quinta-feira 24 de março de 2022

Aristo (there were two philosophers by this name, one a Stoic, the other an Aristotelian) attributes to the soul a perceptive faculty, which he divides into two parts. According to him, the first, called sensibility, the principle and origin of sensations, is usually kept active by some one of the sense-organs. The other, which subsists by itself, and without organs, does not bear any special name in beings devoid of reason, in whom reason does not manifest, or at least manifests only in a feeble or obscure manner; however, it is called intelligence in beings endowed with reason, among whom alone it manifests clearly. Aristo holds that sensibility acts only with the help of the sense-organs, and that intelligence does not need them to enter into activity. Why then does he subordinate both of these to a single genus, called the perceptive faculty? Both doubtless perceive, but the one perceives the sense-form of beings, while the other perceives their essence. Indeed, sensibility does not perceive the essence, but the sense-form, and the figure; it is intelligence that perceives whether the object be a man or a horse. There are, therefore, two kinds of perception that are very different from each other; sense-perception receives an impression, and applies itself to an exterior object; on the contrary, intellectual perception does not receive any impression.

There have been philosophers who separated these two parts; they called intelligence or discursive reason the understanding which is exercised without imagination and sensation; and opinion, the understanding which is exercised with imagination and sensation. Others, on the contrary, considered rational "being," or nature, a simple essence, and attributed to it operations whose nature is entirely different. Now it is unreasonable to refer to the same essence faculties which differ completely in nature; for thought and sensation could not depend on the same essential principle; and if we were to call the operation of intelligence a perception, we would only be juggling with words. We must, therefore, establish a perfectly clear distinction between these two entities, intelligence and sensibility. On the one hand, intelligence possesses a quite peculiar nature, as is also the case with discursive reason, which is next below it. The function of the former is intuitive thought, while that of the latter is discursive thought. On the other hand, sensibility differs entirely from intelligence, acting with or without the help of organs; in the former case, it is called sensation; in the latter, imagination. Nevertheless, sensation and imagination belong to the same genus. In understanding, intuitive intelligence is superior to opinion, which applies to sensation or imagination; this latter kind of thought, whether called discursive thought, or anything else (such as opinion), is superior to sensation1 and imagination, but inferior to intuitive thought.