|Aquinas's Thoughts On Personality
Aquinas' thoughts on Reality, and
Bodies serve as a background to his thoughts on Personality, so if you haven't read those
sections, I think you should probably backtrack and do so.
Aquinas believes that man is an
animal body, animated by a rational soul, created by God
for a particular intelligible purpose. Aquinas agrees with
Aristotle's view that a man as a psychophysical unity, whose material component is the
body, and whose animating form is the soul. This theory is called "hylomorphism"
(meaning form and matter).
Aquinas defines the soul as
"the first principal of life in those things in our world which live." However,
Aquinas believes that the soul itself cannot be the body. And that our "soul is the
primary principal of our nourishment, sensation, and local movement; and likewise of our
understanding." So, that the soul must be united to the body as its form. Aquinas
continues with the fact that, one cannot have senses without a body, therefore the body must be
some part of man. We must therefore conclude that "the sensitive
soul, the intellectual, and the nutritive soul are in a man, and are numerically one and the same
soul." But man's intellectual soul "contains virtually whatever belongs to the
sensitive soul of brute animals, and to the nutritive soul of plants." Therefore,
there is no substantial form in human nature other than the intellectual soul.
The fact that human beings "are
sensible and natural realities" requires that their bodies be part of their essence,
rather than being merely souls using bodies. Aquinas seems to believe that even
though there is only one soul per person, this soul can be divided into three separate
sections, just like our arm, but one could divide it into the hand, the fore
arm, and the upper arm. Aquinas sets up for us a hierarchy for the parts of the soul, "For
the sensitive is subordinate to the intellective and the nutritive to the sensitive, as
potency is subordinate to act, since in the order of generations the intellective comes
after the sensitive and the sensitive after the nutritive."