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Whether there is more pleasure in the knowledge [cognitio] of superior or inferior things.

One inquires further whether there is more pleasure in the knowledge of superior or inferior things.

1. And it seems that there is more in the knowledge of inferior things. For pleasure is caused by the union of the beloved with the lover. Where there is greater union or knowledge, there will be more pleasure. We have, however, more knowledge of inferior things (because they are near to us) than we do of superior ones, and therefore, etc.

2. In addition, just as a proportionate thing that is knowable pleases the cognitive power, so too a thing that is excessive and disproportionate corrupts that power. This is according to the Philosopher in the second book of On the Soul But superior things surpass the cognitive power more than lower things do. For he says in the third book of On Heaven and Earth that the more distant they are from us in terms of spatial distance, the more distant they are from us in terms of knowledge [cognitio].

The Philosopher says the opposite.

One must reply that greater pleasure consists in a modest knowledge of superior things than in a greater knowledge of inferior things, as the Philosopher says. And the reason for this is that something acquired with greater difficulty is possessed with greater pleasure. But we acquire knowledge of superior things with greater difficulty than we do knowledge of inferior ones. Therefore, knowledge of them, once acquired, is possessed with greater pleasure.

In addition, the soul is, in some way, all things, for, as the Philosopher says in the book On the Soul, sense is the sensibles and "intellect is the intelligibles." But there is a natural desire in the intellective soul with respect to all intelligible things. Therefore, the more intelligible something is, the more desire there is in the soul with respect to it. But superior things are more intelligible in and of themselves, because "each thing is intelligible when it is separable from matter," and superior things are more separable from matter than inferior ones. But the more something is desired before it is possessed, the more it is loved once it is possessed, and pleasure is a sort of rest in the thing loved. Therefore, there is more pleasure in the apprehension of superior things, etc. And this is why the Philosopher says in the text that we love to know a little bit about superior things more than we love to know a lot about inferior ones.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must say that there is more pleasure where there is a greater union of the thing loved with the lover, unless there is a another that is loved more, because there is a greater pleasure in a brief union of something greatly loved with the lover than there is in a long union of the lover with something loved less.

2. To the second argument one must reply that superior things are less well known to us the more distant they are from us, and yet we more greatly love to know something about them, and they do not so far exceed our intellect as to corrupt it. Because sense differs from intellect in this respect: namely, that sense, as a result of perceiving a sensible that exceeds it, fails to perceive other sensibles. Indeed, it is sometimes corrupted. But this is not the case for the intellect, because the more the intellect understands things that are more intelligible and more excellent, so much more, then, does it understand these lower or lowest things. And the reason for this is that it is not a corporeal power. Therefore, if sense were not an organic power, it would not be corrupted by a sensible that exceeds it; etc.

 
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