2.09.2011

Intellect I

When discussing the human intellect or, more specifically, the inferiority of man's act of understanding, Aquinas offers an interesting illustration that supplements his argument for the intellect's immateriality. While proving that the species of the known object cannot possibly exist in the intellect in a material way, Aquinas says that bodily organs have a harmony with their formal objects of sensation. An intense sensation, loud noises or bright lights, shatters this harmony and therefore weakens or destroys our sense faculty. Intellectual reception, though, does not work in this way. It is perfected in proportion to the object which it understands, he who understands higher objects is able to understand lower things more perfectly and not less perfectly. If the intellect were a type of sensation, it would have a harmony capable of being shattered, perhaps by too much understanding or some other activity.

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