Why the Imago Dei is in the Intellect Alone: A Criticism of a Phenomenology of Sensible Experience for Attaining an Image of God

The Saint Anselm Journal 13 (2):19-41 (2018)
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Abstract

This paper, as a response to Mark K. Spencer’s, “Perceiving the Image of God in the Whole Human Person” in the present volume, argues in defence of Aquinas’s position that the Imago Dei is limited in the human being to the rational, intellective soul alone. While the author agrees with Spencer that the hierarchical relation between body and soul in the human composite must be maintained while avoiding the various permeations of dualism, nevertheless, the Imago Dei cannot be located in the human body or the principle of the body considered within the body/soul composite without betraying a number of fundamental Thomistic metaphysical principles. Essential to these includes Aquinas’s position that an image of God should image not only the Divine Nature, but also the Trinitarian relations between the Divine Persons. Further, the paper also argues that a phenomenology of sense experience could not, on principle, attain to an image of God in the whole human person within a Thomistic framework generally.

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Seamus O'Neill
Memorial University of Newfoundland

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