Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re going through the doctrine of God right now and our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Right now, we’re discussing the doctrine of truth. Some may wonder why we discuss the doctrine of truth when we discuss the doctrine of God, but Aquinas found it important and as we go along, we will come to see why he did so.
Does truth reside in the intellect composing and dividing? What is meant here is the framing of propositions. We must understand that for Aquinas and for Aristotle, there were a number of ways that information could be taken in about the world and ways that people could respond to it.
The first was through the sensible and this is the way that animals can also respond. In this case, when your dog hears you calling his name, he comes to the sound of your voice. He’s cued in to respond to certain sensors in a way. When an animal feels pain, they respond to the pain. However, they do not form a philosophy of pain.
That is the area of the intellectual which is also an area the angels and God have. God and angels do not gather knowledge through sense experience. This is for the simple reason that they do not have bodies through which they can gather information for sense experience. They can know the sun is hot through intellectual means, but not through experience.
There was also desirability. This does not rely on the senses though it can be gained through sense experience and this lies in the area of the appetite. Desirability was different in that the desirability of the object lay in the object itself. For the intellect, the knowledge of the object lies in the mind of the knower.
While we gain some information through the senses, it is the intellect that works on making distinctions. For instance, I can touch two different animals and register them as “furry.” Both of them have four legs. Both of them have tails. Both have two eyes. However, one constantly has its tongue hanging out of its mouth and the other has whiskers around a tiny nose. I conclude the former is a dog and the latter is a cat.
The composing and dividing refers to taking different parts of information that comes through sense experience and learning to make knowledge claims about them. This takes place in the intellect. The intellect receives the information from the senses and in this way it makes distinctions about all that it receives. It can distinguish between a dog and a cat because it knows the sense experience is different. In the same way, it can also distinguish between truthfulness and falsity.
By saying a judgment is true, the intellect is looking at the information it receives and is looking at what it sees in the world and is saying that what the proposition states does indeed correspond to the facts of the world. If it does not, then the intellect says the opposite.
Thus, we agree with Aquinas once again and have learned more about the doctrine of truth.
We shall continue tomorrow.