2. Properties [Pi-] Linking Intellect to its Object

General properties [Pg-] of potencies, habits and their objects [1]

A substance is known by its potencies, which are known by their acts, which are known by their objects [Nature-Potency-Act-Object (5)]. The object specifies [Specifies (20)], distinguishes [Distinguishes], and defines the potency as to its natural [Natural (5) / Natural (natus)] ordination [Ordinatio (35)] to one object [Unicity (15)]. The potency is universal [Universal (14)] respect to its object, which is common [Commune (3)] to all things that move the potency. The potency cannot be move without its object [Necessity (5)] must be moved per se et primo [Primo et per se (2) / Primo (4)]—that is, infallibly [Infallible (7)]—when its object is presented to it. The object formally [Formaliter (20)] and directly [Directe (7)] moves [Moves (8)], completes [Formaliter completur (3)], and perfects [Perfection (8)] the potency per se [Per se (17)] as its proper [Proper (17)] act [In act (5)], end [End (9)], and terminus of its action [Terminus of the action (2)]. In this way even a cognitive potency has a natural appetite for its object as its particular good [Bonum]. So, the object is proportional to its potency [Proportional (8)] as it falls under the form of the potency or habit [Cadit sub forma virtutis].

Properties of senses and their object [Ps-]

Aquinas uses the senses—especially sight—as examples for potencies, the intellect, and their properties. The object specifies [Specifies (9)], distinguishes [Distinguishes], and defines [Defines] the sense as its natural [Natural (natus) (2)] ordination [Ordinatio] to one object [Unicity]. The sense is universal [Universal (9)] respect to its object, which is common [Commune] to all things that move the sense. The sense cannot be move without its object [Necessity (8)] and must be moved per se et primo [Primo et per se (2) / Primo (6)]—that is, infallibly [Infallible (12)]—when its object is presented to it. The object formally [Formaliter (5)] and directly [Directe] moves [Moves (10)] and perfects [Perfection (2)] the sense per se [Per se (14)] as its proper [Proper (25)] act [In act (9)]. So, the sense’s object is proportional to it [Proportional (2)].

Properties of the intellect and its object [Pi-]

The object specifies [Specifies (20)] and defines [Defines (2)] the intellect as that its natural [Natural (21) / Natural (natus) (6) / Connatural (8) / Intrinsic] ordination [Ordinatio (9)] to one object [Unicity (12)]. The intellect is universal [Universal (67)] respect to its object, which is common [Commune (12)] to all things that move it. The intellect cannot be move without its object [Necessity (41)] and must be moved per se et primo [Primo et per se (9) / Primo (56)]—that is, infallibly [Infallible (28)]—when its object is presented to it. The object formally [Formaliter (11) / Principium in genere causae formalis] and directly [Directe (2)] moves [Moves (8) / Causa motus et esse], and perfects [Perfection (36)] the intellect per se [Per se (12)] as its proper [Proper (68)] act [In act (52)], end [End (8)], and terminus of its action [Terminus of the action (10)]. In this way even cognitive potencies have a natural appetite for its object as its particular good [Bonum intellectus]. So, the intellect’s object must be proportional to it [Proportional (15)].

      Since the operation of man’s intellect originates in the senses [Originates in the senses], the object is received from sensible things [Depends on the senses (2)] by falling under the sense and imagination [Cadit sub sensu et imaginatione (2)], which presents [Presents (2)] the intellect with its object. So, the intellect’s object must be separable from matter [Separable from matter (2)], abstracted from phantasms [Abstracted from Phantasms], and made to be in act by the light of the agent intellect [In act (per lumen intellectus agentis) (13)]. Yet an excess of the intellect’s object itself does not corrupt it [Does not corrupt (3)], because the object is immaterial [Immaterial (17)], incorporeal [ incorporeal (3)], and indivisible [Indivisible (4)]. The intellect is thus united [Union] to its object.



[1] We try to be exhaustive and complete when identifying the properties linking the object to the intellect [Pi-]. Those citation linking object to potencies and habits in general [Pg-] and linking object to senses [Ps-] are not exhaustive and complete, but are references contained in the citations on the intellect or chosen by us to better illustrate the link between teaching on the intellect to his teaching on potencies in general.

Numbers in parenthesis {e.g. Immaterial (7)} indicates the number of times the property is found in the texts of Aquinas.

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