A Scholastic Argument for the Immateriality of Rational Soul

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A paraphrase of the argument by Albert Magnus in George Reilly’s The Psychology of Albert the Great: Compared with That of Saint Thomas (1934), 39.

“The act of understanding is abstract and free from the conditions and limitations of matter. Now since the ‘intelligible’ has a twofold relation, one to the intellect, the other to the thing whose image it is, the freedom in the ‘intelligible’ must come from either of these two things to which it is related. But not from the thing, which is often material or at least bound up with matter, therefore it must be from the intellect. Accordingly, since abstraction is simple, immaterial and incorporeal, the intellect is essentially simple and incorporeal and likewise the rational soul.”

 

An Essay on Man: Epistle II, Alexander Pope

An excerpt from “An Essay on Man: Epistle II” by Alexander Pope (as printed in Comment magazine)

Know, then, thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused, or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!

Quotable: Walker Percy

“What does a man do when he finds himself living after an age has ended and he can no longer understand himself because the theories of man of the former age no longer work and the theories of the new age are not yet known, for even the name of the new age is not known, and so everything is upside down, people feeling bad when they should feel good, good when they should feel bad?

“What a man does is start afresh as if he were newly come into a new world, which in fact it is; start with what he knows for sure, look at the birds and beasts, and like a visitor from Mars newly landed on earth notice what is different about man.”

Walker Percy, “The Delta Factor”