From Saint Wiki
CHAPTER LXXXIV: THAT THE HEAVENLY BODIES DO NOT IMPRESS ON OUR INTELLECT
FROM what has been said it is at once clear that the heavenly bodies cannot be the causes of things concerning our intellect. For it has already been shown that the order of divine providence requires the lower things to be ruled and moved by the higher. Now the intellect, in the natural order, surpasses all bodies: as we have proved already. Consequently heavenly bodies cannot act directly on the intellect. Therefore they cannot be the direct cause of things concerning the intellect.
Again. No body acts except through movement, as is proved in 8 Phys. vi. Now things that are immovable are not caused by movement: because nothing is the result of the movement of an agent except through the agent moving the patient, while the latter is moved. Consequently things that are wholly outside movement cannot be caused by the heavenly bodies. But things concerning the intellect are wholly outside movement properly speaking, as the Philosopher states (7 Phys. iii.): in fact the soul becomes prudent and wise through being free from movement, as he says in the same place. It is not possible, therefore, that the heavenly bodies be the direct cause of things concerning the intellect.
Besides. If nothing be caused by a body except in so far as the latter causes movement through being moved, it follows that whatever receives an impression from a body, must be moved. Now nothing is moved except a body, as is proved in 6 Phys. iv. Therefore whatever receives an impression from a body, must be either a body or a power of a body. But it was proved in the Second Book that the intellect is neither a body nor a power of the body. Therefore the heavenly bodies cannot directly make an impression on the intellect.
Further. Whatever is moved by a thing is reduced thereby from potentiality to act. Now nothing is reduced from potentiality to act except by something in act. Therefore every agent and mover must be, in some way, in act with regard to those things to which the subject, passive or moved, is in potentiality. But the heavenly bodies are not actually intelligible, because they are singular sensibles. Since then our intellect is not in potentiality except to what is actually intelligible, it is impossible for the heavenly bodies to act directly on the intellect.
Moreover. A thing's proper operation follows its nature, which generated things acquire by generation, together with their proper operation: as may be seen in heavy and light things, which have their proper movement as soon as they are generated, unless there be an obstacle, and for this reason the generator is said to be a mover. Consequently that which, as regards the principle of its nature, is not subject to the action of the heavenly bodies, cannot be subject to them in respect of its operation. Now the intellective faculty is not caused by any bodily principles, but is entirely from an extrinsic source, as we proved above. Therefore the operation of the intellect is not directly subject to the heavenly bodies.
Again. Things caused by the heavenly movements are subject to time, which is the measure of the first heavenly movement. Therefore those that wholly abstract from time, are not subject to heavenly movements. Now the intellect in its operation abstracts from time, as also from place: for it considers the universal which abstracts from here and now. Therefore the operation of the intellect is not subject to heavenly bodies.
Further. Nothing acts outside its species. Now the act of the intellect transcends the species and form of any corporeal agent: since every corporeal form is material and individualized; whereas the act of the intellect is universal and immaterial. Consequently no body can understand by means of its corporeal form. Much less, therefore, can any body whatsoever cause the act of intelligence in another.
Besides. A thing is not subject to that which is beneath it in respect of that by which it is united to things above it. Now our soul, inasmuch as it is intelligent, is united to intellectual substances, which in the order of nature are above heavenly bodies: because our soul cannot understand except in so far as it derives its intellectual light from those substances. Therefore the intellectual operation cannot be directly subject to the heavenly movements.
Moreover. We shall find a confirmation of this if we consider what philosophers have said in the matter. The natural philosophers of old, as Democritus, Empedocles and others, held that intellect differs not from sense, as stated in 4 Metaph. iii., and 3 De Anima iii. Hence it follows that, as sense is a corporeal power resulting from a corporeal transmutation, so is the intellect likewise. Wherefore they said, as transmutation of the lower bodies follows transmutation of the higher bodies, that intellectual operation follows the movements of the heavenly bodies: according to the words of Homer: The mind of gods and men on earth is even as their day which comes from the father of men and gods, the sun to wit, or rather Jove, whom they called the supreme god, by whom they understood the whole heaven, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei iv. 11; v. 8).
Hence too, followed the opinion of the Stoics who said that the knowledge of the intellect is caused by images of bodies being imprinted on the mind, just as a mirror, or as a page receives the imprinted characters without any action on its part: as Boethius relates (De Consol. v. 4). According to this opinion it followed that our intellectual knowledge was chiefly the result of impressions received from heavenly bodies: and consequently it was chiefly the Stoics who held that man's life was bound by a kind of fatal necessity.—This opinion however is shown to be false, as Boethius says (ibid.) by the fact that the intellect is capable of synthesis and analysis, and compares the highest with the lowest, and is cognitive of universals and simple forms, none of which is within the capacity of bodies. Consequently it is evident that the intellect does not merely receive the images of bodies, but is possessed of a power that transcends bodies: for the external senses, which receive only images of bodies, do not extend to the things mentioned above. All subsequent philosophers, however, discerned intellect from sense, and assigned, not bodies but immaterial things, as the cause of our knowledge: thus Plato ascribed this to ideas, and Aristotle to the active intellect.
From all this we may gather that to say that the heavenly bodies are the cause of our knowledge, is a sequel to the opinion of those who held that intellect differs not from sense; as Aristotle observes (De Anima, loc. cit.). Now it is evident that this opinion is false. Wherefore also manifestly false is the opinion of those who maintained that the heavenly bodies are the direct cause of our knowledge.
For this reason Holy Writ assigns as the cause of our knowledge, not a body, but God (Job xxxv. 10, 11): Where is God who made me; who hath given songs in the night; who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and instructeth us more than the fowls of the air? and (Ps. xciii. 10): He that teacheth man knowledge.
Nevertheless we must observe that although heavenly bodies cannot be the direct cause of our knowledge, they can co-operate indirectly towards it. For though the intellect is not a force of the body, yet in us the operation of the intellect cannot be exercised without the operation of bodily forces, namely the imagination, and the powers of memory and thought, as we have already shown. Hence it is that when the activity of these powers is hampered by some bodily indisposition, the activity of the intellect is hampered also: as may be seen in cases of frenzy, lethargy and the like. For the same reason goodness of disposition in a man's body fits him to understand easily, inasmuch as those forces are strengthened by such a disposition: wherefore it is said in 2 De Anima ix., that it is to be observed that men of soft flesh are of quick intelligence. Now the disposition of the human body is subject to the heavenly movements. For Augustine says (De Civ. Dei, v. 6) that it is not altogether absurd to ascribe the mere differences between bodies to the influence of the stars: and Damascene says (2 De Fide Orth. vii.) that the various planets produce in us various temperaments, habits and dispositions. Consequently the heavenly bodies co-operate indirectly to the goodness of our intelligence: and thus, even as physicians are able to judge of a man's intelligence from his bodily temperament, as a proximate disposition thereto, so too can an astrologer, from the heavenly movements, as being a remote cause of this disposition. In this sense we can approve of the saying of Ptolemy (Centiloq. xxxviii.): When Mercury is in one of Saturn's houses at the time of a man's birth, he bestows on him a quick intelligence of the inner nature of things.
- ↑ Ch. lxxviii. seqq.
- ↑ Bk. II., ch. xlix. seqq.
- ↑ Ch. xlix. seqq.
- ↑ 8 Phys. iv.
- ↑ Bk. II., ch. lxxxvi. seqq.
- ↑ 4 Phys. xi.
- ↑ Odyss. xviii. 136.
- ↑ Bk. II., ch. lxviii.
|Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.|