Objection 1: It would seem that the powers of the soul are not distinguished by acts and objects. For nothing is determined to its species by what is subsequent and extrinsic to it. But the act is subsequent to the power; and the object is extrinsic to it. Therefore the soul's powers are not specifically distinct by acts and objects.
Objection 2: Further, contraries are what differ most from each other. Therefore if the powers are distinguished by their objects, it follows that the same power could not have contrary objects. This is clearly false in almost all the powers; for the power of vision extends to white and black, and the power to taste to sweet and bitter.
Objection 3: Further, if the cause be removed, the effect is removed. Hence if the difference of powers came from the difference of objects, the same object would not come under different powers. This is clearly false; for the same thing is known by the cognitive power, and desired by the appetitive.
Objection 4: Further, that which of itself is the cause of anything, is the cause thereof, wherever it is. But various objects which belong to various powers, belong also to some one power; as sound and color belong to sight and hearing, which are different powers, yet they come under the one power of common sense. Therefore the powers are not distinguished according to the difference of their objects.
On the contrary, Things that are subsequent are distinguished by what precedes. But the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 4) that |acts and operations precede the powers according to reason; and these again are preceded by their opposites,| that is their objects. Therefore the powers are distinguished according to their acts and objects.
I answer that, A power as such is directed to an act. Wherefore we seek to know the nature of a power from the act to which it is directed, and consequently the nature of a power is diversified, as the nature of the act is diversified. Now the nature of an act is diversified according to the various natures of the objects. For every act is either of an active power or of a passive power. Now, the object is to the act of a passive power, as the principle and moving cause: for color is the principle of vision, inasmuch as it moves the sight. On the other hand, to the act of an active power the object is a term and end; as the object of the power of growth is perfect quantity, which is the end of growth. Now, from these two things an act receives its species, namely, from its principle, or from its end or term; for the act of heating differs from the act of cooling, in this, that the former proceeds from something hot, which is the active principle, to heat; the latter from something cold, which is the active principle, to cold. Therefore the powers are of necessity distinguished by their acts and objects.
Nevertheless, we must observe that things which are accidental do not change the species. For since to be colored is accidental to an animal, its species is not changed by a difference of color, but by a difference in that which belongs to the nature of an animal, that is to say, by a difference in the sensitive soul, which is sometimes rational, and sometimes otherwise. Hence |rational| and |irrational| are differences dividing animal, constituting its various species. In like manner therefore, not any variety of objects diversifies the powers of the soul, but a difference in that to which the power of its very nature is directed. Thus the senses of their very nature are directed to the passive quality which of itself is divided into color, sound, and the like, and therefore there is one sensitive power with regard to color, namely, the sight, and another with regard to sound, namely, hearing. But it is accidental to a passive quality, for instance, to something colored, to be a musician or a grammarian, great or small, a man or a stone. Therefore by reason of such differences the powers of the soul are not distinct.
Reply to Objection 1: Act, though subsequent in existence to power, is, nevertheless, prior to it in intention and logically; as the end is with regard to the agent. And the object, although extrinsic, is, nevertheless, the principle or end of the action; and those conditions which are intrinsic to a thing, are proportionate to its principle and end.
Reply to Objection 2: If any power were to have one of two contraries as such for its object, the other contrary would belong to another power. But the power of the soul does not regard the nature of the contrary as such, but rather the common aspect of both contraries; as sight does not regard white as such, but as color. This is because of two contraries one, in a manner, includes the idea of the other, since they are to one another as perfect and imperfect.
Reply to Objection 3: Nothing prevents things which coincide in subject, from being considered under different aspects; therefore they can belong to various powers of the soul.
Reply to Objection 4: The higher power of itself regards a more universal formality of the object than the lower power; because the higher a power is, to a greater number of things does it extend. Therefore many things are combined in the one formality of the object, which the higher power considers of itself; while they differ in the formalities regarded by the lower powers of themselves. Thus it is that various objects belong to various lower powers; which objects, however, are subject to one higher power.