Saturday, March 26, 2016

So, what are you doing after your funeral?


There is, among contemporary Thomists, a controversy over the metaphysical status of human beings after death.  Both sides agree that the human soul is the substantial form of the living human body, both sides agree that the human soul subsists after death, and both sides agree that the body is restored to the soul at the resurrection.  But what happens to the human being himself between death and resurrection?  Does a human being in some way continue to exist after death?  Or does he cease to exist until the resurrection?  Which answer do the premises that both sides agreed on support?  And which answer did Aquinas himself support?

These last two questions are related, but nevertheless importantly different.  It might be that the right answer to the question about what happens to human beings after death -- the answer that the premises all Thomists agree on actually entails -- is the answer that Aquinas himself gave.  But it might be that Thomistic premises in fact support a different answer than the one Aquinas gave.  (That happens sometimes.  Philosophers don’t always correctly understand all the implications of the premises to which they are committed.)  Or it may be that there is no clear answer to the question about what Aquinas himself thought, even if his premises actually entail one of the two possible positions.

Survivalism is the label that has come to be attached to the view that the human being in some way continues to exist after death.  It is defended by (among others) Thomist philosophers like David Oderberg and Eleonore Stump.  Corruptionism is the label that has come to be attached to the view that the human being ceases to exist after death (but comes back into existence at the resurrection).  It is defended by (among others) Thomist philosophers like Patrick Toner and Brian Davies.  Survivalists tend to attribute their view to Aquinas, and corruptionists also tend to attribute their view to Aquinas.  It is possible, though, to endorse one view while thinking that Aquinas erroneously held the other. 

In his recent American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly article “Aquinas on the Death of Christ: A New Argument for Corruptionism,” Turner Nevitt defends the claim that Aquinas was a corruptionist.  (He doesn’t address in any detail the issue of whether the corruptionist position is actually the correct metaphysical view to take; his focus is rather on Aquinas exegesis.)  Along the way he lists some of the Thomists who have defended each view.

Nevitt cites me as a corruptionist, on the basis of some remarks I make in my book Aquinas.  That is not correct.  In fact I don’t actually address the dispute between survivalism and corruptionism in the book, though I can understand why Nevitt would take what I say there to imply a corruptionist position.  In any event, on the substantive metaphysical question about what happens to the human being after death, I am definitely a survivalist.  On the exegetical question about what Aquinas himself thought, I am agnostic.  I think his premises actually imply survivalism, and that he sometimes says things that sound like an endorsement of survivalism.  But I agree that he also sometimes says other things that sound like an endorsement of corruptionism (including the passages cited by Nevitt).  In fact, I don’t think it is clear that Aquinas directly addresses in the first place exactly the question that survivalists and corruptionists are arguing about.  What he does clearly address is the related but different question about whether a human being is, even in the normal case, nothing more than his soul (which is what Platonism seems to imply).  And here his answer is negative.  A human being is not reducible to his soul.  But we survivalists agree with that, and it does not imply corruptionism.

I have a forthcoming article that addresses these issues in a systematic way, so I won’t say here everything that could be said.  Suffice it to make the following points.

First, and again, I think it is at least unclear whether Aquinas himself really addresses the question at hand, or at least that he addresses it in a way that has in view the specific sorts of concerns that motivate contemporary survivalists.  What was fundamentally at issue in Aquinas’s day was whether to think of human beings in an essentially Platonic way, as immaterial souls which are complete substances in their own right, and only contingently related to their bodies.  Aquinas definitely, and rightly, rejects the Platonic view, and when he puts heavy emphasis on the theme that the presence of the body is essential to the integrity of the human being, it is Platonism that he has in his sights.  And both survivalists and corruptionists agree in rejecting the Platonic conception of human nature.  We have to be very cautious, then, not to give the relevant texts from Aquinas an anachronistic reading. 

Second, corruptionists, in my view, in any case put too much emphasis on the exegetical question.  What ultimately matters is not what Aquinas himself actually said in this or that particular text.  Rather, what matters is whether it is corruptionism or survivalism that actually follows from the premises that Aquinas, and us later Thomists, are all committed to.  If survivalism is what actually follows from those premises (as I think it does) then that fact itself is strong evidence that Aquinas himself was actually a survivalist (since philosophers do usually and in general understand the implications of their premises, even if not in every case).  But even if he wasn’t, what ultimately matters is whether he should have been a survivalist.  To hammer on the exegetical question is to risk resting one’s case on a mere argument from authority, which (as Aquinas himself held) is the weakest sort of argument when the authority is a merely human authority.  (And no, in noting that Aquinas said that, I’m not appealing to his authority -- so spare me the cute tu quoque retort, please.)

Third, corruptionism, I think, simply makes no sense metaphysically, for reasons that should be clear from what I have said in earlier posts (e.g. here and here, though I was not directly addressing the dispute between corruptionism and survivalism in those posts).  Both corruptionists and survivalists agree (contra Platonism and Cartesianism) that a human being is one substance, not two.  Both agree that this one substance has both corporeal powers (our various animal faculties) and incorporeal powers (intellect and will).  As good Aristotelians, both agree that a substantial form only exists when informing the substance of which it is the form; there is no such thing as a substantial form floating free of any concrete individual substance.  Both sides also agree that the human soul just is the human being’s substantial form.  And both sides agree that the soul continues to exist after death.

Now, when someone who accepts all of these premises puts them together, then, I maintain, to be consistent he must be a survivalist.  There is no avoiding it.  The human soul exists after death.  But a soul is a substantial form, and a substantial form only exists when informing the substance of which it is the form.  So, the substance of which the human soul is the form must exist after death.  But that substance is a human being, where a human being is a single substance rather than two substances.  So, the human being must exist after death.

But how can a human being exist after death if the body, which is then gone, is integral to the human being?  The answer is: in something like the way a human being can continue to exist after losing his arms, legs, eyes, ears, tongue, etc. (as the unfortunate protagonist of the Dalton Trumbo novel Johnny Got His Gun does).  Arms, legs, eyes, ears, tongue, etc. are integral to us.  Any human being in his mature and normal state has them.  A human being who is missing them persists only in a highly abnormal and greatly diminished state.  But he does persist.  Similarly, a human being who has lost more than that -- namely, all of his corporeal faculties -- but still has his incorporeal faculties, persists in an even more radically diminished state.  But he does persist.  And that is how the soul persists beyond death, despite being a kind of substantial form.  It persists precisely because the substance of which it is the form persists, albeit only in a radically diminished and abnormal state.

To say instead, as corruptionists do, that the soul persists after death but that the human being does not, entails that a substantial form exists even though the substance of which it is the form is gone.  And that simply makes no sense -- certainly not given the background metaphysical premises to which Aquinas, and corruptionists themselves, are committed.

(Side note: Confusion on these issues sometimes arises because people misunderstand what it means to say, as Thomists do, that the soul is the substantial form of the body.  Since the body is, of course, corporeal by definition, they think this entails that the soul is the substantial form of a substance which is entirely corporeal, and are then mystified by the claim that the soul persists when this corporeal thing is gone.  But they thereby misunderstand the claim that the soul is the form of the body.  The claim isn’t: “The soul is the form of a substance which is entirely corporeal,” because Thomists don’t believe in the first place that human beings are entirely corporeal or bodily.  Rather, they have both corporeal and incorporeal powers.  The body is only part of the substance that is a human being, not the whole of it.  Rather, the claim is: “The soul is the substantial form of a substance which has both corporeal and incorporeal powers, and since the corporeal powers are summed up in the expression ‘the body,’ naturally the soul is the form of the body, even if the human being is more than merely the body.”)

Fourth, corruptionism makes no sense theologically either, at least not given the theological premises that both corruptionists and survivalists accept.  Both sides agree that, after death but before the resurrection, human souls are rewarded or punished, and can be prayed to.  For example, you can pray to St. Peter, who has attained his reward in heaven.  But it only makes sense to reward, punish, or pray to actual persons.  Hence St. Peter can intelligibly be rewarded and prayed to only if he exists as a person.  But what kind of person is St. Peter?  Is he an angel, or a human being?  A human being, of course.  Hence St. Peter can intelligibly be rewarded and prayed to only if he exists as a human being.  To be sure, prior to the resurrection, he does not yet have his body restored to him, and thus exists only as a radically incomplete human being.  (Fortunately, the beatific vision more than makes up for this temporary loss, so overall St. Peter is of course in a very good state.)  Still, he does exist as a human being.

Corruptionists like Nevitt respond to this problem by saying that talk about praying to or rewarding St. Peter should be interpreted as instances of synecdoche, viz. the use of an expression for a thing to refer to a part of the thing, as when we say “The U.S. government condemned the attacks,” meaning that a certain specific government official condemned the attacks.  The idea is that when we talk about praying to St. Peter, this is merely a roundabout way of talking about praying to the soul of St. Peter, which is only a part of him.  And when we talk about St. Peter being rewarded in heaven, all this means (so it is claimed) is that the soul of St. Peter is being rewarded, where his soul is, again, only a part of him. 

But this doesn’t solve the problem at all.  Suppose that, after his death, St. Peter’s left eyeball or his right lung had been kept alive artificially (perhaps for the purpose of transplantation into someone who needed an eye or a lung).  Would it make sense in that case to pray to St. Peter’s left eye?  Would it make sense to reward St. Peter’s right lung?  Obviously not.  And the reason is also obvious.  An eyeball or a lung all by itself is sub-personal.  Hence, neither one can in any way intercede for us, and neither one can in any way enjoy rewards of the sort the blessed in heaven enjoy.  And yet a separated soul can intercede for us, and can enjoy the rewards of heaven.  Hence a separated soul is a person.  A very radically diminished person, to be sure, but not a non-person.  And what kind of person?  Again, a human one.  Hence, the human being must exist after death.

(Postscript for the New Atheist reader: I am well aware, of course, that skeptics wouldn’t agree in the first place that the soul in any sense survives the death of the body, or that there even is such a thing as the soul.  But that’s not what this post is about.  So, please don’t waste your time or mine with idiotic comments to the effect that this is all superstition, that I haven’t proved that there is a soul, etc.  I have, in many other places, given arguments for the claims that the human intellect is incorporeal, that this entails that it can persist beyond the death of the body, etc. -- see e.g. this article, chapter 4 of this book, some of the posts collected here, and so forth.   What I am addressing in the above post is merely a question that arises after one is already convinced of arguments of the sort I’ve defended elsewhere.)

169 comments:

VeritasSeeker said...

Edward,

I read your fine book on Aquinas a long time ago, but I also had the impression that you were a "Corruptionist."

Now, prima facie, it seems that Survivalism threatens to collapse into Substance Dualism. Perhaps one can run an analogue of Eric Olson's "Thinking Animal Argument" here (although Olson's argument appeals to spatial notions which are not applicable in this case). In any case, observe the following argument:

1. Survivalism is true [Assumption]

2. If Survivalism is true, then for any human person P, P will have post-morterm thoughts without having a body. [definition]

3. For any human person P, if P will have post-morterm thoughts without having a body, then P is numerically identical to a mind. [premise]

Therefore,

4. Every human person is numerically identical to a mind. [From 1-3]

5. But it is not the case that every human person is numerically identical to a mind. [1, Definition]

Therefore,

6. Survivalism is false. [Reductio Ad Absurdum]

The crucial premise is (3). It seems to be quite intuitive. Of course, Survivalists like David Oderberg would say that one continues to exist *as* a mind, and not as *numerically identical* to a mind. However, this may be ad hoc.

DNW said...

This is only tangentially related; yet it causes us to reevaluate just what it is we imagine would be conserved if indeed, there were any good reason to relate that which is conserved to an "internal" as opposed to "external" standpoint.

The facile retort (offered by myself among others) to the question, "Where does life go?" - "up through your head in heat loss", is way too simple.

Bracket all super-naturalism, as we usually think of it. This data storage leap seems to represent one of those changes from quantitative addition to a qualitative transformation that requires rethinking on its own terms.



"Human brain can store 4.7 billion books - ten times more than originally thought. One petabyte is the same as 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text,13.3 years of HD-TV recordings"

Even given the provisos, it's shocking.

Anonymous said...

I don't see an unsurmountable difference with the non-dualism advainta school. The soul ( called consciuosness in advainta) has no limits i.e beginning nor end. Or am I wrong?

Paula Wostenberg said...

From a survivalist perspective, does the instant of death hurt? Not the asymptotic approach to death, but the moment of death? I had assumed not.

But I recently meditated on the first of the four last things -- death -- drawing from Father Martin von Cochem 's Four Last Things http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/4last-things1a.htm . He indicated otherwise, drew on ancient sources, including Christ's last words.

St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, relates what was told him by a man who had been raised from the dead. Amongst other things, he said: "The moment when my soul left my body, was one of such awful pain and distress that no one can imagine the anguish I then endured. If all conceivable suffering and pain were put together they would be as nothing in comparison with the torture I underwent at the separation of soul and body."

It seems to me corruptionists would hold the moment of death doesn't hurt, because you experience nothing. Death is not an event in life. Life is like an open line segment - you can get as close to death as you please, but never experience the moment.

What about survivalists on the moment of death -- which needless to say I and all readers of this post face?

TheOFloinn said...

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that time passes for the dead in synch with the living. That is, it is currently AD 2016 up there behind the pearly gates and St. Peter has been visioning beatifically for more than 1950 years. But time is the measure of motion in corruptible being, and that which is non-corporeal is not corruptible. Thus, the portion of the soul that survives death does not experience the passage of time, but experiences "all time at once." IOW, for the departed, it is already the resurrection, just as it is "already" any other time. So in particular, they already have their restored body.

How's that sound?

Philip Alawonde said...

Well, then, that means some (as yet unspecified) sort of matter must remain in the post-mortem substance, otherwise, it wouldn't be a *human* substance (on pain of Cartesianism).

My question then is: What is this matter? Can it be memory? If not, what else can it be?

Thank you.

john di said...

…This character of the quantum theory already makes it difficult to follow wholly the program of materialistic philosophy and to describe the smallest particles of matter, the elementary particles, as the true reality. In the light of the quantum theory these elementary particles are no longer real in the same sense as the objects of daily life, trees or stones, but appear as abstractions derived from the real material of observation in the true sense. But if it becomes impossible to attribute to the elementary particles this existence in the truest sense, it becomes more difficult to consider matter as “the truly real”…

Werner Heisenberg, On Modern Physics, p.13.

Greg said...

@ VeritasSeeker

Not sure whether I am a survivalist or a corruptionist. I have not given the debate much thought.

But I don't feel much pressure to accept (3). The motivation for it is, I suppose, that it seems to hold for God and for angels. Though they never have "post-mortem thoughts," they do have "thoughts" without having a body, and it seems that they are minds.

But when we say "human mind," to what are we referring (even if the human in question is still alive)? I am not sure we are referring to any substance which the survivalist would admit can be numerically identical with a person.

(You could take "human mind" as "human psyche" or "human form," in which case (3) just asserts that what survives is merely a substantial form, which the survivalist denies. "mind" also has a sense today which is closer to "intellect" or "intellect and sense". But in that case, I don't think the survivalist will accept (3).)

Craig Payne said...

Dear VeritasSeeker:

It would seem for a survivalist, that even should the human subsist as a thinking being after death, the human could not think any new thoughts after death, since these new thoughts would require the influx of bodily experiences. However, why couldn't God simply supply the equivalent of these sensory experiences, thus allowing the complete subsistence of the human being? It may seem that this is a somewhat ad hoc argument, but it is at least possible. Moreover, it would deal with the opposed problems of (1) the existence of the human being after death, and (2) the many scriptural passages dealing with the blessedness of the afterlife--a blessedness which would not seem possible were the human in a radically diminished state.

Step2 said...

I was lifted above ground now I have been placed back down below
But love has that power to make you fly when you’ve been feeling so low

Happy Easter

Bill McEnaney said...

While I reflect on that article, I would love to heart what you folks would say to a Cartesian abortion doctor who told you, "I don't murder babies. I release them from their bodies."

Greg said...

@ Bill

He misunderstands the word "murder".

It does raise a question which can be framed less tendentiously. Survivalism and Cartesianism both say that the human being continues to exist without a body. Does this imply that human beings cannot die, cannot be killed?

With plants and non-human animals, dyings and goings-out-of-existence are coextensive. An animal dies just in case its form ceases to inform its body. The survivalist and the Cartesian might say that a human being can die without ceasing to exist.

I can imagine an objection to the survivalist here, charging that "dead human being" is an oxymoron. What distinguishes life from non-life for the hylomorphist is animation, having a soul. And the human being after death still has a soul, so wouldn't it still have to be alive?

Perhaps the survivalist can follow Oderberg and say that the essence of life is imminent causation and the human being after death no longer engages in immanent (self-perfective) causation. His vegetative and sensitive/appetitive powers are inoperative. His rational powers are operative only if helped from without, by God, because otherwise they lack their proper objects, since they cannot operate per se without sensation. So the dead human being does not act immanently.

Is that acceptable or is it a rabbit hole?

Debilis said...

I'm not sure if I'm amused or simply commiserating that it has become necessary to amend every post on theology to explain to New Atheists what a topic is.

kyle coffey said...

I know this is a bit off topic. But what is an average Thomist's view on whether the soul is gendered. As far as I know, gender is completely in the body, but I do run up against the obvious intuitive objection that gender just has to be more fundamental to a human being than being just some accidental form in the body. Does anyone have any advice on this or something to read. Thanks

Christian said...

@TheOFloinn

I've always had trouble with the view that you've described, but I haven't thought about it as much as I'd like and can't put my finger on why exactly. A good piece of evidence that seems to me to do serious damage to it is this: Christ took St. Dismas (the good thief) to Paradise on Good Friday. So we know for a fact that that very day St. Dismas was in heaven. However, St. Dismas's body remained here on earth. So unless you are willing to say he received another body (I don't know how philosophically or theologically that would be coherent) in a glorified manner then it seems to me that there must be something wrong with the view that the blessed in Heaven already have their glorified bodies.

Bill McEnaney said...

@Greg
I don't know what to believe about Oderberg's comment, Greg. To me, in the Douay Rheims Bible, Genesis 2:7 sounds hylemorphic when it says, "7 And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul.*" Commenting on that passage, Fr. Haydock tells us that God ensouled Adam's body to give it life. But to me, that verse suggests that a body becomes a soul when a survivalist seems to think that, after we die, we, our souls, survive. I know one one thing for sure: I contradict myself if I say that I'm identical with a proper part of me. After all, a proper part of something is a part that's not identical with its whole.

Bill McEnaney said...

Oops. I should have posted this (http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id328.html) when I answered Greg.

Charles said...

Hi Ed and all. I have often found this debate a bit frustrating for a reason to which you allude in your post, viz that this contemporary debate is not one that Thomas was himself concerned with. So when a corruptionist advances the texts Nevitt does, it seems to me to miss the point. Really, it seems to me that what Thomas is asking in those questions is whether the concept "person" or "man" can be rightly applied to the separated soul, and of course the answer is no, simply on the basis of what the real definitions of those terms are. The corruptionist illicitly infers from this that Joe ceases to exist in some fundamental sense because of this. But that is not St. Thomas' point, rather, his point seems to be one about the logical comprehension of these terms, and consequently, whether they can extend to separated souls. They are questions about naming, and that is all they are about. It seems to me that the corruptionist invests these logical considerations with more metaphysical baggage than they are meant to carry.

scbrownlhrm said...

"Purgatory" would clearly find a quite robust awareness of reality despite no physical sense organs. And so on. Not Catholic myself, but this would advance the premise that a fundamental and irreducible "Me" persists postmortem to at least a significant extent. "Carbon atoms -- Full Stop" just won't do. Well, unless covalent bonds and other organic chemistry / physics persist without chemistry and physics. Clearly one need not go the full Cartesian distance to yet affirm this reality in and by other avenues.









Tony said...

Happy Easter to you, Step2.

It is perhaps not a philosophically distinct issue, but seems (to me, anyway) to be a theologically importantly distinct issue, to consider that not only are good men rewarded in heaven and bad men in hell, after death but without the body, but also that imperfectly good men undergo purgation after death. That is, they change, in a rather important way, after death, so that they cease to be imperfect and become perfect and capable of being in God's presence permanently. This purgation perhaps need not be "change" in the very same way a material substance undergoes accidental change, but theologically it is a very important change.

The reason I raise it is that it obviously has implications in favor of survivalism: the human person not only persists after death, but undergoes alteration in some sense, for this implies that it remains a real SUBJECT in a way that, say, a Platonic ideal form does not. To undergo the change from imperfect to perfect implies that the person himself must not only persist, but be aware, conscious, for the change implied is, definitively, a change in their will: they cease to love God with an imperfect love and begin to love him with a perfect love. The change implies a continuity of the "I" that does the act of loving the "You" who is God, and so this conscious "I" is the subject of acts of the will. You can't say "the soul of Peter" loves God, you must say that "Peter" loves God, for this act is the OF a subject, and this requires that Peter, the human subsistence, is actual. But to say that Peter is a subsistent being is to say that the human being remains. As the good Prof says, in a radically diminished state.

Tony said...

I see that after I began writing my post, scbrownlhrm made the same basic point.

Joe Torres said...

@TheOFloinn,

Isn't that basically the teaching of Pope John XXII that got him in so much trouble and was later condemned as a heresy?

Separated souls are not "outside of time" in the same sense as God [neither are the angels]. I think the answer of St. Thomas is that they are in a discrete time, so that every time their thought changes, they are in a different instant. However, they have not yet reached the resurrection.

Joe

scbrownlhrm said...

David Oderberg’s “Hylemorphic Dualism” at ( http://www.newdualism.org/papers/D.Oderberg/HylemorphicDualism2.htm and also in PDF at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieRWJGMzRadUVaXzg/edit?pref=2&pli=1 ) is quite long but helpful. A notable quote: “The hylemorphic theory is dualistic with respect to the analysis of all material substances without exception, since it holds that they are all composites of primordial matter and substantial form. When it comes to persons, however, the theory has a special account. The soul of Fido, for instance, is wholly material—all of Fido's organic and mental operations are material, inasmuch as they have an analysis in wholly material terms. The soul of a person, on the other hand, is wholly immaterial, the argu¬ment for this being that a person has at least some mental operations that are not wholly explicable in material terms—and we can deduce what a thing's nature is from the way it necessarily acts or behaves. If, however, some such operations are not wholly materially explicable, the soul itself cannot be anything other than wholly immaterial because there is no sense in postulating a soul that is a mixture of the material and the immaterial.”


Also, D. Oderberg on “Survivalism, Corruptionism, and Mereology” agrees with E. Feser and is at (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieTVFfdl8xQjBnU2M/edit?pref=2&pli=1 ).

DNW said...

TheOFloinn said...

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that time passes for the dead in synch with the living. That is, it is currently AD 2016 up there behind the pearly gates and St. Peter has been visioning beatifically for more than 1950 years. But time is the measure of motion in corruptible being, and that which is non-corporeal is not corruptible. Thus, the portion of the soul that survives death does not experience the passage of time, but experiences "all time at once." IOW, for the departed, it is already the resurrection, just as it is "already" any other time. So in particular, they already have their restored body.

How's that sound?"


It sounds like what those few who claim to have returned from the dead, and who are not clearly cranks, have reported as their conviction.

Now, why the eruptions of a dying brain should leave them so profoundly convinced of this aspect I cannot say, since it seems to offer little or nothing in the way of wish fulfillment. Especially in the case of those who are convinced that their fate, but for the grace of God, would have been hell.

Wash212 said...

If I've got this straight, for Thomists the soul is the form of the body and form is the actualizing principle of any matter/form composite. Form is what makes a thing be what it is. So if someone has a male human body, then he has the form of a male human. So it seems the human soul is gendered on the Thomistic understanding.

Stomachosus said...

How would a survivalist address Aquinas's statements that, without the resurrection, my soul, but not I, would be saved? Commenting on 1 Cor. 15:19 he states:

Alio modo quia constat quod homo naturaliter desiderat salutem sui ipsius, anima autem cum sit pars corporis hominis, non est totus homo, et anima mea non est ego; unde licet anima consequatur salutem in alia vita, non tamen ego vel quilibet homo.

In another way, it stands that man naturally desires the salvation of his own self, but the soul, although it is part of the human body, is not the whole man, and my soul is NOT I, whence, although the soul should obtain salvation in another life, nevertheless neither I, nor any other man would. Super I Cor. cap. 15 l. 2

scbrownlhrm said...

Stomachosus,


The two David Oderberg links recently posted here each from their own vantage point look at Aquinas' statement in context and also in some detail. Both corruptionists and survivalists appeal to Aquinas and the approach by Oderberg is even handed.

Rob said...

@Joe Torres

John XXII held for many years the opinion that those who died in the faith did not enjoy the beatific vision until the Final Judgment. I don't think TOF's view (and more or less my own) has to run afoul of this, since he is not denying that the blessed enjoy the beatific vision right now. He would, I think, be denying that any dead "wait around" wondering what will happen from inside our time frame--precisely because they no longer work from inside the same "theological frame of reference."

Ish. I go back and forth on it. I certainly wouldn't disagree with Benedict XII's teaching on the matter (slamming the door on John XXII's opinion).

Gyan said...

"So if someone has a male human body, then he has the form of a male human"

"Form of body" needs to be understood in the sense of species. All cats have the form of catness but there is no form of male catness, I believe.

Gerard O'Neill said...

So, what are you doing after your funeral?
Basil Fawlty answered this question in response to Mr. Zebedee in 'The Kipper And The Corpse'.(apologies to those not familiar with Fawlty Towers)

Charles said...

Ed, I was wondering if for the survivalist, it is sufficient that I continue to exist "secundum quid" as a separated soul, or does it require that I continue to exist simpliciter?
Charles

Xenophanes said...

Stomachosus,

The survivalist position typically is that, while the disembodied soul is not, qua disembodied soul, identical with the substance whose soul it is, nevertheless the substance which once existed *through* the soul+body continues to exist through the soul in death.

So when it comes to the salvation of the soul vs the salvation of the self, Aquinas's remarks are very congruent with the survivalist position. While the naked soul may enjoy the beatific vision, and lack nothing as a naked soul, the incomplete substance that continues to exist through the soul would remain incomplete, hence its happiness would not be complete. Since we are identical to that substance, our happiness, even experiencing the beatific vision through our disembodied souls, would be incomplete without resurrection.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another excellent article!

It seems that even though the soul's continued existence must also mean the existence of the substance of which it is the form, the radical diminishing must be so utter that such a soul can do nothing by itself - and of course not just in the sense that it ultimately depends on God to continue to exist.
No longer able to understand by receiving from matter and sense, it apparently will receive from the influence of the angels.

In his book "The Angels And Us", Mortimer Adler writes:

"If the soul in its intellectual and rational aspect were to persevere through God's grace after separation from the body, it could not function intellectually or rationally, since those functions are dependent on bodily organs. Divine intervention would be needed not only to preserve it in existence, but also to prevent that existence from being null and void - an actuality unable to act in any way.
...Though [the soul's intellectual power] is the soul's slender hold on immortality in separation from the body, it also condemns the soul to be totally inactive when separated from the body."

It may be that once the corruptionist has also seen an articulation and explanation of just how utter this diminishing is, alongside the demonstration of the fact that it makes no sense to talk of the form continuing to exists without the substance of which it is the form also continuing to exist, then it may be easier to understand the survivalist position. In other words, all that some corruptionists may in fact need is this balancing articulation.

Curio said...

Feser is right that arguments from authority are fallacious, but what of CDK's contention that "St. Thomas... and every one of his disciples have always held firmly that the "other Saints" do not now exist as persons"

https://www.erudit.org/revue/ltp/1950/v6/n2/1019844ar.pdf

TheOFloinn said...

Arguments from authority are weak, but not always fallacious. It depends on what they are authorities of. In every scientific paper, one finds arguments from authorities called "citations" and "references."

scbrownlhrm said...

To limit perception and dialogue (the Self/Other exchanges) and Will and Intellect (thinking) to our bodily sense organs would require us to strip away large swaths of Scripture describing just the opposite in revelations, visions, 7th heavens, and so on. Also (if Catholic) all the interfaces of pergatory become unintelligible if bodily sense organs are needed.

Whether in the body or out of the body, such is actualized.

It's not obvious that the corruption model states such total inert-ness while yet existing. Such a middle of the road model doesn't seem to agree with either the corruption model nor the survival model.

Exactly what X *is* diminished and exactly what X *isn't* diminished (etc.) seems to be the question.

From the OP:

"To say instead, as corruptionists do, that the soul persists after death but that the human being does not, entails that a substantial form exists even though the substance of which it is the form is gone.  And that simply makes no sense -- certainly not given the background metaphysical premises to which Aquinas, and corruptionists themselves, are committed..."


".....corruptionism makes no sense theologically either, at least not given the theological premises that both corruptionists and survivalists accept.  Both sides agree that, after death but before the resurrection, human souls are rewarded or punished, and can be prayed to.  For example, you can pray to St. Peter, who has attained his reward in heaven.  But it only makes sense to reward, punish, or pray to actual persons.  Hence St. Peter can intelligibly be rewarded and prayed to only if he exists as a person.  But what kind of person is St. Peter?  Is he an angel, or a human being?  A human being, of course.  Hence St. Peter can intelligibly be rewarded and prayed to only if he exists as a human being...."

Shane Scott said...

I may have read this illustration somewhere, but I can't remember, so my apologies if I have plagiarized this! But if we think of the soul as the form or configuration of the body, then we might compare the relationship of the soul and body to that of a painting and the materials used to make it. On one level the Mona Lisa is a collection of oils and colors and canvas. But it is the configuration of those oils and colors and images on the canvas that makes this a painting. Suppose someone in the Louvre is tasked with committing its paintings to memory, and that they have perfect photographic memory. Then in the event of a catastrophic fire in which the painting is destroyed, the painting can still exist in terms of its configuration, provided that the mind of the curator is perfect and can remember it exactly. And at a future point if he was also a sufficiently skilled painter, he could take new canvas and reconfigure the painting. That is how I understand the survival of the soul at death. God sustains the configuration of who we are in His mind, even though the canvas of the body is destroyed. The difference of course is that in the case of the painting, the configuration is lifeless and inert, whereas in the case of the soul the configuration is alive and intellectual - a moving portrait or video so to speak. In the resurrection, that "painting" will be reconstituted - the same image, the same configuration of oils and colors and images, but on a new and vastly improved canvas.

Curio said...

@TOF

Well, an informal fallacy at the least. Which can still lead to a true conclusion.

John Quin said...

Following on from Shane's comments, I can very much see how the "blueprint" for a person could exist in the mind of God after death but I get the feeling that THAT isn't going to be the same as what is stated in the OP.
If it is even close to the mark though it does make you wonder whether we would have a conscious experience in that state.
As for the idea that the dead person would exist in an impoverished state in the same way that a limbless person exists in an impoverished state it brings to mind the Cheshire Cat from Alice in wonderland that bit by bit disappeared until all that was left was his smile. But similarly that sounds as coherent as an impoverished soul existing.

As ever I just assume that I haven't yet grasped scholastic though.

Tony said...

Then in the event of a catastrophic fire in which the painting is destroyed, the painting can still exist in terms of its configuration, provided that the mind of the curator is perfect and can remember it exactly. And at a future point if he was also a sufficiently skilled painter, he could take new canvas and reconfigure the painting. That is how I understand the survival of the soul at death. God sustains the configuration of who we are in His mind, even though the canvas of the body is destroyed.

Shane, what if, after the museum commissioned a new canvas with a same configuration of paint, the people going through the wreckage discover that at the last minute, the night guard grabbed the original and hid it in the lowest sub-masement, and it survived the fire? The new painting would exist alongside the old one. Which means that the new painting would be a COPY of the old, and different in number from the original. In bidding for it, the old would still get bids in the $100 million range, the new would get only $100K. All of which shows that the new painting is NOT THE SAME THING as the old, merely LIKE the old.

The "configuration" of canvas, oils and colors is similar to the form of the body, that's true. But the configuration remains an abstraction, even when it is instantiated in a specific bodily example, whereas the form of a body is concretized as real when it is the form of an actual body, in a way that is distinct. The "configuration" of Adam was just as true of Adam on Day 3 and Day 4 of creation as it was on Day 6 when God actually made Adam, but the form of Adam became real on Day 6 when he became real.

I think what you have described is how we will have the presence of beloved pets in heaven, if we have them at all: God will reproduce "exact copies" that are just like the original in everything EXCEPT being different in number. This being just like is not what we say of the humans in heaven, who will actually be the originals.

TheOFloinn said...

That's the way of it among artifacts: the parts have no natural tendency to be together. When a tree grows a new branch, it is the same tree, but when an axe is given a new handle it is no longer quite the same axe. The difference is between "grows" and "is given." Hence, the copy of the painting is always a copy whether the original is destroyed or not.

Shane Scott said...

Thanks for your comments, Tony. I think I understand where you are coming from, but I don't think that your counter-illustration is a problem for my view. Everyone who accepts the concept of an intermediate state followed by a resurrection recognizes that there is both continuity and discontinuity between our current bodies and the resurrection body. So yes, the resurrection body is like the old (continuity) but not the same thing as the old (discontinuity). If the body decomposes but the soul survives, as Scripture teaches, then it seems to me that what survives is the configuration, even though in the intermediate state it is not instantiated in a body. And the resurrection body, according to 1 Cor. 15:42-49, is superior to the current body. What makes all of this tricky is that - as you rightly observed - there is an aspect of the soul as the form of the body that is only comprehensible in its concrete state. But there is also an aspect of the soul as the form of the body that must be an "abstraction," that can exist non-materially.

Tomislav Ostojich said...

St. Paul appeared to believe that when we are in heaven we will be given an interim body.

"For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies." (II Corinthians 5:3)

Turner Nevitt said...

And I do not understand how you can claim that you were not addressing the same question survivalists and corruptionists disagree about on p. 161 of your book Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide. You say there, "Given that it is only soul and body together that constitute a person, the persistence of the soul after death does not amount to the survival of the person; when John dies, his soul carries on, but he does not, at least not strictly speaking. What the soul's survival does do, however, is make it possible for the person to live again. This would require the soul's being rejoined with the matter it once informed, and thus the resurrection of its body." I cannot imagine a more a straightforward statement of the corruptionist view.

Turner Nevitt said...

It is not the case that both sides of the corruptionism-survivalism debate agree that a substantial form only exists when informing the substance of which it is the form. If they both agreed to that, then there would be no debate between them. Corruptionism just is the claim that between death and resurrection the substantial form of human beings floats free of any concrete individual substance. That is certainly strange, but I see no good reason to think it is impossible or senseless, as you claim. Whereas I see very good reason to think that the existence of a rational, sensing, living, material substance without matter is impossible. The contradiction in the latter claim is apparent. In order to avoid the contradiction, the survivalist must claim that essential definitions and their parts are not necessary, but rather normative or something less (as you say, matter is "integral to" a human being, but presumably not necessary to a human being). The latter claim, however, is a major departure from the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, although it may be the right philosophical view in the end.

You try to explain how a human being can exist without a body by comparing the loss of the body to the loss of parts of the body, such as arms, legs, etc. Just as a human being can lose arms and still exist, you say, it can lose its whole body and still exist. I do not find this comparison at all convincing. Consider these parallels. Keeping time is integral to a clock. Of course a clock can lose some time and still be a clock. That is why keeping time is merely integral or normative for a clock, rather than strictly necessary. But if the clock loses all time, no longer tracking any time, then it is no longer a clock. Following the rules of basketball is integral to the game. But of course some of the rules can be broken some of the time, and the players will still be playing basketball. That is why keeping the rules is merely integral or normative for the game, rather than strictly necessary. But if the players break all the rules all of the time, they are no longer playing basketball. My point is that the survivalist does not avoid the contradiction I mentioned above by claiming that essential definitions and their parts are normative, rather than necessary, because even normative concepts harbor a core of necessity. Since the rules are what make the game possible, keeping some of them is necessary for the existence of the game; breaking all of them makes the game impossible. Similarly, the survivalist's claim that matter is merely integral to a human being does not justify the claim that a human being can lose all of its matter without ceasing to exist; it only justifies the claim that a human being can lose some of its matter without ceasing to exist.

I would also like to point out that there is an important difference between integral parts, such as arms and legs, and essential parts, such as matter and form. The former parts are not parts of the essence, signified by the parts of the real definition. That is why one can survive their loss. Whether one can survive the loss of one's essential parts is a completely different question. My reading of Aristotle and Aquinas leads me to believe that they think one cannot survive the loss of one's essential parts (I can send you a bunch of textual references, if you'd like). But, at least where the formal part of one's essence is concerned, you agree; you say that one cannot survive its loss. But you say that one can survive the loss of the material part of one's essence. This asymmetry needs to be defended, both on philosophical and exegetical grounds, at least if you are trying to remain in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition.

Edward Feser said...

Hello Turner,

You write:

I do not understand how you can claim that you were not addressing the same question survivalists and corruptionists disagree about on p. 161 of your book Aquinas… I cannot imagine a more a straightforward statement of the corruptionist view.

Well, how about this: A much more straightforward statement of the corruptionist view would be if I had said something like: “I accept the corruptionist view, and reject the survivalist view.” But of course, I did not say anything like that.

The thing is this. That book came out seven years ago. At the time I was writing it, I was not even aware that there was a dispute between these two competing Thomistic positions “survivalism” and “corruptionism,” and hence was not aware of the key considerations each side raised against the other. Naturally, then, I was not at the time intending to take sides in that dispute. (Indeed, most of the sources you cite in your article appeared after the time my book came out.) I only became aware of this dispute later, and when I did, I saw that my sympathies were at the end of the day actually with the survivalist position. Hence if I were writing today, I would qualify what I said in the book.

All the same, I did explicitly say in my original post that “I can understand why Nevitt would take what I say there to imply a corruptionist position.” So, I was not blaming or criticizing you for labeling me a corruptionist. I can understand why you drew that conclusion. I was just trying to set the record straight.

Turner Nevitt said...

Thank you for setting the record straight about your current view on this. I shall not cite you as a corruptionist in the future. Too bad my article didn't convince you. A few prominent survivalists have been convinced by it. Jason Eberl, for example, now grants that Aquinas himself was a corruptionist, although Eberl, like you, still thinks survivalism is the preferable philosophical view. I'd love to see your forthcoming piece on this. Would you mind sending it to me?

Edward Feser said...

Hello again, Turner. You wrote:

Corruptionism just is the claim that between death and resurrection the substantial form of human beings floats free of any concrete individual substance. That is certainly strange, but I see no good reason to think it is impossible or senseless, as you claim

It would not be impossible or senseless given, say, a Platonist conception of form. But it is impossible or senseless -- and not merely strange -- given hylemorphism, which is the conception of form to which Thomists are committed. Certainly the burden of proof is on the corruptionist to show otherwise, not on survivalists.

Whereas I see very good reason to think that the existence of a rational, sensing, living, material substance without matter is impossible. The contradiction in the latter claim is apparent.

There is no contradiction as long as we state things precisely rather than loosely. Compare: Risibility is a proper accident of human beings -- it flows from their essence -- so that a human beings in his mature and normal state is risible. But a particular human being might nevertheless fail to manifest risibility, due to severe emotional trauma, brain damage, or other abnormal circumstances. There is no contradiction here, because to say that risibility is a proper accident or flows from our essence does not (given the Thomistic metaphysics of essence and properties) entail that risibility will be manifest in each and every case.

Similarly, given that human beings are rational animals, a human being in his mature and normal state will have a material body, sense organs, etc. But it does not follow that there might not be abnormal circumstances in which these material aspects are not manifest. And that is what the survivalist is saying occurs at death. There is no more of a contradiction here than there is in the risibility case.

Your various alleged parallel examples fail to show otherwise, because they are not really parallel at all in the relevant respect. E.g. a human being would be relevantly parallel to a clock only if a human being were, like a clock, entirely corporeal. But of course, the survivalist’s whole point is that unlike clocks (and stones, trees, dogs, etc.), human beings have incorporeal as well as corporeal faculties. That is why the loss of the corporeal faculties does not entail that the substance goes out of existence, because the substance was never entirely corporeal in the first place. So, to appeal to an example like a clock is simply to miss the whole point.

Re: essential parts, I would say that the case of human beings is different from that of stones, trees, dogs, etc. precisely because, unlike those things, human beings have incorporeal as well as corporeal faculties, and the incorporeal ones are precisely the ones that are distinctive to the species. Hence one should expect precisely that what is true of the purely corporeal substances might not apply to the case of human beings.

Anyway, I would make the friendly suggestion that someone who casually asserts that a “substantial form [can] float free of any concrete individual substance” (!) should try to be cautious about questioning others’ claim to “remain in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition”!

Re: Eberl’s reaction to your article, remember, as I said in the original post, I am agnostic on the question whether Aquinas himself was a corruptionist or survivalist. The texts you cite are certainly very important and highly suggestive, though I continue to suspend judgment only because I haven’t fully weighed all the exegetical considerations. And as I have also said, I think that, in any event, too much emphasis has been put on the exegetical question. What ultimately matters is not “Which view did Aquinas himself endorse?” but rather “Which view is actually true?”

Turner Nevitt said...

Like your appeal to integral parts, your appeal to propria such as risibility is another distraction from the question about whether a thing can survive the loss of the parts of its essence. Propria are not part of a thing's essence signified by its real definition (although sometimes we have to settle for propria in place of specific differences when we don't know the specific difference). Because propria merely flow from the essence, but are not parts of the essence, they can be lost without losing the essence, and therefore without losing the substance. But it is a completely different question whether a substance can survive the loss of parts of its essence. You still have not addressed this question.

I'm sorry to have to suggest that your view of essences departs from the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. I cannot help but think so. I would like to see your textual case for why it does not. As I said, my reading of Aquinas and Aristotle have convinced me that they think a substance cannot survive the loss of the parts of its essence. Nothing you have said proves otherwise (the loss of integral parts and propria is not relevant).

I'm sorry to hear that you think I have departed from the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition with my view that some substantial forms can exist without informing the substances of which they are the forms (I suppose you think Gyula Klima, Brian Davies, and the rest of the corruptionists have done so as well...). I see Aquinas's arguments for the subsistence and incorruptibility of the human soul as the proof that he thinks it is possible for a substantial form to exist without informing the individual substance of which it is the form. My assertion of this possibility was not casual. It is my considered view after years of careful study.

Edward Feser said...

Turner,

First, both sides agree that the loss of (say) a limb, or a lung, or an eyeball, or even all of these things at once, does not entail that the human being does not continue to exist. What I am suggesting is that the loss of all of the other particular corporeal organs and faculties also does not entail that the human being ceases to exist. They all should be regarded as propria. That’s why I focus on propria.

Second, that does not entail that the human being after death loses a part of his essence, and you are mistaken to characterize my position as implying that a human being loses part of his essence after death. Of course he does not. He still has animality as part of his essence, and that means that his essence remains that of a corporeal thing. It’s just that none of the propria that flow from animality are able to manifest themselves any longer after death. (“But how can a substance which has animality as part of its essence carry on in that case?” one might ask. And the answer, of course, and as I keep saying, is that a human being is not entirely corporeal in the first place. Hence the substance can carry on, albeit in an incomplete state, because human beings also have an incorporeal aspect. If we didn’t have one -- as stones, trees, and dogs don’t -- then the human being would indeed cease to exist. But also, like those things, it would never be able to come back into existence either.)

Third, you claim that a human being cannot continue to exist after death on the grounds that human beings are essentially compounds of matter and form. But this would prove too much, since a parallel objection could in that case be raised against corruptionism, to the effect that the soul can't exist after death either since it is essentially the form of the body. Hence, your interpretation of the Thomistic view of essence would undermine corruptionism no less than survivalism. (I owe this point to David Oderberg.)

Fourth, I don’t know why you are asking me for a “textual case,” since as I keep saying, what I am talking about is what the relevant Thomistic theses concerning essence and properties, hylemorphism, our possession of incorporeal faculties, etc. together actually imply, rather than whether Aristotle or Aquinas themselves explicitly asserted such-and-such. So, looking for ways to proof-text is simply not germane to the central issues.

Timocrates said...

@ Shane,

I agree with your analogy but I would only emphasize that the human soul is naturally immortal. The reason why it survives death 'of itself' is not because it needs God to - as it were - come and rescue it; but because that is how God willed the soul to be: i.e., immortal. Hence the doctrines in Christianity of eternal punishment of the soul. God is obviously not cruel or vindictive but He cannot deny Himself; hence, He does not disavow His creation, namely, us (inclusive of our immortal souls).

Your analogy, I think, is very good, but some might take or interpret it as being the idea that the human soul needs God in a too radically dependent way: God wills the human soul and constitutes it by nature to be immortal, His sustaining of our souls isn't such that they couldn't persist without, say, a miraculous intervention on His part. We don't need miraculous intervention to continue to be after death. It's not anti-natural or contrary to nature that our souls persist beyond death, though, of course, all creatures yet require His sustaining power to exist.

Tony said...

If I understand it correctly, Thomists all agree that the soul is the form of the body. This means, as I take it, that it is precisely in the act of matter being ensouled that the matter becomes the matter of a human body, and at the same time that the soul is real. For, without being the form of the body, the form "rational animality" has only a notional existence, not a real existence. So, at the beginning of its existence, it seems to be not only not normal, but impossible for a human soul to take on REAL existence without ever having been the soul of a human body. It is, precisely, the particular materiality that makes the soul a "this one" as distinct from "humanity as regards rational essence". "Peter" is distinct from "human rationality" by being individual and fully actual, not by being other than human.

At the other end of life, though, the issue seems more muddled. If the soul, being immortal by having immaterial faculties, survives death, then one of two things must be said about it: either (a) it remains "a this one" soul, the single individual soul of this one person, or (b) it ceases to be the soul of this one person Peter, and is instead only "human essence as to its rationality" i.e. human as to species but not individual.

If we say the latter, then there is nothing by which we can admit that the souls of good men go to heaven and the souls of bad men go to hell, for they cease to be particular. Which is a detestable position.

Therefore we must admit that the SOUL of Peter remains distinct and individual, even though (i) it comes to be real as individual only by the particularizing character of matter, and (ii) it ceases to have that matter with which to be individuated.

If we admit this, though, we must allow that there is a distinction, for things whose nature encompasses an _immaterial_ form as well as matter, between the way matter bears on its coming to be individual and the way matter bears on its continuing to be individual. Whether its continuing to be individual after death requires a miracle or not, we must at least allow that its continuing to be individual is POSSIBLE metaphysically. Which does not seem true of its coming to be.

But this leads necessarily to some form of survivalism. For while the soul of Peter remains individual, it also remains a subject of powers and acts. When we pray to saints, we pray that they intercede for us, that they actually operate in some sense. This is not mere symbolism for "God pretends that the saint would wish to intercede for us if he were able to operate." But to be a SUBJECT, in which inheres actions, (especially, to love) is to be of sufficient actuality to be called a substantial reality in some sense. And (as I indicated above) to be the subject of acts of love is nothing less than to be a subsistence - in this case the subsistence of a rational nature. Which is the very definition of a "person". Peter exists, enough to love. Even though those acts of love require God's miraculous intervention, they are possible because it is possible for the soul to persist in being individual without matter.

Timocrates said...

@ Nevitt,

Of course something ceases to be if its essence ceases to be. But essences are not divisible in the first place. It's not like an Oreo cookie you just split apart. Essence is a unity and essence isn't the same as the composite being; if a chair has an essence, wrecking a chair with a chainsaw doesn't destroy the essence of chairs.

The Thomistic doctrine is that a man's soul cannot come to be absent matter; not that it needs matter to continue to be. The Catholic doctrine is that man's substantial form is incorporeal and, as such, can survive the destruction and even total annihilation of the body that it informed. Man's essence is such that the destruction of the material in man cannot destroy his substantial form.

You have to argue that man is a material form, like a chair or water or an insect or a snake to believe that his form ceases to be when the necessary material conditions for his coming to be cease to be. You have to grapple with the fact that we can know timeless truths but be essentially temporal things. Our mind cannot be some weird material body that becomes, itself, all things. Even if this were so, it would not explain understanding (matter becomes all material things anyways - but who is so silly to think that something as mundane as an atom, e.g., 'knows' anything? It's ridiculous!)

Gyan said...

Timocrates,
Substantial forms are, I believe, incorporeal in any case, be them of chairs, cats or men.
So, this can not be the human exception. I think Feser is more correct "that a human being is not entirely corporeal".
That is, it is not the soul that is incorporeal but the human being himself that has incorporeality.

Mr. Green said...

Consider that "persona" originally referred to the mask that actors wore, which is significantly different from "person" in modern English — "personality" is something "inside", almost the opposite of an external "persona". Even then, that older sense survives in expressions like "in the person of": when help arrives in the person of the inspector, we don't mean the inspector's soul supplied moral support, but that he physically, materially arrived on the scene. A technical definition of "person" includes some notion of completeness ("completa — it must form a complete nature; that which is a part, either actually or "aptitudinally" does not satisfy the definition"). Aquinas indicates as much in various places. Since he is thinking of something more complete than just a soul, it's no surprise if in that sense he insists that a dead soul is not a "person", since everyone agrees that it is a very incomplete human. Likewise, I think the term "man" carries a certain sense of completeness. (I'm not sure the term "human being" is a good translation for homo — it seems to me to connote something in terms of its nature, so it might make sense to say the separated soul is a human being, but not a man or a person (in the fuller sense). Did the Latins ever use anything like a direct translation of "human being" anywhere?)

That said, I'm not sure what exactly the difference in the two positions here is supposed to be. Both sides more or less agree on the state of the soul, and what it must be able to do, in terms of Catholic doctrine, etc. Whether to call it a "person" or a "man" depends on the technical definition of those terms. Is there a difference in views in that one side takes the soul to be a different substance? That is, not the same substance as the (former) person, but something new? (Just as the atoms, say, that once made up the body are now entirely new substance(s).) That seems very strange and doesn't make sense to me; if the soul becomes a different substance, then that just means the previous substance has ceased to exist. Resurrecting the person would be recreating him — there seems no point to the soul's existing or not in the meantime; and that view, it seems to me, must be wrong. If, however, the soul is (all that's left of) the same substance, then what meaningfully is different from the "survival" view?

Timocrates said...

@ Gyan,

You wrote,

"Substantial forms are, I believe, incorporeal in any case..."

All forms are. I am curious to learn where you thought I denied this. The question is not whether forms are immaterial but whether or not some forms can subsist without matter, substantial or otherwise.

I brought up chairs and such because it is obvious they cannot exist without their material basis. Man is different in the fact he can know things that do not exist with matter. This is not possible if man is matter.

Timocrates said...

@ Mr. Green,

Thanks for that actor lesson.

Souls don't change substance, just FYI.

scbrownlhrm said...



Approaching it from another direction:

Part 1 of 2:

Where the destructible is concerned, and where the indestructible (but by God Alone, and so on) is concerned, we are, right now, while yet alive, found in what can rationally be called a radically diminished state given what, exactly, that which God wills, decrees, for Man’s final ends, his true felicity, sums to.

That has consequences which relieves both the corruptionist and the survivalist from having to try to “define things” by what “is intact[1] pre-death, [2] post-death, [3] post-resurrection because the “full and final singularity that is the “metric of Man as Man” is not [1] nor [2], for in fact [1] and [2] are both still in a radically diminished state relative to [3].

How different? Different as in an entire universe is, ultimately, rolled up and a new “incorruptible bodily state of affairs” obtains by the express creative act of God. It is (perhaps) our business within the examination [1] and [2] which prevents us from turning our gaze onto the radically different state of affairs up ahead in [3]. Such is not this world which we make anew – but rather such is an entirely new Creation from top to bottom – as the current universe (literally) ceases to exist and the New is (finally) fully actualized.

Had we some bizarre state of affairs where “….we only had ever known and only knew [3], and we were to look “down upon” (as it were) the state of affairs in [1] and/or in [2], we would be saying (from the vantage point of [3]), all the same sorts of things we are saying here along the lines of, “Surely the Soul there in [1] or [2] has no life whatsoever! I mean, just LOOK at their paltry condition! Now THAT is a complete disconnect! Talk about inert!”

Continued…………

scbrownlhrm said...



Part 2 of 2:

Had we some bizarre state of affairs where “….we only had ever known and only knew [3], and we were to look “down upon” (as it were) the state of affairs in [1] and/or in [2], we would be saying (from the vantage point of [3]), all the same sorts of things we are saying here along the lines of, “Surely the Soul there in [1] or [2] has no life whatsoever! I mean, just LOOK at their paltry condition! Now THAT is a complete disconnect! Talk about inert!”

Right now, this minute, the eternal contents of Man are putting on Christ, putting on incorruptibility both in our own renewing of Mind, of Soul, of Will, Reason – Godward – and ultimately, of – not our current state of the Bodily, but of (there too eventually) the incorruptible state of the Bodily (whatever that will look like, etc.). The Old is, on all fronts, fading, while the New is, on all fronts, approaching.

Every permutation and every combination fails to be defined by [1] or by [2] and that is because the singularity that is [3] is the Metric of Man as Man.

It’s not obvious that the mere death of our body changes any of what Man “is journeying through right now, short of [3].
It’s not obvious that taking [1] and looking at it from all sides, and taking [2] and looking at it from all sides, commits any of us to something other than our own diminished substance informing our own diminished form in all possible states of affairs short of [3].

In all possible state of affairs short of [3] it is right and proper to describe and define both Substance and Form as diminished. It is also incorrect to describe and define [1] as “kind of close to [3]” for [1] and [3] are not even …… wait for the literal……. in the same created state of affairs, or universe, or world.

Just like [1] vs. [2]. Just like [2] vs. [3].

[1] is nothing like [3] when it comes to an entirely different created world, universe, or state of affairs. And yet we can rationally say that [2] is more like [3] than is [1] in that the incorruptible, the eternal, subsumes the whole show.

That same “not even in the same created state of affairs, or universe, or world” is exactly what our Will, our Intellect, our Volition, our Intentionality, and so on, is, right now, experiencing relative to what lay ahead. Then this too: We have put on Christ – the New Man lives – that which cries Abba Father is born, lives, and is indestructible (but by God, and so on) and such lives within the totality of the Man in some fashion. Yet this is not (it seems) in our bodily arena as our current [1] is dying, but such is (it seems) in some other – indestructible – arena. Whatever the New Man, the New Creation, is, it is not in the process of dying, as is our bodily substance.

If we think [1] and [2] are worlds apart, we are partly right and partly wrong. We are right in that they *are* worlds apart. We are wrong in that we forget that all three are, literally, worlds apart from one another.

One could make the argument that [2] is closer to [3] than is [1], and that [3] will grant the Soul it’s final (and undiminished) Form in the sense that [3] is radically different than [1]. Whether the timeless emerges or whether an infinite Set named [Days] constitutes [3] isn’t clear.

But it is at this juncture where we reach what C.S. Lewis described as a horizon beyond which we cannot see. It’s enough to know that God has said it is not possible for us to even imagine it. And our imaginations can do quite a lot given the entirety of [1]. But, it seems, the contents of [1] cannot even begin to inform even our imaginations as to [3]. Which of course makes sense given that we are, in our being right now, as we are, in a radically diminished state vis-à-vis [3].

Tony said...

we are, right now, while yet alive, found in what can rationally be called a radically diminished state given what, exactly, that which God wills, decrees, for Man’s final ends, his true felicity, sums to.

That has consequences which relieves both the corruptionist and the survivalist from having to try to “define things” by what “is intact” [1] pre-death, [2] post-death, [3] post-resurrection because the “full and final singularity that is the “metric of Man as Man” is not [1] nor [2], for in fact [1] and [2] are both still in a radically diminished state relative to [3].


@ scbrownlhrm:

I don't think this obtains. The "metric of Man as Man" is determined by his nature, whereas what we shall become exceeds his nature. Man's nature is knowable to man (at least in theory) in this current life, whereas "what we shall be has not yet been revealed." The final end we will obtain is not the end due to Man because that is his nature, for to be a child of God is not in his nature, it is fundamentally supernatural. Man as Man, in his nature, is not to have an incorruptible body.

It is for this reason that Aristotle could rightly say that the soul of man is immortal, but he could not say what happens to man after death.

but rather such is an entirely new Creation from top to bottom – as the current universe (literally) ceases to exist and the New is (finally) fully actualized.

I dispute this also. There is no reason to posit that in remaking the universe, that God allows the old to (literally) cease to exist in every sense, and create wholly anew. For at least with respect to man - part of that universe - He does not allow men to cease to exist and then wholly create a man anew. His idea of man undergoing the renewal is that a man should be "born again of spirit and life". That is, it is the OLD man, putting on Christ, putting on incorruption. Grace builds on nature, the supernatural end uses the natural as a kind of a substrate.

That we even CAN be made children of God requires that we be rational beings. Grace builds on that natural substrate by giving the natural, rational animal, a life beyond natural life, participation in God's own life. But that participation in God's life assumes as a substrate the nature of a rational soul. God does not unmake man to make him divinized, the divine spark inhabits his (natural) rational soul in the here and now so that even here and now we start to partake of that eternal life.

What we don't know of life after the resurrection is great, but we know that we retain our rationality and that we retain our ordination toward a body (unlike the angels). Our ignorance is not so great that we can say nothing at all about that future: we will retain our basic nature as man. And we know that basic nature because it IS a nature, and it is of our rational nature is to apprehend the natures of corporeal beings.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for a brilliant article. I'd like to know whether you think the separated soul requires supernatural assistance, in order to reason. It would seem that it does. For in order to derive a conclusion (e.g. "Socrates is mortal") from a set of premises, one must be able to recall what the major was ("All men are mortal") and what the minor was ("Socrates is a man"). The latter requires one to be able to recall information about a particular individual, while the former requires one to be able to recall a universal statement that was uttered at a particular time (e.g. two seconds ago), which in turn requires one to possess episodic memory. If even people with functioning brains can sometimes fail at these tasks, how much more so, people with no brains at all (such as separated souls). What do you think?

Tony said...

Vincent, I thought the same thing. But only more so: I suppose that in the highest reaches of saintly contemplation of God, they might do without the imagination, but most of us most of the time when we think with words we also use the imagination, with phantasms of either the image of things or of sounds or symbols of things. And the imagination is a faculty based in physical organs. So, it's not just in connecting up the meanings of propositions formulated one after another, but even to formulate words in the ordinary way, we use physically based organs. So, I believe that we need God's help even to think in words after death.

Anonymous said...

The textual question is addressed here:

"I answer that, It is an article of faith that Christ was truly dead: hence it is an error against faith to assert anything whereby the truth of Christ's death is destroyed. Accordingly it is said in the Synodal epistle of Cyril [Act. Conc. Ephes. P. I, cap. xxvi]: "If any man does not acknowledge that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, and was crucified in the flesh and tasted death in the flesh, let him be anathema." Now it belongs to the truth of the death of man or animal that by death the subject ceases to be man or animal; because the death of the man or animal results from the separation of the soul, which is the formal complement of the man or animal. Consequently, to say that Christ was a man during the three days of His death simply and without qualification, is erroneous. Yet it can be said that He was "a dead man" during those three days." ST III, q. 50, a. 4

Turner Nevitt said...

Hi Ed,

This will be my last comment. You can have the last word (it is your blog, after all!). So first of all thank you for the exchange.

Your suggestion that all bodily organs and faculties are propria is an interesting one. The only difficulty I see with it is that Aquinas often says that the bodily parts in which the soul first inheres, such as the heart, are parts of the essence. He often says the same thing about the body itself and about flesh and bones. My sense is that he considers these the matter signified by definitions like rational animal.

But my concern has not been primarily with organs or faculties, but with matter as such. Aristotle and Aquinas are very clear that matter is part of the essence of natural substances, including human beings (see note 22 of my ACPQ piece). So I keep characterizing your position as implying that a human being loses part of his essence after death because your position is that a human being survives the loss of all matter. Now if you grant that a substance cannot survive the loss of any part of its essence, then as a survivalist it seems you have to deny that matter is part of the essence of human beings. Yet that is a major departure from Aristotle and Aquinas.

I’m afraid I don’t see the force of Oderberg’s objection. The soul continues to be the body’s form apart from the body, since it is essentially the form of the body. It doesn’t cease to be the body’s form because it is apart from the body. But a compound of matter and form does cease to be such a compound when it loses all matter. Oderbeg’s objection gets its force from taking the claim “the soul is essentially the body’s form” as the stronger claim “the soul essentially informs the body,” but no Thomist would grant that stronger claim.

The reason I have been asking you for a textual case is because you present your views as Aristotelian and Thomistic. At first I thought you were introducing new basic theses about essences (reading essences and their parts as normative, rather than necessary), which I think Aristotle and Aquinas do not share. So I wanted an account of how those theses counted as Aristotelian and Thomistic. I continued to refer to the texts later because I think they contain relevant basic theses about essences that you are failing to recognize. Here are the ones I have been harping on: (1) a substance cannot survive the loss of any part of its essence; (2) matter is part of the essence of human beings.

Tyrrell McAllister said...

A naive question from an outsider, with apologies for any mischaracterizations:

Turner Nevitt said that, in the corruptionists' view, sometimes a "substantial form [...] floats free of any concrete individual substance."

This reminds me of the doctrine of the Eucharist. If I understand correctly, this doctrine holds that the accidents of bread are really there where the host is, but these accidents aren't inhering in any substance. (The only substance there is Christ's, and bready properties can't flow from Christ's essence).

So, on this doctrine, the bready accidents are somehow persisting without inhering in anything. Granted, the bready accidents aren't "floating free". They're somehow "tied to" the location of the host. They have to follow the host around has it moves through space. But the accidents aren't inhering in the host.

Thus, the bready accidents continue to exist even while the bread itself no longer exists — indeed even while the accidents no longer inhere in any substance at all.

Now, the corruptionist position could be stated in a parallel way, as follows:

A man's substantial form continues to exist even while the man himself no longer exists — indeed even while the substantial form no longer informs any substance at all.

Can anything be made of this parallel? Are non-informing substantial forms any more mysterious than non-inhering accidents?

scbrownlhrm said...



Tony & Turner,

Perhaps this:

Tony: Can you qualify what you mean by "formulating words needs physical organs".

Physical things cannot create immaterial things. Nor stand as their cause. Nor formulate them. "Words" then might need qualification, causally speaking. Angels can surely speak of Man without such radical help from God, yet they have no bodily sense organs.

Thinking just is thought-ing, just is reason-ing, and so on, all of which reduces to the immaterial.

Turner, it all seems related to your comment perhaps.

Hylomorphic dualism is still dualism. To force a return to what ultimately breaks down to a pure materialism is to error.

It may be the case that we reach in all of our "diminishing" a point at which X is no longer metaphysically indebted to carbon atoms.

But the removal of all material cannot make one dent in the immaterial.

Tony this leads into why [3] (from earlier) is not indebted to carbon, but is indebted to Form.

The essence of Sacrifice in the syntax of lambs and laws is not indebted to the Form of lambs and laws, but rather is comitted to the Form which such informs, shapes, and defines -- embedded in God as Means, God as Ends..... Christ. The shape of reality, or [3], over that hoizon does not lose its Form, ever, merely by a change of syntax. Hence to enslave Form to syntax seems somehow equivalent to the error enslaving thinking and reasoning -- the immaterial -- to the material.

In the same way, the syntax of lambs and laws does not indept the essence of Sacrifice to the Form of lambs and laws. Form is indispensable to essence, even though syntax is dispensable.

And even if carbon atoms are the final syntax, such cannot ever find the immaterial enslaved to or indebted to the material. Which leaves us back inside of Hylomorphic dualism and the Form of diminished states wherein the material is ultimately unable to enslave, or cause, or give birth (and hence life) to the immaterial (reasoning, volition, thinking, intentionality).

Rather, life, being, form, and wholeness flow in the opposite direction.

Brandon said...

Oderbeg’s objection gets its force from taking the claim “the soul is essentially the body’s form” as the stronger claim “the soul essentially informs the body,” but no Thomist would grant that stronger claim.

The point of the argument was explicitly the opposite, though; the whole point of the objection is that "The soul is essentially the body's form" can't be "The soul essentially informs the body"; it would make no sense if the former were being taken in the latter sense. The idea was: The soul is the form of the body because it essentially has animality, even if it is not actually informing the body. But the essence of man is being a rational animal. While it is true that a man is a composite of form and matter because he is essentially a rational animal, because the soul can still be essentially a rational animal even if it is not actually informing an animal body, it is not clear why the corruptionist thinks that ceasing to be a composite actually involves corruption of the relevant sort (e.g., treating this as 'losing parts of the essence'). In other words, since the soul is the body's form by virtue of its being essentially animal, if it continues to be the form of the body even not informing a body, it continues to be essentially animal even not informing a body, and thus continues to be essentially rational animal despite not informing matter. Thus the argument depends entirely on the point that "The soul is essentially the body's form" is not "The soul essentially informs the body"; it is claiming that the corruptionist is making a confusion similar to confusing these two.

Steven Dillon said...

Damn, late to the debate.

I guess I don't see how human beings surviving the loss of some or most of their body illustrates how or demonstrates that human beings can survive the loss of all of their body.

Surviving with a compromised but intact material substratum just is not recognizably similar to surviving without that substratum at all.

J Ro said...

Hi,

I'm not sure if I still understand. Let's say that both of us were to die tomorrow (God forbid). If neither us is union with our particular bodies, in what sense is there a difference between you and me after death? It seems to me that there can't be a real difference because the intellect isn't necessarily subjected to particular memories and other contingencies per se. It only knows the eternal essences of things. But if that's true, how could particular people, like Edward and me, meaningfully exist after death?

Tony said...

This reminds me of the doctrine of the Eucharist. If I understand correctly, this doctrine holds that the accidents of bread are really there where the host is, but these accidents aren't inhering in any substance. (The only substance there is Christ's, and bready properties can't flow from Christ's essence).

Tyrrell, it's a great idea to see if we can use information from the Eucharist into this, I think. Unfortunately, this event is wholly miraculous, and so what we KNOW about it is, really, due to revelation. It is not much "more known" than what is true of the separated soul after death. In this case, St. Thomas in the Summa makes a number of statements that are highly UNintuitive. For example, he says that

Christ's body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance. But every body occupying a place is in the place according to the manner of dimensive quantity, namely, inasmuch as it is commensurate with the place according to its dimensive quantity. Hence it remains that Christ's body is not in this sacrament as in a place,

And, as to whether Christ's body is movable in the sacrament:

According to this being, then, Christ is not moved locally of Himself, but only accidentally, because Christ is not in this sacrament as in a place, as stated above (Article 5). But what is not in a place, is not moved of itself locally,

I don't know if this addresses your point exactly or not, but my sense is that it is difficult to draw any useful conclusion from knowing that Christ's substance is "present" but not present "locally", toward results about whether the separated soul exists in a state of substantive reality or in some other state.

Surviving with a compromised but intact material substratum just is not recognizably similar to surviving without that substratum at all.

@Steve Dillon:

I agree that there is a logical jump there. It may seem, perhaps, that Professor Feser is being too quick to allow the argument to be framed around this analogy as if it were clear enough to settle the problem, for "losing some" is just not similar enough to "losing all" to clearly succeed as an analogy. But his primary argument is not found in just the analogy, it is found in a direct argument in the OP:

Now, when someone who accepts all of these premises puts them together, then, I maintain, to be consistent he must be a survivalist. There is no avoiding it. The human soul exists after death. But a soul is a substantial form, and a substantial form only exists when informing the substance of which it is the form. So, the substance of which the human soul is the form must exist after death. But that substance is a human being,

Perhaps there is some confusion or disagreement about what it means to say "is a human being" when it is without a body.

Tony said...

But if that's true, how could particular people, like Edward and me, meaningfully exist after death?

J Ro, I think that it part of the debate as to whether "people like Edward and me" exist after death.

Both sides agree that there is some attenuated sense in which "I" exist after death, as long as that attenuated sense is taken very broadly or loosely: all sides agree that "my soul" persists after separation from the body. That it "separates" and persists is different than what happens with the soul and body of a plant, which BOTH cease to exist at death. The soul of the plant doesn't "separate" and THEN cease to exist, when the substance that is the plant decomposes the soul is no more. But with humans, the soul continues after death. All parties here agree.

But in another sense, "I" am the sort of thing that is DEFINED by the composition of matter and form, the union of a rational soul and matter, which together constitute a body-soul entity. To cease to be that UNION means to be something other than what the "I" is defined to be. The question is, then, whether what remains is "I" in some other sense, some sense definitive enough to retain the usage of "I" and "human being" or to be no longer capable of allowing for that usage acceptably. The corruptionists deny it.

And here it is my sense that the corruptionists are being a little oblivious to shades and nuances of meaning. Since the substantial form cannot come to be real, except in actual union with matter in the substantial unity of the real human being whole and entire, nobody is willing to allow or speak as if you had a free-floating "form of human" that has never been the form of a real individual human, e.g. Peter. But since all parties agree that at death you DO have a free-floating "form of human" that exists apart from matter, it must be allowable to speak of THAT individual "form of Peter" as remaining individual, without being actually present to the principal of individuation, i.e. matter. That the individuation persists without the continuity of its informing matter implies something different in terms of how we can (and must) speak about it, how we can and must refer to it as "being". We must speak of the form of Peter remaining individual. That, I think, all sides must agree to or cease to be Catholic.

But this has consequences, and that's what I see the corruptionists simply not willing to address: In what manner of being is this individuated soul-without-matter? If it is individual, is there absolutely NO allowable sense in which what it is, how it is real, can be said to "be Peter" without a body? If we admit that "Peter", said simply, does not exist, can we also say "Peter" does "exist in a qualified sense"? If not, what does it mean to say that the "soul of Peter" remains individual but is not "him" in _any_ sense at all?

And, more tellingly, what does it mean to say the soul of "Peter" does exist while "Peter" does not exist, and also that "what there is OF Peter" has been purified of imperfect love and now loves God perfectly? Is it right to allow the "soul of Peter" enough existence that it is capable of being the subject of such a change, and yet to deny absolutely that it is "Peter" in every sense? Or would it be more right to say that what remains OF Peter is "not simply 'Peter' but is 'Peter' as regards a sufficient reality as to be a subject of acts of love"? And if the latter, is that an adequate basis for calling what remains of Peter to be called "a being"? Is it allowable to speak of what remains as "a being qualifiedly" even though "not a complete being"? How else COULD we speak of it?

Steven Dillon said...

@Tony - The problem I have with Feser's main argument -- insofar as I've understood it -- is that it seems to imply that nobody dies. If the human substance is what survives death, then the human substance is not what dies. But, then, what does die? Just the body? I don't think so. When I say "At some point, I'm going to die", whatever else I mean, I do not just mean "At some point, my body is going to die."

Glenn said...

1. If (as per the OP) "Corruptionism is the label that has come to be attached to the view that the human being ceases to exist after death (but comes back into existence at the resurrection)", and (again as per the OP) "Survivalism is the label that has come to be attached to the view that the human being in some way continues to exist after death", then in order that it may be that corruptionism is true and survivalism simultaneously is false, it necessarily must be the case that the human being does not continue to exist after death in any way.

2. But if an actual human being is "composed of soul and body as some third thing constituted of two other things, [though not e]ither of them" [1], and the actuality of a human being ceases to exist at death (i.e., when the soul is separated from the body), and for the reason that there no longer is a composite or compound of soul and body, then there still exists a human being -- in potential or potentially; and this on the grounds that: a) "no soul will remain for ever separated from the body" [2] (and thus no formerly actual human being will forever be an actual human being only formerly); and, b) "[W]hat has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality." [3][4]

3. Therefore, it is not the case that the human being does not continue to exist after death in any way, i.e., it is the case that the human being in some way continues to exist after death; and so -- in light of the 'definitions' for each of corruptionaism and survivalism given in the OP -- it is not the case, and indeed cannot be the case, that corruptionism is true and survivalism simultaneously is false. [5]

- - - - -

[1] DEE 37.

[2] ST Supplement Q 75 A 2.

[3] ST III Q 53 A 3.

[4] The existence of an actual human being (as a composite or compound of soul and body) at some point after death is not merely a possibility; it is in fact ordained. Again, “no soul will remain for ever separate from the body”. See also, e.g., Supplement Q 75 A 1 ad. 2.

[5] The argument may be a weak and perhaps quite poor defense of survivalism. The argument, however, is not intended to be a defense of survivalism, but to give one decent reason to believe that survivalism (as 'defined' in the OP) is not false.

Glenn said...

(s/b "...one decent reason to believe at the outset or initially that...")

scbrownlhrm said...



Earlier the link to David Oderberg’s “Hylemorphic Dualism” at ( http://www.newdualism.org/papers/D.Oderberg/HylemorphicDualism2.htm and also in PDF at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieRWJGMzRadUVaXzg/edit?pref=2&pli=1 ) was posted along with a quote. Another quote of relevance to the topic here is this:

Quote:

".........(i) The person, being a compound of matter and form, is a compound of the material and the immaterial. In this sense one can speak loosely of the person's being a "mixture" of the material and the immaterial. The soul, however, does not have parts and thus is not itself a compound object (this I assume rather than argue for in the present essay): so it would really possess contradictory properties were it to be both material and immaterial, (ii) The soul, although immaterial in itself, can be described as having a certain essential relation to matter, in that its complete operation requires embodiment. Again, however, this does not mean that the soul has contradictory properties.

Now, if the soul is immaterial, it follows that human nature is immaterial, since the soul of a person just is that person's nature......"

End quote.

Tony said...

Tony: Can you qualify what you mean by "formulating words needs physical organs".

Physical things cannot create immaterial things. Nor stand as their cause. Nor formulate them. "Words" then might need qualification, causally speaking. Angels can surely speak of Man without such radical help from God, yet they have no bodily sense organs.
.

@ scbrownlhrm:

I did not mean "to think" generally, I meant only with respect to man, and even there I qualified it with "most of us most of the time" and "in the ordinary way" because there are exceptions. But yes, with men, for the ordinary sort of thought, the process takes place in such a way that the immaterial intellect uses the materially organic imagination as a tool in formulating thought, because the imagination is the locus of sounds, images, and other USUAL accoutrements forming concepts in the mind. Even when I formulate a concept of a thing that has no material aspect itself, such as an angel, at the same as I conceive the concept I also sound forth the word, or visualize a winged man, (without asserting either that the sound or the winged man IS the angel, of course.) When you conceive "equilateral triangle", your imagination poses an equilateral triangle with sides of a certain color, etc. The image held is not the concept, but the operation of conceiving still employs the imagination at least as an assistant.

Obviously, angels operate differently from humans.

Tony said...

and the actuality of a human being ceases to exist at death (i.e., when the soul is separated from the body), and for the reason that there no longer is a composite or compound of soul and body, then there still exists a human being -- in potential or potentially; and this on the grounds that: a) "no soul will remain for ever separated from the body" [2] (and thus no formerly actual human being will forever be an actual human being only formerly); and, b) "[W]hat has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality."

Glenn, I am not confident that this sense of possible that obtains with respect to a human being that is not now but soon will be, can be employed here usefully as "potential". For, the same sense of possibility applies to a child not yet conceived but who will exist due to the procreation of his parents: the matter is, as yet, the matter of some other thing (apples, cows, etc), and when ingested will become matter of the parents. And in the action of procreation, some of that matter will become the matter making up the body of the newly conceived child. So, the child WILL be, and IS possible. But in no sense proper does the soul of that child "exist" before his conception. To say even that his soul exists "potentially" implies that the soul "exists in a sense" is to muddle matters. For the potentiality belongs to the matter, not to the form that informs the matter. The matter pre-exists being informed by the human form of the child, by being the matter of some OTHER substance, during which existence it is, potentially, the matter of the child. The soul does not pre-exist the form informing the matter. Nor, properly, does the child "exist" potentially, except in some accidental sense that is an unruly way of speaking, I think. It is possible that the child will exist, but the child's existence is not the kind of existence we mean by "potential."

But this sense is just as troubling with respect to the "human being" which will exist in the full sense come the resurrection: perhaps the matter exists now in one way and is, potentially, the matter of the human being yet to be fulfilled at resurrection, but that potency applies to a thing whose order of being is, precisely, to be in potentia to form, this form or that form, for which receiving one form cannot preclude the possibility of receiving some other form: within it resides a kind of "being" that we see fulfilled in its receptivity: potency. We can't apply the same terminology to the form, or to the unity that obtains when the form and matter are united as a one whole being. Before Adam was made, his INDIVIDUAL form was not "in potentia", human form existed notionally and not actually: a different order of "to exist" than that of "in potentia".

scbrownlhrm said...


Tony,

Agree. The immaterial Man is suited for the material world and as such the process of input/output includes both (...noting the uncanny phrase of "corruption-less material" in the New Creation...). The only point about Angels is simply to point out that both perception and communique are not of necessity fixed such that one **cannot** meaningfully interface with the immaterial / material. The 7th Heaven (and other exceptions) are, it seems, genuine interfaces of Self/Other which occur both before bodily death and after.

That raises the question of something like "the immaterial Peter" meaningfully perceiving / communicating with an immaterial "other" --- world, state of affairs, God Himself, etc.

"Special Help" from God is an odd word at this juncture given that ALL worlds, states of affairs, etc, are utterly grounded in God.

In that sense it isn't "special help" but simply a contingent being immersed in and subsisting by the only ocean there is: "Being Itself".

It seems it is that or else the "immaterial Peter" (Purgatory, Hell, Heaven, etc.) cannot meaningfully participate in perception / communique in those "worlds / states of affairs" without "special help" in the immaterial Peter's process of receiving input / generating output.

Perhaps my primary objection is to the phrase "special help".

In which case this comment is more noisy than helpful.

So maybe this instead:

There are no Special Worlds in that sense in that it seems that if God is ready for anything wrt Man, then all contingencies, or all worlds, or all states of affairs, etc., are "already/easily" accounted for in Man's case wrt "transposition".

World 1 and World 2 and World 3 are all, it seems, equally special in the sense of "being prepared for..."

It seems (IMO) that we may be making an easily and already prepared "thing" or "world" (Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, or whatever...) where perception / communique are concerned quite hard because we perhaps haven't quite reminded ourselves of, well, God.

Worlds are peculiar things.

It's not obvious that God is surprised by any of these needed "transpositions", in any state of affairs, though of course (or perhaps?) we, and our imaginations, will be quite surprised as we ourselves cross such horizons.

Edward Feser said...

Hello again Turner,

First, again, I would not say that a human being loses part of his essence after death while still surviving. I don’t think that even makes sense. So, again, that is simply not what is in dispute between us. So, it seems to me you should stop raising this issue, because at this point (now that I’ve clarified things) to keep raising it would a red herring.

Second, you miss Oderberg’s point, because his point is that the cases are parallel in exactly the way you assume (without argument) that they are not. You say that even though the soul is essentially the form of the body, it can survive apart from the body. But by the same token, the survivalist’s point is that even though a human being is essentially material, it can survive the loss of matter. You can’t consistently affirm the former claim as coherent while dismissing the latter claim as somehow incoherent. Both claims are coherent given Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics, because in both cases -- the soul apart from the body, and the human being apart from matter -- what is being described is the abnormal case, not the normal case. Or, if either claim was incoherent, the other would be incoherent for the same reason.

Nor does Oderberg’s point involve any fallacious jump from the weaker claim about what is essential to the stronger sort of claim that you identify. Yes, the soul is essentially the form of the body even if (in the abnormal case) it does not inform it. And by the same token, a human being can be essentially material even if (in the abnormal case) he lacks matter. In merely asserting that the cases are different, you’ve begged the question.

Finally, re: texts, yes, of course one must take account of the textual evidence in determining whether a view is plausibly within the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. My point, though, is that text-mining by itself is insufficient and its significance shouldn’t be overstated, because:

(a) how to interpret the texts is in part a matter of asking which reading better fits with the relevant overall background metaphysical assumptions. Now, part of what is in dispute between corruptionists and survivalists is which of these views of the human being after death better accords with the larger metaphysical commitments in question. Hence merely citing further texts is not sufficient to settle that issue.

(b) Merely citing texts is also insufficient insofar as a philosopher can (i) sometimes fail to see the actual implications of the premises he is committed to, and even (ii) sometimes say things that are positively incompatible with premises he is committed to.

(c) In any case, the texts you’re talking about here in this combox exchange are texts which concern whether a thing can survive the loss of part of its essence. And as I keep saying, that’s not what is in dispute between us, since I never said (and would not say) in the first place that a thing can survive the loss of part of its essence. Naturally then, I think it irrelevant to cite texts from Aristotle or Aquinas on this issue.

Anyway, thanks for your response to my post, and for your other comments here.

Glenn said...

Tony,

When St. Thomas writes, "[W]hat has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality", he does so just while discussing the difference between a perfect resurrection and an imperfect resurrection, so it isn't clear (to me) that St. Thomas didn't in some way think it relevant to employ that sense of 'possible' usefully as 'potential' in regard to resurrection. Although, and of course, this isn't to say that if it is relevant (to employ that sense of 'possible' usefully as 'potential' in regard to resurrection), that it is necessarily relevant in the way I had thought it might be.

Also, I follow what is said about the child (and Adam), yet don't fully see its applicability to the case at hand. The case at hand has to do with already existing things, i.e., with: a) a soul which already exists; and, b) currently existing elements -- i.e., "primary components" or "all the remains that are left after the dissolution of the body", aka "ashes" (ST Supplement Q 78 A 2 ad. 2) -- which have previously served in or as the matter of an existing body proper, and which will do so once again for the same, identical body proper.

Tony said...

When St. Thomas writes, "[W]hat has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality", he does so just while discussing the difference between a perfect resurrection and an imperfect resurrection

After re-reading that article, I cannot figure out what purpose the statement serves. Which, I suppose, means I don't understand the argument he is making.

Even if one allows such a possible (even ordained) future state of existence to imply the whole enchilada human person "exists in some sense", namely in potentia, we must surely keep in mind that this sense is different from the sense of potential that we use for matter's potential to BE the matter of a new being by being informed by a new form. For the latter usage implies a KIND of being, now, that the former does not. It implies a positive sort of reality that harbors receptivity to form, a readiness to be realized fully.

Furthermore, my sense is that Prof. Feser, and survivalists in general, don't mean by their position only that sense of "exists" for the person or the human being, not merely the "exists" now only in the sense of "is possible to exist _really_ (full stop) in the future". I think their position is proposing a beefier sort of "exists" than that. Ed says:

You say that even though the soul is essentially the form of the body, it can survive apart from the body. But by the same token, the survivalist’s point is that even though a human being is essentially material, it can survive the loss of matter.

Now, even corruptionists don't mean by "survive" or "exists" for the soul ONLY the sense that "the soul has the possibility to exist later in the resurrection". Nor, then, do the survivalists mean ONLY that the human being "exists" only in the sense that it is possible it will exist later in the resurrection. Indeed, the position that the soul has enough persistence after death, that it will be fully real at the resurrection is INCOHERENT if the sort of "existence" it had at that point was only the sort of possibility to be real that Adam had on Day 5, or that I had 200 years ago. No, the persistence of the soul is taken to mean something more determinate than that of mere possibility to be fully real later.

And this, I suggest, is necessarily the case, for doctrine has it that the soul undergoes the personal judgment at death, and that requires that the soul BE more than "it is possible for it to be fully later". Similarly, the soul may undergo purgation after death, and this too requires more being than that of mere possibility to be fully real later.

The case at hand has to do with already existing things, i.e., with: a) a soul which already exists; and, b) currently existing elements --

That's just the point: these "currently existing elements" JUST ARE existing in a higher sense than that of mere possibility to be real upon a future enactment by God.

Glenn said...

Tony,

1. Even if one allows such a possible (even ordained) future state of existence to imply the whole enchilada human person "exists in some sense", namely in potentia, we must surely keep in mind that this sense is different from the sense of potential that we use for matter's potential to BE the matter of a new being by being informed by a new form.

I agree.

2. Furthermore, my sense is that Prof. Feser, and survivalists in general, ...[are] proposing a beefier sort of "exists" than that.

Again, I agree. In fact, I take it as a given.

I also took it as a given before posting my comment -- which is why in footnote [5] I first said of the argument that it "may be a weak and perhaps quite poor defense of survivalism", and then immediately indicated that it isn't even that. ("The argument, however, is not intended to be a defense of survivalism[.]")

What, then, was the point of the argument?

That too was covered by footnote [5] (and the subsequent clarification). To wit, the point of the argument was "to give one decent reason to believe at the outset or initially that survivalism (as 'defined' in the OP) is not false."

(cont)

Glenn said...

3. To the question of whether Christ was the first to rise from the dead (ST III Q 53 A 3), this objection is made: Christ was not the first to rise from the dead, because we read in the Old Testament of some persons raised to life by Elias and Eliseus, according to Hebrews 11:35: "Women received their dead raised to life again": also Christ before His Passion raised three dead persons to life. Therefore Christ was not the first to rise from the dead.

St. Thomas disarms the objection by making a distinction between imperfect resurrection and perfection resurrection. With imperfect resurrection, a person is raised from the dead, only to continue to be subject to death, i.e., only to, eventually, die again. The resurrection of each of Elias, Eliseus and the three before Christ's Passion was an imperfect resurrection (since each was still subject to death, and would, eventually, die again). With perfect resurrection, a person is raised from the dead, and is no longer subject to death, i.e., will never die again. Since the resurrection of each of those who were risen before Christ was an imperfect resurrection, and the resurrection of Christ was itself a perfect resurrection, Christ is said to be the first to rise from the dead, i.e., Christ's resurrection was the first perfection resurrection.

It is in the context of saying what an imperfection resurrection is that St. Thomas says, "[W]hat has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality." More specifically,

[S]o long as a man lives, subject to the necessity of dying, death has dominion over him in a measure, according to Romans 8:10: "The body indeed is dead because of sin." Furthermore, what has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality. Thus it is evident that the resurrection, whereby one is rescued from actual death only, is but an imperfect one.

Since a resurrection is not a case of a new being being informed by a new form, when while speaking of an imperfection resurrection St. Thomas says that "what has the possibility of existence, is said to exist in some respect, that is, in potentiality", it seems clear enough, i.e., it seems quite likely, that he has in mind, not a new being being informed by a new form, but something else. What might that something else be?

The corruptionist holds that when a person ceases to exist as a composite or compound of soul and body, then the person ceases to exist. Period. End of story. Case closed.

But if the something else that St. Thomas has in mind legitimately can be resolved into something like, “When a person ceases to exist as a composite or compound of soul and body, though the person ceases to exist as an actual composite or compound of soul and body, he continues to exist as a potential recomposite or recompound of soul and body (neologisms used to avoid it being mistakenly thought that a new soul, or new body, or new composite or compound of soul and body is meant), then the corruptionist is quickly checked by the very ‘proof-texting’ he himself employs.

Or so it seems to me.

Tony said...

Ah, now I see. Perhaps. So you are suggesting that St. Thomas is pointing at the dead as "being" something on account of their being "a potential recomposite."

I suppose that this would be valid, but not a sufficient answer to the corruptionist. For the corruptionist both says that the person does not exist, and that the person will be recomposite. When he says the latter, he allows that "what is" after death is not adequately described merely by "the person ceases to exist. Period. End of story. Case closed." For such is as good a description of a dog dying, and the dog cannot be recomposited. Even the corruptionist agrees that the something OF the person persists, whereas nothing of the dog persists, which is why the person can be reconstituted but the dog not.

I guess where I am going is to say that the suggestion you take here from St. Thomas is a kind of "pointing in the direction" by which one might discern THAT some mode of being persists after death, but not any actual description or account of what mode of being persists. I was trying to say, even if imperfectly, some account of what mode of being persists. Given the particular judgment and purgatory (and intercession), I see no way around a mode of existing that is, or at least is like, a subject.

Glenn said...

Tony,

...the suggestion you take here from St. Thomas is a kind of "pointing in the direction" by which one might discern THAT some mode of being persists after death, but not any actual description or account of what mode of being persists.

That's the gist of it, yes.

I was trying to say, even if imperfectly, some account of what mode of being persists.

That's clearer to me now.

Given the particular judgment and purgatory (and intercession), I see no way around a mode of existing that is, or at least is like, a subject.

Although I took (i.e., tried to take) a different tack... me too.

- - - - -

(Sorry for the short statements; rather tired and a bit 'burnt out' just now.)

Tyrrell McAllister said...

@Glenn: The corruptionist holds that when a person ceases to exist as a composite or compound of soul and body, then the person ceases to exist. Period. End of story. Case closed.

But if the something else that St. Thomas has in mind legitimately can be resolved into something like, “When a person ceases to exist as a composite or compound of soul and body, though the person ceases to exist as an actual composite or compound of soul and body, he continues to exist as a potential recomposite or recompound of soul and body ..., then the corruptionist is quickly checked by the very ‘proof-texting’ he himself employs.


I gather that the corruptionist would happily admit that the soul after death is, in some sense, potentially the person of which it was original the soul. As you say (the corruptionist would agree), the soul will eventually again inform matter, at which point the soul and matter together will be the same person who was originally informed by that soul. So, sure, we can describe this situation by saying that the soul is potentially the person, somewhat like (as Aquinas thought) menstrual blood is potentially a person. (A difference between these cases would be that the soul is potentially that person, and none other, while menstrual blood is potentially a person only generically.)

But the corruptionist position, as I read it, says moreover that what-survives-death is not merely only potentially a person. What-survives-death is in fact only potentially a substance at all. The soul is not merely disembodied but even "disensubstanced" (so to speak). Nonetheless, this disensubstanced soul is potentially a substance, and even potentially the original person.

The corruptionist's argument that Aquinas's thought this would be as follows:

Suppose that the soul after death were still informing a substance by being the substantial form of that substance. Then that substance would necessarily be the man, for nothing but that man can have the substantial form of that man.

But then the man, as such and without qualification, would be actually in existence after death. Now, as numerous Aquinas quotes show, he thought that the man as such does not exist between death and the resurrection, but only a dead man. Or, perhaps he would allow, a merely potentially alive man. But not the actual man. Therefore, since the actual man is not in existence, the soul must continue to exist without informing any substance at all (for any such informed substance would necessarily actually be that man).

This line of argument would be undercut if there were other instances in A-T metaphysics of the following schema: The substantial form of substance X is informing substance Y, while Y is merely potentially, but not actually, X.

David M said...

In general, an argument from authority is the weakest kind of argument. But is that still the case when the authority in question is David Oderberg (backed up by Ed Feser)?

Tony wrote: "But yes, with men, for the ordinary sort of thought, the process takes place in such a way that the immaterial intellect uses the materially organic imagination as a tool in formulating thought, because the imagination is the locus of sounds, images, and other USUAL accoutrements forming concepts in the mind. Even when I formulate a concept of a thing that has no material aspect itself, such as an angel, at the same as I conceive the concept I also sound forth the word, or visualize a winged man, (without asserting either that the sound or the winged man IS the angel, of course.) When you conceive "equilateral triangle", your imagination poses an equilateral triangle with sides of a certain color, etc. The image held is not the concept, but the operation of conceiving still employs the imagination at least as an assistant."

I don't understand the grounds for this claim about the incapacity of the intellect to contemplate sounds, images, etc. apart from a material organ. Could you explain that?

David M said...

Turner Nevitt wrote: "But my concern has not been primarily with organs or faculties, but with matter as such. Aristotle and Aquinas are very clear that matter is part of the essence of natural substances, including human beings (see note 22 of my ACPQ piece). So I keep characterizing your position as implying that a human being loses part of his essence after death because your position is that a human being survives the loss of all matter. Now if you grant that a substance cannot survive the loss of any part of its essence, then as a survivalist it seems you have to deny that matter is part of the essence of human beings. Yet that is a major departure from Aristotle and Aquinas."

It's disappointing that Turner decided he would fire a last salvo and then retreat, regardless of the success or not of his parting shot. That's no way to have an argument! I think Ed's reply is quite right to suggest that Turner is clearly not hitting the mark here (although I would diagnose an ignoratio elenchi rather than a red herring), but it would have been nice to hear Turner's take on it. I wish my stupid university hadn't cancelled their subscription to ACPQ, but I guess they needed room in their budget for all the games they've been acquiring for the library collection. I suppose the traditional discrimination of libraries against games in favour of books is an historical injustice that has long been crying out to be rectified.

Tony said...

I don't understand the grounds for this claim about the incapacity of the intellect to contemplate sounds, images, etc. apart from a material organ. Could you explain that?

David M, I am not claiming that the intellect is "incapable of contemplating sounds, images, etc" without a material organ. I am saying that ordinarily when the intellect actually considers a concept, there is also a coordinate operation of the imagination providing a phantasm that runs alongside. There are exceptions to this, but that's the ordinary situation: when you think the concept "triangle" you either imagine a specific triangle (either scalene, isosceles, or equilateral), or you imagine the written word "triangle", or you imagine the heard word "triangle". Your imagined phantasm isn't itself any portion of the concept, but (as I understand it) the process of learning to think the concept triangle does not take place except in conjunction with phantasms, so that LATER events of calling forth the concept (in the intellect) also coordinately call forth the phantasm, and it is unclear that UNAIDED we would successfully call forth and think the concept without having reference to a phantasm. Consider: when you decide to think "triangle", do you ever do so other than under the aspect of "a word", i.e. an interior spoken or written expression, sensed or imagined? Can you do so without ANY sensation or phantasm?

Tony said...

But then the man, as such and without qualification, would be actually in existence after death. Now, as numerous Aquinas quotes show, he thought that the man as such does not exist between death and the resurrection, but only a dead man. Or, perhaps he would allow, a merely potentially alive man. But not the actual man. Therefore, since the actual man is not in existence, the soul must continue to exist without informing any substance at all (for any such informed substance would necessarily actually be that man).

This line of argument would be undercut if there were other instances in A-T metaphysics of the following schema: The substantial form of substance X is informing substance Y, while Y is merely potentially, but not actually, X.


Tyrell, how about this schema: The substantial form of Peter - who formerly was a fully actual human being - is no longer the substantial form of Peter-fully-actual. It will, in the future, be once again the substantial form of Peter-fully-actual. In between, it persists and has a mode of being more than merely "it was" and "it will be" but "it is now in some manner".

Its being now must be a mode of being adequate to its once again taking up and being the substantial form of Peter-fully-actual. This current mode of being is determinate enough that we can say some things about it: its current mode of being means that it CANNOT come to be the substantial form of Peter's dog: it remains OF the species human (though not fully satisfying the entirety of the definition of human). Further, it cannot come to be the substantial form of Jane: it remains individual to Peter, even though it has lost the immediate reality of presently informing that matter which is the principle of individuation. Both of these things we must say about it mean that its mode of existence between the former fully actual and the future fully actual is MORE THAN merely "will be fully actual" at some future event, but represents a sort of "is now" that is imperfectly intelligible (i.e., is not a wholly mysterious black box of which nothing can be said).

That imperfectly intelligible mode is, as I pointed out, still human and still individual in a not complete way. These, though, are sufficient to say that what was the form of Peter is, even now, "the form of Peter imperfectly actual". It retains both the species-determinacy of human nature, and an ordination individually towards Peter alone and no other individual of human nature. But that is just to say that the form persists imperfectly actual, even though not informing matter directly and immediately.

David M said...

Tony,
When I decide to think "triangle" I inevitably have (habitually) all sorts of sensible images (and corollary concepts) that are ready to come to the forefront of my attention, because all of those images (and concepts) are connected (in various ways) to my understanding of triangles. But of course none of these images and concepts are identical to my thought of a triangle. I can certainly think "triangle" without any sensation. I can't ordinarily do it without any "phantasm," but I'm not clear on why exactly that it. Is it because phantasms are essential to the thought itself or merely because of laws of psychological association? Is it because phantasms provide a connection to material being whereby my private, inner thought can be materially expressed and communicated to other human beings, and since we have a natural desire to be able to communicate our thoughts, we naturally seek to always have means at our disposal (principally voces) for materially expressing our thought? Also, a triangle is something that I can sense, this is part of my concept of a triangle, so of course I am primed to sense triangles when I think of triangles, and I may well be disposed to always think of seeing or imagining when I think of triangles. But the thought of triangles itself... How do we isolate that?

In any case, the key point I question is the necessary grounding of 'phantasms' in material organs. If I want to call out "phantasm!" then clearly I'll need a material organ. But if I just want to think "phantasm!" then it seems not nearly so clear that I still do.

Tony said...

I can't ordinarily do it without any "phantasm," but I'm not clear on why exactly that it. Is it because phantasms are essential to the thought itself or merely because of laws of psychological association?

According to Aristotle and St. Thomas, the initial reason is in how we come to have concepts at all. We start with the senses reporting the sensible forms - say, the visible form of an oak: green and gray and brown. The imagination gets involved by presenting a combined phantasm that integrates multiple sensible forms into one presentation - say, the visible form, the audible, the olefactory, the physical touch. The active intellect eventually apprehends the intelligible species of oak, and you have formed a concept. The initial act of conceiving "oak" does not (ordinarily) take place without the sensible forms or the imagination presenting the phantasm. In practice, this conceiving also is registered around a name, the word "oak".

Later instances of thinking the same thought perhaps are not intrinsically reliant on the phantasm as such, I believe: a person can in principle think "oak" without calling up any phantasm. But in practice the memory (also a physical-based organ) is involved in evoking the concept because the concept was already formed. Something must trigger the evocation of the concept, and normally this trigger will be either a sensory event or, at the least, a recalling of the NAME "oak" or the intellect has no peg upon which to rest its thought specifically there and not at "tree" or "tall" or wander off to other concepts. The process of evoking an already-formulated concept will, normally, involve at least one or more typical triggers (sensory or phantasm) which have been associated psychologically.

One area of exception: in the process of contemplation, eventually we reduce reference to phantasms, until in the end (especially, with infused contemplation) we think in a manner that eschews phantasms. This is, in small part, why the experience of such contemplation cannot be adequately conveyed.

So: in the formation of concepts (especially of sensible kinds of things), the sensible forms and phantasms (in the normal human manner) are a necessary pre-requisite. In later instantiations of thinking the concept I believe they are the usual but not intrinsically necessary accoutrement of thinking it.

Tyrrell McAllister said...

@Tony: Tyrell, how about this schema: The substantial form of Peter - who formerly was a fully actual human being - is no longer the substantial form of Peter-fully-actual. It will, in the future, be once again the substantial form of Peter-fully-actual. In between, it persists and has a mode of being more than merely "it was" and "it will be" but "it is now in some manner".

I think that this is what I meant to propose, or something like it.

In my model of the corruptionist position, the soul is all that exists between death and resurrection. The soul survives as something, namely a "freely floating". The soul is this "soumething" actually, and not merely potentially. That is the thing that the soul "is now in some manner".

At any rate, what the soul does not survive as is as something actually informing a substance. The soul is merely the substantial-form component of a particular substance (namely, the complete human) that does not, for the time being, exist.

Nonetheless, in my model, the corruptionist would agree that, between death and resurrection, the complete human does exists potentially. Indeed, the corruptionist might even agree to say that the soul itself is potentially the complete human, in that it is of the nature of this soul to contribute, eventually, to the composition of that complete human upon resurrection.

To those who balk at the idea of a "freely floating" substantial form, my corruptionist would reply that the alternative is even worse, at least for Aquinas and anyone else who agrees with all that he's written.

For, if the soul is to survive death, but not be freely floating, then the soul must be informing some substance as that substance's substantial form. But that substance can't be the actual man, for Aquinas says that the actual man isn't there in the interval between death and resurrection. (Only a "dead man" is there after death and prior to resurrection.)

So now this hypothetical substance informed by the soul is something that is not a man but which nonetheless has the substantial form of a man.

This, my corruptionist would argue, is even more repugnant to A-T metaphysics than a freely floating substantial form is.

By the way, thank you for your earlier reply to my Eucharist suggestion. I suppose that there are at least these two mysteries about the Eucharist: (1) In what sense Christ is there, and (2) in what sense the bread-accidents are there.

Your quotes seem to address (1). For what it's worth, I was trying to make a connection between corruptionism and (2), not (1). Maybe (2) is no more illuminating than (1), but making a connection to (1) hadn't occurred to me.

Tyrrell McAllister said...

I wrote The soul survives as something, namely a "freely floating".

Sorry for cutting that sentence short. I meant to write, The soul survives as something, namely a "freely floating" substantial form.

Tony said...

Tyrell, what would you suppose would be that corruptionist view of the issues that arise from the particular judgment and purgatory and intercessory prayer? Does God judge the "free floating" form, or does He judge Peter, or does He do something else? It seems implausible that God judges what cannot be considered responsible. Or real enough to bear judgment, i.e. real enough to harbor guilt or merit. Is the free-floating substantial form of Peter real enough to harbor guilt or merit?

Worse yet, in what way can the free-floating form achieve purgation in Purgatory and be able to now love perfectly rather than imperfectly?

Does the saint in heaven DO anything really in response to our prayers, or are our prayers just so much smoke and superstition?

Do not these instances of operation after death entail that the soul of Peter be a subject?

David M said...

even to formulate words in the ordinary way, we use physically based organs. So, I believe that we need God's help even to think in words after death.

To formulate words in the ordinary way is just to think them, and possibly also to speak or write them. Speaking and writing clearly require material organs, but does thinking them? Why can't phantasms (or something like phantasms, a language of thought) be stored in the intellectual memory? How does one differentiate, in practice, whether the words one formulates arise directly from an intelligible species possessed by the possible intellect, or from a phantasm 'stored in' the material organs of the imagination? Is incommunicability (as in special acts of 'contemplation') really a mark of the purely intellectual? Why think that?

David M said...

Tyrrell wrote: "At any rate, what the soul does not survive as is as something actually informing a substance. The soul is merely the substantial-form component of a particular substance (namely, the complete human) that does not, for the time being, exist."

The human soul never exists merely as "something actually informing a substance." It always exists primarily as a subsistent form, which is at the same time the form naturally giving human actuality to a material body. So the human soul is never merely the substantial-form component of a particular (material) substance. The separate soul is subsistent, and as such has to be a complete substance, insofar as it is a primary subject of being. It is subject to a serious privation/limitation of its natural powers, but it actually is so subject, and this is only possible because it is actual, because it does really and truly and unequivocally exist.

Tony said...

Why can't phantasms (or something like phantasms, a language of thought) be stored in the intellectual memory?

We know there is a memory function of sensible forms, for we remember past sensations. Therefore, there is a physically-based memory.

Can you explain how we can be assured of another memory function that is not physically-based? An "intellectual" memory? Whenever I remember concepts that I have earlier thought, I also remember earlier physically-based things, like sensations or phantasms, (and words at least internally used) so I am sure that operating so can be done with (alongside of) physically-based memory. What I am not sure of is that there is yet another memory function separately, that is wholly intellectual, in which we can induce operation WITHOUT any concurrent operation of the physically-based memory.

David M said...

But even sensible forms are immaterial. (When I see a red wall, I don't become red in the material sense in which the wall is red.) Sensing is a physical act, and so requires a physical organ. But it is also a psychical act, an act of a living being, a rational being in the case of human vision. Vision for a human being is only generically similar to vision for an irrational animal. I see no discontinuity between the sensible form of redness and the human intellect's grasp of redness. The intellect is not excluded from sensible apprehension, but joins with it and confers upon sensible forms a character of universality. The fact that we learn and systematically build up conceptual systems surely indicates that memory is not (just) physically-based, that there is intellectual memory. It may be that we cannot carry on intellectual functions without any concurrent operation of "physically-based memory" (i.e., material organs), but surely that is to be expected given that our material organs are alive and autonomic and necessary for executing practical applications of our intellectual activity, and so are naturally always directed towards and more or less primed for physical (inter)action. But the fact that we can't turn off our material organic functioning, so that it always accompanies our thought, doesn't imply that it has any essential active role in intellectual contemplation (and I'm not just referring to the ineffable, mystical kind of contemplation), and to the contrary, I suspect that there are basic conceptual reasons for doubting the coherence of their even possibly playing such a role.

Tony said...

The fact that we learn and systematically build up conceptual systems surely indicates that memory is not (just) physically-based, that there is intellectual memory.

That there is some form of calling forth what is known habitually so that it is now known as currently thought, seems unavoidable. That it implies a sort of "intellectual memory" seems to me plausible but not proven. Can you explain how it works that the intellect, though having the thought "triangle", does not have it actually some times, and then other times thinks it actively?

It may be that we cannot carry on intellectual functions without any concurrent operation of "physically-based memory" (i.e., material organs), but surely that is to be expected given that our material organs are alive and autonomic and necessary for executing practical applications of our intellectual activity,

Fair enough. But is this so far off from supposing, also, that the "concurrent operations" of physically based memory also SERVE as aids and supports for the purely intellectual process of thinking a thought that had been thought earlier? Is it not easier to THINK the Pythagorean theorem in terms of words like "triangle" and "hypotenuse" than to think it without any words at all? Does not the use of words constitute an aid supplied by concurrent operations of physically based memory?

David M said...

Clearly we have habitual knowledge. I take it as evident (even if this isn't the only possible way to put it) that the possible intellect more or less progressively acquires intelligible species, so that it progressively becomes all things. The will is different from the intellect, but is also in continuity with the intellect through its direction of the active intellect to toward active contemplation of this or that specifically. The immaterial will and intellect are also in continuity (and sometimes contention) with the organically based (neural and hormonal) modes of human cognition/affect, that is, for as long as the soul is acting as the form of its body, but obviously no longer when it is no longer so acting.

I think it quite evident that we won't have much success thinking theorems without using words, but I don't see why we should assume that the use of words is only possible through the use of physically based memory. (Consider God using words to speak to, say, Moses: this doesn't imply that God has a physically based memory.)

Tony said...

I think it quite evident that we won't have much success thinking theorems without using words, but I don't see why we should assume that the use of words is only possible through the use of physically based memory.

OK, I think we are speaking at cross-purposes here. By "words" I mean, specifically, either written or spoken words (accessible by senses), or phantasms of written or spoken words (present to the imagination). I don't mean the thought concept that sits behind the word. St. Thomas points out that words are SIGNS of what is held in the mind. The signs are sensible pointers to something not sensible.

(Consider God using words to speak to, say, Moses: this doesn't imply that God has a physically based memory.)

I am pretty confident that everything we "say of" God in this respect has to be taken with many cautions and caveats about analogical usage: God doesn't have many acts, he has one. He doesn't think this thought, and then another thought, He thinks Himself, period. When he operates upon the universe with diverse effects, the diversity is in the universe without being in HIM at all. God, being eternal, doesn't really have ANY memory at all, He is wholly present to Himself and to all reality all together.

Tony said...

It might be more interesting to consider angels. And, off the top of my head, I would have assumed that angels have some sort of memory of the past - a memory clearly not physically-based. But then I remember that angels don't think their thoughts discursively: for example, they don't understand a theorem with its premises and the conclusion following by considering one after the other in time, they apprehend the WHOLE of the demonstration altogether as in a single act. I don't know what that implies with respect to the way angels apprehend human history (which to us unfolds part after part in time, but not to God), but given that they have a kind of participatory eternity (aeviternal) I hesitate to draw conclusions about it with any kind of certainty.

David M said...

To clarify (I hope), I'm certainly not talking about material instantiations (tokens) of written or spoken words , but I am talking about immaterial words (the formal, universal, intelligible content of, e.g., "triangle" whereby the intellect normally calls triangles to mind). These are present to the imagination in various forms, and also present in universal form (which entails a recognition of the unity of reference/signification of the various associated subordinate images) in the intellect which habitually or actively understands, indifferently and directly through any and all relevant images of which it possesses the form. Words are signs of what is in the mind, but they are also signs in and for the mind, and considered as such they are not sensible. (Phantasms, including word-phantasms like that corresponding to "triangle," are OF sensible things, but they are not, qua phantasms, themselves sensible. They are, in a strict sense, just as immaterial as concepts, and indeed serve as the basic stuff of concepts.)

What you say about God is true, but misses the point. God can speak words (as can angels). God does not have memory and a fortiori he does not have material-organic-based memory. Therefore the use of words (i.e., verbal communication at a humanly comprehensible level) does not imply use of a physically-based memory or any kind of material organ. The diffusion of thought into discrete words may not be necessary or normal for divine and angelic intellection, but it is not therefore impossible.

Tony said...

David M, we have certainly gone far afield in dealing with what is, all in all, just a throw-off line of mine about one way in which we do (or may, or don't) "operate" after death and before the resurrection. I am happy to continue, but I just wanted to point out that I never considered it anything more than a VERY peripheral aspect of the main thesis. I am not wedded to it as if certain, not at all.

I'm certainly not talking about material instantiations (tokens) of written or spoken words , but I am talking about immaterial words (the formal, universal, intelligible content of, e.g., "triangle" whereby the intellect normally calls triangles to mind).

Yep, that's what I was afraid of, we were using the term "word" in different senses. So we weren't matching up at all in what we said about it. As far as I can tell, it sounds like what I call a "concept" you are calling a "word", sort of.

But it's not that simple. You go on to say:

(Phantasms, including word-phantasms like that corresponding to "triangle," are OF sensible things, but they are not, qua phantasms, themselves sensible. They are, in a strict sense, just as immaterial as concepts, and indeed serve as the basic stuff of concepts.)

And this doesn't seem to work for me. Maybe we are failing to use "phantasm" alike either. So, let me specify what way I am using it.

If I see a red apple on my desk, I have a "sensation", and "red" is a sensory reality for me. I "sense" red as a primary sensible. My eye and my nerves perform physical activity, and I "see" red in that my sense faculty receives the sensible form "red". If, 5 minutes later, I call to reconsider that past experience, I "remember" the experience of seeing red, using my memory. I am not now experiencing red as through the sense faculty, but through the memory faculty. The red I am NOW experiencing is, still, the red as of a sensible form, but it is not the sensible form being SENSED (the apple may have been destroyed in the meantime), but the sensible form being remembered. The sense faculty itself must be a physically-based faculty in order to receive the sensible form AS a sensible form. The memory being employed here must, also, be a physically-based faculty to re-present the sensible form under the same mode as it was originally experienced, i.e. as sensible.

If I re-arrange the remembered red of that apple and consider it as if it were the color of a (blue) shirt I have, I am engaging the imagination. The new experience I have, of a "red shirt" is neither an experience of an actual red shirt being sensed, nor a remembered red shirt being called from memory of sensed things, but a "phantasm" of my own making, an amalgamation of OTHER sensible forms in my memory. Since the material being used in this amalgamation consists of sensible forms, the phantasm is, also, of the same order: sensible forms. Hence the faculty of imagination being employed is, also, of the same order as the sense and the memory from which it receives its raw materials: physically-based faculties.

Tony said...

In all three cases, the faculty mentioned (sense, memory, and imagination) are faculties OF the soul. That is, it is in virtue of having a soul that the organism can have the capacity of seeing, remembering, or imagining. In all three cases, animals also have these faculties. In all three cases, we must insist that what we mean by the "faculty" is not the physical organ alone which is (perhaps) the seat in which takes place the main physical activity, but the aspect of soul which is the reason the activity of the physical organ is something fundamentally more than the operation of a video camera with lens and film: the camera can receive and can record, and can play back, but none of these or the conglomerate implies that the camera "sees" or "remembers". So, when I refer to "physically-based faculties" I mean not that the faculty is fundamentally physical in its core, but that the faculty is a faculty of soul that (unlike the intellect) is intimately rooted to a physical organ. (If you removed a person's eyes and optic nerves and the optic center of the brain, the faculty of "sight" would remain part of the soul. But you could not say of a person in that state that he could "see" even though he retains the same faculty.) In this sense the eye (and brain) are the seat of the faculty of sight, even though it is a faculty of soul.

Now, to get to the crux, you say that phantasms are "just as immaterial" as concepts. And to this I object. For it seems to me that the phantasm of red I imagine as "red shirt" is, rather, "just as material" as the seen red of the red shirt: both are the red of sensible forms. Both are a form received not MATERIALLY, because the eye does not become colored red when you see red, but the sensible form is the same form (red) that is the proper object of a physically-based faculty. It is, then the same form, received without becoming red, that the physical object has in a material way. The object of the sense of sight is not "sensible forms", the object is the red of the thing. The person sees in virtue of receiving the red as a sensible form, but it has to be the same red or we are not "seeing" the apple, we are seeing only some non-apple emanation from it.

And this is a different way of being "not material" than that of concepts. For, animals also receive red in a sensible form, without an intellectual faculty at all, or ANY aspect of soul that implies the immateriality of the rational faculty. And so what we must say of the sensible form is that it is "material-in-a-sense" while being immaterial in a sense, and that differs from the concept. To sense implies one level of abstraction, to conceive implies ANOTHER level of abstraction.

Tony said...

Just to recall: sensible forms differ from intelligible forms by particularity. A sensible form is always particular, this red in this thing. An intelligible form is capable of escaping particularity by being universal: "man" instead of "Peter".

Tyrrell McAllister said...

@Tony: Tyrell, what would you suppose would be that corruptionist view of the issues that arise from the particular judgment and purgatory and intercessory prayer?

I don't know. Maybe God judges in a "potential" way that is fully realized only after resurrection? I don't know enough Catholic theology to say whether corruptionists would consider that idea plausible. And, if they wouldn't, I don't know what they'd offer in its place. I can say even less about what they'd have the saints be doing in heaven prior to resurrection.

pck said...

Tony:
If I see a red apple on my desk, I have a "sensation", and "red" is a sensory reality for me. I "sense" red as a primary sensible. My eye and my nerves perform physical activity, and I "see" red in that my sense faculty receives the sensible form "red".

Some conceptual remarks: Seeing is not a sensation but a perception. When we talk about perceptions, we ascribe certain qualities ("red") to the perceived objects ("a red vase"). It is different for sensations. If I have a pain in my hand, I do not ascribe the sensation of pain to the hand. It is not the hand that feels the pain, but I.

We should be wary of reifying "the I", "the self", as well as the soul. It is quite correct to say that "sense, memory, and imagination are faculties OF the soul". But we court trouble if we think of the soul as an immaterial object which has these faculties in a possessive sense. "My sense faculty receives a sensible form 'red'" is just a complicated and potentially confusing way to say "I see red", for "I see red" is not a reference to an ("inner") immaterial process in which immaterial objects ("qualia") encounter a qualia-processing immaterial machinery called "sense faculty". (To construe things like that is to invite the conceptual troubles of Cartesian dualism where we have to, but cannot, explain how said immaterial objects can interact.) Likewise, I do not "excercise my faculty to see red", for I do not excercise anything when a perception occurs. "Soul" is a way to talk about certain abilities which we predicate of a human being as a whole, not of some material or immaterial part of it. The expression "the soul" has thus the function of a verb rather than a noun, similar to "an act".

To Aristotle, "Soul has little to do with personal identity and individuality. There is no reason to think that one (human) soul is in any important respect different from any other (human) soul. The form of one human being is the same as the form of any other. There is, in this sense, only soul, and not souls. You and I have different souls because we are different people. But we are different human beings because we are different compounds of form and matter. That is, different bodies both animated by the same set of capacities, by the same (kind of) soul."[1]

Aristotle acknowledges the dependence on the body of the faculties of the soul, but makes an exception for the intellect, the faculty of reason and understading. Actuality, according to Aristotle, can be present via Form only and thus only Form can be causally active. And while he is quite right to say that there is (and can be) no organ of reason, and that the faculties of reason are in this sense immaterial, they nevertheless depend on material circumstances (as you pointed out earlier. Aristotle is very brief and thus a bit unclear about his own doctrine of form and matter with regard to the immortality of the (rational) soul. Mere immmateriality is not enough to arrive at this conclusion. (My studies in Thomism are in their initial stages, so I'd be grateful if someone could point me to a relevant passage in Aquinas.)

"The soul is not an independently existing substance. It is linked to the body more directly: it is the form of the body, not a separate substance inside another substance (a body) of a different kind. It is a capacity, not the thing that has the capacity.
It is thus not a separable soul. (It is, at most, pure thought, devoid of personality, that is separable from the body on Aristotle’s account.)
[1]

[1] https://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/psyche.htm

David M said...

"The memory being employed here must, also, be a physically-based faculty to re-present the sensible form under the same mode as it was originally experienced, i.e. as sensible."

But the memory does not re-present the sensible form under the "same mode" as it was originally experienced. It is a different mode. It is still re-presented as sensible, but that is because sensibility as such is understood by the intellect, not because phantasms are themselves sensible.

"Just to recall: sensible forms differ from intelligible forms by particularity. A sensible form is always particular, this red in this thing. An intelligible form is capable of escaping particularity by being universal: "man" instead of "Peter"."

This is the correct criterion, but I don't think you're applying it consistently. For a phantasm is indeed intelligible by this criterion (I may have a phantasm of red that is indifferent between this red wall and this red ball, etc.)

David M said...

(I can also have a universal phantasm of a particular thing, like the sun or the moon or the word "triangle" or the man Peter.)

Tony said...

Seeing is not a sensation but a perception. When we talk about perceptions, we ascribe certain qualities ("red") to the perceived objects ("a red vase"). It is different for sensations. If I have a pain in my hand, I do not ascribe the sensation of pain to the hand. It is not the hand that feels the pain, but I.

@pck:

This is not the terminology as Aristotle uses it. The 5 senses are the faculties of sensation. That's just common language. Interposing "perception" for the experience is creating a diversion for no particular reason: what happens when the sense of sight acts is "seeing", and seeing is sensing what is visible. What happens with the other faculties, such as reflection and intellection on the sense experience, is something else. Talking about "we ascribe certain qualities ("red") to the perceived objects ("a red vase")" is doing some back-and-fill with modern philosophy attempting to "update" how we ought to understand what occurs, and fails signally in coming to grips with Aristotle's use of common terms for what they mean.

But we court trouble if we think of the soul as an immaterial object which has these faculties in a possessive sense. "My sense faculty receives a sensible form 'red'" is just a complicated and potentially confusing way to say "I see red",

Notice that I did not say "my eye sees" or "my sight sees" but "I see". It is laudable to avoid Cartesian dualism. But it is also possible to go too far. Unless you can find in the human soul distinct faculties of sense and intellection, you cannot say that there is an immateriality to the human soul that is different from animals. And if you refuse to go with SOME kind of immateriality to the human soul, you lose all ability to explain intellection. It is not necessary to posit the soul as an "immaterial object" in which resides faculties as like to organs of the body, but it is necessary to posit immateriality TO the soul and distinction of faculties as distinction of "capabilities".

The form of one human being is the same as the form of any other. There is, in this sense, only soul, and not souls. You and I have different souls because we are different people. But we are different human beings because we are different compounds of form and matter.

This professor gives a nearly hopeless confusing expression of what Aristotle actually teaches. While he rightly latches onto the fact that there is no distinction of soul without reference to embodied souls, he messes up what that implies with respect to embodied souls.

The form of one human being is the same as the form of any other. Clarification: the form of one human being is SPECIFICALLY (same in species) the same as the form of any other. It is NUMERICALLY different because of being the form OF individuals. Matter is the principle of individuation, so the form of Peter is distinct from the form of John as numerically distinct.

There is, in this sense, only soul, and not souls. Correct usage: there is, in this sense, only "human nature", not "human natures". What is the SAME from human to human is the same IN KIND; what is different from human to human is due to different matter. But when we speak of the "soul" of Peter here, the connotation of "soul" as a different term than "human nature" is not a signification of "human nature under its universal character", but "human nature as individuated, in respect of an individual as a complete substance, Peter".

Tony said...

But the memory does not re-present the sensible form under the "same mode" as it was originally experienced. It is a different mode. It is still re-presented as sensible, but that is because sensibility as such is understood by the intellect,...


This is what Aristotle holds:

"..then imagination must be a movement resulting from an actual exercise of a power of sense...And because imaginations remain in the organs of sense and resemble sensations, animals in their actions are largely guided by them, some (i.e. the brutes) because of the non-existence in them of mind, others (i.e. men) because of the temporary eclipse in them of mind by feeling or disease or sleep."

Tony said...

And St. Thomas:

Therefore an animal through the sensitive soul must not only receive the species of sensible things, when it is actually affected by them, but it must also retain and preserve them. Now to receive and retain are, in corporeal things, reduced to diverse principles; for moist things are apt to receive, but retain with difficulty, while it is the reverse with dry things. Wherefore, since the sensitive power is the act of a corporeal organ, it follows that the power which receives the species of sensible things must be distinct from the power which preserves them.

Again we must observe that if an animal were moved by pleasing and disagreeable things only as affecting the sense, there would be no need to suppose that an animal has a power besides the apprehension of those forms which the senses perceive, and in which the animal takes pleasure, or from which it shrinks with horror. But the animal needs to seek or to avoid certain things, not only because they are pleasing or otherwise to the senses, but also on account of other advantages and uses, or disadvantages: just as the sheep runs away when it sees a wolf, not on account of its color or shape, but as a natural enemy: and again a bird gathers together straws, not because they are pleasant to the sense, but because they are useful for building its nest. Animals, therefore, need to perceive such intentions, which the exterior sense does not perceive. And some distinct principle is necessary for this; since the perception of sensible forms comes by an immutation caused by the sensible, which is not the case with the perception of those intentions.

Thus, therefore, for the reception of sensible forms, the "proper sense" and the "common sense" are appointed, and of their distinction we shall speak farther on (ad 1,2). But for the retention and preservation of these forms, the "phantasy" or "imagination" is appointed; which are the same, for phantasy or imagination is as it were a storehouse of forms received through the senses. Furthermore, for the apprehension of intentions which are not received through the senses, the "estimative" power is appointed: and for the preservation thereof, the "memorative" power, which is a storehouse of such-like intentions. A sign of which we have in the fact that the principle of memory in animals is found in some such intention, for instance, that something is harmful or otherwise. And the very formality of the past, which memory observes, is to be reckoned among these intentions.

Now, we must observe that as to sensible forms there is no difference between man and other animals; for they are similarly immuted by the extrinsic sensible. But there is a difference as to the above intentions: for other animals perceive these intentions only by some natural instinct, while man perceives them by means of coalition of ideas. Therefore the power by which in other animals is called the natural estimative, in man is called the "cogitative," which by some sort of collation discovers these intentions. Wherefore it is also called the "particular reason," to which medical men assign a certain particular organ, namely, the middle part of the head: for it compares individual intentions, just as the intellectual reason compares universal intentions. As to the memorative power, man has not only memory, as other animals have in the sudden recollection of the past; but also "reminiscence" by syllogistically, as it were, seeking for a recollection of the past by the application of individual intentions.

David M said...

Tony, I think those are fascinating passages. They seem to address questions about the efficient causation and practical teleology of sense, imagination, estimation/cogitation, and memory/reminiscence. But they don't seem to address the formal nature and thus the intrinsic compatibility of the cognitive content in question with the immaterial nature of the intellect. The question remains: Is there any reason to think that the formal content in question should be inaccessible to the intellect qua intellect? Is there any reason to think that the (speculative) intellect must essentially rely upon a physical organ? (Evidently not for intellect in general, and I don't see why the human intellect should be an exception, notwithstanding the particularities of its natural (sense-dependent) means of learning and normal (embodied) incidental/occasional mode of being affected and remembering.)

Tony said...

David, please read Q 78, especially articles 7 and 8.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1084.htm#article7

pck said...

Tony:
This is not the terminology as Aristotle uses it. The 5 senses are the faculties of sensation. That's just common language.
Interposing "perception" for the experience is creating a diversion for no particular reason


Authors commenting on Aristotle have used both "sensation" and "perception". [1] I find "perception" to be preferable, since, as opposed to seeing, hearing, etc., we don't have sense organs for pain, pride, fear and many other human capacities. Our different linguistic practices which handle the ascription of the qualities we perceive on the one hand, and qualities otherwise experienced on the other, reflect this. "The vase is red" ascribes redness to the vase, but "my hand hurts" does not mean that I consider the pain to be a property of my hand.

My skin is my sense organ of touch and through it I sense/perceive a knife cutting my hand. But the ensuing pain is called "a sensation", not "a sensing". I do not have a sense or sense organ of pain. Thus the distinction between perception and sensation is not introduced without reason and I believe Aristotle would agree.

[1] See for example here.

... what happens when the sense of sight acts is "seeing" ...

This is what Aristotle holds:
"..then imagination must be a movement resulting from an actual exercise of a power of sense.


Except that the sense of sight does not act. No sense acts. No capacity does. Only beings endowed with capacities do. We do not literally "exercise sight". (Hence the difference between seeing and looking.) The only thing I have to do to see is to make sure my eyes are not closed or covered. But opening my eyes is not an "act of seeing". So what Aristotle means by "resulting" can in the case of sight not be an "exercise of the power of sight". One may have seen X and subsequently made an effort to imagine X, so the imagination of X is inspired by having seen X, but no power of the 5 senses can be appealed to in order to explain the power of imagination. Imagination has to be a different power which presupposes, but is not included in, the 5 senses.

pck said...

Aquinas:
Animals, therefore, need to perceive such intentions, which the exterior sense does not perceive.

And there we go. And we haven't even touched the linguistic capacities yet which are responsible for so much of imagination and thought in humans.

pck said...

@Tony

I think I misunderstood you with regard to the reification of the human faculties. What had caught my eye was your remark that

If you removed a person's eyes and optic nerves and the optic center of the brain, the faculty of "sight" would remain part of the soul. But you could not say of a person in that state that he could "see" even though he retains the same faculty.

This use of "faculty" confused me, since without the eyes, the faculty of sight is clearly gone in the ordinary sense of "faculty". So I thought you were treating the soul as "having sight" in some abstracted, reified sense. But if I read "faculty" as "capacity" (meaning "potentiality"), the problem is resolved, since if the eyes are, potentially, put back, the (ordinary) faculty of sight returns. So the form/soul of the eyeless man indeed retains the capacity/potentiality of sight.

I would still advise against the use of "faculty" in this way. A blindfolded man also cannot see, but has not lost his capacity of sight, and it's not because his form has changed.

Talking about "we ascribe certain qualities ("red") to the perceived objects ("a red vase")" is doing some back-and-fill with modern philosophy attempting to "update" how we ought to understand what occurs, and fails signally in coming to grips with Aristotle's use of common terms for what they mean.

I disagree. To ascribe colour qualities to the objects we perceive is a common linguistic practice that has not changed since Aristotle's times. It plays an essential role in our understanding of colour-perception. We don't need to update Aristotle or contradict him to recognize that.

And if you refuse to go with SOME kind of immateriality to the human soul, you lose all ability to explain intellection.

I don't question the immateriality of the soul. What is in question is what exactly it means to say that the soul is immaterial.

It is not necessary to posit the soul as an "immaterial object" in which resides faculties as like to organs of the body, but it is necessary to posit immateriality TO the soul and distinction of faculties as distinction of "capabilities".

I agree, but positing that the soul retains its faculty of sight even after the eyes have been removed sounds dangerously close to the "immaterial object" view. But I probably misread your intentions, if by "faculty of sight" you meant "potential capacity of sight".

This professor gives a nearly hopeless confusing expression of what Aristotle actually teaches. While he rightly latches onto the fact that there is no distinction of soul without reference to embodied souls, he messes up what that implies with respect to embodied souls.

This is a very strange remark, since for Aristotle, we are not embodied souls. Form is logically prior to matter, for only Form gives actuality. Thus we are ensouled ("empsuchos") bodies, not embodied souls. (The notion of "embodied soul" is found in Plato.)

"The form of one human being is the same as the form of any other. There is, in this sense, only soul, and not souls."
Correct usage: there is, in this sense, only "human nature", not "human natures".


I agree there is some danger of equivocation here, but Aristotle himself uses "soul" in both ways. All living beings are alive in virtue of principles and capacities which Aristotle subsumes under the term "soul". "Human nature" certainly includes being alive (and more), but the level of generality is the same. (The "in this sense" in the quote addresses your concern, although not explicitly.)

Also, Aristotle has to predicate the general form "human nature" of every human being, even if not all of us have all of the essential capacities which define the species "humanity".

pck said...

@Tony

what is different from human to human is due to different matter

Well, due to different forms of matter, since matter per se is mere potential and cannot be individuated.

The form and the matter of an individual do not stand in a relation such that one can get "you" by taking "me" and gradually exchanging "my matter" with "your matter". ("My matter" being another precarious use of language seeming to indicate a possessive relation.)

But when we speak of the "soul" of Peter here, the connotation of "soul" as a different term than "human nature" is not a signification of "human nature under its universal character", but "human nature as individuated, in respect of an individual as a complete substance, Peter".

Agreed. But this leads into a difficult part of Aristotle's philosophy.

Me-seeing-X is not my capacity-to-see-X, but an instance of that capacity. When I see X again, that is a different instance of me seeing-X, not a different instance of me being-able-to-see-X. It is not the capacity that is individuated, but its instantiations.

A more difficult case is A being a normal-sighted human and B being colour-blind. Obviously A and B have different visual capacities and thus different souls. But this still does not make the souls of A and B different individuations of "soul". It just makes them different members of the species "human soul". Capacities have a linguistic function more akin to verbs than nouns. One can think of them as promises that certain things X can happen. But conceptually, "X happening" is always the same, as opposed to individual instances of X happening. When I lift a bucket of water and you lift a bucket of water, we perform the same (general) act of lifting a bucket of water. It doesn't have to be the same bucket or the same movements occurring in the lifting. What matters here is how we use language, not what is "out there in object-land". (Of course both cases of bucket lifting need to fulfil certain material conditions, but what those conditions are in order for us to say "these are instances of lifting a bucket of water" is fixed by the way we use language, not by nature, reality, or whatever we want to call what is "out there".)

So what makes the general notion of lifting a bucket of water "one thing" that different souls can instantiate? If the souls of all individual humans are different, how can such a general principle be predicated of them?

My guess is that the answer has to do with how Aristotle solves the "problem of unity", in which he applies hylemorphism to definitions using the concept of "intelligible matter":

"... the things whose unity he is trying to explain are those “which have several parts and in which the totality is not, as it were, a mere heap, but the whole is something besides the parts” (1045a8–10). His task is to explain the unity of such complexes."

But I have not worked this out in detail for the bucket-lifting example yet.

David M said...

"A blindfolded man also cannot see, but has not lost his capacity of sight, and it's not because his form has changed."

Indeed, and neither has he lost his capacity of understanding visible things (that is, it appears that the judgment of his intellect is in fact *not* impeded by the suspension of his sensitive powers, pace the less than cogent argument of STh I.84.8).

Tony, I think I.84.7 & 8 are again fascinating, but not very cogent. They raise as many questions as they answer. In parts they are most notable for their quaintness.

Consider, for example: "if a man syllogizes while asleep, when he wakes up he invariably recognizes a flaw in some respect" - (1) Is that true? (2) Whether or not it is true, if a man syllogizes while asleep, then he syllogizes while asleep, so it must indeed be possible to syllogize while asleep, etc.

Even if Aquinas's arguments can be shown to be generally sound here, the qualification of the *kind* of understanding that is impossible (cognizing "completely and truly" and "perfect" judgment) seem crucial, and the (not very clear) connotations of these qualifiers would at least seem to greatly narrow the scope of what exactly it is that Thomas is arguing is impossible for the immaterial human intellect without a concurrent "act of a power making use of a corporeal organ."

Tony said...

David, I remember "doing" Euclid-type theorems in my sleep when I was studying Euclid. When I woke up, I recognized the syllogizing to be so execrable as to not even qualify for "fallacy". There is no category of fallacy that it would fall under, for no (non-asleep) person would ever assert it to get someone else to put it in a category. So, I would say that it FELT like syllogizing, in the dream, in that the feeling was that of when we would say "Ok, I feel like I am making sense and you will be able to follow this..."; and that it was similar to syllogizing in that it had one sentence follow another sentence (perhaps, not always). And that's all. I don't think that should qualify as "syllogizing while he sleeps" as univocal usage.

It seems to me that you are intent on there being an operation of the soul that partakes partly of the imaginative operation and partly of intellection, and that your thesis is based on this activity. I won't deny there is something like what you are pointing at. I am merely going to insist that there is, also, an operation of imagination that consists MERELY in presenting to your attention an image - without asserting anything about it, without categorizing it, without estimating or deriving or cogitating or anything more complicated than simply attending to the image. That this operation would comprise having the sensible form other than as the sense of sight provides it seems to me wholly unnecessary. And clearly we are not going to resolve it here, if you will dismiss St. Thomas's account. My original (throw away) comment was based more or less entirely on this Thomistic account of intellectual operation ordinarily using the imaginative faculty here in this life. If you don't like his account, then disregard the comment.

Tony said...

So what makes the general notion of lifting a bucket of water "one thing" that different souls can instantiate? If the souls of all individual humans are different, how can such a general principle be predicated of them?

pck, apparently you have a completely different notion of Aristotelianism than anything I have ever heard. My understanding is that the problem is solved, answered, dealt with, nailed down, in respect of natural substances precisely by saying that they are the same in species and different in number, and that matter is the principle of individuation. They are formally the same and materially distinct, because the form is the principle in virtue of which they can be known as "of this kind" and matter is the principle in virtue of which they can be distinguished though of the same kind.

Well, due to different forms of matter, since matter per se is mere potential and cannot be individuated.

You are making pedantic distinctions that are not useful or necessary. Form is not a principle of distinction between A and B instances of the same species, matter is. Form is that in virtue of which they are like, not distinct. Matter cannot "be" individuated, if you want to be pendantic, only because it is, always, the matter of an individual substance. You don't have "undifferentiated matter" just sitting there, and then something comes along and causes it to be differentiated - which is what you reject about it "being" individuated. But with respect to that individual substance as distinct from others of the same species, the principle of individuation is the matter, not the form. That in virtue of which they are distinct is not form, but matter.

While it is true that matter refers to potency, rather than actuality, it is PRECISELY the potency to different species that "makes" the theory of matter/form go. The theory of matter rests on the observation that "some what" persists when what was once a rabbit becomes wolf. That some what, though not actual of itself, is a modality of being (it is more than non-being) because it is, potentially, rabbit, and at the same time, potentially wolf. It's modality of being is, for Aristotle, precisely identified by reference to that potency to different formal principles, rabittyness and wolfiness. This is more than sheer non-being.

Authors commenting on Aristotle have used both "sensation" and "perception". [1] I find "perception" to be preferable,

Then at least have the sense and fairness to allow that others CAN use "sense" to refer to what happens when you see. I prefer "sensation" because of the obvious linguistic coordination with "the five senses" and "the sense of sight". It is pedantic to reject my usage merely because you find "perception" more to your taste.

Unslopogaas said...

@Christian

The explanation for this is found in 1 Peter - Ch.3 vs. 19 'and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison.' The good thief went to 'prison', or the holding place for souls, a.k.a. paradise. The same place as Lazarus did (from Lazarus and the rich man).

David M said...

Tony: "If you don't like his account, then disregard the comment."

I regard my liking or not as decidedly beside the point. My interest is in understanding his argument and whether (a) it actually attempts to prove what you (and others) take it to prove and (b), it if does, whether that attempted proof is cogent.

Re. matter as "the" principle of individuation, this is quite clearly an inadequate and false reading of Aristotle and Aquinas. Matter is a necessary principle for the existence/unity/individuation of material things, but form is just as necessary and is indeed primary in any intelligible account of the existence/unity/individuation of any real thing.

David M said...

Re. sleep-syllogizing, this is a interesting question, I think. Sleep-syllogizing is indeed similar to the reasoning of a lunatic - it is devoid of rational coherence. But if we consider certain individuals (John Loftus, for example), it would appear not at all clear that his rational deficits have anything to do with an organically grounded mal- or non-functioning of organically-based cognitive faculties (sense, imagination).

Glenn said...

David M,

Re. matter as "the" principle of individuation, this is quite clearly an inadequate and false reading of Aristotle and Aquinas.

Leaving aside Aristotle and retaining St. Thomas, how so? St. Thomas himself says in numerous places throughout his works that matter is the principle of individuation. Since St. Thomas himself says in numerous places throughout his works that matter is the principle of individuation, how can Tony's statements -- to the effect that matter is the principle of individuation -- constitute "an inadequate and false reading of...Aquinas"?

Matter is a necessary principle for the existence/unity/individuation of material things, but form is just as necessary and is indeed primary in any intelligible account of the existence/unity/individuation of any real thing.

Obviously, both form and matter are necessary, and neither alone is sufficient. Yet one is said to be the principle of individuation, and it is matter rather than form which is said to be that one. Why? There must be some reason why that is so.

"[W]e are...interested in the difference between one ham and another. They do not differ in so far as they are ham, because if hamness were the basis of their differing from each other, we would have to conclude that one is not ham or that they are identical. Either conclusion is obviously wrong. Since both are hams, their specific nature, hamness, accounts not for their difference but for their similarity. St. Thomas says it this way: if this ham were this ham because it is ham, then all hams would be this ham, and as a result there couldn't be many hams, but only one. No one questions that there are many hams, so the reason for the this must be something besides the specific nature."

IOW, the reason for the this must be something besides the form, and that something is the matter.

See St. Thomas' Principle of Individuation, Materia Quantitate Signata, Loftus, Joseph M., OSM, pp 12-13. (See also p 16 therein for a relevant quotation from St. Thomas' On Being and Essence.)

Tony said...

Re. matter as "the" principle of individuation, this is quite clearly an inadequate and false reading of Aristotle and Aquinas. Matter is a necessary principle for the existence/unity/individuation of material things, but form is just as necessary and is indeed primary in any intelligible account of the existence/unity/individuation of any real thing.

Nothing I said disagrees with the pre-eminence of form. Form is what makes the thing intelligible.

De Esse et Essentia:

15. But we cannot say that either one of them alone may be said to be the essence. That matter alone is not the essence of a real thing is clear, since through its essence a real thing is knowable and assigned to a species or to a genus. But matter alone is neither a principle of knowledge, nor is it that by which something is assigned to a genus or to a species; rather a thing is so assigned by reason of its being something actual.

21. We see the same in other things which are constituted of a plurality of principles, namely, that the real thing is not denominated from one of these principles alone, but from what includes both, as is evident in the case of tastes. Sweetness, for example, is caused by the action of what is hot dispersing what is moist; and although heat in this way is the cause of sweetness, a body is not denominated sweet from heat, but from the taste which includes what is hot and what is moist.

22. But matter is the principle of individuation. From this it might perhaps appear to follow that an essence which includes in itself matter along with form is only particular and not universal. And from this it would follow that universals would not have a definition, if essence is that which is signified by a definition.

23. We should notice, therefore, that the principle of individuation is not matter taken in just any way whatever, but only designated matter. And I call that matter designated which is considered under determined dimensions. Such matter is not placed in the definition of man as man, but it would be placed in the definition of Socrates, if Socrates had a definition. Rather, it is non-designated matter which. is placed in the definition of man; for this bone and this flesh are not placed in the definition of man, but bone and flesh absolutely. These latter are man’s non-designated matter.

24. It is clear, therefore, that the essence of man and the essence of Socrates do not differ, except as the non-designated from the designated. Whence the Commentator says in his considerations on the seventh book of the Metaphysics that “Socrates is nothing other than animality and rationality, which are his quiddity.”

David M said...

Glenn:
" how can Tony's statements -- to the effect that matter is the principle of individuation -- constitute "an inadequate and false reading of...Aquinas"?"

I think for the same reasons that Feser has gone over (above) in respect of exegesis of the 'survivalism' vs. 'corruptionism' debate.

"IOW, the reason for the this must be something besides the form, and that something is the matter."

But what is matter? Matter is nothing apart from form, it is nothing but a potency for form. And what is an individual (the subject individuated by individuation)? An individual is necessarily both (a) divided from conspecifics (supposing it has any) and (b) unified in itself (through a substantial form, a real essence). "The principle(s) of individuation" must account for both of these and it is the latter that is more important because it is absolutely necessary (even with respect to divine omnipotence) both existentially and in grounding the intelligibility of any individual thing. Matter is only necessary for grounding the multiplicity of things which are specifically identical (as well as for grounding the physical unity of the changing material world, the world of naturally generable and corruptible things).

David M said...

Tony: "Nothing I said disagrees with the pre-eminence of form. Form is what makes the thing intelligible."

But prior to making it intelligible, form is what makes the thing actual (i.e., an actual individual).

Glenn said...

DavidM,

>> " how can Tony's statements -- to the effect that matter is the principle of individuation -- constitute "an inadequate and false reading of...Aquinas"?"

> I think for the same reasons that Feser has gone over (above) in respect of exegesis of the 'survivalism' vs. 'corruptionism' debate.

The question asked is not part of an argument that St. Thomas is correct to say that matter is the principle of individuation, so whether St. Thomas might say other things from which it might be inferred that it is form which is the principle of individuation is irrelevant to the question.

Matter is only necessary for grounding the multiplicity of things which are specifically identical (as well as for grounding the physical unity of the changing material world, the world of naturally generable and corruptible things).

Prior to the instantiation (so to speak) of form in matter, there is no actual multiplicity. For there to be actual (rather than merely potential) multiplicity, matter is required. Thus is that matter gets the nod as the principle of individuation.

1. Matter receives form.

2. Since matter receives form, matter is a receiver.

3. Since the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver, form is in matter according to the mode of matter.

4. Since form is in matter according to the mode of matter, it the matter of an X, rather than its form, which renders an X this particular X rather than that particular X.

5. Since it is not form which makes an X this particular X rather than that particular X, but matter which does so, it is matter, rather form, which gets the nod as the principle of individuation.

Mr. Green said...

Glenn: See St. Thomas' Principle of Individuation, Materia Quantitate Signata, Loftus

What!?!?!

, Joseph M., OSM

Oh, phew—for a second there, I thought my consciousness had travelled to a parallel spatiotemporal continuum!

Tony said...

David, I may have stated points about matter in a way that seems to over emphasize matter, but it was never my intent to deny to form its proper (and more critical) place. I can't say all of the truth in one sentence.

Nevertheless, it is possible to overemphasize the role of form, also. You say

But what is matter? Matter is nothing apart from form, it is nothing but a potency for form.

While it is undoubtedly true in a temporal sense that "matter is nothing apart from form", for there is never any "matter apart from form". In a logical sense, though, it is possible to consider matter apart from considering form: matter being the sort of thing as in potency to many forms is, precisely, the underpinning for saying matter is not "nothing" but something. It is something whose mode of "to be" is delineated by saying that it cannot be actual without form, but it is in potency to many forms. This is other than "nothing". For "nothing" is NOT in potency to form.

It can never be the matter of an individual substance without form, for matter can never be actual without form.

Coming to grips with the problem, is not individuation accounted
for in the Thomistic synthesis by the mere fact that one substantial entity is
obviously different from another through its act of existence? St. Thomas
says "substance is individuated through itself. Doesn't this harmonize wit
his definition of individual: "the individual in itself is undivided, but is
distinct from others?n 26 The existent substance is an individual, "which is
not divided further by formal or material difference. Two things pertinent
to the nature of a corporeal individual are found in the existent substance:
"first that it is being in act in itself ••• , second, that is is divided from
others which are or can be in the same species, while it is undivided in
itse1f. certainly we do not deny that the formal or proximate principle or
individuation is the whole entity of the individual. In its entire entity one
individual is distinguished from other individuals of the same species, e.g.
Peter is different from Paul by his Petrinity. Our problem is not that an
individual is a being in act and consequently different from other beings in
act, but how it is not identical with other individuals of the same species by
being _this_ individual in act...

Searching into the component principles of substance for the basis
of individuation, there is a tendency to seize upon form. Does not the form
give existence to the matter and accordingly to the composite? As a thing
has existence, it has unity and individuation. True, but we must look into
the difference between individuation and individuality before citing form as St. Thomas' principle of individuation. Individuation is an "operation which
the form undergoes on being received into matter," says Gerrity.
"Individuality," he says, "is a positive perfection of the real order.
Gilson observes that really the form is the active principle of
individuation. By this he means that the form causes the composite's
individuality, a positive perfection, "nothing less than the concrete reality
of the substance... conferred upon matter by form and by an efficient
cause." Individuation is simply a name "used to indicate that natural
forms, although universal and one when considered in themselves, are, in the
order of being, actually realized only in particular and multiple embodiments.
Though matter is the principle of individuation, it does not
cause individuality except by being its necessary subject. Since only
individual substances are real, the form conferring actual being also confers
individual being. It is necessary that matter, as a subject, receive the
reality conferred by form. This is enough to call matter the principle of
individuation.

Tony said...

David, does distinguishing between designated matter and non-designated matter help? Does distinguishing between a substance being actually an individual by the formal principal, and the form being received by a subject (i.e. matter) help?

Glenn said...

(Mr. Green.

(I had the same reaction, though with one fewer exclamation points. **

(- - - - -

(** It therefore follows that, vis-à-vis the highly specialized and unique case of the form of "reaction to suprise involving the surname 'Loftus'", it is the quantity of exclamation points which is the principle of individuation.)

Tony said...

2. Since matter receives form, matter is a receiver.

3. Since the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver, form is in matter according to the mode of matter.


Glenn, these are good points. I wonder if it would help to contrast this process in natural beings to what happens with angels.

Before angels were created, God knew their natures. But their natures were not existing natures. In the at of creation, God brought forth their "to be" in conjunction with the forms that he knew from all eternity. But not by having their forms "received" by matter, for matter is not in the definition of the angelic nature: their forms are not corporeal forms. Yet their act of existence is not eternal: Gabriel was created, he is not coextensive with "gabrielness". So angels have received existence, but their forms are not received into matter.

As a result, Gabriel exists as an actual substance, through the divine creative act which composits "existence" with the form "gabrielness". But because Gabriel's nature is not material in any sense, there cannot be TWO Gabriels, two angels with "gabrielness". St. Thomas is utterly definite about this: each angel is distinct as to species. So, Gabriel is an actual substance not through matter, and there cannot be multiplicity of "gabrielness" in actuality because there is no principle of individuation to distinguish them.


Glenn said...

Tony,

Sounds good to me.

- - - -

One of the clearest of St. Thomas' statements pertaining to matter as the principle of individuation I've come across is this one:

"[S]uch things as agree in species but differ in number, agree in form, but are distinguished materially."

It so happens that this statement is made just where St. Thomas is making clear that -- and why -- each angel is its own species, i.e., distinct as to species.

He immediately continues:

"If, therefore, the angels be not composed of matter and form, as was said above (Article 2), it follows that it is impossible for two angels to be of one species."

ST I q 50 a 4

stephen castleden said...

Hi,

When I read the rubbish on this website it reminds me of this scene from a monty python movie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lu5_5Od7WY

Cheers,
Steve.

Tony said...

When I read the rubbish on this site, like the previous comment, it reminds me that people who are revolted by the rubbish on this website are not forced to come here and read it.

Floatingly,
Woody

Glenn said...

David M,

An individual is necessarily both (a) divided from conspecifics (supposing it has any) and (b) unified in itself (through a substantial form, a real essence). "The principle(s) of individuation" must account for both of these and it is the latter that is more important because it is absolutely necessary (even with respect to divine omnipotence) both existentially and in grounding the intelligibility of any individual thing.

Peter King provides a brief overview of The Problem of Individuation in the Middle Ages here, and a more detailed treatment specifically of Bonaventure's Theory of Individuation here.

At the first link, King identifies some difficulties with a variety of solutions to the problem of individuation, including (but not limited to): a) the solution according to which form is the principle of individuation; b) the solution according to which matter is the principle of individuation; and, c) the solution according to which form and matter together constitute a kind of twofold principle of individuation.

Solution c) is Bonaventure's solution to the problem of individuation, and is King's subject at the second link.

According to King, however, though Bonaventure's solution involves both form and matter, it does not have form playing an ascendant role (indeed, it has neither form nor matter playing an ascendant role).

Glenn said...

Ah, sorry; didn't finish with what I was leading up to: thus far, I haven't been able to find anyone writing on the basis for form and matter constituting a twofold principle of individuation, with form having a primary role, and am wondering if you know of anyone who has. Thanks.

Glenn said...

(Btw, the Peter King who writes on the problem of individuation in the Middle Ages is not to be confused with the Peter King who deals with problems of intelligence in the current age. The former is a current member of the University of Toronto's Philosophy Department, while the latter is a former chairman of Homeland Security (though presently a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence). Just sayin'.)

Tony said...

By what principle are the two Peter Kings distinct? Their form, or their matter?

Sorry, couldn't resist. :-)

Glenn said...

Tony,

By what principle are the two Peter Kings distinct? Their form, or their matter?

In this case, neither form nor matter, but, rather, the quality of an accidental feature. (The eyesight of one requires aid, that of the other does not).

Oh well, I tried. ;)

Glenn said...

David M,

A comment from a later OP:

@DNW: On the other hand (as I pointed out on Loftus's blog), some atheists (not necessarily any you find at Loftus's blog) really do care about the truth, which makes them proto-theists, so they won't try to pull you down with them, but will listen and engage in honest dialogue. (And mutatis mutandis for some theists, who really don't care about the truth...)

Right. Be they (in alphabetical order) atheists or theists, some people care about the truth, and some people don't. So, a person's response to the truth is a function of whether or not they care about the truth (as well as, e.g., to the extent to which they care about it, the extent to which they're capable of understanding it, etc.). And since a person's response to the truth is a function of whether or not they care about the truth (as well as, etc.), then it may be said that the thing known is in the knower according to the mode of the knower. But to say that a thing known is in the knower according to the mode of the knower, is to acknowledge that the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver.

A comment from the 'current' OP:

But if we consider certain individuals (John Loftus, for example), it would appear not at all clear that his rational deficits have anything to do with an organically grounded mal- or non-functioning of organically-based cognitive faculties (sense, imagination).

Aside from questioning the extent to which organic groundings might account for rational deficits in certain individuals, this statement acknowledges one thing explicitly, and another thing implicitly. To wit, it explicitly acknowledges that rational deficits exist in certain individuals (though, of course, rational deficits exist in all imperfect creatures to some extent (however small, or miniscule, that extent may be)), and it implicitly acknowledges that those rational deficits in some way are responsible for inappropriate responses to the truth. But to acknowledge that rational deficits in some way are responsible for inappropriate responses to the truth, is to acknowledge that the thing known is in the knower according to the mode of the knower, and thus in turn that the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver.

- - - - -

That the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver is evident in the parable of the sower. When read, it can be seen that the individual nature of various responses to the Word is not a function of the Word Itself, but of the quality, state or mode of the recipients.

Apply that analogously to form and matter, and that matter is the principle of individuation makes itself known (so to speak).

Mr. Green said...

Glenn: (** It therefore follows that, vis-à-vis the highly specialized and unique case of the form of "reaction to suprise involving the surname 'Loftus'", it is the quantity of exclamation points which is the principle of individuation.)

Heh. Which of course is a matter of matter, since all exclamation points are the same in form. (If they weren’t, we might mistake them for question marks.) And on that subject, although basically covered by previous posts, it might be worth drawing attention to different kinds of unity that are relevant: there is the unity of a substantial form, that unifies multiple accidents into one substance; and there is unity of substantial form, that unifies different individuals into a single species. But it is the indiv-idual that is indiv-isible, so the unity of substance is the kind we’re interested in when we talk about individuation. (The human species is divisible, thanks to matter, into separate human substances. A given angelic species is indivisible, because angels don’t have matter, and thus each species is an individual.)

David M said...

Glenn: "That the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver is evident in the parable of the sower. When read, it can be seen that the individual nature of various responses to the Word is not a function of the Word Itself, but of the quality, state or mode of the recipients.
Apply that analogously to form and matter, and that matter is the principle of individuation makes itself known (so to speak)."

This receiver (myself) is not receptive to this argument. I'm sure I don't want to dispute that the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver. But the act of existence (of a material thing) is not received by matter, but by the composite of form and matter, both of which are fundamentally contingent 'things'. Matter is a principle of unity in change, but in the beginning matter and form were created together (i.e., matter too was generated (received being), even though it was conserved thereafter throughout the history of natural change).

Tony: "there cannot be multiplicity of "gabrielness" in actuality because there is no principle of individuation to distinguish them."

Well, right, and yet Gabriel is not perfectly simple, indeed is subject to change (and thus to a kind of multiplicity), albeit not the kind of natural change (usually including the possibility of destruction) for which is presupposed a material mode of existence. The latter kind of change requires 'designated matter,' that is, matter that is spatio-temporally specified or located. Spatio-temporal designation, however, is only indirectly a function of matter. Directly (per se), it is a function of dimensive quantity, which is a(n accidental) form! - so even designated matter is a principle of individuation only in virtue of form. St Thomas holds that dimensive quantity is the first property of matter, but only dimensive quantity is self-individuating or individuated per se (for which reason transubstantiation - wherein dimensive quantity serves as the subject for the other accidents - is possible, albeit only miraculously).

Tony said...

St Thomas holds that dimensive quantity is the first property of matter, but only dimensive quantity is self-individuating or individuated per se

David, I am not sure you've got that quite right. The "first property" of matter is the first property logically, following after substantial (material) being, right? If I recall correctly, all accidental forms rely on the substantial form prior. You can only talk of accidental forms as inhering in a substance, the substance is logically prior to the accidents.

But for a natural substance, the natural parts, the intrinsic causes, co-incide logically, neither cause is logically prior to the other. The form does not _precede_ the matter, and the matter does not precede the form in this substance. Yet temporally with a natural change, the matter is, prior to the coming to be of the bird, the matter of a worm; the matter precedes the substantial form of the bird. Before the substantial form of the bird has existence, the matter which WILL be the matter of the bird is designated matter in the worm, and will also be designated matter in respect of the the substance of the bird.

It seems to me that if what you say is true, and if there is NO SENSE in which the dimensive quantity of the matter as in the worm persists through the change, then there are two problems: (1) we would not find conservation of mass in natural changes. We would find the matter of the worm becoming the (entire) matter of the elephant, or the bacterium. (2) We would be led, also, to concluding that there is no sense in which the matter of the worm became the matter of the bird: since there is no persistence of form across the change, there could be no continuity of the MATTER ITSELF across the substantial change. There would then cease to be any rationale for the notion of a "substrate" subsisting through natural substantial changes, which is one half of the whole basis for the Aristotelian matter / form distinction.

I am not sure I know exactly what Thomas means by designated matter, but I don't think he means, simply, matter as determined by the accidents of size and shape and extension which all inhere in the substance logically already determined by the substantial form. I don't think that's it.

Glenn said...

David M,

This receiver (myself) is not receptive to this argument. I'm sure I don't want to dispute that the received is in the receiver according to the mode of the receiver. But the act of existence (of a material thing) is not received by matter, but by the composite of form and matter, both of which are fundamentally contingent 'things'.

Before the act of existence can be received by a composite of form and matter, it is necessary that there be a composite of form and matter. A composite of form and matter, however, results not from form receiving matter, but from matter receiving form.

To hold that matter is the principle of individuation is not to hold that matter is more important or pre-eminent than form. On the contrary, it is to correctly assign "blame". That is, and in a manner of speaking, it is the higher ('form') which is splintered, and it is the lower ('matter') which does the splintering.

David M said...

"Repression is thus one of the central defense mechanisms by which the ego [the conscious soul] seeks to avoid internal conflict and pain, and to reconcile reality with the demands of both id [organically grounded instincts] and super-ego [reason]. As such it is completely normal and an integral part of the developmental process through which every child must pass on the way to adulthood. However, the repressed instinctual drive, as an energy-form, is not and cannot be destroyed when it is repressed – it continues to exist intact in the unconscious, from where it exerts a determining force upon the conscious mind, and can give rise to the dysfunctional behavior characteristic of neuroses. This is one reason why dreams and slips of the tongue possess such a strong symbolic significance for Freud, and why their analysis became such a key part of his treatment – they represent instances in which the vigilance of the super-ego [i.e., reason] is relaxed, and when the repressed drives are accordingly able to present themselves to the conscious mind in a transmuted form." (From IEP article on Freud)

So from a Freudian-ish perspective, sleep does not involve a cessation of organic functioning, contributing to cognitive impairment (as Aquinas seems to hold); rather it involves the suspension of reason, resulting in dis-ordered, organically-grounded cognitive manifestations. It seems like a question that might well be taken seriously here is: Does Aquinas have the resources to provide a plausible explanation of the status of the immaterial intellect during sleep?

David M said...

Tony, I'm afraid that much of your argument I simply can't follow.

"It seems to me that if what you say is true, and if there is NO SENSE in which the dimensive quantity of the matter as in the worm persists through the change..." -- I'm confused as to where this is coming from. Matter is the principle of unity in change, and it is surely false to say that there is no sense in which its primary property persists through the change, but its formal (sensible and intelligible) manifestation obviously changes.

"We would be led, also, to concluding that there is no sense in which the matter of the worm became the matter of the bird: since there is no persistence of form across the change, there could be no continuity of the MATTER ITSELF across the substantial change." -- I don't understand your argument here. Perhaps you are conflating the essence of matter (pure potency for material form) with the properties of matter (having (temporally) dimensive quantity)?

"I am not sure I know exactly what Thomas means by designated matter, but I don't think he means, simply, matter as determined by the accidents of size and shape and extension which all inhere in the substance logically already determined by the substantial form. I don't think that's it." -- Okay. I'm convinced that designated matter means spatio-temporally determinate(-in-virtue-of-form) matter.

David M said...

Glenn:
"Before the act of existence can be received by a composite of form and matter, it is necessary that there be a composite of form and matter. A composite of form and matter, however, results not from form receiving matter, but from matter receiving form."

Is that so? I don't see it. Perhaps I should clarify that I am intending to discuss metaphysics, not physics. In the general metaphysical case, then, surely the resurrection of the soul is a clear counter-example to your assertion here.

"To hold that matter is the principle of individuation is not to hold that matter is more important or pre-eminent than form."

But it is to hold that, at least in regard to individuation.

"On the contrary, it is to correctly assign "blame". That is, and in a manner of speaking, it is the higher ('form') which is splintered, and it is the lower ('matter') which does the splintering."

I don't think that is a Thomistic way of putting things. It is too Platonic. In comparison to more powerful intellects there is a glimmer of sense in it. But in consideration of the being proper to the human intellect Thomas would reject this way of looking at things. For Thomas, matter (the body) exists for the good of the human (intellectual) soul. It is not to be blamed.

Glenn said...

David M,

>> "On the contrary, it is to correctly assign "blame". That is, and in a manner of speaking, it is the higher ('form') which is splintered, and it is the lower ('matter') which does the splintering."

> I don't think that is a Thomistic way of putting things.

Since it was put that way by me -- in an attempt to clarify that asserting matter as the principle of individuation is not at all about usurping the role or importance of form -- it may be said to be a 'Glenn' way of putting a Thomistic principle (which principle, as you no doubt are well aware of by now, is that of matter with respect to individuation).

Perhaps I should clarify that I am intending to discuss metaphysics, not physics.

Okay, let's do that (with the understanding that it is not verboten to mention something with physical existence for the purpose of illustration).

Here is St. Thomas in De Ente et Essentia:

"[T]he designation of the species with respect to the genus is through forms, whereas the designation of the individual with respect to the species is through matter." 46

I say three things (the last of which is for the purpose of illustration):

1. When it is said that matter is the principle of individuation, it is not being said that matter is the principle of existence, but that matter is the principle of individuation amongst existing things.

2. St. Thomas, even if it should turn out that he is wrong, is at least consistent. Witness the following (which was quoted earlier): "[S]uch things as agree in species but differ in number, agree in form, but are distinguished materially."

3. If the form of man is in (to name those who have weighed in on the matter here) David M, Glenn, Mr. Green and Tony, then, since the form is the same and the individuals are not, it cannot be the form of man which accounts for the numerical distinctness of each of David M, Glenn, Mr. Green and Tony.

Tony said...

Okay. I'm convinced that designated matter means spatio-temporally determinate(-in-virtue-of-form) matter.

David, I am going to try to step back to a slightly different tack, one which I am not at the moment sure is relevant or not. I am exploring to see what comes of it, not simply contesting your thesis.

One of the typical difficulties that you have to maneuver in coming to the A-T theory of form and matter is the stance of metaphysical "parts" or "elements" in a substantial being. One of the things that makes a good human sound and healthy is having good bones, and one of the necessities of sound bones is sufficient calcium in the bones. But what we mean by "calcium" by and large we know when we study calcium when it is on its own, not simply when it is "in" a human being. It reacts to certain chemicals, it has a certain density, it has a certain atomic weight, etc. We attribute its behavior to its form. It continues to do these things in the bones: it continues to behave this way. Yet, under the A-T theory, there is ONE substantial form of a human being, and that form is the form of the whole being. There is no "calcium" properly speaking in the body, there is "human" in the body, which operates the way calcium operates when calcium is independent of a body.

One way to address this is to say that a physical part of the body retains the powers of (i.e. the virtues of) "calcium", while being wholly (in)formed by the human form. This is the "virtual" presence of calcium approach.

Another is to say that calcium is "really" present in some imperfect way, so that the calcium becomes subservient to the organic whole "human". This way is perhaps not much loved by run-of-the-mill A-Ters, because it smacks of multiple substances in the apparent whole.

Whatever the right solution is, we must also account for the fact that the "part" of the body that acts LIKE calcium acts is spatially (and other aspects, like temperature, color, weight,) determined by the spatial (and other aspects) of the previous substantial reality of the calcium: you can actually TRACK the "location (and other aspects) of the calcium" in the body as in continuity with the accidents of the calcium in the prior substance. You can put radioactive calcium in, and the human body retains THAT "unit" of calcium as to its location, its temperature, and other accidents. The continuity of the accidents of the previous calcium with the accidents of the (virtual or sub) calcium in the human body is not, as such, explained merely by the substantial form of humanness. Nor is it explained by the logical priority of substantial form over accidental form. It must be explained, rather, in the face of these truths.

David, I am not sure what, precisely, you mean by "spatio-temporally determinate(-in-virtue-of-form) matter." Are you relying on the "virtual" approach, and suggesting that the calcium retains the _virtues_ of the accidental form by which the calcium was spatially determinate in the prior substance, when it becomes part of the human - without any ACTUAL continuity of the accidental form? Or suggesting that the actual form is present in continuity through the change? (Since this discussion is not part of the "block theory" debate, I think we are safe to erase "-temporal" from the "spatio-temporal" aspect of the matter.)

David M said...

STh III.77.2:
since the subject is the principle of individuation of the accidents, it is necessary for what is admitted as the subject of some accidents to be somehow the principle of individuation: for it is of the very notion of an individual that it cannot be in several; and this happens in two ways.

First, because it is not natural to it to be in anything; and in this way immaterial separate forms, subsisting per se, are also individuals per se.

Secondly, because a form, be it substantial or accidental, is indeed naturally in some thing, not however in several; just as this whiteness, which is in this body.

As to the first, matter is the principle of individuation of all inhering forms, because, since these forms, considered in themselves, are naturally in something as in a subject, from the very fact that one of them is received in matter, which is not in another, it follows that neither can the form itself thus existing be in another.

As to the second, it must be maintained that the principle of individuation is dimensive quantity. For that something is naturally in one thing only, is due to the fact that that other is undivided in itself, and divided from all others. But division occurs in substance on account of quantity, as is said in Phys. i. And therefore dimensive quantity itself is a particular principle of individuation in forms of this kind, namely, inasmuch as forms numerically diverse are in diverse parts of the matter. Hence also dimensive quantity has of itself a kind of individuation, so that we can imagine several lines of the same species, differing in position, which is included in the notion of this [dimensive] quantity; for it belongs to dimension for it to be quantity having position. And therefore dimensive quantity can be the subject of the other accidents, rather than the other way about.

Jeffrey Brower writes in The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas: "What accounts for the distinction of material objects, Aquinas thinks, is their prime matter, which can only exist under some determinate dimensions or other. But what accounts for the individuality of material objects is the particular determinate dimensions under which their prime matter exists For unlike prime matter, Aquinas says, such dimensions are not only individual, but individual in and of themselves."

That gets at part of what I'm getting at, but I would add: Prime matter clearly does not account for the actual distinction of material objects, but rather grounds the general possibility of materially distinct objects. The actual distinction of material objects clearly requires matter and form.

Thomas' use of the dictum "materia est principium individuationis" is very much a shorthand formula, and not untrue, but apt to mislead if not properly explicated.

David M said...

@Glenn: "since the form is the same and the individuals are not, it cannot be the form of man which accounts for the numerical distinctness of each of David M, Glenn, Mr. Green and Tony." - and yet our souls will remain numerically distinct, even apart from our matter. And the accidents of this bread remain numerically distinct from the accidents of that bread, even apart from the existence of their prime matter.

David M said...

Tony: " You can put radioactive calcium in, and the human body retains THAT "unit" of calcium as to its location, its temperature, and other accidents."

That doesn't sound right. The fact that we can track some unit or other in no way implies that its accidents are retained. (Suppose I send you a ripe banana in a paper bag by pony express and have some way of tracking it...)

I also don't think it's plausible to say that any part of the body acts like calcium acts. Calcium per se has no role in blood-clotting, or the constitution of bones and teeth, or neuro-transmission, etc.

So I would say that calcium is really and virtually present (through the ways in which its matter and powers are (literally) incorporated) in the body (as well as potentially, since pure calcium can be extracted from the body).

David M said...

"Calcium per se has no role in blood-clotting, or the constitution of bones and teeth, or neuro-transmission, etc." - That sounds odd, I suppose, but the point is just that the substance calcium (calcium by itself, just calcium) is obviously insufficient for any of these biological functions (even if the matter and natural properties of calcium (or calcium derivatives) are necessary parts of such functions). Similarly, if you have a flask full of water, you would be flatly wrong if you claimed to have a flask full of hydrogen and oxygen. Calcium is in the body, but only in the way in which H2 and O2 are in H2O.

David M said...

...and this is confusing because standardly we speak of just 'calcium' or 'hydrogen,' etc. regardless of whether we are referring to the actual respective substance or to a material constituent of some other substance.

Glenn said...

David M,

and yet our souls will remain numerically distinct, even apart from our matter.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean to say, "...and yet our souls will remain numerically distinct, even after our death"?

If so, then it must be realized that an unstated assumption grounding that objection is that what is necessary for the 'coming to be' of a something, is likewise necessary for the 'continuing to be' of that something.

However, St. Thomas clearly indicates that that isn't so in the case of the soul. (See his answer to the second objection here.)

Tony said...

I also don't think it's plausible to say that any part of the body acts like calcium acts. Calcium per se has no role in blood-clotting, or the constitution of bones and teeth, or neuro-transmission, etc.

"Calcium per se has no role in blood-clotting, or the constitution of bones and teeth, or neuro-transmission, etc." - That sounds odd, I suppose, but the point is just that the substance calcium (calcium by itself, just calcium) is obviously insufficient for any of these biological functions (even if the matter and natural properties of calcium (or calcium derivatives) are necessary parts of such functions).

Oh come on. That doesn't even look like you are trying to understand me. When a radioactive atom of calcium is taken up into the body (as part of food), and it enters into a location where blood-clotting occurs, and it is IN VIRTUE OF calcium's particular manner of reacting chemically to something that blood clotting successfully occurs at that location, it is just silly to say that it's not "plausible to say that any part of the body acts like calcium acts". Inside the body, that atom operates just the way calcium acts in the presence of that other chemical, bonding to it, as occurs outside the body. To focus on "blood-clotting and neurotransmitting" is just to set your microscope too large, look down at the finer level: calcium bonding with X, is, also, part of "what happens" as life functioning in the body. It is just as much part of the human body operating as is the neurotransmitting.

That doesn't sound right. The fact that we can track some unit or other in no way implies that its accidents are retained.

I have no idea what you mean to suggest by the ripe banana. But you whatever mean by suggesting that its accidents are not retained is just off. I am not claiming any STANCE about why the accidents are found the way they are, I am just making a point about what we observe. Go back to the radioactive calcium atom: inside the body that atom is just part of the body. And if it was cold before it was taken up into the body, the moment it enters into the bloodstream it remains cold - for a short time. It was radioactive before, it remains radioactive in the body. The accidents of the atom SEEM to be present before and after the change, whatever you want to say about what really occurs.

Tony said...

So I would say that calcium is really and virtually present (through the ways in which its matter and powers are (literally) incorporated) in the body (as well as potentially, since pure calcium can be extracted from the body).

Similarly, if you have a flask full of water, you would be flatly wrong if you claimed to have a flask full of hydrogen and oxygen. Calcium is in the body, but only in the way in which H2 and O2 are in H2O.

And I cannot make these statements cohere in my mind. If calcium is "really" present in the body, the H and O are "really" present in the flask. But I would be flat wrong to say so.

In the usage developed to answer the problem I outlined in my 7:57am comment, "virtually present" was crafted to designate a meaning like "not really present, but present in some other manner so that the POWERS it usually exhibits are present." To be really present would imply that the substantial form "calcium" was informing the matter, and if so then the substantial form "human" is NOT. So, it is (according to the versions of A-T that I have seen) flat wrong to say the calcium is really present in the human body, without qualifying "really" to mean something other than what it normally means. Which is what "virtually" was crafted to do.

To suggest that calcium is "really present" through the ways that its matter is present, incorporated into the body, is to deny substantial change altogether, and like Democritus say that "the body" is just the accumulation of bits of calcium and dog and hair and water... To say that calcium is "potentially present" because you can "extract" it is, perhaps, slightly enlightening, but hardly very much given that ALL matter is in potency to form, (that's what matter is), of course you can "get" something else like calcium when it isn't "human" anymore.

So, you have danced all around the problem and basically seem to have said "yes, it's that" to the options available, when they are mutually incompatible, and I have no clue what you actually intend.

It isn't "really" calcium and human at the same time. It isn't "really" and "virtually" and "potentially" calcium at the same time in the same sense. So, which is it?

David M said...

Glenn: "what is necessary for the 'coming to be' of a something, is likewise necessary for the 'continuing to be' of that something"

Thomas: "The act of existing (esse) and individuation (individuatio) of a thing are always found together. For universals do not exist in reality inasmuch as they are universals, but only inasmuch as they are individuated. Therefore, although the soul receives its act of existing from God as from an active principle, and exists in the body as in matter, nevertheless the soul’s act of existing does not cease when the body corrupts, nor does the soul’s individuation cease when the body corrupts, even though it has a relationship to the body."

Connection?? All I see here is a clear statement that the soul separated from matter is individuated. (Therefore matter is not the principle of the soul's individuation, even though the soul remains - by nature though not in actuality - the principle of some matter's individuation.)

David M said...

Tony, it seems to me that by 'really present' you mean 'substantially present' as in 'present qua substance'; whereas I don't think it makes good sense to say that 'virtual presence' or 'material presence' or 'potential presence' are kinds of 'not-real presence.' They are 'real,' they're just not 'substantial.' Does that help?

Re. calcium: you're not understanding my position (or, I think, the truth of the matter). You write: "Inside the body, that atom operates just the way calcium acts in the presence of that other chemical, bonding to it, as occurs outside the body." I doubt you've ever played with pure calcium, but pure calcium is simply not found inside the body (or anywhere in nature). Compounds containing calcium are distinct substances, not calcium. Individual calcium atoms do not act in any particular way. They only act in combination, insofar as they are composed with other atoms. You might say this is true of all things, that all beings are fundamentally relational. That's true, but being is also fundamentally hierarchical, and when atoms are taken up into compounds, it is the compounds that are rightly regarded as primarily operative, and thus as the true substance, in relation to which the 'atomic' (there are no true physical atoms) constituents are material.

David M said...

As I said before: ...and this is confusing [and always will be] because standardly we speak of just 'calcium' or 'hydrogen,' etc. regardless of whether we are referring to the actual respective substance or to a material constituent of some other substance. [And it is perfectly legitimate to speak this way, even if it causes metaphysical confusion, because both modes of being (or presence) are indeed 'real.' So there is not need to correct scientific usage, just a need for caution about drawing metaphysical conclusions from scientific usage.]

Glenn said...

David M,

Connection??

1. For a created something which is not immortal, there are, let us say, three (pre-resurrection) stages: 'coming to be', 'continuing to be', and 'ceasing to be'.

For a created something which is immortal, there are two stages: 'coming to be', and 'continuing to be'.

The soul is a created something which is immortal, so there are two stages for the soul: 'coming to be', and 'continuing to be'.

2. I wrote: If the form of man is in (to name those who have weighed in on the matter here) David M, Glenn, Mr. Green and Tony, then, since the form is the same and the individuals are not, it cannot be the form of man which accounts for the numerical distinctness of each of David M, Glenn, Mr. Green and Tony.

You responded: @Glenn: "since the form is the same and the individuals are not, it cannot be the form of man which accounts for the numerical distinctness of each of David M, Glenn, Mr. Green and Tony." - and yet our souls will remain numerically distinct, even apart from our matter.

I took your "and yet..." to mean "and yet our souls will remain numerically distinct, even after our death."

3. If I took your "and yet..." correctly, then your objection is similar to this of the second objection under the first article of Quaestiones Disputatae De Anima (a link to which was given earlier): "If the soul is individuated by something other than itself, and is the form of the body, it must be individuated by the body (for forms are individuated by their proper matter). And thus it follows that when the body is separated from the soul, the latter loses its individuation."

Your objection (assuming it was taken correctly), and the one just quoted, are grounded in an unstated assumption (or, better yet, involve an unspoken premise): that "what is necessary for the 'coming to be' of a something, is likewise necessary for the 'continuing to be' of that something."

While the individuation of the soul in, by or through the body ('matter') takes place during the 'coming to be' phase of the soul, and that individuation continues during the soul's 'continuing to be' phase, it (the individuation) is not lost when the soul is separated from the body (which separation takes place during the soul's 'continuing to be' phase). That is, the individuation of the soul continues even when the soul is separated from that which was necessary for its initial individuation. Or, as St. Thomas puts it in his answer to the second objection: "A]lthough the soul receives its act of existing from God as from an active principle, and exists in the body as in matter, nevertheless the soul's act of existing does not cease when the body corrupts, nor does the soul's individuation cease when the body corrupts, even though it has a relationship to the body."

- - - - -

Anyway, I first chimed in on this subject only for the purpose of countering the claim that matter as "the" principle of individuation...is quite clearly an inadequate and false reading of Aristotle and Aquinas.

Although it seems clear I've yet to be successful in countering that point (in the eyes of the one who made the claim), I think I've said all I'm going to say here.

- - - -

In other news...

Notwithstanding the fact that I'm an American, I will agree with any Canadian who wants to claim that it ought to be illegal for the NHL to have its playoffs without at least one Canadian team participating.

Glenn said...

(I hemmed and hawed over whether to use 'stage' or 'phase', finally decided to use 'stage', and wound up using both. Oh well.)

Tony said...

I doubt you've ever played with pure calcium, but pure calcium is simply not found inside the body (or anywhere in nature). Compounds containing calcium are distinct substances, not calcium. Individual calcium atoms do not act in any particular way. They only act in combination, insofar as they are composed with other atoms. You might say this is true of all things, that all beings are fundamentally relational. That's true, but being is also fundamentally hierarchical, and when atoms are taken up into compounds, it is the compounds that are rightly regarded as primarily operative, and thus as the true substance, in relation to which the 'atomic' (there are no true physical atoms) constituents are material.

For the point I was making, it is utterly trivial and irrelevant whether the "correct" level at which to look at the stuff mentioned as an independent substantial reality is at the elemental or compound level. If calcium (elemental) doesn't exist on its own, water certainly does. Water IS a "substance" with behavior characteristic to itself as water. And yet, in the body of a human, it also acts the way "water" acts, in 10,000 different chemical reactions. Hence, the philosophical problem remains: in what sense is it still "water" and not "human"? Fobbing me off on trivialities about calcium just substitutes the trivial for the important.

Hence, to return to the point:

The fact that we can track some unit or other in no way implies that its accidents are retained.

just defies my observational point. Whatever the account is, there is SOME SENSE in which the accidents are "retained." Like, the spatial dimensions of the stuff, the temperature, etc. Qualify "retained" all you want, to make the theory sensible, but don't discard ordinary common sense in doing so. Substitute water for calcium if you like, the following remains a valid point:

Whatever the right solution is, we must also account for the fact that the "part" of the body that acts LIKE [water] acts is spatially (and other aspects, like temperature, weight,) determined by the spatial (and other aspects) of the previous substantial reality of the [water]: you can actually TRACK the "location (and other aspects) of the "[water]" in the body as in continuity with the accidents of the [water] in the prior substance. You can put [heavy water] in, and the human body retains THAT "unit" of [water] as to its location, its temperature, weight, and other accidents.

You might say this is true of all things, that all beings are fundamentally relational. That's true, but being is also fundamentally hierarchical,

I have (and never had) any problem with natural substances being hierarchical, with the fact that it is no longer the SUBSTANCE water, in the body, but "human", and your mistaking my thesis here seems to be blocking your ability to grasp the point. Which is that you seem to be asserting something about the explanatory role of dimensive quantity that doesn't actually explain, but rather confuses things.

My point is that there SEEMS to be a kind of confusion in logical priority if we assert, all at the same time, that
(1) ALL accidents depend upon the substantial being for their being real, and yet
(2) the individuality of the substantial (natural) being depends on dimensive quantity, while also saying that
(3) quantity is an accident; and
(4) THIS dimensive quantity is due to accidental form, which inheres in a subject logically subsequent to its being (already) a subject.

My point is that whatever we say about the matter as persisting from one substantial being to the next one in which it is the matter (i.e. persists through a substantial change), there is some sense in which the dimensive quantity also persists, and thus is not in every sense dependent on the new substantial being to account for its dimension/position.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

“But a soul is a substantial form, and a substantial form only exists when informing the substance of which it is the form. So, the substance of which the human soul is the form must exist after death. But that substance is a human being, where a human being is a single substance rather than two substances. So, the human being must exist after death.”

Now that I’ve been reading more about this, I remember questions I had years ago. What if the material body and the immaterial soul are bonded through some interaction we are not aware of? Does the soul exist in time only while it has a body or does it interact in time through some exchange between the material and immaterial? Could it be that God creates and maintains the soul from its beginning and the soul maintains the body? So, when the body dies, then the soul still exists just not connected to the material world? What if death is a bonding of a different sort with God?

Related to this, I wondered if reasoning is purely a material function of the brain. I think the soul can use reason, but does the soul need reason? If, after death, you are in an intimate relationship with God would it be necessary? Truth is truth. You don't need reason to get there, so to speak.

I figure this must fall into the Ghost in the machine debate, but I’m not sure why. I think it might be that the physics student in me can’t understand substances without bonding forces. There is always that relationship between energy and matter in the physical world, so why couldn’t there be a correlation we don’t know about between the material and the immaterial?