PSY 2050 Assignment Thomas Aquinas

PSY 2050 Assignment Thomas Aquinas

PSY 2050 Assignment Thomas Aquinas


Provided an in-depth analysis of the reading and answered each one of the following questions:

What were the main points of the writing?

What were the differences and similarities between what you read and what was written about the individual in the textbook?

Based on your own views of psychology, how does the author’s viewpoint fit into your current understanding of psychology?

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PSY 2050 Assignment Thomas Aquinas


NOUS: The Immortal Soul

Nous, or active reason is a primary feature of Aquinas’s view of the individual in general and relative to psychology in particular. Nous was capable of a separate existence. Therefore, it was considered to be the counterpart of Aristotle’s immortal soul. Aquinas followed Aristotle in much of his psychology.

PSY 2050 Assignment Thomas Aquinas


Human beings have one substantial form – the rational soul. The individual is neither soul or body alone, but a united or composite substance. The person is a unity, and this rational soul encompasses the vegetative and sensitive functions. The rational soul is united and operates as a totality to carry on its natural functions.

Aquinas believed that the soul is neither imprisoned in the body or carrying out a sentence of punishment. It resides in the body because this is natural and good. Its union with the body is not to the detriment of the soul but to its enrichment. The soul completes human nature and confers the incidental benefit of allowing the achievement of knowledge through the senses (Summa, Q76; Watson & Evans, 1991, p.135).

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The soul consists of faculties: the rational faculty, the sensitive faculty and the nutritive faculty.
The rational faculty is higher than the sensitive faculty and the sensitive faculty is higher than the nutritive faculty.

The rational faculty includes the active and passive intellect and the will. The sensitive faculty is the sensible body and has 5 exterior senses and 4 internal senses. The nutritive faculty includes the powers of nutrition, growth, and reproduction.

The interior sense pertains to operations at the level of sensitive life and to psychological functioning not involving reason. This sense includes estimative powers for animals and cognitive powers for humans. Animals are dependent on it because they can not reason. Humans us it through their instinctive estimating because they can reason. This sense in humans leads to imagination and sensory memory.

The senses also involve appetites or emotions. Aquinas indicates that the power of appetite is twofold and involves sensitive appetite at the sensitive level and volition or will at the rational level. Sensitive appetite desires objects that are sensed. The two major kinds of sensitive appetites are: 1) the concupiscible, because they desire the objects of sensible pleasure, and 2) the irascible, whose function is to urge a fight for the objects in questions when there are difficulties securing them. The concupiscible emotions include love, desire, joy, hatred, aversion, and sorrow. The irascible includes, hope, despair, courage, fear, and anger. Aquinas calls the act of a sensitive appetite a passion. (Watson & Evans, 1991, p.137).

Aquinas also attempted to describe free will. He says that it arises from freedom of the intellect. For him free choice is free judgment. Free will is evidenced in voluntary activities about which judgments are made. We desire happiness, which is found in the good, by our very nature, proceeding from the will. The desire comes from the will itself and is not imposed on us from without, as is the case of violence. Aquinas believes that we can not help desiring because we are the creatures that we are. In comparing intellect and will, Aquinas believes that will is subordinate and intellect is dominant.

According to Aquinas, sense experience provides the stimulus for setting into operation the “agens intellectus – the fact that human beings alone possess the power of abstraction. He believed that for any person possessing the ability for abstract thinking was an act of God. Therefore, the intellectual process resulting from abstraction becomes an aspect of revelation. Aquinas also believed, similar to John Locke, that prior to man having sensory experience the possible intellect is like a “tabula rasa,” a blank slate, devoid of ideas.

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