Paper on Aquinas
Real Things Causal Relation Sense Perceptions
Concepts & Ideas
The above diagram is a representation of our cycle of thought as perceived by Thomas Aquinas. It is explanation of what you we do to understand the world.
Aquinas was a Cautious realist or moderate realist (compared to Plato who is an extreme realist). Thomas states that we gain our Knowledge through sense perception and that our brains have certain centers in it for the five senses. Further more, there is a central or common sense that combines all the sense data into one sense perception. Aquinas has a very neutral approach to sense perception.
In the Aquinas sense, Imagination is another aspect of our mental faculties. Imagination is the source of sense images (images is used very broadly), referring to the way we interpret auditory and sense of sight, hot/cold, and a high note vs. a low note. These experiences that we can identify are called sense images. Intentional filling- the contribution your mind makes to the sense experience.
Another mental power is cognitive sense. This is something we share with other animals. It is the ability of our brain to make simple judgements. The fourth (common sense, imagination, cognitive sense) is memory which is the storage of these images that we have the ability to use at a later time.
According to St. Aquinas we also have a few more things in common with animals. One is Concupiscible appetite which is simply bodily desire, the other id Iraciple passions that are basic emotions, fear/anger.
The things that we do not have on common with animals are simple apprehension, simple judgments and discoursive reasoning (in the diagram above these fall under the category of words). Simple apprehension is identifying the sense perception with a name for it, recognizing that a cat is cat. Simple judgments involve using and combining your simple apprehensions in the formation of sentences. Disoursive reasoning is deals with inductive and deductive reasoning. Induction is combining many related experiences to come to a conclusion; the general conclusion is the induction. A deduction is whenever you combine many related experiences to come to a specific conclusion.
Next we will discuss the subjective or mind dependent qualities that are projected onto objects that do not naturally have these qualities. Those qualities and apparent goods are always subjective (not speaking of goods as in goods and services, good is what is perfective and relative to someone, all goods are relational) because sometimes you think what your doing is good, but it really can hurt you in the long run. A true good is good…the best way to explain it is that when you are thinking rationally you recognize and have an appetite for this true good (a rational appetite is that the mind itself drives to an end or whatever we apprehend is good). This is why will is a rational appetite (will is the rational appetite and the proper object of will is good/its rational because something in your mind has a notion of its good) because you, as a human have a choice. Humans just don’t function on instincts; we use our ability to think rationally. We have the ability to use this rationel and intellect in every part of our life. Will is a sense of our freedom, we can choose to do things, we have choices. We aren’t biographically driven to do one thing, we can choose to act against these drives, to do the contrary.
In your mind Aquinas says you can, in a sense, contain the whole world around you, using concepts which come from your brains sense perceptions and rationel. Your mind contains a concept that allows you to understand and have in your intelligence everything.