The Real Distinction Between Intellect and Will

Lawrence Dewan

in Wisdom, Law, and Virtue

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227969
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237210 | DOI:

Series: Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology

The Real Distinction Between               Intellect and Will

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According to Thomas de Vio, Cardinal Cajetan, the will, its nature and raison d' être, is “arduum arcanum,” a challenging mystery. Anyone who has read Cajetan's commentaries on the primary texts concerning the will in the Summa theologiae (ST) of St. Thomas Aquinas will be inclined to agree. The study of intellect and will belongs in part to that topmost flight of natural philosophy that considers the human soul, but mostly it belongs to metaphysics. What this means in terms of the content of our conceptions is that to intellect and will, properly speaking, motion belongs merely metaphorically. Such metaphor is necessary but dangerous, for unless we succeed in isolating the proper intelligibilities to which the metaphors point, we may take the metaphors for proper conceptions and thus miss the natures of intellect and will. The ultimate discussions of intellect and will must be expressed in such concepts as can be applied properly to immaterial things. The sort of thing to which such concepts apply St. Thomas calls a “metaphysicum,” a metaphysical item. This chapter aims to bring out the metaphysical character of the conceptions that are in play. It focuses on distinction between intellect and will. According to St. Thomas, this is a distinction found in things themselves, and not merely one arising from our human way of looking at things. We rightly and truthfully predicate intellect and will of God, but the distinction between the two does not exist in God. In creatures, on the other hand, intellect and will cannot be identical.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas; intellect; will; Thomas de Vio; metaphor; metaphysicum

Chapter.  11394 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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