Volume 80, 2006
Intelligence and the Philosophy of Mind
Anthony J. Lisska
A Look at Inner Sense in Aquinas
A Long-Neglected Faculty Psychology
This paper investigates Aquinas’s thought on the vis cogitativa, in order to determine whether Aquinas’s use of the inner sense of the vis cogitative is an embarrassment (as Dorothea Frede recently suggested), or whether it is rather an important element in Aquinas’s philosophy of mind that calls for serious study (as John Haldane argued several years ago in an ACPA plenary address). An examination of Aquinas’s theory of inner sense (as found in the Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima) reveals that, for Aquinas, the vis cogitativa has two cognitive functions: (1) to be aware of an individual as an individual, and (2) to recognize an individual as a member of a kind. If Aquinas’ philosophy of mind did not include some account of the vis cogitativa, then it would not be able to accommodate what for Aquinas is a principal ontological category (namely, primary substance).