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Sem. John Vincent P. Bello AB – III St.

Catherine of Alexandria Class

Rev. Fr. Bryand Restituto, JCD Philosophical Anthropology

Thomistic Concept of the Human Soul

Among the three orders of being, that is, the vegetative, the sentient and rational (man),
St. Thomas Aquinas stresses the supremacy of man by virtue of the human soul. First, in order
for us to understand this, we must discover the soul in general.

St. Thomas claims that the soul, which is an immaterial substance, must be intellectual.
A being is intellectual because it is free from matter. This is demonstrated by the way the soul
understands – for we know that the intellect understands in a way that involves abstracting ideas
from matter, possessing the object in a non-material way within the intellect, and this activity of
the intellect is only subjected to the soul. Since the intellect also has activities which do not
involve the body – as in understanding – we could readily see that the soul is subsisting in itself;
the soul has activities apart from the body. With this in mind, we could very well make the
judgement regarding to the intellect; that whatever is immaterial is intellectual. We could also
observe that in the hierarchy of beings wherein Man, which is rational, is seen as more superior
than sentient and vegetative beings for he possesses within himself something that participates
more in the likeness of God – which is conferred by the intellect.

Now man is a composite of matter and form: the body and the soul. The human soul is
the principle of life in man. We should consider the difference between the rational soul of man
and of the soul possessed by lower beings in the order of beings – man’s soul shares more in the
divine likeness of the Creator which is because of the intellect, and because of this the human
soul is incorruptible. The human soul is subsistent in itself because of its activity which is apart
from the body or that does not involve the body. It should be understood that the proper subject
of generation and corruption is matter, hence a thing is immune to corruption to the extent that it
is free from matter.

The rational soul comes only through creation, now we all know that only God can
create. The production of the human soul does not come from the power that is in the agents of
reproduction (semen and the fertilized egg) but by a higher cause. For the power of these agents
are but bodily power and we all know that no body can rise to the height of the soul’s intellectual
activity. And since the soul is not composed of matter and form for it is generally an act which is
subsistent in its own being, it cannot be brought into being except through creation. The rational
soul is produced by God alone.

Number of words: 456