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Summa Theologica by Aquinas

Whether the powers of the soul flow from its essence?

Objection 1: It would seem that the powers of the soul do not flow from its essence. For different things do not proceed from one simple thing. But the essence of the soul is one and simple. Since, therefore, the powers of the soul are many and various, they cannot proceed from its essence.

Objection 2: Further, that from which a thing proceeds is its cause. But the essence of the soul cannot be said to be the cause of the powers; as is clear if one considers the different kinds of causes. Therefore the powers of the soul do not flow from its essence.

Objection 3: Further, emanation involves some sort of movement. But nothing is moved by itself, as the Philosopher proves (Phys. vii, 1,2); except, perhaps, by reason of a part of itself, as an animal is said to be moved by itself, because one part thereof moves and another is moved. Neither is the soul moved, as the Philosopher proves (De Anima i, 4). Therefore the soul does not produce its powers within itself.

On the contrary, The powers of the soul are its natural properties. But the subject is the cause of its proper accidents; whence also it is included in the definition of accident, as is clear from Metaph. vii (Did. vi, 4). Therefore the powers of the soul proceed from its essence as their cause.

I answer that, The substantial and the accidental form partly agree and partly differ. They agree in this, that each is an act; and that by each of them something is after a manner actual. They differ, however, in two respects. First, because the substantial form makes a thing to exist absolutely, and its subject is something purely potential. But the accidental form does not make a thing to exist absolutely but to be such, or so great, or in some particular condition; for its subject is an actual being. Hence it is clear that actuality is observed in the substantial form prior to its being observed in the subject: and since that which is first in a genus is the cause in that genus, the substantial form causes existence in its subject. On the other hand, actuality is observed in the subject of the accidental form prior to its being observed in the accidental form; wherefore the actuality of the accidental form is caused by the actuality of the subject. So the subject, forasmuch as it is in potentiality, is receptive of the accidental form: but forasmuch as it is in act, it produces it. This I say of the proper and |per se| accident; for with regard to the extraneous accident, the subject is receptive only, the accident being caused by an extrinsic agent. Secondly, substantial and accidental forms differ, because, since that which is the less principal exists for the sake of that which is the more principal, matter therefore exists on account of the substantial form; while on the contrary, the accidental form exists on account of the completeness of the subject.

Now it is clear, from what has been said (A), that either the subject of the soul's powers is the soul itself alone, which can be the subject of an accident, forasmuch as it has something of potentiality, as we have said above (A, ad 6); or else this subject is the composite. Now the composite is actual by the soul. Whence it is clear that all the powers of the soul, whether their subject be the soul alone, or the composite, flow from the essence of the soul, as from their principle; because it has already been said that the accident is caused by the subject according as it is actual, and is received into it according as it is in potentiality.

Reply to Objection 1: From one simple thing many things may proceed naturally, in a certain order; or again if there be diversity of recipients. Thus, from the one essence of the soul many and various powers proceed; both because order exists among these powers; and also by reason of the diversity of the corporeal organs.

Reply to Objection 2: The subject is both the final cause, and in a way the active cause, of its proper accident. It is also as it were the material cause, inasmuch as it is receptive of the accident. From this we may gather that the essence of the soul is the cause of all its powers, as their end, and as their active principle; and of some as receptive thereof.

Reply to Objection 3: The emanation of proper accidents from their subject is not by way of transmutation, but by a certain natural resultance; thus one thing results naturally from another, as color from light.

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