Volume 91, Issue 2, Spring 2017
Rik Van Nieuwenhove
Contemplation, Intellectus, and Simplex Intuitus in Aquinas
Recovering a Neoplatonic Theme
This contribution examines two related points in relation to Aquinas’s understanding of contemplation, which is a sorely neglected topic in scholarship. First, after having outlined that the final act of contemplation culminates in an intellective, simple apprehension of the truth, I will examine how this act relates to the three operations of the intellect (grasping of quiddity, judgement, and reasoning) Aquinas identifies in a number of places. Second, I argue that his view of contemplation as simple insight is significantly indebted to Neoplatonic sources; therefore, we must pay attention to the way he introduces Neoplatonic elements into his Aristotelian framework. I conclude this contribution by suggesting some reasons—of a theological nature—why Aquinas would have been drawn towards a non-discursive or “intuitive” notion of contemplation.