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CHAPTER XCIThat there are Subsistent Intelligences not united with Bodies485485In other words, there are angels.

WHEN human bodies perish in death, the substance of the intelligence remains in perpetuity (Chap. LXXIX). Now if the substance of the intelligence that remains is one for all, as some say, it follows necessarily that it has being apart from body; and thus our thesis is proved, that some subsistent intelligence exists apart from a body. But if a multitude of intelligent souls remain after the destruction of their bodies, then some subsistent intelligences will have the property of subsisting without bodies, all the more inasmuch as it has been shown that souls do not pass from one body to another (Chap LXXXIII). But the property of subsisting apart from bodies is an incidental property in souls, since naturally they are the forms of bodies. But what is ordinary must be prior to what is incidental. There must then be some subsistent intelligences naturally prior to souls; and to these intelligences the ordinary property must attach of subsisting without bodies.

3. The higher nature in its lowest manifestation touches the next lower nature in its highest. But intelligent nature is higher than corporeal, and at the same time touches it in some part, which is the intelligent soul. As then the body perfected by the intelligent soul is highest in the genus of bodies, 173so the intelligent soul united to the body must be lowest in the genus of subsistent intelligences. There are then subsistent intelligences not united with bodies, superior in the order of nature to the soul.486486There is a vast lacuna in nature, if nothing in the scale of being intermediates between man and God. It may be said that disembodied spirits so intermediate, especially if we allow, what St Thomas does not, that, once parted from the body, the soul expands into a perfect spiritual substance, with no remaining natural exigency of reunion with the body. Yet even so, if spirits exist which have been in bodies, why not other spirits which never have been in bodies? Throughout this argument we cannot travel beyond congruity. For the fact of the existence of angels we require either experience, which we have not, or divine revelation, which we have.

7. The substance of a thing must be proportionate to its activity, because activity is the actualisation and perfection of an active substance. But understanding is the proper activity of an intelligent substance. Therefore an intelligent substance must be competent for such activity. But understanding is an activity not exercised through any bodily organ, and not needing the body except in so far as objects of understanding are borrowed from objects of sense. But that is an imperfect mode of understanding: the perfect mode of understanding is the understanding of those objects which are in themselves intelligible: whereas it is an imperfect mode of understanding when those things only are understood, which are not of themselves intelligible, but are rendered intelligible by intellect.487487He means material and sensible things, which become intelligible only by the understanding forming universal concepts to view them with. See p. 146. If then before everything imperfect there must be something perfect in that kind,488488Another expression of the Aristotelian and scholastic principle, that the actual precedes the potential. there must be antecedently to human souls, which understand what they gather from phantasms, sundry subsistent intelligences which understand things in themselves intelligible, not gathering their knowledge from sensible objects, and therefore in their nature separate from anything corporeal.


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