Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Q58 A4: Whether the angels understand by composing and dividing?

No. The angel understands without composition or division because a simple intelligence is without composition and division.

As in the intellect, when reasoning, the conclusion is compared with the principle, so in the intellect composing and dividing, the predicate is compared with the subject. For if our intellect were to see at once the truth of the conclusion in the principle, it would never understand by discursion and reasoning.

In like manner, if the intellect in apprehending the quiddity of the subject were at once to have knowledge of all that can be attributed to, or removed from, the subject, it would never understand by composing and dividing, but only by understanding the essence.

Thus it is evident that for the self-same reason our intellect understands by discursion, and by composing and dividing, namely, that in the first apprehension of anything newly apprehended it does not at once grasp all that is virtually contained in it. And this comes from the weakness of the intellectual light within us.

But the intellectual light is perfect in the angel, for he is a pure and most clear mirror, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv).