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Consciousness and SelfKnowledge in Aquinas's Critique of Averroes's Psychology DEBORAH L. BLACK 1. OUTLINE OF THE PROBLEM AQUINAS'S ATTACKS on the Averroist doctrine of the unicity of the human intellect are many and varied, and they appear in a wide variety of works spanning the entire course of Aquinas's career., Some texts, such as the Summa theologiae and the Commentary on the "De anima," present only a few central and measured objections to Averroes's position; others, such as the Summa contra gentiles and De unitate intellectus, proliferate and repeat a plethora of arguments, many of which are cast in a markedly polemical tone.' Yet there An earlier version of this paper was presented at the z5th InternationalCongress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan Universky, Kalamazoo, May 1z, 199o. ' "Unicity of the intellect" refers to the doctrine, defended by Averroes in late works such as the Long Commentaryon the *'Deanima," that the possible (or, in medieval terminology, material) intellect, posited by Aristotle in Deanima 3-4, is a single separate substanceshared by all individual human knowers. See Avetrois CordubensisCommentarium magnum in AristotelisDe anima libros,ed. F. S. Crawford (Cambridge, MA: The Mediaeval Academy of America, 1953), Bk. 3, comm. a-16, 379.a-436.4o. The Arabic originalof this text (hereafter referred to as LongCommentary)does not survive. The key Averroist arguments (minus Averroes's polemics against his predecessors) are translated by Arthur Hyman in A. Hyman and J. J. Walsh, eds., Philosophyin the Middle Ages, ~d ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1973), 3z4-34. Unless otherwise stated, all translations from Averroes 's and Aquinas'sworks are my own. A clear summary of Averroes's position on unicity as it is found in the Long Commentaryis given by Arthur Hyman, "Aristotle's Theory of the Intellectand Its Interpretation by Averroes," in D.J. O'Meara, ed., Studies in Aristotle,Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, vol. 9 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, x98l), 16x-91 ; for a more detailed discussion of the various viewstaken by Averroes at different stages in his life, see H. A. Davidson, '*Averroeson the Material Intellect," Viator 17 (1986): 91--137. 9The principal texts in which the criticisms of Averroes are contained are as follows: Summa theologiae(ST), xa pars, q. 76, aa. l-z; Summa contragentiles (SCG), Bk. z, chaps. 59, 73, 75; De unitate inteUectuacontra Averroistas;Quaestionesdisputataede anima, qq. z-3; Sez~tencialibriDe [349] 35 ~ JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 31:3 JULY 1993 is one basic theme that is repeated by Aquinas in almost every work in which unicity is discussed. Over and over again, Aquinas proclaims that Averroes's view that the material or possible intellect is one for all human knowers is unable to explain the most basic of psychological facts, which Aquinas generally expresses by the phrase hic homo (singularis) inteUigit, "this (individual) human being understands."s Averroes's position, it is charged, robs individual human subjects of their claim to possess, in their own right, those acts of intellectual cognition that make them essentially rational beings. Intuitively, one cannot help but be strongly sympathetic with Aquinas's preoccupation with such an objection. For it appears that he has recognized a fundamental flaw in the Averroist noetic: its inability to account for the datum of individual consciousness of thought, the experience of intellectual self-awareness.4 Aquinas's appeal to that self-awareness seems to cut through the philosophical and exegetical gulf that separates him from Averroes, resting as it does upon a basic human experience that all of us, philosophers or not, readily acknowledge as real and central to our humanity.s Its purported anima, Bk. 3, chap. I (= Bk. 3, lect. 7); Scripture super librosSententiarum Magistri Petri Lombardi, Bk. 9, dist. 17, q. z, a. 1; Compendium theologiae (CT), q. 85. All references are to the Leonine editions of these tests, with the following exceptions: (x) I have provided parallel references, for the sake of convenience, to the paragraph numbers of the edition of the De unitate ir#eUectus by L. W. Keeler (Rome: Gregorian University, a936); and to the book, lecture, and paragraph numbers of the edition of Aquinas's...


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