The immateriality of the intellect in Thomas Aquinas' philosophical psychology

Adam Noel Wood, Fordham University


Thomas Aquinas' claim that the human intellect is immaterial figures prominently in his philosophical psychology. Despite its importance, however, there has yet to appear a sustained study of its meaning and significance in Aquinas' thought. My project aims to fill this gap in the literature. I survey topics in what we would call Aquinas' metaphysics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind and philosophy of religion in order to arrive at a robust understanding of what Aquinas meant by saying that humans have immaterial intellects. This project is of more than merely historical interest. Many philosophers have claimed recently both that Aquinas' philosophical psychology both provides resources for a mind-body theory superior to others currently on offer, and grounds the Christian doctrine of the bodily resurrection in better way than any alternative accounts. Given how central a role the immateriality of the intellect plays in Aquinas' thought, a thorough understanding of claim is needed in order to assess these views. I do not argue here that Aquinas provides a mind-body theory, as such theories are typically understood today, although I do explain how Thomas' philosophical psychology lines up in relation to several such theories prevalent in recent years. I do, however, claim in the concluding section of this project that the immateriality of the intellect, if defended in the way I propose, crucially undergirds an account of possibility of the resurrection superior to any others available.

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Recommended Citation

Wood, Adam Noel, "The immateriality of the intellect in Thomas Aquinas' philosophical psychology" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3563416.