Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Q88 A1: Whether the human soul in the present state of life can understand immaterial substances in themselves?

No. Immaterial substances which do not fall under sense and imagination, cannot first and "per se" be known by us, according to the mode of knowledge which experience proves us to have, because our intellect in its present state of life has a natural relationship to the natures of material things; and therefore it can only understand by turning to the phantasms.

Substantias immateriales, quae sub sensu et imaginatione non cadunt, primo et per se, secundum modum cognitionis nobis expertum, intelligere non possumus, quia intellectus noster, secundum statum praesentis vitae, naturalem respectum habet ad naturas rerum materialium; unde nihil intelligit nisi convertendo se ad phantasmata.

In the opinion of Plato, immaterial substances are not only understood by us, but are the objects we understand first of all. For Plato taught that immaterial subsisting forms, which he called "Ideas," are the proper objects of our intellect, and thus first and "per se" understood by us; and, further, that material objects are known by the soul inasmuch as phantasy and sense are mixed up with the mind. Hence the purer the intellect is, so much the more clearly does it perceive the intelligible truth of immaterial things.

Secundum opinionem Platonis, substantiae immateriales non solum a nobis intelliguntur, sed etiam sunt prima a nobis intellecta. Posuit enim Plato formas immateriales subsistentes, quas ideas vocabat, esse propria obiecta nostri intellectus, et ita primo et per se intelliguntur a nobis. Applicatur tamen animae cognitio rebus materialibus, secundum quod intellectui permiscetur phantasia et sensus. Unde quanto magis intellectus fuerit depuratus, tanto magis percipit immaterialium intelligibilem veritatem.

The active intellect is not a separate substance, but a faculty of the soul, extending itself actively to the same objects to which the passive intellect extends receptively; because, as is stated (De Anima iii, 5), the passive intellect is "all things potentially," and the active intellect is "all things in act." Therefore both intellects, according to the present state of life, extend to material things only, which are made actually intelligible by the active intellect, and are received in the passive intellect. Hence in the present state of life we cannot understand separate immaterial substances in themselves, either by the passive or by the active intellect.

Intellectus agens non est substantia separata, sed virtus quaedam animae, ad eadem active se extendens, ad quae se extendit intellectus possibilis receptive, quia, ut dicitur in III de anima, intellectus possibilis est quo est omnia fieri, intellectus agens quo est omnia facere. Uterque ergo intellectus se extendit, secundum statum praesentis vitae, ad materialia sola; quae intellectus agens facit intelligibilia actu, et recipiuntur in intellectu possibili. Unde secundum statum praesentis vitae, neque per intellectum possibilem, neque per intellectum agentem, possumus intelligere substantias immateriales secundum seipsas.

There must needs be some proportion between the object and the faculty of knowledge; such as of the active to the passive, and of perfection to the perfectible. Hence that sensible objects of great power are not grasped by the senses, is due not merely to the fact that they corrupt the organ, but also to their being improportionate to the sensitive power. And thus it is that immaterial substances are improportionate to our intellect, in our present state of life, so that it cannot understand them.

Requiritur aliqua proportio obiecti ad potentiam cognoscitivam, ut activi ad passivum, et perfectionis ad perfectibile. Unde quod excellentia sensibilia non capiantur a sensu, non sola ratio est quia corrumpunt organa sensibilia; sed etiam quia sunt improportionata potentiis sensitivis. Et hoc modo substantiae immateriales sunt improportionatae intellectui nostro, secundum praesentem statum, ut non possint ab eo intelligi.