Man's Higher Faculties
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)
Intellect & Will
Mind & Reason
Supernatural Grace, Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Conscience is a Practical
Judgment of the Intellect
Virtue of Prudence guides
the Judgment of the Intellect
The Supernatural Order is the Ensemble of Effects exceeding the Powers of the Created
Universe and Gratuitously produced directly by God for the purpose of raising the Rational Creature
above its Natural Sphere to a God-like Life and Destiny.
Adapted from various sources and edited
by Jonathan Dolhenty, Ph.D.
A Faculty is a Capacity or Power for Vital Operation. Man has Nutrition,
Growth, and Vital Generation, like the
Plants. He has Sensation,
Appetition, and Locomotion, like the non-Human
Animals. And he has the Higher Faculties of
Understanding and Will.
Man's Lower Faculties
[Love/Hatred, Desire/Aversion, Joy/Sorrow, Hope/Despair,
Frontal Lobe: Controls how we react to situations
Five (5) External Senses
[Touch, Smell, Hearing, Sight, Taste]
Cerebrum: Controls how we respond to different
Sensory signals (Sensation).
Parietal Lobe: Controls our Sense of
Occipital Lobe: Controls our Sense
Temporal Lobe: Controls our Sense of
Four (4) Internal Senses
[Sentient Consciousness, Imagination, Sentient Memory, and Estimation]
Pons: Controls our Breathing and Heartbeat.
Brain Stem: Sends all of the Decisions that the
Brain makes to the rest of the Body.
The system of Bodily Parts or Organs by
which Man exercises Sentiency is the Cerebrospinal
System, which consists of the Brain and the
Spinal Cord, the Cerebrospinal Nerves, and the External (or Peripheral)
The Five (5) External Senses (Sight, Hearing, Taste,
Smell, Touch) have their
Organs in the Outer Body, but their
findings are conveyed to the Brain by Nerves.
The Four (4) Internal Senses (Sentient Consciousness, Imagination,
Sentient Memory, and Estimation) have their
Organs in the Brain itself.
External Sensation is normally, and during Man's waking hours, immediately recorded in
Imagination and Consciousness.
Imagination also retains and, under Stimulus, evokes the recorded
Images of External Sensations. Sentient
Memory has the single-task of recognizing an evoked Imagination-Image as
something experienced in the past.
Estimation is an awareness of Usefulness or Harmfulness (of desirability or undesirability)
in a Sensed Object.
Man's Higher Faculties
Man's Vegetal and Sentient Faculties are
called his Lower-Faculties. His Understanding
(that is, his Mind, Intellect,
Intelligence, Reason and his
Will are his Higher-Faculties. Man's
Higher Faculties are those that belong to the Human Spiritual
Soul as their Proper-Object. These Faculties are Two (2), the
Intellect and the Will. The Intellect is
Man's Higher-Cognitive or Knowing-Faculty. The Will is Man's Higher-Appetitive
Faculty. And, since the Will is Appetition born of Intellectual
Knowledge, and since Intellectual Knowledge is frequently Knowledge of Possible
Action that is not necessitated, the Will is the Faculty of Free-Choice.
The Intellect is the Knowing-Power or Faculty rooted in the
Spiritual Soul. Man alone, of all Bodily Creatures, possesses
Intellect. Angels possess Intellect also.
God possesses Infinite Intellect
and knows all things.
The Intellect is a Power for Knowing things in an Abstract and Universal Way. It is the
Power for Knowing Essences. Further, it is the Power of Judging, and the Power of Thinking-Things-Out. It is also the Power
of Retaining or Remembering Meanings (that is, Essences, Judgments, Conclusions, Processes of Thinking); the Power of being Understandingly
Aware (either Instantly or by Process of Thought) of such Meanings, and of the Human Self; the Power of Recognizing the Agreement or
Disagreement of Human Conduct with the Rule of what such Conduct ought to be. In all its Services, the
Intellect is a Faculty or Power for Essential Knowing, that is for the Understanding Grasp of
Truth. Truth is the Object of the Faculty of
Intellect. It seeks Truth as the Eye
seeks Light. It is a Power connaturally formed to reach-after Truth and Attain it and
Possess it. Its Object is, therefore, the Truth of Thought (the
Truth about Things, not the Truth of Things); in a word, its Object is Logical
Truth (the Agreement of the Intellect with the Thing).
The name Intellect is a General Name for this Spiritual
Knowing-Faculty; so is the name Mind, although many modern writers use the word
Mind to indicate any form of Conscious Life, even Sentient Life; we make
Intellect and Mind synonymous in its various
services, the Intellect is variously named:
Inasmuch as the Intellect Instantly Recognizes Truths
that are Self-Evident, it is called Intelligence;
Inasmuch as the Intellect can think-out, by connected-steps, many
Truths that are not Self-Evident, it is called Reason;
Inasmuch as the Intellect is an Understanding Awareness of the Self and of the Mental
and Bodily Activities, and of the World of Things Knowable, it is called Intellectual Consciousness
(which is essentially different from Sentient Consciousness, an
Inasmuch as the Intellect (or more precisely the Intellect
as Reason) thinks-out the Moral Implications of a
Situation and Judges on a Point-of-Duty, it is called Conscience. Therefore,
Conscience is a Practical-Judgment of the Intellect and does not stem from
Feelings or Emotions;
Inasmuch as the Intellect retains its Knowledge, it is
called Intellectual Memory.
The Intellect is not an Organic Faculty,
that is, it is not exercised by the use of a special Bodily Sensory or
Organ. It is a Supra-Organic Faculty, a Spiritual
Faculty. It is not a Spiritual Substance, for in itself the
Intellect, like every Faculty, is a Quality-of-the-Substance it Marks and Serves. It is called
Spiritual because it is the Faculty of the Spiritual called the Human
Since the Intellect can Exercise the Activity-of-Knowing in a manner wholly impossible
to an Organic Faculty (for it can Know in Universal; it can grasp Abstract Essences; it can
lay hold of things that are utterly beyond the Power of Senses to Apprehend) we are forced
to call it a Supra-Organic Faculty. For "function follows upon
essence": as a Thing is, it Acts, and, conversely, as a Thing Acts, it is. The
Intellect has Supra-Organic Activities; therefore, necessarily, the
Intellect is itself Supra-Organic
Hence a Man does not Think, Reason, Judge, with his Brain; he does these things with the
Supra-Organic Faculty of Mind or
Intellect, a Soul-Faculty.
(A Union/Unity (1) of Body and Soul)
The Brain is indeed the Seat and Center of Sensation
(that is, of Sense-knowing). And in this Life of Union of
Soul and Body, the Soul-Faculty
of Intellect cannot come directly at its Object (the Truth about Things; the Understood
Essences of Things), but must find that Object by working-upon the Findings of the Senses.
Hence, since we localize Sensation essentially in the
Brain, we localize, by Analogy, the Activity of the Intellect in the
Brain; but this is not literally True Localization, and, above all, it is
not the Attributing to the Bodily Member called the
Brain the Spiritual Operations of the
Intellect. There is, in other words, an Extrinsic-Dependence of Intellect
on Brain in this life; but it is distinctly not an Intrinsic-Dependence. If
the Brain is Diseased, a Man's thinking usually goes
Wrong; the Man is not Sane; he cannot Think and Reason, Judge and Decide, as he could if his
Brain were Healthy and Normal. But this fact does not mean that the
Brain is the Essential Organ of Thought,
but only that it is Extrinsically-Essential during Man's Earthly Life.
The Object of the Intellect is Truth. It
is Truth about Things. And, since, in this life, there is an Extrinsic Dependence of the
Intellect upon the Senses (especially as
these have their findings focused in the Inner-Senses of the
Brain) we say that the Proper-Object of the Intellect in this life is the
Essences of Material Things, the Essences of Things that can be Sensed. The Adequate-Object
of the Intellect is Truth about all Knowable
The Operations of the Intellect are Apprehending, Judging, Reasoning. The
Intellect, inasmuch as it Actively Abstracts Essences, and so renders Things Understandable,
or Graspable in Universal, is called the Agent Intellect or the Image Interface. The
Intellect, inasmuch as it Understandingly Reacts to the Impression of Abstracted Essences and expresses these
within itself as Ideas or Concepts, is called the Actual Understanding.
The Idea or the Concept which is the First Fruit of the Intellect's First Operation called
Apprehending, is drawn by the Intellect from the Findings of the
Senses, as these are recorded in Conscious Imagination. Hence, the Origin of
Ideas is to be found in the Abstractive Power of the Intellect working on the Findings of the
Senses. Ideas are not born in us, as Innatism teaches. Ideas are not mere Collections of
Sensations, as Sensism teaches. Ideas are not revealed Elements of Knowledge handed-down
from generation-to-generation among Men, as Traditionalism teaches. Ideas are the Legitimate Fruitage of the Abstractive Activity of the
Intellect working upon the Findings of the Senses
(a Radical Empiricism). And once possessed of Ideas, the Intellect is equipped for Judging
and Reasoning, that is, for Exercising all of its Operations in its Connatural Drive or Tendency to possess
The Will - The Appetitive Power of the Soul
The Intellect is the Knowing-Power of the Human
Soul. The Will is the Appetitive Power or Faculty of the Human
Soul. It is the Power of Intellectual Appetition.
It is the Faculty for going after, or away from, what the Intellect presents as Desirable
(or Good) or Undesirable (or Bad).
Will therefore is rightly described by Saint Thomas Aquinas as Rational Appetency.
The Will, like the Intellect, is a
Supra-Organic Faculty. It is not Intrinsically-Dependent upon any
Bodily Member or Organ, or upon the whole
Body itself. It is a Spiritual Faculty , for
it is a Faculty which inheres in the Spiritual Soul.
The Will is a Faculty for Appetizing Understood Good. Thus,
the Object of the Will is Good. By the same token, it is a
Faculty for tending-away-from Understood Evil. Good is that
which is Appetizable, Desirable. Evil is that which is Unappetizable,
Undesirable, for it is a Negative Thing, and
consists in the Absence of Good.
Evil cannot be Appetized for its own sake, but only under the Aspect of
Good, that is, under the Appearance of what is Desirable.
The Intellect is capable of Objective-Judgments which are
Morally indifferent. That is, the Mind or
Intellect can let its Light shine-upon anything Thinkable, and can discern in it elements
of Positive-Being which is always Good, and elements of Defect or Absence-of-Being which are
Bad. No matter what the Mind Lights-Upon, may be seen in
the aspect of what is Factually there, or what Fails to be there. The Intellect can
therefore Judge as Desirable what is Truly not-so, because it 'Clothes', so-to-speak, the Lack or
Absence-of-Being with the Appearance-of-Being. And the Intellect can Judge as
Undesirable or Evil what is actually
Good, because it can Focus upon some Point or Detail of the
Good as Deficient. Thus a Murderer can
envision the Death of an Enemy as
Good, as Desirable, as Satisfying,
although it is really not so. Hence, the Intellect may set-before the
Will (its Appetency) an Object which is Evil,
but only by 'Clothing' that Object in the attractive-features of Good, that is, of what
Satisfies. This makes the Choice of Evil a Possibility. For the
Will, be it repeated, cannot Choose Evil as-such, but only
when it Appears-as or is Masked-as Good.
It would appear, then, at First Sight, that the Intellect
(by its Capacity for "Objectively-Indifferent-Judgments") is the Source-of-Choice and the Root-of-Responsibility in Man. But
while the Will always and inevitably follows upon the Ultimate-Practical-Judgment of the
Intellect, it is nevertheless the Will which allows the
Intellect to dwell upon an Object and reach Ultimate-Judgment on its Desirability or
Undesirability, its Good or Evil. The
Intellect is like a Spotlight which Illumines an Object, and may show-up in that Object
Points-Desirable and Points-Unattractive, and may dwell on either, or may transfer, so-to-speak, the 'Mask' of Desirability to what is
Unattractive in the Object. The Intellect is like such a Spotlight. But the
Will is like the Hand which controls-the-direction of the Spotlight.
An Illustration: A Motorist driving his car at night, inevitably follows the Headlights. But we do not say that the
Headlights choose the road for him. It is the Motorist who Chooses to turn the Headlights on this-road or that-road. The
Intellect is like the Headlights; the Will
is like the Motorist. So, upon consideration, we discern the Truth that though Will
follows Intellect (as the Motorist the Headlights) it is the
Will that is the Master-Faculty in any Deliberate-Choice of Man. It is the
Will that is the Root of Responsible Action.
The Will is indeed influenced by the Intellect,
for a Man cannot Will what he does not in some measure know. So we may say that the
Headlights of a car Influence the Motorist by suddenly revealing a fine stretch of Smooth Pavement leading off to left or right. Thus
the Intellect, Acting in the Manner of a Final-Cause, Attracts or Invites the
Will. But the Will Influences and
Moves the Intellect after the manner of an Effecting-Cause, just as the Motorist moves the
Headlights to Illuminate the Attractiveness which comes of the fact that a rough-road is the right-road, and away from the suddenly
Revealed and Illuminated Attractiveness of the smooth side-road which will not carry him to his Destination.
The Will is Free by the Freedom-of-Choice-of-Means. Man, made for Happiness in
the possession of Supreme Good, is not Free to change that Ultimate Goal.
Saint or Sinner, a Man goes after, inevitably,
what he regards, Rightly or Perversely, as
Ultimately-Fully-Satisfying. Man is made for the Supreme Good. And whether he goes North,
South, East, or West, he is striving towards that Good. Even when his efforts are carrying him
away-from it, it is that Good which he is after. So, even in the
Perverse (and not merely Mistaken) conduct of the Evildoer, there
is Manifest the Tendency which man is not Free to Change or to Reject -- the Tendency towards what will
So the Will is Free to Choose 'Means' to the Ultimate End, and it may Choose
Ruinously; but the Will is not Free to Choose the
Ultimate End itself; towards that, all Creation is Inevitably Set. If Man does not Choose the Right-Means to the Ultimate End, he
will miss the Ultimate End. The point we make is that it is the Ultimate End he is necessarily after, whether he goes towards-it or
directly away-from-it. In the Ultimate End, therefore, of Human Conduct, there is no Choice, no Freedom. Freedom is only
in the Choice-of-Means to the Ultimate End. The Human Will is truly Free by this
Freedom-of-Choice, or more accurately, by this Freedom-of-the-Choice-of-Means.
We conclude: The Human Will is endowed with True Freedom-of-the-Choice-of-Means to its
Ultimate End. The Human Will exercises its Freedom-of-Choice in every perfectly Deliberate
Human Act. The denial of Human Freedom-of-Choice is a flat contradiction of Reason, of all
experience, of the exigencies of daily existence, and, if logically followed, it would turn the
Mind to the Insanity of Skepticism, and Human Society into a
Chaos of Lawless Disorder.
The Ultimate End towards which all Creation is Inevitably Set
Last Judgment Triptych - by MEMLING, Hans - from Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk . . . (Click to enlarge)