Desktop version

Home arrow Philosophy arrow The fathers of the church

Whether the intellective soul is created and infused into the body simultaneously.

Next one inquires whether the intellective soul is created and infused into the body simultaneously.

1. It seems not. Because the entire universe is perfect, and its principal parts especially are incorruptible things. But if the intellective soul were created at the same time that it is infused into the body, then it would follow that something can be added to the universe and that it was not perfect previously, but rather something imperfect to which it is possible to make some addition.

2. In addition, the end is that to which the principle corresponds. But the intellect remains after its separation from the body. Therefore, by an equal argument, it existed before it was joined to the body.

3. In addition, a cause precedes the thing caused, and the more universal the cause is, the more it precedes the thing caused. But that soul that is nearest the first cause is the most universal. Since the first cause precedes the thing caused by the longest duration, then that which is nearest the first cause precedes more than one more remote. But every form, no matter how material, is prior to its matter in nature, if not in time. Therefore, soul precedes body more than in nature and, as a result, precedes it in time.

4. In addition, between any two "nows" there falls a middle. But the creation of the soul is in the eternal "now" whereas its conjunction with a body is in the temporal "now." Therefore, between these two "nows" there will be a middle, and with respect to that middle the intellect precedes the body.

The Philosopher says the opposite in the twelfth book of the Metaphysics? He says there that although a form can exist after separation from matter, as the intellect does, nevertheless nothing exists before matter.

To this some respond that the intellective soul has the same status [condicio] as intelligence, and this is why it existed from eternity just like an intelligence and then it happens that it is united to a body.[1] It was therefore created before being joined to a body.

But this explanation fails in a number of ways. The first is that the intellective soul and intelligence do not have the same status. This is evident from their different operations. For we come to understanding by distinguishing and by means of the receipt of species that have been received from the senses, but intelligence understands without distinguishing and through species that are not acquired from somewhere else. And this is why intelligence is properly said to be an intellectual substance, whereas the human soul is a rational substance.

This position falls short in a second way, since if the soul merely happens to be united to a body, then a human will either be a being [ens] per accidens, if he is a composite being, or he will only be the soul.

Moreover, if the soul's creation precedes its being joined to the body, then either it is natural for the soul to be united to a body or not. If it is natural, then it remains to ask why it was not united to the body immediately. Now it is not necessary to provide a cause for this, because it is not better for the soul to be separated from the body rather than united to it, because the intellective soul exists for the sake of the completion of the species and it completes the species once it has been united to the body and not when it has been separated from it. Also, it understands in the proper manner when it has been united, not when it has been separated. Therefore, it is better for it to be united than to be separated. If, however, it were contrary to its nature to be united to a body, then this would be a punishment and a burden for the soul, and the opinion of the Platonists would follow. And this is why one must reply, following the Philosopher's meaning, that it is created and infused into the body at one and the same time. For if it existed before its infusion, it would exist for nothing, and nature does nothing in vain, according to the Philosopher in the first book of On Heaven and Earth.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that it is not individuals but species that form a part of the universe.[2] Thus, although there may occur some addition to or reduction in individuals, the universe is not more or less perfected as a result of this, and this is why, although the intellective soul.

2. To the second argument, one must respond that the end and the beginning correspond to the extent that something is resolved into the same thing from which it was constituted. For just as a mixed body is composed from four [elements], so it is resolved into the four, and just as each and every one comes to be from matter, so then each is resolved into matter. Thus if intellect were composed out of nothing, then it would return to nothing, just as it comes to be ex nihilo. But the end is not proportioned to the beginning in every thing, and this is especially so among those beings that depend upon an agent as far as will is concerned, because the thing can begin or cease to be according to his will.

3. To the third argument one must reply that although the first cause precedes the thing it caused in duration, nevertheless it is not necessary that every posterior cause precede the thing it caused in duration, and this especially holds true for a formal cause.

4. To the last argument one must respond that a middle point in time [tempus medium] falls between two "nows" of the same measure, although two "nows" of a different measure can exist simultaneously. For the same eternal "now" corresponds to the entire succession of time, since eternity exists all at once and without succession. Now just as the soul, although it is indivisible, still exists wholly in any part of a divisible and extended body, so too, although eternity is a simultaneous whole, nevertheless it subsumes time (which is successive) beneath itself.

  • [1] By "intelligence" A. means a separate, incorporeal, rational agent, like the angels.
  • [2] Or: "of the universal." ated de novo, it does not follow as a result that the universe was imperfect before this.
 
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >

Related topics