Monday, March 2, 2009

Aquinas and Intuitive Cognition

The other day I criticized Taylor Marshall's post on Aquinas and the Beatific Vision. It turns out I may well be wrong, as Aquinas does use the term "intuitus" as is clear from the quote below. Aquinas is here glossing Augustine, but the point still stands. Aquinas, at least in this early work, does have a notion of intuition that is cognition of a present intelligible. This is not so different than the Scotistic view, although of course Thomas never formulates a theory of intuitive cognition as distinguished from abstractive cognition (the locus of the debate in the 14th century that led to the decree "Benedictus Deus" on the Beatific Vision). "Simplicem intuitum" may and probably does mean here the first act of the intellect also known as "simplex intelligentia" or simple apprehension which of course is very different from the Scotistic view. But my (incorrect) point to Taylor Marshall was that Aquinas never uses the term at all.

[380] Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 3 q. 4 a. 5 co.

Respondeo dicendum, quod, secundum Augustinum differunt cogitare, discernere et intelligere. Discernere est cognoscere rem per differentiam sui ab aliis. Cogitare autem est considerare rem secundum partes et proprietates suas: unde cogitare dicitur quasi coagitare. Intelligere autem dicit nihil aliud quam simplicem intuitum intellectus in id quod sibi est praesens intelligibile. Dico ergo, quod anima non semper cogitat et discernit de Deo, nec de se, quia sic quilibet sciret naturaliter totam naturam animae suae, ad quod vix magno studio pervenitur: ad talem enim cognitionem non sufficit praesentia rei quolibet modo; sed oportet ut sit ibi in ratione objecti, et exigitur intentio cognoscentis. Sed secundum quod intelligere nihil aliud dicit quam intuitum, qui nihil aliud est quam praesentia intelligibilis ad intellectum quocumque modo, sic anima semper intelligit se et Deum indeterminate, et consequitur quidam amor indeterminatus. Alio tamen modo, secundum philosophos, intelligitur quod anima semper se intelligit, eo quod omne quod intelligitur, non intelligitur nisi illustratum lumine intellectus agentis, et receptum in intellectu possibili. Unde sicut in omni colore videtur lumen corporale, ita in omni intelligibili videtur lumen intellectus agentis; non tamen in ratione objecti sed in ratione medii cognoscendi.


Anonymous said...

Professor Faber:

Could you point to the Taylor Marshall post that is the subject of your post here as well as your initial comments? Thanks!

Lee Faber said...

Sorry Anonymous, I can't seem to find it. Maybe he took it down. It was from the last week in February. And I'm just a lowly graduate student at the moment. thanks for reading.

Brandon said...

Is it this one?

Lee Faber said...

Thanks Brandon, I think that's the one, though my comment is missing. We exchanged some remarks about Benedict XIII and his decree Benedictus Deus which said that the blessed enjoy the vision of God 'intuitive' which I said was not a thomistic notion, but that at that period of time would be in refernce to debates beginning from scotus. Dumont has a good article on this (intuitive and abstractive cognitoin) in Speculum.