Jacques Maritain Center : Studies in Analogy / by Ralph McInerny


Is the Term Soul Analogous?

At the outset of the De anima, Aristotle asks whether all souls are of the same species or, if not, whether they are specifically or generically different. That is, if souls are specifically different, are they or are they not contained in a common genus.{1} Obviously the answers to these questions will determine whether the term "soul" signifies univocally or not. If there is a common genus, there will be a common notion or logos and the term signifying it will be predicated univocally of the various species of soul.{2} If there are generically different notions, the common term will be a "homonym," that is, an equivocal term.{3} Moreover, we must ask if the definition of the soul is common in the way the definition of animal is common or if it is different for every species of soul, as the definitions of horse, dog and man differ. Since these specific definitions do differ, the generic definition is either nothing or it is posterior - something true of any common predicate. Aristotle points out that such questions arise when our intention is to define, not just human soul, but to arrive at knowledge of all kinds of soul.

    Is "soul" a univocal or equivocal term for Aristotle? It may appear that the question is settled in favor of the former by the very fact that Aristotle likens soul to the genus, animal. Moreover, in the sequel, he is clearly interested in discovering the most common notion signified by "soul,"{4} although, when he has given it, he says that it is merely figurative or descriptive,{5} In a passage of particular interest, Aristotle speaks of the community of the term "soul" by comparing it with the way in which figure is common to the different varieties of figure. "It is clear therefore that the definition of "soul" is common in the same way as that of figure, for there is no figure apart from triangle and those which are consequent on it; no more is there any soul apart from those mentioned. For should there happen to be a notion common to figures, which belongs to all of them, it is proper to none of them. So too with the aforementioned souls. Therefore it is foolish to seek a common definition of these or other things which would be the proper definition of none, just as it is foolish to seek the proper and atomic while ignoring the common definition. Souls are related in the same way to what is said of them as are figures; for that which is consequent always contains in potency what is prior, both in figures and in souls; as triangle is in square so is the vegetative in the sensitive."{6} It is in this passage that we have to seek the answer to the question whether the term "soul" is common to the different varieties of soul univocally or equivocally. Perhaps it is not surprising that Aristotle seems here to answer the question both ways. Some, notably Alexander of Aprodisia, hold that the term "soul" is equivocal; others, notably, St Thomas,  maintain that it is univocal. We will examine the first interpretation only briefly; that of Aquinas is of particular interest for the light it casts on his doctrine of the analogy of names.

The different types of soul are known and named from their "parts," faculties or powers, and if we confine ourselves to the nutritive, sensitive and intellectual faculties, we see that the plant soul has only the nutritive power, the animal soul has both the nutritive and sensitive, while the human soul possesses nutritive, sensitive and intellectual powers. There is, consequently, an order of priority and posteriority among souls similar to that among figures. For, although the triangle is only a triangle, the square contains the triangle in potency - we can divide the square and arrive at triangles. What does this likening imply concerning the predicability of "soul" and "figure"? Tricot, here and in similar passages, retails the interpretation of Alexander. "Aristote se demande s'il existe une notion (ou une définition) générique de l'âme. Il repond par la négative, en raison de l'impossibilité où nous sommes de donner une définition commune des choses qui, comme c'est le cas pour les différentes variétés d'âmes, admettent entre elle de l'antérieur et du postérieur. Il en sera comme pour la figure géometrique, laquelle n'existe pas en dehors des différentes variétés de figures et dont la définition générique ne peut s'appliquer qu'à ces variétés."{7} When things which admit among themselves priority and posteriority have a common name, like the things called 'being' and 'good,' they are pros hen legomena according to Alexander of Aphrodisia.{8} Alexander refers{9} to the Nicomachean Ethics, 1096a17ff. for confirmation of this interpretation; Tricot mentions as well Metaphysics, 1019a2 ff. and, in both texts, it is clear that the hierarchy existing among the things spoken of excludes univocity.{10} It would appear therefore that one can legitimately draw the same conclusion concerning figures and souls.

    Nevertheless, this interpretation presents difficulties, particularly when 414b20-32 is compared with its evident parallel at the beginning of the De anima, namely 402b1-9. In the latter text, as we have seen, Aristotle raises the problem of the community of the term "soul' by comparing it with "animal." According to the interpretation of Alexander, "animal" would be an equivocal term, though ad unum, when said of horse, dog, man, etc. But, in the opinion of Alexander himself, it is not thus equivocal. "Elle est assurément difficile," Tricot writes, "et pour le comprendre il faut supposer, avec Alexandre, qu'-Aristote a donné un exemple fictif, puisque, en verité, le chien, l'homme et dieu rentrent dans le genre ζῷον qui est un terme univoque."{11} Of course it is not rare for Aristotle to give an example which is not perfectly adequate to the problem he is treating, but one wonders if the interpretation of Alexander takes sufficiently into account the polemic against the Platonic Ideas which is latent in 402b1-9 and 414b20-32. As Tricot observes, the point made is that there could only be a genus if something like a Platonic Idea, a separate ousia, existed.{12} Moreover, if the example of "animal" raises difficulties, those of "figure" and "number" raise deeper ones. For, while it is perfectly clear that no figure exists which is not triangle, square, etc., and no number which is not  two, three, etc., this does not prevent their being a generic and univocal notion of figure and number. What presents difficulties is the hierarchy among figures and numbers, but we have to ask ourselves if priority and posteriority exclude a genus and univocity. This is surely the case with "being" and "good," but is the same thing true of "figure" and "number"? Metaphysics 999a6 ff. seems to suggest that subalternate genera are always related in an hierarchical fashion and that only what is inferior to the species specialissima is not related that way. This poses difficulties when we recall that species of a genus are "simultaneous" and are said not to admit priority and posteriority.{13} I want to develope these difficulties in the context of St Thomas' interpretation of Aristotle.

What does Aquinas have to say about Aristotle's remarks about a common definition of soul? "Aristoteles autem vult quod quaeratur ratio utriusque, et communis animae, et cuiuslibet speciei."{14} As for the remark of Aristotle: τὸ δε ζῷον τὸ καθόλου ἤτοι οὐθέν ἐστιν ἤ ὔστερον,{15} it is to be understood in terms of the different status accorded to universals by Plato and Aristotle. Plato would have it that the universal animal as such exists, prior to this animal and that which are and are animals thanks to participation in the separate animal. Aristotle, on the other hand, accords priority to animal nature as it is found in particular animals; universality, the relation of predicability, is an intention accruing to the nature as it exists in the mind.{16} If the task of the natural philosopher entails seeking a common definition of soul, this is only preparatory to going on to determine what is special to this kind of soul or that, a movement seen to be in keeping with the order of doctrine.{17} The context of this remark has to do with the priority of the definition of the soul with respect to its powers and faculties, which is just the context of the passage (414b20-32) that occasions our discussion.

    In order to understand our key passage, we must remember, St Thomas observes, that Plato held that universals exist; he was not however, indiscriminate in doing this. Thus, if things are so related that one follows on the other (quae se habent consequenter), no common idea of them was posited. The examples are figures and lines. There is an order among the species of number, for two is the cause of all subsequent numbers; so too the species of figure are so ordered that triangle is prior to square, square to pentagon, etc.{18} Where there is no such order among things receiving a common name, an Idea is posited, e.g. individual men are not ordered as are numbers and figures, therefore there is an Idea existing apart from Socrates and Plato. It will be noticed that this is an example of individuals and their species, whereas numbers and figures are species of something more common, presumably their genus. This could suggest that individuals are related to species differently from the way species are related to genus, but mot that univocity is necessarily excluded from the generic notion. St Thomas continues his preliminary remarks in terms of Platonic separation.

Dicit ergo manifestum esse, quod eodem modo una est ratio animae, sicut una est ratio figurae. Sicuti enim inter figuras non est aliqua figura quae sit praeter triangulum et alias species consequentes, utpote quae sit communis omnium figurarum, ita nec in proposito est aliqua anima, quasi separata existens praeter omnes praedictas partes.{19}
There will be one notion (ratio) of soul in the same way that there is one of figure, but in figures there is no figure which exists apart from triangle, square, pentagon, etc. What indeed would such a figure be? Any existent figure will be a figure of some determinate kind. This is a statement applicable to any genus: there is no animal in rerum natura which is not a man or horse of dog, etc., but this in no wise prevents the formation of a generic notion univocally common to them all. Its unity and community derive from our mode of understanding. But how can we move from such considerations to a discussion of the soul and its parts? These "parts" are precisely faculties or potencies: the vegetative, sensitive, appetitive, locomotive and intellectual powers.{20} The only way the move can be made is by claiming that no soul is found that does not have at least one of these parts from which it will be denominated such-and-such a kind of soul. We will be coming back to this point.
Se quamvis non sit figura separata in esse praeter omnes figuras, etiam secundum Platonicos, qui ponunt species communes spearatas, tamen invenitur una ratio communis, quae convenit omnibus figuris, et non est propria alicuius earum; ita est in animalibus.{21}
The denial that the genus exists apart from its species does not preclude the formation of a ratio communis (λόγος κοινός) which can be predicated of each of them. This community is not that of something which exists numerically one part from the things which participate in it; its community and unity follow on our mode of knowing. Thus, if we speak of separability, it will only be ratione (λογῳ){22} And, although the common notion belongs to each of the things of which it is said, it is common and not the proper notion (ἴδιος λόγος){23} of any of them.
Et ideo rediculum est, quod homo quaerat unam rationem communem, tam in animalibus (sic), quam in aliis rebus, quae non conveniat alicui animarum quae sunt in rerum natura particulariter. Neque etiam est conveiens quod homo quaerat definitionem animae, secundum unamquamque speciem animae, et dimittat definitionem communem omnibus. Ergo neque definitio dommunis animae praetermittenda fuit; neque sic est assignanda definitio communis animae quod non convenit singulis animabus.{24}
We find here the reason for St Thomas' earlier statement{25} that we must concern ourselves both with the common definition of the soul and with the definitions of specific types of soul. But it would be ridiculous to seek a common definition which is not verified of the souls that are. Note that we are not being told that the ratio communis (λόγος κοινός) should be a ratio propria (ἴδιος λόγος) - this would be a good deal more ridiculous. First of all, it is ridiculous to posit as existing separately the content of the common notion precisely as such; secondly, the common notion cannot substitute for the inquiry into what is proper to this soul and that. Thus, earlier, Aristotle is quite diffident about the explanatory power of his common definition of the soul: (τύπῳ μεν οὖν ταύτη διωρίσθω καὶ υπογεγράφθο περὶ ψυχσῆς){26} On the other hand, it is ridiculous to attempt to define a specific type of soul without taking into account what every soul has in common. The passage, then, as St Thomas reads it, has a double purpose, being at once a polemic against the Platonic χωρισμός and a methodological caution based on a correct understanding of universals. We must inevitably start with what is common, but we should neither reify the common notion nor be satisfied with it, for our purpose is to discover what is specific in the natural world. And yet there is still the similarity between souls and figures to be taken into account.
Et quia dixerat, quod eodem modo se habet ratio animae sicut ratio figurae, ostendit convenientiam inter utrumque: et dicit quod similiter se habent figurae et animae adinvicem: in utrisque enim illud quod est prius, est in potentia in eo quod est consequenter. Manifesturm est enim in figuris, quod trigonum,quod est prius, est potentia in tetragono. Potest enim tetragonum dividi in duos trigonas. Et similiter in anima sensitiva, vegetativa est quasi quaedam potentia eius, et quasi anima per se. Et similiter est de aliis figuris, et aliis partibus animae.{27}
Figures are such that there is an order of priority and posteriority among them: the triangle is in the square in the sense that the square can be divided into two triangles. In somewhat the same way, the vegetative soul is in the sensitive soul in that the animal possesses powers had by living things which are only plants. Before inquiring into this statement, let us ask whether St Thomas is here denying that "soul" is said univocally of vegetative, sensitive and intellectual souls. We have seen that Alexander would make this denial: where things are related as prior and posterior the name common to them will be a pros hen equivocal. This is the way "figure" and "number" and also "soul" are predicated. If this were St Thomas' understanding, he would be in a position to say that "soul" and "figure" and "number" are analogous terms.

    As is well known, though its consequences are not always appreciated, there is no one-to-one correspondence between Aristotle's use of ἀναλογία and St Thomas's use of analogia. Indeed, St Thomas, in commenting on Aristotle, will often speak of analogy where Aristotle has made no mention of ἀναλογία. For our purposes, a highly significant occurence is in the commentary on Aristotle's remark: τὸ δὲ ὄν λέγεται μὲν πολλαχῶς ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἔν καὶ μίαν τινὰ φύσιν καὶ ούχ ὀμωνύμως.{28} This text occasions one of St Thomas' most extensive statements of what it means for things to be named analogously.{29} Taking his cue from Aristotle himself{30} as well as from a long tradition, St Thomas distinguishes things named equivocally into those which just happen to receive the same name (pure or chance equivocals) and those which, while not named univocally, are intentionally given the same name. The latter receive a common name which refers them to some one nature and are said to be named analogously.{31} Thus, while there is no indication that Aristotle ever took λέγεται κἀτ᾿ αναλογίον as equivalent to λέγεται ὁνωνύμως πρὸς ἔν, for St Thomas something multipliciter dictum is said analogice whenever it is not a question of pure equivocation. What is more, things named analogously are related per prius et posterius. Our question, then, is this: when things related as prior and posterior,or consequenter, receive a common name, is that name analogous? Are "figure" and "number" and "soul," in the uses we have been examining, analogous terms?

    If we turn now to the passage in the Nicomachean Ethics to which Alexander refers for corroboration of his interpretation, an affirmative answer to our question seems to impose itself. Aristotle is discussing the notion of an Idea of Good and rejecting it in terms of a canon of Platonism which would render such an Idea impossible. "The originators of this theory, then, used not to postulate Ideas of groups of things in which they posited an order of priority and posteriority (for which reason they did not construct an Idea of number in general)."{32} He goes on to argue that, since good is found in each of the categories, good things are prior and posterior and cannot be the basis for an Idea, Good. In commenting on this, St Thomas makes it clear that the priority and posteriority among goods prevents a common notion; consequently "good" is not a univocal name. "Sed diversorum praedicamentorum non est una ratio communis. Nihil enim univoce de his praedicatur. Bonum autem sicut et ens, cum convertatur cum eo, inventitur in quolibet praedicamento... Manifestum est ergo, quod non est aliquid unum bonum, quod scilicet sit idea, vel ratio communis omnium bonorum: alioquin opporteret quod bonum bonum non inveniretur in omnibus praedicamentis, set in uno solo."{33} The denial of a ratio communis here must be the denial of a univocally common notion, since both "being" and "good" signify common notions (quod habet esse and quod omnia appetunt, respectively). What prevents these notions from being univocally common is the order of priority and posteriority among the things which fall under them. Does this impose the conclusion that "soul" and "figure" and "number" are analogous names for St Thomas? That such a conclusion is not imposed on us is clear from a passage in which St Thomas disputes Alexander's interpretation of things which are τὰ εφεξῆς.

    In On Interpretation, Aristotle divides speech (λόγος) into the affirmative statement, the negative and the composite.{34} He says that the affirmative statement is prior to the others. What does this mean? St Thomas first recounts the view of Alexander to the effect that this is not a division of a genus into its species, but of a multiple (i.e. analogous) name into its diverse significations. "Genus enim univoce praedicatur de suis speciebus, non secundum prius et posterius: unde Aristoteles noluit quod ens esset genus commune omnium, quia per prius praedicatur de substantia, quam de novem generibus accidentium."{35} Surely this interpretation of Alexander's is reasonable if the presence of πρότερον καὶ ὔοτερον among beings prevents "being" from signifying univocally, and the same with goods and "good." Must not the same be true of "speech" here and elsewhere of "soul" and "figure"? St Thomas' reading of the text from Nicomachean Ethics could lead us to expect his agreement with Alexander's interpretation of the passage in On Interpretation. Nevertheless, he rejects it, and his reasons must be set down in full.

Sed dicendum quod unum dividentium aliquod commune potest esse prius altero dupliciter: uno modo, secundum proprias rationes, aut naturas dividentium; alio modo, secundum participationem rationis illius communis quod in ea dividitur Primum autem non tollit univocationem generis, ut manifestum est in numeris, in quibus binarius secundum propriam rationem naturaliter est prior ternario; sed tamen aequaliter participant rationem generis sui, scilicet numeri: ita tamen est ternarius multitudo mensurata per unum, sicut et binarius. Sed secundum impedit univocationem generis. Et propter hoc ens non potest esse genus substantiae et accidentis: quia in ipsa ratio entis, substantia, quae est ens per se prioritatem habet  respectu accidentis, quod est ens per aliud et in alio. Sic ergo affirmatio secundum propriam rationem prior est negationi; tamen aequaliter participant rationem enunciationis, quam supra posuit, scilicet quod enunciatio est oratio in quae verum vel falsum est.{36}
The first type of priority and posteriority mentioned here does not preclude there being a term univocally common to things so ordered precisely because their inequality is not with respect to what is expressed in the common notion, but with respect to their rationes propria, that is, with respect to their specific differences,{37} which divide the generic notion. Species of a common genus are so related that one is prior to the other, but in terms of the common notion, their genus, they are equal, parifantur{38} and are simul.{39} The interesting thing here is the example chosen: "number," which is like "figure" to which "soul" has been likened. We find the way opened here for an interpretation of the De anima passage which will be quite different from Alexander's. The mode of priority and posteriority which does preclude univocity is that which involves participation in the common notion. Thus substance primarily is quod habet esse and, if accidents are said to be, they receive the common name by reference to what principally verifies it.{40} This is not the case with affirmation and negation. To call the latter "a speech which involves truth or falsity" does not involve reference to affirmation, though affirmation is prior in nature to negation. So too, by way of anticipation, to call the sensitive soul a soul is to apply to it the common definition, an application which does not involve reference to another kind of soul. The same thing is true for sensitive and intellectual soul. Finally, to call six a number does not involve reference to another number and to call the pentagon a figure involves no reference to another kind of figure.

    What St Thomas is doing, in effect, is distinguishing modes of prior and posterior in terms of their import for signification. Priority and posteriority can be a relation among genera which have no common genus, and then the common name cannot be univocal, or it can  be a relation among genera which have no common genus, and then the common name cannot be univocal, or it can be a relation among species whose inequality is due to their proper notions, thus ultimately to the differences which divide the genus, and such inequality does nothing to prevent the univocity of a common name.

    Corroboration for this interpretation is found elsewhere in Aristotle. In Metaphysics 999a6-14, where he is discussing the Platonic refusal to posit a separate Idea of things related as prior and posterior, Aristotle makes the point that species are always so related. Individuals of a species, on the other hand, are not related as prior and posterior. We find here an echo of something suggested in the De anima. Only species specialissimae present no problem for one who would posit separate Ideas because individuals share equally in their species. But when it is a question of genera, the species are related as prior and posterior and this prevents the positing of a separate Idea responding to the genus. Ross' commentary on this is curious. "If you set number, for instance, on one side as that in which the various numbers agree, and ask what it is in which they differ, you find that this too is number. 'Numberness' does not exist apart from the rest of the nature of numbers, but penetrates their whole nature, and exists only in the various numbers.Remove the genus number, and you remove the differentiae of the numbers as well."{41} While it is easy to agree tht no number exists apart from the species of number, it is not easy to see that numbers differ in that which they have in common. Doubtless what is meant is that the genus number expresses the whole of what a specific number is, and not something which could be separated from it, but, while "number" signifies the whole of 2, it does not express that whereby 2 differs from 3. Actually, Ross, without mentioning him here, seems in agreement with Alexander's interpretation. Trico leaves no doubt that he regards Alexander's interpretation as definitive. Alexander, of course, feels that the supposed genera whose species are related as prior and posterior, involve equivocal predication.{42}

    St Thomas, on the other hand, would have us see that the genus is always said of things related as prior and posterior and that this does not destroy the univocity of the genus since the order and inequality is computed in terms of what is proper to the species.{43} The interpretation of St Thomas has the obvious advantage of not restricting univocity to species specialissimae, an implied result of Alexander's reading of this passage and others like it. Moreover, it is in the light of the inequality of species, secundum rationes proprias, that Aquinas interprets Aristotle's allowance that there is a similarity between species and numbers.{44} If 1 is added to 3, a different species of number, 4, is obtained; likewise, if 1 is subtracted from 3.

Et hoc idea, quia ultima differentia dat speciem numero. Et similiter est in definitionibus, et in quod quid erat esse, quod significat definitio; quia quocumque minimo addito vel ablato, est alia natura speciei. Sicut enim substantia animata sensibilis tantum, est definitio animalis: cui si addas et rationale, constituis speciem hominis: si autem subtrahas sensibile, constituis speciem plantae, quia autem ultima differentia dat speciem.{45}
It will be noticed that the addition and subtraction referred to here are understood in terms of the tree of Porphyry in the genus of substance. There is priority and posteriority with respect to differences, but there is as well the scale of subaltern genera and consequently univocity. We shall see that no more than this is envisaged in our key text from the De anima and that, consequently, the common definition of soul is such that "soul" is predicated univocally of the various species of soul.{46}

We have already seen that St Thomas views the movement from the common definition of the soul to its "parts" as in accord with the order of doctrine. What is this order of doctrine? As laid down at the outset of the Physics, the order of determination (ordo determinandi){47} moves from the confused to the distinct, from what is most easily known by us, which is a confused whole, to what is distinct, a movement which suggests the movement from genera to species.{48} Thus, we should expect that what St Thomas is getting at is this: first we come to generic knowledge of soul and then we proceed to determine the various species of soul.{49} And yet he speaks not of species of soul but of parts of the soul, that is, not of subjective parts, but of faculties or powers. This is something we will address ourselves to later, for there is a prior problem.

    Aquinas describes what goes on in the De anima as a consideration of the soul quasi in quadam abstractione.{50} An indication of what he means is to be had when we notice that the De anima does not concern itself with living being in general, the composite, but with soul, the principle of life. It is as if the Physics concerned itself, not with mobile being, but with form. We shall not discuss here the reasons for this procedure,{51} but it can be seen that the soul is defined, at the beginning of Book Two, ex additione,{52} since body enters into the definition of soul, not as a part of what it is, but as its matter. Thus, what is being defined is precisely a form and this presents a problem because neither form alone nor matter alone can be the genus of things composed of matter and form.{53} The reason for this is that the genus is predicated of the whole of that of which it is the genus, but man is not soul. Rather the proximate genus of man is animal, and what constitutes this generic notion, formally, is sensitive soul from which the constitutive difference is taken to form the concept: animate sensitive substance. Form or soul, then, do not as such fall into genera and species. This is a point we have to keep in mind when we speak of the way the common definition of soul is generic with respect to species of soul. For though soul is not the genus of the composite, the definition of soul expresses what the soul is; but in determining the predicable hierarchy of souls, we shall have to appeal to the hierarchy of genera which comprise composites. Nor is this surprising since soul is always defined ex additione.

    There are two considerations preliminary to our main interest. First, we must see how we can say both that the species of a genus are simultaneous, that is, not related as prior and posterior, and, at the same time, maintain that the species of a genus are always such that one is prior to the other. In discussing priority and posteriority in the Categories, Aristotle indicates that the removal of what is prior entails the removal of what is posterior, but not vice versa. Thus with respect to genus and species, if animal is removed so too is man, but not vice versa. Of course, if one posits the genus, a given species is not thereby posited, whereas the positing of a given species is ipso facto the positing of the genus. The same sort of thing obtains among certain species and the by now familiar example is number.{54} To posit 2 is not thereby to posit 3, which is consequent upon it, but to posit 3 is to posit 2, which is potentially contained in the consequent number. Now, when Aristotle goes on to talk of what is simultaneous, he gives as example the species of a genus.{55} Must we posit different types of species in order to understand these texts, namely species which are consequenter se habentes and those which are not? This is the tendency of the Alexandrian interpretation, but as can be seen, on that view, it is not so much a distinction of different kinds of species as a distinction of things which are species of a genus from those which are not, since things related as prior and posterior have a common name which is predicated of them equivocally ad unum. We have already seen that Aquinas disagrees with this by denying that the order per prius et posterius among species destroys the possibility of a common genus and univocation.

    The species of a genus are constituted by differences and the difference of any genus are contraries and contraries are always related as prior and posterior. Indeed, one contrary will signify possession, the other lack or privation.{56} The species themselves need not be related as contraries, though sometimes they are, e.g. black and white, species of color, are considered to be contraries.{57} Man and brute, however, are not contraries, though their differences, rational and irrational, are contraries.{58} This is why St Thomas can say that species of a genus are always such that one is prior to the other. "Sed talia videntur omnia genera, quia omnes species generum inveniuntur differre secundum perfectius et minus perfectum. Et, per consequens, secundum prius et posterius secundum naturam."{59} Because this priority and posteriority of species is drawn from form, since difference is always formal, this type of inequality will not be had among individuals of an ultimate species, since they do not differ formally from one another.{60} Of course, one can be temporally prior to another.{61}

    If the species of a genus are always related as prior and posterior, it seems impossible to maintain that they are equal or simultaneous, i.e. not related as prior and posterior. Indeed, we may feel strongly tempted by what seems to be the upshot of Alexander's view, namely that univocity can only be had when it is a question of an ultimate species and the individuals which fall under it. In the case of Aquinas, there seems to be a confusion between the analogous and univocal name if the genus is said of things related per prius et posterius. Yet there is no confusion of this score in Aquinas, for he asks us, in effect, to note the difference between a notion which is univocally common to things related per prius et posterius and a notion which is common per prius et posterius. Moreover, the basis for the difference is clear. Species of a genus are not unequal with respect to what the common notion expresses, but in terms of the differences which divide the genus and are not contained within it. If the differences were actually contained within the genus, it would not be a confused notion, but a contradictory one. This is why Aquinas will say that the species are prior and posterior secundum naturam,{62} secundum esse{63} or secundum proprias rationes,{64} and not according to the common intention which is the generic notion. It is only when the inequality is in terms of participation in the common notion itself that we have an analogous name. From the point of view of the generic notion, then, the species are "simultaneous" or equal: parificantur in intentione alicujus communis.{65} If by "number" we mean a multitude measured by unity, 2, 3, 4, etc. are equally numbers. Inequality is discovered only when we compare specific notions, what it is to be 2, what it is to be 3, and this inequality non tollit univocationem.{66}

    The second preliminary consideration has to do with the hierarchy within the genus of substance and its comparison with that of numbers. The genus is had by considering matter as determined by a perfection such that further perfection is possible. Since the perfection of matter is form and some forms actuate matter so that it is substance which results, but not a living substance, substance can be considered as material with respect to the further perfection, living, and the imperfection, non-living. So too the notion of living substance, animate substance, can be considered as material with respect to the contrary differences, sensitive and non-sensitive. And so on from common and material notions to the specific notion which is not susceptible of further formal differentiation.{67} There are several things to notice about this hierarchy. First of all, though there are some things (for Aristotle, the four elements) which are substance and not alive, the genus, substance, does not signify them to the exclusion of  living substance, even though living is not included in the generic notion since, if not expressed, neither is it prescinded from.{68} Indeed, it is because it is not expressed that non-living too is considered to be a difference which is formal with respect to illud materiale unde sumitur genus.{69} Secondly, the generic notion signifies, albeit confusedly, the whole of every substance and not just a part, even though a substance may be living, sensitive and rational as well. Thus the genus is said to be drawn from matter, not because it expressed only a part of the composite (or indeed undifferentiated matter), but because it is a notion which is material with respect to further determinations which are drawn from form. St Thomas has no patience with the view of Avicebron, according to whom there are distinct forms in man by one of which he is a substance, by another living, by another sensitive, by yet another rational, since this amounts to a reification of the multiplicity of concepts we require in order to form a distinct notion of man. Man, if a composite, is one and he is one because of one form thanks to which he is rational sensitive animate substance. The brute thanks to one form is sensitive animate substance; plant thanks to one form is animate substance and it is thanks to its form that the element is a substance. It is just this which explains why the species of things can be compared with numbers.{70}

    If "sensitive" be subtracted from "sensitive animate substance" (the definition of animal), the result is the definition of plant, just as, if "rational" be added, the definition of man results. So too with numbers: if we add or subtract 1 from 3 we get different species of number. Moreover, just as 2 is in a fashion present in 3, so the definition of plant is present in that of animal. We should not be misled by this comparison, however. Above all, we should not take "living body" or "animate substance," the genus, to be identical with the species, plant. The genus is common to plants and animals and men; the notion mentioned could only be the definition of plant if it prescinded from "sensitive" which, as generic, it does not do. Furthermore, though it is a genus which includes man, it is not his proximate genus. Thus, if "animate substance" be taken as a genus which includes plants, brutes and men, it is not the proximate genus of them all, for it is as material first of all to the differences "sensitive" and "non-sensitive" and the genus which results from the addition of "sensitive" is as matter to those differences whereby the species man and brute are constituted.

These preliminary remarks enable us to turn now to the likening of the various kinds of soul to figures and numbers. We have already pointed out that soul as such is not placed in a genus. Were we to locate the common definition if soul {71} in the hierarchy just discussed, it would fall within the genus, animate substance. Just as that genus is univocally common to all living things, so the definition of soul is univocally common to all souls. If we then ask what the relation of this common definition of the souls is to the parts of the soul, this is because the species of soul are known and denominated from these powers{72} which, in turn, are known from operations; operations are distinguished from one another by reference to their objects.{73} The parts or faculties are not themselves subjective parts of soul nor reducible to the same genus as soul, since soul is a substantial principle and its "parts" are accidents, though proper ones{74}. The common definition of soul is material with respect to the further determinations, sensitive and non-sensitive. "Life," as it enters into the common definition, is appropriated to vegetative life.{75} The sensitive soul is the principle both of vegetative and sensitive operations through the medium of the appropriate powers or parts. Taken as genus, sensitive soul does not prescind from rationality and hence does not pertain to brutes as opposed to man, but to both equally: thus the species, brute soul, is constituted by the difference, irrational.{76} The same must be said of the common definition of soul; as genus it is not to be confused with plant soul, which is a species of it constituted by the difference, non-sensitive, which thereby prescinds from further perfection, something the genus does not do. Thus, though the common definition of soul is the proximate genus of plant soul, it it not the proximate genus of rational soul. On the basis of our previous remarks about numbers and the hierarchy of generic predicates, it can be seen that there is nothing particularly unique in the likening of souls and numbers, or souls and figures.{77} Subtract "sensitive" from "sensitive soul" and the result is, in a sense, the definition of plant soul; add "rational" and the result is the definition of human soul. Again, the genus, which does not prescind from sensitive, should not be confused with the species, plant soul, which does so prescind, anymore than the genus, sensitive soul, should be confused with its species, the soul of brutes. So too, if the sensitive soul is said to have the perfection of plant soul and more besides, this means that all three types of soul give rise to the genus which is the common definition of soul, but that whereas the species, plant soul, is constituted by the imperfection, non-sensitive, both rational and brute soul give rise to the addition, sensitive, which, when made, forms a genus which is material with respect to the further perfection, rational, in the case of the human soul, and to the imperfection, non-rational, in the case of the brute soul. Thus the plant soul which has vegetative powers alone is not a reification of the genus, no more than brute soul is a reification of the genus, sensitive soul. The common definition of the soul, then, is a genus univocally common to the three species of soul in terms of the hierarchy just sketched, and these species are subjective parts. The reason for comparing them with types of figure, and the danger involved in doing so, should now be clear.

    It will be appreciated that the relation of the common definition of soul to its subjective parts is a different question from the relation of human soul to its parts, powers or faculties, even though the species of soul are known and denominated from powers. The soul and its species are reductively in the genus of substance,{78} and the general rule that the genus is predicated in quid and univocally of its species is applicable to soul and its subjective parts. The parts or powers of soul, on the other hand, are accidents and soul cannot be predicated of them except in the way a subject can be predicated of its proper accidents.{79}

 It has not been our purpose to argue that St Thomas' interpretation of Aristotle is the correct one, although we feel this could be shown. Rather, moving from the fact that his interpretation is different from the more influential one of Alexander, we have indicated that both men are consistent in their reading of similar passages, that their conflicting reading of the De anima passage is only what we might expect. What is more, we found that an understanding of St Thomas reading of our key passage sheds indirect light on his doctrine of the analogy of names. It is not just any priority and posteriority among things having a common name which renders that name analogous. Indeed, we can see that, if he accepted Alexander's view, the only univocal names he could allow would be those signifying a species specialissima. It is not without interest that some have presented Alexander's view that "soul" is equivocally or analogously common to species of soul as the view of St Thomas as well. Were that identification - which is quite without basis - to be coupled with the alleged Thomistic view that the species is analogously common to individuals, because of their different acts of existence, univocity would completely disappear from Thomism. By seeing that the inequality of species, secundum esse, does not destroy univocity on the part of the genus, we are in a better position to grasp Aquinas' doctrine on univocity and analogy. The occurrence of the phrase secundum esse here ought to give pause to those who find in esse the clef de voûte of everything Aquinas taught, not least of all of analogy. But surely there should be no need to point out that it is not esse that explains analogy; rather, analogy must be invoked to deal with the peculiar behavior of words like ens and esse.


{1} "We must consider also whether soul is divisible or is without parts, and whether it is everywhere homogeneous or not; and if not homogeneous, whether its various forms are different specifically or generically: up to the present time those who have discussed and investigated soul seem to have confined themselves to the human soul. We must be careful not to ignore the question whether soul can be defined in a single unambiguous formula, as is the case with animal, or whether we must not give a separate formula for each sort of it, as we do for horse, dog, man, god (in the latter case the 'universal' animal - and so too every other 'common predicate' - being treated either as nothing at all or as a later product)." - De anima, 402b1-9.

{2} For this doctrine of signification, see On Interpretation, 16a3-8.

{3} See Categories, 1a1-12.

{4} De anima, 412a5-6.

{5} Ibid., 413a9-10.

{6} Ibid. 414b20-32.

{7} Ad 414b20-32.

{8} Απορίαι και λύσεις I, XIb, Suppl. II,2, pp. 22-24.

{9} In Metaphysic., (996a6), p. 20, 1. 13.

{10} The text from the Ethics will be discussed later; as for the other, see St Thomas, In V Metaphysic., lect. 13, nn. 950-2.

{11} Ad 402bl ff.

{12} "En résumé, l'âme est un πολλαχῶς λεγόμενον. Elle n'admet pas de définition commune proprement dite, mais ses espèces doivent être définiés séparément. Et d'une manière générale, n'est pas un genre toute notion ἐπὶ πολλῶν, mais seulement ce qui répond à une οὐσια réelle, à une nature commune . . ." Ad 402bl ff.

{13} Categories, 14b32-15a8.

{14} In I de anima, lect. I, n. 13.

{15} De anima, 402b7-8.

{16} In I de anima, lect. I, n. 13; De ente, chap. 4.

{17} In II de anima, lect. 1, n. 211.

{18} Ibid., lect. 5, n. 295.

{19} Ibid., n. 296.

{20} 414a31-32

{21} In II de anima, lect. 5, n. 297.

{22} 418b29.

{23} 413b27.

{24} In II de anima, lect. 5, n. 297.

{25} In I de anima, lect. 1, n. 13

{26}413a9-10. See Nicomachean Ethics, 1094a25 ff; 1098a20 ff.

{27} In II de anima, lect. 5, n. 298.

{28} Metaphysics, 1003a34-35.

{29} In IV Metaphysic., lect. I, nn. 535-6.

{30} Nicomachean Ethics, 1096b25.

{31} In I Ethic., lect. 7, nn. 95-6.

{32} Nicomachean Ethics, 1096a18-20.

{33} In I Ethic., lect. 6, n. 81.


{35} In I Periherm., lect. 8, n. 5.

{36} Ibid, n. 6.

{37} See Q.D. de veritate, q. 4, a. 1, ad 8.

{38} I Sent., d.19, q, 5, a. 2. ad 1.

{39}Categories, 14b32-15a8.

{40} For an earlier disagreement with Alexander, see In I Periherm., lect. 5, n. 70

{41} W.D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics, Oxford (1924), Vol. 1, p. 237, ad 999a6-10.

{42} See In Metaphysic., p. 210, 11, 3-6.

{43} In III Metaphysic., lect. 8, n. 438: "Si igitur unum de multis sit primum, quod omnia participent, non oportet ponere aliquod separatum, quod omnia participant. Sed talia videntur omnia genera; quia omnes species generum inveniuntur differe secundum perfectius et minus perfetum. Et per consequens, secundum prius et posterius secundum naturam. Se igitur eorum quorum unum est prius altero, non est accipere aliquod commune separatum, si genus praeter species inveniatur, erunt 'schola aliorum,' idest erit eorum alia doctrina et regula, et non salvabitur in eis praedicta regula. Sed  manifestum est quod inter individua unius speciei, non est unum prius et aliud posterius secundum naturam, sed solum tempore.Et ita species secundum scholam Platonis est aliqquid separatum. Cum igitur communia sint principia inquantum sunt separata, sequitur quod sit magis principium species quam genus."

{44} Metaphysics, 1043b32-1044a2.

{45} In VIII Metaphysic., lect. 3, nn. 1723-4.

{46} For a comparison of souls and numbers, see In II de anima, lect. 5, n. 288.

{47} In I Physic., lect. 1, n. 8.

{48} "Quod autem universalia sunt confusa manifestum est, quia universalia continent in potentia, et qui scit aliquid in universali scit illud indistincte; tunc autem distinguitur eius cognitio, quando unumquodque eorum quae continentur potentia in universali, actu cognoscitur: qui enim scit animal, non scit rationale nisi in potentia. Prius autem est scire aliquid in potentia in actum, prius quoad nos est scire animal quam hominem." - In I Physic., lect. 1, n. 7; see Ia, q. 85, a. 3.

{49} Clearly, this is not a deductive process. See In I Physic., lect. 1, n. 8.

{50} In de sensu et sensato, lect. 1, n. 2.

{51} See Charles DeKoninck, "Introduction à l'étude de l'âme," Laval théologique et philosophique (1947), Vol. 3, pp. 9-65.

{52} Metaphysics, Bk. 7, chapters 4-5.

{53} See Ia, q. 76, a. 3, ad 2; Il Sent., d. 3, q. 1, a. 6. "...dicendum quod si anima sensibilia quae est in homine, collocarentur secundum se in genere vel specie, non essent unius generis; nisi fort logice loquendo secundum aliquam intentionem communem. Sed id quod est in genere et specie proprie, est compositum, quod utrobique est corruptiblile." - Q.D. de anima, a. 11, ad 14. "...dicendum quod forma non est  in alio genere quam corpus, sed utrumque est in genere animalis et in specie hominis per reductionem." - Ibid., a. 2, ad 10.

{54} Categories, 14a30 ff.

{55} Ibid., 14b32 ff.

{56} See In X Metaphysic., lect. 6; In I Metaphys., lect. 10, n. 7; In II de coelo, lect. 4, n. 8.

{57} In V Metaphysic., lect. 12, n. 917.

{58} See In V Physic., lect. 3, nn. 4-5.

{59} In III Metaphysic., lect. 8, n. 438.

{60} II Sent., d. 3, q. 1, a. 5, ad 3.

{61} In III Metaphysic., lect. 8, n. 438.

{62} Ibid.

{63} II Sent., d. 3, q. 1, a. 5, ad 3.

{64} In I Periherm., lect. 8, n. 6.

{65} I Sent., d. 19, q. 5, a. 2, ad 1.

{66} In I Periherm., lect. 8, n.6.

{67} In Boethii de trinitate, q. 4, a. 2.

{68} See De ente, cap. 4.

{69} In Boethii de trinitate, q. 4, a. 2.

{70} See In VIII Metaphysic., lect. 3, nn. 1723-4; In V Physic., lect 3.

{71} De anima, 412a27-8.

{72}"Quibuscumque autem inest unum solum praedictorum (sc. partium) oportet quod illud sit anima. In quibus vero insunt plura, quodlibet est pars animae; sed illa anima denominatur a principaliori, vel sensitiva, vel intellectiva." - In II de anima, lect. 4, n. 270.

{73} 415a16-23.

{74} See Q.D. de spiritualibus creaturis, a. 11, corpus and ad 2; De ente, cap. 3.

{75} In II de anima, lect. 3, n. 258. This appropriation is clear in the second definition of soul; see ibid., lect. 4, n. 273 (414a12-13).

{76} Quodl. XI, q. 5, a. un., ad 4: "...dicendum quod licet anima sensitiva sit communis in nobis et brutis quantum ad rationem generis, tamen quantum ad rationem speciei, alia est in homine et alia in brutis; et similiter alia in asino, et alia in equo et in bove. Et secundum quod differunt alique specie, ita etiam differt in eis anima sensitiva; et ideo non sequitur, si in brutis educatur de potentia materiae, quod etiam in homine; quia in homine est altioris speciei, et per creationem."

{77} Both comparisons are made In II de anima, lect. 5.

{78} Insofar as the human soul can exist apart from body it is in some sense a hoc aliquid.

{79} For a discussion of soul as a potential whole, see Carl A. Lofy, S.J., "The Meaning of Potential Whole in St Thomas Aquinas," The Modern Schoolman, (1959), Vol. 37, pp. 39-48.

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