CT 38: The Word as Conception

Chapter 38 appears to be sort of a connector between the previous and subsequent chapters, and I confess I don’t see the point of it:

What is contained in the intellect, as an interior word, is by common usage said to be a conception of the intellect.

OK; this is a reasonable definition; let’s move on.

A being is said to be conceived in a corporeal way if it is formed in the womb of a living animal by a life-giving energy, in virtue of the active function of the male and the passive function of the female, in whom the conception takes place. The being thus conceived shares in the nature of both parents and resembles them in species.

OK. And so?

In a similar manner, what the intellect comprehends is formed in the intellect, the intelligible object being, as it were, the active principle, and the intellect the passive principle. That which is thus comprehended by the intellect, existing as it does within the intellect, is conformed both to the moving intelligible object, of which it is a certain likeness, and to the quasi-passive intellect, which confers on it intelligible existence. Hence what is comprehended by the intellect is not unfittingly called the conception of the intellect.

Oh. It never would have occurred to me to link the word “conception”, an idea, with the word “conception”, as when a child is conceived. But OK, it’s a reasonable metaphor.

A quick glance ahead shows that Thomas, having indicated the similarity, is next going to draw some distinctions. But that’s the next post.

Comments are closed.