some respect corporeal, it is not in virtue of its own corporeality. “The soul is the first principle of live, of things thatcan potentially perform vital acts. It is the first principle of an organized body.”Since it is not material, it has to be a formal principle of life: The soul is a form.
Question 76, 1
“Whether the intellectual principle united to the body (rational soul) is the body’s form.”Positive answer: The soul is a form!Man is a rational animal. There is the specific difference of rationality. The genus is animal. The specifying element isidentified with a form. The “rational” has to be a formal element, because it is a specifying element in us. The soul isout of which we act in a specific way. This element has to be identified with a formal principle. Soul: “This in virtue of which something acts in a specific way.” Nothing acts unless it exists actually. Whatever exists actually, exists under aspecific form. Animals and plants have souls the way we do. But they do not have the soul that is spiritual in the waythe human soul is. Yet Thomas denies strongly that the souls of plants and animals are simple material realities. Inplants and animals the soul is a formal element, too. Thomas speaks of the soul in terms of incorporeality (the soulnot being a corporeal reality), not immateriality. Even in case of plants and animals the soul is not a body. There hasto be a body to perform vital acts, but this body is not the soul, the first principle. There is a formal element alwayspresent in each being belonging to the material world.
between plants/animals and humans: The humansoul has
the capacity to exist on its own
, separated from the body. Immateriality here for Thomas is first in terms of non-materiality or form, not in a sense like Plato (the forms, which can exist by themselves, have an act of existenceon their own). Thomas is working on Aristotelean notion of form. For Aristotle the form is the reality that cannot existindependent from matter, the other co-principle of reality. So the form stands in opposition to the body, is immaterial.Yet it is not immaterial in the Platonic sense.
Incorporeality is the first aspect for immateriality of the soul
Question 75, 2
: “Whether the human soul is something subsistent.”Subsistence of the soul:
Second aspect of the immateriality of the human soul
and an aspect proper only to thehuman soul.We already have: No soul of whatever kind can be identified with something corporeal.Human soul: This what is distinctly human activity: Rationality. So when he speaks about the human soul, Thomasspeaks about rational soul. He speaks about its immateriality not only in negative terms (being non-corporeal). Hedefines immateriality of the human soul in affirmative terms: It is a subsistent reality. It has an independent existence.It can act independently from the body and exist independently from the body. That’s the meaning of “subsistent”.Argumentation towards subsistence of the soul: He takes up arguments from Aristotle, from the analysis of theintellectual acts, the rational thinking. Two claims:
The human person by means of his intellect can know allmaterial things, the whole material universe.
The faculty that can reach the cognition of certain things cannot havein itself those things in its nature, cannot have anything bodily in itself.
There is no limitation to what we can know. We are able to grasp the nature of all corporeal realities. Doesn’t meanthat we do know every particular thing but rather that no corporeal reality exists that is not potentially an object of our intellect. We can make potential distinctions between different kinds of existence.
The presence of matter implied in organs gives a determined nature to an organ preventing if from knowing allmaterial things. Our corporeal organs are limited (sight, touch etc.). But we have the potentiality to know everything.Therefore the principle of knowledge, intellect, cannot directly make use of a material organ. If this was the case our intellect would be limited in our capacities of knowing as our senses are. It would be complex, but by being corporealit would be limited. Our mind is extrinsically dependent on the body. It depends on our bodily organs for the materialfrom which it can abstract the concepts and formulate judgments and begin to reason. Intellect is kind of using the