Friday, April 03, 2009

Q85 A6: Whether the intellect can be false?

No. In regard to those propositions, which are understood immediately when the definable structure of the terms is cognized, the intellect cannot err, as in the case of first principles from which arises infallible truth in the certitude of scientific conclusions, because the proper object of the intellect is the definable structure of a material thing.

Circa illas propositiones errare non potest, quae statim cognoscuntur cognita terminorum quidditate, sicut accidit circa prima principia, ex quibus etiam accidit infallibilitas veritatis, secundum certitudinem scientiae, circa conclusiones, quia obiectum proprium intellectus est quidditas rei.

And hence, properly speaking, the intellect is not at fault concerning this definable structure; whereas it may go astray as regards those things which accompany the essence of the thing or the definable structure, in referring one thing to another, as regards composition or division, or also in the process of reasoning discursively.

Unde circa quidditatem rei, per se loquendo, intellectus non fallitur. Sed circa ea quae circumstant rei essentiam vel quidditatem, intellectus potest falli, dum unum ordinat ad aliud, vel componendo vel dividendo vel etiam ratiocinando.

The intellect, however, may be accidentally deceived regarding that structure which is definable in composite things; not by the defect of its organ, for the intellect is a faculty that is independent of an organ, but on the part of the composition affecting the definition, when, for instance, the definition of a thing is false in relation to something else.

Per accidens tamen contingit intellectum decipi circa quod quid est in rebus compositis; non ex parte organi, quia intellectus non est virtus utens organo, sed ex parte compositionis intervenientis circa definitionem, dum vel definitio unius rei est falsa de alia.

Hence, as regards simple objects, not subject to composite definitions, we cannot be deceived; unless, indeed, we understand nothing whatever about them.

Unde in rebus simplicibus, in quarum definitionibus compositio intervenire non potest, non possumus decipi; sed deficimus in totaliter non attingendo.