instance of an activity.
In 75, the soul as a subsistent with its own operation of understanding was said to be the subject of existence esse per se. In the case of other animals it is the animal itself, the living substance, that is the subject of the act of existence, and both soul and body have existence through the substance.
Here in the human case, the soul is said to be the subject of the act of existence because it has its own operation. Of course, Socrates is a substance with operations that pertain to him, animal activities, but also the operation of intellect; it is Socrates who thinks in virtue of his intellect. So he too is the subject of the act of existence. And yet the operation in virtue of which the soul is the subject of the act of existence, intellectual activity, is the operation in virtue of which Socrates is the subject of the act of existence, again, not the same type of operation but the same token of operation.
So Socrates and his soul have the same act of existence. The principle for drawing this latter conclusion is that the operation of a subject follows from the act of existing of that subject, as the actuality of a power follows from the actuality of the being.
Quaestiones Disputatae De Anima 2 So Socrates, as a living animal substance, is not identical to his soul. Anima mea non est ego Thomas asserts in his Commentary on St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. It is because Socrates' soul's act of existence is Socrates' act of existence that the soul's intellectual operation is Socrates' intellectual operation.
It is also because of this sharing in the act of existence, that the soul can be the substantial form of the living human animal. Because the soul is a substantial form, it is not complete in its nature, and cannot be a spiritual substance like an angel, properly speaking.
Thus the soul receives its act of existence as the soul of a human being, and cannot pre-exist the human being whose soul it is. And yet, as Thomas argued in The third significant result is that the soul is not composed from its powers as if a unified collection of them. However, this way of speaking is for the purposes of classifying the powers.