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St. Thomas on the incorruptibility of the human soul: a reassessment of his argument from natural desire.


In question 75, article 6 of the first part of his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas asks "whether the human soul is incorruptible." After considering various arguments pro and con, he answers in the affirmative as follows:
   [E]ach thing naturally desires its own manner of being. Now, in
   things that have knowledge the desire follows the knowledge. A
   sense, however, does not know being except as here-and-now. By
   contrast, the intellect apprehends being in an absolute sense and
   in respect of all time. It follows that all things that have an
   intellect naturally desire to exist always. However, a natural
   desire cannot be in vain; consequently an intellectual substance is
   incorruptible. (1)

Historically, this argument has been extremely negatively evaluated, most famously perhaps by John Duns Scotus who said:
   Every argument based on natural desires seems to be inconclusive,
   for to construct an effective argument it would be necessary to
   show either that nature possesses a natural potency for eternal
   life, or that the knowledge which immediately gives rise to the
   desire ... is not erroneous but in accord with right reason. The
   first alternative is the same as the conclusion to be established;
   the second is more difficult to prove and is even less evident than
   the conclusion. (2)

I believe that Scotus's critique may not be as telling as traditionally has been thought. Specifically, I believe that the ontological grounding of the intellective soul's capacity to apprehend being--which distinguishes it from nonintellective souls--plays a much more important role in Aquinas's argument than Scotus appears to acknowledge, and that when this ontological grounding is granted and analyzed in terms of the Aristotelian metaphysics of substantial forms, St. Thomas's argument is different from and much stronger than Scotus thinks. I also believe that if the notion of natural desire is understood in ontological terms--and I shall give reasons for saying that St. Thomas understood it in that fashion--Scotus's dismissal of its role may have to be reexamined. Finally, I believe that if St. Thomas's argument is unpacked as an enthymeme that assumes the reader's familiarity with Aristotle's discussion of the soul in the De anima, what emerges overall is an argument that is quite different from how it has traditionally been understood.

In what follows, I shall reconstruct St. Thomas's argument using contemporary conceptual tools, and I shall make three assumptions: first, that the word "follows" (sequitur) used by St. Thomas to relate incorruptibility to natural desire should be understood in a logical, rather than a causal sense; second, that the notion of a natural desire should be understood in an ontological rather than a subjective psychological sense; and third, that the claim about the relationship between natural desire and incorruptibility should be seen as a claim about what is entailed by the ontology of human souls as substantial forms, not as a claim about the validity of natural desires in psychological terms. These assumptions will be defended either by reference to St. Thomas's own words or by relating them to conceptual features inherent in the theories of Aristotle to which St. Thomas subscribed.


To begin with the word "follows." The word that St. Thomas uses, sequitur, has several meanings in medieval Latin. One is to associate two states of affairs in a sequential temporal relationship, where one succeeds the other in time; another is to relate states of affairs in causal terms, where one member in the sequence is causally dependent on the other; and a third is to associate the relata in logical terms, where what "follows" is logically implied by and derivable from the other.

The relationship when the term is understood in the first two senses is fundamentally different from the relationship as understood in the third sense. Both the first and the second type of relationship depend, so to speak, on the laws of nature. If the laws of nature were different, neither relationship would hold. Since the laws of nature are not logically necessary--no logical contradiction would be involved in denying them--the relationship between the entities that follow each other in either of the first two senses of "follow" is contingent in nature.

By contrast, the only way in which one could legitimately say that the relationship of "following" as understood in the third sense is deniable would be if the nature of the subject of the protasis did not logically entail the nature of the subject of the apodosis. Thus, being a swan does not follow from being a bird, and being female does not follow from being a human being, whereas being risible would follow from the premise of being human since being human logically contains the characteristic of risibility.

What I am suggesting, therefore, is that St. Thomas's claim that "desire follows ... knowledge" should be understood as a claim about the logic of desire and the logic of knowledge as grounded in the ontology of the substantial form of human beings as intellective agents, and that it is not a claim about any sort of temporal or causal relationship.

To further explain the implications of understanding the argument this way I shall begin by showing that a failure to take the subtleties of St. Thomas's analysis of the ontology and logic of substantial forms into account will lead to a serious misunderstanding of the "following" relationship and thus of the argument itself. I shall then offer a more nuanced interpretation and show how, understood in the proposed manner, it completely changes our understanding of what St. Thomas was saying in the above passage and leads to a different assessment of his argument.


According to the usual interpretation of St. Thomas on substance and substantial forms, he construed material substances as ontological complexes consisting of a substantial form and a material substratum or stuff in which the substantial form is instantiated. Further, he understood a substantial form as the essence of a substance; that is, as the principle of structure that makes a thing the kind of thing it is and that places it into a specific species. On this understanding, substantial forms are shared by all members of the same species, whereas the substrata of the individual members of a species are unique to each member respectively.

Further, St. Thomas is usually understood as holding that substantial forms are themselves ontologically complex in the sense that they are constituted of the various properties that a substance must have in order to be a member of the relevant species. These latter properties are called the essential properties of the members of the species. Thus, the substantial form of humanity is constituted of animality, bipedicity, rationality, risibility, and so on; the substantial form of equininity is constituted of quadrupedicity, having a mane, a tail consisting of hair, being an ungulate, and so on. By contrast, accidental properties are properties that a substance may have but need not have in order to belong to a particular species. Thus accidental properties of human beings are their particular skin color, their specific height and even the particular thoughts that they might have at a given moment; the accidental properties of horses include such things as the specific color of their coats, whether they are fast or slow runners, the particular size of their hooves, and so on.

At first glance, this suggests that St. Thomas' general ontological assay of a material substance of a particular species would be symbolised as follows:

Fig. 1

E = [S{([PHI], [PSI], ... [OMEGA] ...) [alpha], [beta], ...)}]

where E stands for the substance and S stands for the substratum that instantiates the substantial form and the relevant accidental forms; the uppercase Greek letters between the round brackets stand for essential properties that make up the substantial form and the lowercase Greek letters stand for accidental properties of the substance.

However, this understanding of St. Thomas's metaphysics of substance can be seriously misleading because it may give the impression that the ontological constituents of substantial forms are

first-order properties. Not only would this be incorrect, it would also obscure the logic of St. Thomas's entire train of reasoning in the passage under consideration. That is to say, the analysis would be correct insofar as St. Thomas believed that substantial forms are not ontologically simple but complex, and therefore the symbolization in Fig. 1 would be correct insofar as it would capture this fact. However, it would obscure the fact that as far as St. Thomas was concerned, the properties that individual substances actually have as numerically distinct and unique entities are never general properties. They are always particular.

That is to say--and to continue with the example of horses--the essential properties of a horse are qualities like being quadruped, being an ungulate, having a flowing mane, and so on. All members of the species horse share in these properties, although they generally differ in how they express them. Thus the proportions of their legs and their precise musculature and placement, the exact constitution of their hoofs and their size and color, and so on, differ from horse to horse. With due alteration of detail, the same thing is true about the accidental properties of horses. Although all horses will have accidental properties like being in a certain place, having a certain age, or being fat or emaciated, they all differ in the particular way in which they have these properties.

Therefore the properties that are represented in Fig. 1 really are second-order properties, and Fig. 1 could not possibly be a correct representation of St. Thomas's ontology of an individual substance unless the properties of individual substances were second-order properties. And that, as was said a moment ago, is not the case. They are always first-order properties.

Probably the simplest way of capturing this point is to say that St. Thomas distinguished between an ontological analysis of a type of substance and an ontological analysis of an individual substance. The proper way of symbolically representing St. Thomas's ontological assay of a particular type of (material) (3) substance would then be as follows:

Fig. 2

E = [S {([[PHI].sup.1 ... n], [[PSI].sup.1 ... n], ... [[OMEGA].sup.1 ... n] [[beta].sup.1 ... n], ...)}]

where the uppercase Greek letters stand for essential properties but their superscripts make it clear that the properties are second-order properties, and the lowercase Greek letters with their superscript ranges indicate a similar thing for the accidental properties.

As will become clear a little later, this distinction is important. However, to continue sketching St. Thomas on substances, his claim that individual material substances are particular entities with quite specific properties is also apt to be misleading unless it is carefully explained, because it glosses over the fact that the notion of particularity itself can be understood in two ways. Understood in one way, it refers to being particularized to the greatest degree possible as that particular kind of property. Thus, blue is a general property, whereas a particular shade, intensity, and saturation of blue, where no further specification is possible, is the most particularized possible way of being blue. In his De ente et essentia, Aquinas characterized this difference as the distinction between what he called a "determinable" on the one hand and a "determinate" on the other. (4) In that sense, being-blue is a determinable, whereas the particular shade, intensity, and saturation of being-blue is a determinate.

A second way of understanding the notion of particularity is in reference to matter. Aquinas considered matter to be the principle of individuation. Consequently, every material substance is numerically unique because of its matter, and every form that is instantiated in a material substratum is numerically unique qua instantiated form or instance.

Given these distinctions, one can then express Aquinas's position on the ontological nature of substantial forms more accurately by saying that substantial forms are complexes or matrices of second-order properties, (5) where each of the latter determines a range of first-order properties, and where the properties that an individual member of the species actually has are particularized in both the first and the second sense of that term. They are particularized in the first sense because the properties that an individual substance has are always qualitatively absolutely specific; and they are particularized in the second sense because they are instantiated in the particular individual substratum of that particular individual substance.

Consequently the ontological structure of an individual particular substance that actually exists would be symbolized something like this:

Fig. 3


where [S.sub.a] stands for the substratum that is numerically unique to the individual substance E, and the subscripts of the Greek letters characterize the relevant second-order property as a particularized property in both of the above senses of "particularized."


With this as background, let us now turn St. Thomas's distinction between the senses and the intellect and their respective manners of apprehension.

St. Thomas followed Aristotle's analysis of sensation and understanding in that he considered both as modes of apprehension, where to apprehend something is to have the form of what is apprehended in the sense or the intellect respectively. If one were to put this in modern terminology, one would say that a form is a principle of structure; that an apprehending agency is an entity that has a higher-order form or structure which as such is indeterminate with respect to a range of more specific or lower-order states that it can instantiate; and that to apprehend something is to have this range of states particularized to a specific state by acquiring the form of what is apprehended. (6)

This does not mean that when the senses apprehend a fragrant green pine tree they literally become a green, hard, scented tree. After all, once again following Aristotle, Aquinas maintained that "the form is in the receiver after the nature of the receiver." Rather--and putting the point by using St. Thomas's terminology--it means that the determinable which is the sense is (qualitatively) determined to a particular state that is formally the same as that of the sensed object. With due alteration of detail, the same schema applies to the intellect. The intellect that apprehends is a determinable that is determined to a particular determinate state by instantiating the relevant form; that is, it is a particularization of the higher-order form that is the intellect by instantiating the relevant form of what it understands. (7) In other words--and this becomes important later--this means that the general schema of apprehension is that what is apprehended becomes formally part of the apprehending entity but in a manner sui generis.

Which brings the argument to the ways in which senses and intellect respectively apprehend. While the schema of what happens in sensible and intellectual apprehension is similar, the results in terms of awareness are different because of the difference in natures of sense and intellect themselves. Both instantiate the forms of their objects, but in different ways because each has a different nature in relation to matter, and each captures a different aspect of the ontology of sensible forms. This difference has many parameters, but for present purposes the important difference is characterized by St. Thomas as follows: "A sense, however, does not know being except as here-and-now. By contrast, the intellect apprehends being in an absolute sense and in respect of all time." (8) If one translates this into the vocabulary and uses the distinctions that have just been sketched, one can put this by saying that St. Thomas is here claiming a difference between sense and intellect not in terms of their qualitative natures as to sensible and intellective "content" but in terms of the logic of these modes of apprehension relative to the nature of being.


At this point there enters another distinction that is crucial to understanding St. Thomas' argument. It, too, is an integral feature of Aquinas' metaphysics and indeed in some quarters has been considered defining. However, once again it is not explicitly enunciated or even referred to in the argument. It is merely implicit or understood.

Following the lead of al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, and Ibn Sina, Aquinas distinguished between essence and existence: between qualitative and existential aspects of reality, where the former refers to how something is whereas the latter refers to its existing or being. Being, for Aquinas, is not a form or qualitative aspect of reality. A fortiori, therefore, it is not a sensible qualitative aspect of reality. The senses, however, apprehend only qualitative aspects of reality. This means that being cannot be apprehended by the senses. And because the senses apprehend only the sensible content of sensible properties, qualities, or forms, sensible awareness is exhausted by these qualitative aspects. In other words, as St. Augustine had already put it, (9) awareness is in an "unextended" now. That is why Aquinas, who is in agreement with St. Augustine on this point, states that sensible awareness "does not know being except as here-and-now."

Now, even though St. Thomas stripped forms of their existential power, he accepted that forms, as ontological principles of structure, make what they inform to be in a certain way. In other words, while they are not principles of sein, they are principles of sosein: of being-in-a-certain way. Therefore the intellect, being constitutionally incapable of a sensible mode of awareness, cannot apprehend what it apprehends in a sensible manner as sensibly qualitative and thus as having, so to speak, a certain sensible qualitative content. Instead, it apprehends what it apprehends intellectually as having being-in-a-certain-way.


However--and here one again has to unpack Aquinas's enthymematic argument--one cannot intellectually apprehend something as having being-in-a-certain-way unless what does the

apprehending is capable of apprehending being, any more than one can intellectually apprehend something being-colored-in-a-certain-way unless one can apprehend being-colored.

Once again, however--and this again is unstated in St. Thomas's argument but understood--being does not have what might be called a temporal metric. That is to say, being does not have a before or after timeline. Ontologically, it is atemporal. It is the changes in and the relationship between entities that have being that gives rise to time. That is why Aquinas, following Aristotle on this point, sees time not as something inherent in entities but as what happens to entities: Time is the "measure of change." (10)

Therefore if the intellect apprehends its object as having a modeor way-of-being, and if intellectually apprehending something as having a mode-of-being requires apprehension of being, then the intellect, by its very nature, is capable of apprehending "being in an absolute sense and in respect of all time." This does not commit St. Thomas to the thesis that when the intellect apprehends a substance it has two distinct apprehensions: one of a mode-of-being and another of being. It simply means that intellectual apprehension of a mode-of-being is also, and at the same time, an apprehension of being, just as an intellectual apprehension of being-blue is also and at the same time an apprehension of blue as a mode of being-colored.


Now, sensible awareness and intellective awareness are not unrelated in Aquinas's epistemology. For St. Thomas, sensation provides the raw materials for intellectual apprehension in that the sense images are acted on by the active intellect through abstraction, which latter removes the particularizing parameters of the forms as instantiated in the sense images and gives the abstracted forms to the intellect. How precisely this occurs is unimportant in the present context. What is important is that the abstracted forms as instantiated in the intellect are concepts. All other things being equal, therefore-- the reason for this qualifier will become apparent in a moment-- abstraction is the source of the intellect's concepts.

However--and this is where the qualifier enters in--another crucial aspect of the whole argument that is not explicitly stated is that St. Thomas is forced to say that abstraction cannot provide the intellect with an apprehension of being as such, because as far as he is concerned, while particular properties are ways-of-being and thus forms, being is not a form. Since abstraction provides the intellect only with forms, this means that abstraction cannot provide the intellect with an apprehension of being itself.

It follows that if sensible apprehension cannot give rise to an apprehension of being through abstraction, then the intellect's apprehension of being must have its origin in something else. Here there are only two possibilities: either the apprehension of being enters the intellect, so to speak, from the outside; or it finds its ground in the constitution of the intellect itself--that is, it is part of its ontological make-up. The first would require that there be some agency other than the senses that provides the intellect with concepts. For St. Thomas, absent divine intervention, there is no such external agency. That leaves only the second alternative. Given that what is intellectually apprehended is an ontological constituent of the intellect that does the apprehending, it follows that if an intellect is aware of being, that awareness of being must be part of the ontological constitution of the intellectual awareness that has the apprehension of being. (11)


More of this later. The next step in unravelling St. Thomas's argument centers on the notion of natural desire.

Scotus and later commentators apparently understood the notion of natural desire in epistemological terms and therefore rejected Aquinas's inference. However, as was suggested in the beginning of this analysis, this is to misunderstand St. Thomas, and the preceding analysis has laid the groundwork for showing why (and how) this is the case.

What Scotus and other commentators appear to have overlooked is that Aquinas does not simply claim that a natural desire cannot be in vain. He introduces his whole argument with the assertion that "each thing naturally desires its own manner of being" (quod unumquodque naturaliter suo modo esse desiderat). This is not an idle locution, and the logic of this statement is significant. It is a universally quantified proposition that contains no exceptive clauses. It therefore applies to all things--unumquodque or anything whatsoever--which in turn means that it applies irrespective of whether the entity in question has a mind. Entities without minds cannot have desires in any epistemological or psychological sense. This immediately entails that the notion of a natural desire as used by Aquinas in this argument cannot legitimately be understood as a claim about desire in an epistemological or psychological sense because not all things have minds. Therefore it must be understood in a nonepistemological or nonpsychological sense. This would be in keeping with the Aristotelian notion that rocks fall because they seek or desire--in a non-psychological sense--to attain their natural resting place.

The next thing to note is that St. Thomas uses the qualifier naturaliter ("naturally" or "by [its] nature") to modify the verb "desires." This implies that the notion of desire understood in this nonepistemological or nonpsychological sense and the notion of nature have to be understood as being connected.

The clue for how to understand this lies in Aquinas's position on the nature and role of substantial forms. As was pointed out in the introductory part of this discussion, Aquinas maintained that each thing has the nature it has because of its substantial form, where the substantial forms of different kinds of substances differ in their respective ontological constituents. If what was suggested in that part of the analysis is correct, then the constituents of substantial forms are higher-order properties that determine the ranges of the first-order properties of the individual substances whose substantial forms they are.


At this juncture it becomes important to consider an aspect of the nature of forms that so far has played no role in the discussion. Once more, it is an aspect that is not explicitly stated by Aquinas but is taken by him to be understood because it is part and parcel of the overall Aristotelian position on the metaphysics of forms. It concerns the logic of properties or forms. As principles of structure, properties or forms have both a qualitative nature or content and a logic, where the two are functionally related. Thus, being-blue (where blue is short for the range of first-order forms or properties that can all be called "blue") differs from being-sour (which is short for the range of first-order forms or properties that can be called "sour") not only in its content but also in its logic. To illustrate this by way of example, being-sour cannot replace being-blue in the ontological constitution of a substance, and vice versa, because their logics are different. With due alteration of detail, the same is true for all other properties or forms irrespective of whether they are first- or higher-order. Since the logic of a complex of properties is functionally related to the logic of its constituents, every kind of substantial form differs from every other in its very logic as an ontological complex. It presents, so to speak, a distinct and different ontological matrix because its ontological constituents are logically different.

Now, it is a general but unarticulated thesis in Aristotelian metaphysics that in order for a substance to exist, it has to satisfy what may be called the requirement of ontological completeness; that is, it has to have a particularized instance of each of the higher-order properties that are constitutive of its substantial form. Moreover, a specific substance can vary in the particularized instances of its higher-order properties only in the sense that the former, as instantiations of the higher-order properties, can be replaced by particularized instantiations within the relevant ranges that are the higher-order properties that make up the substantial form. Thus, to take a material substance like a rubber ball as an example, the specific particular shape that a rubber ball has can be altered or replaced, but only by another shape. One could not replace it with a sound or a taste. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly for the present context, a rubber ball has to have some shape or other if it is going to exist. While it may be possible conceptually to imagine a rubber ball without any shape, (12) it could not be something that actually exists because it would be ontologically incomplete.

Taken together, these points provide an ontological interpretation of the notion of natural desire. The very logic of a substantial form entails that, qua ontological complex, if one of its ontological constituents is replaced, it must be replaced by a constituent having the same general logical form as the property that it replaces. To put it differently, the first-order property that does the replacing has to be an instance of the second-order property of which the initial first-order property also was an instantiation. Moreover, if a second-order form is replaced by another second-order form, it can be replaced only by a second-order form that has the same logic. Finally, not to replace it is to leave the original complex incomplete and thereby to bring about its nonexistence.

Metaphorically speaking, this means that a substantial form presents what might be called a logical resistance to any modification of its nature. This is a "natural" resistance because it is grounded in the very nature of the substantial form as that substantial form. As we have seen, what follows from the nature of an entity is something that is desired by that entity in the nonpsychological sense of that term indicated above. Therefore it presents a "resistance" to modifications or changes in this regard. Arguably, it is in this sense that every substance as such naturally desires its own manner of being in keeping with the nature of its substantial form.


It remains to connect the intellective soul's natural desire for its own manner of being, and its awareness of being, to incorruptibility.

If the distinctions that have been outlined in the preceding discussion are correct, the reasoning on this point is fairly straightforward. It hinges on the fact that a substantial form cannot be instantiated unless all of its ontological constituents are instantiated.

This means that because it is integral to an intellective soul that it can apprehend ways or modes of being, it cannot exist unless it has the capacity for an awareness of being as an ontological constituent. However, that capacity cannot be a mere capacity because then it would be an unactualized potential, and this is something that Aquinas, as an Aristotelian, would have rejected, because then the soul would not be a completely actualized substantial form. Further, as Aristotle had said in the De anima, the soul is always in a state of actuality with respect to knowledge, whether employed or possessed--where that distinction refers to the difference between the soul as actually thinking as opposed to merely sleeping. (13)

Therefore Aquinas would assume that anyone who was familiar with the De anima would not need to be told that an intellective soul would always contain, as ontological constituents, actual thoughts of modes-of-being, whether these be merely had, as in sleeping, or be actually thought, as in a waking state; and, moreover, that it would have a thought--be aware--of being in either of these ways. Therefore, by parity of reasoning, the intellective soul, no matter what its state, also contains being as an ontological constituent.

Furthermore, since, as was explained above, being cannot enter the intellect through abstraction yet the intellect is aware of being; and since to apprehend intellectually or be intellectually aware of something is for that something to be an ontological constituent--sui generis, of course, but an ontological constituent nevertheless--it follows that an intellectual soul will always contain being as one of its ontological constituents since otherwise it would be ontologically incomplete and hence could not exist. And given the ontological explanation of the notion of natural desire that was suggested above, it follows that an intellective soul will have a natural desire to resist this. Finally, it follows from this on purely ontological grounds that the intellective soul will be naturally incorruptible, and that once having come into being, it will cease to exist only if it is destroyed by an external agency. In other words, it follows that once an intellective soul has come into existence, and barring an external force or agency that dirempts its ontological constitution, it will exist forever.

It is important to note that this interpretation does not commit St. Thomas to the thesis that an intellective soul will exist by its very nature. That would be true if and only if he had claimed that the substantial form of an intellective soul is internally necessary--that is, if and only if he argued that all ontological constituents of an intellective soul necessarily entail each other. In that case, intellective souls would require no external existential ground but would exist of their own nature. However, he did not say that, nor does this follow from what has been sketched. The ontological constituents of an intellective soul--to wit, rationality, will, and so on--do not logically entail each other but are contingently related. Hence their "coming together" is not inherent in their logic but has to be effected by an external agency. In other words, the lack of logical entailment between the ontological constituents of an intellective soul entails their existential dependence. It is merely that, barring external agency, once they have come into existence they will naturally continue to exist.


Two questions remain. First, if the preceding analysis of St. Thomas's argument is correct, why did Scotus not see this? Second, would St. Thomas recognize the argument as I have presented it?

As to why Scotus did not see this, part of the answer may lie in the fact that Scotus did not accept St. Thomas's essence-existence distinction. (14) If one does not accept that distinction, and if one retains the traditional notion of abstraction, then abstraction can yield a concept of being that is formal in nature. That would undercut any attempt to locate being in the nature of intellectual apprehension as a constituent sui generis, and would rule out an ontological interpretation of the notion of natural desire. With that, the whole argument would collapse.

As to whether St. Thomas would recognize the argument as I have tried to explain it, I think that if St. Thomas had spelled his argument out more fully, rather than leaving it as an enthymeme, and if he had expressed it using modern terminology, he would not have shied away from talking about first-, second-, and higher-order properties, and so on. After all, this is merely a more precise way of talking about determinables and determinates: terms he himself expressly used and with which he was already familiar from Aristotle. Likewise, I see no reason for saying that St. Thomas would have rejected talking about ontological completeness or that he would have rejected the claim that being is not a form and that therefore abstraction cannot yield an awareness of being.

I am further encouraged in this opinion by the fact that when the vocabulary is suitably adjusted, the above interpretation fits rather well with what he taught about the resurrection of the body. That is to say, St. Thomas taught physical resurrection. If what I have said about the underlying ontology of substantial forms in general and about human souls in particular is correct, this analysis allows one to understand why (doctrinal reasons aside) St. Thomas would also have wanted to say that physical resurrection is necessary if there is resurrection at all. The human soul qua substantial form requires different types of properties for its completion. Included here are higher-order properties that can be instantiated only through material first-order properties. Among other things, sensation is implicated, as are the emotions. In the language of St. Thomas, this means that the human soul as the substantial form of a human being by its very nature desires material properties as a matter of ontological completeness. And this, in turn, entails that the human soul naturally desires a body. Accordingly, by their very nature, human beings have an ontological drive for embodied existence. Therefore if one assumes that St. Thomas had a consistent and integrated ontology, the fact that this interpretation allows one to tie together various aspects of his position should count in its favor.

University of Victoria, Canada

Correspondence to: Eike-Henner W. Kluge, Philosophy Department, University of Victoria, P. O. Box 3045, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3P4.

(1) Summa Theologica I, q. 75, a. 6.

(2) Ordinatio, IV, dist. 43, q. 2 (Opera Omnia [Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1950-2013]); translation following Alan B. Wolter. John Duns Scotus: Philosophical Writings (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1962). For another famous rejection, see Pietro Pomponazzi, Tractatus de immortalitate animae: Abhandlung iiber die Unsterblichkeit der Seele, ed. Burkhard Mojsisch (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1990).

(3) Henceforth the qualifier "material" will be understood, since this discussion does not deal with St. Thomas' analysis of separate substances such as angels.

(4) St. Thomas Aquinas, De ente et essentia, 1.42 and following. The discussion in De ente 2 amplifies on this.

(5) The questions why and how they are united into a complex or matrix will be addressed later, when dealing with the logical interrelationship between the second-order properties that make up a substantial form. Arguably, and as an aside, in his analysis of this phenomenon Aquinas is here anticipating Leibniz's notion of compossibiity.

(6) See St. Thomas Aquinas, ST I, q. 14, a. 2, ad 3, and Quaestiones Quodlibetales: Quodlibetum V, q. 5, a. 2, ad 3; and so on.

(7) ST I, q. 14, a. 2, ad 3: "Intellectus noster non potest intelligere, nisi per aliquam speciem informetur."

(8) ST I, q. 75, a. 6: "Sensus autem non cognoscit esse, nisi sub hie et nunc; sed intellectus apprehendit esse absolute, et secundum omne tempus."

(9) St. Augustine, Confessions, bk. 11.

(10) See ST I, q. 4, a. 2; I, q. 10, a. 6; and so on.

(11) As will be explained in a moment, this does not commit St. Thomas to saying that intellectual substances necessarily exist because they contain being in their ontological make-up.

(12) "Without a shape" does not mean having an amorphous shape. An amorphous shape is a complicated shape that does not fall into any particular shape category; a truly shapeless substance is a substance that lacks all possible spatial determination.

(13) Aristotle, De anima 2.1.

(14) Opus Oxoniense 1:3:1-2.
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Author:Kluge, Eike-Henner W.
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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