Thomas Aquinas: A Handbook for Peeping Thomists, 49–56.
Saint Thomas Aquinas (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Given this consequence, Thomas's adoption of the oppositeinterpretation—viz. that the agent intellect is, like thepossible intellect, a faculty of the human soul—may seem merelyan interested desire to enlist Aristotle's support for a position inharmony with Christian belief. Thomas is frequently said to havebaptized Aristotle, which seems to mean that he fitted him to theProcrustean bed of Christian doctrine. Of course, the full Christianview is not simply that the soul survives death but that it will bereunited with body, and Thomas nowhere suggests that there is anyintimation of this in Aristotle. Oddly enough, it is often friends ofThomas who suggest that he merely used Aristotle and was notchiefly concerned with what Aristotle might actually haveintended.
Thomas Aquinas (1224/6—1274) St
Now, in his interpretation of Aristotle's De anima Thomas defends a view that was as contested in his own time as it is almost an orphan in our own. Among the tenets of so-called Latin Averroism was the view, first held by Averroes, that the move from perceptive acts to intellection is not one from a lower to a higher set of capacities or faculties of the human soul. Aristotle contrasts intellection with perception, and argues that the former does not employ a sense organ because it displays none of the characteristics of perception which does employ an organ. Thus insofar as sensation can be said to be in some respects material and in others immaterial,intellection is said to be completely immaterial. But on the Latin-Averroistic view, Aristotle is not thus referring to another capacity of the human soul, the intellect, but, rather, referring to a separate entity thanks to whose action human beings engage in what we call thinking. But the cause of this, the agent intellect, is not a faculty of the soul. (Aristotle had distinguished at least two intellects, a possible and an agent.) The proof for incorruptibility which results from an activity that does not employ a corporeal organ is therefore a statement about the incorruptibility of this separate entity, not a basis for arguing that each human soul is incorruptible because it has the capacity to perform incorporeal activities. The Latin-Averroists consequently denied that Aristotle taught personal immortality.