Notes on our own intellect

-The story of Cupid and Psyche. Intellect is a god we only meet in darkness. If we try to shine our own small light upon it, it flees.

-“Intellect, more than anything else, is man” (Nic. Ethics, bk 10).  He means that intellect, which is a power of the soul and not the soul, more than anything else points to the sort of thing soul is, from which all the powers of man flow out. Even the human body, as human, is a procession from soul.

-The calcium making your leg bone is alive. If it breaks, it grows back together. Human calcium is a living thing.

-No one sees intellect and lives.

-Aristotle on intellect “when it is set free from its condition, it will be just what it is, and nothing more”. The “condition which includes something more”  is the condition of being a power bound to a bodily subject, for intellect in itself  consists in rising above the condition of bodily existence.

-If a tadpole thought about living on land, he would imagine himself suffocating.

-Just think about how much “Starry Nightdoesn’t tell you about who Van Gogh was. The cosmos tells you less about intellect. I took a test once on Van Gogh’s life with one of his paintings hanging at the front of the room. No one was cheating.


  1. January 31, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Funny, James, you should mention Van Gogh this morning. I watched last night a documentary, “Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh.” It is narrated by nothing more than his letters to his brother Theo, and visually his paintings and footage of the places he painted them.
    I know how the story ends, as this one does, as anyone who recognizes the name is never spared, but thanks to his work, which I say are the best chapters of the so-called “whole” story, I never stop routing for the good guy “in” it.

  2. Peter said,

    February 1, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hey, I saw that documentary too. It inspired me to buy a copy of Van Gogh’s letters!

    I thought I should mention that there are a few other documents up besides the DeKoninck piece at the link I gave a little while ago.

    Especially important is the book by Vincent Edward Smith, “The General Science of Nature”, in a nice, printable version. It follows Aristotle’s Physics and St Thomas’ Commentary thereon very closely and faithfully, and so is particularly useful for studying them (which James never misses an opportunity to tell someone to do). 🙂

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