JOST: Cursus Philosophicus III a. 2

How the rational soul is entitatively spiritual and the form of the body

The difficulty arises from the fact that two things are conjoined in the rational soul that don’t seem to cohere in themselves (1) to be truly and substantially the form of a body and (2) to be spiritual in itself; and so for its esse to be co-natural to granting form to a body and to likewise be co-natural that might it exist outside of a body when separate from it.

For all that, it is absolutely certain that both belong to the rational soul, although its granting form to the body is co-natural to it while its being separate is not co-natural in the same way, though this state of separation is not contrary to its nature (violentus) but preternatural.

The first part follows from what was said above in q. 1 and 1 Physics q. 4. It has been so defined by the Council of Vienna… “We condemn as erroneous and contrary to the truth of the catholic faith any doctrine, proposition, or attempt to call into doubt that the substance of the rational or intellective soul be not truly and per se the form of a human body.”

The reason for this is clear, why man is composed of soul and body. If he were only a simple substance then soul and body could not at some point separate, i.e. death could not occur. The composite that we call human is intrinsically and essentially rational since it belongs to him by definition to be rational, and it is manifest in his operation of reasoning. It’s necessary that he be intrinsically constituted by a rational form, and rationality itself or the degree of its rationality and operation cannot arise from a material source or matter itself since he has matter in common with irrational things, as is clear from the body which remains when the soul is separate. So it arises from a form, meaning the soul itself is the form of a body, and it is necessary that it be a form exceeding all the conditions of matter, as is clear from the preceding article.

If you object by saying that the soul itself is a whole and complete human being and that the body is only moved by the soul but not given form by it, we respond that if this were the case then a human being would not be an animal or have vital operations… It is contrary to the definition of man that he be just soul and not an animal, since he is not called “soul” but “rational animal”, and it would follow that a human being would not be mortal and corruptible since he would be only a soul  which, being simple and non-composite, could not be corrupted by the loss of a form.

Though the soul is spiritual and gives form to matter it remains the case that it is not material nor dependent on matter, as was shown in the previous article from its operation of understanding. It exceeds all physical objects both from the object it attains and its manner of operation, which is supported by both Scripture and the Councils of the Church: Sirach 12: “The spirit returns to he who made it” and Ps. 30 and Luke 23 “into your hands I commend my spirit”… and the Lateran Council: “God made both angelic and terrestrial creatures ex nihilo, constituting the human as from both spirit and body.”

The second part of the thesis, sc. that the the state of separation is not co-natural to the soul though it is also not contrary to its nature but preternatural, follows from the soul naturally being the form of a body, making its co-natural act ro grant form and to be shared in the manner of a form, so it does not seek separation in the manner of something co-natural to it but rather the state of conjunction. The way in which the soul was created, in its ordinary manner of being in keeping with the nature of things, is co-natural to it, but souls were not created by God separate but as infused into bodies: “He breathed into his face the spirit of life”. So it is appropriate to the soul to be a part of a man…

But that the state of separation is not entirely contrary to the nature of the soul but only preternatural is clear from the fact that something is contrary to nature which arises from an exterior principle conferring a force that is not able to be withstood (non conferente vim passo) but the soul has, in itself, a principle of subsisting and continuing to exist outside of the body, and so that the separated soul might continue in its existence does not arise from a force other than itself but from its own intrinsic principles that sustain it. The state is called preternatural because it does not arise per se and co-naturally from the soul itself or from the manner in which it is created by God, but as an extraneous accident arising in it under the supposition of an action destroying the body.

(It can be gathered from what is said that rational souls are multiplied by the multiplication of bodies, because the soul is the form of the body… substantial forms are multiplied individually because two individual substances differ inter real substantial being and so also in form, which is the principle granting being – if they had one form they would have one being. This is the reason DT gives in 1. 76. a. 2)

…The following consequence seems weak: the soul has an operation not shared with the body, therefore the soul is independent of the body. Scotus denies this in IV, dist. 43 q.2 because “to have an operation without the body” means two things: without the body as an organ, and without a body as the subject (supposito) of the operation. Taken in the first way it is true, but the consequence is false; and taken in the second way the antecedent is false because it is man that understands, not the soul.

Likewise, the union of the soul is not spiritual because it is corruptible, but it is nevertheless in the soul itself, because it is unified to the body and changed with it. The soul formally confers a degree of corporeality and corporeal properties are conferred on the soul from this, and because, as it was said, there is only one form in man… the soul itself does not exceed [physical being]

Response: Subsistence means two things: (1) esse per se, which is opposed to inherence (2) existentia per se, which is opposed to being shared with another. While the soul is in the body it as subsistence in the first way actually and in the second way by aptitude, because even though it is, in fact, shared with the body, it can be separate and will subsist without being shared when in that state of separation, even though, taken broadly, it will be capable of being shared. Nevertheless it always has esse independent of the body, whether it is in the body or outside of it and even when it is actually shared with the body. In this it is different from other substantial forms, which, even though they do not inhere in another (since this is proper to accidents) nevertheless do not have existentia in themselves that they share with a body, but are only principles of existing though existence is not had by the form as such, but in the composite as in something received, with the form being the reason for or principle by which existence is had, just as whiteness is not of itself an existent white thing. The rational soul not only has substantial esse which is opposed to inherence, as a principle from which something exists, but also as a thing existing formally in itself, although it is capable of being shared with a body, as though whiteness were of itself a white thing… So the consequence is valid: if the soul has an operation independent from the body or the organs in which it inheres, it is necessary that the esse of the soul be independent of the body, although both its operation and esse is shared with a composite that itself subsists as its supposit. We did not prove the soul to subsist as a supposit from the independence of its operation, but that it subsists without the body even though it shares its substance with it, and so with the removal of the body it could operate by an operation that is not dependent on an organ to exist.


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