Quod intellectus Agens non poßit esse vlla intelligentia, quae movent cœlestes orbes. Cap. XII. В
[1028 B] QVum igitur intellectus agens sit substantia abiuncta a materia per essentiam, & nomine intelligentiae appellanda, necesse est, vt vel sit aliqua alia ex intelligentiis superioribus, quae caelos mouent, vel aliqua alia illis inferior forma, quae vel Angelus, vel Daemon, vel Intelligentia appellanda esse dicatur, & sit hominis propria, & ad perficiendam humanam mentem peculiariter applicata, & illi copulabilis, vt forma iungitur materiae; quae fuit Auerrois ac Themiftii sententia, quam etiam Marino Plotinus [С] attribuit.
Quodnam igitur horum afferendum sit, ratione duce inuestigemus. In primis id nobis firmum, & indubitatum fundamentum statuendum est de substantiis per essentiam a materia abiunctis loqui, non esse munus Philosophi naturalis, sed solius Metaphysici: testatur hoc Aristotel. in I. cap.1. lib. de Partibus animal, dicens non esse officium Philosophi naturalis agere de intellectu, & hanc rationem adducens; quia ad Naturalem Philosophum non attinet [D] loqui de rebus a materia abiunctis, intellectus autem a materia abiunctus est: Auerroistae efficaciter tueri contendunt Aristot. ibi loqui de intellectu humano, quod quidem nos eis condonamus: quicquid igitur est in anima humana abiunctam a materia, siue sit patibilis intellectus, qui dicatur non esse forma corporis, siue intellectus agens, certum est illud non posse a Philosopho naturali secundum essentiam cognosci, sed solum respectu humani corporis, quod [E] quidem Auerroistae non negant.
id enim est munus solius Metaphysici, vt asserit Arist. eo in loco. Quoniam igitur intellectus agens est substantia separata, certum est declarationem essentiae ipsius non ad Naturalem pertinere, sed ad Metaphysicum, Naturalis enim considerare ipsum non potest, nisi prout est agens respectu humani intellectus.
At obiiciet aliquis, quomodo igitur potuit Arist. in context. 19. & 20. libr. 3. de Anima, considerare eius conditiones ad essentiam [F] ipsius absolute sumptam pertinentes: еx huius dubij solutione artificium Aristotelis, & eius de intellectu agente sententia manifesta fiet:
pertinebat quidem ad naturalem Philosophum sola consideratio officiorum intellectus agentis, quoniam haec respectum notat ad intellectum humanum: sed videns Aristotel. nos in hac acquieturos non fuisse, & se animos nostros dubios, & suspensos reliquisse, nisi de ipso intellectu agente quidnam secundum se sit aliqua ibi [1029 A] subiunxisset, ideo dicere aliqua breuiter voluit ad euis essentiam attinentia; sed ita breuiter, & obscure, vt satis aperte significauerit se ea tangere tanquam aliena a naturali philosophia:
solet enim vbique Aristot. quando ex professo alicuius rei definitionem, seu essentiales conditiones proponit, eas diligentissime declarare, vt in plurimis locis quisque notare potest, ibi tamen de praestantissima, atque ignotissima loquens [B] quasdam essentiales eius conditiones in medium profert, absque vlla earum declaratione;
vt eas leuiter tangendo, nec declarando, significaret earum, & ipsius intellectus agentis considerationem ad eum locum non pertinere,
ideo notare eo in loco, & in aliis quoque possumus, non esse absurdum, si in disciplina aliqua quandoque tangatur id, quod ad aliam disciplinam pertinet: imo illud interdum necessarium esse: quum enim res omnes magno inter se ordine, & nexu coniunctae sint, scientias quoque contemplatuas [C] ita inter se coniunctas esse oportuit, vt vna attingeret aliquando ea, quae sunt alterius;
hoc enim non est absurdum; si leuiter, & cum moderatione fiat; quemadmodum eo in loco facit Aristoteles: quod etiam alias notauimus de postremo cap. lib. 8. Physicor. in quo agit de primi motoris impatibilitate quae ad Metaphysicum potius, quam ad Naturalem Philosophum pertinebat.
Ex ea igitur obscura, & imperfecta consideratione conditionum intellectus agentis [D] manifeste colligimus, ipsum tanquam substantiam a materia abiunctam per essentiam non ad Naturalem Philosophum, sed ad Metaphysicum pertinere: idque etiam alio Aristot. testimonio comprobatur nam in 7. Metaphys. contex. 6. inquit esse posterius considerandum, an praeter sensiles substantias aliqua alia detur abiuncta a materia, an non detur; idem etiam in contex. 29. lib. 12. inquirendum proponit, is enim proprius locus est, in quo Aristot. ex professo [E] de talibus substantiis accurate pertractat: hoc igitur proponens in dictis locis Aristot. denotat non esse ante libros Metaphysicos nobis cognitam aliquam substantiam a materia separatam.
Videamus igitur quas substantias a materia abiunctas consideret Atistot. in eo 12. libr. certe nullas alias considerent praeter illas, quae Caelos mouent; docet enim tot esse intelligentias, quot* sunt orbes moti: nec dicere aliquis potest, intelligentiam humanam vna cum coelestibus [F] ibi ab Aristotele sumi, & in orbibus motis numerari etiam sphaeram humanam, vt aliqui dicere ausi sunt:
nam legentibus contex. 43. de 44. illius 12. lib. patet Aristot. dicere tot esse substantias à materia separatas, quot sunt orbes; quot autem sint orbes, sumendum esse ex Astrologia; atqui Astrologus non considerat orbem humanum, sed solos caelestes; ergo Aristot. ibi nullum aliam intelligentiam considerat, praeter illas, quae mouent orbes cœleftes.
Hoc igitur de [1030 A] Aristot. certissimum est, ipsum nec daemones cognouisse, neque formam vllam à materia abiunctam inferiorem intelligentiis, qua mouent caelos: quare si intellectus agens est forma separata, non potest secundum Aristot. esse daemon aliquis, neq; intelligentia perculiariter homini applicata inferior coelestibus, & superueniens formae informant, qua homo est homo.
Restat igitur, vt non possit esse alia substantia abiuncta a materia, [B] quam vna ex eis, quae mouent sphaeras coelestes, quum praeter eas nullam aliam substantiam separatam Aristot. in libris Metaphysicis considerauerit.
Aliqui tamen dicere ausi sunt, solas quidem coelestes intelligentias expresse ibi ab Aristot. nominatas fuisse, implicite tamen eadem tractatione comprehensam esse etiam humanam intelligentiam; quum enim eiusdem generis sint, id, quod de illis dicitur, de humana quoq; dictum intelligitur.
Sed hoc vanum est; [C] non enim obiectionem nostram effugiunt, quum Aristot. de solis illis intelligentiis, quae mouet orbes, se agere affirmet: adde, quod huic humanae intelligentiae non competunt conditiones ab Aristot. coelestibus attributae; eas enim primo loco inuenit ex aeterno motu, & eas primum cognouit vt semper mouentes vno continuo motu; humana vero, si datur, non semper orbem suum vno continuo motu mouet, quare sub eam tractationem reduci minime potest; non est igitur verum id, quod illi dicunt, [D]
de intelligentia humana esse intelligenda illa omnia, quae de caelestibus ab Aristotele declarantur, proinde si de hac quoq; ibi agere voluisset, eam absque dubio nominare seorsum, & eius proprias conditiones, per quas a caelestibus discrepat, expresse declarare debuisset. Manifestum igitur est, nullas alias substantias a materia abiunctas Aristoteli cognitas fuisse praeter intelligentias сaelorum motrices, quas dari ex aeterno motu demonstrauit, & haec omnia ita firmis [E] nituntur fundamentis, vt nullum certe subterfugiendi, aut cauillandi locum relinquant: igitur Themistii & Auerrois sententia de intellectu agente non eft Aristotelis, neq: vlla ratione defendi poteft.
*The ed. post. (1617) reads “qunt.”
Therefore, since the agent intellect is a substance essentially unconjoined with matter, and is called an intelligence, it is necessary either that it is some one of the higher intelligences that move the heavens, or that it is a form inferior to those, which is said to be either an angel or a daemon or an intelligence, and is a property of the human species. As such would be applied, in particular, to perfecting or bringing to its potential, the human mind and is potentially brought together with the human mind in the way that form is conjoined with matter. The latter was the opinion Themistius and Averroes held, which Marinus of Neapolis, in addition, [C] attributes to Plotinus.
Therefore, we will give an extended treatment to the question of which of these two should be attributed to Aristotle. First, we should establish as a firm and indubitable initial point, that it is not the role of natural philosophy but only of metaphysics to discuss substances that are essentially unconjoined with matter. Evidence of this is given by Aristotle in Book I, Chapter 1 of his Parts of Animals, where he says that it is not the part of natural philosophy to treat of the intellect. He gives the following reason: it does not pertain [D] to natural philosophy to speak concerning things unconjoined with matter, and the intellect is, moreover, not conjoined with matter. The Averroists argue to good effect, that Aristotle is seen there to say of the human intellect what we admit to them. Therefore, whatever in the human soul is unconjoined with matter, whether it be the passive intellect, which is said not to be the form of the body, or the agent intellect, it is certain that it essentially cannot be inquired into by natural philosophy, but only as it pertains to the human body, which the Averroists [E] do not, in fact, deny.
For it is the role of metaphysics alone, as Aristotle asserts in that very passage. Since, therefore, the agent intellect is a separate substance, it is clear that an explanation of its essence should not pertain to natural philosophy, but to Metaphysics, since natural philosophy cannot investigate it, except insofar as it is an agent of the human intellect.
A Point of Uncertainty
But someone will object: how then can Aristotle, in contexts 19 and 20 of Book 3 of the De Anima, consider its necessary conditions understood as pertaining to its essence [F] absolutely? From the solution of this point of uncertainty, the skill of Aristotle and of his position on the intellect becomes evident:
The question of the role of the agent intellect pertains, as it happens, to natural philosophy alone, since Aristotle indicates that it concerns the human intellect. However, Aristotle, seeing that we have not come to rest on this matter, and that we would be left in suspense concerning it unless he were to add, in addition, something there concerning [1029 A], what it is in itself. Therefore, he would like to say something briefly with a view toward grasping its essence, though so briefly and with such obscurity that he himself quite openly acknowledged that it coincides in an, as it were, “foreign” way with natural philosophy.
For, it is Aristotle’s custom, as part of his philosophical practice, to put forward a definition, or to give the essential conditions of a particular thing throughout his works, and to dilligently explain them, so that in many places, he is able to say whatever it may be; nevertheless, in this case, since he is writing on [B] the most outstanding, as well as the most obscure subject matter, he offers certain essential conditions for it in the midst of his text without explaining any of them. The result is that, by touching upon them lightly and not explaining them he indicates that the consideration of them and of the agent intellect itself, does not apply in that place.
Therefore, we may notice that in this place and in others as well, it is not unreasonable, if, in one discipline, something is sometimes touched upon that pertains to another discipline. Certainly that is necessary at times: for, since everything is inter-connected in a large-scale order and nexus, [C] so too, the contemplative disciplines ought to be inter-related such that one would sometimes touch upon matters that belong to another contemplative discipline. This is not unreasonable if it occurs lightly and with moderation, as Aristotle does in this place. We also noticed this in another place: the final chapter in Book 8 of the Physics, in which Aristotle discusses the impassive prime mover, which pertains to metaphysics rather than to natural philosophy.
Therefore, we evidently conclude, from this obscure and incomplete consideration of the agent intellect, [D] that just as substance itself, when it is thought in abstraction from matter, does not essentially pertain to natural philosophy, but to metaphysics. This is furthermore corroborated in another place by Aristotle’s testimony, for in Book 7 of the Metaphysics, Contextus 6, he says that it should be considered afterward whether, besides sensible susbtances another occurs apart from matter or not. He also proposes to inquire into the same subject in Contextus 29 of Book 12 and this is the more appropriate place in which Aristotle expressly treats more fully of such substances. [E] Therefore, when he proposes to do this in the aforesaid places, Aristotle indicates that we should not begin to examine any substance that is separate from matter prior to the books of the Metaphysics.
Therefore, we may see what substances Aristotle considers as being separate from matter in the 12th book of the Metaphysics and certainly no others are considered apart from those that move the heavens. For, he teaches that there are as many intelligences as there are spheres in motion: and no one can say that the human intelligence is there understood by Aristotle to be [F] one of the celestial spheres and that in addition to the moved spheres there may also be counted a human sphere, as some have attempted to say, since reading contexts 43 and 44 of Book 12, it is clear that Aristotle says that there are as many substances separated from matter as there are spheres. Moreover, the number of spheres must be received from Astronomy, and, in any case, an Astrologer does not study the human sphere, but only the celestial ones. Therefore, Aristotle does not consider any other intelligence other than those that move the celestial spheres.
Therefore, this is most certain about Aristotle: that he did not understand either daemons, or any of the inferior intelligences that are unconjoined with matter that move the heavens. For that reason, if the agent intellect is a separate form, it cannot be a daemon or particular intelligence that influence the human species by means of the lower celestial bodies that, supervening, inform the forms whereby man is man.
It remains, therefore, that it cannot be any other substance unconjoined with matter [B] apart from one of those that move the celestial spheres, since Aristotle does not consider any other separate substances apart from them in the Metaphysics.
The Evasion of the Averroists
However, some have ventured to say that, in fact, only the celestial intelligences were expressly mentioned there by Aristotle, but the human intelligence is implicitly understood in the same passage. For, since they are of the same genus, what is said about them is also understood to be said* the human intellect.
But this line of argumentation is ineffectual, [C] for they do not meet our objection, since Aristotle asserts that he is treating only of those intelligences that move the spheres. Additionally, the necessary conditions belonging to the human intelligence are not attributed to the heavens, since, in the first place, he reaches them from eternal motion and initially came to understand them as always moving in one continuous motion. But the human intelligence, if it enters into the discussion, does not always move its sphere in one continuous motion, wherefore, it can hardly be subsumed under this discussion in the text. Therefore, what they say [D] about the human intelligence is unsound, that everything Aristotle said about the heavens should be understood as applicable to the human intelligence. Accordingly, if he wanted to treat there of the latter as well, he would explicitly say so, no doubt, by naming it separately and the proper conditions whereby it differs from the heavens. It is therefore clear that no other substances unconjoined with matter are recognized by Aristotle apart from the intelligences, movers of the heavens, which, he demonstrates, follows from the premise of their eternal motion and all these are supported by such a firm [E] foundations that, certainly, they do not relinquish their standing due to subterfuge or quibbling. Therefore, the opinion of Themistius and Averroes is not that of Aristotle, and cannot be defended by any argument.
*Translating dictum as a somewhat uncommon supine translated as a future passive.