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04/10/2016

Human Person as Embodied Spirit St. Thomas Aquinas (1224 – 1274)
Human Person as Embodied Spirit
St. Thomas Aquinas
(1224 – 1274)
Life and Works: • Born in 1224 at Roccasecca, at the Aquino castle. • At
Life and Works:
• Born in 1224 at Roccasecca, at the Aquino castle.
• At 15, he enrolled in the newly founded
University of Naples
• He came into contact with a recently established
religious congregation, the Dominicans, and after
five years at Naples, wanted to join the
community
• 1245 – the Dominicans sent Aquinas to Paris for his novitiate and further studies
• 1245 – the Dominicans sent Aquinas to
Paris for his novitiate and further studies
• 1248 to 1252-he studied in Cologne
under the Dominican Albert the Great
• He returned to Paris to complete his
theological education, becoming a
Doctor of Theology in 1256

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• During these years, he composed his first major work, comparable in a way to
• During these years, he composed his first
major work, comparable in a way to a
doctoral thesis: a commentary on the texts
of the Fathers of the Church compiled by
Peter the Lombard
• He remained in Paris for three years as
professor of theology
• He lectured on the Bible and hold public
debates on theological topics
• 1259 – Thomas returned to Italy as professor of theology in Dominican houses of
• 1259 – Thomas returned to Italy as professor of
theology in Dominican houses of study
• 1265 – he opened a new house of study for the
Dominicans in Rome and taught there for two
years
• He rejected the usual textbook of theology and
began to write a new one Summa Theologiae
• After a further year as professor at the papal court in Viterbo, Thomas returned
• After a further year as professor at the papal
court in Viterbo, Thomas returned to Paris for
three years (1269-72)
• He returned to Italy in 1272 and continued his
work at the Dominican house of studies in Naples

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• December 6, 1273 – he had an unusual experience, certainly at least in part
• December 6, 1273 – he had an unusual
experience, certainly at least in part supernatural,
and immediately ceased his theological writing
• The next year he was asked to attend the
Ecumenical Council at Lyon, France, and on the
way he hurt his head in an accident and died at
the Cistercian monastery at Fossanova
• He died on March 7, 1274
• Canonized - 1323
Main Ideas: • St.Thomas understands man as a whole • Man is substantially united body
Main Ideas:
• St.Thomas understands man as a whole
• Man is substantially united body and soul
• Man is the point of convergence between
corporeal and spiritual substances
• Man “is one substance body and soul”
• He is insistent that man is a substantial unity
of body and soul
• “Man…is composed of spiritual and
corporeal substance”
• Man is an embodied soul, not a soul using a body as Plato asserted
• Man is an embodied soul, not a soul using a body
as Plato asserted
• Man is substantially body and soul
• Only the soul is a substance, while the body is
actual
• He asserts that any existing body is perfect or any
existing body is actual

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• No “body” can exist apart from matter • Any “body” should be necessarily be
• No “body” can exist apart from matter
• Any “body” should be necessarily be
material
• This means that any body is actual because it
exists as such completely as it is
• The mere existence of a body makes a body
complete, perfect and actual
• Per se, the human body is perfect • It has head, hands, feet, and
• Per se, the human body is perfect
• It has head, hands, feet, and all else that a
human body must have
• But it must be united to something else that
will enable it to perform its intrinsic function
as a human body
• The human body must be united with
something else which we call soul
• The human body has the potentiality to be animated by the soul • When
• The human body has the potentiality to be
animated by the soul
• When animation happens, the two
become one
• When a human body is animated by the soul
specifically during conception, “the soul
includes the body in its definition and in its
act”

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• The soul substantiates the body which is actual then becomes one with the body
• The soul substantiates the body which is
actual then becomes one with the body
in act
• It is through animation that the soul
substantiates the actual body
• The two become one substance
On the soul… • The soul, the animator of the human body, is a substance.
On the soul…
• The soul, the animator of the human body, is a
substance.
• It is a substance because it exists by itself; it is
incorporeal and spiritual.
• Soul is a substance because it acts, it wills, it
thinks, it knows, etc.
• The soul’s possession of will and intellect is a
priori and intrinsic in it.
• The soul is unified with the body
for its lower activity, i.e. sensation.
• Sensation can only be realized in the context of a body. The soul in
• Sensation can only be realized in the context of a
body. The soul in this context is limited that it
needs the correlative function of a material
element called body.
• Hence, the intellectual soul is understood by St.
Thomas as the form of the body because the soul is
the principle of life of the body, the principle of
nourishment and the principle of movement.
• Body and soul are substantially united.

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• Although the body and soul are substantially united, each retains its own substantial identity
• Although the body and soul are substantially
united, each retains its own substantial identity
because the soul is not the body in the same
manner that the body is not the soul.
• Soul is united to the body not only because of
perception, but also, because “it is the form of
the body.”
• By form, St. Thomas explains, is meant
that the soul is the body’s principle
of activity.
• A body, categorically speaking, can act only through the soul, because the latter is
• A body, categorically speaking, can act only
through the soul, because the latter is the
principle of life of the former.
• The soul in man is not only an embodied
substance in itself-because it is immaterial or
spiritual-but it is also, at the same time, the form
of the body.
• Thus, the parts of a human body can
only act according through the soul.
• Through this, the soul’s animation by the body (during conception) becomes evident. • In
• Through this, the soul’s animation by the
body (during conception) becomes evident.
• In this animation, the two are one in a form
of substantial unity in man.
• However, it must be made lucid that “a body
is not necessary to the intellectual operation
consideration as such but because of the
sensitive power, which requires an organ of
equitable temperament,” which
actually refers to the body.

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What does Thomas mean by substance? • Substance is that whose essence necessitates its own
What does Thomas mean by substance?
• Substance is that whose essence necessitates
its own existence.
• In simple terms, a substance essentially exists
by itself.
• But why did St. Thomas call the soul in man
substance?
• When the soul animates the body, does it
make the body also a substance?
• Accordingly, the soul and the body become substance only in terms of participation. •
• Accordingly, the soul and the body become
substance only in terms of participation.
• St. Thomas asserts that “everything that is in any
way it is, is from God.”
• For him, God is the only substance; God is the
only self-subsisting Being.
• But this does not imply that the human body and
the human soul are not substances.
• These are substances only by participation. • The human body becomes a substance, only
• These are substances only by participation.
• The human body becomes a substance, only
when it is animated by the soul.
• This animation is actually intrinsic in the human
body, for as long as there is a human body there
is also a soul (except in death which is only a
temporary separation of body and soul because
in the Last Judgment the two will be united
again); like the body, the soul is also a
substance.

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• Each of them becomes a substance by virtue of their participation with God, the
• Each of them becomes a substance by virtue of
their participation with God, the only substance.
• The human body and the human soul are one
substance in man and they are unified together
as an embodied soul.
• However, matter is subject to corruption.
• So, a human body “is subject to corruption by
necessity of its matter.”
• On the other hand, because the soul is
immaterial it is free from corruption.
• This logically makes the soul immortal. • Because it is immortal, its higher powers
• This logically makes the soul immortal.
• Because it is immortal, its higher powers
such as intellect and will “must remain in
the soul after the destruction of the body.”
• And the substantial unity of the body and
soul, according to St. Thomas, “ceases at
the cessation of breath….”
To sum up… • Man is substantially body and soul. • The soul is united
To sum up…
• Man is substantially body and soul.
• The soul is united with the human body
because it is the substantial form of the
human body.
• Further, it is the principle of life of the body.
• But the soul, however, requires the body as
the material medium for its operation
particularly perception.

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• Nevertheless, it has operative functions (higher powers) which do not need a material medium;
• Nevertheless, it has operative functions (higher
powers) which do not need a material medium;
they are man’s intellect and will.
• Thus, at death, the soul’s intellection and will
remain in the soul as it is immortal, simple, and
incorruptible.
• Body and soul before death are essentially united
because the two exist in a correlative manner
specifically in the context of perception.