Thursday, April 09, 2009

Q86 A4: Whether our intellect can know the future?

No. It is not natural for the soul to know the future when withdrawn from the senses because it is connatural to our intellect to know things, not thus, but by receiving its knowledge from the senses.

Non est secundum naturam animae quod futura cognoscat cum a sensibus alienatur quia iste modus cognoscendi non est connaturalis intellectui nostro, sed magis ut cognitionem a sensibus accipiat.

Rather does it know the future by the impression of superior spiritual and corporeal causes; of spiritual causes, when by Divine power the human intellect is enlightened through the ministry of angels, and the phantasms are directed to the knowledge of future events; or, by the influence of demons, when the imagination is moved regarding the future known to the demons, as explained above (Q57, A3).

Sed magis per impressionem aliquarum causarum superiorum spiritualium et corporalium. Spiritualium quidem, sicut cum virtute divina ministerio Angelorum intellectus humanus illuminatur, et phantasmata ordinantur ad futura aliqua cognoscenda; vel etiam cum per operationem Daemonum fit aliqua commotio in phantasia ad praesignandum aliqua futura quae Daemones cognoscunt, ut supra dictum est.

The soul is naturally more inclined to receive these impressions of spiritual causes when it is withdrawn from the senses, as it is then nearer to the spiritual world, and freer from external distractions. The same may also come from superior corporeal causes. For it is clear that superior bodies influence inferior bodies.

Huiusmodi autem impressiones spiritualium causarum magis nata est anima humana suscipere cum a sensibus alienatur, quia per hoc propinquior fit substantiis spiritualibus, et magis libera ab exterioribus inquietudinibus. Contingit autem et hoc per impressionem superiorum causarum corporalium. Manifestum est enim quod corpora superiora imprimunt in corpora inferiora.

Hence, in consequence of the sensitive faculties being acts of corporeal organs, the influence of the heavenly bodies causes the imagination to be affected, and so, as the heavenly bodies cause many future events, the imagination receives certain images of some such events.

Unde cum vires sensitivae sint actus corporalium organorum, consequens est quod ex impressione caelestium corporum immutetur quodammodo phantasia. Unde cum caelestia corpora sint causa multorum futurorum, fiunt in imaginatione aliqua signa quorundam futurorum.

Brute animals have no power above the imagination wherewith to regulate its phantasms, as man does with formal aspect, and therefore their imagination follows entirely the influence of the heavenly bodies. Thus from such animals' movements some future things, such as rain and the like, may be known rather than from human movements directed by reason.

Animalia bruta non habent aliquid supra phantasiam quod ordinet phantasmata, sicut habent homines rationem; et ideo phantasia brutorum animalium totaliter sequitur impressionem caelestem. Et ideo ex motibus huiusmodi animalium magis possunt cognosci quaedam futura, ut pluvia et huiusmodi, quam ex motibus hominum, qui moventur per consilium rationis.

Speaking, however, of the knowledge of the future in a general way, we must observe that the future may be known in two ways: either in itself, or in its cause. The future cannot be known in itself save by God alone; to Whom even that is present which in the course of events is future, inasmuch as from eternity His glance embraces the whole course of time, as we have said above when treating of God's knowledge (Q14, A13).

Ut tamen communiter de cognitione futurorum loquamur, sciendum est quod futura dupliciter cognosci possunt, uno modo, in seipsis; alio modo, in suis causis. In seipsis quidem futura cognosci non possunt nisi a Deo; cui etiam sunt praesentia dum in cursu rerum sunt futura, inquantum eius aeternus intuitus simul fertur supra totum temporis cursum, ut supra dictum est cum de Dei scientia ageretur.

But inasmuch as it exists in its cause, the future can be known by us also. And if, indeed, the cause be such as to have a necessary connection with its future result, then the future is known with scientific certitude, just as the astronomer foresees the future eclipse. If, however, the cause be such as to produce a certain result more frequently than not, then can the future be known more or less conjecturally, according as its cause is more or less inclined to produce the effect.

Sed prout sunt in suis causis, cognosci possunt etiam a nobis. Et si quidem in suis causis sint ut ex quibus ex necessitate proveniant, cognoscuntur per certitudinem scientiae; sicut astrologus praecognoscit eclipsim futuram. Si autem sic sint in suis causis ut ab eis proveniant ut in pluribus, sic cognosci possunt per quandam coniecturam vel magis vel minus certam, secundum quod causae sunt vel magis vel minus inclinatae ad effectus.

We must apply the same distinction to future things, as we applied above (Q86, A3) to contingent things. For future things considered as subject to time are singular, and the human intellect knows them by reflection only, as stated above (Q86, A1). But the formal aspects of future things are able to be universal, and thus perceptible by the intellect, and about them there can even be scientific knowledge.

De cognitione futurorum eodem modo distinguendum est, sicut de cognitione contingentium. Nam ipsa futura ut sub tempore cadunt, sunt singularia, quae intellectus humanus non cognoscit nisi per reflexionem, ut supra dictum est. Rationes autem futurorum possunt esse universales, et intellectu perceptibiles, et de eis etiam possunt esse scientiae.