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Concluding Observations: Eight Summary Propositions

In coming to a terminal point in this extensive analysis of Aquinas’s account of sensation and perception, one will recall that the important contribution of this analysis is the explication of the role of the vis cogitativa in matters of perception. It will be useful at this point to summarize the principal points rendered in this analysis about perception in Aquinas. The following is a summary list of the philosophical propositions affirmed in this analysis of the inner sense of the vis cogitativa in Aquinas’s philosophy of mind:

  • (a) The vis cogitativa is the faculty which perceives the individuals of the world. In Aquinas’s ontology, these would be the primary substances, each of which is a hoc aliquid.
  • (b) This perception is of an individual of a natural kind.
  • (c) This awareness transcends the boundaries of the external senses. The external senses are limited, given the structure of Aquinas’s philosophy of mind, to an awareness of proper and common sensibles.
  • (d) The awareness of the vis cogitativa is an ‘active contribution’ to the perceiving process—a structured mental act—to be aware of individuals as individuals and not as bundles of sensations; this is Phantasm-2.
  • (e) It follows from (a)-(d) above that Aquinas developed a philosophy of mind on the perceptual level sufficient to provide for an awareness of individuals.
  • (f) This account of the awareness of an individual is in addition to the usual account of the reflexive awareness of the intellect so common to explications of Aquinas’s philosophy of mind. Cf. Summa Theologiae, Ia q. 86 t. 1, ‘Whether the Intellect Knows Particulars’.
  • (g) The vis memorativa as a ‘thesaurus’ stores as Phantasms-3 the perceived individuals known by the vis cogitativa.
  • (h) It follows that Aquinas offers an account for the awareness of individuals as individual hoc aliquids on the level of sense perception.
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