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the intellcctus agens is chief agent (a^^n5^n«c//»a/^), while the
phantasm is viewed merely as an instrumental agent {agens
instrunientale). This metaphorical language is used in order
to elucidate by analogies what is involved in the single
instantaneous act : (i) Indicates that the concept formed by
the intellcctus agens is of the object represented by the
phantasm. The intellect is likened to a painter who turns
towards the object he is about to copy. (2) Since the concept
formed by the intellect expresses the essential attributes of
the phantasm they are said to be abstracted from the latter.
(3) Here the intellcctus agens is likened to the sun illuminating
colours indiscernible in the darkness though potentially dis-
tinguishable. The phantasm contains potentially universal
relations individualized in concrete material conditions, and
the activity of intellect evokes them into the light of actual
consciousness. (4) The intcllectus agens is termed agens princi-
pale, inasmuch as it plays the most important part in the
operation, being causa efficiens.

Extracts. — i. Id quod est primo, et per se cognitum a
virtute cognoscitiva, est proprium ejus objectum. {Sum. Thcol.
I, q. 85, a. 8.) Primo autem in conceptione intellcctus cadit
ens, quia secundum hoc unumquodque cognoscibile est in
quantum est actu unde ens est proprium objectum intellcctus,
et sic est primum intelligible, sicut sonus est primum audibile.
(i, q. 5, a. 2.)

2. Intellcctus autem humanus, qui est infinuis in ordine
intellectuum, et maxime remotus a perfectionc divini intel-
lcctus, est in potentia respectu intelligibilium ; ct in principio
est sicut tabula rasa, in (pia nil est scriptum, ut Philosophus
dicit. (I, q. 79, a. 2.) ♦

3. Hoc quilibet in se ipso experiri potest, quod quando
aliquis conatur aliquid intclligere, format sibi aliqua phantas-
mata per moduni exeniplorum, in (piibus (juasi inspiciat,
quod intelligere studet. . . , Particulare autem appro-



hendimus per sensum et imagiriationem, et ideo necesse est,
ad hoc quod intellectus actu intelligat suum objectum pro-
prium, quod convertai se ad phantasniata ut speculetur naturam
universalein in particular! existenteni (i, q. 84, a. 7.) :

Phantasniata et illuminantur ab intellectu agente, et iterum
ab eis per virtutem intellectus agentis species intelligibiles
abstrahiintuv ; illuminantur quidem, quia sicut pars sensitiva
ex conjunctione ad intellectuni efficitur virtuosior, ita phan-
tasniata ex virtute intellectus agentis redduntur habilia, ut ab
eis intentiones intelligibiles abstrahuntur ; abstrahit autem
intellectus agens species intelligibiles a phantasmatibus,
in quantum per virtutem intellectus agentis accipere possumus
in nostra consideratione naturas specierum sine individualibus
conditionibus secundum quarum similitudines intellectus
informatur. (i, q. 85, a. i, ad 4.)

4. Necessitas ponendi intellectuni possibileni in nobis fuit
propter hoc, quod nos invenimur quandoque intelligentes in
potentia, et non in actu. Unde oportet esse quandam
virtutem, quae sit in potentia ad intelligibilia ante ipsum
intelligere, sed reducitur in actum eorum cum sit sciens, et
ulterius cum sit considerans. Et hsec virtus vocatur intellectus
possibilis. (i, q. 54, a. 4.)

5. Quicumque autem intelligit, ex hoc ipso, quod intelligit,
procedit aliquid intra ipsum, quod est conceptio rei intellectae,
ex vi intellectiva proveniens, et ex ejus notitia procedens.
Quam quidem conceptionem vox significat et dicitur verbum
cordis significatum verbo vocis. (i, q. 27, a. i.)

Species intelligibilis non est objectum in quod feratur
cognitio. . . . Dicenda est species intelligibilis se habere ad
intellectuni, ut quo intellectus intelligit. . . . Sed quia intel-
lectus supra seipsum reflectitur, secundum eandem reflexionem
intelligit et suum intelligere et speciem, qua intelligit ; et sic
species intellecta est secundario id quod intelligitur ; sed id,
quod intelligitur primo, est res, cujus species intelligibilis est
similitudo. (i, q. 85, a. 2.)

Readings. — The most complete treatment of the whole subject
is to be found in Peillaube's Tlicoric des Concepts, Existence, Origine,
Valenr. Fiat's L' Intellect Actif and L'ldee contain valuable matter;
the latter work largely repeats the former. Mercier's Psychologie,
pp. 300 — 350, is good. Cf. Liberatore On Univcrsah (Trans.), Op. II.,
and Psychologia, c. iv. art. 6, and Boedder, PsycJiologia, c. iii.



Under the term thinking, besides the formation of
concepts, there are included the operations of judg-
?nent and reasoning or inference. The&e several pro-
cesses are, however, merely different exercises of the
.same faculty, the intellect. As we have already in
chapter xiii. dwelt on some of the most important
aspects of judgment, we shall handle this subject
briefly here. We shall also in the present chapter
examine the special features of the form of judicial
activity exhibited in belief and conscience.

Definition of Judgment. — A judgment is that
mental act which is signified in an oral proposition,
such as, "Gold is heavy." It has been defined as the
mental act by which ive perceive the agreement or disagreement
hetiueen two ideas, and also as the mental act by iz'hich some-
thing is asserted or denied, St. Thomas himself defines it
as an act of intellect whereby the mind combines or separates
two terms by affirmation or denial. If the first definition
is employed, it should be remembered that the word
" idea" here means, not the state of consciousness, but
the objective concept [conceptus objectiviis), the attribute in
the external thing corresponding to the subjective idea.
Locke and some other modern writers have taught that
the formal object of the judgment is the agreement or
disagreement, the congruence or conflict of two sub-
jective notions. This is an error based on a false view


of the nature of cop^nitive consciousness. The most
essential feature of all knowledge, except of course that
which is reached by introspection, is its objective
import. But in man the judicial act is the type of
perfect knowledge, and accordingly carries in its con-
stitution in an especial manner this reference to external
fact. In the assertions, "Water rusts iron," "Some
sausages are not wholesome," " Trilateral figures are
triangular," very little reflexion reveals to us that we
do not merely allege a relation between the two con-
ceptions juxtaposed in the mind. We mean to affirm
that something does or does not hold without the mind,
in rerujH natura.'^ Furthermore in asserting that something
holds objectively, w^e implicitly affirm that our subjective
mental act truly mirrors this external situation. It is
in this concomitant affirmation of conformity between
the judicial act and its objective correlate that formal
truth or falsity lies. For this reason truth and falsehood
in the strict sense belong only to judgments and not to
mere conceptions.

Analysis of the Judicial Process.— In the formal act of
judgment we can distinguish several elements or stages,
though it would not be possible to separate all of them : (i) The
apprehension of the thing or object about which the judgment
is made; (2) the separation or separate grasp of the two
terms — the two aspects or phases of the thing which are to
be compared; (3) their juxtaposition; (4) the perception of
the agreement or disagreement of the juxtaposed concepts ;
and (5) the concomitant awareness that the mental juxta-
position of ideas corresponds to the objective reality. It is
true that in easy spontaneous judgments some of these
elements are so rapidly slurred over as to be scarcely dis-
coverable. But if the reader reflects upon a judgment
deliberately given in answer to such a question as : Is the
prisoner guilty ? he will be able easily to distinguish these
several elements. Or, let us suppose the judgment to refer

1 This doctrine, which is the common teaching of St. Thomas
and the leading scholastics, has been re-discovered by modern
logicians during the last forty years. Mill devoted considerable
pains to establish it against Hamilton and the conceptualist
logicians. (Cf. Logic, Bk. I. c. v. and Exam. c. win.) The student
will find this subject treated in the volume on Logic of the present
series, Pt, II. c iii-, and in the volume on First Principles, c. ii.


to some concrete fact or event, as, for instance, the snow-
covered ground, or a moving train. I first perceive the
object as a unity or totality. The primitive act of appre-
hension is indistinct. I am only imphcitly conscious of the
predicate ; that is, I do not as yet formally distinguish it from
the other attributes which constitute the object. I then by
a selective act of attention analyze the object. I mentally
separate one attribute from the rest. I abstract or lay hold,
as it were, of the colour or motion by one concept, and the
earth or the train by another. I next combine them by an
act of synthesis ; that is, I consider them separately as dis-
tinguished from each other yet in connexion with each other.
In doing so I perceive the relation of agreement between
them. I realize that the predicate is a closer determination
of the conception representing the subject, and that the
attribute, quality, or aspect of the thing for which it stands is
really part of the thing apprehended under another form as
subject. In this act I am aware that my mental synthesis
of subject and predicate reflects the real union of the object
with the attribute. It is in this last act that assent is per-
fected. This feature is more clearly discerned in formal
comparison of universal notions, as e.f^., A square is a rect-
angular figure, or, The diamond is hard, than in judgments
immediately occasioned by external perception. In the
latter, the element of simple apprehension is more prominent,
consequently the mental attitude is more objective, and the
concomitant implicit consciousness of the mind's own action
is fainter though still really there. (See p. 52.) This last
element of the judicial process is particularly emphasized in
Ueberweg's definition of judgment as, "the consciousness of
the objective validity of a subjective union of conceptions
whose forms are different but belong to each other." ^

Judgment thus involves both analysis and synthesis — the

2 Logic, § 67. Similarly Bradley, Principles of Logic, cc. i. ii.
Cf St. Thomas: "Per confirmitatem intellectus et rei veritas
definitur. Unde conformitatem istani cognoscere est cognoscere
veritatem. Hanc autem nullo mode sensus cognoscit. Licet enim
visus habeat similitudinem visibilis, non taraen cognoscit compara-
tionem, quas est inter rem visam, et id quod ipse apprehendit de ea.
Intellectus autem conformitatem sui ad rem intelligibilcm cognoscere
potest : sed tamen non apprehendit earn, secundum quod cognoscit
de aliquo quod quid est. Sed quando judicat, rem ita se habere,
sicut est forma, quam de re apprehendit, tunc primo cognoscit et
:licit verum. Ethoc facit compoiioido, et dividendo. . . . Ideo propric
loquendo Veritas est in intellectu componente, et dividente non
lutem in sensu, nee in intellectu cognoscente (juod (juid est {i.e., m
actu simplicis apprehensionis)." [Suju. i. q. 10, a. 2.)


breaking up of the original presentation and the TCiiniting of
its parts, which are now exphcitly cognized as distinct
constituents of the total object. Herein hes the efficacy of
the judicial activity of the mind in developing our knowledge.
The highest function of intelligence is not judging or reason-
ing, but intuition. It is because of the obscurity and inade-
quacy of the intuitions of the human mind that our
conceptions have to be perfected by this analytic and
synthetic activity — dividendo et componendo, as the schoolmen
taught. Could we obtain a comprehensive conception of the
nature of the triangle or of carbon, by simple apprehension,
the laborious comparisons and reasonings of the geometrician
and the chemist would be unnecessary.^ The starting-point
of the judgment is a percept or a notion apprehended in an
indistinct or undeveloped form. The result is the same
percept or notion, but possessed in a more distinct and
perfect manner. A proposition containiu;^ a complex predicate
as, for instance : The orange is a yelloic, spherical, sweet, juicy
fruit, really expresses the result of many judgments. All
our conceptions, both scientific and vulgar, are, as we have
already seen (pp. 297 — 302), elaborated by successive acts of
discrimination and assimilation in this way. Judgnient is
not merely automatic fusion or association of ideas, still less
of concrete impressions. It involves active abstraction. In
all propositions the predicate is a universal term, and even in
singular judgments the subject is considered under an abstract
aspect. The mind holds the two concepts together hut apart;
it unites them whilst keeping them distinct. It retains hold of
both throughout the entire operation. The force of attention
to the two compared ideas is constantly varying, the subject
being vividly realized at one moment, the attribute or quality
at the next. But neither can completely fade out of con-
sciousness during the process; otherwise, the judicial act
would be impossible. The faculty of Retention is as essential
a condition of judgment as that of Assimilation and Discrimi-
nation. Herein lies evidence of the indivisible unity of the
mind as a real persisting being. Two successive impressions
or "sections" of a "stream of consciousness" cannot compare
themselves with each other. Nor could a third born after
the death of both do so, unless it be the act of a real abiding

3 " Si intellectus noster statim in ipso principio videret con-
clusionis veritatem, nunquam intelligeret discurrendo, vel ratio-
cinando. Similiter si intellectus statim in apprehensione quidditatis
subjecti haberet notitiam de omnibus, quae possunt attribui subjecto,
vel removeri ab eo, nunquam intelligeret componendo et dividendo
sed solum intelligendo quod quid est." [Sum. i. q. 88, 4.)


agent which was the subject of its two predecessors, and is
capable of resuscitating them.

Affirmation and denial. — It has been maintained
by some writers that the act of judgment is something
really distinct from and superadded to the perception
of the agreement or disagreement of the subject and
predicate. When the reasons for assent are not strictly
cogent, a voluntar}^ element undoubtedly enters into
affirmation or denial. But in those judgments in
which the truth is evident, the assent, it seems to us,
is necessaril}^ included in the perception of the relation
between subject and predicate. The mental act by
which I apprehend that 2 + i =3, or, that " snow is not
warm," involves the mental assertion of the truth, and
this is the judgment.

Assent and consent. — A far graver error, however, is that of
Descartes and his followers, who confounding assent with
consent teach that "affirmation, denial, and doubt are different
forms of volition."* It must be admitted that will and
intellect act and react upon each other in the most intimate
manner. Whilst the will is moved to desire through the
apprehension of motives by the intellect, the intellect is itself
moved to observation and study by the effort of the will.
In many acts of judgment it is the faculty of vohtion which
directs and concentrates attention upon the attribute or
relation that is the matter of the judicial act. If the truth be
evident, the will is powerless ; but if it be not evident, the
will may largely influence assent, either by withdrawing
attention from the considerations in favour of one side and
focussing it upon those which tell for the other, or by directly
impelling the mind to assent and embrace an opinion whilst
the evidence is felt to be insufficient. It is in this way that
the will is so often the cause of error.^

•* " Cupere, aversari, affirmare, negate, dubitare sunt diversi
modi volendi." {Princip. I. § 32.)

*' St. Thomas succinctly defines the influence of volition upon
intelligence thus: "Actus rationis potest considerari dupliciter :
Uno mode, quantum ad exercitiiim actus; et sic actus rationis
semper inipeyari potest ; sicut cum indicitur alicui, quod attendat,et
ratione uiatur. Alio modo quantum ad ohjectum ; respectu cujus
duo actus rationis attenduntur. Prima quidem, ut veritatem circa
aliquid apprehendat : ct hoc non est in potestate nostra ; hoc enim
contingit per virtutem alicujus luminis vel naturalis, vel super-
naturalis, ct ideo quantum ad hoc actus rationis non est ni


Further, there is a certain affinity in character betwc-tn
the act of judgment and vokmtary election. The assent
inchided in the former causes the cessation of intellectual
activity in the adhesion of the understanding to the truth
possessed, somewhat as a voluntary choice results in the
quiescence of the appetitive faculty in the fruition of its
appropriate object. The sense of liberation from the dis-
agreeable suspense of doubt by complete assent is thus often
akin to the relief from the hesitancy which precedes the
formal act of consent. Nevertheless, judicial activity is the
immediate function of the Intellect, not of the Will. The act
of judgment though often, in scholastic language, imperatus
a voluntate, — commanded by the will, — is always elicitus ab
intellectu, exerted by the intellect. Assent differs essentially
from consent. The former is intellectual acquiescence in
something as true : the latter is voluntary complacency in
something as good. The cognitive faculty accepts or submits
to what is imposed upon it : the appetitive faculty stretches
after and embraces what is suggested to it. The end and
purpose of the former is the expression or representation of
some kind oi being ; that of the latter, the attainment, or enjoy-
ment of some form of action. We may be compelled to assent,
but consent is always voluntary. Truths and facts that are
disagreeable may be evident ; whilst projects which win our
approval may have but a doubtful chance of success. When,
however, we pass from the speculative to the practical or
moral order, assent of the intellect to the rightness of action
imposes special moral obligation on the will, whilst our
judgments assume a distinctly moral character. The judg-
ment that a certain line of conduct is obhgatory commands
and moves us to embrace it with our will and carry it out
in action.*"

potestate nostra, nee imperari potest. Aliiis autem actus rationis
est, quum his, quae apprehendit, assentit. Si igitur fuerint talia
apprehensa, quibus natiiraliter intellectus assentiat, sicut prima
principia, assensus talium, vel dissensus non est in potestate tiostra. . .
Sunt autem quaedam apprehensa, quae non adeo convincunt intel-
lectum quin possit assentire, vel dissentire, vel saltem assensum vel
dissensum suspendere propter aliquam causam : et in talibus assensus
ipse vel dissensus in potestate nostra est, et sub imperio cadit. '
{Sum. 1-2. q. 17, 6 )

*^ Olle Laprune, in his valuable work, De la Certitude Moyalc,
thus writes: "Assentiment, en soi, n'est pas cunscntcmcnt. On nu
declare point une chose vraie parce qu'on le veut : I'acte de volonte
n'cst pas dans la decision meme par laquelle on prononce sur la
vrai et le faux. Hors le cas ou une ccrtaine obscurite fait naitre
des difficultes que la volonte doit surmonter, la decision ii'cct pas,


Reasoning defined. — Besides conception and
judgment there remains a third function of the
intellect, that of reasoning or inference. It may
be defined as, that operation by ivhich ivc derive a
new judgment from some oilier judgment or judgments
previously known. When we pass from a single
judgment to another involved or contained in it,
the act is styled an immediate inference. Thus,
from the proposition, "All men are mortal," we
immediately conclude, " Some mortal things are
men." When we proceed from two or more judg-
ments, to a new judgment following from their
combined force, we have mediate inference. Mediate
inference is also defined as, that mental act by which
from the comparison of two ideas ivith a third we
ascertain their agreement or difference.

Analysis of Ratiocination. — Reasoning, being an
exercise of judgment, is a more complex process of
analysis and synthesis, divisionis et compositionis. From
the proposition S is P I infer : Not-P is not S, and : At
least some-P is S, by deliberate consideration of what is
contained in the concepts S and P. This is still more
obvious in mediate inference, or reasoning strictly so-
called, in which the synthetic activity of the mind is
more prominent. Here the problem is to determine

en soi un acte libre. C'est la lumiere qui determine I'assentiment:
on affirme ou Ton nie legitimement parce qu'on voit qu'il faut
affirmer ou nier, et Ton n'est pas libre de le voir ou non. On est
seulement libre de regarder, ce qui est autre chose. . . . Vassentiment
est involontaire, mais le consentement qui s'y ajoute, ou plutot qui y
est implique, est volontaire. Le consentement, c'est ceite accep-
tation de la verite, dont nous parlions tout a 'heure ; ce n'est point
I'acte meme d'assurer ou de nier, lequel est dicte pour ainsi dire
par la verite, mais c'est la rtponse de I'ame a cette voix superieure."
(p. 64.) For some admirable remarks on the right relation of Will
to Intellect in Philosophy, see also Mr. Wilfrid Ward's excellent
little work, The Wish to Believe.


some relation between S and P whilst we are unable
to compare them immediately. We shall attain our
purpose if we can find a suitable middle-term — a medi-
ating notion — which will serve to connect them, some-
what as a common-measure. The type of the argument
is: S is M, but M is P, therefore S is P. Analysis of
S has revealed M, whilst further analysis of M and
comparison of it with P has disclosed a relation of
identity between these also. We now hold that S is P
because it is M, which is identical with P. The identity
of P wdth M is the logical ground or reason why we affirm
P of S. Reasoning, then, in addition to analysis and
synthesis involved in all judgments, includes identifica-
tion, or the explicit perception of an element implicit in
the previously known relations. The synthesis in the
conclusion is the formal evoking of this implicit relation
into consciousness. This perception of the conse-
quence or logical nexus expressed by the words there-
fore, since, because, etc., is the essence of reasoning, and
is possible only to a rational being.

Logicians have disputed as to which of the laws of
thought is to be deemed the most fundamental and
universal principle of reasoning. To us it seems that
different axioms are more immediately applicable for
the justification of different forms of inference, whilst
the denial of any one of the laws of thought would lead
immediately to the destruction of all reasoning. Still,
the principle of identity, which on its negative side
involves the principle of contradiction, has strong claims
to be deemed the most universal and ultimate law of
rational thinking. That A is A, that A thing is identical
with itself, that Whatever is, is, must be held to be the
supreme canon of consistency. Our terms must retain
the same meaning, our concepts must remain unchanged,
the data which we handle must persist unaltered
throughout our discourse, or no conclusion can be
drawn. S is inferred to be P only because, whilst both
S and P continue identical with themselves, they are
also identical with the same M.

Deduction and Induction.— If the movement of
the mind is from a wider to a narrower truth, from a

322 k AT ION A L LIFE.

law to particular facts, or to a narrower law, the mental
operation is called deductive reasoning ; if the reverse, it
is characterized as inductive. Thus, in the syllogism :
All bodies containing carbon are combustible ; but diamonds
contain carbon ; therefore diamonds are combustible^ we argue
deductively. On the contrary, if from perceiving that
iron, gold, silver, lead, and copper sink in water, I
conclude that all metals sink in water, I am said to
argue inductively, and in the given case falsely. From
the present psychological point of view, however, the
distinction is unimportant. The reasoning in every

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 32 of 63)