This is a translation of the Latin text of 1604 and is available in the public domain at: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.c2712439;view=1up;seq=580
Topics: Aristotle, De Anima, De Anima 3.5, Intellect, Active Intellect, Agent Intellect, Patient intellect, receptive intellect, two fundamental questions regarding the agent intellect that must be resolved, method of Zabarella’s treatment of the subject.
Propositio ac dispositio dicendorum: Cap. I
The subject of Discussion and Arrangement of what is to be discussed
PRAETER humanum mentem, quae patibilis dicitur, censuit Aristoteles necessariam esse alteram mentem agentem, sine qua nequeat in homine intellectio fieri, ea ductus ratione, quod ubi est aliquod patiens, quod in aliquo genere omnia recipere, & omnia fieri aptum sit, necesse est ut illi respondeat agens, quod illius generis omnia facere possit: quoniam igitur humna mens patiendo intelligit, & apta est omnia fieri; necesse est aliquod illi agens respondere, quod omnia inelligibilia faciat, idque non esse nisi mentem:
quo sit ut duae in humana intellectione mentes considerandae sint, una patiens, de qua nos in aliis libris egimus, altera vero agens, de qua in hoc libro agendum nobis proposuimus;
etenim tum ob eius dignitatem, tum ob summam difficultatem, tum etiam ob ipsius in humana intellectione necessitatem dignissima res est, quae accuratae tratectur, ac declaretur;
Duo autem sunt, in quibus tota est huiusce rei difficultas constituta: unum, quid sit haec mens agens, an sit pars aliqua animae nostrae, necne, & quae sit eius officia in nostra intellectione; nam ipse quoque Aristoteles haec utraque de mente agente in 3. de anima libro tractasse comperitur: et quamvis ordine naturae dicendum prius esset de ipsius essentia, postea vero de officiis, tamen in hoc quoque Aristot. imitati de officiis agemus, deinde vero de eius natura; progrediendum enim semper est a facilioribus, & ab iis, quorum cognitio ducerenos facilius in aliorum notitiam possit;
cognitis enim huius intellectus officiis, facilius quid ipse sit indigare, atque invenire poterimus; quod etiam Aristotelem movit, ut pruis de ipsius in humana intellectione officiis, postea vero de essentia loqueretur. Id tamen ante omnia protestari velim, me hac de re secundum principia tantum philosophiae Aristotelis esse disputaturum, quum non aliud in his omnibus libris consilium meum sit, quam quid senserit Aristoteles, investigare, et eius sententiam, quantum in me est, planam, & manifestam reddere.
In addition to the human mental faculty which is called the “passive” mind, Aristotle thought that another actualizing mind was necessary, without which understanding could not occur. He was guided by the consideration that, in any genus where there is a passive element that is able to receive and to become anything, it is necessary that there should be a corresponding active element of the same generic kind. Since, therefore, the human intellect, by way of a passive activity, understands and is able to become all things, it is necessary that something active should correspond to it that makes all things intelligible, and that this process does not occur apart from the mind.
It follows that two mental faculties should be investigated as part of the process of human understanding: one patient” intellect (being capable of undergoing change) which we have discussed in other books, while the other is an actualizing agent, which is the subject we have put before ourselves to be taken up in the following book.
And, in fact, not only on account of its worthiness, but also because of its consummate difficulty, and even because of its necessity for human understanding, it is a very worthy subject, so that it is brought forth and treated with exacting care.
There are, moreover, two questions wherein the entire difficulty of this subject is founded: (1) what is this actualizing mind? Is it part of our soul or not? (2) what is its role in the process of our ability to understand? Aristotle himself is certainly found to take up each of these two questions in On the Soul, Book III, and although, according to the order of nature its essence ought first to be discussed and afterward its proper activities, in this too, nevertheless, in imitation of Aristotle, we will consider its proper activities, and then its nature: for one must always proceed from what is easier and from those things the understanding of which might lead us more easily into the apprehension of other things: for when the activities proper to this intellect have become known, we shall be in a better position to hunt for and to find what it itself is-which also guided Aristotle’s thinking, so that he speaks first of the activities proper to it, and afterward of its essence. But I would like to assert that I will be taking up the subject according to the principles of Aristotle’s philosophy alone, since my intention in all these books is to investigate nothing other than what Aristotle thought and his opinion, and to render it clear and manifest, insofar as I am able.
Zabarella, Jacopo, 1533-1589. Jacobi Zabarellae Patavini, De Rebus Naturalibus Libri XXX: Quibus Quaestiones, Quae Ab Aristotelis Interpretibus Hodie Tractari Solent, Accuratè Discutiuntur. Editio decima. Tarvisii: Roberti Meietti, 1604.