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CHAPTER LXXXIIThat the Souls of Dumb Animals are not Immortal

NO activity of the sentient part can have place without a body. But in the souls of dumb animals we find no activity higher than the activities of the sentient part. That animals neither understand nor reason is apparent from this, that all animals of the same species behave alike, as being moved by nature, and not acting on any principle of art: for every swallow makes its nest alike, and every spider its web alike. Therefore there is no activity in the soul of dumb animals that can possibly go on without a body.452452The irrationality of dumb animals is apparent from this, first, that they are dumb (ἄλογοι), or devoid of rational speech; secondly, that they are uncivilised, and uncivilisable, except in so far as they partake of the civilisation of man; thirdly that, apart from man, they are racially unprogressive; fourthly, that they are devoid of all idea of morality and religion; fifthly, that there is no inter-breeding between them and even the lowest types of the one incontestably rational animal, man. The indefeasible coexistence of human shape and animal rationality is as well established as any coexistence in physical science. But, setting aside spiders and swallows, it is not true that monkeys, elephants, horses, dogs, and other educable animals, in their respective species, “all behave alike.” St Thomas however may claim to speak only of animals in a state of nature, wholly uninfluenced by man.

2. Every form separated from matter is actually understood. Thus the active intellect makes impressions actually understood, inasmuch as it abstracts them. But if the soul of a dumb animal remains after the body is gone, it will be a form separated from matter. Therefore it will be form actually understood. But “in things separated from matter understanding and understood are the same” (De Anima, III, iv, 13). Therefore the soul of a dumb animal will have understanding, which is impossible.453453Is not the term ‘separated from matter’ here used in two senses — (a) of a logical separation by abstraction, λόγῳ; (b) of a real separation in nature, φύσει? A tendency of Scholasticism, inherited from Neo-Platonism, was to think of Spirit as personified Idea or Form. The εἶδος took life and became δαίμων. Aristotle’s saying means that the universal, as such, exists only in mind. But the departed soul of a bear, if it be at all, is not a universal.

3. In everything that is apt to arrive at any perfection, there is found a natural craving after that perfection: for good is what all crave after, everything its own good. But in dumb animals there is no craving after perpetuity of being except in the form of perpetuity of the species, inasmuch as they have an instinct of generation, whereby the species is perpetuated, — and the same is found in plants.454454St Thomas adds, “and in inaminate things.” But they have not that craving consequent upon apprehension: for since the sentient soul apprehends only what is here and now, it cannot possibly apprehend perpetuity of being, and therefore has no physical craving after such perpetuity.455455The technical terms ‘physical’ and ‘psychical’ craving (appetitus naturalis et animalis) are expained in Ethics and Natural Law, I, pp. 49-53. Therefore the soul of a dumb animal is incapable of perpetuity of being.

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