Philosophy of Mind and Human Nature

Robert Pasnau

in The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195326093
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Philosophy of Mind and Human Nature

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Metaphysics


Show Summary Details


Aquinas's theory of human nature is discussed in the first part of the Summa theologiae, known as the Treatise on Human Nature. Aquinas postulated a real distinction between the soul itself and its powers. He argued that the soul essentially is the form of a body and the soul is the ultimate intrinsic explanatory principle for the existence of the composite substance that is a human being. A human being is to be capable to perform various operations including nutritive, sensory, and intellectual operations. The human soul, as the internal principle of life for a human being, is the source for the various powers that a human being requires in order to carry out the operations distinctive of such life. Aquinas distinguished various powers in several ways. Most fundamental is a distinction between the nutritive or vegetative powers, the sensory powers, and the intellectual or rational powers. The last two categories further divide into those powers that are cognitive and those that are appetitive. The cognitive sensory powers divide into the familiar five external senses and the four internal senses. The appetitive sensory powers divide into the irascible and concupiscible. There is just one appetitive power, the will, and two cognitive powers, the agent intellect and the possible intellect at the intellectual level.

Keywords: human nature; irascible; concupiscible; cognitive sensory powers; nutritive or vegetative powers; external senses; agent intellect; possible intellect

Article.  11635 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.