Of God and His Creatures

That Intelligences subsisting apart know Individual Things

INASMUCH as the likenesses representative of things in the mind of a separately subsistent intelligence are more universal than in our mind, and more effectual means of knowledge, such intelligences are instructed by such likenesses of material things not only to the knowledge of material things generically or specifically, as would be the case with our mind, but also to the knowledge of individual existences.

1. The likeness or presentation of a thing in the mind of a separately subsistent intelligence is of far-reaching and universal power, so that, one as that presentation is and immaterial, it can lead to the knowledge of specific principles, and further to the knowledge of individualising or material principles. Thereby the intelligence can become cognisant, not only of the matter of genus and species, but also of that of the individual.

2. What a lower power can do, a higher power can do, but in a more excellent way. Hence where the lower power operates through many agencies, the higher power operates through one only: for the higher a power is, the more it is gathered together and unified, whereas the lower is scattered and multiplied. But the human soul, being of lower rank than the separately subsistent intelligence, takes cognisance of the universal and of the singular by two principles, sense and intellect. The higher and self-subsistent intelligence therefore is cognisant of both in a higher way by one principle, the intellect.

3. Intelligible impressions of things come to our understanding in the opposite order to that in which they come to the understanding of the separately subsisting intelligence. To our understanding they come by way of analysis (resolutio), that is, by abstraction from material and individualising conditions: hence we cannot know individual things by aid of such intelligible or universal presentations. But to the understanding of the separately subsisting intelligence intelligible impressions arrive by way of synthesis (compositio). Such an intelligence has its intelligible impressions by virtue of its assimilation to the original intelligible presentation of the divine understanding, which is not abstracted from things but productive of things, -- productive not only of the form, but also of the matter, which is the principle of individuation. Therefore the impressions in the understanding of a separately subsisting intelligence regard the whole object, not only the specific but also the individualising principles. The knowledge of singular and individual things therefore is not to be withheld from separately subsistent intelligences, for all that our intellect cannot take cognisance of the singular and individual.*

2.99 : That Intelligences Subsisting apart know Material Things, that is to say, the Species of Things Corporeal
2.101 : Whether to Separately Subsisting Intelligences all parts of their Natural Knowledge are simultaneously present