Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Q86 A3: Whether our intellect can know contingent things?

Yes. The intellect knows contingent things because some sciences are of the contingent things, as the moral sciences, the objects of which are human actions subject to free choice, and again, the natural sciences in as far as they relate to things generated and corruptible.

Intellectus est cognoscitivus contingentium quia quaedam scientiae sunt de contingentibus, sicut scientiae morales, quae sunt de actibus humanis subiectis libero arbitrio, et etiam scientiae naturales, quantum ad partem quae tractat de generabilibus et corruptibilibus.

Contingent things can be considered in two ways; either as contingent, or as containing some element of necessity, since every contingent thing has in it something necessary: for example, that Socrates runs, is in itself contingent; but the relation of running to motion is necessary, for it is necessary that Socrates move if he runs.

Contingentia dupliciter possunt considerari. Uno modo, secundum quod contingentia sunt. Alio modo, secundum quod in eis aliquid necessitatis invenitur, nihil enim est adeo contingens, quin in se aliquid necessarium habeat. Sicut hoc ipsum quod est Socratem currere, in se quidem contingens est; sed habitudo cursus ad motum est necessaria, necessarium enim est Socratem moveri, si currit.

Now contingency arises from matter, for contingency is a potentiality to be or not to be, and potentiality belongs to matter; whereas necessity results from the aspect of form, because whatever is consequent on form is of necessity in the subject. But matter is the individualizing principle, whereas the universal aspect comes from the abstraction of the form from the particular matter.

Est autem unumquodque contingens ex parte materiae, quia contingens est quod potest esse et non esse; potentia autem pertinet ad materiam. Necessitas autem consequitur rationem formae, quia ea quae consequuntur ad formam, ex necessitate insunt. Materia autem est individuationis principium, ratio autem universalis accipitur secundum abstractionem formae a materia particulari.

Moreover it was laid down above (Q86 A1) that the intellect of itself and directly has the universal for its object; while the object of sense is the singular, which in a certain way is the indirect object of the intellect, as we have said above (Q86 A1).

Dictum autem est supra quod per se et directe intellectus est universalium; sensus autem singularium, quorum etiam indirecte quodammodo est intellectus, ut supra dictum est.

Therefore contingent things, considered as such, are known directly by sense and indirectly by the intellect, while the universal and necessary aspects of contingent things are known only by the intellect.

Sic igitur contingentia, prout sunt contingentia, cognoscuntur directe quidem sensu, indirecte autem ab intellectu, rationes autem universales et necessariae contingentium cognoscuntur per intellectum.

Hence if we consider the universal aspects of knowable things, then all science is of necessary things. But if we consider the things themselves, thus some sciences are of necessary things, some of contingent things.

Unde si attendantur rationes universales scibilium, omnes scientiae sunt de necessariis. Si autem attendantur ipsae res, sic quaedam scientia est de necessariis, quaedam vero de contingentibus.