St. Thomas Aquinas: On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason
Citing the example of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day was Sunday, Benedict urged the faithful to remember that faith and reason are not. Thomas Aquinas has long been understood to have reconciled faith and reason. various ways in which the epistemic relation between the two cognitions can obtain namely matter and the agent, just as the necessity ol death comes from . relationship between religious faith and logical reason? The purpose . Thomas Aquinas speaks of faith as an "act of the intellect assenting to the truth at the command of the will" (Italics .. Consider, for example, a murder mystery, where " the.
This model subdivides further into three subdivisions. First, one can hold faith is transrational, inasmuch as it is higher than reason. This latter strategy has been employed by some Christian existentialists. Reason can only reconstruct what is already implicit in faith or religious practice. Second, one can hold that religious belief is irrational, thus not subject to rational evaluation at all.
This is the position taken ordinarily by those who adopt negative theology, the method that assumes that all speculation about God can only arrive at what God is not. The latter subdivision also includes those theories of belief that claim that religious language is only metaphorical in nature. This and other forms of irrationalism result in what is ordinarily considered fideism: Here it is understood that dialogue is possible between reason and faith, though both maintain distinct realms of evaluation and cogency.
For example, the substance of faith can be seen to involve miracles ; that of reason to involve the scientific method of hypothesis testing. Much of the Reformed model of Christianity adopts this basic model. Here it is understood that faith and reason have an organic connection, and perhaps even parity. A typical form of strong compatibilism is termed natural theology. Articles of faith can be demonstrated by reason, either deductively from widely shared theological premises or inductively from common experiences.
It can take one of two forms: An example of the former would be the cosmological proof for God's existence; an example of the latter would be the argument that science would not be possible unless God's goodness ensured that the world is intelligible. Many, but certainly not all, Roman Catholic philosophers and theologians hold to the possibility of natural theology. Some natural theologians have attempted to unite faith and reason into a comprehensive metaphysical system.
The strong compatibilist model, however, must explain why God chose to reveal Himself at all since we have such access to him through reason alone. The interplay between reason and faith is an important topic in the philosophy of religion. It is closely related to, but distinct from, several other issues in the philosophy of religion: Moreover, an analysis of the interplay between faith and reason also provides resources for philosophical arguments in other areas such as metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology.
While the issues the interplay between faith and reason addresses are endemic to almost any religious faith, this article will focus primarily on the faith claims found in the three great monotheistic world religions: Judaism, Islam, and particularly Christianity. This rest of the article will trace out the history of the development of thinking about the relationship between faith and reason in Western philosophy from the classical period of the Greeks through the end of the twentieth century.
The Classical Period Greek religions, in contrast to Judaism, speculated primarily not on the human world but on the cosmos as a whole. They were often formulated as literary myths. Nonetheless these forms of religious speculation were generally practical in nature: Most of these religions involved civic cultic practices. Philosophers from the earliest times in Greece tried to distill metaphysical issues out of these mythological claims.
Once these principles were located and excised, these philosophers purified them from the esoteric speculation and superstition of their religious origins. They also decried the proclivities to gnosticism and elitism found in the religious culture whence the religious myths developed.
None of these philosophers, however, was particularly interested in the issue of willed assent to or faith in these religious beliefs as such. Aristotle and Plato Both Plato and Aristotle found a principle of intellectual organization in religious thinking that could function metaphysically as a halt to the regress of explanation.
In Plato, this is found in the Forms, particularly the Form of the Good. The Form of Good is that by which all things gain their intelligibility. Aristotle rejected the Form of the Good as unable to account for the variety of good things, appealing instead to the unmoved mover as an unchangeable cosmic entity.
This primary substance also has intelligence as nous: Both thinkers also developed versions of natural theology by showing how religious beliefs emerge from rational reflections on concrete reality as such. An early form of religious apologetics - demonstrating the existence of the gods -- can be found in Plato's Laws.
Aristotle's Physics gave arguments demonstrating the existence of an unmoved mover as a timeless self-thinker from the evidence of motion in the world. Stoics and Epicureans Both of these schools of thought derived certain theological kinds of thinking from physics and cosmology.
The Stoics generally held a cosmological view of an eternal cycle of identical world-revolutions and world-destructions by a universal conflagration. Absolute necessity governs the cyclic process and is identified with divine reason logos and providence. This provident and benevolent God is immanent in the physical world. God orders the universe, though without an explicit purpose.
Humans are microcosms; their souls are emanations of the fiery soul of the universe. The Epicureans, on the other hand, were skeptical, materialistic, and anti-dogmatic. It is not clear they were theists at all, though at some points they seem to be. They did speak of the gods as living in a blissful state in intermundial regions, without any interest in the affairs of humans.
There is no relation between the evils of human life and a divine guidance of the universe. At death all human perception ceases. Plotinus Plotinusin the Enneads, held that all modes of being and value originate in an overflow of procession from a single ineffable power that he identified with the radical simplicity of the One of Parmenides or the Good of Plato's Republic.
Nous, the second hypostasis after the One, resembles Aristotle's unmoved mover. The orders of the world soul and nature follow after Nous in a linear procession. Humans contain the potentialities of these creative principles, and can choose to make their lives an ascent towards and then a union with the intuitive intelligence.
The One is not a being, but infinite being. It is the cause of beings. Thus Christian and Jewish philosophers who held to a creator God could affirm such a conception.
Plotinus might have been the first negative theologian, arguing that God, as simple, is know more from what he is not, than from what he is. The Rise of Christianity Christianity, emerging from Judaism, imposed a set of revealed truths and practices on its adherents. Many of these beliefs and practices differed significantly from what the Greek religions and Judaism had held.
For example, Christians held that God created the world ex nihilo, that God is three persons, and that Jesus Christ was the ultimate revelation of God. Nonetheless, from the earliest of times, Christians held to a significant degree of compatibility between faith and reason. Paul The writings attributed to St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures provide diverse interpretations of the relation between faith and reason.
First, in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul himself engages in discussion with "certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers" at the Aeropagus in Athens Acts Here he champions the unity of the Christian God as the creator of all. God is "not far from any one of us.
It reflects a sympathy with pagan customs, handles the subject of idol worship gently, and appeals for a new examination of divinity not from the standpoint of creation, but from practical engagement with the world.
Faith and Reason | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
However, he claims that this same God will one day come to judge all mankind. But in his famous passage from Romans 1: Here he champions a natural theology against those pagans who would claim that, even on Christian grounds, their previous lack of access to the Christian God would absolve them from guilt for their nonbelief. Paul argues that in fact anyone can attain to the truth of God's existence merely from using his or her reason to reflect on the natural world.
Thus this strong compatibilist interpretation entailed a reduced tolerance for atheists and agnostics. Yet in 1 Corinthians 1: He points out that the world did not come to know God through wisdom; God chose to reveal Himself fully to those of simple faith. These diverse Pauline interpretations of the relation between faith and reason were to continue to manifest themselves in various ways through the centuries that followed.
Early Christian Apologists The early apologists were both compatibilists and incompatibilists. Tertullian took up the ideas of Paul in 1 Corinthians, proclaiming that Christianity is not merely incompatible with but offensive to natural reason.
Jerusalem has nothing to do with Athens. He boldly claimed credo quia absurdum est "I believe because it is absurd".
He claims that religious faith is both against and above reason. In his De Praescriptione Haereticorum, he proclaims, "when we believe, we desire to believe nothing further. In his Dialogue with Trypho he finds Christianity "the only sure and profitable philosophy. But he maintained that Greek philosophy is unnecessary for a defense of the faith, though it helps to disarm sophistry. He also worked to demonstrate in a rational way what is found in faith.
He claimed that "I believe in order that I may know" credo ut intelligam. This set Christianity on firmer intellectual foundations. Clement also worked to clarify the early creeds of Christianity, using philosophical notions of substance, being, and person, in order to combat heresies. Augustine Augustine emerged in the late fourth century as a rigorous defender of the Christian faith. He responded forcefully to pagans' allegations that Christian beliefs were not only superstitious but also barbaric.
But he was, for the most part, a strong compatibilist. He felt that intellectual inquiry into the faith was to be understood as faith seeking understanding fides quaerens intellectum. To believe is "to think with assent" credere est assensione cogitare.
It is an act of the intellect determined not by the reason, but by the will. Faith involves a commitment "to believe in a God," "to believe God," and "to believe in God.
He points out that if a pagan science studies what is eternal and unchanging, it can be used to clarify and illuminate the Christian faith. Thus logic, history, and the natural sciences are extremely helpful in matters of interpreting ambiguous or unknown symbols in the Scriptures. However, Augustine is equally interested to avoid any pagan learning, such as that of crafts and superstition that is not targeted at unchangeable knowledge. Augustine believed that Platonists were the best of philosophers, since they concentrated not merely on the causes of things and the method of acquiring knowledge, but also on the cause of the organized universe as such.
One does not, then, have to be a Christian to have a conception of God. Yet, only a Christian can attain to this kind of knowledge without having to have recourse to philosophy. Augustine argued further that the final authority for the determination of the use of reason in faith lies not with the individual, but with the Church itself. His battle with the Manichean heresy prompted him to realize that the Church is indeed the final arbiter of what cannot be demonstrated--or can be demonstrated but cannot be understood by all believers.
Yet despite this appeal to ecclesiastical authority, he believe that one cannot genuinely understand God until one loves Him. Pseudo-Dionysius Pseudo Dionysius was heavily influenced by neo-Platonism.
In letter IX of his Corpus Dionysiacum, he claimed that our language about God provides no information about God but only a way of protecting God's otherness. His analysis gave rise to the unique form negative theology. It entailed a severe restriction in our access to and understanding of the nature of God. In his "Mystical Theology" Pseudo-Dionysius describes how the soul's destiny is to be fully united with the ineffable and absolutely transcendent God.
The Medieval Period Much of the importance of this period stems from its retrieval of Greek thinking, particularly that of Aristotle. At the beginning of the period Arab translators set to work translating and distributing many works of Greek philosophy, making them available to Jewish, Islamic, and Christian philosophers and theologians alike.
For the most part, medieval theologians adopted an epistemological distinction the Greeks had developed: An established claim in theology, confirmed by either scienta or opinio, demanded the believer's assent. Yet despite this possibility of scientia in matters of faith, medieval philosophers and theologians believed that it could be realized only in a limited sense.
They were all too aware of St. Paul's caveat that faith is a matter of "seeing in a mirror dimly" 1 Cor 1: In the Proslogion, he argues that "the smoke of our wrongdoing" will prohibit us from this knowledge. Anselm is most noted, however, for his ontological argument, presented in his Proslogion.
He claimed that it is possible for reason to affirm that God exists from inferences made from what the understanding can conceive within its own confines. As such he was a gifted natural theologian. Like Augustine, Anselm held that the natural theologian seeks not to understand in order to believe, but to believe in order to understand.
This is the basis for his principle intellectus fidei. Under this conception, reason is not asked to pass judgment on the content of faith, but to find its meaning and to discover explanations that enable others to understand its content.
But when reason confronts what is incomprehensible, it remains unshaken since it is guided by faith's affirmation of the truth of its own incomprehensible claims. Peter Lombard Lombard was an important precursor to Aquinas.
Following Augustine, he argued that pagans can know about much about truths of the one God simply by their possession of reason e. But in addition, pagans can affirm basic truths about the Trinity from these same affirmations, inasmuch as all things mirror three attributes associated with the Trinity: Islamic Philosophers Islamic philosophers in the tenth and eleventh centuries were also heavily influenced by the reintroduction of Aristotle into their intellectual culture.
Avicenna Ibn Sina held that as long as religion is properly construed it comprises an area of truth no different than that of philosophy. He built this theory of strong compatibilism on the basis of his philosophical study of Aristotle and Plotinus and his theological study of his native Islam. He held that philosophy reveals that Islam is the highest form of life. He defended the Islamic belief in the immortality of individual souls on the grounds that, although as Aristotle taught the agent intellect was one in all persons, the unique potential intellect of each person, illuminated by the agent intellect, survives death.
Averroes Ibn Rushdthough also a scholar of Aristotle's works, was less sympathetic to compatibilism than his predecessor Avicenna. But in his Incoherence of Incoherence, he attacked Algazel's criticisms of rationalism in theology.
For example, he developed a form of natural theology in which the task of proving the existence of God is possible. He held, however, that it could be proven only from the physical fact of motion. Nonetheless Averroes did not think that philosophy could prove all Islamic beliefs, such as that of individual immortality.
Following Aristotle in De Anima, Averroes argued for a separation between the active and passive intellects, even though they enter into a temporary connection with individual humans.
This position entails the conclusion that no individuated intellect survives death. Yet Averroes held firmly to the contrary opinion by faith alone.
Jewish Philosophy Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, allowed for a significant role of reason in critically interpreting the Scriptures. But he is probably best known for his development of negative theology. Following Avicenna's affirmation of a real distinction between essence and existence, Maimonides concluded that no positive essential attributes may be predicated of God. God does not possess anything superadded to his essence, and his essence includes all his perfections.
The attributes we do have are derived from the Pentateuch and the Prophets. Yet even these positive attributes, such as wisdom and power, would imply defects in God if applied to Him in the same sense they are applied to us.
Since God is simple, it is impossible that we should know one part, or predication, of Him and not another. He argues that when one proves the negation of a thing believed to exist in God, one becomes more perfect and closer to knowledge of God.
He quotes Psalm 4: Those who do otherwise commit profanity and blasphemy. It is not certain, however, whether Maimonides rejected the possibility of positive knowledge of the accidental attributes of God's action. Thomas Aquinas Unlike Augustine, who made little distinction between explaining the meaning of a theological proposition and giving an argument for it, Aquinas worked out a highly articulated theory of theological reasoning.
Bonaventure, an immediate precursor to Aquinas, had argued that no one could attain to truth unless he philosophizes in the light of faith. Thomas held that our faith in eternal salvation shows that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. But he also claimed that one could attain truths about religious claims without faith, though such truths are incomplete.
In the Summa Contra Gentiles he called this a "a two fold truth" about religious claims, "one to which the inquiry of reason can reach, the other which surpasses the whole ability of the human reason. However, something can be true for faith and false or inconclusive in philosophy, though not the other way around.
This entails that a non-believer can attain to truth, though not to the higher truths of faith. A puzzling question naturally arises: Isn't one truth enough? Moreover, if God were indeed the object of rational inquiry in this supernatural way, why would faith be required at all?
In De Veritate 14,9 Thomas responds to this question by claiming that one cannot believe by faith and know by rational demonstration the very same truth since this would make one or the other kind of knowledge superfluous.
On the basis of this two-fold theory of truth, Aquinas thus distinguished between revealed dogmatic theology and rational philosophical theology. The former is a genuine science, even though it is not based on natural experience and reason.
Revealed theology is a single speculative science concerned with knowledge of God. Because of its greater certitude and higher dignity of subject matter, it is nobler than any other science.
Philosophical theology, though, can make demonstrations using the articles of faith as its principles. Moreover, it can apologetically refute objections raised against the faith even if no articles of faith are presupposed. But unlike revealed theology, it can err. Aquinas claimed that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. Faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect.
From the side of the subject, it is the mind's assent to what is not seen: Moreover, this assent, as an act of will, can be meritorious for the believer, even though it also always involves the assistance of God's grace.
Moreover, faith can be a virtue, since it is a good habit, productive of good works. However, when we assent to truth in faith, we do so on the accepted testimony of another. From the side of what is believed, the objective aspect, Aquinas clearly distinguished between "preambles of faith," which can be established by philosophical principles, and "articles of faith" that rest on divine testimony alone.
A proof of God's existence is an example of a preamble of faith. Faith alone can grasp, on the other hand, the article of faith that the world was created in time Summa Theologiae I, q. Aquinas argued that the world considered in itself offers no grounds for demonstrating that it was once all new. Demonstration is always about definitions, and definitions, as universal, abstract from "the here and now.
Of course this would extend to any argument about origination of the first of any species in a chain of efficient causes. Here Thomas sounds a lot like Kant will in his antinomies. Yet by faith we believe he world had a beginning. However, one rational consideration that suggests, though not definitively, a beginning to the world is that the passage from one term to another includes only a limited number of intermediate points between them. Aquinas thus characterizes the articles of faith as first truths that stand in a "mean between science and opinion.
Though he agrees with Augustine that no created intellect can comprehend God as an object, the intellect can grasp his existence indirectly.
The more a cause is grasped, the more of its effects can be seen in it; and since God is the ultimate cause of all other reality, the more perfectly an intellect understands God, the greater will be its knowledge of the things God does or can do.
So although we cannot know the divine essence as an object, we can know whether He exists and on the basis of analogical knowledge what must necessarily belong to Him. Aquinas maintains, however, that some objects of faith, such as the Trinity or the Incarnation, lie entirely beyond our capacity to understand them in this life.
Aquinas also elucidates the relationship between faith and reason on the basis of a distinction between higher and lower orders of creation. Aquinas criticizes the form of naturalism that holds that the goodness of any reality "is whatever belongs to it in keeping with its own nature" without need for faith II-IIae, q.
Yet, from reason itself we know that every ordered pattern of nature has two factors that concur in its full development: The example is water: In the realm of our concrete knowledge of things, a lower pattern grasps only particulars, while a higher pattern grasps universals. Given this distinction of orders, Thomas shows how the lower can indeed point to the higher. His arguments for God's existence indicate this possibility.
From this conviction he develops a highly nuanced natural theology regarding the proofs of God's existence. The first of his famous five ways is the argument from motion.
Borrowing from Aristotle, Aquinas holds to the claim that, since every physical mover is a moved mover, the experience of any physical motion indicates a first unmoved mover. Otherwise one would have to affirm an infinite chain of movers, which he shows is not rationally possible.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Aquinas then proceeds to arguments from the lower orders of efficient causation, contingency, imperfection, and teleology to affirm the existence of a unitary all-powerful being. He concludes that these conclusions compel belief in the Judeo-Christian God.
Conversely, it is also possible to move from the higher to the lower orders. Rational beings can know "the meaning of the good as such" since goodness has an immediate order to the higher pattern of the universal source of being II-IIae q.
The final good considered by the theologian differs, however, from that considered by the philosopher: Both forms of the ultimate good have important ramifications, since they ground not only the moral distinction between natural and supernatural virtues, but also the political distinction between ecclesial and secular power.
Aquinas concludes that we come to know completely the truths of faith only through the virtue of wisdom sapientia. Moreover, faith and charity are prerequisites for the achievement of this wisdom. Thomas's two-fold theory of truth develops a strong compatibilism between faith and reason. But it can be argued that after his time what was intended as a mutual autonomy soon became an expanding separation. While the Dominicans tended to affirm the possibility of rational demonstrability of certain preambles of faith, the Franciscans tended more toward a more restricted theological science, based solely on empirical and logical analysis of beliefs.
Scotus first restricts the scope of Aquinas's rational theology by refuting its ability to provide arguments that stop infinite regresses. In fact he is wary of the attempts of natural theology to prove anything about higher orders from lower orders. On this basis, he rejects the argument from motion to prove God's existence. He admits that lower beings move and as such they require a first mover; but he maintains that one cannot prove something definitive about higher beings from even the most noble of lower beings.
Instead, Scotus thinks that reason can be employed only to elucidate a concept. In the realm of theology, the key concept to elucidate is that of infinite being. So in his discussion of God's existence, he takes a metaphysical view of efficiency, arguing that there must be not a first mover, but an actually self-existent being which makes all possibles possible.
In moving towards this restricted form of conceptualist analysis, he thus gives renewed emphasis to negative theology. Ockham then radicalized Scotus's restrictions of our knowledge of God.
He claimed that the Greek metaphysics of the 13th century, holding to the necessity of causal connections, contaminated the purity of the Christian faith. Aquinas is explicit about this when he proves that the human soul is immaterial in Summa Theologiae Ia.
It is immaterial in just the way in which any form whatsoever is immaterial. But in the second way, 'immaterial' is said of subsistent forms—forms that subsist without matter like angels or spiritual substances in general. But then immediately in The souls of other animals are incorporeal in the sense of Socrates, the man, has vital activities that are the activities of a living animal, like sensation, nutrition, reproduction, and so on, activities that are not distinctive activities of the soul itself as intellect is in the human case.
Since these are activities of Socrates and not activities of the soul, Socrates and the soul are not identical. And so Socrates, if anything, is a living animal just like the other animals. Tacitly this leaves open the possibility that there might be an animal soul for Socrates that is not identical to the intellectual soul, and as shown in This possibility of two souls in Socrates, an animal soul and an intellectual soul will only be excluded later in question But in conjunction with the result of This result shows the soul to be a subsistent form that can exist without out matter.
And so it is now seen to be an immaterial subsistent in the second sense described above, not just the first sense. Now 'immaterial' characterizes its mode of existence, not just the negative fact that it is immaterial like all other forms are immaterial. So the difference between the human intellectual soul and the souls of other animals is that while both are immaterial in the first sense, the sense of not being material principles, the intellectual soul is an immaterial subsistent in the second sense while the souls of other animals are not immaterial subsistents.
A material form is a form that is not an immaterial subsistent; it exists either as an accident in a corporeal subject or as a substantial form in a corporeal subject, and does not subsist.
So the substantial forms of bodies, particularly the souls of living bodies, are in general material forms with the exception of the intellectual soul. The souls of other animals are immaterial in the first sense and material with regard to the second sense, while the human soul is both immaterial in the first sense and immaterial in the second sense.
Confirmation of this distinction of senses of 'immaterial' comes when in the very last article of the question, The souls of other animals are not directly generated and do not directly corrupt. It is the living animal that corrupts. But their souls can be said to corrupt with the animal. Quaestiones Disputatae De Anima 2 However, the human soul, because it is a subsistent immaterial form, does not corrupt with the death of the human being.
So when all these results are put together the intellectual soul is an incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistent, an immaterial form in the second sense, which looks an awful lot like an angel, since angels are also incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistents, and immaterial forms in the second sense. Angels are complete in their natures as incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistent forms—they are thus substances properly speaking.
But Thomas had insisted all along that the soul is incomplete in its nature, even as it is an incorporeal, immaterial, incorruptible subsistent form—it is not a substance properly speaking. Still, the soul can be called substance by analogy, insofar as it is the formal principle of a substance. The argument of We've already seen that Thomas, following Aristotle, thinks asking questions about the union of soul and body makes little sense for the philosopher.
But because of the potentially distorting view of the theologian, the latter in a sense is forced to do so; the theologian has to ask philosophical questions the philosopher need not ask, in order to avoid a distorted view of the soul. So in question 76 Thomas argues for the complete unity of soul with body against various alternative positions to be found among his contemporary theological interlocutors.
Thus question 75, proceeding as it does from the theological perspective, gives rise to philosophical aporiae to be solved in question And just as it was the theologian's use of philosophical arguments in 75 that threatened a distorted view, it is the theologian's use of philosophical arguments in 76 that solves the aporiae, and avoids the distortion.
Apart from anything else Thomas does in the two questions, taken together they provide an exemplar of the use of philosophy within theology, not just to advance certain theological positions but to assist the theologian in avoiding error given the exclusivity of his theological perspective. Thomas fulfills what he himself had said is one of the roles of philosophy within theology in the first question of the Summa.
There are at least three important results of Ia. In the first place, in It might be tempting to think of the human substantial form as a kind of layering of quasi substantial forms or as composed out of them.
One substantial form for the corporeality of the body, perhaps one to account for the vegetative activities of the human being, yet another for the animal activities, and then a final one for the intellectual activities of the human being.
However, Thomas decisively rejects this plurality on the basis of the manifest unity of the human being in his acts.
If there were multiple substantial forms there would be no unity to being human—multiple substantial forms implies multiple substances and multiple beings. And yet the human being is one, a single substantial unity manifested in his or her acts. Here Thomas is relying upon the substantial unity that is obvious to the philosopher to reject a kind of substance plurality, not just soul-body dualism. In particular he relies upon the fact that it is Socrates himself who engages in intellectual activity.
However, what he did not claim in In fact, now in 76 he claims it is Socrates' activity. Socrates has vital activities that do not belong to the soul alone, and yet the activity that belongs to the soul alone, understanding, is one of Socrates' activities.
But the soul is the principle of activity in living things. Thus the animal soul and for similar reasons the vegetative soul is identical in Socrates with the rational soul. There is no plurality of substantial forms because of the unity of Socrates' activities, including both animal activities and reason. Neither is the human soul composed of any quasi-substantial forms. This is the second striking result of Socrates and his soul, while not being identical, are subjects of the same activity—not subjects of the same type of activity, but subjects of the same token instance of an activity.
In 75, the soul as a subsistent with its own operation of understanding was said to be the subject of existence esse per se. In the case of other animals it is the animal itself, the living substance, that is the subject of the act of existence, and both soul and body have existence through the substance. Here in the human case, the soul is said to be the subject of the act of existence because it has its own operation.
Of course, Socrates is a substance with operations that pertain to him, animal activities, but also the operation of intellect; it is Socrates who thinks in virtue of his intellect. So he too is the subject of the act of existence. And yet the operation in virtue of which the soul is the subject of the act of existence, intellectual activity, is the operation in virtue of which Socrates is the subject of the act of existence, again, not the same type of operation but the same token of operation.
So Socrates and his soul have the same act of existence. The principle for drawing this latter conclusion is that the operation of a subject follows from the act of existing of that subject, as the actuality of a power follows from the actuality of the being. Quaestiones Disputatae De Anima 2 So Socrates, as a living animal substance, is not identical to his soul.
Anima mea non est ego Thomas asserts in his Commentary on St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. It is because Socrates' soul's act of existence is Socrates' act of existence that the soul's intellectual operation is Socrates' intellectual operation. It is also because of this sharing in the act of existence, that the soul can be the substantial form of the living human animal.
Because the soul is a substantial form, it is not complete in its nature, and cannot be a spiritual substance like an angel, properly speaking. Thus the soul receives its act of existence as the soul of a human being, and cannot pre-exist the human being whose soul it is. And yet, as Thomas argued in The third significant result is that the soul is not composed from its powers as if a unified collection of them.
However, this way of speaking is for the purposes of classifying the powers. It does not signal actual ontological parts of the soul. As the first act of a body, the soul is, like all act, ontologically simple, undivided, and un-composed. And Thomas tells us they are formally related to the soul as their principle in what Aristotle calls in the Posterior Analytics the second mode of per se predication—that mode in which the subject of a predication enters into the definition of the predicate, were one to define the predicate.
From this it follows that if the human soul is incorruptible, the powers of Socrates that are powers of corporeal organs cease to exist with the death of Socrates. And yet the power of intellect as a power of the soul without a corporeal organ remains incorruptible with the human soul.
However, Thomas is clear in denying that only the intellect survives the death of the human; one cannot have a free floating incorruptible power in existence without the subject of the power in existence. Such acting knowingly and willingly is expressed as the rational activity of an animal, that is, as animal activity distinguished formally as rational. Rationality is the distinctive form that intelligence takes in human beings as animals. Rationality involves the back and forth of argument moving from one thing known to another, and advancing in knowledge by such movement.
Thus, for Thomas, while angels and God can be said to be intelligent, they are not rational. This movement in understanding is necessary for human beings because as animals they only ever have a partial grasp of the natures of things, insofar as their knowledge depends upon always incomplete and partial sensible experience of the world.
But it is sense experience, as well as the self movement that springs from it, that places human beings within the genus animal. So human understanding and willing is intrinsically bound up with the sensate activity of an animal; as a result, rational is the form that it takes in that animal. Reason does not cause eating as something separate from it, and as an efficient cause; on the contrary, human eating is not adequately described formally unless it is described as rational eating.
To fail to eat rationally is not a failure in its cause, but in the eating itself. And the human animal is not adequately described except as a rational animal, rational providing not another substance or expression of a fissure between soul or mind and body, but the fully adequate description of the human substance.
Reason does not distinguish us from animals; it distinguishes us as animals. So according to Aquinas, while it is true that the activities of intellect and will are not the actualities of any physical organs, they are nonetheless the activities of the living human animal. It is Socrates the animal who knows and wills, not his mind interacting with his body.
Another consequence of this insistence on Aquinas' part is that it is inadequate and inaccurate to speak of activities we share in common with other kinds of creatures. So the goods that are the objects of human powers are not specified adequately by such generic descriptions as pursuing eating, reproducing, friendship, etc. All of this might lead one to think then that, not being a dualist, Aquinas must be a physicalist, there being only two broad possible positions.
Now, the difficulties of providing an adequate account of just what Physicalism is are well known. There are actually many variations on Dualism and Physicalism in play in recent philosophy. However, the difficulty of placing Aquinas in the broad outlines of that setting ought now to be clear. And without an actual demonstration that Aquinas' view is incoherent, one lasting contribution of his thought is to show that the supposed exclusive disjunction between Physicalism and Dualism is inadequate.
He poses to us a challenge to think more broadly and deeply about human existence than such an easy dichotomy allows. Human Identity and Immortality To be immortal is not to be subject to death.
Living corporeal substances are subject to death through the corruption of their substantial unity—not so much the separation of soul from body, but the dissolution of the soul as the substantial form of the body. This dissolution of the soul is brought about by destructive natural causes acting upon the living body. Living things themselves have various capacities to preserve themselves in existence against the ravages of the natural world around them; that is, in part, what it is for them to live—to sustain their existence in and through their own natural activities.
And yet nature teaches us that corruptible things inevitably corrupt. Socrates is an animal. Thomas is unambiguous about this fact in But, if Socrates is an animal he should be as subject to corruption as is any corporeal substance, and as subject to death as any animal. Here it is important to make an initial distinction. As we've seen, living things act to preserve their existence through their vital activities, and succeed in doing so for a time, even if they eventually succumb to the reaper.
So we may say they are naturally subject to death because of their composed corporeal natures. And yet, it does not follow that they must corrupt and die; by and large their lives consist in preventing the corruption to which they are subject. This fact alone shows that there are causes with the power to fend off death, even if not to fend it off permanently.
However, it is then at least possible that some other cause, a cause with much greater power than the natural causes of living things possess, could fend off death for them without end and preserve them alive without end.
The obvious candidate for this cause is God by miraculous intervention; if living things have limited power to fend off their own deaths, presumably God has unlimited power to do so for them. So what is corruptible by nature may not in fact corrupt. While animals are naturally subject to death, they could be supernaturally immortal. So also even if human beings are naturally subject to death, it may well be within the power of God to keep them from dying by a preternatural gift.
This condition of having been given a preternatural gift preserving them from death would be the condition of the first human beings in the biblical account of Eden, the preternatural gift lost by Original Sin through which death entered into the world, however else one understands those data of revelation.
But philosophically we can say no more of them than that human beings are naturally subject to death but need not die. However, the world we live in is not an Edenic paradise into which death has not entered. On the other hand, according to Thomas, Socrates' soul is incorruptible where the souls of other animals are not.
It is not even naturally subject to death by corruption. Is there a possibility for immortality, particularly personal immortality, here in the incorruptibility of Socrates' soul? One might be tempted to say yes. One might say that in the first place the incorruptible soul of Socrates looks like a person in the current sense of that term.
It is a thinking or conscious thing, since it is clearly a thing at least in the sense of a subsistent, and it has the power of intellect, even if it has no other conscious cognitive powers of the animal for which it formally was a soul.
Well Socrates was a person in that very sense as well, although he had more conscious cognitive capacities than does his soul after death. It seems incongruous to suggest that we have two persons—Socrates and Socrates' soul. After all that would seem to strike against the unity Thomas was at pains to maintain.
While Socrates was alive, were these two persons present? There is but one person, and it is Socrates. But then upon the death of Socrates, what happens? Does the person who is Socrates cease to exist, and a new person that is Socrates' soul come to exist? But, it seems much easier and simpler to say that upon Socrates' death the person that was Socrates survives as Socrates's soul. Before death Socrates was composed of a soul and a body. After death he is composed simply of a soul.
If we hold that position then, because of the incorruptibility of the soul, while the animal that Socrates was dies, the soul that Socrates becomes survives, and thus Socrates himself is immortal, and not subject to death, not subject to death even by nature as the animal is. Socrates is simply immortal. First, on its own terms it is hard to avoid the conclusion that before Socrates' death, there are two persons present.
It was that the intellectual soul as such is a particular thing and subsistent, and that includes while it is the soul of a living thing. So if we are going to take the recent minimalist account of person that the term expresses in this proposed interpretation, a thinking or conscious thing, then we have the person that is the particular and subsistent thing that is the soul before the death of Socrates.
But Thomas thinks Socrates thinks, and is thus a thinking thing. So we also have the person Socrates. Is the person that is the soul identical to the person that is Socrates?
It seems not, given the argument of So this interpretation suggests that even if after death there is only one person, Socrates, before death there are two persons, Socrates and Socrates' soul. In the second place, this interpretation explicitly relies upon an equivocation on the term 'person'.
Thomas accepts from Boethius the definition of a person as an individual substance of a rational nature. It does not have a nature, but is one of the principles of a corporeal nature along with matter. And when we do so speak, what is meant is that its nature is to be the substantial form of an animal.
Again, that is why it is not an angel. So strictly speaking, the human soul, even as a subsistent, is not and cannot be a person, unless one equivocates on the term, and in so doing abandons the Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics within which Thomas thinks.
In the third place, this interpretation would make hay of Thomas' argument in There Thomas relied upon the vital activities of Socrates to make that argument--Socrates has vital activities that the soul does not possess as a subject or subsistent. But they are Socrates' activities as agent just as much as is the operation of intellect. The powers that those activities manifest are powers of Socrates in just the way the power of intellect is. So if one were to ask which of the powers might be thought to be not quite Socrates' power in the full sense, one ought to opt for the intellect, not the vital powers of the living body, since it seems that intellect belongs to something other that Socrates and is at best shared with Socrates.
But then why would Socrates become identical to the subject in virtue of a power that is not quite his, rather than cease to be with the powers that are properly his? Such questions, and the answers one might give to them, are again senseless if we situate what Thomas thinks back in what he wrote. The reason that intellectual power is no less Socrates' power than it is the soul's is because the act of being of Socrates is the act of being of his soul. It is a mistake to think that because Socrates is not identical to his soul, his soul forms some other being with which he would share some power.
Again, this has to do with the soul being his substantial form. In the fourth place, this interpretation would suggest, in Thomas' terms, that the body with its powers is per accidens related to Socrates' being.
If Socrates is a substance, and the body is per accidens to his being, then the body is per accidens to his substance. In which case he is not a corporeal substance or animal at all, even in this life. The interpretation seems to return to giving the appearance that the intellectual soul is a kind of angel, only now adding that this angel is Socrates for a time associated with bodily powers. But recall Thomas' rejection of the Plurality of Substantial Forms position.
His own account of the soul is that the animal powers of the soul are as much powers of the human soul as is the intellectual power—they are all powers in the second mode of per se predication. In that respect they are all alike, and the human soul is thus per se the substantial form of a living body, not per accidens, and the person Socrates is that living body. When that living body ceases to exist through death, so also does the person who is Socratres.
Finally, Thomas clearly understands and accepts the implications of his view that Socrates is the living animal, namely, that the continued existence of the human soul after death is not sufficient for the continued existence of the human person. If the living animal no longer exists after death, then neither does Socrates. If the living animal is not immortal, then neither is Socrates. Consider these objections that Thomas himself considers.
There is no resurrection of the body; only the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live after death. Thomas writes in response that the soul of Abraham is not Abraham, and the life of Abraham's soul is not sufficient for the life of Abraham. The whole composite of Abraham's soul and body must live for Abraham to live. Thus if only Abraham's soul lives after death, Abraham does not. So while Socrates was not in this life actually immortal he did die after allhe may in the resurrection live again and be made immortal by God.
Of course Thomas does not think that the resurrection of the body is demonstrable in philosophy. For him it is a revealed truth, not one of the praeambula fidei. Earlier we saw how Thomas' use of philosophical analysis helped to avoid the potentially distorting view of the theologian upon the nature of the soul. Here, we see how a revealed truth helps the philosopher avoid an equally distorting philosophical account of the soul and personal identity that would skew the philosophical books toward a personal human immortality without having to live as a human animal.
Beyond Physics When Aristotle rejected the Platonic Ideas or Forms, accepting some of the arguments against them that Plato himself had devised in the Parmenides, he did not thereby reject the notion that the telos of philosophical enquiry is a wisdom which turns on what man can know of God.
The magnificent panorama provided at the beginning of the Metaphysics as gloss on the claim that all men naturally desire to know rises to and culminates in the conception of wisdom as knowledge of all things in their ultimate or first causes.
For much of the twentieth century, Aristotelian studies had been conducted under the influence of Werner Jaeger's evolutionary hypothesis. On this view, Aristotle began as an ardent Platonist for whom the really real lay beyond sensible reality.
With maturity, however, came the sober Macedonian empiricism which trained its attention on the things of this world and eschewed all efforts to transcend it. As for the Metaphysics, Jaeger saw it as an amalgam of both theories. The passage just alluded to at the beginning of the work is ascribed to the Platonic phase. Other passages have a far more modest understanding of the range and point of a science over and above natural philosophy and mathematics.
Platonice loquendo, there are entities which exist separately from sensible things and they constitute the object of the higher science. The more sober view finds a role for a science beyond natural philosophy and mathematics, but it will deal with things those particular sciences leave unattended, e. But these tasks do not call for, and do not imply, a range of beings over and above sensible things.
For the inspired writer, as we see, the desire for knowledge is characteristic of all people. It is true that ancient Israel did not come to knowledge of the world and its phenomena by way of abstraction, as did the Greek philosopher or the Egyptian sage.
Still less did the good Israelite understand knowledge in the way of the modern world which tends more to distinguish different kinds of knowing. Nonetheless, the biblical world has made its own distinctive contribution to the theory of knowledge. What is distinctive in the biblical text is the conviction that there is a profound and indissoluble unity between the knowledge of reason and the knowledge of faith.
The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason's autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them.
Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith.
Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.
There is thus no reason for competition of any kind between reason and faith: Again the Book of Proverbs points in this direction when it exclaims: In their respective worlds, God and the human being are set within a unique relationship.
In God there lies the origin of all things, in him is found the fullness of the mystery, and in this his glory consists; to men and women there falls the task of exploring truth with their reason, and in this their nobility consists. The Psalmist adds one final piece to this mosaic when he says in prayer: How vast is the sum of them!
If I try to count them, they are more than the sand. The desire for knowledge is so great and it works in such a way that the human heart, despite its experience of insurmountable limitation, yearns for the infinite riches which lie beyond, knowing that there is to be found the satisfying answer to every question as yet unanswered. We may say, then, that Israel, with her reflection, was able to open to reason the path that leads to the mystery.
With the Revelation of God Israel could plumb the depths of all that she sought in vain to reach by way of reason. On the basis of this deeper form of knowledge, the Chosen People understood that, if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules.
For the Bible, in this foolishness there lies a threat to life. The fool thinks that he knows many things, but really he is incapable of fixing his gaze on the things that truly matter. Therefore he can neither order his mind Prov 1: The Book of Wisdom contains several important texts which cast further light on this theme.
There the sacred author speaks of God who reveals himself in nature. For the ancients, the study of the natural sciences coincided in large part with philosophical learning.
Making his own the thought of Greek philosophy, to which he seems to refer in the context, the author affirms that, in reasoning about nature, the human being can rise to God: If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.
Seen in this light, reason is valued without being overvalued. The results of reasoning may in fact be true, but these results acquire their true meaning only if they are set within the larger horizon of faith: For the Old Testament, then, faith liberates reason in so far as it allows reason to attain correctly what it seeks to know and to place it within the ultimate order of things, in which everything acquires true meaning.
In brief, human beings attain truth by way of reason because, enlightened by faith, they discover the deeper meaning of all things and most especially of their own existence. Rightly, therefore, the sacred author identifies the fear of God as the beginning of true knowledge: For the Old Testament, knowledge is not simply a matter of careful observation of the human being, of the world and of history, but supposes as well an indispensable link with faith and with what has been revealed.
These are the challenges which the Chosen People had to confront and to which they had to respond. This opening to the mystery, which came to him through Revelation, was for him, in the end, the source of true knowledge. It was this which allowed his reason to enter the realm of the infinite where an understanding for which until then he had not dared to hope became a possibility. For the sacred author, the task of searching for the truth was not without the strain which comes once the limits of reason are reached.
This is what we find, for example, when the Book of Proverbs notes the weariness which comes from the effort to understand the mysterious designs of God cf.
Yet, for all the toil involved, believers do not surrender. Leaning on God, they continue to reach out, always and everywhere, for all that is beautiful, good and true. In the first chapter of his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul helps us to appreciate better the depth of insight of the Wisdom literature's reflection.
Developing a philosophical argument in popular language, the Apostle declares a profound truth: This is to concede to human reason a capacity which seems almost to surpass its natural limitations. Not only is it not restricted to sensory knowledge, from the moment that it can reflect critically upon the data of the senses, but, by discoursing on the data provided by the senses, reason can reach the cause which lies at the origin of all perceptible reality.
In philosophical terms, we could say that this important Pauline text affirms the human capacity for metaphysical enquiry. According to the Apostle, it was part of the original plan of the creation that reason should without difficulty reach beyond the sensory data to the origin of all things: But because of the disobedience by which man and woman chose to set themselves in full and absolute autonomy in relation to the One who had created them, this ready access to God the Creator diminished.
The symbol is clear: The blindness of pride deceived our first parents into thinking themselves sovereign and autonomous, and into thinking that they could ignore the knowledge which comes from God. All men and women were caught up in this primal disobedience, which so wounded reason that from then on its path to full truth would be strewn with obstacles.
From that time onwards the human capacity to know the truth was impaired by an aversion to the One who is the source and origin of truth.
The eyes of the mind were no longer able to see clearly: The coming of Christ was the saving event which redeemed reason from its weakness, setting it free from the shackles in which it had imprisoned itself. This is why the Christian's relationship to philosophy requires thorough-going discernment. The depth of revealed wisdom disrupts the cycle of our habitual patterns of thought, which are in no way able to express that wisdom in its fullness.
The beginning of the First Letter to the Corinthians poses the dilemma in a radical way. The crucified Son of God is the historic event upon which every attempt of the mind to construct an adequate explanation of the meaning of existence upon merely human argumentation comes to grief. The true key-point, which challenges every philosophy, is Jesus Christ's death on the Cross. It is here that every attempt to reduce the Father's saving plan to purely human logic is doomed to failure.
Where is the learned? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? The wisdom of the wise is no longer enough for what God wants to accomplish; what is required is a decisive step towards welcoming something radically new: Human wisdom refuses to see in its own weakness the possibility of its strength; yet Saint Paul is quick to affirm: Adopting the language of the philosophers of his time, Paul comes to the summit of his teaching as he speaks the paradox: In order to express the gratuitous nature of the love revealed in the Cross of Christ, the Apostle is not afraid to use the most radical language of the philosophers in their thinking about God.
Reason cannot eliminate the mystery of love which the Cross represents, while the Cross can give to reason the ultimate answer which it seeks. It is not the wisdom of words, but the Word of Wisdom which Saint Paul offers as the criterion of both truth and salvation.
The wisdom of the Cross, therefore, breaks free of all cultural limitations which seek to contain it and insists upon an openness to the universality of the truth which it bears. What a challenge this is to our reason, and how great the gain for reason if it yields to this wisdom!
The preaching of Christ crucified and risen is the reef upon which the link between faith and philosophy can break up, but it is also the reef beyond which the two can set forth upon the boundless ocean of truth.
Here we see not only the border between reason and faith, but also the space where the two may meet. The city of philosophers was full of statues of various idols. One altar in particular caught his eye, and he took this as a convenient starting-point to establish a common base for the proclamation of the kerygma. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god'.
From this starting-point, Saint Paul speaks of God as Creator, as the One who transcends all things and gives life to all. He then continues his speech in these terms: The Apostle accentuates a truth which the Church has always treasured: The Liturgy of Good Friday recalls this powerfully when, in praying for those who do not believe, we say: In different ways and at different times, men and women have shown that they can articulate this intimate desire of theirs.
Through literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture and every other work of their creative intelligence they have declared the urgency of their quest. In a special way philosophy has made this search its own and, with its specific tools and scholarly methods, has articulated this universal human desire.
Faith and Reason
Everyday life shows how concerned each of us is to discover for ourselves, beyond mere opinions, how things really are. Within visible creation, man is the only creature who not only is capable of knowing but who knows that he knows, and is therefore interested in the real truth of what he perceives.
People cannot be genuinely indifferent to the question of whether what they know is true or not. If they discover that it is false, they reject it; but if they can establish its truth, they feel themselves rewarded.
It is this that Saint Augustine teaches when he writes: This is what has driven so many enquiries, especially in the scientific field, which in recent centuries have produced important results, leading to genuine progress for all humanity. No less important than research in the theoretical field is research in the practical field—by which I mean the search for truth which looks to the good which is to be performed.
In acting ethically, according to a free and rightly tuned will, the human person sets foot upon the path to happiness and moves towards perfection. Here too it is a question of truth. The truth of these values is to be found not by turning in on oneself but by opening oneself to apprehend that truth even at levels which transcend the person. This is an essential condition for us to become ourselves and to grow as mature, adult persons.
The truth comes initially to the human being as a question: Does life have a meaning? Where is it going? At first sight, personal existence may seem completely meaningless. It is not necessary to turn to the philosophers of the absurd or to the provocative questioning found in the Book of Job in order to have doubts about life's meaning. The daily experience of suffering—in one's own life and in the lives of others—and the array of facts which seem inexplicable to reason are enough to ensure that a question as dramatic as the question of meaning cannot be evaded.
Given this unsettling fact, the search for a full answer is inescapable. Each of us has both the desire and the duty to know the truth of our own destiny.
We want to know if death will be the definitive end of our life or if there is something beyond—if it is possible to hope for an after-life or not. It is not insignificant that the death of Socrates gave philosophy one of its decisive orientations, no less decisive now than it was more than two thousand years ago. It is not by chance, then, that faced with the fact of death philosophers have again and again posed this question, together with the question of the meaning of life and immortality.
No-one can avoid this questioning, neither the philosopher nor the ordinary person. The answer we give will determine whether or not we think it possible to attain universal and absolute truth; and this is a decisive moment of the search. Every truth—if it really is truth—presents itself as universal, even if it is not the whole truth. If something is true, then it must be true for all people and at all times.
Beyond this universality, however, people seek an absolute which might give to all their searching a meaning and an answer—something ultimate, which might serve as the ground of all things. In other words, they seek a final explanation, a supreme value, which refers to nothing beyond itself and which puts an end to all questioning. Hypotheses may fascinate, but they do not satisfy. Whether we admit it or not, there comes for everyone the moment when personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognized as final, a truth which confers a certitude no longer open to doubt.
Through the centuries, philosophers have sought to discover and articulate such a truth, giving rise to various systems and schools of thought.
What inspires all of these is the desire to reach the certitude of truth and the certitude of its absolute value. The different faces of human truth The search for truth, of course, is not always so transparent nor does it always produce such results.
The natural limitation of reason and the inconstancy of the heart often obscure and distort a person's search. Truth can also drown in a welter of other concerns. People can even run from the truth as soon as they glimpse it because they are afraid of its demands. Yet, for all that they may evade it, the truth still influences life.