Thomas Aquinas on the Nature of Singular Thought
Trapp, Michael Vann
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In his account of the intellectual cognition of singulars, Aquinas claims that the intellect cognizes singulars by way of mental images. Some recent commentators have claimed that Aquinas' appeal to mental images is inadequate to account for the intellectual cognition of singulars because mental images considered in terms of their qualitative character alone have content that is general and are, therefore, insufficient to determine reference to a singular. That is, if Aquinas takes mental images to refer to singulars because those singulars perfectly resemble the mental images, then his account is deficient. In my paper, I argue that the critical interpretation above is predicated on a misunderstanding of Aquinas regarding the intentionality of images. I investigate Aquinas' account of the intentionality of images in order to show that Aquinas understands the reference of mental images to be determined not by their qualitative character alone but also by the causal relation that obtains between the cognizer and a singular.
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