Thomas Aquinas on the Immateriality of the Human Intellect

by Adam Wood
Catholic University of America Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-0-8132-3256-0, eISBN: 978-0-8132-3257-7

ABOUT THIS BOOK
The chief aims of Thomas Aquinas on the Immateriality of the Human Intellect are to provide a comprehensive interpretation of Aquinas's oft-repeated claim that the human intellect is immaterial, and to assess his arguments on behalf of this claim. Adam Wood argues that Aquinas's claim refers primarily to the mode in which the human intellect has its act of being. That the human intellect has an immaterial mode of being, however, crucially underwrites Aquinas's additional views that the human soul is subsistent and incorruptible. To show how it does so, Wood argues that the human intellect's immateriality can also be put in terms of the impossibility of explaining its operations in terms of coordination between bodily parts, states and processes. Aquinas's arguments for the human intellect's immateriality, therefore, can be understood as attempts to show why intellectual operations cannot be explained in bodily terms. The book argues that not all of them succeed in this aim and also proposes, however, a novel interpretation of Aquinas's argument based on human intellect's universal mode of cognition that may indeed be sound. Wood concludes by considering the ramifications of Aquinas's position on matters pertaining to the afterlife.

Thomas Aquinas on the Immateriality of the Human Intellect represents the first book-length examination of Aquinas's claim that the human intellect is immaterial, and so — given the centrality of this claim to his thought — should interest any scholars interested in understanding Thomas. While it focuses throughout on careful attention to Aquinas's texts along with the relevant secondary literature, it also positions Thomas's thought alongside recent developments in metaphysics and philosophy of mind. Hence it should also interest historically-minded metaphysicians interested in understanding how Thomas's hylomorphism intersects with recent work in hylomorphic metaphysics, philosophers of mind interested in understanding how Thomas's philosophical psychology relates to contemporary forms of dualism, physicalism and emergentism, and philosophers of religion interested in the possibility of the resurrection.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Contents
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations and Notes on the Text
Introduction
1. Forms as Limiting Principles
2. Forms as Essences, Structures, Truthmakers, and Powers
3. From Incorporeality to Incorruptibility
4. Aquinas’s Theory of Cognition
5. Aquinas’s Arguments for the Immateriality of the Human Intellect
6. The Immateriality of the Human Intellect and the Life to Come
Selected Bibliography
Index

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