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The Philosophy and Psychology of Pietro Pomponazzi/Chapter IX

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CHAPTER IX[edit]

KNOWLEDGE


THERE were, according to the received psychology of Pomponazzi's day, three powers (virtutes) which lay between external sense and reason (intellects), namely imagination, memory, and a certain power of comprehension which was called vis or virtus cogitativa or sometimes comprehensive?. These powers were all included under sensus interior-.

We have already seen what great stress Pomponazzi lays on the element of imaginative presentation in human knowledge, making it the distinctive mark of intelligence as human that it should operate always and only through imagination. It is the necessity for a presentation of sense-data through imagination which stamps the human mind as a receptive and not a creative intelligence " moved," as they said then, and not self-moving. The superior Intelligences, whose thought is self-moved, and not suggested from without, do not, according to him, employ phantasia; " Since in the third book of the De Anima imagination is defined as a change produced by sense in operation 3 ." It is otherwise with human intelligence: " But the intellect of man... cannot be freed from images, since it thinks only when it undergoes modification: for thinking consists in a kind of passivity: but it is the image that affects the intellect, as is proved in the third book of the De Anima: wherefore it does not think with out an image, though the kind of knowledge it has is not identical

1 "Cum sint tres virtutes interiores, imaginativa, cogitativa, et memorativa." Comm. de An. f. 191 v.

2 See Apologia, I. iii. f. 58 d.

3 "Quum tertio De Anima phantasia sit motus factus a sensu secundum actum." De Imm. IX. p. 70.


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with imagination 1 ." These then are the elements of Pomponazzi's doctrine of phantasia, in which he claims to follow Aristotle: (1) "Imagination is a change produced by sense," (2) "the image moves the imagination," (3) " the intellect of man thinks only when it undergoes modification: it does not think without images, though the kind of knowledge it has is not identical with imagination."

We have already, in defining the function of memorativa in the apprehension of common sensibles, noted the language in which memory is spoken of as sensus interior 2 .

Imaginativa and memorativa are co-ordinate powers, com posing from the data of sense the material on which thought shall act i.e. the species intclligibilis. It is as the products of imagination, with or without the aid of memory, that the objects of human thought are described as presentations or species (intelligibiles ). Imagination "preserves" and presents to thought the immediate data of sense; memory, itself working through imagination, preserves those presentations whose sense-equivalents are no longer in existence 3 .

But these two were not of themselves sufficient to bridge the gulf between exterior sense and thought. It was the act of thought that had to be accounted for, by the array of hypothetical " powers " and " actions." It was the intelligible form that was to be brought into being, for intellectus to act upon. Something

1 "At humanus intellectus... non potest absolvi a phantasmate, quum non intelligit nisi motus; nam intelligere in quodam pati consistit; movens autem intellectual est phantasma, ut probatur tertio De Anima; quare non intelligit sine phantasmate, quanquam non sicut phantasia cognoscit." De limn. IX. p. 70 and passim.

2 "Si quis sentit numerum, qui est ex divisione continui, hoc non est merito auditus, sed est propter sensum interiorem scilicet propter memorativam Memora tiva, mediante auditu, cognoscit talem numerum." So for motion and rest: " Ex eo enim quod video hunc esse in tali vel tali loco deinde in alio esse in tali loco, comprehenditur (motus) a sensu; quod autem componit esse in hoc loco cum esse in alio loco, est virtus interior. Similiter etiam et quies: cognoscere enim quod hoc nunc non moveatur, est sensus exterioris; componere autem prius cum posteriori pertinet ad virtutem interiorem." Comm. de An. ff. 87 v., 88 v.

3 " Cogitativa est in medio imaginativae, quae servat species sensatas, et memorativae, quae conservat species insensatas Dicendum quod virtus serviens intellectui sit memorativa respectu specierum insensatarum aut imaginativa respectu specierum sensatarum. ...Illud quod immediate ministrat intellectui, quoad causandas species intelligibiles, est virtus imaginativa aut memorativa: memorativa quoad species insensatas, imaginativa quoad species sensatas." Op. cit. ff. 191 v., 192 r.


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must be produced that should be as near thought as possible (such was the implied logic of these theoretical constructions), without being itself the product of thought; then at last the action of thought could come in. Some such unconscious logic produced those crowning fictions of an abstract and a priori psychology creations in which the ineradicable contradiction, the dualism of the original false abstraction, became almost a contradiction in terms the species intelligibilis which was not intellect, and the virttis comprehensive^ which was in no sense intellectus.

It was not thought that was gradually realising itself from stage to stage of the process of knowledge; since in the ultimate act of thought (intellectid) no lower power could have a part. But meanwhile the data of sense must be duly prepared for the agency of thought upon them; and for every stage in the process there must be a " power." The last and highest of the preparatory powers must be all but thought virtus cogitativa. To it was assigned the crucial and determining part in the production of the species nuda, the species intelligibilis 1 .

The place which vis cogitativa occupied in the human mind, and the order of mental powers generally, are illustrated by the account given of the successive grades of living beings and their respective powers. The analogy between the hierarchy of Nature generally and the ascending scale of powers and faculties in the nature of man, was of course a characteristic mediaeval thought. The macrocosm Nature was supposed to repeat itself, with the successive powers, in the order of their rank, within the microcosm Man. It is therefore instructive to notice the place occupied by cogitativa in the scale of life; and still more instructive to observe

1 "Tenet Joannes quod . . . illucl quod immediate ministrat intellectui, quoad causandas species intelligibiles, est virtus imaginativa aut memorativa...et quia hoc non videtur sufficere pro intellectione causanda ideo pro hoc ponit alium actum specialiorem actu imaginativae aut memorativae, qui actus est sicut dispositio neces- sario acquisita ad intellectiones, et quoad istum actum immediate dependet a cogita tiva." Op. cit. f. 192 r. Or Pomponazzi's own alternative explanation: "Vel aliter quod cogitativa sit immediate serviens intellectui.... Dico quoad conservari, species pendent ab imaginativa aut memorativa: quo vero ad produci pendent a cogitativa, nunquam enim intellectus posset intelligere aliquid quod sit in memorativa aut imaginativa, nisi cogitativa prius illud cogitaret." Op. cit. f. 192 v.


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some uncertainty and vacillation on Pomponazzi's part upon this point.

A leading passage in which Pomponazzi sets forth his view of the gradation of living beings with reference to the various mental powers, and in analogy with the human mind what one may by an anachronism call his "Comparative Psychology" is the following: " Nature... advances gradually.... Plants have a psychical element though of a very material kind.... Then follow animals that have only touch and taste and vague imagination. After these there are animals that reach such perfection that we regard them as having intelligence.... A cogitative faculty too is reckoned among the perceptive powers Many distinguished men have thought that it is intellect. If we proceed a little higher we shall reach the intellect of man, just above the cogitative faculty and below purely spiritual being, participating in both 1 ."

The conception of vis cogitativa was attended by the difficulties which always beset such intermediating devices. When two terms are set over against one another by a vicious abstraction, the intermediary which is intended to link them together only contains within itself the contradiction it was devised to reconcile. Either it must be identified with one or other of the supposed opposites, or it must inconsistently partake of the nature of both. In the former case, the false logic which is being followed will go on to the creation of a new intermediary between the first and that term of the original dualism from which it has been removed; and so on ad infinitum.

The gulf which mediaeval logic set between thought and sense was not to be bridged by an intermediate term like vis cogitativa. That power would now be regarded as a mode of thought, and now as a power akin to sense; and where the former view prevailed, a new intermediary was invented to form

1 " Natura . . . gradatim procedit. ...Vegetabilia enim aliquid animae habent...at multum materialiter....Deinde succedunt animalia solum tactum et gustum habentia et indeterminatam imaginationem. Post quae sunt animalia quae ad tantam perfec- tionem perveniunt ut intellectum habere existimemus Ponitur et cogitativa inter vires sensitivas....Multi excellentes viri ipsam esse intellectum existimaverunt; quod si parum ascendamus, humanum intellectum ponemus immediate supra cogitativam et infra immaterialia, de utroque participantem." De Imm. ix. p. 64.


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a link with sense and complete (as was supposed) the chain of powers. Thus in the passage last quoted cogitativa is ranged on the side of sense. The cogitative faculty is reckoned among the sensitive powers; cogitativa is expressly said not to be of the nature of intellect, and the possession of it is consequently ascribed to the animals lower than man. With cogitativa there fore we are still, be it noted, on the lower side of the imaginary dividing line: the line that separates the sensuous from the intellectual powers is in effect still uncrossed, the gulf unbridged. And yet cogitativa must help to bridge the gulf, since this is the very purpose for which, really, it has been called into being, the whole motive of the conception of such a virtus. Accordingly we have only to turn to another part of Pomponazzi's own writings for a description of cogitativa in the opposite terms: " The cogitative faculty... is peculiar to man as man; for by this power man differs from the other animals, since they are without the cogitative faculty, though they have memory and imagination 1 ." The contradiction is direct and explicit, and illustrates the impossibility of escaping from an artificial dualism by the imagination of an intermediary which merely embodies the original gratuitous contradiction. And the illustration of this sort of speculation is completed when Pomponazzi adduces a new intermediary, to stand between cogitativa and the powers of sense. In so far as cogitativa leaned towards intellectus, or was regarded as a characteristically human faculty, a new distinction was drawn between cogitativa and existimativa, and a new faculty devised vis existimativa which should serve animals in the place of the cogitative faculty.

The artificial nature of the virtus cogitativa as a faculty intermediate between sense and thought appears also in the difficulty which was experienced in giving any account of its actual operation in the process of knowledge. In so far as the action of cogitativa was likened to intellectio its special action seemed to disappear (so to speak) in one direction; in so far as it was placed on a par with imagination and memory, its action

1 " Cogitativa... est propria hominis in quantum homo; per earn enim virtutem homo differt ab aliis animalibus, cum ipsa careant cogitativa, licet memorativam et imaginativam habeant." Comm. de An. f. 192 r.


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again seemed to become superfluous, since intelligence appeared able to act directly upon the data of imagination and memory.

Pomponazzi notices the former difficulty in the course of his attempt to make out a special " action " of intellectus upon the material presented by imagination, memory, and cogitativa (i.e. the species intelligibilis). The point has already been referred to as illustrating the abstract and psychologically unreal conception of the action of thought.

It was the special office of cogitativa, it will be remembered, to produce the species intelligibilis, on which intellectus should act. But in what sense (Pomponazzi attributes the question to Avicenna) could the species intelligibilis be said to exist without the action of intellectus! How (to turn the same question round) could there be any apprehension of a species intelligibilis (i.e., as supposed, by cogitativa) which was not actual knowledge? If this question had been pressed, the action of vis cogitativa in forming a species intelligibilis would have run into intellectio proper; and the distinction of intellectus and cogitativa in reference to species intelligibilis, and, with that, the whole distinctive office of cogitativa, would have disappeared 1 . Pomponazzi, however, does not yield to the force of this argument; he has his own account to give, as we shall see, of the difference between cogitatio and intellectio; and the virtus cogitativa, pre paring the species intelligibilis previous to intellectio, remains a leading idea of his psychology, as of that of his predecessors.

He has more trouble in finding a role for cogitativa in the presentation to thought of material, over and above that of imagination and memory. Imagination, memory, and cogitativa (the theory was) presented the data of sense to intellectus, wrought into the fitting shape of species intelligibilis. But it almost seemed (Pomponazzi states the objection very pointedly) as if thought might act directly upon the data of imagination on the one hand or of memory on the other. " It seems that cogitativa is not the faculty that is the immediate instrument of the operation of intellect, for it does not preserve images, but that that faculty

1 "Avicenna tenuit quod species intelligibilis et intellectio sint penitus idem, et quod cessante intellectione cesset species intelligibilis, quum ipse non potuit videre qualiter sit in virtute comprehensiva et non sit cognitio rei." Op. cit. f. 1731:.


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lies between imagination, which preserves forms that are per ceived, and memory, which preserves forms that are not perceived. ...It seems that we must say that the faculty instrumental to intellect is memory with reference to unperceived forms or imagination with reference to perceived forms 1 ."

It would not be worth while to follow closely the reasonings of Pomponazzi on this point. He proceeds throughout upon his own psychological assumptions, in particular upon the assumption of the three powers preparatory to thought. " It is known that the operation of intellect depends on those powers 2 ." Cogitativa remains an unquestioned item in his scheme. But it is interesting to observe his difficulty in fitting cogitativa (so to speak) into the account of the mental process; in inserting it, as it were, between sense, as mediated by imagination and memory, and thought as such; and to see in the solutions proposed by him how small and nominal is the part which in the end he is able, with the best will in the world, to reserve for it as a faculty distinct from thought.

He proposes two solutions of the difficulty. Not only is the difference between the two only verbal; but both are in fact merely verbal solutions. In both he admits in effect that imagination and memory, acting on the data of sense, supply the material to thought; the consequence of which should be that those two, plus the action of intellectus, are sufficient to bring about true knowledge. The necessity of finding some function for cogitativa is met in one answer by the naively scholastic assumption of a dispositio: a " disposition " to thought, it is said, is needed before thought can act 3 , which disposition is provided by the action of cogitativa. The second answer amounts to no more than the dogmatic assertion that cogitativa is necessary to the production of the species intelligibilis; that

1 "Videtur quod cogitativa non sit ilia quae immediate serviat intellectual! opera tion!, quia cogitativa non servat phantasmata, sed est in medio imaginativae, quae servat species sensatas, et memorativae, quae conservat species insensatas. ...Videtur dicendum quod virtus serviens intellectui sit memorativa respectu specierum insen- satarum, aut imaginativa respectu specierum sensatarum." Op. cil. f. 191 v.

2 "Notum est operationem intellectus dependere ab istis virtutibus." Ibid.

3 " Dispositio necessario acquisita ad intellectiones"; again, "dispositio necessario requisita ad creandam intellectionem." Op. cit. f. 192 r.


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while imagination preserves the presentations as given in sense, and memory the same from the past, cogitativa is necessary quoad product speciem.

The first solution Pomponazzi does not, it is true, put forward on his own authority, but on that of "Joannes" (Philoponus? or Gandavensis?). However, he attaches weight to it, and lets it stand as an alternative solution: "John... seems rather ingeniously to hold that for the production of intellection, not only is the intelligible form necessary, but also an operation of the cogitative faculty: for its operation is as it were the pre disposition necessary for the production of intellection. But that operation is not necessary for producing this intelligible form, namely as a direct condition for the form that depends on the

faculty of memory John holds that, for the production of the

intelligible form in the intellect, that operation of the cogitative faculty is not required: at least it effects nothing towards this: but the immediate instrument of intellect in producing intelligible forms is the faculty of imagination or of memory... and because this seems insufficient to produce intellection, therefore for this purpose he postulates another operation more specific than that of imagination or memory, which is as it were the disposition necessary for acts of intellection: and with respect to that operation there is a direct dependence on the cogitative faculty, and when its action ceases, actual intellection too comes to an end, Thus he would say that, with respect to what remains in the intellect, there is dependence on memory, and with respect to the acts of intellect, on the cogitative faculty^"

"Joannes... satis ingeniose videtur dicere quod ad creandam intellectionem non solum requiritur species intelligibilis sed etiam actus virtutis cogitativae; quia actus est sicut dispositio necessario requisita ad creandam intellectionem. Sed ad hanc speciem intelligibilem non requiritur iste actus, scilicet immediate quantum ad speciem pendentem (?) a virtute memorativa Tenet Joannes quod ad causandam speciem intelligibilem in intellectu non requiritur iste actus virtutis cogitativae; imo nihil facit ad hoc; sed illud quod immediate ministrat intellectui, quoad causandas species intelligibiles, est virtus imaginativa aut memorativa.... Et quia hoc non videtur sufficere pro intellectione causanda ideo pro hoc ponit alium actum specialiorem actu imagina- tivae aut memorativae, qui actus est sicut dispositio necessario acquisita ad intellec- tiones; et quoad istum actum immediate dependet a cogitativa, et cessante ista actione cogitativa cessat actualis intellectio. Et ita vult quod quoad ea quae remanent in intellectu dependeat a memorativa, et quoad intellectiones a cogitativa." Cotnm. de An. f. 192 r.


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This of course is pure scholasticism: the theoretical agent (cogitativa], the theoretical necessity for its action: the assumption of a dispositio previous to what actually takes place, and the ascription of that hypothetical state of matters to an agency of whose presence there is no other evidence.

The alternative theory of the action of cogitativa is no better. " We must either explain the matter as John does, or otherwise by saying that the cogitative faculty is the immediate instrument

of intellect As to their conservation, the forms depend on

imagination or memory: but as to their production, on the cogitative faculty, for the intellect can never think anything that is in memory or imagination, unless the cogitative faculty first apprehends it 1 ."

Such were the difficulties occasioned by this established psychological fiction of the virtus cogitativa mediating between sense and thought. The conception formed of it oscillates between that of a vis scnsitiva, common to man and the higher animals, and that of a part of the proper endowment of man as man. On the one hand it is difficult to maintain a distinction between the action of cogitativa and the action of thought as such; on the other hand, when we analyse the presentation of the data of sense for the action of thought upon them, it seems a superfluous addition to imagination and memory. No better justification of its existence can be found than an arbitrary assertion of its necessity to the provision of the data on which thought shall act, and which are already provided by imagination and memory; or than the assumption of a dispositio ad intellectionem the necessity for which prior " disposition " is supposed, after all, solely in order to bring cogitativa into play. Thus the part so far assigned to vis cogitativa is an extremely small one. What is more, it is a merely nominal part: its part, in short, is made for it.

It is as well to see the logic of abstractions and faculties at work. I may remark, by way of excuse for seeming to take

1 "Vel dicatur ut dicit Joannes, vel aliter quod cogitativa sit immediate serviens

intellectui Quoad conservari, species pendent ab imaginativa seu memorativa; quo

vero ad produci, pendent a cogitativa, nunquam enim intellectus posset intelligere aliquid quod sit in memorativa aut imaginativa, nisi cogitativa prius illud cogitaret." Op. fit. f. 192 v.


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these speculations so seriously, that we perceive by the verbal logic of such arguments how psychological fiction was not to be expelled by reasoning. Only when a more concrete psychology, giving another account of the whole mental process, was able to do without it, would it disappear. It was not so much disproved, eventually, as dispensed with. The faculties, the innate ideas, and other abstractions, the creations of a speculative psychology, do not admit of disproof: they are ignored, rather, by truer methods of observation; they drop out and are forgotten.

And what we observe with interest in the statements of Pomponazzi is that cogitativa, which had played so prominent a part in the psychology of three centuries, has already become superfluous in its character of a distinct faculty. Such verbal tours de force as we have noticed indicate that the need for a faculty intermediate between sense and reason is no longer felt. It is almost driven out, because it is almost superseded by a fresh analysis of mental life.

Ignoring, however, as we may well do, the details of these scholastic constructions, we may find underlying them a certain residuum of psychological observation. And there is a passage in which Pomponazzi improves upon the word-splitting explanations last quoted, and relates the notion of cogitativa to a real basis of psychological fact.

A pure abstract general notion is one thing, say in the form of a definition; the apprehension of an actual individual in a general relation is another. Now, by an extreme application of their doctrine of intelligence, the schoolmen denied to the latter act the name of intelligence. They did not recognise as the true general notion, proper to intelligence, the general notion as concrete in the individual instance, but only the explicit abstract idea. Yet obviously, when an individual was regarded not in its particular sensible qualities but as an individual possessed of the attributes of a certain genus, here was an act of generalisation; even though there was not present to the mind the formal idea of the genus as such in abstraction from all attributes.

Here then was an actual psychological fact. And this particular act of generalisation, or as they said, " comprehension,"


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was referred to the virtus cogitativa or comprehensiva. Certainly, to our minds, there is no antithesis between this distinctive moment of thought, and thought in pure abstractness; between thought as referring directly to an individual object, and thought in the particular function of abstracting from all individuals the pure abstract idea. Still less do we see any ground for postulating a specific faculty to account for the act in question. But there is a fact here of which psychology takes notice, as well as logic, and of which, we may say, the formula of vis cogitativa was the natural expression in the mediaeval mind.

This at least is the doctrine formulated by Pomponazzi: " You may say that though the cogitative faculty apprehends the form apart from quantity and position, yet it does not follow that it has a general conception, because its apprehension is of a particular unit, though apart from quantitative character; if it is asked how that form is a unit, I reply that it is a unit through its own nature and not through quantity 1 ." It was an accepted canon that " the cogitative faculty abstracts the substantial form from its sensible qualities both special and common 2 ." Fastening, then, upon the apprehension of an individual, divested of its character as a particular individual in time and space, yet not apprehended in full generality under an abstract general idea, Pomponazzi assigns such an apprehension to vis cogitativa as distinct from thought.

The distinction from intellect is the thing which in this place he labours to maintain. He quotes the objection, " If the cogitative faculty abstracted the substantial form from the common and special sensible, it would apprehend the substantial form apart from quantity and space and likewise time and would then have a general conception... and thus would be intellect*" And to

1 "Dicatis quod licet cogitativa apprehendat speciem substantiae sine quantitate et situ, non tamen sequitur quod cogitativa ccgnoscat universaliter, quia ilia intentio est una et singularis licet sit sine quantitate; quod si quaeritur per quod talis species sit una, dico quod est una per se ipsam et non per ipsam quantitatem." Op. eft. {. 224 r.

2 "Quod cogitativa denudat speciem substantiae a sensibilibus propriis et communibus." Op. cit. f. 223 v.

3 " Si cogitativa denudaret speciem substantiae a sensibili communi et proprio, tune cognosceret speciem substantiae sine quantitate et loco, et similiter tempore, et tune cogitativa cognosceret universaliter... et sic esset intellectus." Ibid.


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this he answers as above by distinguishing cogitativa, with its intentio una et singularis, from intellectus: " Granted that the cogitative faculty apprehends the substantial form apart from quantity and position, yet it does not follow that it has a general conception, because its apprehension is of a particular unit, though apart from quantity."

We may not accept the distinction, thus defined. We may consider that the intermediary cogitativa, as thus interpreted, has already by an immanent logic passed over into identification with one of the terms it was intended to link together, namely, thought; and that Pomponazzi's distinction is no answer to the objection of Avicenna " He held that when the intellection ceases to exist so also does the intelligible form... he could not see how the intelligible form should be in the comprehensive faculty, while there was no knowledge of the thing 1 ." We may hold that the distinction between the apprehension of an individual in its general character and the apprehension of an abstract general idea is not a distinction between thought and something else which is not thought, but between one act of thought and another; that thought is present in the whole process; and in particular that the apprehension which Pomponazzi thus assigns to cogitativa, as its peculiar and distinguishing function, is essentially an act of thought.

But we may also note that Pomponazzi observes a real aspect of generalisation as a mental process, and signalises it in his own way. The manner in which he expresses it is determined on the one hand by a psychology of " powers" and "faculties," on the other by the narrow identification of "thought" with abstraction.

The doctrine of vis cogitativa, which had so firm a hold upon his mind, was his inheritance part of the doctrine of his school, and of his mental environment; but it was his own work to relate that doctrine to an original psychological observation; and if perhaps the result was only to leave confusion worse con founded, yet the more that cogitativa was permitted to discharge the function of thought, the thinner did the partition become

1 See p. 194, note i.


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that divided it from thought, and the nearer drew the time when cogitativa as a power different from thought should disappear.

Pomponazzi raises a question about cogitativa as a faculty of the sensitive and material nature of man, which brings up the general question of thought and matter and prepares us for the conception elsewhere developed by him of an embodied intelligence.

There was no reason, said Pomponazzi, why cogitativa, although a power really physical in its nature, should not apprehend an object in the quasi-intellectual way in which it was supposed to do so 1 .

A difficulty, however, stood in the way of this admission. There was a canon of the schools, the application of which to knowledge exemplified the mechanical mode of conceiving mental "action": "Whatever is received is received in accordance with the nature of the recipient 2 ." This seemed to prohibit the function which was assigned to vis cogitativa.

For cogitativa, it must be remembered, had been defined and introduced as essentially a faculty of sense. In virtue of this character it was to discharge its function of mediating the data of sense to thought. So it was classed among the vires sensitivae; it was ascribed, though not with absolute consistency, to others of the higher animals as well as to man. And in the passage under notice it is plainly said: " The cogitative faculty implies what is quantitative, since it is a faculty that is material and extended 3 ." The question then arose how, in accordance with the maxim, " Whatever is received, etc.," it could act as it was supposed to do. For Pomponazzi, following Averroes and the received psychology, ascribed to cogitativa the power of apprehending objects in abstraction from all the forms of sense apart from both special sensible qualities and the common sensibles (he specifies quantitas, numems, motus, situs), in short,

1 "Speciem substantiae sine quantitate et situ, non tamen...universaliter." Of. cit.

f. 224r.

2 "Omne receptum recipitur secundum naturam recipientis." Op. cit. f. 223 v.

3 "Cogitativa est cum quantitate, cum sit virtus materialis et extensa." Ibid.


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from space and time 1 . Was this then consistent with its being a faculty of the physical nature of man and the higher animals (vis sensitiva, virtus materialis et extensa)?

Pomponazzi accordingly states this question: " What causes a difficulty is that whatever is received is received in accordance with the nature of the recipient; but the cogitative faculty involves quantity, since it is a faculty that is material and extended; therefore the substantial form will be received in it according to its quantitative nature 2 ."

The answer which he proceeds to suggest has twofold merit. In the first place he dismisses the scholastic doctrine of " natures " in favour of a more empirical mode of thought; in the second place he shews an apprehension of the peculiar nature of the act of knowledge.

The passage may be quoted in its entirety: " We shall say that though the substantial form is received in the cogitative faculty through a modification of quantity and extension, yet it is not necessary that we should think the object as extended and quantified. Otherwise we could say, with Thomas and others, that all the souls of the higher animals are indivisible, and they reply to the argument brought forward against them whatever is received is received in accordance with the nature of the recipient, but matter is quantitative and extended, there fore the soul which is received in it is extended and divisible - they reply by denying the unqualified truth of the major premise; for in their view, if anything is received in extended matter, it is not necessary that it should be extended and divisible. But they say that the principle in question that is current in philosophy ought to be understood with the addition according to capacity. Thus therefore I say, in the present problem, that it is not necessary that the substantial form should be received as quantified, though it is received by a faculty that is material

1 "Dicebat Commentator quod cogitativa denudat speciem substantiae a sensi- bilibus propriis et communibus....Tunc cognosceret speciem substantiae sine quantitate et loco, et similiter tempore." (Op. cit. f. 223 v.) "Cogitativa apprehendit speciem substantiae sine quantitate et situ." Op. cit. f. 224 r.

2 "Quod facit difficultatem est quia omne receptum recipitur secundum naturam recipientis: sed cogitativa est cum quantitate, cum sit virtus materialis et extensa; ergo species substantiae recipietur in ea secundum quantitatem. 1 Op. cit. f. 223 v.


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and extended, and to the proposition, whatever is received, etc., (I add) according to capacity 1 ."

He borrows his formula from the Thomists, who, in maintaining the possibility of an immaterial and " unextended " soul in extended matter, laid it down that matter "received" such an immaterial soul secundiim capacitatem. Se, says Pomponazzi, a physical faculty (cogitativd) receives an unquantified conception of substance secundum capacitatem.

This might seem at first sight but the substituting of one scholastic verbalism for another. But it is really a step towards a more experiential and observational mode of thought. In stead of speculative reasonings from "natures" conceived and defined a priori, as to what is or what is not possible to them, we are to go by the actual capacities of things as they are. The word capacitas may not be very promising: it is a thoroughly scholastic word, invested with misleading associations, with misleading suggestions of immanent potencies, substantiated "powers"; but the point is that the capacitas is to be determined from actual facts. Whereas natura was a datum a priori from which possible phenomena, possible combinations, were to be deduced, by which the unsuitable were to be excluded; capacitas is to be reckoned by the phenomena actually observed, the conjunctions actually occurring. Once more, then, the shell of scholastic thought is being broken, or its bonds stretched at least to the breaking point.

This appears when we look at the case in point the case of cognitive apprehension by a material "power." "It is not necessary that the substantial form should be received as

1 "Dicemus quod, licet species substantiae sit recepta in cogitativa per modutn quantitatis et extensionis, non tamen oportet quod extense et per modum quantitatis reputemus. Aliter possemus dicere, sicut Thomas et alii, quod omnes animae ani- malium perfectorum sunt indivisibiles; et dicunt ad illud argumentum quod tit contra eos omne receptum recipitur secundum naturam recipientis, sed materia est quanta et extensa, ergo anima quae in ea recipitur est extensa et divisibilis dicunt isti negando anteriorem illam secundum quod sic absolute profertur; quia secundum eos non oportet si aliquid recipiatur in materia extensa, ut illud receptum sit extensum et divisibile. Sed dicunt quod ilia anterior currens per ora philosophorum debet intelligi secundum capacitatem. Sic dico ergo ego in proposito quod non oportet ut species substantiae recipiatur cum quantitate, licet recipiatur in virtute materiali et extensa, et ad illam propositionem omne receptum etc. ...secundum capacitatem." Op. cit. f. 224 r.


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quantified, though it is received in a faculty that is material and extended." " Granted that the substantial form is received in the cogitative faculty through a modification of quantity and extension, it is not necessary that we should think it as extended and quantified."

The conception thus arrived at of the action of cogitativa, in so far as it proceeds by abstraction to transmute the data of sense, is, I suggest, substantially a true conception of the act of knowledge in its relation on the one hand to the object, on the other to the organ of knowledge.

The analogy of cogitativa (" virtus materialis et extensa," which nevertheless "apprehendit speciem substantiae sine quantitate et situ ") is elsewhere used by Pomponazzi to justify the conception of an intellectus also, capable of intellectual apprehension in the full sense and of truly abstract thought, yet dependent on a bodily organ 1 .

In his account of the mind's knowledge of itself and of its operations, of the thought, that is, of thought, Pomponazzi denies that it is immediate or intuitive, and traces in it an act of discursus.

The point occurs in the course of the argument of the De Immortalitate. He names as the characteristic of reason in man, " Not to know itself by means of its special form, but by that of other things 2 , contrasting it in this with the superior Intelligences with reason, we might say, as ideally perfect, ideally possible. In support of his position that the soul of man, in itself " material," participates in " immateriality 3 ," he adduces this conception of the mind's knowledge of itself in the case of man. It was the accepted canon that the power supra

1 E.g. Apologia, I. iii. f. 59 c, d: "Cogitativa virtus extensa est, quum omnes affirmant ipsam esse virtutem sensitivam, ipsaque potest sequestrate substantiam a quantitate, quamvis sit in quantitate; quid igitur obstat et ipsum intellectum existentem materialem et extensum, secundum quamdam altiorem gradum quam sit cogitativa ipsa, infra tamen limites materiae, et universaliter cognoscere, et universaliter syllogizare? non discedendo tamen penitus a materia, quum in omni tali cognitione dependet a phantasmate. Puto itaque quod qui tenet cogitativam esse talem ut dicimus multum probabiliter habet tenere et de intellectu."

2 "Non cognoscere se per speciem propriam sed aliorum." De Inim. x. p. 76.

3 " Simpliciter materiale et secundum quid immateriale." Op. cit. passim.


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seipsum reflectere belonged to the " immaterial " and not to the " material " being; he therefore carefully defines the degree and mode in which this power is possessed by the human soul, in illustration and defence of his doctrine of man as an intermediate being, and of man's soul as "material," while participant in "immateriality." Thus: "As to what participates in immateriality, granted that it does not know itself by means of its special form, but by that of other things, as is said in the third book of the De Anima, yet in accordance with its nature it can in a way reflect on itself and know its own operations, though not directly or so perfectly as the Intelligences can 1 ."

He seeks in the commentary on the De Anima to base this view of the mind's knowledge of itself on psychological grounds; and it is another instance of the way in which his general doctrine of man's place in nature leads him towards a correct psychology. What he is concerned to deny is the Averroist theory of an immediate intuition of abstract thought by itself apart from particular experiences.

The passage 2 referred to discusses the Quaestiones, "Whether the intellect thinks itself by means of itself or by means of another 3 , and, " Whether the intellect thinks its own operations 4 ." Pomponazzi finds in the first place that thought does think itself: "About the fact itself there is no doubt, because we have experience of it in our own case: but there is doubt as to the means by which intellect thinks itself 5 ." But he says that it does so not by a presentation of thought as such, but on the occasion of the presentation of some other object of thought. In answer to the question whether intellect thinks itself by means of itself or by means of another the doubt as to the means by which intellect thinks itself Pomponazzi rejects the doctrine of Averroes: " It is certainly not by means of its own essence, and

1 "Quantum ad id quod de immaterialitate participat, licet non cognoscat se per speciem propriam sed aliorum, ut dicitur tertio De Anima, secundum tamen illud esse potest quoquo modo supra seipsum reflectere et cognoscere actus suos, licet non primo et ita perfecte sicut intelligentiae." De Itnm. X. p. 76.

2 Coniin. deAn.S. 150, 151.

3 "Utrum intellectus intelligat se per se an per aliud."

4 "Numquid intellectus suam operationem intelligat."

8 " De re in se non est dubitatio, quia in nobismet experimur hoc; sed est dubitatio per quod intellectus intelligat se." Op. cit. f.


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without having a conception distinct from itself, as Averroes says 1 ." The argument he uses is that, if there were such an immediate intuition of thought by itself, there would be no reason why it should not be permanently in operation, which it is not: " If this were the case it would always think itself, which is false it must always first think some other thing 2 ." In point of fact, he says, any and every presentation affords the occasion for the apprehension of itself by thought. " We must see therefore whether one determinate form is needed rather than another, one form or any form whatever enabling it to think itself: and, as it seems to me, we must say that it can think itself through any form whatever indifferently: and experience shews this 3 ." Pomponazzi, therefore, analyses the apprehension by thought of itself and asks, What precisely is the act of thought in which it apprehends itself as thought? He puts this question definitely, in the following form. " But a doubt remains. If it is possible for intellect to think itself by means of any form whatsoever, how is it possible that a single form, e.g. of an ass, should bring the intellect to have knowledge both of an ass and of the intellect itself*? "

He discusses first the theory that every presentation of an object gives immediately to thought the knowledge both of the object and of itself as thought 5 . Two considerations were adduced in favour of this account of self-consciousness as an immediate act. The first was that presentations represent not only their objects, but the subjects (thinking minds) in which

1 "Cerium est quod non per sui essentiam, non habendo conceptum distinctum a se, ut habet Commentator." Op. cit. f. 150 r. Cf. De Imm. x. p. 76: "licet non cognoscat se per speciem propriam sed aliorum."

2 "Si sic, semper intelligent se, quod est falsum nisi prius alia intellexerit." Comm. de An. f. 150 r.

3 " Videndum est ergo an requiratur una species determinata magis quam alia, sic quod solum per unam speciem vel per quamcunque possit se intelligere; et quoad mihi videtur, dicendum quod per quamcunque speciem indifferentem possit se ipsum cognoscere; et hoc docet experientia." Ibid.

4 "Sed stat tamen dubitatio: si per quamcunque speciem potest se intelligere, quomodo est possibile quod una species, ut asini, ducat intellectum in cognitionem asini et ipsius intellectus?" Ibid.

5 "Quod per speciem solam intellectus potest devenire in sui cognitionem quia species habet duo repraesentare: primum illud a quo deciditur...secundario, subjectum illius." Ibid.


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they occur. We have here an illustration of the manner in which the modern usage of " subject " is based on the original mediaeval meaning of subjectum: subjectum or substrate might of course be mental as well as material 1 . The other argument for the immediacy of thought's knowledge of itself was the naive one that since, according to Aristotle, thought is identical with the object thought, therefore, in thinking the object, thought thinks itself. "Averroes says that in thinking an ass the mind in a way be comes an ass 2 ."

Pomponazzi does not make the criticisms which we should naturally make upon these arguments; but he is fully conscious of their irrelevancy to the matter in hand, which he proceeds himself to treat as a matter of psychological fact. He might have pointed out that although the presentation implies a subject, it does not therefore involve the explicit apprehension of the subject, which is the point in question; that in short to assume that the species " ought not to be unknown by its subject," is to beg the question, to abandon the analysis of the fact of consciousness, and, besides, to go against experience. Again he might have quoted Aristotle's language to shew that it was only in the case of pure abstract thought that in his view intellectus and intelligibile were actually identical; that is, ultimately, in thought's apprehension of itself, which was the very act of which they were seeking the psychological history: the fact to be explained was the emergence of this consciousness on occasion of concrete presentations 3 of which it was the very characteristic, according to Aristotle, that the identity of thought and its object was only potential and not actual. Thus such presentations were no explanation of thought thinking of itself, and (as was obvious) contributed nothing to the specific analysis of that mental fact 4 .

1 "Species habet duo repraesentare: primum, illud a quo deciditur, et hoc per se (patet?), secundario, subjectum illius, cum non debeat esse ignota suo subjecto. Sic ergo per quamcunque speciem duo intelliguntur, subjectum et objectum." Op. cit. f. 150 r.

2 "Dicit quod intelligendo asinum fit asinus aliquo modo." Op. cit. f. 150 v.

3 " Quomodo est possibile quod una species, ut asini, ducat intellectum in cognitionem asini et ipsius intellectus?" Op. cit A. i.^or.

4 Aristotle, De Anima, 430 a 2 7. Ka.1 aurbs Si (scil. voOs) voijris tffriv wvirep


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Pomponazzi does not enter upon the analysis of the difference between thought simpliciter and thought plus the consciousness of thought; but he is clearly aware that the proposed explanation contained nothing to account for the specific fact of thought's consciousness of itself. He shews this by an argument parallel to that which he had employed against the Averroist absolute intuition of thought. If, he had said, the apprehension of thought were not occasioned by some particular exercise of thought, then it would be always in activity; for it is im possible to see what should call it into action. So now he says, if the consciousness of thought be thus immediately given with the presentation of an object to thought, it must be always given. This was a way of saying that the analysis in question had failed to explain the peculiar features of the particular case in point 1 or the reasons of its occurrence. And in fact it is not true that consciousness of thought always accompanies thought.

Taking the question, then, on the ground of experience and fact, he develops and amplifies this argument.

" If the intellect thinks itself by means of a form, this will be either a voluntary act or purely natural: it is not voluntary because we cannot always do it.... If it is natural... then rustics when they think of an ass would also by means of the form of ass think their own intellect, and we whenever we think should always think our intellect. Secondly... the intellect would apprehend itself and ass either by a single cognition or by two; if by one. then always when it thinks one cognition it would also think another, etc. 2 " So in the next Quaestio. "The question is raised as to how intellect thinks its own operations. About the fact there is no doubt, but about the mode there is... Two ways are possible: one, in which I should think the operations of

1 See p. 220, n. 3.

2 "Si per speciem se intelligat, vel hoc est voluntarium, vel naturale: non volun- tarium quia non semper hoc possumus;...si naturale... rustici intelligentes asinum per speciem asini etiam suum intellectual intelligerent, et nos quando aliquando intelligeremus semper nostrum intellectual intelligeremus. Secundo...vel per unam cognitionem intellectus cognosceret se et asinum, vel per duas: si per unam semper quando unam intelligeret, aliud etiam intelligeret, etc." Comm. de An. f. 150 v.

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thought by means of the same intellection by which I think the object... But this I believe is untenable: because that operation is either one or more than one; if the first, when I think any thing, I should always think that I think, which is false; but if the operations are different, how do these operations differ from each other 1?"

Pomponazzi's own conclusion is that thought's consciousness of thought, on occasion of particular activities of thought, is the result of a discursive process and takes the form not of a species but of a conceptus. Neither does thought apprehend itself by an absolute or immediate act, apart from any particular presentation of another object, nor is the apprehension given simpliciter in the particular presentation. Thought frames, he says, not a presentation (species) of itself, but a conceptus a new and special conceptus, formed by thought through a certain process (discursus) and on occasion of the presentation of an object not itself (species aliena): " The form concurs as an efficient instrumental cause to the production of the concept... Ass and intellect are thought by means of two different conceptions. ...In virtue of its being modified by the form, the intellect acts on itself by causing an intellection of itself, different from the first intellection. ...Note the difference between a concept and a form: Of abstract things we have a concept and not a form: of material things we have a form and not a concept, for we have images of them 2 ."

In the discussion, " Whether a particular thing is known by the intellect and how 3 ," to which this examination of thought's

1 " Quaeritur quomodo intellectus suam operationem intelligat. L)e re non est dubitatio, sed de modo Duo sunt dicendi modi: unus, quo, per eandem intellec- tionem per quam intelligo objectum, intelligam etiam intellectiones. ...Sed credo hoc esse falsum: quia vel ista actio est una, vel plures: si primum, cum aliquid intelligam, semper intelligam me intelligere: quod est falsum; si vero ita quod sint diversae, quomodo differunt istae actiones inter se?" Op. cit. f. 151 r.

2 "Ad (conceptum) causandum concurrit species ut efficiens instrumentale...duobus conceptibus distinctis intelligitur asinus et intellectus.... Ex eo quod intellectus est informatus specie, agit in se ipsum, causando intellectionem sui aliam a prima. Nota quod est differentia inter conceptum et speciem, quia de abstractis habemus conceptum et non speciem; de materialibus speciem et non conceptum, quia habemus de eis phantasmata." Op. cit. ff. 150 v., 151 r.

3 "Utrum singulare cognoscatur ab intellectu, et quomodo." Op. cit. ff. 151 v. to


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self-knowledge leads, Pomponazzi really investigates the nature of predication. He describes and examines two views, which are at once theories of knowledge and doctrines of the nature of individuality, and which have this in common, that they set the general conception and the individual object of knowledge, the "common nature" and the individual being, in logical opposition to each other that which makes all knowledge rest on the knowledge of particulars, as such, and as opposed to "universals," " the view of the Nominalists which seems also to be that of Alexander 1 ," and that which confines the name of knowledge to general conceptions, and holds that the individual as such is to be known only indirectly and by inference, "the view... which Albert, Thomas and Scotus follow 2 ."

The discussion is a characteristic example of Pomponazzi's dialectical method. He first states the arguments usually employed on behalf of the nominalist view. Next, after stating the counter-arguments for the opposite view, he examines nominalism from the standpoint which they suggest and makes various corrections and modifications of the argument for nominalism, thus carrying the question on a stage. Finally, he criticises the case against nominalism partly admitting, partly rejecting it and suggests a combination of the two standpoints. Such a combination, fully carried out, would of course have given the true solution of the problem; but Pomponazzi again, characteristically, while avoiding the two extremes, does not attempt to define the middle line closely or follow its course in detail; so that the solution is not stated, but only foreshadowed.

First he states the case of those who derive all knowledge

o

from the knowledge of particulars, defining the particular as the opposite of the universal. The abstract logical idea of the particular which was here in question appears in the very first words, "The particular is known by its special form 3 ." The force of this distinction may be gathered from the terms in which Pomponazzi subsequently states the alternative view:

1 "Opinio...Nominalium, quae etiam videtur Alexandri." Op. cit. f. 152 r.

2 "Opinio...quam imitantur Albertus, Thomas, Scotus." Op. cit, f. 153 r.

3 "Singulare cognoscitur per propriam speciem." Op. cit. f. 152 r.


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" What is received in the intellect is not received as a particular, but under a general conception 1 ." What was meant, then, by the particular's being known per propriam speciem, was that the mind had a conception of it distinct from, and not included among, the general conceptions of its relations. Accordingly the argument proceeds: " The first consideration is that the singular is known by its special form, because the intellect posits a distinct difference between the universal and the particular: but this could not take place unless it had a distinct knowledge of them, and this could not happen except through the conception of the particular 2 ."

Another phase of this mode of reasoning, from the logical hypostasis of the abstract " particular " as such, was the argument that the general notion, just because general, could give no determinate knowledge of the individual being. To know individuals, it was said, in communi, was to know them only in confuso. " Either the particular is known by its special form or by the form of the universal. If the first, the point is proved: if the second, since that form brings us to a knowledge of all the particulars as a whole or as blended together, I shall not be able to have knowledge of a single determinate individual, e.g. of Socrates or of Plato 3 ."

To this, which may be called a logical, if spurious, argument, Pomponazzi adds a psychological argument from the nature of human knowledge as dependent upon sense and imagination, which deal with particulars. " Our intelligence depends on

images Imagination is knowledge of the particular 4 ." Further:

" The primary object of intellect is the primary object of

1 " Illud quod in intellectu recipitur non singulariter recipitur, sed sub conceptu universal! recipitur." Op.cit.i. 153 r.

2 "Prima consideratio est quod singulare cognoscitur per propriam speciem, quia intellectus ponit distinctam differentiam inter universale et particulare; hoc autem non potest esse nisi habeat distinctam cognitionem de illis, et hoc non potest fieri nisi per ejus conceptum." Op. cil. f. 152 r.

3 "Vel cognoscitur (singulare) per propriam speciem, vel per speciem universalis. Si primum, habeo intentum; si secundum, cum ista species ducat nos in cognitionem omnium singularium in communi vel in confuso non potero habere notitiam unius determinati individui ut Socratis aut Platonis." Ibid.

4 "Intelligere nostrum dependet a phantasmatibus:...phantasia est singularis." Ibid.


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imagination: the particular is that; therefore it is the primary object of intellect 1 ."

He refers in corroboration to the fact that all general know ledge of matters of fact is derived from particular experiences. " The complex singular is known before the complex universal... for thus I know that rhubarb purges cholera... therefore this holds also in the case of what is not complex 2 "; and he quotes the Aristotelian doctrine of the place of sense in knowledge: "When sense is wanting, there is wanting also scientific knowledge of the sensible which is known by that sense 3 ."

The characteristic argument is added, that, since all general knowledge is by abstraction from particulars, and there can only be abstraction from what is known, therefore the particulars must be. first given in knowledge 4 .

The third main argument on this side is that all general notions are gained by a comparison of individuals. This in itself seems undeniable; but we gather from the exposition of Pomponazzi the sense in which this principle was understood. It was interpreted to mean that particulars are knowable and known, in the first instance, as unrelated, and without any general conception of them 5 , while it was understood further to imply that the mind formed a conception of the particular as such prior to, and distinct from, every conception of its relations, of the "common nature" in it 6 .

1 " Illud primo intelligitur quod primo phantasiatur: singulare autem primo phantasiatur, ergo primo intelligitur." Ibid.

- "Singulare complexum prius cognoscitur quam universale complexum...quia sic cognosce quod reubarbarum purgat coleram....Ergo et ita est de incomplexo." Op. cit. f. 152 r.

3 "Quod deficiente sensu deficit scientia illius sensibilis quod habetur per sensum ilium." Op. cit. f. 152 v.

4 " Item est tertia ratio quod universale non cognoscitur nisi abstrahendo a particularibus, sed abstractio non fit nisi a noto, ergo singulare prius fuit cognitum ab intellectu." Ibid.

6 " Particulariter ab intellectu cognoscitur." Ibid.

6 "Tertia consideratio est quod universale non cognoscitur nisi ex comprehensione multoruiu singularium, et ex similitudine reperta in singular! causatur universale: sicut accipiendo Socratem et Platonem, ita maxima eorum similitudine, causant conceptum specificum; et videndo hominem et asinum ambos habere virtutem sensitivam, causatur alius conceptus, ut puta genericus, quia non habet tantam similitudinem quanta est in Socrate et Platone. Non ergo universale primo et


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The second theory with which Pomponazzi had to deal claimed to be the logical application of the principle that knowledge is the apprehension of general conceptions of relations. This implied that there could be no specific apprehension of an unrelated individual, by means of its special form; but it was supposed to involve two further consequences (i) that the individual is known not directly in the general conception of it, but indirectly, by inference from the general conception of it, and (2) that the general conception is not acquired in, and through, the knowledge of the particular (as, in short, the true knowledge of it), but by some specific apprehension directed towards the " universal " as such, and as distinct from the particular 1 . We see, then, that we have here to do with another one-sided abstraction; with a theory of intellectual action psychologically un founded; and with an artificial abstraction of the " general " from the " particular " aspect of thought and being, an artificial hypostasis of the "common natures." This second doctrine Pomponazzi also sums up in three arguments. The first is a negative to the first position of the nominalists: " The particular is not known by its special form 2 ." This is argued from the fact that it is the very nature of thought to think general conceptions. " Intellect in this differs from sense, for intellect receives universals, sense particulars; therefore what is received in the intellect is not received as a particular, but under a general conception 3 ." There is no function for thought, it is said, except this. "If the particular

simpliciter fit, sed ex collatione multorum individuorum. ...Dicunt ergo (Alexander, Themistius, Averroes) quod particulariter ab intellectu cognoscitur, et ratio est quod nulla alia res videtur posse causare universale, et ista fuit opinio Buridani, etc.... quod scilicet cognoscatur singulare intellectu per propriam speciem; istam tamen speciem habet a sensu, non enim potest intelligere singulare nisi prius id senserit sensus, et quod conceptus communis sit posterior conceptu particularium." Op. cit, (. 152 v.

1 " Intellectus non intclligit primo singulare... intelligit reflexe, ergo non directe

Singulare per accidens intelligitur. ...Universale per speciem universalis primo cognos- cirur, et singulare secundario cognoscitur." Of, cit. f. 153 r., v.

2 " Singulare non cognoscitur ab intellectu per propriam speciem." Op. cit.

f - i53 r -

3 "Intellectus in hoc differt a sensu, quia intellectus universaliter, sensus singulariter recipit. Ergo illud quod in intellectu recipitur non singulariter recipitur, sed sub conceptu universal! recipitur." Ibid.


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is received in intellect, for what purpose should an activity of intellect be postulated P 1 "

Pomponazzi quotes also the following argument: If thought, it was argued, had an immediate apprehension of individual beings, as individuals, and apart from all elements of a "common nature" in them 2 , then we should be able to distinguish between two individuals between which there was no known specific difference 3: we should be able, that is, to distinguish between two precisely similar objects presented to us at different times. But we are not able to do so. The example is given of two eggs. If one egg is shewn to me at one time, another at another, I cannot say whether it is the same egg or not. But I should be able to do so, had I a direct apprehension of each egg as an individual thing, and apart from specific characteristics and specific differences 4 . Therefore there is no such apprehension; but things are known, so far as they are known at all, only in their specific characters 5 .

In the second place Pomponazzi expounds the manner in which according to this theory the individual does come into apprehension that is, indirectly, by reflection, and through the general conceptions. The consequence of this is that the individual in itself is not apprehended (as indeed the isolated and abstract "individual" is not): which is expressed in scholastic language by saying that it is known, not per se, but per accidens*.

1 "Si singulare recipitur in intellects, ad quid esset ponendus intellectus agens?" Ibid.

2 "Si intellectus haberet conceptus singulares ipsorum singularium." Ibid.

3 "Sciret ponere differentiam inter duo individua ejusdem speciei." Ibid.

4 " Per propriam speciem," "sub conceptu singulari." Ibid.

5 "Si intellectus haberet conceptus singulares ipsorum singularium, sciret ponere differentiam inter duo individua ejusdem speciei, et cognoscere differentiam quae est inter talia individua: hoc autem est falsum de duobus repraesentatis, quorum unum sit repraesentatum in una hora, aliud in alia. Verbi gratia pono hie unum ovum. Vel habeo proprium conceptum hujus vel non. Si non, habeo intentum; si sic, volo quod aliud ponatur; tu credis quod illud est idem ovum, ergo non scias ponere differentiam." Ibid.

6 " Secunda consideratio est quod intellectus non intelligit primo singulare, quod declaratur quia intelligit reflexe, ergo non directe Universale per se, singulare per accidens intelligitur ab intellectu. Item quod est primum objectum prius intelligitur; universale est primum objectum intellectus, ergo prius cognoscitur ab intellectu." Ibid. " Quaeram, si particulariter non cognoscitur ab intellectu per speciem


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In the third place, it was denied that universals are formed by a collection and comparison of particulars. For, it is argued, if the collection of particulars be the same as a universal conception, then the supposed process implies that a universal conception must exist before a universal conception can be formed (which is absurd); and if the two be not the same, then the universal conception remains to be accounted for, namely by a specific apprehension of the universal as such. And this last is in fact required so long as the general is conceived of as the opposite of the particular; and until it is understood that the general is given in the knowledge of the particular, and the particular truly known just when known, and as known, in general relations 1 .

We now come to the interesting passage in which Pomponazzi examines and criticises these reasonings. After his usual profession of uncertainty-, he pronounces for the nominalist view; but he proceeds to correct the customary arguments in its behalf, and in so doing to modify the theory itself in his own way. He takes it up first for criticism, in order to develop his own position, and, by clearing away a fallacious structure of argument, to base it on a firm foundation; and also as naturally continuing his statement of all that could be said for the other view 3 .

To begin with, although he intends to conclude that thought apprehends singulars, he flatly denies that there is any apprehension of them qua singulars in abstraction, that is, from general determination, or apart from their relations.

It had been argued that because we distinguish between the

propriam, quomodo fiat intellectio singularium? Dicitur quod species, decisa ab objecto, secundario repraesentat, vel per se primo (scil. intelligitur?); et quia est imago decisa a phantasmate, repraesentat etiam singulare, licet non primo, sed reflexe." Op. cit. f. i53v.

1 " Tertia consideratio est quam isti in sua tertia consideratione sibi condicunt, quia singulare prius intelligitur, et universale non intelligitur nisi per comprehensionem multorum singularium, et collectio singularium non est nisi universale. Ergo univer sale cognoscitur ante universale; quod est inconveniens. Restat ergo dicere quod universale per speciem universalis primo cognoscitur, et singulare secundario cog noscitur. " Ibid.

2 " Utraque harum partium potest teneri, et Deus de hoc scit veritatem, ego autem nescio." Ibid.

3 "Dico tamen quod prima opinio mihi magis placet. Quia tamen sua argumenta non concludunt, ad ilia respondebimus." Ibid.


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universal and the particular, therefore there must be an apprehension of the particular as distinct from the universal; the particular must be known by a definite act of thought directed to it as such 1 , this being supposed to be the beginning of all knowledge. Pomponazzi denies that there is any apprehension of the particular in this sense; denies, in effect, any knowledge of an unrelated particular 2 .

What, then, is the distinction that we draw between particular and universal? It is certainly not, replies Pomponazzi, a distinction in respect of specific content; for the particular, in the abstract sense in which it is here spoken of, is that which has no specific content. Nor do we know such a particular at all, except in abstract reflection; for knowledge is only of relations 3 .

The explicitness with which he lays it down that only in general conceptions is there knowledge at all, is worthy of attention, since Pomponazzi also maintains that thought apprehends individuals. Pledged to the apprehension of individuals, he yet holds that knowledge is only of universals 4 .

He does not hesitate to draw the conclusion that there is no distinction between particular and universal, in the sense in which it had been asserted. Of a particular, as abstracted from all specific content, there can be no intellectio. And referring to the act of reflection which he had admitted as giving, in an abstract sense, the knowledge of the particular as such and of its distinction from the universal, he points out that this in no way implies such distinction as had been suggested, or the possibility of a " merely particular " object of thought 5 .

1 " Conceptus singularis per propriam speciem...per speciem particularem distinctam a specie universalis." Ibid.

2 "Ad primum,quod intellectus ponat distinctionem inter universale et particulare, hoc argumentum non est facile; dico tamen quod ponit differentiam inter ea, non per speciem particularem distinctam a specie universalis, quia non potest habere speciem singularis." Ibid.

3 "Sed dices, unde est quod ponit differentiam inter ea? Dico quod in prima operatione, quando directe intelligit universale, tantum universale cognoscit. Sic in secunda, quando revertitur ad phantasmata (i.e. in reflection upon the presentations), ponit differentiam inter universale et particulare." Ibid.

4 "In prima operatione... tantum universale cognoscit cum tamen unum cog- noscat, scilicet universale, quia ejus solius habet speciem." Ibid.

5 " In secunda, quando revertitur ad phantasmata, ponit differentiam inter universale et particulare. Sed haec responsio non multum valet; quia si non est


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In answer to the second argument under this head, he admits that the general concept does not as such give the apprehension of the determinate individual; but he says that, as caused by this or that determinate individual, it gives (per accidens) knowledge of it and of no other 1 .

To the argument that what is first in sense-presentation must be first in thought (namely the particular), he answers that this reasoning begs the question by ignoring the possible difference in this respect between thought and sense-presentation 2 . He also questions the analogy between the general notion (universaU incomplexwri) and general knowledge of a matter of fact (universal* complexuni). The universale complexum appears to mean a general truth in nature, an empirical observation, what we should call a law of nature or generalisation from experience 3 . Such a generalisation rests on particular experiences; so therefore, it was argued, must every general notion (universale incomplexmri). But Pomponazzi first raises the question whether every general conception of matter of fact is based on particular experience; instancing first the general conceptions of geometry 4 , and secondly (by a transparent fallacy) the case of second-hand information, by means of which we form a general conception of (say) certain animals, without personal sense-experience or even acquaintance with particular details 5 . He then asks further whether the

diversitas specierum, ergo nee intellectionum, cum duae intellectiones non proveniant ab eadem specie; quare si non habebit speciem singularis non poterit inter ea differ- entiam ponere; cum tamen unum cognoscat, scilicet universale, quia ejus solius habet speciem." >/. V. f. 153 v.

1 " Ad secundum, quod species universalis causal confusam cognitionem particu- larem, dicatur quod species universalis, quantum est de natura sua, non causal distinctam cognitionem particularium; per accidens autem, in quantum causatur ab hoc vel ab hoc particular! determinate, ducil in cognitionem alicujus particulars el non alterius, et ita per accidens causal distinctam cognitionem particularium." Ibid.

2 Op. cit. f. i54r.

3 The example given is "reubarbarum purgat coleram."

4 The dictum of Aristotle which had been appealed to referred only to particular sense experience: " Quod autem dicitur de Arislolele, dico quod illud esl verum in principiis quae habent orlum a sensu, non de principiis sicul accidil in geometria, ubi aliquando habemus conceplum universalem alicujus considerationis, absque hoc quod habeamus conceptum singularem suorum singularium." Op. cit. f. 154 r.

6 "El in lib. De Hisloria Animalium Arisloteles docel nos de moribus aliquorum animalium; lunc de his animalibus habemus conceptum communem, numquam lamen habemus conceplus particulares istorum animalium." Ibid.


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universale incomplexum is to be considered after the analogy of the universale complexum. The one is purely a logical notion (repraesentatur natura communis), the other affirms a matter of fact (repraesentatur supposition). The feature of the former is its universality, its absolute validity so far as it goes; and when we are investigating the source of that absolute character, it is not relevant to bring a merely empirical rule into comparison. The empirical rule, no doubt, such as, "All rhubarb purges cholera," may be invested with logical universality, by being introduced into a definition; but in so far, its empirical character as a simple generalisation from experience is altered. Such appears to be the drift of a condensed and rather obscure statement of this point 1 . The distinction thus suggested, between the generalisation as derived from experience and the same in its logical character 8 , looks towards the metaphysical question of the nature of thought as such; while it still remains true that, in tracing the psychological history of every general conception, a method of analysis must be employed, and the analogy of experience is the only safe guide. We shall see, too, that Pomponazzi does not really decline that method, or that analogy.

Another piece of verbal logic by which it had been sought to establish the apprehension of an individual as particular, and apart from general conceptions of it, had been that since the general conception is reached by " abstraction " from the particular and there can be abstraction only from what is known 3 therefore the particular must first be known, in itself. Pomponazzi replies by distinguishing the " abstraction " which is involved in forming a general conception of an object from an explicit or formal act of abstraction 4 . In the general conception of a particular object there does not take place an abstraction,

1 "Aliter potest dici negando assumptum et similitudinem illam: et ratio est quia quando comprehenditur universale incomplexum repraesentatur natura communis, sed comprehendendo universale complexum repraesentatur suppositum ratione de limita- tione omnis; quod si adjungitur, licet stet primo pro natura in communi, ut dicendo omne reubarbarum purgat coleram, ratione de limitatione omnis repraesentatur suppositum; licet enim stet pro natura communi, inter tamen natural ia habet exer- ceri in suis suppositis: et ita non valet similitudo." Ibid.

" Ut stet pro natura in communi." Ibid. 3 " Abstractio non fit nisi a noto." Ibid.

  • " Notum a noto." Ibid.


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in the latter sense, of the general from the particular the particular, on the contrary, being conceived precisely in its general aspect; and so far from the particular being " known " previous to the general conception of it, it is only in that general conception that it comes to knowledge 1 .

So far Pomponazzi goes, in correction of the argument for particular apprehensions. But he does not deny that general notions come by comparison of particulars. Coming now to the third argument, he abandons the attitude of antagonism, and we see that he is preparing to draw the true distinction in this matter.

His attitude at this point is a favourable example of his thinking. We have already seen that he does not accept that account of induction from particulars which he began by describing. He does not admit the specific apprehension of a particular as such 2 . From his account of conception also, in connection with the point last discussed, it is plain that he does not suppose it to start from an explicit recognition of the separate particular and proceed thence to generalisation 3 . Yet he does not on these grounds deny the inductive formation of general conceptions. While rejecting those abstract and unreal interpretations of the inductive process, he does not deny the fact.

This is the more noticeable, since he quotes an attempt which had been made to explain it away, and find room for a direct intuition of universals, by a distinction which he almost seems himself, for a moment, to be on the verge of accepting. It was proposed to admit the induction from particulars 4 for the universal which is secitnda intentio^ but to deny its necessity for the universal that is prima intentio. The distinction between prima and secunda intentio is elsewhere explained by Pomponazzi him self to be the distinction between a general notion as held in

1 "Ad aliud; universale abstrahitur, et ista abstractio non fit ab ignoto: dico quod est aequivocatio de abstractione; non enim abstrahitur eo modo quo argumentum concludit, ut quando notum a noto abstrahitur. Sed est abstractio ad hunc sensum, quia singulare quod est in potentia intellectus(m?) fit actu intellectus(m?)." Op, cit. f. 1541-.

2 "Quod cognoscitur singulare ab intellectu per propriam speciem." Op, cit. f. 152 v.

8 "Quod conceptus communis sit posterior conceptu particularium." Ibid. 4 " Collatio multorum individuorum." Op. cit. f. 154 v.


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abstraction in the mind and the same as a determination of particular things, considered in their species and genera^. It was suggested, then, that the language of Alexander, Themistius, and other authorities as to the formation of general notions ex collation* individuorum might be applied to the conception in this second meaning of concrete determination; while in the case of the abstract or " indifferent " notion there might be room for some direct apprehension of it by thought without the mediation of particulars 2 . Pomponazzi states the suggestion with his usual impartial air; but proceeds to dismiss it as contrary to the real intention of the authorities, and to the truth. The simplest general conception, he concludes, depends upon comparison 3 .

In rejecting this last scholastic subtlety, Pomponazzi definitely decides for the apprehension of the particidar. So he repeats here what he had said already in commencing his revision of the proof of that position 4 . But he has now partly explained the sense in which he holds this. He does not countenance the idea that the particular is known apart from general conceptions or that the apprehension of the particular through which the general conception is formed is an apprehension of an unrelated particular; still less, that it is an abstract idea of particulars that must come first 5 . He argues against mis-statement of his own position, and by means of an impartial criticism succeeds in rectifying his foundations in a passage which is a triumph of dialectical

1 " Universale causatum ab intellectu duplex est, unum quod dicitur indifferens, quod sumitur pro quadam natura communi indifferenter se habente ad omnia sua singularia. Alio modo sumitur universale pro quanto non intelligitur ilia natura communis indifferens, sed ultra hoc attribuitur huic naturae communi intentio. Utrumque enim istorum fit per opus intellectus; primum enim fit per intellectual agentem, quando verbi gratia intelligo hominem indifferenter se habentem...et communiter tale universale dicitur prima intentio. Secundum universale fit per comparationem suorum singularium inter se, et collationem similitudinis inter sua individua. Unde maxima similitudo ex comparatione individuorum inter se per opus intellectus electa causat speciem specialissimam; non ita magna causal genus respectu illius speciei; et ideo minima similitudo causat genus generalissimum." Op. cit. f. 28 r.

2 See f. 154 v.

3 " Ista responsio non est ad intentionem Alexandri, quia Alexander ibi dicit de albo et albo; et ita non valet." Of. cit. f. 154 v.

4 "Quod intellectus intelligat singulare...mihi videtur esse tenendum." Ibid.

5 "Quod conceptus communis sit posterior conceptu particularium." Op. cit. f. 152 v.


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dexterity; while the accuracy with which at this last point he stops in time and turns, just when he seems to be committing himself to a false position, reveals the real qualities of his mind. By a seemingly hostile argument he has cleared the doctrine he desires to maintain from the fallacies that had surrounded it; accepting the element of truth in an opposite theory, he refuses to be led into a snare; and while arriving by a method of con cession at the ground he is to occupy, the two-sided position he is to hold, he preserves the essential point in the empirical theory, finding exactly the right place at which to draw the line. A case like this leads us to believe that the openness of Pomponazzi's mind was not a mere feeble eclecticism, and that his weighing of alternatives did not mean simple inability to decide.

Finally it was incumbent on him from his corrected stand point to deal with the arguments for an unmediated apprehension of abstract universals.

He gives most attention to the argument which carries the least possible weight for us, but which bulked so largely in the thought of his time the a priori argument from the nature of intelligence: " Intellect receives universals, sense particulars 1 ." To us such an argument seems merely to beg the question; but we have only to glance over these pages to see how deeply the absolute idea of intelligence had rooted itself in the general mind; and how seriously the preconceptions suggested by that idea, and the fictitious difficulties it created, complicated every psychological enquiry and vitiated every result. It was this notion of the absoluteness of intelligence, with the consequent dualism of thought and matter, general concept and particular fact, which made it so difficult for a thinker of Pomponazzi's time to give a psychological account of knowledge. It is not without interest, however, to observe the scientific spirit emerging, the scientific method partially extricating itself from mythological shackles; even although in the end we get no more than suggestions of true solutions, because the questions had never been formulated in scientific terms, and the answers remain imprisoned in dualistic forms of expression.

Meeting on its own ground, then, the argument from the

1 " Intellectus universaliter, sensus singulariter recipit." Op. cit. f. 1531".


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nature of intelligence, Pomponazzi proposes once more his characteristic conception of the nature of intelligence as in man. Man, he repeats, is an intermediate being; his nature has a double aspect. Intellectus, as in man, is on the one hand abstractus, qua intellcctus; on the other hand, it is forma materiae, and as such apprehends particulars, through sense. Human reason is intelligentia, but it is " the lowest of the intelligences 1 ."

The distinction between sense and intellect (as in man) is accordingly not so absolute as had been supposed. " Sense receives only particulars, intellect both particulars and universals 2 ."

It need not be said that Pomponazzi's own account of human intelligence, and indeed his every thought upon the subject, is deeply coloured by the absolute theory of intelligence. The dualism of that theory runs as a flaw through the thoughts of every thinker of his time. He is really here in effect rejecting it rejecting it, that is, so far as the case in point is concerned, the case of real interest, the case of intelligence as in man; and yet he can only find expression for his own doctrine in the terms of dualism: "Intellect receives both universals and singulars, but it thinks universals in so far as it is separate from material conditions, particulars in so far as its activity depends on material conditions 3 ."

He makes his customary concession to the absolute theory, that it is true of the higher Intelligences, while not true of man (or if true of man qua intellectus, not true of him qua humanus*).

It is not the superstitions of Pomponazzi, however, that are interesting, but the drift and tendency of his thought and a sort of unconscious logic in it. His formula is that thought in man knows the singular and the universal. By means of this formula he meets the objection that, if there were a knowledge

1 " Ultima intelligentiarum." Op. cit. f. 154 v.

" Sensus non recipit nisi singulare, intellectus vero singulare et universale." Ibid.

3 " Intellectus (recipit) universale et singulare, sed intelligit universale pro quanto est abstractus a materia, singulare vero in quantum a materia depenclet in operari." Ibid.

4 "Quod intellectus intelligat singulare... accidit intellectui ut humanus est, non tamen accidit ei ut intellectus est, quia ut humanus potest intelligere singularia, non ut intellectus est." Op. cit. f. 155 r.


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of the particular, there would be no occasion for the agency of intellect. " If it apprehended only particulars, there would be no necessity to postulate an active intellect: but because, in

addition to those, it apprehends also universals an active

intellect is postulated 1 ."

Sense has its part in the apprehension of the particular object; but thought as such operates in it as well. " In addition to these particulars, intellect apprehends also universals, and this function is more appropriate to it than to apprehend particulars; ...if you ask by what means it has cognition of particulars, I reply, by sense 2 ."

The illustration of the two eggs (noticed above) as an argument against the apprehension of particulars, proves too much. For the same case would prove that there is no apprehension of particulars by the senses. The senses cannot distinguish between two seemingly identical objects presented to them at different times 3 . Yet if there had been any difference in the original sensations, memory would have preserved it 4 . In such a case, then, two objects individually different produce exactly the same impression upon the senses. Are we to infer that the senses have no apprehension of particulars? Such an inference would have been contrary to the axioms of the received psychology, to Aristotle, and to the definition of sense 5 .

Pomponazzi considers this sufficient as an argmneutum ad hominem*. He might have gone on from this case of illusion to shew that the knowledge of its relations is indispensable to any knowledge of the individual, even as an individual. This is the

1 See of. cit. f. 153 r. Cf. "Si solum singulare intelligeret, non esset necesse ponere

ipsum (intellectual agentem); sed quia ultra hoc et universale cognoscit ideo

ponitur intellectus agens." Op. cit. f. 155 r.

2 " Intellectus ultra hoc (singulare) et universale cognoscit et hoc est magis proprium ei quam singulare intelligere...si diceres a quo habet cognitionem singularis, dico quod habet a sensu." Ibid.

3 "Virtus cogitativa nescit ponere differentiam inter ea." Ibid.

4 " Species potuerunt in memoria conservari." Ibid.

5 " Ad quartum de duobus ovis, dico quod si hoc argumentum concluderet, etiam de sensu concluderet, quia non cognosceret sensus singulare; quia virtus cogitativa nescit ponere differentiam inter ea; et tamen species potuerunt in memoria conservari. Et ideo ad praesens aliter non dico." Ibid.

u " Ad praesens aliter non dico." Ibid.


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reason why different individuals, apart from the knowledge of any distinguishing features (i.e. in relation to things outside themselves), are not distinguishable either by judgment or (as Pomponazzi here acutely remarks) by sense. Rightly interpreted, this instance might have led him on towards that true conception of what an individual is, to which by more abstract methods he was working his way. Meanwhile all he has definitely asserted is that thought knows both the individual and the universal whether in one act of thought or not he does not decide 1 .

Referring next to the accepted formula "the particular is thought mediately 2 " Pomponazzi adopts it in his own sense: this sense, however, as he briefly declares here, and as we can see for ourselves from a fuller explanation in the De Immortalitate, was essentially different from that in which the phrase was intended in the orthodox Thomist school. In the absence of a clear distinction between the direct or primary apprehension of an individual being that is, in its relations, and in its specific and generic character and the abstract, secondary conception of the particular as such, it had been laid down that the individual was apprehended by " reflection "; and this reflection had been interpreted as an act of discursive thought. Pomponazzi, how ever, is definitely and consciously applying himself to the primary apprehension of the individual as concrete. And here also, he says, there is in a sense a process of " reflection." It consists in the two-fold (while simultaneous) action of sense and thought: " We say that reflection is different from what our Latin writers have imagined; the intellect apprehends the particular by reflection, because, as a reflected line is double, so is knowledge of the particular, because it is effected by sense and intellect*? That is to say, there is, besides the immediate activity of sense, an action

1 The reasoning of this passage affords an interesting illustration of Pomponazzi's working theory of sense. The relation, practically so close, between sense on the one hand, and memory and virtus cogitativa on the other, had evidently the effect in concrete psychological reasoning of really bridging the gulf between sense and thought; and gave to the powers of sense, practically, a wider scope than was allowed to them by the formal psychology of the school.

2 "Singulare reflexe intelligitur." Op. cit. f. 155 r.

3 " Dicimus quod ilia reflexio non est sicuti imaginati stint nostri Latini; sed cognoscit singulare reflexe, quia sicut linea reflexa est gemina, ita est cognitio singularis, quia est per sensum et intellectum." Ibid.


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of thought mediated through the sense-data; and in that way there takes place a rcflexio. That this is the correct interpretation of a very difficult passage will appear from a comparison with the latter part of the twelfth chapter of the De Immortalitate 1 . Such a comparison will further establish three points: (i) that Pomponazzi has clearly set before him the problem of the apprehension of the individual as universally determined, and, by consequence, of the universal in the particular 2 , (2) that for him the apprehension of the particular is not prior in time to the general conception, nor the general conception prior to the apprehension of the particular 3 , (3) that the action of thought in thus apprehending the universal in the particular, or forming a general conception of a particular object, is something perfectly distinct from the act of ratiocination which the schoolmen postulated for the intellectual apprehension of the particular 4 . The argument that it was impossible from particulars to form a universal conception without the previous existence of that conception (that is, the immediate apprehension of an abstract universal), Pomponazzi meets with the very same consideration on account of which he had denied the necessity of a previous apprehension of the abstract and unrelated particular namely, by the distinction between the potential and the realised

1 " Cumque dicebatur quod singulare non cognoscitur nisi reflexe...dicimus vere et proprie talem iutellectionem esse reflectionem et conversionem ad phantasmata. . . . Definit (D. Thomas) motum reflexum eum esse qui in idem terminatur a quo incepit; verum quum anima humana per cogitativam comprehendit singulare primo, deinde eadem per intellectum universale comprehendat, quod tamen in eodem singular! speculatur quod per phantasiam cognitum est, vere reditum facit, et per consequens conversionem, quoniam ex singular! per phantasiam cognito eadem anima per intellectum ad idem redit. Neque satis video quomodo syllogismus vel argumentatio reflexio vel conversio commode nuncupari possunt, cum non ex eodem in idem, verum ex diverse in diversum procedant. Eademque specie utrumque (scil. singulare et universale) comprehenditur, licet non aeque primo." De Imtn. xil. pp. 94, 95, and passim.

2 " (Universale) in eodem singular! speculatur (per intellectum) quod per phantasiam cognitum est." " Ex singulari per phantasiam cognito... anima per intel lectum ad idem redit." " Eademque specie utrumque (singulare et universale) com prehenditur, licet non aeque primo." Op. cit. xil. p. 95.

3 " Dicitur quod simul tempore cognoscit (homo) universale et singulare." Op. cit. xn. p. 94.

4 "Neque satis video quomodo syllogismus vel argumentatio reflexio vel con versio commode nuncupari possunt." Op. cit. xil. p. 95.


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universal conception. On the empirical side it had been argued that, before a universal conception could be formed of a particular, that particular must as such be " known "; and Pomponazzi had answered that the mental act of forming a conception was some thing different from abstrahere notmn a noto, and that before the conception there is no apprehension of the individual; the particular as such is only potentially, and not really, conceived in thought 1 . In the same spirit it was urged by those who believed in an a priori apprehension of universal conceptions ("the universal is primarily known by the form of the universal, and the particular secondarily 2 ") that a collection of particulars in thought, if it was to be competent to give rise to the general notion, must itself be that general notion 3 . Pomponazzi once more replies that the particulars as such are not the general conception, but are its materials, are that general conception in potentiality; therefore there is no "universal before a universal," and no reason to postulate an a priori universal conception (a priori, that is, as was argued, in consciousness) in order to explain the possibility of an empirical generalisation 4 .

The views of Pomponazzi on this subject may be thus summarised: "Intellect apprehends universals and particulars." The manner in which it does so is as follows:

(i) Negatively speaking, he denies that either the universal or the particular is apprehended in separation 5 . Abstractly he admits that the two are distinguishable. But it is the great merit of Pomponazzi's investigation of this point that he does not fall into the common scholastic confusion of two distinct

1 " Singulare quod est in potentia intellectus(m?) fit actu intellectus(m?)." Comm. de An. f. I54r.

2 " Universale per speciem universalis primo cognoscitur, et singulare secundario." Op. cit. f. 153 v.

3 "Collectio singularium non est nisi universale. Ergo universale cognoscitur ante universale; quod est inconveniens." Ibid.

4 "Ad quartum (? tertium see f. 153 v.) quod ante universale cognosceret universale: dico quod ista particularia, quamvis habeant causare conceptum communem, non sunt universale nisi in materiali; sicut sensus cognoscit duo alba, quae possunt causare conceptum communem, et tamen non sequitur quod sensus cognoscat universale: ita ista singularia, quamvis possint causare conceptum communem et universalem, non tamen sequitur quod sit universale in actu; et ita non cognoscitur universale ante universale. " Op. cit. f. 155 v.

5 " Per speciem propriam."


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intellectual processes namely, the secondary or reflective consideration of the general and particular aspects of an object of knowledge on the one hand, and on the other the direct and primary apprehension of a particular object in general relations, or general conceptions of the object. He clearly conceives and investigates the problem presented by this latter act of thought. And, in it, he denies that the general and the particular are separately apprehended. He denies that they are specifically distinguishable at all 1 .

(2) But that individuals are the real objects of knowledge he expressly affirms 2 . On the other hand, in his deliberate revision of the arguments for his own position, he affirms that knowledge only takes place through general conceptions 3 . Denying as he does that there can be any specific difference between an individual and the general conceptions of it, he says plainly " The object of knowledge is a unity, namely the universal 4 ." This can mean nothing else but that the general conception is realised in the individual, and the individual known only in a general conception of it

(3) Pomponazzi holds with the " empirical " school that general conceptions are derived from particular experiences, but in a sense which he himself explains 5 .

(4) At the same time he adopts from the opposite school the doctrine of an act of thought in conception, and accepts their description of it as reflexio*.

1 See passages cited above, p. 229, notes 2, 3, 4, 5. " Ponit differentiam inter ea, non per speciem particularem distinctam a specie universalis, quia non potest habere speciem singularis....In prima operatione quando directe intelligit universale, tantum universale cognoscit....In secunda quando revertitur ad phantasmata, ponit differen tiam inter universale et particulare. Sed...si non habebit speciem singularis, non poterit inter ea differentiam ponere, etc." Op. cit. f. 153 v. Cf. De Imm. xii. p. 95. " Eadem specie utrumque comprehenditur, licet non aeque primo."

2 See Comm. de An. ff. I53V., I54V.

3 " Non potest habere speciem singularis. In prima operatione quando directe intelligit (intellectus) universale, tantum universale cognoscit....Si non habebit speciem singularis, non poterit inter ea differentiam ponere; cum tamen unum cognoscat, scilicet universale, quia ejus solius habet speciem." Op. cit. f. 153 v.

4 " Unum cognoscit scilicet universale." Ibid.

6 De Imm. xn. p. 94. Cf. " Particularia quamvis habeant causare conceptum communem non sunt universale nisi in materiali." Comm. de An. f. 155 v. 6 " Dico quod singulare intelligitur reflexe." Op. cit. f. 155 r.


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(5) This act of conception is the crux of the whole question. Now while Pomponazzi nowhere undertakes formally to describe it, at least in its logical character, yet from various indications, and especially from the passage already cited on the psychological history of it, in the De Immortalitate, we gather how nearly he had arrived at a true, because a concrete, notion of this act of thought.

Thus while deriving the general notion (by a psychological process to be explained below) from particular experiences, he admits no knowledge of the particular previous to and apart from the general conception itself 1 . We recall also in this connection the distinction drawn by him between a general conception as such and an empirical generalisation upon matter of fact, which leads to a more fundamental distinction between the nature of a conception in its logical character and the history of its derivation.

On the other hand, the act of thought does not imply the apprehension of a universal previous to the apprehension of the individual. There is no nniversale ante universale. In particular, the history of a conception is not that the induction of instances makes one mental unity (a universal), to which thought adds a second; but the general conception of particulars is the action of thought 2 . Pomponazzi meets the opposite fictions of an a priori universal and of an unrelated individual with the same illuminating suggestion that the abstract particular is potentially the universal.

The act of conception is imagined in accordance with these views of the universal and the particular. On the one hand, that act is regarded, on the suggestion of the empirical school, as receiving its material from particular experiences through the senses; but the distinction is drawn that the general conception

1 "Tantum universale cognoscit." Op. dt. f. 153 v. "Singulare quod est in potentia intellectus(m?) fit actu intellectus^m?)." Op. cit. f. 1541-. " Ista particularia quamvis habeant causare conceptum communem non sunt universale nisi in material!." Op. cit. f. 155 v.

a " Singularia, quamvis possint causare conceptum communem et universalem, non tamen sequitur quod sit universale in actu; et ita non cognoscitur universale ante universale," Ibid.


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of those particulars is not an act of reason, an act of abstraction in the ordinary sense 1 .

On the other hand the act of thought which finds the universal in the particular, and conceives the particular as an instance of the universal, is named according to the received terminology of those who held that the universal is apprehended a priori, and the particular reached by thought through a deductive process: it is called reflexio. But this reflexio is described as something quite different from a process of ratiocination 2; and it is expressly denied that there are separate intellectiones of the universal and the particular 3 .

The act of conception being so understood, there is no question of temporal priority between the apprehension of the universal and the apprehension of the particular. The universal cannot be prior to the particular apprehension, because there is no general conception which does not find its material in a particular experience. The particular cannot be prior to the universal, because there is no apprehension of a particular object which is not a general conception of it an apprehension of it, as we should say, in some relation. And so we find Pomponazzi saying " It is said that the intellect apprehends simultaneously the universal and the particular 4 ."

(6) Pomponazzi's idea of the act of conception will be made finally clear by an examination of his account of the mental process through which it comes to pass. The Quaestio of the Comm. de Anima contains suggestions of his view of this

1 "Non enim abstrahitur eo modo...ut notutn a noto abstrahitur. Sed est abstractio ad hunc sensum, quia singulare quod est in potentia intellectus(m?) fit actu intellectus(m?)." Op.cit.i. 1541-.

" Neque satis video quomodo syllogismus vel argumentatio reflexio vel conversio commode nuncupari possunt." De Imm. xn. p. 95, and cap. xil. passim. " Ilia reflexio non est sicuti imaginati sunt nostri Latini:...cognitio singularis...est per sensum et intellectum." Comm. de An. f. 155 r.

3 "Si non est diversitas specierum ergo nee intellectionum," etc. Op. (it. f. 153 v.

4 "Dicitur quod simul tempore cognoscit (intellectus) universale et singulare." De Imm. XII. p. 44. Cf. Comm. de An. f. I55V. " Sicut linea reflexa est gemina ita est cognitio singularis...per sensum et intellectum." An apparent expression in the contrary sense (f. 29 v.) doubtless refers to the abstract idea of the particular as secondary to that of the universal: " Dicimus hominem esse priorem Socrate ex parte modi intelligendi,..quum res primo concipitur modo universal! quam modo particulari."


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psychological aspect of the subject; but it is fully worked out in the De Immortalitate.

While it is laid down that there is no knowledge of the particular save in the general conception 1 , the particular is described as the " cause " of the general conception.

This causation takes place through the senses 2 .

The action of thought upon the presentations of sense, forming a general conception of the particular, is thus described: " When it was said that a particular is not known except by reflection... we hold that truly and strictly intellection of this kind is a reflection and turning towards the images.... St Thomas defines reflex motion as that which terminates at the point where it began; but since the human mind in the first place apprehends the particular by means of the cogitative faculty, and then the same mind apprehends the universal by means of the intellect, a universal which it grasps in the same particular as was known by imagination, it really makes a return and consequently a turning, since the same mind from a particular known by imagination returns by means of intellect to the same. Nor do I clearly see how a syllogism or argument can accurately be called a reflection or conversion, since they proceed not from and to the same point, but from one point to another. And both are comprehended by the same form, though not equally primarily. Nor is there any difficulty in more objects than one being thought at the same time, if they are thought under one form 3 ."

1 Thus after concluding " Unum (cognoscit) scilicet universale, quia ejus solius habet speciem," he goes on "Ad secundum quod species universalis causat con- fusam cognitionem particularium, dicitur quod species universalis, quantum est de natura sua, non causat distinctam cognitionem particularium; per accidens auteni, in quantum causatur ab hoc vel ab hoc particular! determinate, ducit in cognitio nem alicujus particularis et non alterius." (Comm. de An. f. 153 v.) Again " Ista

particularia quamvis habeant causare conceptum communem, etc sicut sensus

cognoscit duo alba quae possunt causare conceptum communem, et tamen non sequitur quod sensus cognoscat universale." Op. cit. f. 155 v. Cf. De Itnm. cap. xn.

" Sensus cognoscit duo alba quae possunt causare conceptum communem." COIIDII. de An. f. i55v. " Si diceres a quo habet cognitionem singularis, dico quod habet a sensu." Op. cit. f. 155 r.

3 "Cumque dicebatur quod singulare non cognoscitur nisi reflexe...dicimus vere et proprie talem intellectionem esse reflectionem et conversionem ad phantasmata. ... Definit (D. Thomas) motum reflexum eum esse qui in idem terminatur a quo incepit;


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The words that follow explain the difference between the general conception as such, and the particular as given in sense, while generally conceived: "But the mind apprehends this particular rather than that, because it has an image of this, not of that. Though from looking at this lion I have the thought of lion and of this lion, yet I do not have the thought of lion more from this lion than from that lion in the wilds: though if I were to see him, I should no less have the thought of lion. But I have the thought of this lion, and not of the lion in the wilds, because I have an image of the one and not of the other 1!

I do not enter further into Pomponazzi's theory of knowledge and reality, partly because it would not in any case be possible to give an exhaustive account of his Commentary on the De Anima, and partly because an important section of it dealing with the various theories of general ideas and reality, and proposing a reconciliation of nominalism, realism, and the doctrines of Scotus and Averroes, has not yet been published for us 2 .

It may be sufficient to say that he discusses scholastic realism with patience and care, especially in the reconstruction of it by Scotus and his followers 3 , and rejects every hypothesis of nniversalia ante rem. He expresses his own conclusion in a formula which indicates conceptualism with a leaning to nominalism: " The universal is a mode of thinking which in

verum cum anima humana per cogitativam comprehendit singulare primo, delude eadem per intellectum universale comprehendat quod tamen in eodem singular! specu lator quod per phantasiam cognitum est, vere reditum facit et per consequens conversionem; quoniam ex singular! per phantasiam cognito, eadem anima per intel lectum ad idem redit. Neque satis video quomodo syllogismus vel argumentatio reflexio vel conversio commode nuncupari possunt; cum non ex eodem in idem verum ex diverse in diversum procedant; eademque specie utrumque comprehenditur, licet non aeque primo; neque inconvenit plura simul intelligi dum per unam speciem intelligantur." De Imm. xii. pp. 94, 95.

1 " Magis autem hoc quam illud singulare comprehendit, quoniam huius est phantasma non illius. Etenim ex huius leonis inspectione leonem et hunc leonem intelligo, non tamen magis leonem ex hoc quam ex illo qui moratur in sylvis; etenim si ilium inspicerem non minus leonem intelligerem, verum hunc intelligo et non eum qui in sylvis, quia huius et non illius phantasma habeo." Op. cit. xn. p. 95. Cf. Comm. de An. f. 155 r., " Cognoscit singulare reflexe, quia sicut- linea reflexa est gemina, ita est cognitio singularis, quia est per sensum et intellectum."

2 See Ferri, Introd. pp. 58, 59.

3 Comm, de An. ff. 24 32; 194 202.


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its essential nature is in the intellect, but refers to the thing thought of 1 ."

At the same time, his doctrine of the general conception of individual things, above described, is far removed from nominalism. And even conceptualism, he appears to have felt 2 , is a solution only of one side of the problem, namely its psycho logical side. The fact remains that there are resemblances among (real) individual things, and that concretely the principle of individuality, whatever it be, is united with the common nature. His recognition of this datum of common sense, which after all is the real problem, was probably what led Pomponazzi to regard with some degree of favour the Scotist notion of Jiaecceitas; for this, although it is the expression of a false abstraction of singular and general, and when subjected to analysis a purely negative description of the individual (seeing it excludes all specific differences), is yet an attempt to regard the individual in a general aspect.

In the last resort, Pomponazzi stood with scholasticism generally upon the ground of common sense. Failing a true criticism of the meaning of Thought and Reality, his belief in their correspondence was dogmatic. He lays it down, then, finally, that there are two kinds of truth; the correspondence of things to the ideas in the Divine Mind, and the correspondence of our thought to things. In the former sense thought is the measure and reality the thing measured, in the latter reality is the measure to which thought must conform in order to be true.

" Truth is a kind of correspondence or measuring of the object with the mind or of the mind with the object.... If an object is compared with the practical reason, such an object is true, in so far as it is referred to that kind of reason; and in the same way all things are true in so far as they are referred to the Divine Mind: for in so far as everything is an effect of God, whether in the way of efficient or of final causation, all things will have their idea in the Divine Mind, and objects

1 " Universale est modus considerandi qui formaliter est in intellectu sed denomi native in re considerata." Op. cit. f. 33 r.

2 See Ferri, Introd. pp. 59, 61.


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are true in so far as they agree with their ideas, and the more

like their ideas they are, the more they are true

" I have explained then how truth consists in the correspondence of an object with the mind: I must proceed to explain how in some way truth consists in the correspondence of the mind with the object. I maintain that this is so most of all in our case. For our thoughts are true when they correspond to an external object... In the first kind of truth, the object is measured and the mind is the measure; in the second, the object is the measure, while the mind is measured. Yet we must note here that the objects are not said to be true or false without qualification in themselves, when referred to our intellect, for otherwise one and the same object would be both true and false, if one man thought of it in one way and another man in another.... But objects are said to be true without qualification, when referred to the Divine Mind, which is completely true. And thus the definition of truth becomes plain, how it is the correspondence of the object with the mind or of the mind with the object. But if it is asked whether God is true, I reply that truth in every sense is present in God, as Themistius says at this point with reference to the active intellect, that it is true, not with reference to other things, but simply by reference to itself, which is true intellect. How more completely then will God in this way be one and true in the highest degree, when He is true through Himself and not through something external to Him, as in the case of human truth! He is not only true, but true in every way, since in God there is both correspondence of object with mind and of mind with object. For His thought is in proportion to His nature, and His nature to His thought, nor can He in any way be deceived about Himself 1 ."

i "Veritas est quaedam adaequatio vel commensuratio rei ad intellectum, vel intellectus ad res.... Si res comparatur ad intellectum practicum, talis est vera pro quanto comparatur ad talem intellectum, et sic omnia sunt vera pro quanto compa- rantur ad intellectum divinum: ex quanto enim omnis res est effectus Dei, vel in genere causae efficientis, vel finalis, omnia habebunt ideam suam in mente divina, et res, secundum quod habent similitudinem ideae suae, sunt verae, et quanto magis as- similabuntur suae ideae, tan to magis erunt verae Dictum est igitur qualiter sit veritas in adaequatione rei ad intellectum; dicendum est modo qualiter in aliquo veritas con- sistat in adaequatione intellectus ad rem. Dico quod illud verificatur maxime quoad nos. Nostrae enim intellectiones sunt verae quando conformantur rei ad extra... In


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prima veritate res est mensurata, intellectus mensura, in secunda vero res est mensura, intellectus autem mensuratum. Notamus tamen hie quod scilicet res non absolute dicantur verae ant falsae in ordine ad nostrum intellectum; aliter enim una et eadem res esset vera et falsa, quum unus homo opinatur uno modo et alius alio modo Sed res absolute dicuntur verae in ordine ad intellectum divinum, qui maxime verus est, et sic patet definitio veritatis, qualiter est adaequatio rei ad intellectum et intel lectus ad ipsam rem. Si autem quaeratur utrum Deus sit verus, dico quod in Deo omnibus modis est veritas, sicut dicit hie Themistius de agente quod est verus, non quoad alia, sed quoad se tantum qui verus est intellectus. Quanto magis ergo Deus hoc modo unus erit et maxime verus, quum ex se ipso verus est, et non ex alio extrinseco sicut nostra veritas! Est etiam verus omnibus modis, quum in Deo est adaequatio rei ad intellectum et intellectus ad rem: tanta enim est sua essentia quanta est sua intellectio, et tanta est sua intellectio quanta est sua essentia, nee aliquo modo de se ipso potest facere aliquam deceptionem." Comm. de An. ff. 174.