John of St. Thomas: Responses to objections ¶ 4-7a.

Response to objections in ¶ 4

14.) In response to the first difficulty, we say that DT neither begs the question nor assumes something false, but that he simply teaches that cognitive beings have the form of another, that is, a form with representative existence drawn into themselves in virtue of its intentional existence in spite of being entitatively in another, since there is no representative existence except in cognitive beings. For even if one puts an image on a blackboard or the intentional species travels through the air, nothing is represented to a subject even if a form is given to one. Moreover, DT proves this from the fact that the known species in in the knower, rather than fallaciously supposing it. DT takes this as self evident from the nature of an intentional species (as we previously explained in the thirteenth disputation on article 1) since the species, taken formally and essentially, does not so much grant form by inhering in something, but more represents the object, making cognitive beings be informed by objects just as much as non-cognitive things are [given being] by their forms… So DT does not beg the question but proves from the very nature and innermost essence of the cognitive being, as is explained more thoroughly in the citation from De veritate given above.

15.) This is the solution to the examples we brought forth in the objections above, for though all those subjects took on a different or exterior form they took it in by an inherence that made it their own, giving them form entitatively and not the form of another that would make them cognitive beings, these latter which receive form according to an intentional or representational modality, where it exists not just in itself but also so that it might represent to another. When air receives sensible species it does so as an entitative accident inherent in it, but nothing  represented to the air so as to bestow an object on it.

Response to ¶ 5. 

16.) To the objection against the consequence, we respond that DT is not inferring the greater amplitude and lack of limitation in the nature from the fact that it receives more forms, but from the fact that it receives or is informed by them in a different way, sc. not by receiving them entitatively or by inherence but as objects with representational existence, which is an entirely different modality of granting form or of reception. This modality is not mysterious, nor does DT skip over explaining it, for he says that the species of the known is in the knower, and thus the species not only informs the being that is of that species but [also the cognitive being] by the object represented intentionally and objectively, as he explains more broadly in De veritate a. 2. Because this modality of representational and objective existence is higher than the general modality of receiving the form entitatively and materially, it is called immaterial or intentional, and one does well to infer a broader nature that is less restricted, having as it does less of the common modality of reception that arises from material causality, making the thing more to belong to a spiritual nature. Even thought it is true that there is among corporeal beings an immaterial or intentional mode of getting form, it is still a higher mode of getting a form than matter itself is capable of getting a form.

DT does not beg the question by assuming there is a representational mode of having a form in addition to an entitative one since this is manifest from the nature of cognitive beings. For an object is required together with a power in order that knowledge might arise, and the object can’t be material or entitatively in the power. A stone isn’t physically in the eye, and so it needs to be in another separately from its materiality, which is called intentional or immaterial, i.e. representational.

17.) But suppose one objects further that it has not been proven that the union of a power and an object is required, but that it would suffice for the object for an object to terminate the operation and be exterior, and that the knower tend toward it.

But this claim would be contrary to the place of intelligible species, which every rational discourse  (tota philosophia) sets down as arising from an object and a power. If it arises in this way it has [the object] as not just a terminus but a principle, and if it arises within the power the object needs to be within the power, not entitatively and therefore representationally. DT takes these species as given simply from rational discourse (philosophia) as we explained above (disp. 13 of a. 1 and in lib. de anima q. 5)

18.) (further objection, here omitted- ed.)

Responses to ¶ 6

19.) To the second objection we say that DT does give a proper and sufficient (adequatio) account of knowledge from immateriality. To the question whether immateriality in this argument is taken as purely negative or for something positive we say that it is taken as something positive that grounds the negation of material and material conditions, sc. for that which can receive something else, not just as its own form but as the form of another. This belongs paradigmatically (principialius) when they are more spiritual, since spirituality makes a nature more able to receive a perfection without the imperfect conditions of matter. Spirituality does not consist in just the negation of corporeal matter but in something positive explained by that negation: spiritual perfection is not just real but more real than corporeality. Even if the negation and exclusion of corporeal matter is true of all spiritual beings both absolutely and in fact, and taken in this sense it does not allow of more and less, nevertheless there are diverse degrees and extents to which the conditions of material reception are excluded, all these being, as they are, potentiality. To the degree that some nature more perfectly excludes these degrees, so also it more participates in that pure actuality which is totally contrary to potentiality, and as a consequence it grounds a more perfect power to know from the greater immateriality that it has.

Responses to ¶ 7

20.) So when it was said that immateriality was not a sufficient (adequatio) account of knowledge because sensation is material but not cognitive, we say that although sensation is corporeal, nevertheless it rises above material conditions and the modality of receiving materially and entitatively to the extent that it can receive the form of another, i.e. another thing in its representational existence and not just in its proper entitative existence. Still, they do this imperfectly and in dependence on a material organ so that their immateriality – and consequently their cognitive power – is imperfect.

21.) If you ask how sentience is dependent and unified to matter while still not being immersed in it but to some extent rises above the conditions of matter, we respond that something can be unified to matter either by communicating rational life to it or, as is the case with sentient life, by also being dependent on it,  but in either case the operation of the things is elevated above matter in the sense that its operation does not depend only on the qualities that are material dispositions for substantial form, even if they depend on these for their inherence. DT explains this with great clarity in II Contra Gent. c. 68 where he teaches that the lower forms are entirely immersed in matter, which are only unified to matter so as to have being in it, but with no operation that can go beyond qualities that are dispositions of matter like hot cold, etc. These are the forms of the elements. Beyond these are the forms of mixed bodies, which sometimes act in higher ways than the cold and the hot, like those that can attract iron by some power of the heavenly bodies – the magnets. Still beyond this is plant life which, though largely subject to elemental qualities, still have the power of life that rises above this. Beyond this still is sentient life whose power of hearing or vision are not simply subject to heating and cooling, as is the case among vegetative life, even if the organs of sense in which these powers act have their dispositions from those sorts of qualities. These sentient life forms can know and have immateriality, though one that is material in its being though elevated above the dispositive qualities of matter in its operation….

22.) As to the part of the argument that claims that there are some immaterial beings that are not cognitive, we respond that although they are not cognitive formally and primarily they are nevertheless cognitive radically and by connection (radicaliter et consecutive) because they are so rooted in, or connected to, or ordered to knowledge. Even if the will and charity are not cognitive forms they are nevertheless inclinations connected to understanding. Grace is also a form that elevates one to supernatural knowledge. DT need not be taken as giving an argument for knowledge by any sort of immateriality but from that which is primary and principle (prima et radicalem) and not what is secondary or connected to it, as, for example, is the way the will relates to  intellect. There is no reason to argue over whether some spiritual nature might be non-cognitive. Whatever might be the case, for us it is enough that there is no imaginable nature that is capable of of receiving the form of another that is not also cognitive.

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