Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bodies, Animals, and Minds 13 --- Quote from Ockham

From Quod. 2.11 (Freddoso/Kelley translation, p. 137):

"When a human being or a brute animal dies, numerically the same accidents remain as were there previously; therefore, they have numerically the same subject. The consequence is evident from the fact that an accident does not naturally migrate from subject to subject. But the subject in this case is not primary matter, since if it were, then primary matter would be the immediate recipient of absolute accidents --- which does not seem true. Therefore, some form that was there previously remains, and this form is not the sentient soul. Therefore, it is the [form of] corporeity.

The assumption, viz., that numerically the same accidents are in the living animal and the dead animal, I prove from the fact that if the accidents [of the dead animal] were different, they would at least be the same in species as the accidents of the living animal. This is evident from the fact that they are so similar that a human being is not able to discriminate between them."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bodies, Animals, and Minds 12 --- Ockham 4

What about the mind? Ockham also thinks that is a distinct thing too. But here, his reasons are theological. Like most Latin-speaking scholastics of his day, Ockham was a Christian, so he believed that the mind (or soul) survives after death.

If I were to die in the next few seconds, my mind would continue to exist, as a free-floating mind of sorts. But the animal in me would not survive, for animals cannot survive without a body. Hence, the mind that is doing all this thinking here, and the animal that is standing here now --- these must be distinct things too, just as the body and the animal that are standing here must be distinct as well.

For Ockham then, there are three distinct things here, and they all occupy the same region of space. There’s a body, there’s an animal, and there’s a mind. And this allows Ockham to easily explain things like why we leave a corpse behind when we die.

On the other hand, Ockham’s view doesn’t do justice to the intuitions that Aquinas heeded, namely the idea that here in this region of space, we normally think that there is just one thing here, namely a living organism who goes by the name of JT. So both Ockham and Aquinas do justice to certain intuitions we have about human beings, but they fail to do justice to all our intuitions.