Of God and His Creatures

How there is in God a Multitude of Objects of Understanding

AN external object, coming to be an object of our understanding, does not thereby exist in our understanding in its own proper nature: but the impression (species) of it must be in our understanding, and by that impression our understanding is actualised, or comes actually to understand. The understanding, actualised and 'informed' by such an impression, understands the 'thing in itself.' The act of understanding is immanent in the mind, and at the same time in relation with the thing understood, inasmuch as the aforesaid 'impression,' which is the starting-point of the intellectual activity, is a likeness of the thing understood. Thus informed by the impression (species) of the thing, the understanding in act goes on to form in itself what we may call an 'intellectual expression' (intentio) of the thing. This expression is the idea (ratio, logos) of the thing, and so is denoted by the definition. So it must be, for the understanding understands alike the thing absent and the thing present; in which respect imagination and understanding agree.* But the understanding has this advantage over the imagination, that it understands the thing apart from the individualising conditions without which the thing exists not in rerum natura. This could not be except for the understanding forming to itself the aforesaid 'expression.' This 'expression' (intentio) in the understanding, being, we may say, the term of the intellectual activity, is different from the 'intellectual impression' (species intelligibilis), which actualises the understanding and which must be considered the starting-point of intellectual activity; and yet both the one and the other, both the 'impression' (species) and the 'expression' (intentio), are likenesses of the 'thing in itself,' which is the object of the understanding. From the fact of the intellectual impression, which is the form of the intellect and the starting-point of intellectual knowledge, being a likeness of the external thing, it follows that the expression, or idea, formed by the understanding, is also like the thing: for as an agent is, so are its activities. And again, from the fact of the expression, or idea, in the understanding being like to its object, it follows that the understanding in the act of forming such an idea understands the said object.

But the divine mind understands by virtue of no impression other than its own essence (Chap. XLVI). At the same time the divine essence is the likeness of all things. It follows therefore that the concept of the divine understanding itself, which is the Divine Word, is at once a likeness of God Himself understood, and also a likeness of all things whereof the divine essence is a likeness. Thus then by one intelligible impression (species intelligibilis), which the divine essence, and by one intellectual recognition (intentio intellecta), which is the Divine Word, many several objects may be understood by God.*

1.52 : Reasons to show how the Multitude of Intelligible Ideal Forms has no Existence except in the Divine Understanding
1.54 : That the Divine Essence, being One, is the proper Likeness and Type of all things Intelligible