Monday, March 23, 2009

Q84 A3: Whether the soul understands all things through innate species?

No. The soul does not know corporeal things through innate species because the angelic intellect is perfected by intelligible species, in accordance with its nature; whereas the human intellect is in potentiality to such species.

Anima non cognoscit corporalia per species naturaliter inditas quia intellectus Angeli est perfectus per species intelligibiles secundum suam naturam, intellectus autem humanus est in potentia ad huiusmodi species.

If questions be put in an orderly fashion they proceed from universal self-evident principles to what is particular. Now by such a process knowledge is produced in the mind of the learner. Wherefore when he answers the truth to a subsequent question, this is not because he had knowledge previously, but because he thus learns for the first time. For it matters not whether the teacher proceed from universal principles to conclusions by questioning or by asserting; for in either case the mind of the listener is assured of what follows by that which preceded.

Ordinata interrogatio procedit ex principiis communibus per se notis, ad propria. Per talem autem processum scientia causatur in anima addiscentis. Unde cum verum respondet de his de quibus secundo interrogatur, hoc non est quia prius ea noverit; sed quia tunc ea de novo addiscit. Nihil enim refert utrum ille qui docet, proponendo vel interrogando procedat de principiis communibus ad conclusiones, utrobique enim animus audientis certificatur de posterioribus per priora.

Now we observe that man sometimes is only a potential knower, both as to sense and as to intellect. And he is reduced from such potentiality to act: through the action of sensible objects on his senses, to the act of sensation; by instruction or discovery, to the act of understanding. Wherefore we must say that the cognitive soul is in potentiality both to the [physical] icons which are the principles of sensing, and to those [mental] icons which are the principles of understanding. For this reason Aristotle (De Anima iii, 4) held that the intellect by which the soul understands has no innate species, but is at first in potentiality to all such species.

Videmus autem quod homo est quandoque cognoscens in potentia tantum, tam secundum sensum quam secundum intellectum. Et de tali potentia in actum reducitur: ut sentiat quidem, per actiones sensibilium in sensum; ut intelligat autem, per disciplinam aut inventionem. Unde oportet dicere quod anima cognoscitiva sit in potentia tam ad similitudines quae sunt principia sentiendi, quam ad similitudines quae sunt principia intelligendi. Et propter hoc Aristoteles posuit quod intellectus, quo anima intelligit, non habet aliquas species naturaliter inditas, sed est in principio in potentia ad huiusmodi species omnes.

Since form is the principle of action, a thing must be related to the form which is the principle of an action, as it is to that action: for instance, if upward motion is from lightness, then that which only potentially moves upwards must needs be only potentially light, but that which actually moves upwards must needs be actually light.

Cum forma sit principium actionis, oportet ut eo modo se habeat aliquid ad formam quae est actionis principium, quo se habet ad actionem illam: sicut si moveri sursum est ex levitate, oportet quod in potentia tantum sursum fertur, esse leve solum in potentia, quod autem actu sursum fertur, esse leve in actu.

But since that which has a form actually, is sometimes unable to act according to that form on account of some hindrance, as a light thing may be hindered from moving upwards; for this reason did Plato hold that naturally man's intellect is filled with all intelligible species, but that, by being united to the body, it is hindered from the realization of its act. But this seems to be unreasonable.

Sed quia id quod habet actu formam, interdum non potest agere secundum formam propter aliquod impedimentum, sicut leve si impediatur sursum ferri; propter hoc Plato posuit quod intellectus hominis naturaliter est plenus omnibus speciebus intelligibilibus, sed per unionem corporis impeditur ne possit in actum exire. Sed hoc non videtur convenienter dictum.

First, because, if the soul has a natural knowledge of all things, it seems impossible for the soul so far to forget the existence of such knowledge as not to know itself to be possessed thereof: for no man forgets what he knows naturally; that, for instance, the whole is larger than the part, and such like. And especially unreasonable does this seem if we suppose that it is natural to the soul to be united to the body, as we have established above (Q76, A1): for it is unreasonable that the natural operation of a thing be totally hindered by that which belongs to it naturally.

Primo quidem quia, si habet anima naturalem notitiam omnium, non videtur esse possibile quod huius naturalis notitiae tantam oblivionem capiat, quod nesciat se huiusmodi scientiam habere, nullus enim homo obliviscitur ea quae naturaliter cognoscit, sicut quod omne totum sit maius sua parte, et alia huiusmodi. Praecipue autem hoc videtur inconveniens, si ponatur esse animae naturale corpori uniri, ut supra habitum est, inconveniens enim est quod naturalis operatio alicuius rei totaliter impediatur per id quod est sibi secundum naturam.

Secondly, the falseness of this opinion is clearly proved from the fact that if a sense be wanting, the knowledge of what is apprehended through that sense is wanting also: for instance, a man who is born blind can have no knowledge of colors. This would not be the case if the soul had innate images of all intelligible things.

Secundo, manifeste apparet huius positionis falsitas ex hoc quod, deficiente aliquo sensu, deficit scientia eorum, quae apprehenduntur secundum illum sensum; sicut caecus natus nullam potest habere notitiam de coloribus. Quod non esset, si animae essent naturaliter inditae omnium intelligibilium rationes.

The Philosopher, speaking of the intellect, says (De Anima iii, 4) that it is like "a tablet on which nothing is written."

Philosophus dicit, in III de anima, de intellectu loquens, quod est sicut tabula in qua nihil est scriptum.