The Intellectivity Argument

The fullest version of the argument from perfection to intellectivity I've found in Aquinas, and the one I want to examine, occurs in 44.377:

No perfection that may be found in any natural kind (genere) of beings is absent from God (as was shown above). Nor is there any complexity in him as a consequence of this (as is also clear from things said above). Now among the perfections of things the one with

the most power (potissima

25 Although potissima is the superlative form of potis (= 'able', 'capable', 'possible'), in classical Latin it would ordinarily (though not always) mean simply principal, chief, most important. But I think that in Aquinas's use of it here the superlative potissima retains the special sense of the positive and comparative forms, and so I'm translating it as 'the one with the most power'. The CT version of this argument (quoted in sect. 4) tends to confirm this interpretation, since it bases its broad claim that being intellective 'ranks first' (praeceiiere) on its narrower claim that 'intellective things have more power (sunt potiores) than all others'.

) is something's being intellective, for on this basis it 'is in a certain way all things', having within itself the perfection of all things. God, therefore, is intellective.

I think it will be easier to investigate this argument in the following form, which stays very close to the text.

1 No perfection that may be found in any natural kind of beings is absent from God.

2 There is no complexity in God as a consequence of the presence of all those perfections.

3 On the basis of being intellective something is in a certain way all things.

4 Something's being in a certain way all things on the basis of being intellective is its having within itself the perfection of all things.

5 Among the perfections of things the one with the most power is something's being intellective.

6 God is intellective.

Since step 5 is the first derived step in the intellectivity argument, it looks as if at least one advantage this argument has over the more primitive versions we've glanced at must lie in the nature of the support supplied for the claim of greatest power for intellect. What constitutes that support?

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© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved a. Steps 1 and 2

Step 1 supplies an ingredient that is obviously indispensable to any of these versions of the argument from perfection, the thesis of the extensive aspect of universal perfection. And, as Aquinas points out in line 2 of the passage, the extensive aspect of God's perfection has already been argued for—in chapter 28, as we've seen. But step 1, indispensable to the argument and explicitly supported as it is, contributes nothing at all to the support of step 5.

Step 2, Aquinas claims, 'is also clear from things said above' (lines 3-4). In this case the reference is clearly to chapter 31, which was devoted to arguing in detail that the plurality of divine attributes derivable from universal perfection is not incompatible with God's absolute simplicity. So step 2, like step 1, is explicitly supported. Its contribution to the argument generally or to the support of step 5, however, is at best obscure. In fact, a careful reading of the argument shows that, formally, step 2 is an idle premiss.

I want to keep open the possibility that the sentence in lines 2-4 is intended as more than a parenthetical remark that ought not to be represented at all as a step in my extracted version of the argument. I think there are reasons to take it seriously—besides the principle of charity—and I think that the strongest of those reasons are implicit in this argument itself. But perhaps a feature shared by other SCG arguments that are particularly relevant to this one can make us more receptive to the idea that that sentence is meant to make a contribution to this argument. After chapter 28, where Aquinas argues for the extensive aspect of universal perfection, he bases three other arguments on it in SCG before he presents this intellectivity argument in chapter 44. There is one such argument for each of the attributes introduced between perfection and intellectivity: for goodness (40.325), for uniqueness (42.337), and for infinity (43.359). In each of those arguments Aquinas is just as explicit about the inclusion of all specific perfections in divine perfection as he is here in the intellectivity argument, but in none of them does he bother to point out, as he does here, that that inclusion in no way compromises divine simplicity. So we have some grounds for supposing that, even if this end p.185

Kretzmann, Norman , (deceased) formerly Susan Linn Sage Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Cornell University, New York

The Metaphysics of Theism

Print ISBN 9780199246533, 2001 pp. [ 186]-[ 190]

argument has no formal need for step 2, there is some special reason for alluding here to simplicity's compatibility with universal perfection.

b. Step 3 and Thesis Eqo

Whatever may be the case regarding step 2's role in the argument, the structure of the sentence in lines 4-7 leaves no doubt that the next two steps, which I've extracted from that sentence, are intended as support for step 5. The sentence in lines 4-7 contains a phrase in quotation marks, which are meant to indicate that Aquinas would have expected his readers to associate the phrase with a famous thesis of Aristotle's: 'In a certain way the soul is all the things there are' (De anima III 8, 431b21). And because step 3 incorporates that phrase, it, like steps 1 and 2, may be considered to be explicitly supported by another argument—in this case, one of Aristotle's. The Aristotelian thesis Aquinas alludes to here concerns both the cognitive parts of the soul, sense as well as intellect. And so Aquinas's thesis in step 3 consists in just half of Aristotle's thesis, the half concerning intellect. I'll call Aquinas's restricted thesis EQO (from the Latin words in which he states it: est quodammodo omnia).

All that can save this EQO thesis from being dismissed out of hand is an interpretation of the modifying phrase 'in a certain way' that will tame the wild implausibility of its two implicit, interrelated claims: (A) that an intellective being is things other than itself, and (B) that an intellective being is all things.

As for claim A, Aquinas, following Aristotle, reduces its implausibility enormously by including within his interpretation of'in a certain way' what I'll call the forms-only condition: 'if the soul is all things, it must be either the sense-perceptible and knowable things themselves [as Aristotle says some pre-Socratic philosophers claimed] ... or their forms (species). Now the soul is not the things themselves, as they supposed, because [when a stone is sensed, or cognized intellectively] the stone is not in the soul but, rather, a form of the stone' (In DA III: L13.789). So the forms-only condition blocks one obviously unacceptable reading of the EQO thesis. Of course your intellect is not identical with the extra-mental things it cognizes; it is its objects only in virtue of being intellectively informed by forms of those things. Even though the form of stone end p.186

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© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved is precisely what makes the extra-mental stone stone rather than wood or mud, the mental form of that cognized extra-mental thing is prevented from petrifying your intellect by the radically different mode of its instantiation—conceptual rather than corporeal. For you to cognize the extra-mental thing as shale is for you to have acquired its nature, quiddity, or form intellectively— a process radically unlike that mindless ancient mud's acquiring of the form shale. 'Cognizers are distinguished from non-cognizing things in this respect, that non-cognizing things have only their own form, while a cognizer is naturally suited to have a form of something else as well, for a form of what is cognized is in the cognizer' (ST la. 14.1c). More needs to be said about this forms-only condition, but I'll postpone saying more in order to see, first, how Aquinas handles the implausible implied claim B.

In his commentary on the relevant passage in Aristotle's De anima, Aquinas naturally deals with the full Aristotelian thesis, which he presents in this form: 'the soul is in a certain way both the sense-perceptible and the intelligible things. For in the soul are sense and intellect, . . . but sense is in a certain way those that are sense-perceptible, and intellect those that are intelligible' (In DA III: L13.787). The full Aristotelian thesis, covering both cognitive parts of the soul, depends on a principle of universal cognizability: in theory, absolutely everything there is can be cognized, either sense-perceptively or intellectively. Aristotle puts it this way: 'The things there are are either sense-perceptible or intelligible' (De anima III 8, 431b21-2). Bold as it may sound, this principle of universal cognizability strikes me as truistic, or at least irrefutable, especially when, as in Aquinas's use of it, 'intelligible' need not mean susceptible of being perfectly understood by a human being: 'the human intellect does not immediately, in its first apprehension of a thing, acquire a complete cognition of it. Instead, the intellect first apprehends something about it—namely, its quiddity, which is the first and proper object of intellect; and then it acquires intellective cognition of the properties, accidents, and dispositions associated with the thing's essence' (ST la.85.5c). Moreover, that intellective cognition of the quiddities of creatures is itself always very far from complete, even in the most advanced instances of human intellection, now as well as in the thirteenth century: 'our cognition is so feeble that no philosopher has ever been able to investigate completely the nature of a fly' (Collationes super Credo end p.187

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© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved in Deum, preface). And since knowledge, full-fledged cognition, involves intellection even when its objects are individuated forms cognized initially

through the senses,

26 See e.g. In DA III: L7.680: '[0]ur intellect is naturally suited to have intellective cognition of all sense objects ... it is capable of cognizing not only one kind of sense objects (as sight or hearing is), or only one kind of common or proper accidental sensible qualities, but, instead, universally, of [cognizing] sensible nature entirely.' Also SCG 1.31.281: '[W]ith a single power, intellect cognizes all the things that the sensory part of the soul apprehends with various powers, and many more things as well.'

the principle of universal cognizability can, without relevant loss, be reduced to a principle of universal intelligibility: in theory, absolutely everything there is can be cognized intellectively—just the principle for Aquinas's restricted

EQO thesis to depend on.

Such a principle of universal intelligibility is readily abstracted from Aquinas's interpretation of'in a certain way' in his De anima commentary: 'that which can know—i.e. the intellective power—is not . . . the knowable thing itself, but is, rather, in potentiality to it' (L13.788). To be intellective as we are is to have a certain power or capacity for conceptually taking on a form of any and, in theory, every intelligible object—which is every thing. An intellective being need not be all things other than potentially. And so, once a principle of universal intelligibility is in place, the universality in it is fully ascribed to intellect even on the creaturely level: 'the result is that a human being is in a certain way the totality of being (totum ens), to the extent to which [the human being] as regards the soul is in a certain way all things, in so far as its soul is receptive of all forms. For intellect is a power receptive of all intelligible forms, and sense is a power receptive of all sense-perceptible forms' (L13.790). 27

27 See also e.g. '[A] human being can by means of intellect acquire cognition of the natures of all bodies' (ST la.75.3c); 'If the human intellect comprehends the substance of any thing—a stone, say, or a triangle—none of the intelligible aspects of that thing exceeds the capacity of human reason' (SCG 1.3.16). For a more detailed discussion of Aquinas's principle of universal intelligibility, see Kretzmann 1991c.

So Aquinas's interpretation of'in a certain way' combines the forms-only condition with a principle of universal intelligibility, providing the materials for this fuller and, I think, not at all implausible version of the EQO thesis in step 3 of the intelligibility argument:

end p.188

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3' On the basis of being intellective something is in a certain way all things in the sense that it is potentially informed intellectively by a form of any and every thing.

However, in working at dispelling the initial implausibility of EQO, I don't want to have left the impression that there's nothing brave about it. Even if it's only in potentiality that intellect is all things, and even if it's only forms of them and not the things themselves that can be attributed to intellect on any instance of that potentiality's actualization, Aquinas takes each such instance to warrant a kind of identity claim: 'In virtue of [the soul's being all things in] this way'—that is, in the way prescribed by Aquinas's interpretation of'in a certain way'—'intellect actualized is said to be the actualized object of intellective cognition itself, to the extent to which a form of the object of intellective cognition is the form of the actualized intellect' (L13.789); 'something is actually cognized intellectively in that the actualized intellect and what is actually cognized intellectively are one' (SCG 1.47.398). Every instance of intellective cognition is an instance of the actualization of an intellect's potentiality for taking on a form of some thing, an instance of intellect actualized.

It is necessarily also, and equally, an instance of the actualization of that extra-mental thing's intelligibility, an instance of that thing's becoming an object of actual intellection. The stone in the quarry wall is, like anything anywhere, always intelligible whether or not any intellect is actively cognizing it; and what is perse intelligible about it is its forms—medium hard, dark grey, brittle, Palaeozoic, Devonian shale. But its intelligibility is actualized when and only when a form of that stone is also informing some intellect, whose potentiality for intellective cognition is thereby actualized. When you consciously recognize the stone in the quarry wall as Palaeozoic, or even as dark grey, your intellect takes on a form that is also a form of the stuff in the wall. Your intellect doesn't thereby become the stone as such, but it does thereby become the stone as an intelligible object whose intelligibility is being actualized. Partly in order to distinguish between the extra-mental and the mental forms of intellectively cognized extra-mental things, Aquinas often calls the mental forms 'likenesses' (similitudines) of the things: 'By means of its likeness, what is cognized intellectively is in the one end p.189

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© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved who is doing the intellective cognizing. And it is in this sense that we say that what is actually cognized intellectively is the intellect actualized, to the extent to which a likeness of the thing that is being cognized is [on such an

occasion] the form of the intellect' (ST la.85.2, ad 1).

28 See the helpful account of this in Geach 1961: 95ff.

Intellect actualized, intellect actually cognizing, is intellect in touch with its real object, which is typically not the cognizing intellect itself. A form of the thing is taken on intellectively, and that ensouled form (as distinct from its enmattered counterpart) is a likeness of the thing. That likeness serves as the means whereby intellect's real object, the stone out there in the quarry wall, is cognized intellectively: 'the intelligible forms by which the possible intellect is actualized are not intellect's object, for they are related to intellect not as what is cognized intellectively but, rather, as that by which it

29 See also e.g. QDV 10.4: '[E]very cognition is in keeping with some form that is the source of the cognition in the cognizer. But this sort of form can be considered in two ways. In one way, as regards the being that it has in the cognizer; in the other way, as regards the relation it bears to the thing whose likeness it is. Considered in connection with the first relationship, it makes the cognizer actually cognizant. Considered in connection with the second relationship, however, it determines the cognition to some determinate cognizable thing'; and QDV 3.1.

c. Step 4 and Having Within Itself the Perfection of All Things

In my presentation of the intellectivity argument, step 4 is more nearly reconstructed than extracted from Aquinas's text. His phrase in lines 6-7, 'having within itself the perfection of all things (habens in se omnium perfectionem)', seems clearly to be intended as an exposition of the EQO thesis, and so I've written step 4 to bring out that intention.

Step 4 seems to be a strong claim, especially because although whatever is said in or about the EQO thesis at this point in the argument must apply to intellective beings generally, it must still apply particularly to humans, the only beings whose known intellective nature can provide a basis for this argument that God's nature must be intellective. Even after the implausibility of the EQO thesis itself has been dispelled, can it be plausibly said of any human being that its 'being in a certain way all things on the basis of being intellective is its having within itself the perfection of all things'? It would be utterly implausible if the claim concerned the end p.190

Kretzmann, Norman , (deceased) formerly Susan Linn Sage Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Cornell University, New York

The Metaphysics of Theism

Print ISBN 9780199246533, 2001 pp. [191]-[195]

innumerable perfection s of all things, but step 4 isn't talking about perfections.

To say instead, as step 4 does say, that merely on the basis of being intellective a being has within itself the perfection of all things is, I think, only to say differently what the EQO thesis already says—namely, that merely on the basis of being intellective a being has within itself, formally and potentially, absolutely all there is, 'the perfection of all things'. Or, as we've already seen Aquinas putting it, 'a human being is in a certain way the totality of being (totum ens), to the extent to which [the human being] as regards the soul is in a certain way all things' (In DA III: L13.790). In this context step 4 might have been expressed more clearly, and might have been easier to grant at once, if it had read this way:

4' Something's being in a certain way all things on the basis of being intellective is its intellectively having within itself the perfection—that is, the totality—of all things.

But once we see that that's what step 4 comes to, we can, I think, grant it in the form in which Aquinas gives it.

Still, if that is what step 4 comes to, is it any more than a rewording of step 3? I don't think it is more than that, but the rewording is helpful, especially as regards intellectivity's role in reconciling divine simplicity and perfection. I think step 4's phrase 'having within itself the perfection of all things' is a highly compressed version of Aquinas's interpretation of the EQO thesis adapted to purposes of this argument. To say that an intellective being is all things, as step 3 says, can seem to inject an irreducible plurality into any being that is characterized by intellect. Step 4's glossing of'is all things' as 'has within itself the perfection of all things' reminds the attentive reader that the EQO thesis, properly interpreted, doesn't identify an intellective being essentially with an exhaustive plurality, but rather ascribes to it an intellective identity—a formal, potential identity—with the universal totality,

'the totality of being'.

30 The same sort of unifying of the extensive aspect of universal perfection seems to be under way in the final clause of the earliest version of the argument from perfection: 'in whom the perfections of all natural kinds are united'. See sect. 4 above.

Construing the EQO thesis in this way helps to remove an apparent obstacle in the way of ascribing perfection to God along with the perfect intellectivity it entails.

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The obstacle is, of course, the apparent strain put on divine simplicity by the extensive aspect of universal perfection. But the introduction of the EQO thesis and the way it's construed in this argument are designed to show that since God's intellective possession of every 'perfection that may be found in any natural kind of beings' is his being in a certain way all those perfections interpreted as 'the totality of being', there isn't 'any complexity in him as a consequence of this'.

Of course, human intellectivity does involve complexity, not least because it involves an actualizing process. In its primary, creaturely instance, intellectivity is a power that is not always actualized and, even on occasions when it is actualized, is never fully actualized, especially (but not only) because of its universal range. It's for those reasons that the principle of universal intellig ibility is crucial to the interpretation of the EQO thesis in its original application, to intellective beings that are also human.

Still, as we've seen, every instance of an intellect's actualizing its universal potentiality constitutes a union of the intellect and the intelligible object whose intelligibility is actualized in that instance. As Aquinas puts it in another passage, 'In a human intellect [that is actively cognizing something] . . . the likeness of the intellectively cognized thing is other than the intellect's substance and occurs as its form. That's why the intellect and the thing's likeness make up one complete thing, which is the intellect intellectively cognizing in actuality' (In Sent. II.3.3.1c). So, if eternal, universally perfect God is, as such, intellective; if, as Aquinas puts it, 'his being is his being intellective' (SCG I.51&52.432); then God as intellective must be the eternal, perfect actualizing of the universal intellective potentiality. Since 'God's being intellective is his essence, his being intellective must be simple, eternal, invariable, purely actual, and all the [other] things that have been proved about the divine being' (45.388). It is God's being intellective that provides the basis for the fuller account of his having all specific perfections: intellectivity is the characterization of God's essence in terms of which the extensive aspect of universal perfection has to be understood. The real difference between thesis EQO's general claim about any intellective being and the extensive aspect of God's universal perfection understood as an aspect of God's intellectivity is not in the scope, which is exhaustive in both cases, or in the relationship between actualized intellect and intelligibles, which is in both cases formal end p.192

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© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved identity, but simply in the fact that the totality of specific perfections included within universal perfection must be possessed by the divine intellect perfectly, as it couldn't be possessed by the temporal, dependent, finite human intellect.

So it seems to me that the point of step 2 in the intellectivity argument is to advertise God's intellectivity as the aspect of God's nature that best explains the compatibility of simplicity with universal perfection. Aquinas couldn't explain it in those terms in chapter 31, his first attempt to square perfection with simplicity, because he hadn't yet argued for intellect in God. And this argument introducing intellectivity in chapter 44 is perhaps not yet the best place for a full disclosure. But he does offer such explanations in later chapters—for example:

[T]he divine essence comprehends within itself the excellences (nobilitates) of all things—not, of course, by way of having them [all] added together (per modum compositionis), but by way of perfection [itself] {per modum perfectionis). . . . [T]he divine intellect can comprehend in its own essence that which is proper to each thing by having intellective cognition of [the respects] in which anything imitates its essence and in which the thing falls short of its own perfection. For instance, in having intellective cognition of its own essence as imitable by way of life without cognition, it takes up the form proper to plant; while if [it has intellective cognition of its own essence] as imitable by way of cognition without intellect, [it takes up] the form proper to [non-human] animal) and so on as regards other things. (54.451) 31

d. Step 5 and Potissima

Although steps 3 and 4 present all that Aquinas explicitly provides by way of support for step 5 in this argument, he must be taking an additional bit of support for granted, since there's still nothing explicit in steps 3 and 4 to warrant step 5's characterization of intellectivity as the perfection that carries with it the most power. As I see it, the assumed premiss can be made explicit in a supplementary step that reads like this:

4a A perfection the possession of which involves the possessor's intellectively having within itself the perfection of all things is the one that has the most power.

end p.193

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Step 4a also needs support. Aquinas's perfection argument, which we examined in Chapter Four, can be read as setting the stage for such a claim when it moves toward concluding God's universal perfection through derived characterizations of God as something 'to which the whole power (virtus) of being pertains', something that is 'in keeping with the whole power (potestatem) of being' (28.260). But step 4's crucial element is the phrase 'having within itself the perfection of all things', which I've already identified as an exposition of the EQO thesis. And so all the support step 4a really needs is available, I think, in the already developed analysis of EQO. And from steps 3', 4', and 4a we can validly infer

5 Among the perfections of things the one with the most power is being intellective.

6 God is intellective.

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