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The Philosophy and Psychology of Pietro Pomponazzi/Chapter IV

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CHAPTER IV[edit]

POMPONAZZI's PSYCHOLOGY


THE great question with which Pomponazzi concerned himself was the question of the soul's relation to reason or intelligence. This was the question of his time. Anima and Intellectus were then the watchwords of the schools: their relation, or the nature of anima intellectiva, was the point round which discussion moved and on which was invoked the authority of Averroes, Alexander, or St Thomas. When the audiences in the Italian class-rooms called out "Quid de anima?" this was the subject which they desired to hear treated 1 .

The prevailing tendency was towards a metaphysical dualism of "Soul" and "Reason." Averroism had its professed adherents; but the spirit of Averroism had also deeply penetrated the orthodox schools. Even among those who rejected the Averroist doctrine of a common Intelligence, the "separateness" of intelligence in some sense or other was a fixed presupposition, a dogma that found expression in the character attributed to superior Intelligences, angelic or astral, and which led to the separation of the intellectual from the natural soul of man, or of the soul qua intellectiva from the body. The doctrine of Averroes continued to be seriously discussed, even if it was rarely held in its primitive simplicity; and men's minds were haunted by the phantom of an impersonal Intelligence of humanity.

1 See Symonds, Renaissance, v. p. 479.


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Pomponazzi was not occupied at all with physical speculations about the nature of the soul, such as have been agitated before and since his day. He neither introduced irrelevant physical enquiries as to the substance of the mind nor sought the "seat of the soul" in the body. The reason is not that he was superior to many of the superstitions of his age, but that he was preoccupied with the question about intelligence and the soul. Body and Soul were the simple terms of his thought of man; and Thought and Matter for him the poles of meta physical speculation.

In the enquiry as to the nature of the human soul, and the character of intelligence as in man, Pomponazzi substituted for the method of abstract speculation a method of positive analysis. The Arabians, going by what they conceived to be the necessary nature of Reason, postulated a "separate" rational principle (their intellectus agens). St Thomas was led partly by a similar a priori conception of the nature of a thinking principle and partly by a theological and ethical interest in the immortality of the soul to affirm the existence of "separate" spiritual substances. Pomponazzi, instead of pursuing a priori speculations as to what the nature of an intellectual principle must be, proposed simply to determine our conception of human intelligence by the actual character of intelligence as exhibited by man.

St Thomas had recalled Averroes to the real problem of intelligence as actually exercised by man the individual, and shewn the irrelevancy to that problem of his theory of intellectual action in a separate principle. Pomponazzi deals in the same way with St Thomas's own postulate of a separate intellectual principle in the individual; he asks for evidence ("naturale signum") of its existence, and contrasts the hypothesis with the fact that in man, as he actually is, intelligence is always exercised in dependence on a bodily organisation.

He presses constantly against both Averroes and St Thomas, and against every theory of a separate intellectual soul in man, the Aristotelian definition of soul as the form of body 1; and his

1 Comm. de An., ff. 251 253; 2ca&. passim.


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assent to Aristotle's formula is more than a mere verbal agreement. He occupies Aristotle's standpoint of empirical observation, and pursues his method of a positive analysis of the facts before him. Doing so, he finds, as Aristotle did, that the soul of man yes, and his "intellectual" soul exists in body. It is known only there. We know nothing of it except in that relation. So far as known to us it has no other mode of existence. What is before us is corpus animatum.

Accordingly we find him arguing, whether against the superior Intelligence of Averroism, the single anima intellectiva operating in human intelligence or against the "separate" anima intellectiva of St Thomas, which is not (qua intellective?) the actuality of body (actus corporis) at all that human intelligence exists as we actually discover it to be, and can have only one mode of existence under the same conditions and at the same time; and requiring for those other supposed modes of existence, postulated by the one doctrine or the other, some evidence (naturale signum) upon which they can be accepted as real. Thus when the Averroists, in order to bring their hypothesis of anima intellectiva into relation to human knowledge, have explained that intelligence had one operation secundum se, and another quoad nos the former in metaphysical separation from, the other in dependence upon, the body Pomponazzi replies: "It seems absurd to say that the intellectual soul, which is numerically a single faculty, has two distinct modes of intellection one that depends on body and also one that is independent of it for thus it seems to have two beings.... In the soul two forms of intellection are supposed to be united, one of which depends on the body, while the other is entirely unrelated to it, which seems at variance with reason, since of one and the same thing with reference to a single operation there seems to be only one mode of operation 1 ." But it is no better he says with the Thomist distinction of anima intellectiva qua intellectiva and

1 "Ridiculum videtur dicere animam intellectivam quae est una potentia numero duos habere modos intelligendi, scilicet et dependentem et independentem a corpore; sic enim duo esse videtur habere. ...In anima autem ponuntur intellectiones quarum una dependet a corpore, altera vero est simpliciter absoluta, quod non videtur consonum rationi, cum unius operationis respectu unius et eiusdem non videatur esse nisi unus modus operandi." De Imm. iv. p. 16.


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qua actus corporis; and, frequently, in the De Immortalitate he reiterates that human intelligence has and can have only one mode of being: "Unius rei est tantum unus modus operandi essentialis."

I call attention to this mode of argument; for such a method of enquiry is the basis of a science of human nature, and, if consistently followed, will lead to a coherent conception of that nature as a single reality.

It is true that in the expression of his result Pomponazzi did not get beyond the word "participation" the participation of the human intellectual soul in intelligence as such and the distinction of intellectus qua intellects from intellectus qua humanus. In so far as this language represented a dualistic mode of thought he failed to give perfect expression to the unity of human nature. But the conception of the unity of human nature in reality was the practical result of his enquiry, as it was the natural result of the method which he followed.

Indeed, the distinction he draws between intellectus qua intellectus or intellectus separatns and intellectus humanus is precisely (apart from the dogma of the "separate" superior Intelligences) Aristotle's distinction of separate reason and rational soul. What underlies it is the distinction between a metaphysical and a psychological view of reason, which neither Aristotle nor his mediaeval disciple had clearly drawn. But they had both a sufficient inkling of it to hold, even if in a somewhat dogmatic way, that the possession of reason which in itself is timeless and absolute does not destroy the psycho logical unity of human nature as existing in time and in concrete reality.

Participatio is a term that betrays the spurious metaphysics of the Arabians which had turned the distinction between a metaphysical and a psychological view of reason into an onto- logical distinction between a thinking principle and the soul. But Pomponazzi did not mean by it what Averroes had meant. Practically, he regarded human nature as Aristotle did. And at the least it may be said that his philosophy was an attempt to

1 " Si anima intellectiva, quatenus intellect! va est, non est actus (scil. corporis), ideo, quatenus intellectiva sit, non erit anima." Comm. de An. f. 151 r.


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discard metaphysical presuppositions and to base a doctrine of human nature on the hypothesis of its unity and the observation of its phenomena; while, once more, whatever we may think of his analysis and construction of human nature, we may recognise the substitution of an empirical for a speculative, and a positive for a dogmatic method.

I have said that Pomponazzi's method is best illustrated by his criticisms of the accepted philosophies of his time. He is essentially a critic and a dialectician, and both expounds and develops his own views by means of the examination of received opinions. We are justified in ascribing to him such a method as has been indicated when we find him applying the same canons of credibility, and addressing the same criticisms, to theories so diverse from one another in their conclusions (while similar in their speculative method) as the Averroist, the Platonic, and the orthodox spiritualistic doctrines of the soul.

He divides 1 the possible theories of human nature into six, differentiated by their view of the "mortal" and "immortal" nature of man. By "mortal" and "immortal" he means the same as if he had said "material" and "intellectual"; for intelligence is in its essential nature timeless, and not subject to change or decay, while the body evidently decays and dies. That man's nature possesses these two aspects he considers beyond question-: as in the body, or, if you will, using the body as an instrument, man is at least in one sense mortal; as exercising intelligence he partakes of that which is immaterial and imperishable. Now, it may be said either that there are here two separate beings or that one being combines two aspects.

If the physical and the intellectual elements in man be two different beings, then either (i) there are as many physical beings and as many spiritual beings as there are individual men (the Platonic doctrine of the soul); or (2) the physical body is multiplied and the intellectual element is one in all men (the

1 De hum. cap. il. z Op. cit. cap. I.


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Averroist doctrine of the common Intelligence); or (3) the intellectual beings are many and the physical body one. The third supposition is dismissed, as never having been put forward by any one and as absurd in itself 1 . The Platonic and Averroist theories are left.

The other alternative was that the human being is one nature with two aspects. Here Pomponazzi distinguishes his own view from that of St Thomas. Either (4) man is an intellectual spiritual and immortal being in an absolute sense, with an accidental and temporary relation to the body (simpliciter immortalis, et secundum quid mortalis); or (5) the relation to the body is of his essential nature and his participation in timeless and imperishable reason is only such as is consistent with that relation (simpliciter mortalis, secundum quid immortalis]. We need not be too much deterred by the barbarism of secundum quid mortalis and immortalis as if there could be shades and degrees of mortality and immortality. These words are Pomponazzi's compendious formula for the material and perishable on the one hand, the "intellectual" and imperishable on the other. And the question, as between him and St Thomas, is the simple and not irrelevant one whether on the one hand the relation to the body is essential to the existence of the soul (which St Thomas denied), or, on the other, the possession of timeless reason is compatible with a genuinely and essentially physical mode of existence (as Pomponazzi affirmed).

To complete his scheme Pomponazzi adds the possibility, (6) that the human being is in an equal sense spiritual and material 2 . Logically this possibility is exhausted in the alternatives already stated. As Pomponazzi says, in his scholastic way, " Nothing can be constituted equally of two contraries; one must always be the dominant factor 3 ." This notion also, like (3), is a "man of straw."

1 " Quoniam inimaginabile est imam rem corpoream esse in tot distinctis loco et subjecto, et maxime si est corruptibilis." De Imm. in. p. 9.

2 " Utrumque secundum quid amplexa est, scil. secundum quid mortalis et se cundum quid immortalis." Op. cit. II. p. 8.

3 " Nihil aequaliter potest constitui ex duobus contrariis, sed semper oportet unum alteri praedominari." Op. cit. in. p. 9.


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Four theories then are left clearly distinguishable. In criticising them Pomponazzi maintains the Aristotelian standpoint, comparing each with the observed facts of human physical life, and guided by the formula " soul is the form of body " (anima forma corporis).

In the doctrine of Averroes there were two main points first, that the intellectual principle was something separate from the soul of man; second, that it was one in all men.

With regard to the second point, Pomponazzi professes that he has nothing to add to the arguments of St Thomas, which he commends in terms of the highest praise 1 . It is evident, indeed, that this part of the doctrine of Averroes had begun to lose all credit, in presence of a more accurate knowledge of Aristotle. In the Commentary on the De Anima Pomponazzi shews that he fully understands whither the Averroist conception tends and that the anima intellectiva, which is supposed to be one in all men, is that which makes each man what he is 2 , so that there is no escape from the monstrous consequences drawn by St Thomas. But he no longer feels it necessary to argue the point; and occupies himself by preference with an attempt to bring out the more reasonable side of Averroes's doctrine implied in his con cession of a vis cogitativa to the individual soul 3 . In the chapter of the De Immortalitate devoted to Averroism he is content with a summary assertion that the notion of union with a superhuman intellectual principle as the end of man is an arbitrary invention ("figmentum in se") morally impracticable ("sic finis hominis irritus est") and contrary to Aristotle. He hazards the opinion, which perhaps was not far from the mark, that the belief in the unity of intellectual souls in Averroes's sense had never really been more than an academic theory 4 .

He was much more concerned about the question of the " separateness " of the intellectual principle. Through various

1 De hnm. IV. p. n.

2 " Dat esse." Cotnm. de An, f. 135 r.

3 Op. cit. ff. 140 144.

4 "Imo existimo quod tanta fatuitas fuerit nedum credita, verum excogitata." De Imm. iv. p. n.


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modification s, and particularly through the orthodox theory of the soul, this part of Averroism was living still in many minds. It is obvious that in his examination of it Pomponazzi was preparing the way for his attack upon the "separate forms" of St Thomas.

Before quoting, therefore, his apt criticism of the Averroist "separate intelligence," we notice the general principles which he lays down at the beginning of the De Immortalitate, and applies consistently throughout all his discussions of these subjects.

The question is whether an intellectual principle can exist, in the case of man, in such self-subsistence and separation from the body as to be independent of the body, and to continue to exist ________ no longer there. Pomponazzi proposes to answer this question by an examination of the actual nature of intelligence in man the actual facts regarding human know ledge. And he recalls the canon of Aristotle, which was also universally accepted in the schools, that all human knowledge, as such, requires the presentation in imagination of the data of sense 1 . This psychological necessity was the nerve of Pomponazzi's thinking and the basis of his argument about the soul 2 . He inferred from it that it was impossible for the intellectual principle in man to exist in any absolute separation from the body.

The argument is developed in logical form in the De Immortalitate^. To establish the separability of human intelligence from the body, says Pomponazzi, it is necessary to find it independent of the body both in its own essential nature as intelligence (tanquam de subjecto) and in its reception of the objects of knowledge (tanquam de objecto). Now independent in the latter sense human intelligence can never be, according to the obvious fact and the canon of Aristotle. As Pomponazzi puts it, two conditions have to be established before the "separate" existence of the soul can be held as proved; it must

1 "Intelligere aut esse phantasiam aut non esse sine phantasia." Delmm.\v. p. 12.

2 Of. cit. cap. iv. wa&fttsrim; Comm. de An. f. 250 and passim.

3 De hum. cap. iv.


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be independent of body in both the senses named above. If it fail in either, the proof has fallen. If the corporeal embodiment be necessary either on the one ground or on the other, we have no right to speak of a disembodied human intelligence. The statement of the case against "separability" takes the form of a disjunctive proposition, and can only be met by a conjunctive affirmation against both clauses 1 .

It is not sufficient to argue from the independence of intelligence in itself (tanquam de subjecto]. All Averroists argued, and Pomponazzi himself held, that the only subjectmn of thought is thought; but independence in this sense, he contended, was not equivalent to absolute independence of the body; for dependence de subjecto was not the only way in which intelligence might be dependent on the body. Human intelligence in its intrinsic and essential nature acts and exists only in its reception of the objects of knowledge, and in respect of this (tanquam de objecto) it is dependent on body 2 .

It might be thought that Aristotle made the intellectual soul immaterial in an unqualified sense (simpliciter) when he ascribed to it the reception of all material forms. But still the question remains, after what manner does human intelligence receive knowledge? And even to intelligence in man Aristotle attributed a passive attitude ("intellectus possibilis est virtus passiva"); he likens it to sense in the mode of its operation ("intelligere est sicut sentire"); and it depends for its operation, and actual existence, on the senses and material things ("intel lectus movetur a corpore...suum motivum est phantasma"). All this, says Pomponazzi, looks rather in the direction of

1 " Disjunctivaque affirmativa contradicat copulativae affirmativae factae de par- tibus oppositis. Si igitur ad inseparabilitatem sufficit alternative vel esse in organo tanquam in subjecto vel ab ipso dependere tanquam ab objecto, igitur ad separabili- tatem conjunctim requiritur, neque dependere ab organo tanquam a subjecto, neque tanquam ab objecto." De Imm. IV. p. 17.

" Ad separabilitatem ambae conditiones requiruntur, quia copulativa affirmativa opponitur disjunctivae factae ex partibus oppositis: ad sciendum ergo animam esse separabilem oportet quod neque indigeat corpore tanquam subjecto, neque tanquam objecto." Op. dt. vin. pp. 38, 39.

2 " Positio ponens organicum subjective et materiale convert!, et pariter opposita eorum scilicet non organicum subjective et immateriale converti, falsa est." Op. cit. IV. pp. 20, 21.


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materiality than of immateriality 1 . These are the thoughts which Pomponazzi develops with every variety of application, throughout his writings.

Meanwhile he is specially concerned with the Averroists and their theory of intellectus separatus. How, he asks, is that theory brought into relation with the actual fact of intellectual action in individuals? How, in particular, if the intellectual soul be a being metaphysically distinct from the sensitive individual soul, can the action of the intellectual soul be conditioned as all human thought is by sense-apprehension?

The most plausible answer of the Averroists was that the intellectual soul had a twofold mode of existence secundnm se, and quoad nos. The argument against total separateness from body was allowed to hold good so far as the intellectual principle is "in man"; while "in itself" it was not subject to Aristotle's rule 2 . The same idea is referred to in the Commentary on the De Anima, where after a contemptuous reference to the self-styled Averroists of his own day, who escaped the difficulty by abandoning the doctrine of their master altogether 3 , Pomponazzi goes on: " Therefore others give a different account more in accordance with the intention of the Commentator: namely, that the intellectual soul has two modes of intellection, one in relation to us, that is, for us only, and that, in this aspect, it cannot think without the mediation of an organ, and therefore that, in this aspect, the intellectual soul is the actuality of body 4 ." This theory was supported by the

1 De Iim. iv. p. 18.

2 "Non video aliam responsionem nisi quod argumentum ostendit de intelligere humano et quatenus per eum intellecturn homo dicitur intelligens: sic enim verificatur quod semper indiget phantasmate...verum si secundum se sumatur intellectus nequa- quam a phantasmate dependet." Op. cit. IV. pp. 1-2, 13.

3 "Surrexit quaedam nova secta de novo incipientium philosophari dicentium, ad mentem Averrois, quod anima intellectiva, in intelligendo, semper eget organo, non tanquam subjecto, sed ut objecto, et ita anima intellectiva est actus corporis. De hoc nihil vel parum dixi in mea quaestione, quia non credebam aliquem esse ita fatuum, qui hoc diceret." Comm. de An. ff. -252 v, 253 r.

4 "Ideo aliter dicunt alii et magis ad mentem Commentatoris, quod anima in tellectiva habet duas intellectiones, unam in ordine ad nos, scilicet quoad nos; et, ut sic, non potest intelligere nisi mediante organo, et ideo, ut sic, anima intellectiva est actus corporis." Comm. de An. f. -253 r.


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supposed analogy of the spheral Intelligences, which (it was said) may be considered in two ways, in relation to their spheres, or in se; and are really separate from, and independent of, their spheres. So, by analogy, might the "common Intelligence" of men be considered "uno modo ut est infima intelligentiarum," and also "alio modo in ordine ad suam sphaeram." In the second aspect the human intelligence was the subject of scientia naturalis; in the former it was " the business of the metaphysician." The canon of Aristotle held good for intelligence quoad nos, but not simpliciter*. The original vice of Averroism

"Che per sua dottrina fe disgiunto Dall anima il possibile intelletto 2 "

was dualism; and, in a speculative system, the metaphysical dualism which is caused by a false abstraction is always a flaw which runs from top to bottom. The separation of reason from the natural soul was repeated in a division within human nature between intellect and sense; and when the separated intellectual principle was required to account for the actual facts of intelligence (from which it had originally been inferred!) it could only do so on the hypothesis of its having a twofold existence and twofold operation.

Pomponazzi had already signalised Averroism as a dualistic theory 3; and now he treats as arbitrary and unfounded this supplementary hypothesis of a double mode of being for the intellectual principle.

He brings the theory at once to the bar of the Aristotelian definition 4: " Soul is the actuality of a natural organic body, etc. Therefore intellectual soul is the actuality of a natural organic body." With regard to the analogy of the spheres, he insists that the whole point lies in the difference between human intelligence and the superior Intelligences (in which he himself

1 De Imm. iv. p. 14.

2 Dante, Purgatorio XXV.

3 Op. cit. cap. II. Cf. vii. p. 30: "Cum itaque universaliter rejectus sit modus qui intellectivum et sensitivum in homine distingui realiter existimat," etc.

4 " Anima est actus corporis physici organici, etc. Ergo anima intellectiva est actus corporis physici organici." Op. cit. iv. p. 13.


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of course believes). Aristotle, he says, did not discuss the human soul with the spheral Intelligences in the Metaphysics, but made it expressly a matter of " natural science." And while the higher Intelligences (as was believed) required body only for motion, being independent of sense and " separate " in thought, this was precisely not the case with man 1 .

Thus Pomponazzi appeals to facts and to the actual nature of human intelligence, which is only known to us as in a soul which is forma corporis. Finally, he condemns the unreasonable ness of supposing two modes of being for that which is only known and only knowable in one. It may be possible to conceive beings who in one operation (motion) require bodies, in another (thought) do not. But in the case of man it is that very operation which is in question, namely thought, in which according to all our knowledge and observation of man he does require the body. Such is Pomponazzi's argument 2 .

Since already in answer to Averroes he had devoted more time to the "separability" of the intellectual soul than to its unity, he passes rapidly over the second dualistic theory of human nature, which he associates with the name of Plato, and which differs from the former only in assigning a separate intellectual soul to each individual man 3 . Such a conception, however, which he represents by the formula 4 " Man is soul that uses a body," he declares to be completely opposed to the Aristotelian doctrine of forma corporis. He criticises it as destroying the unity of human nature, which after all is the datum in these questions 5; " Soul and body would have no greater unity than the oxen and the plough." Putting the same thing in Aristotelian language, he points out that two independent entities, such as body and soul were by this theory supposed to be, do not make one composite being in the true

1 De hum. IV. p. 15.

2 See note i, p. 76.

3 " Intellectivum realiter distinguitur a sensitive... verum.-.secund urn numerum sensitivorum ponit numerum intellectivorum." Op. cit. v. p. 27.

4 " Hominem esse animam utentem corpore." Op. cit. v. p. 28.

5 " Anima et corpus non haberent majorem unitatem quam boves et plaustrum." Op. cit. vi. p. 28.


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sense of the word. Herein, he says, is the difference between the theory that relates soul and body to each other as correlative form and matter, and that which relates them externally as motor and motum.

He carries this criticism a stage further by shewing the absolute necessity in common sense and experience for finding some relation between the soul as intellectual and the soul as sensitive. I who feel am the same as I who think; I feel pain, say, and devise a remedy. (This is borrowed from St Thomas.) On the theory of a separate self-subsisting intellectual soul, we cannot, in short, construe human nature as a unity. Aristotle's distinction between the sensitive and intellectual souls was not this distinction of two separate real entities; he spoke of one soul in different aspects or functions 1 .

The orthodox scholastic or Thomist doctrine, while really regarding the soul as a "spiritual substance," professed to differ from " Platonism," as it understood Platonism, in that it claimed at the same time to maintain the unity of body and soul. To describe it roughly it may be said to have taught that the soul was both a separate substance and the "form of the body."

Pomponazzi disputed this claim by shewing the inconsistency of such a position. It was the point of his criticism of St Thomas, that this combination of ideas ascribed to the soul to the same being and at the same time two different modes of operation and of existence; the one verifiable by empirical observation and the analysis of human nature, the other arbitrarily invented on speculative grounds.

Pomponazzi's philosophical writings are one prolonged criticism of the Thomist doctrine. It may be said never to be out of his sight for a moment. But without giving a complete account of his argument against St Thomas, an attempt may be made to distinguish its chief points.

St Thomas's doctrine of the soul consisted of two parts. In the first place, it was an account of the present relation of the

1 Cf. Comm. tie An. f. 254; De Imm. cap. vi.


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soul to the body as at once constituting the existence of the body, organised and animated, and itself, in so far as anima intellectiva, still independent of the body. In the second place, he rested on this state of matters the inference of the possibility of the soul's continued existence after the body has ceased to be.

The various arguments of Pomponazzi against the Thomist conception of soul and body may be analysed and arranged somewhat as follows. First (a) he shewed it to be inconsistent with the definition of the soul; which meant really, inconsistent with all our attainable verifiable knowledge of the soul. Secondly (b) he pointed out that there was no more reason to detach " intellectual soul " from the body and remove it from the category of forma corporis, than there was in the case of (say) the sensitive soul; seeing that intelligence as human is essentially dependent on a corporeal organisation. Next he argued that the suggested notion of the substance of the soul as a "separable form" was (c) inconceivable in itself; and (d) incompatible with the unity of the human being. Finally he insisted (e) that the "separate" subsistence of the soul, whether in its present connection with the body, or, in a future state, altogether without the body, really implied that the same being should have two different natures, two opposite modes of existence.

(a) The mixed notion of the Thomists was undoubtedly different from the conception represented by the Aristotelian definition of the soul; but they themselves did not admit that it was so. The definition was their own accepted standard for all theorising about the soul; and Pomponazzi's point against them was that, if the human soul as endowed with the power of thought (anima qua intellectivd) was no longer to be thought of in conformity with the definition, it should no longer be de nominated a "soul" at all. Now the schoolmen appreciated the natural or biological doctrine of Aristotle about the soul, and the positive and empirical method by which it was reached. It was therefore a valid argument against them that, in such a metaphysical notion of the rational soul of man as they had framed, they had set the rational soul beyond the scope of


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Aristotle's thought and beyond the reach of his analytical method 1 .

(b) Further, on positive grounds, the intellectual soul of man was not to be removed from the scope of the definition, since intelligence as it is in man acts by no means in independence of the body, but, on the contrary, always and only in the body. Accordingly, when in the De Immortalitate Pomponazzi comes to deal with the Thomist notion of the "separable" intellectual principle, he repeats and applies the identical arguments which he had employed against the Averroist conception of it 2 .

Such an intelligence as man's is, depending for all its operation on sense and sensuous imagination, and thus united in the most inseparable way with those psychical powers which are admittedly bound up in the body, does not by its nature require a separate and peculiar mode of being. It is not necessary, the argument is, to deny to the soul of man as possessed of rational thought, the name of forma corporis, since all human rational thought is exercised in dependence on the body (if not tanquam de subjecto, yet tanquam de objecto).

At the place in the De Immortalitate where he presses the point that embodiment is of the very nature of intelligence as known in man, and also in the corresponding passage of the Commentary on the De Anima, Pomponazzi examines

1 " Dicit ergo Thomas in prima parte, in Quaes tionibus Disputatis, et in multis aliis locis ubi pertractat hanc materiam semper dat hanc responsionem, dicendo quod intellectus noster, quantum est de ratione sui et ratione potentiarum intellectivarum, sic non est actus corporis, sed ratione sensitivarum sic est actus corporis. Quando ergo dicitur intellectus nullius corporis est actus, intelligitur de intellectu ratione potentiarum intellectivarum. Sed contra hanc ratiocinationem arguo sic; quia si anima intellectiva, quatenus intellectiva est, non est actus, ideo quatenus intellectiva est, non erit anima: quod est contra Aristotelem ponentem illam esse definitionem communem omni animae, imo secundum Thomam, dictam univoce de omnibus anima- bus." Comm. de An. ff. 251 v., 252 r.

"Sed hinc forte dicitur quod anima humana quantum ad intellectum non est actus corporis organici, cum intellectus nullius corporis sit actus, sed solum quantum ad opera sensitivae et vegetativae. Verum id videtur non posse stare; in primis, quia sic anima intellectiva non esset anima." De /mm, vm. pp. 39, 40.

2 See op. cit. cap. VI 1 1.; Comm. de Anima, f. 137, and passim.

3 " Ergo si anima est actus corporis organici quantum ad sensationem, hoc est pro sua intellectione; ergo in omni suo intelligere indiget phantasia. Sed si sic est, ipsa est materialis; ergo anima intellectiva est materialis." De /mm. vm. p. 40.


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a logical quibble by which it was sought to avoid his conclusion. Soul, it was said, might have a capability to be the form of body (aptitude) and might be defined by that capability, though the possibility was not realised; just as " lightness," for example, is defined as the capability of moving upward, while yet the light object may not always so move. In replying that a mere unrealised possibility would not suffice for a definition for then a thing might really possess none of the qualities by which it was defined 1 Pomponazzi brings out clearly his point that the definition of soul by its relation to body must be taken seriously as the very description of its actual nature. It is, he says, a definition, in the sense that the quality which it attributes to the soul is that in virtue of which the soul is what it is. If the soul were supposed not to be in relation to body, it would not be known at all as we know it; it would not be what we find it to be. The soul is in relation to body. This belongs to the definition of "the soul." And a thing cannot be only potentially that which it is determined to be 2 .

(c) Again, Pomponazzi effectively criticises St Thomas's perversion of the Aristotelian notion of form, in his doctrine of "separate" or "substantial" forms. While allowing that the soul, as "naturally" considered, is one aspect of a composite being in the Aristotelian sense, characterised by " form and matter," St Thomas pronounced the soul as rational or possessed of intelligence (qua intellective?) to be a form in an altogether different sense. Forms which have no separate subsistence, and no operation except as conjoined with matter in a compositum, strictly speaking do not exist; but something exists in virtue of them 3 . It is otherwise with "separable" forms; they are self- subsistent (" sunt per esse suum ").

Pomponazzi altogether refuses to recognise this as a development of the Aristotelian conception. He denies the name of "forms" to these "essences"; and refuses to allow that if they were what they were supposed to be self-existing substances

"Si sola aptitudo sufficeret in definitionibus, tune dici posset quod aliquid esset homo, et tamen actu non esset animal rationale: sufficeret enim secundum responsionem quod esset aptitudine." Op. cit. vm. p. 41.

- See loc. cit.; and, almost in the same words, Comni. de An. f. 251 v.

3 "Proprie loquendo non sunt, sed eis aliquid est." St Thomas, De unitate intellect, f. 990 I.


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they could in any sense be the " forms " of material bodies as well. For a form in the latter sense, which is Aristotle's sense actus materiae is not "an existent" (quod est) but (as St Thomas himself knew well) that "in virtue of which something exists" (quo aliquid est). This then is Pomponazzi's criticism. "It is necessary that a form of this kind should be a this and subsist through itself; how then could it happen that it should be the actuality and completion of what is material, since such a thing, namely the actuality of what is material, is not an existent, but that in virtue of which something exists 1?" Similarly in the Commentary he clearly apprehends, and applies to the same effect, Aristotle's distinction of form and substance. "The peculiarity of a substance is not to exist as dependent: the soul is dependent: therefore etc.... The peculiarity of a substance is to subsist per se and to be the ground of attributes: but the soul does not subsist per se and is not the ground of attributes: therefore etc. 2 "

Whatever therefore may be said of these self-subsistent rational souls (essentiae per se stantes], they are not "forms" in the Aristotelian sense. St Thomas no doubt would say that the soul has a unique mode of existence and that when it is called a " form " the word is used in a peculiar sense. But this Pomponazzi justly characterises as arbitrary; and he pronounces it unsatisfactory, in an attempt to explain the mode of existence of the soul, to introduce the supposition of a unique and peculiar mode of existence: this seems to be dogmatic and to bring suspicion upon the whole hypothesis of substantial souls 3 . Pomponazzi expresses surprise that St Thomas did not declare for Platonism outright: Platonism is at least consistent, and certainly preferable to this attempt to join with the doctrine of Aristotle a conception wholly foreign to it 4 .

1 " Oportet talem essentiam esse hoc aliquid et per se stans; quomodo igitur fieri poterit ut sit actus et perfectio materiae, cum tale, scilicet actus materiae, sit non quod est, sed quo aliquid est?" De I mm. vm. p. 46.

2 " Proprium est substantiae in subjecto non esse; anima est in subjecto: ergo.... Proprium est substantiae per se stare et accidentibus substare; sed anima non per se stat, nee accidentibus substat: ergo." Comtn. de An. f. 48 v.

" Quod si dicitur hoc esse peculiare animae intellectivae; hoc est valde sus- pectum, et voluntarie dictum." De I mm. vin. p. 46.

4 "Quare sapienter mihi visus est Plato dicere ponens animam immortalem, quod


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Pomponazzi professes himself entirely unable to understand the mode of being which it was thus proposed to assign to the "substantial" souls; a being composed of matter and form he understood, and a form quo aliquid est, but not this essence which was both a form and a substance, or was neither 1 .

(d) But if the "separate" soul be thus something quite different from the "form" of Aristotle's doctrine of soul and body, all the ancient difficulties as to the relation of the two return. Body as a self-subsisting substance, soul as a self-subsisting substance how are they related? We are reduced to the Platonic dualism: we have lost the only clue to the interpretation of human nature as a unity. Pomponazzi reproduces in his Commentary the dialectic in which Alexander of Aphrodisias had refuted the Stoical conception of the soul as a substance, and by which he had shewn the inconceivability of two substantial beings interpenetrating one another, and the impossibility of relating soul and body on any other terms than those of form and matter 2 . In another place he brings home to the Thomists, on their master's own principles, that this last is the only way in which the relation can be conceived 3 .

(e) But his most frequent criticism of St Thomas's doctrine was that it assigned to the soul of man two modes of being. On the one hand, the soul was to have that mode of being which is described in the Aristotelian definition, and verified by all that we can have in the way of observation and experience, in which it is not properly an existence (quod est) but forma qua aliquid

verius homo est anima utens corpora quam compositum ex anima et corpore, et verius eius motor scilicet corporis quam eius forma, cum anima sit illud quod vere est et vere existit, et potest induere corpus et eo spoliari. Non video enim quin et D. Thomas non habeat hoc dicere." Op. cit. vm. pp. 46, 47.

1 " Esset quoque difficultas de esse compositi quod ponitur distinctum ab esse animae, quodnam est illud esse, et quodnam corrumpitur; de quo etsi ipsi multa dicant, fateor me eorum verba tenere, sed non sensum." Op. cit. vm. p. 46.

2 Comm. de An. ff. 134, 135.

3 " Sumo essentiam animae intellectivae in homine; tune ipsa est substantia, vel ergo forma, vel materia, vel compositum. Non compositum, quia sic non esset pars hominis; nee materia ut omnes concedunt; ergo forma et non nisi corporis; ideo intellectiva, quatenus talis, non est forma nisi corporis. Item ipse dicit quod in tellect! va est actu pars essentialis ipsius hominis; ideo oportet, quod cum ex ipsa et corpore fecit (fiat) unum per se, quod ipsa sit actus et corpus potentia; alUer non fieret unum per se." Op. cit. f. 252 r.


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est (aliquid in this case being corpus animatinti), and in which it is of course inseparable from a body. On the other hand it was to exist as a separate substance itself presumably constituted of "form and matter" already independent of the body, and in a future state actually to be detached from it. Now to assign thus to any object of knowledge two inconsistent and irreconcilable, yet, by the hypothesis, simultaneous modes of existence, appeared to Pomponazzi strictly unreasonable 1 . The nature of anything is only to be known as it shews itself to be. We must take the soul and the nature of human intelligence as they are given to us in actual experience; and so they are described in the definition. To ascribe any other nature to the soul on a speculative ground is dogmatic and arbitrary. If there fore we abandon Aristotle's definition we are plunged in hopeless confusion; if we leave the ground of actual experience, we can have no sure knowledge about the soul at all 2 .

It was the same consideration which made the orthodox idea of the condition of the individual soul in the future state so inconceivable to Pomponazzi. It was in the future state that the "separate" subsistence of the soul was to be fully realised. For St Thomas and his followers perceived the difficulty of maintaining its separateness in any absolute sense so far as the present life was concerned. It is true that a certain theoretical independence of the body even in the present life was entirely necessary for their theory, and was the ultimate foundation of the belief in a disembodied existence hereafter. But actually, in the present, they admitted, the soul is not separate from the body. It comes into existence along with the body (although, as they held, by an act of special creation): it continues to be attached to the body; and the exercise of even its highest or

1 " Tamque diversi modi operandi, scilicet per phantasma et sine phantasmate, videntur arguere diversitatem essentiae." De Imm. vm. pp. 42, 43. Cf. ix. p. 71: " Neque plures modi cognoscendi ab Aristotele in aliquo loco sunt reperti, neque consonat rationi." IX. p. 56: "Neque apud Aristotelem fingendum est quod iste modus intelligendi intellectus humani sit ei accidentalis, scilicet moveri ab objecto et non indigere subjecto, turn quia unius rei est tantum unus modus operandi essentialis."

2 "Nam hoc modo sublato nulla restat via probandi diversitatoin specificam inter aliqua." Op, cit. vm. p. 43.


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intellectual powers is conditioned by the body and bodily functions, just as the senses, the imagination, etc., were allowed to be. Accordingly in the argument for immortality a new element was introduced. The soul, it was suggested, during its existence in attachment to the body acquires a " habit " of existence in virtue of which it continues to exist after the bond that united it to the body is dissolved. A figure employed by the Thomists to illustrate this idea was that of water frozen in a bottle, which, the bottle being broken, retains the shape into which it has been congealed 1 .

By this supplementary explanation they escaped some of the difficulties of their theory of the " separate " anima intellectiva; and they were able to assent to the definition of Aristotle and to his doctrine of knowledge as truey^r the present state of the soul 2 .

This was, as Pomponazzi says, their last resort ("ultima ratiocinatio"); but in spite of this explanation he still urged his objections. In the first place, the theory still depended on a separate subsistence of the intellectual soul in the present life. Metaphysically, and as it were de jure, the soul was independent, and the Thomists clearly affirmed it to be so. And Pomponazzi pressed the demand for evidence of such a mode of existence, and insisted on its logical inconsistency with the conception of soul as forma corporis, and the impossibility of reconciling it with all the actual and verifiable experience in which we know the soul.

In the second place, taking the Thomist theory on its own terms, as referring the fully separate and independent condition of the soul to its disembodied state after death, he still questioned their right to ascribe to the same being two entirely opposite modes of existence, or to the same name two different meanings. For what, he asked, is the change that is supposed to pass upon

1 Florentine, Pomponazzi, p. 236.

2 " Ilia (sell. anima non est sine phantasia ) secundum Thomam est vera in hoc statu, non autem in alio in quo nostrum intelligere est sine phantasia." Comm, de An. f. 250 v. "Expresse vult (Philosophus) quod inlelligere animae nostrae ortum habeat a sensu. Ad hoc credo quod Thomas diceret, et est ultima ratiocinatio quam possit dare, quod verum est quod intellectus eget corpore pro sua operatione, sed non semper, sed pro statu isto; pro alio vero non." Op. cit. f. 252 v.


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the human intelligence when, from a condition in which it is known solely as the "form" of body, and finds exercise only in virtue of sensuous experience, it enters a condition in which it is disembodied, and the old avenues of knowledge are wholly removed? It is nothing less than a change of nature. "For to say, as those wish to do who affirm that the human soul is immortal in the full sense, that the intellect itself has two modes of cognition, one entirely without the use of images, the other accompanied by them, is to transmute human nature into divine Thus the human soul would be made divine, since it would assume the mode of activity that belongs to Divine beings, and thus we should commit ourselves to the legends of Ovid, namely to the view that one nature can be transmuted into another 1 ."

What is implied is an essential alteration. The thing we call human intelligence will no longer be the same; for its operations will be different: and a thing is what its essential operations are 2 . There will be a different mode of intelligence; for the body and the senses are essential to human intelligence as it is here, to human intelligence as Aristotle described it and as we know it to be. There will be a different mode of being.

It is then expressly on these grounds that Pomponazzi rests his denial of immortality, namely, that the soul cannot now have simultaneously two incompatible modes of existence, and that it is equally impossible to imagine it existing hereafter in a form wholly different from all that we now know it to be. Accordingly, speaking of his doctrine of mortality, he says "The whole root of this theory is based on the ground that the human intellect has only one mode of intellection 3 ." And whatever on rational or moral grounds may be expected in the future for conscious ness as individually personified, Pomponazzi made it clear that

1 "Dicere enim ut volunt affirmantes intellectum humanum esse absolute immortalem, ipsum intellectum duos habere modos cognoscendi, scilicet sine phantasmate omnino, et aliimi cum phantasmate, est transmutare naturam humanam in divinam Sic anima humana simpliciter efficeretur divina, cum modum operandi Divinorum sumeret, et sic poneremus fabulas Ovidii, scilicet naturam in alteram naturam transmutari." De 1mm. IX. pp. 71, 72; cf. p. 56.

2 "Unius rei est tantum unus modus operandi essentialis." Op. cit. IX. p. 56.

3 "Tola radix hujus positionis innititur ei fundamento, scilicet quod intellectus humanus non habet nisi unum modum intelligendi." Op. cit. XI. p. 86.


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a doctrine of immortality cannot safely rest upon the theory of self-existing spiritual substances. The leap from the "soul" of experience (forma corporis) to the "disembodied spirit" of theological speculation is beyond the power of reason. Pomponazzi therefore states his conclusion: "Wherefore since all these statements seem irrational and contrary to Aristotle, it seems more rational to suppose that the human soul, being the highest and most complete of material forms, is really that by means of which a substantial existence exists and in no sense itself a substantial existence; so that it really is a form which begins to exist and ceases to exist at the same time as the body, and which on no terms can operate or exist apart from it, and has only one mode of existing or operating 1 ."

In such arguments, then, Pomponazzi's method is to depend on experience. If we are not to hold human intelligence to be as it is actually determined, all certainty is taken from us. He asks for evidence before we can believe in any other mode of being. "If this method be rejected, there is no way of proving specific difference between things 2 ." "By no evidence of experience is it possible to be convinced that the human intellect has any other mode of intellection, as we see by trial, since we always need an image 3 ." He firmly holds to it that the mode of human existence which we know is its essential mode. Other modes of existence there may be. The animals have a different being from man s: the higher Intelligences another being still: but man is man. One nature is not changed into another 4 .

1 "Quapropter cum haec omnia irrationabilia et ab Aristotele aliena esse videantur, ideo rationabilius videtur quod aninia humana cum sit suprema et perfectissima materialium formarum, vere est quo aliquid est hoc aliquid, et nullo modo ipsa vere est hoc aliquid, quare vere est forma simul incipiens et desinens esse cum corpore, neque aliquo pacto potest operari vel esse sine eo, unumque tantum modum essendi vel operandi habet." Op. cit. ix. pp. 61, 63.

2 "Hoc modo sublato nulla restat via probandi diversitatem specificam inter aliqua." Op. cit. vm. p. 43.

3 "Pernullum naturale signum cognosci potest intellectum humanum habere alium modum intelligendi ut experimento comprehendimus, quoniam semper indigemus phantasmate." Op. cit. ix. p. 56.

4 "Neque apud Aristotelem fingendum est quod iste modus intelligendi intellectus humani sit ei accidentalis, scilicet moveri ab objecto et non indigere subjecto; turn quia unius rei est tantum unus modus operandi essentialis; turn quia sicut modus sensitivi nunquam transmutatur in modum intelligentiae vel intellectus humani, ne-


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Repeatedly he insists upon this point, that to allow the existence of the soul as a separate substantial being, whether now in temporary conjunction with the body, or in an imagined future self-subsistence, is to assign to man a nature other than his own, other than that which essentially distinguishes him and makes him what he is. It is to confound things that differ, to transform the human into the Divine 1 .

The whole mode of thought, he concludes, which is represented by the notion of " separate soul," is not that of empirical analysis and observation, but that of a priori speculation. And this is true both of the Averroist and of St Thomas's form of the doctrine. The common intellectual principle, the spiritual sub stances, are affirmed not on scientific but on metaphysical and theological grounds 2 .

que modus intelligentiae in modum humani vel sensitivi, ita pariter modus humanus intelligendi non videtur posse transmutari in modum intelligentiae, quod esset si intelligent absque indigentia corporis ut subject! et objecti; hoc etiam firmatur, quia sic natura transmutaretur in alteram naturam, cum operationes essentiales transmutarentur. Amplius per nullum naturale signum cognosci potest intellectual humanum habere alium modum intelligendi ut experimento comprehendimus, quo- niam semper indigemus phantasmate: Quare concluditur quod hie modus intelligendi per phantasma est essentialis homini." Op. cit. IX. p. 56.

1 " Tamque diversi modi operand!, scilicet per phantasma et sine phantasmate, videntur arguere diversitatem essentiae." De Imm. vm. p. 43. Pomponazzi quotes with approval the saying of Averroes, " Quod si qui essent homines qui non eodem modo cognoscerent sicut nos, non essent ejusdem generis nobiscum." Op. cit. vm.

P- 43-

" " Anima nostra in aliqua operatione per se non egeret materia et sic quantum ad istam operationem qua, secundum Averroem, intelligit semper, vel secundum Thomam, pro alio statu, non consideraretur (a physico) sed a metaphysico, ex quo non eget corpore in ista operatione, et sic dictum Aristotelis in secundo (primo?) de anima plus non esset verum quia consideratio naturalis stat usque ad animam." Comt/i. de An. f. 251 r.

A concise summary of Pomponazzi's criticism of Averroes and St Thomas is found in the Commentary on the De Anima, ff. 250 to 254, where he states in clear terms the result he has arrived at. The soul is not "separate" from the body here, and there is "no reason" ("non est ratio") to suppose it will so exist hereafter. "Concerning the intellectual soul I hold in accordance with Aristotle that it essentially depends on body, both for its existence and for its intellection, and can neither exist without body nor operate without a corporeal organ. There is no reason to sup pose that we think after death (through a corporeal organ), but there is reason for supposing that in this world we do think through a corporeal organ in respect of (he object... our soul in so far as it is a concrete intellectual soul uses in intellection a corporeal organ, and is not altogether independent of a corporeal organ. Yet it does not altogether and in every way need a corporeal organ, since it does not


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need it as the ground of its existence In its operation it does not need a body in this way, but in reference to the object of thought it does, because whatever is thought by our mind is thought by means of something corporeal."

"De intellectiva (scil. anima) autemdico quod, secundum Aristotelem, essentialiter et in essendo et in intelligendo dependet a corpora, neque potest esse sine corpore, neque intelligere sine organo corporeo; quod enim post mortem intelligamus non est ratio, sed in hoc mundo quod intelligamus per organum corporeum tanquam per objectum est ratio. ...Anima autem nostra secundum quod est intellectiva realis (utitur) in intelligendo organo corporeo, nee ex toto absolvitur ab organo corporeo; nee enim ex toto et omni modo in intelligendo eget organo corporeo, quia non eget eo ut subjecto In ista sua operatione non eget corpore ut subjecto sed bene ut objecto, quia quidquid intelligatur ab anima nostra intelligitur per aliquid corporeum." Comm, de An. ff. 253 v, 254 r.