John of St. Thomas on Intelligible species

In the last disputation I posted, JOST referenced an argument he gave in Prima Pars Q. 12 D. XIII a. 1. on the nature and function of the species. Here is the relevant section:

…The nature of the species should not be seen relative to that which is entitative in connection with the subject but representative in connection to the object: for the principal and essential task of the species is to actualize a power in the place of the object, in that some co-operative action with the object (concursus objecti) is required for knowledge to be drawn forth from a subject.

If it is the case, as is usually supposed by theology and rational discourse, that knowledge arises from an object and a power, this is not because the object is merely the terminus of the power but because knowledge proceeds from the object, given that it arises from it. This requires that something stand in place of the object within the power, as semen stands in in place of the father to generate a child, since – as anyone can see from his own experience – the object itself cannot be [in the subject in its entitative being]. It’s not enough for the object to be an exterior thing since knowledge can still be had by understanding and memory when objects are absent and therefore cannot the cognitive being cannot be affected by the object as it is in itself but only by another that is acting in its place. This is what we call a species, which generates in the place of an object another taking its place in virtue of an objective co-operative action (concursus objective)  by which the object performs a co-operative action with a power. Knowledge, after all, arises by drawing things to oneself and conjoining them to oneself, so that in the measure that one more deeply penetrates those things and conjoins them to himself his knowledge will be more perfect, and this requires that something in the place of the object unite itself to the cognitive power which cannot enter entitatively into that power, and even if it could enter entitiatively such a union would not give rise to knowledge since this would have to arise immaterially and intentionally, as we will explain later (see previous post – ed.)

Given that knowledge arises from an object and a power it cannot arise from a division of their unique co-operation or from a separation of the two, since the bringing forth of knowledge is an action of life and so is interior to the living, while also proceeding from it in virtue of the totality of the specification that it has, and it has this as much from the object as it has vitality from the power, so that unless the object in its very objectivity flows into the power, no knowledge could spring forth from that power. Given that the object cannot be entitatively commingled, neither is the actuation and commingling material or entitative but immaterial and intentional, and so something must be put in the subject in place of the object, allowing for an objective co-operation of a representational being unifying itself to the power.

The thing whose nature and proper definition is to bring this about, so that this task might be undertaken and a co-operation with an object might happen in fact, is called species, which thus has more the nature of representational being relative to an object than something giving entitative form to some subject. The species that is either accident or subject is per accidens to the intentional or cognitive order, since the species it gets is sometimes accidental, as is the case from the senses and the intellect; sometimes it is substantial, as occurs in the knowledge proper to angels and the separated soul.

%d bloggers like this: