The Intellect, Receptivity, and Material Singulars in Aquinas

International Philosophical Quarterly 42 (3):371-388 (2002)
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Abstract

Intellectual receptivity is both the prerequisite for objective human knowledge and the condition of possibility for all human knowledge. My arguments are cast in Thomistic terms. In the first part, I review the most important arguments with which Aquinas defends the receptivity of the human intellect, especially the argument from intellectual media and the argument from actualization. In the second part, I attempt to resolve the apparent contradictions involved in the claim that the intellect is receptive, contradictions that stem from the fact that the intellect is an active potency (since its proper act is to reason) and receptivity is the act of a passive potency. In the final part,I argue that knowledge of the proper object of the human intellect (material singulars) is possible if and only if the human intellect is receptive.

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