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MATTHEW OF AQUASPARTA'S COGNITION THEORY PART III OBJECTS OF INTELLECTION* CHAPTER VI OBJECT OF THE INTELLECT Part II of this study has presented the ideogenetic theories of Matthew of Aquasparta, Bonaventure, Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus, showing a development of doctrine on the question of how the intellect knows. The next part will concern itself with the objects of intellection as taught by these same four Scholastics. The first chapter will discuss the object of the intellect in general; the second, knowledge of singulars; the third chapter, the soul's knowledge of itself with a final chapter on the nature of universal knowledge. Matthew of Aquasparta The present chapter on the object of the human intellect concerns itself with the proper end of man's cognitive activity. Such a doctrine is obviously related to the respective authors' entire theory of ideogenesis . For example, Matthew teaches that the intellect forms a species from material furnished by the object and this intellectual activity is perfected by a special divine illumination. He emphasizes the activity of the intellect, yet admits that the external object is an instrumental cause of cognition. From this ideogenetic theory Matthew derives the thesis that the essence of a being is the object of the mind. As further corollary to his stress on the activity of the intellect, Matthew also maintains the possibility of a cognition of nonexistents, if this term is understood as "that which does not exist in some way." Object of the Intellect: quod quid est Matthew quotes with approval a passage in Aristotle which specifies that the object of the intellect is quod quid est.1 In Matthew's own for- * See Franciscan Studies 20 (i960), pp. 161 and 21 (1961) pp. 1 De cognitione, Q. I, p. 209. Here Matthew quotes from Aristotle, De anima III, 26. 383 384H. M. BEHA muía, the object of the human mind is "the quiddity of the thing conceived by the intellect and related to the eternal exemplar."2 According to Matthew, the proper object of the intellect is the essence of the object ; he does not say, however, that the concept of this essence must be abstracted from sensible things, since the intellect is able to grasp the essence of any created object and this without necessarily having recourse to an abstractive process. The mind, for example, can know itself by a kind of intuition without need of any abstraction from the phantasm. In addition, the intellect, as already indicated, has certain innate ideas and impressed species. In the light of his ideogenesis, then, Matthew simply describes the object of the intellect as the essence of the thing. This does not mean, however, that the mind comes into direct contact with this essence; rather, the quiddity of the object is apprehended by the possible intellect through a species. Such an interpretation follows frqm Matthew's theory that the possible intellect turns itself towards a species which is brought forth from the phantasm, not impressed by the external object. Finally, the quiddity of an object can be understood fully and perfectly only in relation to its eternal exemplar; here Matthew returns to his thesis of special illumination required for perfect knowledge of the truth. With regard to its proper object, the quiddity of the thing conceived by the mind and related to its eternal exemplar, the human intellect is always true, i. e. the concept is always true. Only the "composed intellect " which judges the relationship of concepts can be false.3 In other words, the intellect acting in conformity with its nature is always true on the level of simple apprehension; in fact this knowledge of truth is the proper operation of the intellect.4 But, as has been explained, perfect knowledge of truth involves illumination. Consequently, Matthew sums up his position by saying that truth has its origins in things, its formal cause in the intellect and its perfect exemplar in the divine ideas.5 When all three factors are present, the intellect always achieves the proper termination of its activity and thus comes to know truth. Thus, man's knowledge of the essence of an object is necessary and immutable, because...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 383-465
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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