Faith and Philosophy 35:417-46 (2018)

Therese Cory
University of Notre Dame
What does it mean to be an embodied thinker of abstract concepts? Does embodiment shape the character and quality of our understanding of universals such as 'dog' and 'beauty', and would a non-embodied mind understand such concepts differently? I examine these questions through the lens of Thomas Aquinas’s remarks on the differences between embodied (human) intellects and non-embodied (angelic) intellects. In Aquinas, I argue, the difference between embodied and non-embodied intellection of extramental realities is rooted in the fact that embodied and non-embodied intellects grasp different kinds of universals by means of different kinds of intelligible species (intellectual likenesses), which elicit in them different “modes” of understanding. By spelling out what exactly it means to be an embodied knower, on Aquinas’s account, I argue, we can also shed new light on his mysterious claim that the embodied intellect “turns to phantasms”—the imagination’s likenesses of individuals—in its acts of understanding.
Keywords medieval philosophy  Aquinas  cognition  imagination  intellect  intelligible species
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DOI 10.5840/faithphil20181023113
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References found in this work BETA

Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas.Bernard J. F. Lonergan - 1967 - London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
Aquinas on the Divine Ideas as Exemplar Causes.Gregory T. Doolan - 2008 - Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
Suffering Love.Nicholas Wolterstorff - 1988 - In Thomas V. Morris (ed.), Philosophy and the Christian Faith. Univ. Of Notre Dame Press. pp. 196--237.

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