Article ID: CBB258413094

Potentially Human? Aquinas on Aristotle on Human Generation (2015)

unapi

Thomas Aquinas (1225–74) describes embryological development as a succession of vital principles, souls, or substantial forms of which the last places the developing being in its own species. In the case of human beings this form is the rational soul. Aquinas' well-known commitment to the view that there is only one substantial form for each composite (unicity thesis [UT]) and that a substantial form directly informs prime matter (diPM) leads to the conclusion that the succession of soul kinds is non-cumulative. The problem is that this view seems to entail discontinuity in the process of generation. Aquinas argues for the continuity of a conceived being by appealing to the teleological argument at the core of Aristotle's embryogenesis theory: according to Aristotle, embryonic development is a gradual actualization of the form of the species, potentially present in the embryo from the outset. Aquinas denies such a gradualist account due to his metaphysical commitments (UT, diPM), arguing instead that the embryo prior to the reception of the rational soul is ‘potentially human’ only in the sense that the goal achieved by the process is to belong to the same species as the parents. In other words, a being conceived by human parents is potentially human because it is to become human at the terminus of a process, if nothing hinders its development. I argue that this justification fails because Aquinas, as with most authors of his time, also accepted the principle of the divine origin of the rational soul; applying this principle would mean that the end of the process is beyond the embryo's potentiality. Therefore I claim that the embryo is potentially human in a weak sense of the term: its aim is to develop a body appropriate to receiving the rational soul.

...More
Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB258413094/

Similar Citations

Book Bakker, Paul J. J. M.; Thijssen, Johannes M. M. H.; (2007)
Mind, Cognition and Representation: The Tradition of Commentaries on Aristotle's De anima (/isis/citation/CBB001020173/) unapi

Article Enrico Berti; (2021)
Mind and soul? Two notions in the light of contemporary philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB634364984/) unapi

Book Boer, Sander W. De; (2013)
The Science of the Soul: The Commentary Tradition on Aristotle's De anima, c. 1260--c.1360 (/isis/citation/CBB001201334/) unapi

Book Ward, Ann; (2009)
Matter and Form: From Natural Science to Political Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB001201150/) unapi

Article O'Connor, Scott; (2015)
The Subjects of Natural Generations in Aristotle’s Physics I.7 (/isis/citation/CBB001202192/) unapi

Article Boyle, Marjorie O'Rourke; (2013)
Aquinas's Natural Heart (/isis/citation/CBB001200790/) unapi

Chapter Kosman, L. Aryeh; (2010)
Male and Female in Aristole's Generation of Animals (/isis/citation/CBB001500202/) unapi

Article Liedman, Sven-Eric; (2003)
Form, materia och innehȧll: Aristoteles och Hegel (/isis/citation/CBB000500395/) unapi

Article Kendall A. Fisher; (2017)
Thomas Aquinas on Hylomorphism and the in-Act Principle (/isis/citation/CBB475076968/) unapi

Article Houser, R. E.; (2013)
Avicenna, Aliqui, and Thomas Aquinas's Doctrine of Creation (/isis/citation/CBB001450272/) unapi

Chapter Younesie, Mostafa; (2009)
Understanding Aristotle's Politics through Form and Matter (/isis/citation/CBB001201154/) unapi

Article Gerogiorgakis, Stamatios D.; (2005)
Wenn die Möglichkeit in Notwendigkeit umschlägt: Ein Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte modaler ontologischer Beweise (/isis/citation/CBB000933644/) unapi

Article Beverly Hinton; (2006)
Generation and the Unity of Form in Aristotle (/isis/citation/CBB795727641/) unapi

Article Lo Presti, Roberto; (2014)
Informing Matter and Enmattered Forms: Aristotle and Galen on the “Power” of the Seed (/isis/citation/CBB001202231/) unapi

Book Brisson, Luc; Congourdeau, Marie-Hélène; Solère, Jean-Luc; (2008)
L'embryon, formation et animation: antiquité grecque et latine, traditions hébraïque, chrétienne et islamique (/isis/citation/CBB000932336/) unapi

Article Richard Mark Fincham; (2015)
Reconciling Leibnizian Monadology and Kantian Criticism (/isis/citation/CBB087483741/) unapi

Chapter Pasini, Enrico; (2011)
The Organic vs. the Living in the Light of Leibniz's Aristotelianisms (/isis/citation/CBB001500213/) unapi

Chapter Stephanson, Raymond; (2012)
Tristram Shandy and the Art of Conception (/isis/citation/CBB001200741/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Liedman, Sven-Eric
Congourdeau, Marie-Hélène
Brisson, Luc
Solère, Jean-Luc
Gerogiorgakis, Stamatios D.
Thijssen, Johannes M. M. H.
Journals
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Apeiron: Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
Lychnos
Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch fur Antike und Mittelalter
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Publishers
Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin
Ashgate
Lexington Books
Leuven University Press
Concepts
Philosophy
Form (philosophy)
Aristotelianism
Soul (philosophy)
Philosophy of science
Biogenesis; origin of life; spontaneous generation
People
Aristotle
Thomas Aquinas, Saint
Plato
Galen
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Places
Greece
Rome
Italy
Times
Medieval
Ancient
17th century
18th century
16th century
Renaissance
Comments

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment