Aquinas: the Soul

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The soul has been a very controversial and intriguing subject for multiple generations of philosophers, countless theories have been thought up in an attempt to explain its intellectual operation. Thomas Aquinas, a medieval philosopher and theologian, tackles the topic of subsistence (i.e existence) of the human soul by looking into its power of cognition and scrutinizing its nature; more specifically, he studies the processes through which the soul can cognize the world that surrounds us and itself by the means of the body and the intellect. Life can be defined through its functions: movement, cognition, perception and nutrition. Aquinas attempts to unveil the secret behind the soul’s power of cognition by identifying its most relevant capacities, intellect and will. The principle of intellectual operation –or the soul for Aquinas- can cognize the nature of all bodies only if does not contain the nature of the concerned body in itself, it’s impossible to know whether something is hot if your flesh is burned, so it rules out the possibility of the soul being a body because in theory a body can not cognize another body (Question 75. Article2.). Then a question is to be raised, can the soul cognize a nonbodily/immaterial substance? We should first understand how the soul cognizes other bodies. As the first principle of life the soul gives life to the body. When not connected to the soul, the body would only be a collection of organs enveloped by bones and covered by flesh with no intellect i.e no understanding of what is happening around us. But fortunately nature linked the soul and the body for a reason, the body offers us perception and the soul cognition. Perception is the fundamental factor behind the formation of a concept, with the five senses experience, as in sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, constituting it (Question 76. Article 5.). So perceiving a body is not enough for us to completely assimilate its concept. Inevitably cognition directly follows...
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