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Cabrera, Shenika D.


Homework in Philosophy 1st, February 2014

Conception of Man according to St. Thomas Aquinas Aquinas starts off from the contingency of all finite being. Things have not given themselves their own being: neither their existence nor their essence, and this is indeed the Metaphysical foundation for asserting the existence of God: the radical contingency of all finite being demands the existence of a being which could be a foundation for itself and for the rest of reality, that is, God. All creatures are Metaphysically made of essence and existence (they are contingent, limited); on the contrary, the only necessary and infinite being, God, is the reason of their existence. And He is the reason of the whole world in an absolute sense (God creates the world starting off from nothing) and not, as in Greek explanations, starting off from some preexisting reality (as the Demiurge of Plato). Saint Thomas offers us a vision of creation as a hierarchically and pyramidal reality. Created beings are composed, structured. Aquinas uses Aristotelian concepts to talk about them: act and power, substance and accidents, material and form, adding the original distinction essence/existence (Metaphysical composition

responsible for their contingency). The hierarchical structure of beings of the world is ordered depending on their level of simplicity and proximity to the pure existence of God. Angels (compounds of essence and existence) are on the peak of creation, and then come men (whose substantial form is the soul, which is united with material). Material world substances are a compound of material and form. The man is the intersection point between the merely corporeal and spiritual being. The "form" called soul can exist independently of the body; however, the sensitive beings (as animals) or purely vegetative (as plants) have a corruptible form that cannot exist independently of the material. The form of the inert beings and the form of the first elements are the most imperfect ones. Still on an inferior degree there are the accidental forms, which do not exist by themselves (as substances) but in another being. And finally, in the lowest degree, is the absolute potentiality of the raw material, which is pure capacity of being. Much more than the rest of the natural beings, but less than angels, the man reflects in his being certain proportion with the divine being, locating between two worlds: made up of material body and spiritual soul, the first one ties him to the sensible world and the second

to the spiritual world. He is the most perfect being of the sensible world and the less perfect in the level of the intellectual substances. Aquinass conception of man resembles the Aristotelian point of view, but acquires an specific character in combination with the Christian thought: living beings have a realm of characteristic functions different from the nonliving beings: to be born, to nourish themselves, to grow, to reproduce, to move locally and to die, and in superior degrees to feel, to think and to want. Saint Thomas defines the soul as a principle of life and as the form of a physical body which potentially has life. The soul is what distinguishes the living beings from the nonliving beings.

Saint Thomas mentions the faculties: they are the active powers of the soul and the principles of vital functions. We should distinguish between corporeal and incorporeal powers or faculties: the first ones require a corporeal organ, whereas the second ones -as understanding and will- dont; they do operate from the essence of the soul where they belong. Apart from the intellect, divided in theoretical (which function is the knowledge of truth) and practical (which function is the action), human soul holds other three kinds of mental faculties: will or rational appetite, sensation faculties (vision, hearing, etc.) and sensuality or sensible appetite. Although Saint Thomas defends an anthropological dualism, his position is not as radical as Platos as he declares "man" is a conjunction of body and soul, and not solely soul (Plato). He even argues that, as the body has been created by God, we must love it as the consequence of our love for God.

Man belongs to natural and supernatural orders, but there is continuity between both. Thanks to the divine grace, he reaches a perfection he couldnt have reached by himself though, on the other hand, all the spheres of the human activity should be understood within their reference towards God; this tension towards the transcendent order is particularly clear in three spheres of the human being: knowledge, moral behavior and social behavior.

Conception of Man according to St. Augustine

Augustine's God is a wholly immaterial, supremely rational, transcendent creator of the universe. The twofold task of the Christian philosopher, a lover of wisdom, is to seek knowledge of the nature of God and of his own soul, the human self. For Augustine the soul is not the entire man but his better part. Augustine argued that since the will was reason, when people exercise their will, they are acting in the image of God, the supreme rational being.

Augustine believed man was directly created by God without sin (On the Nature of God, 3), which the whole race derived from Adam (CG XII, 21). When Adam sinned, all man sinned in him seminally (MRS 14). Man is a duality of body and soul (MCC 4, 6), and the image of God is in the soul (CD I, 22, 20). The fall did not erase this image (SL 48), although man's nature was corrupted by sin (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus XXXIII, 36). Human life begins in the womb at the time of animation (E 85). Miscarriages before this time simply "perish" (E 86). Man's soul is higher and better than his body (CG XII, 1), which is man's adversary (CX, 21, 43; TR 111, 103). There will be a physical resurrection of the bodies of all men, just and unjust (E 84, 92), to eternal bliss or agony respectively.