Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

Abstract

This dissertation explores how, according to Thomas Aquinas, the operations of the sensitive soul are necessary for ordinary (i.e., not mystical) human contemplation, and for the acquisition of knowledge which precedes contemplation.

The sensitive soul is the soul possessed by all sentient beings, that is, animals, and thus, in examining the role of the sensitive soul in human contemplation we learn about the way the animal side of our nature participates in contemplation.

According to Aquinas, we possess natural inclinations, which direct us to our proper ends, our proper good. Knowledge of truth is also a good to which we are naturally inclined.

Because we are sentient beings we are guided in the pursuit of our good by the cogitative power and the sensitive appetite. The cogitative power enables us to recognize objects as useful or harmful to us, while the sensitive appetite causes us to react to these objects as being attractive or repulsive. Since we are guided by these powers towards our proper good, even in the pursuit of knowledge we turn towards those objects to which our cogitative power and the sensitive appetite orient us. The sensitive appetite is the seat of passions, and among them of love, desire and delight. Love, desire and delight guide and accompany our pursuit of knowledge. The passions of love and delight also accompany the act of contemplation.

The operations of the sensitive soul enter into contemplation in two ways. On the one hand, the intellect depends on the assistance of the operations of the sensitive soul. On the other hand, the intellect influences the sensitive soul causing it to participate in the acts of the intellect in a passive way. In these two ways the sensitive soul contributes to our acquisition of knowledge and our enjoyment of contemplation.

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