Theory of Knowledge 3: The irrationalist error in knowledge
By Orlando Fedeli - The theory of knowledge in Saint Thomas Aquinas, part 3 of 3
Note from the translator: Here is Chapter 1 of the 4th Part of the book “In Wonderland: the burlesque Gnosis of the TFP and the Heralds of the Gospel”, where Orlando Fedeli explain the theory of knowledge according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, before exposing how Plinio thought knowledge happened in men. In this series of posts, we are only interested in Fedeli’s interpretation of Aquinas. I am taking the freedom to break it in 3 posts
Imagination, cogitative, and the intellect
The irrationalist error in knowledge
The intellect is in immediate and close contact with the cogitative, receiving its cognitive determinants from it and turning to the cogitative to sensibly verify its judgments and rule the empire of its affectivity.
Some fall into irrationalism, considering that the cogitative directly knows reality through affectivity, through feeling, through action or through the will to power, or through sympathy. All these false opinions lead to irrationalism, negating the intellect. Intellection is then replaced by Action or Feeling, falling into romantic and modernist irrationalism, which sees feeling as the cause of Faith.
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In elaborating the phantasmata, sensitive images of reality, all the interior senses cooperate, especially the cogitative. St. Thomas insists that intelligence does not immediately receive its object from the external senses, but from the internal ones, and without a doubt, for St. Thomas, the cogitative is the highest and closest internal sense to intelligence.
“The phantasma must therefore be understood here as being the image of fantasy, as known by the cogitative, benefiting from past experience accumulated in memory, in intimate synergy” (Introduction to the Treaty of Man, in Summa teológica de São Tomás, BAC publishing house, Tome III, 20, p.78).
The way in which man understands things intellectually is realized by abstraction. The acting intellect draws from the sensible images presented by the interior senses, especially by the cogitative, intelligible species. Through abstraction only, the universal essence of the known being is acquired, disregarding the concrete individual. To abstract is to remove the universal from the particular, intelligible species of images, to consider the nature of the species without considering the individual principles represented by the images.
Knowing is a metaphysical action in which the known object is learned immaterially. To know is to capture what is true in being known.