(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy: A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P. The first post took place on 3-21-17. All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)
Quote: Elements of Philosophy, page 17; chapter 2, section 4, paragraph 1.
“Judgment is the second operation of the intellect by which something is affirmed or denied of something else. It is referred to as composing or dividing, or as combining or separating, since by it the essences apprehended in the first operation are associated or dissociated. Its necessity arises from the limitation inherent in simple apprehension, which is abstract and attains only a partial aspect of a thing at a time. To know the thing as it is in reality, a single whole, one and concretely existing, a mental operation is required that reintegrates the intelligible aspects of the thing and signifies it as existing. This requires a comparison, the establishment of a relation, which is the unity of its terms. This comparison is judgment, combination and separation. As an operation it is always a combination or composition, though from the standpoint of the apprehended essences it is either combination or separation according as they are perceived to belong together or not. By judging and forming a proposition the intellect restores natures to subjects and accounts to substances, thus re-establishing the condition in which things exist.”
I do not recall the source, but I once read the following which serves as a metaphor for making clear what is being talked about above by Wallace.
Imagine a man is telling a joke to fellow workers at a horse paddock. Closely grouped together are the man telling the joke, two or three co-workers, and a horse. The horse’s sense organs are as acute as the sense organs of the humans present, if not more so. The horse can see tiny changes in the joke-teller’s facial expressions and body posture; some of which are missed by those listening to the joke. The horse can hear nuances of volume, tone, muffling, pauses in speech, the extended expression of important syllables; some of which the humans present are not attentive or at least not consciously attentive.
And yet, when the joke is done being told, the humans present laugh but the horse does not. Though the horse has gathered every sense datum the humans did, and perhaps many they did not, the horse cannot organize the sense information gathered into an intelligible form which would lead it to laugh, assuming it had the physical organs to do so. The horse cannot feel humor. Probably, an electro-encephalogram of its brain would not indicate any significant change in its cerebral activity as the joke is told as compared to its electro-chemical activity evidenced later in the day when its leg is being gently attended by a veterinarian or when it is being groomed.
The human brain connects sense datums; information input through the senses. Each is gathered through the sense organ, transmitted via specialized nerves, deposited in the brain at the time these sense datums are obtained. But in order for the person holding the red ball to know its a red ball in her hand, a mental activity must combine and integrate those sense datums into a single whole which is then able to say “this exists” and “this is such and so”.
The physical organ called the brain is not what accomplishes this combining, integration, identification, and recognition. What accomplishes this is the mind. The immaterial mind is the function of the immaterial human soul which, in addition to this intellectual ability to make such judgments, is the source of awareness and will. Through the mental abilities of judgment, memory, and imagination, the human person combines and integrates sense data into an idea of the existence and essence of the thing being considered by that human mind. This combining and integrating ability is a wondrous thing. It combines sense datums regarding some object one is considering which are obtained at different moments through the sense organs. Each of those moments provides sense data which is from a different perspective or point of view, conditioned by the different emotional and physical and mental states of the person observing the thing being considered. Because this human person has imagination, s/he is also able to integrate aspects of the thing being considered which cannot be seen and thus use that information as well to come to a correct understanding of the essence of the thing being considered. In this respect we might think of Einstein’s thought-experiment of riding on a light beam or G.K. Chesterton speaking of the back-side of God. More commonly, we become aware through imagination that with direct vision, the cube of iron at which we are looking can only provide to our vision three of its six sides at any one time.
The role of the physical organ called the brain and the rest of the physical form of the human person is to allow this intellectual mental ability to interface with and be expressed in a material reality and environment. Further, because human persons are incarnate spirits, a unified body and soul, our human way of recognition of existence and essence can only happen in the material world and environment.
In order for us to have awareness of existence and essence in the afterlife of eternal bliss, there will need to be some modification of the human form. Perhaps this is part of what is being expressed in the New Testament letters of 1 Corinthians, Philippians, and Colossians when these speak of the glorification of the human body following death.