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Summa Theologica by Aquinas

Whether there are to be distinguished five genera of powers in the soul?

Objection 1: It would seem that there are not to be distinguished five genera of powers in the soul -- -namely, vegetative, sensitive, appetitive, locomotive, and intellectual. For the powers of the soul are called its parts. But only three parts of the soul are commonly assigned -- -namely, the vegetative soul, the sensitive soul, and the rational soul. Therefore there are only three genera of powers in the soul, and not five.

Objection 2: Further, the powers of the soul are the principles of its vital operations. Now, in four ways is a thing said to live. For the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 2): |In several ways a thing is said to live, and even if only one of these is present, the thing is said to live; as intellect and sense, local movement and rest, and lastly, movement of decrease and increase due to nourishment.| Therefore there are only four genera of powers of the soul, as the appetitive is excluded.

Objection 3: Further, a special kind of soul ought not to be assigned as regards what is common to all the powers. Now desire is common to each power of the soul. For sight desires an appropriate visible object; whence we read (Ecclus.40:22): |The eye desireth favor and beauty, but more than these green sown fields.| In the same way every other power desires its appropriate object. Therefore the appetitive power should not be made a special genus of the powers of the soul.

Objection 4: Further, the moving principle in animals is sense, intellect or appetite, as the Philosopher says (De Anima iii, 10). Therefore the motive power should not be added to the above as a special genus of soul.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 3), |The powers are the vegetative, the sensitive, the appetitive, the locomotion, and the intellectual.|

I answer that, There are five genera of powers of the soul, as above numbered. Of these, three are called souls, and four are called modes of living. The reason of this diversity lies in the various souls being distinguished accordingly as the operation of the soul transcends the operation of the corporeal nature in various ways; for the whole corporeal nature is subject to the soul, and is related to it as its matter and instrument. There exists, therefore, an operation of the soul which so far exceeds the corporeal nature that it is not even performed by any corporeal organ; and such is the operation of the |rational soul.| Below this, there is another operation of the soul, which is indeed performed through a corporeal organ, but not through a corporeal quality, and this is the operation of the |sensitive soul|; for though hot and cold, wet and dry, and other such corporeal qualities are required for the work of the senses, yet they are not required in such a way that the operation of the senses takes place by virtue of such qualities; but only for the proper disposition of the organ. The lowest of the operations of the soul is that which is performed by a corporeal organ, and by virtue of a corporeal quality. Yet this transcends the operation of the corporeal nature; because the movements of bodies are caused by an extrinsic principle, while these operations are from an intrinsic principle; for this is common to all the operations of the soul; since every animate thing, in some way, moves itself. Such is the operation of the |vegetative soul|; for digestion, and what follows, is caused instrumentally by the action of heat, as the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 4).

Now the powers of the soul are distinguished generically by their objects. For the higher a power is, the more universal is the object to which it extends, as we have said above (Q, A, ad 4). But the object of the soul's operation may be considered in a triple order. For in the soul there is a power the object of which is only the body that is united to that soul; the powers of this genus are called |vegetative| for the vegetative power acts only on the body to which the soul is united. There is another genus in the powers of the soul, which genus regards a more universal object -- -namely, every sensible body, not only the body to which the soul is united. And there is yet another genus in the powers of the soul, which genus regards a still more universal object -- -namely, not only the sensible body, but all being in universal. Wherefore it is evident that the latter two genera of the soul's powers have an operation in regard not merely to that which is united to them, but also to something extrinsic. Now, since whatever operates must in some way be united to the object about which it operates, it follows of necessity that this something extrinsic, which is the object of the soul's operation, must be related to the soul in a twofold manner. First, inasmuch as this something extrinsic has a natural aptitude to be united to the soul, and to be by its likeness in the soul. In this way there are two kinds of powers -- -namely, the |sensitive| in regard to the less common object -- -the sensible body; and the |intellectual,| in regard to the most common object -- -universal being. Secondly, forasmuch as the soul itself has an inclination and tendency to the something extrinsic. And in this way there are again two kinds of powers in the soul: one -- -the |appetitive| -- -in respect of which the soul is referred to something extrinsic as to an end, which is first in the intention; the other -- -the |locomotive| power -- -in respect of which the soul is referred to something extrinsic as to the term of its operation and movement; for every animal is moved for the purpose of realizing its desires and intentions.

The modes of living are distinguished according to the degrees of living things. There are some living things in which there exists only vegetative power, as the plants. There are others in which with the vegetative there exists also the sensitive, but not the locomotive power; such as immovable animals, as shellfish. There are others which besides this have locomotive powers, as perfect animals, which require many things for their life, and consequently movement to seek necessaries of life from a distance. And there are some living things which with these have intellectual power -- -namely, men. But the appetitive power does not constitute a degree of living things; because wherever there is sense there is also appetite (De Anima ii, 3).

Thus the first two objectives are hereby solved.

Reply to Objection 3: The |natural appetite| is that inclination which each thing has, of its own nature, for something; wherefore by its natural appetite each power desires something suitable to itself. But the |animal appetite| results from the form apprehended; this sort of appetite requires a special power of the soul -- -mere apprehension does not suffice. For a thing is desired as it exists in its own nature, whereas in the apprehensive power it exists not according to its own nature, but according to its likeness. Whence it is clear that sight desires naturally a visible object for the purpose of its act only -- -namely, for the purpose of seeing; but the animal by the appetitive power desires the thing seen, not merely for the purpose of seeing it, but also for other purposes. But if the soul did not require things perceived by the senses, except on account of the actions of the senses, that is, for the purpose of sensing them; there would be no need for a special genus of appetitive powers, since the natural appetite of the powers would suffice.

Reply to Objection 4: Although sense and appetite are principles of movement in perfect animals, yet sense and appetite, as such, are not sufficient to cause movement, unless another power be added to them; for immovable animals have sense and appetite, and yet they have not the power of motion. Now this motive power is not only in the appetite and sense as commanding the movement, but also in the parts of the body, to make them obey the appetite of the soul which moves them. Of this we have a sign in the fact that when the members are deprived of their natural disposition, they do not move in obedience to the appetite.

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