Listers, we continue in our study of the soul. Today we focus on the Sensitive Soul or Animal Soul. The following quotes are taken from Gilson’s Christian Philosophy. I will once again voice my concern over Gilson, and state he is good for certain elementary concepts; however, students of our Angelic Doctor should turn to Ralph McInerny or Fr. Garrigou-Langrange.
Again to escape an accusation of Catholic-Druidism, I’d like to state that the belief that animals have souls dates back to Aristotle, and was maintained with the Scholastic tradition. Moreover, the Vegetative and Sensitive Souls are mortal, they will return to dust, and only the Rational Soul of man is made in the Imago Dei.
1. What is the Sensitive Soul?
The Sensitive Power “is the lowest degree of the knowledge to be encountered in the universe.” The Sensitive Soul – characterized by the Sensitive Power – brings with it that which is necessary for animal existence.
And we must state that the listed powers are those which the Sensitive Soul adds in conjunction with the powers listed in the Vegetative Soul. Animals, like Plants, have the ability to come into existence, move from a nascent creature to a mature one, and receive nourishment. Likewise, the Rational Soul takes up the powers of both the Sensitive and the Vegetative.
2. What is a Particular Sense?
The term Particular Sense denotes an individual power that corresponds with a particular object, and is able to inform the soul of various sensible realities. The Particular Sense most commonly has five powers, which we know as the five senses. For example, hearing is the power that corresponds with the object of sound, and it informs the soul of that particular sensible reality.
Particular Sense: “which is the first in the order of sensitive powers and corresponds to an immediate modification of the soul be sensible realities. But the particular sense is in turn subdivided into distinct powers according to the various kinds of sensible impressions it is equipped to receive. Sensible act upon the particular sense by the species which they impress upon it;” hence, “let us begin, then, from the principle that the senses receive sensible species denuded of matter.”
3. What Are the Five Senses?
Touch: “Since sensibles of this kind produce material impressions in us, and since every material impression is made by contact, such sensibles must touch us in order that we may perceive them. Hence the sensitive power which apprehends them is called touch.”
Taste: “There is a second kind of sensible whose impression does not itself modify us, but yet it is accompanied by an accessory material modification. Sometimes this supplementary modification affects both the sensible and the sense organ. This is the case with taste.”
Hearing & Smell: “Hearing and smell suppose no material modification of the sense organ. They perceive from a distance and across an exterior medium, the material modifications which have affected the sensible object.”
Sight: “Finally, we have a last class of sensibles which act upon the sense without any corporeal modification accompanying their action. These are color and light. The process by which such species emanate from the object to act upon the subject is totally spiritual. Here, with the noblest and most universal of the senses, we achieve and operation very similar to the intellectual operations properly so-called. Numerous, indeed, are the comparisons which can be drawn between intellectual knowledge and sight, between the eye of the soul and the eye of the body.”
4. What is Common Sense?
The term common sense today generally refers to a type of sound practical judgment in mundane matters; however, the term original stood in distinction to the particular sense.
Common Sense: “Thus we must posit a common sense, to which we can refer, as to a common term, all sense apprehensions so that it may judge them and distinguish them from one another,” and “indeed, it is quite obvious that we are aware that we see. Such knowledge cannot belong to the particular sense which only knows the sensible form which affects it. But when the modification which this form has impressed upon the particular sense has determined the vision, then the visual sensation, in its turn, modifies the common sense. Thus the common sense perceives the vision itself.”
5. Do Animals Have Imagination?
Why would animals even need imagination? – “The objects apprehended by an animal determine what its movements and actions will be. Thus it would never make a move toward satisfying its need if it could not represent these same objects to itself even in their absence. Thus the animal’s sensitive soul must be capable, not only of receiving sensible species but also of holding and preserving them within itself.”
“Since therefore, the sensitive power of the soul is the act of a corporeal organ, it must have two different powers, one to receive sensible species, the other to preserve them. This power to preserve is called fancy or imagination.”
6. What Type of Memory Does the Sensitive Soul Have?
Estimative Power (Memory): “The sheep does not avoid the wolf, nor the bird glean the straw because the shape and color of these objects are pleasing it displeasing, but because they perceive them directly as either opposed to their nature or in accord with it. This new power is called the estimative power. It makes possible the fourth internal sensitive power, memory.”