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Vlastimil Vohánka
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Bill, Thanks. I'm not a hylemorhist. (On Mondays.) Some points. -- You say: the human soul can't exist on its own, it "... needs matter both to exist and to be individuated." Cf. Oderberg's "Hylemorphic Dualism" (HD), pp. 93ff, online, where he rather says that the human soul has to be individuated by being embodied in SOME time, not necessarily presently -- which makes the HUMAN soul special. Why is the human soul special, as opposed to the souls of non-human living organisms? As G. Klima explains: "... despite the fact that this one being, the whole human being, is a material substance, if Aquinas's claim that understanding is the act of the soul alone is true, then the form of this being has some act of its own which denominates the whole only through this part to which alone it can belong. But then, since this form has an activity of its own, it is a form which has the being of the whole not only in the sense in which any other form insofar as a form has being, but also in the same sense in which the whole has it. Therefore, it could be destroyed also only in the sense in which the whole is destroyed, namely, by losing its substantial form, but since it is a form, that is precisely the sense in which it cannot be destroyed. Hence, it is incorruptible." Man = Soul + Body, online. As Aquinas puts it: "If, therefore, there is a form which is a thing that has being, then it is necessary for that form to be incorruptible. For being is not separated from something that has being, except by its form getting separated from it; therefore, if that which has being is the form itself, then it is impossible that being should be separated from it. It is manifest, however, that the principle by which a man understands is a form that has being in itself, and [that it does not have this being] only as that by which something [else] exists. For understanding, as the Philosopher proves in bk. 3. of the De Anima is not an act performed by some bodily organ." (QDA a. 14, co.; transl. by G. Klima.) Why understanding is the act of the soul alone and the soul has an activity of its own? For conceptual understanding is, in itself, an immaterial activity (though with extrinsic material conditions which are necessary for its normal course) and the principle of immateriality in the material substance (which is a compound of prime matter and form) is the form, not the matter (whereas the soul IS the form). Why conceptual understanding is immaterial? For it is universal (not particular), at least sometimes non-vague and precise, and because conceptual understanding consists in intentional (non-real) reception of forms without necessarily really having (receiving) them (while matter receives forms only really). Cf. Oderberg's HD and E. Feser's The Last Superstition (ch. 3; or The Philosophy of Mind). Why the soul could perish only by losing substantial form? Why the soul could go out of existence only by separating? Isn't it possible for some entity to go out of existence without being separated? I asked Dr Feser who replied: "Aquinas's view is that the soul has no natural tendency to go out of existence, so that nothing else in nature can destroy it. Only compounds of form and matter can go out of existence through natural means, because the matter could always in theory lose the form it happens to have at any moment. Rational souls (and angels), being forms without matter, thus have a kind of natural immortality." -- You say: "... forms are neither agents nor events." Cf, HD, pp. 96-97, where you are said that your soul (which is a form) exercises your intellectual (conceptual) operation, though it can be also said about you (as opposed to your soul) that you exercise it, too. Klima explains the rationale behind: "... since the soul is an essential part of this composite substance, any act which belongs to this part alone denominates the whole of which it is a part in accordance with the common rule concerning the denomination of a whole from its part. (In case this "common rule" is not so commonly recognized nowadays as it used to be among medieval logicians dealing with the fallacy of secundum quid et simpliciter, I have to insert a brief explanation here. According to the rule a whole is properly denominated by any attribute of its part which can denominate only the part in question. For example, if Socrates’ hair is blond or curly, then Socrates is properly denominated blond or curly, since the terms ‘blond’ or ‘curly’ can only denominate his hair. By contrast, if his hair is black, Socrates cannot on that account be denominated black, for the attribute ‘black’ could also denominate his whole body. The rule was interpreted as covering all sorts of integral wholes, and was widely used by theologians in explaining what sorts of attributes could apply to Christ on account of his two natures.) Accordingly, if, for example, walking is an action which strictly speaking can only belong to the legs, then we also have to say that, precisely for this reason, when the legs of a person do the walking, then the whole person is walking. (By contrast, if only your arms or legs are swinging, then on that account you cannot be said to be swinging, for that action could belong to the whole of your body as well – for example, if you are hanged; Happy Halloween!) So, if the soul does the thinking, and the soul alone can do it, then, as long as the soul is a part of the whole human being, the whole human being is also denominated by this act. Therefore, if it is true that only the intellective soul thinks and only the intellective soul of a human person can do the thinking, then, since the soul is a part of the human person, indeed, an essential part, it is precisely for this reason that we have to say that the human person thinks, at least, as long as he or she has his or her soul." Reply to D. Burrell, online. On the other hand, hylemorphists P. Lee and R. George, in their recent opus on body-self dualism ( ) sometimes rather suggest that only the whole person (as opposed to the soul), not the soul, is the agent. Maybe they don't know Klima's tradition. -- There is another, and quite pressing, related difference among different hylomorphists: some say that you can exist apart from your body (Feser, Oderberg), other (Lee, George) that you can't. Cf., e.g., D. Oderberg, HD, p. 96: after my death, "I persist ... as the form that once was the form of the body ..." Lee and George, on the other hand, claim (pp. 66ff and 169) that after your death and before your resurrection you would not and could not exist (not even as a form), though your soul could and would exist. Your soul, existing in you before your death only virtually and really after your death, would be different from you. Here I am not sure that your (or my) non-existence between your death and your resurrection is compatible with NT (Lk 23:43; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23).