Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Q85 A4: Whether we can understand many things at the same time?

No. It is impossible for one and the same intellect to be perfected at the same time by different intelligible species so as actually to understand different things because whatever things the intellect understands under different species, it does not understand at the same time.

Impossibile est quod idem intellectus simul perficiatur diversis speciebus intelligibilibus, ad intelligendum diversa in actu, quia quaecumque intellectus per diversas species intelligit, non simul intelligit.

The reason of this is that it is impossible for one and the same subject to be perfected at the same time by many forms of one genus and diverse species, just as it is impossible for one and the same body at the same time to have different colors or different shapes. Now all intelligible species belong to one genus, because they are the perfections of one intellectual faculty; although the things which the species represent belong to different genera.

Et huius ratio est, quia impossibile est idem subiectum perfici simul pluribus formis unius generis et diversarum specierum, sicut impossibile est quod idem corpus secundum idem simul coloretur diversis coloribus, vel figuretur diversis figuris. Omnes autem species intelligibiles sunt unius generis, quia sunt perfectiones unius intellectivae potentiae; licet res quarum sunt species, sint diversorum generum.

The intellect can, indeed, understand many things as one, but not as many; that is to say: by "one" but not by "many" intelligible species. For the mode of every action follows the form which is the principle of that action.

Intellectus quidem potest multa intelligere per modum unius, non autem multa per modum multorum; dico autem: per modum unius vel multorum, per unam vel plures species intelligibiles. Nam modus cuiusque actionis consequitur formam quae est actionis principium.

Therefore whatever things the intellect can understand under one species, it can understand at the same time: hence it is that God sees all things at the same time, because He sees all in one, that is, in His Essence.

Quaecumque ergo intellectus potest intelligere sub una specie, simul intelligere potest: et inde est quod Deus omnia simul videt, quia omnia videt per unum, quod est essentia sua. Quaecumque vero intellectus per diversas species intelligit, non simul intelligit.

The intellect is above that time which is the measure of the movement of corporeal things. But the multitude itself of intelligible species causes a certain vicissitude of intelligible operations, according as one operation succeeds another. And this vicissitude is called time by Augustine, who says (Gen. ad lit. viii, 20,22), that "God moves the spiritual creature through time."

Intellectus est supra tempus quod est numerus motus corporalium rerum. Sed ipsa pluralitas specierum intelligibilium causat vicissitudinem quandam intelligibilium operationum, secundum quam una operatio est prior altera. Et hanc vicissitudinem Augustinus nominat tempus, cum dicit, VIII super Gen. ad Litt., quod "Deus movet creaturam spiritualem per tempus."