How does Aquinas think we acquire knowledge?|
1.) Thomas Aquinas believes that humans are born with a clean slate in a state of potency and acquire knowledge through sense experiences by abstraction of the phantasms. His view on how man acquires knowledge rejects Plato’s theory that humans are born with innate species. Along with Plato’s theory of humans understanding corporeal things through innate species, Aquinas also rejects Plato’s theory that in being born with innate species, humans spend their lives recollecting their knowledge. 2.) Aquinas makes two objections to this theory. His first objection is that man could not forget what he naturally knows. He disagrees with the claim that in being united to the body, the soul is hindered. Aquinas argues that it is natural for the body to be united with the soul and a natural operation cannot be hindered. Therefore, man could not possibly forget concepts that he naturally knows. Aquinas explains that no man could forget natural knowledge such as the whole being greater than the part. Aquinas also rejects Plato’s example of the teacher asking a student questions in an orderly fashion from the universal to the particular. Aquinas argues that a man is not recollecting because he had knowledge of this idea innately, but that he is just learning it for the first time. Aquinas argues that by this process, the human mind is gaining knowledge from the preceding question which is why he can answer the subsequent question correctly. 3.) Aquinas rejects this theory of recollection because he believes that humans are born with a clean slate in which makes man only a potential knower of things. He believes that the soul has no such thing as inborn knowledge but that every soul is in a state of potency to all knowledge. He explains that the body is the soul’s instrument to which humans use in order to actualize their...