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The Thomist 66 (2002): 15-59 AQUINAS'S REJECTION OF MIND, CONTRA KENNY JOHNP. O'CALLAGHAN University ofPortland Portland, Oregon THOMAS AQUINAS has no philosophy of mind, contrary to the central thesis of Anthony Kenny's recentAquinas on Mind. 1 My argument in this paper is that there is a shift in Aquinas's discussion of cognition from an Augustinian philosophy of mind toward a more full-blooded Aristotelian psychology. Something like the account of mind that Kenny attributes to Aquinas can be found in his very early work. But there is no philosophy of mind in Aquinas precisely where Kenny says it is to be found, in the first part of the Summa Theologiae in the questions Kenny refers to as the "Treatise on Man."2 Aquinas has no philosophy of mind, because he does not think there is any such thing as the mind described by Kenny. The reasons for denying the existence of this mind have to do with Aquinas's greater appropriation of Aristotle's account of the soul in the "Treatise on Man." This Aristotelian emphasis on the soul is perhaps the most important contribution that Thomists can make to contemporary philosophy of mind. I. KENNY'S MIND The mind is a single joint power essentially constituted from the subordinate and distinct powers of intellect and will. In 1 Anthony Kenny, Aquinas on Mind (London: Routledge, 1993). 2 I will address the Summa discussion because that is where Kenny says the philosophy of mind is to be found. However, it is worth noting that the shift from earlier to later takes place before the Summa. There is no discussion of 'mind' in Aquinas's disputed question on the soul, written just before he embarked upon the Summa. The Summa contra Gentiles, written several years earlier, is ambiguous. 15 16 JOHN P. O'CALLAGHAN Aquinas on Mind, this is the account that Kenny provides of the "Aristotelian" philosophy of mind that he argues is to be found in the Summa Theologiae. He hopes to distance Aristotelians like Aquinas from Cartesian accounts of the mind that he believes place misguided emphasis upon consciousness as the fundamental characteristic of mind, consciousness being understood as immediate, privileged, and private accessibility to introspection. According to Kenny, Aquinas's philosophy of mind is to be found primarily and in its most "mature and developed"3 form in questions 75-89 of the Prima pars. To justify this approach, he writes: of course since the greatest medieval philosophers were theologians first and philosophers second, it is to their theological treatises rather than to their commentaries on De anima that one turns for their insights into philosophy of mind.4 So, on the basis of the Summa Theologiae, considered apart from and "rather than" the De Anima, Kenny attributes to Aquinas the view that the mind is a joint power, other than the powers of intellect and will alone, but one that combines the two. The intellect is most helpfully thought of as the capacity for operation with signs, and the will as the capacity for the pursuit of rational goals.5 Contrasting the Aristotelian view of the mind with what he has identified as the Cartesian, he writes: only human beings could think abstract thoughts and take rational decisions: they are marked off from the other animals by the possession of intellect and will, and it was these two faculties which essentially constituted the mind.6 3 Kenny, Aquinas on Mind, preface, unnumbered. 4 Ibid., 20. 5 Ibid., 15. Many, though not all, reviewers have pointed to the oddity of Kenny's description of the intellect as the capacity to manipulate signs: Brian Davies, Religious Studies 30 (1994): 128-30; James Ross, Philosophical Quarterly 43 (1993): 534-37; Deborah Black,Journal ofthe History ofPhilosophy 33 (1995): 338-41; C.J. F. Williams, International PhilosophicalQuaterly 34 (1994): 375-76; Robert Pasnau,The PhilosophicalReview 103, no. 1 (1994): 745-48; John Haldane, Philosophy 69 (1994): 242-44. 6 Kenny, Aquinas on Mind, 16. Also, "humans, in addition to the powers of animals, have mind (which combines a cognitive power, the intellect, with an appetitive power, the will). In Aquinas's system the intellect and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 15-59
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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