Essay on Thomas Aquinas

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Philosophy 1000 paper 2 | Aquinas | How does Aquinas think we acquire knowledge? | | Makenzie Thornock | 11/2/2012 |


1.) Thomas Aquinas believes that humans are born with a clean slate in a state of potency and acquire knowledge through sense experiences by abstraction of the phantasms. His view on how man acquires knowledge rejects Plato’s theory that humans are born with innate species. Along with Plato’s theory of humans understanding corporeal things through innate species, Aquinas also rejects Plato’s theory that in being born with innate species, humans spend their lives recollecting their knowledge. 2.) Aquinas makes two objections to this theory. His first objection is that man could not forget what he
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Aquinas’ second objection believes that the only way the intellect can be made active in order to pass from a state of potency to a state of actualization is through understanding corporeal things through the bodily senses. 4.) Aquinas claims that without the senses, a person cannot understand corporeal things. He says, “a man be wanting in a sense, he cannot have any knowledge of the sensible corresponding to that sense” (118). By saying this he means that a man born without a certain sense will not be able to gain knowledge of corporeal things corresponding to that sense because he could not have a sensory experience with it. An example he uses in this argument says, “for instance, a man who is born blind can have no knowledge of colors” (117). 5.) Aquinas explains that a person cannot have knowledge of a corporeal thing unless that person has the sense in order to have a sensory experience of it. This experience that is explained by Aquinas is the first of his three grades of cognitive power. He calls his first grade of cognitive power the sense, being the act of a bodily organ in order to understand the individuals and their particulars. The second grade of cognitive power he calls the angelic intellect which exists apart from matter. He explains the angelic intellect as a divine mind in which knows the universal and understands the material things through immaterial things. The final grade of cognitive power is the human intellect and Aquinas explains that

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