A Comparison and Contrast of

A Comparison and Contrast of Sense Knowledge and Intellectual Knowledge.

Sense knowledge and intellectual knowledge share four properties:

a.) they are both knowledge, and so they both belong to conscious beings that have an object within consciousness.
b.) As knowledge, they rise above the power of matter considered as such, for they can contain an object in a fundamentally different way from the way a mere matter contains an object (something heard, for example, is not in consciousness the way nails are in a box.)
c.) The thing within consciousness is intentional, i.e. it is about something.
d.) The thing within consciousness can be remembered, which allows for a set of individuals to be grouped together according to some similarity. Tis happens because memory gives something the power to be reminded of something and this reminding of necessity imples similarity.

So long as we focus on consciousness, the way the object is contained, intentionality, or a set of individuals grouped together, we will be unable to distinguish the knowledge of sense from the knowledge of intellect. In these four ways, there is no essential difference between the knowledge of human beings, chimps, chickens, or any other animal with memory (and a-c are common to even animals without memory*.)

Sense knowledge and intellectual knowledge differ in that:

a.) When an object is in consciousness according to sense, it is in consciousness according to its particularity. When an object is in consciousness according to intellect, it is in consciousness in a way that is not limited to any particularity. When I am seeing the color red, I must actually see one particular red thing. When I am thinking about what red means, I need not be thing about any one particular red thing. The imagination of red is about one particular, the word red is not.
b.) Because of this, there is something in the intellect that cannot be reduced to any sense particular. But any sense particular proceeds from the activity of a particular sense organ. Therefore there is something in the intellect that cannot be reduced to the activity of any sense organ**.
c.) The intellect imposes names on things. The name of something is ordered to expressing what is essential in the thing named***. And so the intellect is ordered to understanding what is essential in things, and the seal and external embodiment of this knowledge is the name.
d.) Because the same thing can have different names for different people, the names of things are not natural (like bird calls or the warning growls of dogs), but the words are in some sense conventional. For this reason those who use words are essentially social. The knowledge embodied in words will require life in society. Sense knowledge, as knowledge, does not require this.

*This does not explain all the likenesses between human and animal knowledge- it says nothing of emotions, habits, even a sense in which non-human animals have “voluntary action”. Animals have been traditionally misunderstood by making them, alternately, both human (think PETA or Peter Singer) and Machines (Descartes, Michael Behe). Though I am convinced that both these opinions are mistakes, I take them seriously and I see them as both having some truth to them. I certainly don’t intend to degrade animals by opposing sense knowledge to intellectual knowledge. An animal, or even any natural thing, is essentially superior to anything we’ll ever be able to produce by art.
**This is a 2nd AEE “camestres”, not the invalid 1st AEE. The A premise is commensurate)
*** We don’t call a man “man” because he is, say, brown-eyed or blond, for this is accidental. We call him man in relation to something essential. This is so with all names even when what is essential is not known explicitly, and so we must substitute something for the essential. But the mere fact that we are substituting for the essential shows that the name is ordered to understanding it.


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