Aristotle... bait?

This was posted in a thread a few days ago:
>Also, have you heard of the Alexander of Aphrodisias interpretation of Aristotle? He argues that the unmoved mover and the agent intellect are the same thing. And it's a fascinating argument with a lot of evidence to back it up, especially if we distance ourselves from the tradition of commentary (and all its ulterior motives) and return to the text itself.
A few people said it was bait. Why? Can any Aristotelian-chads spill the tea? It seems like a normal-sounding, perhaps even boring, take to me.

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Yes the Active Intellect is equivalent to the Unmoved Mover.
    I don't know why you need a subsidiary source, aristotle makes this equivalence himself

    >He explains that when people have real knowledge, their thinking is, for a time receiving, or partaking of, this energeia of the nous (active intellect).
    Let me break it down for you,

    When there is Real Knowledge their "thinking" is Recieving (Potentiality-Passive) (Matter-Aspect) the Giving (Actuality-Active) (Formal-Aspect) of the Nous (Active Intellect)

    In otherwords Real Knowledge and Hylomorphism or the Unmoved Mover are one and the same thing.

    Because conceivably his Potency is totally one and Identical with his Actuality, this is what is meant by Hylomorphism, a compound of Act (Form) and Potency (Matter) - of course this is not a "Composite" or Mixture, as the Potency and Act are totally Simple, One, Inseparable and not a Joining of Parts but an Impartite Whole without limit.

    Let's have Aquinas make it clearer:

    >God is the unmoved first mover who lacks potentiality, parts, and accidental qualities.

    Aquinas describes the type of motion he has in mind here by utilizing the language of potency and act. He argues that nothing can be in motion except that which poses potentiality, for change is simply the motion from potency to actuality. For explanatory purposes, Aquinas draws to the mind the example of a fire and the logs that make up the fire. “Thus, that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it.” The flames no longer have the potentiality of heat—as it is an actualized property—and it is those flames that actualize the potential property of heat within the logs. This is the exact kind of motion that may not be predicated of God as this form of motion entails potentiality.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      By the way according to Aquinas
      >the very existence of matter is a being potential; whilst God, as we have seen, contains no potentiality, but is sheer actuality'.
      I believe the real meaning according to aristotle, and why we can say it is a compound of form and matter, is because the way matter is meant is, "as absolute potentiality" which is to say it is without any limit whatsoever, it is "infinite" and the "existence" or the "actuality of this absolute potentiality" is like saying the Form of the Infinite.

      I think it is reasonable to say there is a "Manifest" Hylomorphism, which is what is a Being Potential, an "Unmanifest" Hylomorphism which is not, I think this latter is what is more or less the
      "Real Knowledge" "Unmoved Mover"
      Light of the "Active Intellect" and is what I mean by also using the term Hylomorphism interchangeably.

      A Pure Infinite Form, also means the same thing in my view, the Form is not "Limited by this "Potency" because this Potency is "Unmanifest" and the form is not taken as being determined by the "Limit" of the visible, sensible or manifest (being in motion).

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >I don't know why you need a subsidiary source, aristotle makes this equivalence himself
      To be fair, De Anima Bk.3, Ch.V is one of the most hotly contested passages of Aristotle ever.
      >Let's have Aquinas make it clearer:
      Aquinas wouldn't have equated the agent intellect with the unmoved mover though, no? That would have made him more extreme than Averroes, who he sought to refute during the unity of the intellect controversy. Without the agent intellect being distinct from the unmoved mover, it is difficult to find where the "personal, immaterial, and immortal" soul is within the Aristotelian system.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        With the "unity" of the Intellect controversy, I believe the controversy rests in making universal the "self-reflexive" active intellect which "knows itself" and not the "contents" or "productions" of the
        Active intellect (Form) in conjunction with the Passive Intellect (Matter)

        So long as we talk about all of us sharing in that "uncreated" Self-Reflexive awareness, I see no problem with saying all Beings share in that, it would be like saying there is a Unity of "Buddha Nature"

        I don't have much idea about how Averroes meant it, but I'm guessing the whole project could've deviated along the lines of giving "reason" or the rational nature which is "content" or production a status which is surely not "immaterial" or "self-knowing" in the way I mean it.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I believe the personal, immaterial, immortal soul is referring to the Unmoved Mover, the Individual soul identical to it

        The Unmoved Mover is "immortal" because it cannot lose "potentialities" which it doesn't have. It is eternal because it is without beginning or end it doesn't have any potentialities, it is immaterial because it is not limited by the material, it is personal because it is not limited by the personal (this doesn't have anything to do with a potentiality, so it is personal not in the sense of "content") I still wouldn't use the term "impersonal" because it is personal in a way which is not at odds with what is impersonal, if it can be spoken of as such it resolves all opposites in its unity.

        If aristotle talks about an "immortal, immaterial soul" he can logically only be talking about the Unmoved Mover.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    this is an islamic thing averroes goes on about. he identified the agent intellect as some sort of shared stock of universals we are subsumed into on death. basically it was allah. thomas aquinas rightly called this moronic and said that the agent intellect was just a faculty of intellection

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Any good overviews of this?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I read this along with a few chapters from the cambridge companions to medieval and islamic philosophy

        https://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1255&context=phil_fac

        Someone can correct me if i’m wrong, but my conception was that the agent intellect is the capacity to abstract individual things to an immaterial stock of universals. This sort of database is singular, and shared among every human intellect. For averroes, no individuation of consciousness can really exist in it, so by undergoing a sort of ego death we assimilate with it and achieve a sort of enlightenment- interestingly ibn arabi, a sufi, shared the same notion. He talks about assimilation with this impersonal overmind as a mark of a true prophet, who is sort of seamlessly wired in to a Gods eye view of forms and not particulars. It’s my understanding that aquinas rejected this, and said that the ability to abstract sense objects into universals is just a capacity innate to the human mind and doesn’t need to be justified by a psychic connection to God. Although I think you can see traces of this agent intellect thing in christian mysticism like the cloud of unknowing- the aim is not to see God, but see as God sees, which entails giving up yourself to some extent.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >but my conception was that the agent intellect is the capacity to abstract individual things to an immaterial stock of universals.
          The problem is that this definition is established nowhere in De Anima as far as anybody can tell. That understanding of the agent intellect, as having a "function" akin to some kind of "formal intuition" is merely established headcanon in the commentary tradition. The only mention of the "agent intellect" (nous poietikos) is in B.III, Ch.V, and it is briefly discussed through analogy as something "necessary" to make thinking possible at all. Aristotle compares the fact that all of nature has an active principle that is responsible for it, and likewise says that the intellect has something similar. Then he says that, whatever this agent intellect is, it's immaterial, eternal, most noble, etc.

          It's most important to note that, in this chapter, there is no function being ascribed to the agent intellect. It doesn't really "do" anything, at least not in an involved sense. And at this point of De Anima, there isn't any need for any additional functions of the mind to be identified and described. The hypothetical "abstracting individual things" function is something that happens at every stage of intellection, whether it is sense-perception, common sense, imagination, memory, estimative reasoning, etc. When it comes to the activity of thinking, Aristotle's account is complete without the commentary headcanon. Proponents of the agent intellect as a function are simply trying to add something to a picture that is already complete.

          The main question that has perplexed commentators is what to make of all of this. Some, like Alexander of Aphrodisias, took a look at the agent intellect, saw that it was described virtually identically with the unmoved mover, and decided it was the unmoved mover. And it comes together like the synthesis. At best, the agent intellect appears to be like a grounding, a foundation, a cause, etc., and if there was anything lacking in De Anima, it was some kind of "explanation" for the possibility of thought itself. Other commentators have attempted to use the agent intellect as a way of smuggling in their own thoughts on personhood, the afterlife, religion, etc., and unfortunately it's been nothing but ever-expanding complication and sophistry.

          This is not to say that these concerns are all wrong, or that Aristotle didn't believe in the immortality of the soul, but rather that De Anima was not the place to find these insights. Unfortunately, the consequence of these hermeneutic liberties has been the continuing obscurity of Aristoteliean thought on the philosophy of mind. I know that Aristotle covered the topic in Eudemian Ethics (or some other tract with the name Eudemius), but it's hard to locate an English translation of the text.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Thanks for the thorough reply

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      aquinas's take was even more moronic than averroes's take because he hastily pigeonholed the agent intellect into something that cohered with Christian sentiments instead of the rest of Aristotle's work. the main point is that the whole controversy was filtered through the lens of souls and the afterlife. averroist thought meant that there was only one collective soul which led to universalist or even pantheist thought (two big no-nos in Abrahamist society).

      basically, alexander of aphrodisias was right, and averroes was wrong but not far off from alexander. aquinas, while gifted in many other interpretive and systematic aspects, is completely wrong on the issue. some of his rebuttals sounded like a weak paraphrase of averroist thought, only in his own words.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I don’t really agree with your interpretation, mainly because we can’t be sure of aristotles view. The agent intellect as far as i’m aware is mentioned once, fleetingly, and given some obtuse analogy about colours which doesn’t really make it any clearer. Aristotle does say he believes there is an immaterial and indestructible part of the soul here, and that he will elaborate on this later, but he doesn’t, and there’s no reason to assume he meant the agent intellect. I think aquinas’ take is very sensible. He’s drawing out the most practical thing aristotle could have meant (we have an innate capacity to abstract objects of sense into universals) and he simply places this capacity in each of us, instead of extrapolating this to mean there is some sort of gestalt shared stock of universals we all tap into. It’s an unnecessary thing to include. And I don’t agree with your point about aquinas accommodating the afterlife by doing this, because he doesn’t believe in humans really existing as immaterial souls in any permanent capacity after death, only a very limited and temporary one before the resurrection. Like aristotle, he doesn’t really see any sense in the idea of a soul without a body since a soul simply informs a body to be a body, the natural state of humans is to have one. You are correct about averroes controversial views though, since, while I don’t think he was an atheist (he explicitly believes in an immaterial and eternal mind) he certainly doesn’t think human beings with individuated memories and minds can exist after death

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          Your interpretation is common yet mistaken, but understandably so. There's a lot of mistakes I have to correct, or half-truths I need to fine-tune, so bear with me here.

          I'll first begin with this claim:
          >and that he will elaborate on this later, but he doesn’t,
          He never said that in B.III, Ch. V. The whole chapter is presented as a complete thought.

          Next:
          >Aristotle does say he believes there is an immaterial and indestructible part of the soul here,
          If you look carefully, the first paragraph begins with an analogy between nature (phusis) and soul (psyche).

          Aristotle:
          >Since just as in everything in nature there is something which serves as the matter in each genus (this is that which is all of those things in potency), as well as something else which is the cause and is productive by making all things, as in the case of art in relation to matter, so necessarily there exists these differences in the soul.
          It is worth noting that what Aristotle is doing with the analogy is reintroducing the actuality and potentiality distinction here (perhaps one of his most important, if not the most important, principles of his corpus).

          After the analogy is complete, Aristotle then switches to speaking of intellect/mind/etc. (nous) only. He never mentions the soul qua soul for any reason for the rest of the chapter.

          Aristotle:
          >And intellect is this sort of thing in one sense by becoming all things, and in another by making all things, like a sort of disposition, in the way that light does. For in a certain way light makes potential colors actual colors
          Aristotle is merely pointing out that intellect can be spoken in a passive sense (it becomes things) and that intellect can be spoken of in an active sense (it makes things). If you're also seeing matter vs. form introduce itself here implicitly, then you're be right on the money, as matter is passive and form is active, as per Aristotelian hylomorphism. The only interesting part here is that a passive intellect would be a mix of matter and form (like humans), while the active intellect is pure form (like the unmoved mover—the rare immaterial substance persistently featured in Aristotle's corpus as such).

          >He’s drawing out the most practical thing aristotle could have meant (we have an innate capacity to abstract objects of sense into universals) and he simply places this capacity in each of us, instead of extrapolating this to mean there is some sort of gestalt shared stock of universals we all tap into.
          The only universals we're tapping into is whatever was thought up by the unmoved mover, who is thought thinking itself. That's it. Everything else is unnecessary headcanon which complicates or even obfuscates the text, brought about by the failure to thoroughly apply Aristotle's first philosophy to the passage.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Well you clearly know more than me, so thanks for correcting my post.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            You certainly know a decent bit. At the very least, you've given a good summary of most of the commentary tradition and why they thought the way they thought. It's just that the commentators are wrong, or at least have not been too careful about how it all coheres together.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >The only universals we're tapping into is whatever was thought up by the unmoved mover,
            Exactly this is why I am stressing "self-reflexivity" I have seen some writers talks about these "universals" as of there were a multitude,
            They talk about the "form itself" of the blueness of a lotus, the "form itself' of the greeness of grass, as if this "form itself' where anything but singular and referres to itself as an "infinite form" but that say these things in such a way to imply that it were divided into types,

            This is precisely why Aquinas's analogy of what he is not referring to, the "wood being actualized into fire" the "beings in potential, is not what he is talking about by the unmoved mover

            It is "without potentiality and accidental qualities, being impartite,"
            I still believe it is possible though to speak of an "inseparable" "hylomorphism" when we conceive, "matter" as an "unmanifest" "passive pole"

            Hate to change topics but I see this"matter" in the same way the Hindu tradition talks about "prakriti" the distinction they make between the "unmanifest productive" principle and the manifest production itself being what I see as being what is underlying Aquinas without "potentiality or accidental qualities"

            I believe the "matter" is to pure form, as the "Maya-Shakti" is to "Brahman" in the vedantic tradition.

            When I say it is possible to talk about a "pole" like matter, in the "absolute" this must not be looked at like a divided thing.

            Also, Aristotle's distinction between Active Form and Passive Matter, is identical to the Chinese Active Yang and Active Yin, or ar least they are drawing from this same "primordial duality" which is no coincidence between the Ancient Greeks, Chinese and Indians

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >Active Yang and Passive Yin*

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >There has been a long debate amongst Islamic philosophers and theologians about the meaning of eternity and time with relation to Allah. Some philosophers say, for example, that Allah was talking in eternity in His eternal Speech, and that therefore He said in eternity take off thy shoes (20:12) to Moses, and worship thy Lord until certainty comes unto thee (15:99) to Muhammad, peace be upon them, and so on. They say that because clearly we can not say that Allah uttered these words at the time of Moses or Muhammad, therefore it must be an eternal speech. Ibn al-Arabi, however, showed in his Kitab al-Azal that all these interpretations are not proper, and that they end up confining Allah to time, which is a serious error: 'It is more proper to say that Moses heard out of time, because the Speaker spoke out of time. To let Moses become holy is better than letting al-Bari’ (the Creator) be compared to us' (Kitab Al-Azal: 5, see also: al-Masa’il, #131).

            >So if we take the correct meaning of the word 'eternity', which is the negation of any beginning (azal), we may ask: was there anyone in eternity with the Creator or not? There has also been a long philosophical and theological debate about that, which Ibn al-Arabi summarizes by saying:

            >One group said: 'the primordials (qudama) are four: the Creator, the Intellect, the Soul and the Dust (al-haba’)'.

            >Another group said: 'the primordials are eight (pre-existents): the Essence and the seven descriptions' (i.e. The seven primordial descriptions or attributes of Allah, drawn from earlier kalam theology: 'Life, Knowledge, Ability, Will, Hearing, Seeing and Speaking' [I.525.32]).

            >Another group said: 'nothing is primordial but One, and He is the exalted Real, and He is One in all aspects, but to His Essence (there is) an aspect by which He is called Able, and so on for whatever they have made a description'.

            >Another group took this (last) opinion, but they added to it a (new) concept. And this concept is called 'the Reality of Realities', which is neither existing nor non-existing, but it is primordial with the primordial and created with the created; it can be imagined, but it does not exist by itself, like universality (‘alamiyya) and so on (Kitab Al-Azal: 8-9).

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >Clearly, the Sufis are among the last group, and Ibn al-Arabi in particular relates the beginning of creation to 'the Reality of Realities' (haqiqat al-haqa’iq), and sometimes he calls it: 'the Universal Reality' (al-haqiqa al-kulliyya) or 'the Muhammadan Reality' (al-haqiqa al-muhammadiyya). He stated in chapter 6 of the Futuhat that the beginning of the spiritual creation is the 'Dust', and that the first existent within it was the 'Muhammadan Reality of (divine) Mercy' (al-haqiqa al-muhammadiyya al-rahmaniyya) that is not confined to space, and that it is created from the 'Known Reality' (al-haqiqat al-ma‘luma) that can not be described by either existence nor non-existence [I.118.5]. Ibn al-Arabi claims that only the Sufis have introduced the concept of 'the Reality of Realities' (haqiqat al-haqa’iq), although he admits that the Mu‘tazilites drew attention to something similar to this notion when they tried to escape the accusation that their understanding of the divine Attributes postulated the real existence of additional realities other than the Essence of the Real [II.433.14, SPK: 134-9].

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
            Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
            St John, III. 4, 5

            >It is not enough to play the sophister; the grain of wheat brings forth no fruit, unless it falls into the earth; all whatever will bring forth fruit must enter into its mother from whence it came first to be.
            Boehme

            >Species are not transmuted, but their subject matter rather, therefore the first work is to reduce the body into water, that is into mercury, and this is called Solution, which is the foundation of the whole art.
            Roger Bacon

            >He who wishes to enter the Kingdom of God must first enter with his body into his mother and die there.
            Paracelsus

            >O descendant of Bharata, the great Prakriti is My womb; in that I place the seed, from thence is the birth of all beings.
            >O son of Kunti, whatever forms are produced in all the wombs, the great Prakriti is the womb and I am the seed-giving Father.
            Bhagavad-Gîtâ, XIV. 3, 4

            >The woman must reign, before she is overcome by the man.
            Philalethes

            >Once the Little Child has become strong and robust to the point where he can withstand Water and Fire, he will put in his own belly the Mother who had begotten him.
            Nicholas Flamel

            >I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
            Song of Solomon, III. 4

            >The first vibration which took place at the commencement of creation, that is, on the disturbance of equilibrium (Vaishamyavastha), was a general movement (Samanya- Spanda) in the whole mass of Prakriti. This was the Pranava-Dhvani or OM sound. OM is only the approximate representation or gross form of the subtle sound which is heard in Yoga-experience.
            Varnamala

            >All things have been made by the power of the divine word, which is the divine spirit or breath that emanated from the divine fountain in the beginning. This breath is the spirit or soul of the world, and is called the ‘spiritus mundi’.
            Johannes Tritheim

            >Sound exists in four fundamental states, viz. (1) Vaikhari or dense, audible sound, sound in its maximum differentiation; (2) Madhyama or an inner, subtle, more ethereal state at which it is inaudible to physical ear; (3) Pashyanti, a still higher, inner, more ethereal state; (4) Para which represents Ishwara-Sakti and is the potential (Karana) state of the sound which is Avyakta or undifferentiated. The Para sound is not, like the Vaikhari, different in different languages. It is the unchanging primal substratum of them all, the source of the universe.
            Swami Sivananda

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >From the metaphysical perspective, ‘creation (or manifestation) is rigorously implied in the infinity of Principle....The world cannot not exist, since it is a possible and therefore necessary aspect of the absolute necessity of Being’ (Schuon: De l’Unité transcendante des Religions, p. 66).
            >From the spiritual perspective, ‘what we call the world-process and a creation is...a game (krîḍâ, lîlâ, παιδιά, dolce gioco) that the Spirit plays with itself, and as sunlight “plays” upon whatever it illuminates and quickens, although unaffected by its apparent contacts.’ The sensible world is ‘the consequence of the Spirit’s awareness of “the diversified world-picture painted by itself on the vast canvas of itself’ (Śankarâcârya).15 It is not by means of this All that he knows himself, but by his knowledge of himself that he becomes this All’ (Coomaraswamy: Hinduism and Buddhism, pp. 14–15, commenting Bṛihad-Âraṇyaka Upanishad, I. iv. 10).

            >From the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole (purusha, yang) and the substantial pole (prakriti, yin) of a single Supreme Principle (Self, Âtmâ), which Itself as ‘Motionless Mover’ (Aristotle) is not involved in Its productions: ‘It is Universal Being which, relatively to the manifestation of which It is the Principle, polarizes Itself into “Essence” and “Substance”, without Its intrinsic unity being in any way affected thereby’ (Guénon: L’Homme et son Devenir selon le Vêdânta, 3rd ed., p. 48). ‘The Dragon-Father remains a Pleroma, no more diminished by what he exhales than he is increased by what is repossest’ (Coomaraswamy: Hinduism and Buddhism, p. 7). Manifestation is by way of progressive individuation, limitation, descent, or ‘fall’: ‘To go from essence towards substance is to go from the center towards the circumference, from the interior towards the exterior...from unity towards multiplicity’ (Guénon: Le Règne de la Quantité et les Signes des Temps, p. 160). ‘He has exteriorized everything inasmuch as He is the Interior, and He has withdrawn the existence of everything inasmuch as He is the Exterior’ (Ibn Aṭâ’illâh: Ḥikam, no. 152).

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >It can thus be seen that ‘evolution’ according to traditional science implies a deterioration: the world commences with a Golden Age, rather than terminating in a Millennium (which belongs to another world, another age, another cycle); and in fact the modern Theory of Evolution denies God the power to create something perfect. Compare for example Genesis, I. 27 and 31: ‘God created man in his own image’, ‘And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good’, and supporting references cited below, with modern teachings on man’s ancestry. ‘To believe, as do certain “neo-yogis”, that “evolution” will produce a superman “who will differ from man as much as man differs from animals, or animals from vegetables”, is simply not to know what man is’ (Schuon: Perspectives spirituelles, p. 150).17 ‘The virtue of each thing, whether body or soul, instrument or creature, does not reach a high pitch of perfection by chance, but as the result of the order and truth and art which are imparted to them’ (Plato: Gorgias, 506 D). This bestowal is the legacy of immutable archetypes.

            >One becomes identified with the object of one’s knowledge. For those who believe the world emanates from God, there is a way back to God; for those who believe the world emanates from chaos, there is likewise a way that corresponds with this possibility.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            If Aristotle's actuality/potentiality distinction is so similar to Daoist yang and yin, then why does Aristotle place such importance on actuality and relegates potentiality almost to the position of nothing? e.g. the unmoved mover is fully immaterial substance (e.g. pure act), and then we have prime matter (e.g. pure potentiality, lacking in form) which is theoretically impossible because substance is defined by form and thus would be akin to nothing.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            If Aristotle's actuality/potentiality distinction is so similar to Daoist yang and yin, then why does Aristotle place such importance on actuality and relegates potentiality almost to the position of nothing? e.g. the unmoved mover is fully immaterial substance (e.g. pure act), and then we have prime matter (e.g. pure potentiality, lacking in form) which is theoretically impossible because substance is defined by form and thus would be akin to nothing.

            Was hoping for a conclusion to this debate.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >And I don’t agree with your point about aquinas accommodating the afterlife by doing this, because he doesn’t believe in humans really existing as immaterial souls in any permanent capacity after death, only a very limited and temporary one before the resurrection.
          Could you go further into this? I didn't think Aquinas was so pessimistic about the immortality of the soul. I kind of inferred it because his rebuttal of Averroes was so weak on this point, but I didn't realize he was so forward about it and that the Catholic Church didn't have a problem with it either. To not have a mechanism for a personal, immortal, and immaterial soul seems like a substantial problem for Christianity.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            He wasn’t pessimistic about the immortality of (parts) of the soul. But he didn’t believe a human person exists within these parts, only as an embodied being. To quote his opinion on platonic souls in the contra gentiles:

            >Plato claimed that a human being is not a composite of soul and body but that a human being is the soul itself using a body [...]. But this position is shown to be impossible. For an animal and a human being are natural, senseperceptible things. But this would not be the case if a body and its parts did not belong to the essence of a human being and of an animal. Instead, on Plato’s view, the whole essence of both a human being and an animal would be the soul, although the soul isn’t anything senseperceptible or material. And for this reason it is impossible that [something that is] a human being and an animal be a soul using a body

            He held the opinion that the soul was the form of the body, and that these things weren’t really separable but a material composite. That composite is the human person and ceases to exist on death, this is clear in this quote from his commentary on corinthians
            >Since a soul is part of a body of a human being, it is not the whole human being, and my soul is not me

            His position was that the soul was the material organising principle of the body, and so what you are is the composite. He does think intellection is immaterial, but he doesn’t conjoin memory, personality or perception to this capacity. Those are parts of the human being as a whole. As far as I can tell, he believed in a sort of sleeping state on death, where God would eventually reconstitute the body soul composite and revive the person on judgement day, but you are effectively dead “as you were” up until that point.

            >[...] strictly speaking, the soul of Abraham is not identical to Abraham (ipse Abraham) but is a part of him [...]. And so the life of the soul of Abraham would not be sufficient for it to be the case that Abraham is living. Rather what is needed for this is the life of the whole composite, namely, the soul and the body.

            I don’t think this would have been controversial at the time at all, since this sort of sleep state was a widely held view at the time. I’m aware of much medieval christian writing on the “interim” state but a lot of this is dream vision literature and not really theological doctrine

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >As far as I can tell, he believed in a sort of sleeping state on death, where God would eventually reconstitute the body soul composite and revive the person on judgement day, but you are effectively dead “as you were” up until that point.
            I see. Fascinating.
            >His position was that the soul was the material organising principle of the body, and so what you are is the composite. He does think intellection is immaterial, but he doesn’t conjoin memory, personality or perception to this capacity. Those are parts of the human being as a whole.
            So... err... how exactly did he differ from Averroes?

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            I suppose because God (who is distinct as an intellectual entity from each human being, rather than being some sort of conglomerate of mind we assimilate into) remembers and maintains the “pattern” of each person and reconstitutes them eventually. As far as i’m aware averroes believed in pure assimilation into an impersonal amalgamation of shared intellect. The immaterial intellect for aquinas is still individual, as in a discrete entity, it just can’t really think like humans do until it is rejoined to its body, where it’s faculties are regained and it becomes a human person proper again. I think his views on the thoughts of angels can make it clearer as to how he views existence without a body, but I get out of my depth at that point

            >I answer that, The angels have not bodies naturally united to them. For whatever belongs to any nature as an accident is not found universally in that nature; thus, for instance, to have wings, because it is not of the essence of an animal, does not belong to every animal. Now since to understand is not the act of a body, nor of any corporeal energy, as will be shown later (I:75:2, it follows that to have a body united to it is not of the nature of an intellectual substance, as such; but it is accidental to some intellectual substance on account of something else. Even so it belongs to the human soul to be united to a body, because it is imperfect and exists potentially in the genus of intellectual substances, not having the fulness of knowledge in its own nature, but acquiring it from sensible things through the bodily senses, as will be explained later on (I:84:6; I:89:1). Now whenever we find something imperfect in any genus we must presuppose something perfect in that genus. Therefore in the intellectual nature there are some perfectly intellectual substances, which do not need to acquire knowledge from sensible things. Consequently not all intellectual substances are united to bodies; but some are quite separated from bodies, and these we call angels.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        Yup. Aquinas' interpretations of Aristotle are often distorted in this way.

        For example, Aristotle believed in the eternity of the world and offered some powerful arguments for it. Aquinas' response? "This is all dialectic, not science, because in one line of the Topics he mentions the eternity of the world as a subject for dialectic debate".

        How many dialectic subjects does Aristotle end up treating scientifically? Pretty much all of them... including the eternity of the world.

        Aquinas has to be read with a hefty grain of salt when it comes to interpreting pagan philosophers. You can't fairly say that about Averroes, though, for all that he was a Muslim. He could make more sense out of a bad translation than most people can make out of the original Greek.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          Don’t get me wrong. Aquinas was a brilliant interpreter of Aristotle who gets far more things right than he gets wrong. This just happens be one of his weak spots, and perhaps even one that is an unforced error (considering that Aristotle argues for the immortality of the soul in other places).

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >How many dialectic subjects does Aristotle end up treating scientifically? Pretty much all of them... including the eternity of the world.
          Does it really matter? Aquinas's arguments still work whether or not it's true. Tell me what's scientific about deciding ad hoc whether the world is eternal or not.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          i’m fairly sure aquinas gave his own argument here
          >time is a discrete series of moments
          >if there were not a finite number of moments leading up to now, we would never arrive here
          >therefore time began and is finite

          he didn’t just handwave it

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            I always thought that even if time were infinite, it would be finite up to now. So eternal worlds or not, it was irrelevant to Aquinas's point.

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