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Home > Summa Theologica > Supplement > Question 70

Question 70. The quality of the soul after leaving the body, and of the punishment inflicted on it by material fire

  1. Do the sensitive powers remain in the separated soul?
  2. Do the acts of the aforesaid powers remain in the soul?
  3. Can the separated soul suffer from a material fire?

Article 1. Whether the sensitive powers remain in the separated soul? [Cf. I, 77, 8]

Objection 1. It would seem that the sensitive powers remain in the sensitive soul. For Augustine says (De Spir. et Anim. xv): "The soul withdraws from the body taking all with itself, sense and imagination, reason, understanding and intelligence, the concupiscible and irascible powers." Now sense, imagination, concupiscible and irascible are sensitive powers. Therefore the sensitive powers remain in the separated soul.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says (De Eccl. Dogm. xvi): "We believe that man alone has a substantial soul, which lives though separated from the body, and clings keenly to its senses and wits." Therefore the soul retains its senses after being separated from the body.

Objection 3. Further, the soul's powers are either its essential parts as some maintain, or at least are its natural properties. Now that which is in a thing essentially cannot be separated from it, nor is a subject severed from its natural properties. Therefore it is impossible for the soul to lose any of its powers after being separated from the body.

Objection 4. Further, a whole is not entire if one of its parts be lacking. Now the soul's powers are called its parts. Therefore, if the soul lose any of its powers after death, it will not be entire after death: and this is unfitting.

Objection 5. Further, the soul's powers co-operate in merit more even than the body, since the body is a mere instrument of action, while the powers are principles of action. Now the body must of necessity be rewarded together with the soul, since it co-operated in merit. Much more, therefore, is it necessary that the powers of the soul be rewarded together with it. Therefore the separated soul does not lose them.

Objection 6. Further, if the soul after separation from the body loses its sensitive power, that must needs come to naught. For it cannot be said that it is dissolved into some matter, since it has no matter as a part of itself. Now that which entirely comes to naught is not restored in identity; wherefore at the resurrection the soul will not have the same identical sensitive powers. Now according to the Philosopher (De Anima ii, 1), as the soul is to the body so are the soul's powers to the parts of the body, for instance the sight to the eye. But if it were not identically the same soul that returns to the body, it would not be identically the same man. Therefore for the same reason it would not be identically the same eye, if the visual power were not identically the same; and in like manner no other part would rise again in identity, and consequently neither would the whole man be identically the same. Therefore it is impossible for the separated soul to lose its sensitive powers.

Objection 7. Further, if the sensitive powers were to be corrupted when the body is corrupted, it would follow that they are weakened when the body is weakened. Yet this is not the case, for according to De Anima i, "if an old man were given the eye of a young man, he would, without doubt, see as well as a young man." Therefore neither are the sensitive powers corrupted when the body is corrupted.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Eccl. Dogm. xix): "Of two substances alone does man consist, soul and body: the soul with its reason, and the body with its senses." Therefore the sensitive powers belong to the body: and consequently when the body is corrupted the sensitive powers remain not in the soul.

Further, the Philosopher, speaking of the separation of the soul, expresses himself thus (Metaph. xi, 3): "If, however, anything remain at last, we must ask what this is: because in certain subjects it is not impossible, for instance if the soul be of such a disposition, not the whole soul but the intellect; for as regards the whole soul this is probably impossible." Hence it seems that the whole soul is not separated from the body, but only the intellective powers of the soul, and consequently not the sensitive or vegetative powers.

Further, the Philosopher, speaking of the intellect, says (De Anima ii, 2): "This alone is ever separated, as the everlasting from the corruptible: for it is hereby clear that the remaining parts are not separable as some maintain." Therefore the sensitive powers do not remain in the separated soul.

I answer that, There are many opinions on this question. For some, holding the view that all the powers are in the soul in the same way as color is in a body, hold that the soul separated from the body takes all its powers away with it: because, if it lacked any one of them, it would follow that the soul is changed in its natural properties, since these cannot change so long as their subject remains. But the aforesaid view is false, for since a power is so called because it enables us to do or suffer something, and since to do and to be able belong to the same subject, it follows that the subject of a power is the same as that which is agent or patient. Hence the Philosopher says (De Somn. et Vigil.) that "where we find power there we find action." Now it is evident that certain operations, whereof the soul's powers are the principles, do not belong to the soul properly speaking but to the soul as united to the body, because they are not performed except through the medium of the body--such as to see, to hear, and so forth. Hence it follows that such like powers belong to the united soul and body as their subject, but to the soul as their quickening principle, just as the form is the principle of the properties of a composite being. Some operations, however, are performed by the soul without a bodily organ--for instance to understand, to consider, to will: wherefore, since these actions are proper to the soul, the powers that are the principles thereof belong to the soul not only as their principle but also as their subject. Therefore, since so long as the proper subject remains its proper passions must also remain, and when it is corrupted they also must be corrupted, it follows that these powers which use no bodily organ for their actions must needs remain in the separated body, while those which use a bodily organ must needs be corrupted when the body is corrupted: and such are all the powers belonging to the sensitive and the vegetative soul. On this account some draw a distinction in the sensitive powers of the soul: for they say that they are of two kinds--some being acts of organs and emanating from the soul into the body are corrupted with the body; others, whence the former originate, are in the soul, because by them the soul sensitizes the body for seeing, hearing, and so on; and these primary powers remain in the separated soul. But this statement seems unreasonable: because the soul, by its essence and not through the medium of certain other powers, is the origin of those powers which are the acts of organs, even as any form, from the very fact that by its essence it informs its matter, is the origin of the properties which result naturally in the composite. For were it necessary to suppose other powers in the soul, by means of which the powers that perfect the organs may flow from the essence of the soul, for the same reason it would be necessary to suppose other powers by means of which these mean powers flow from the essence of the soul, and so on to infinity, and if we have to stop it is better to do so at the first step.

Hence others say that the sensitive and other like powers do not remain in the separated soul except in a restricted sense, namely radically, in the same way as a result is in its principle: because there remains in the separated soul the ability to produce these powers if it should be reunited to the body; nor is it necessary for this ability to be anything in addition to the essence of the soul, as stated above. This opinion appears to be the more reasonable.

Reply to Objection 1. This saying of Augustine is to be understood as meaning that the soul takes away with it some of those powers actually, namely understanding and intelligence, and some radically, as stated above [Cf. I, 77, 8, ad 1 and infra 2, ad 1].

Reply to Objection 2. The senses which the soul takes away with it are not these external senses, but the internal, those, namely, which pertain to the intellective part, for the intellect is sometimes called sense, as Basil states in his commentary on the Proverbs, and again the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 11). If, however, he means the external senses we must reply as above to the first objection.

Reply to Objection 3. As stated above, the sensitive powers are related to the soul, not as natural passions to their subject, but as compared to their origin: wherefore the conclusion does not follow.

Reply to Objection 4. The powers of the soul are not called its integral but its potential parts. Now the nature of such like wholes is that the entire energy of the whole is found perfectly in one of the parts, but partially in the others; thus in the soul the soul's energy is found perfectly in the intellective part, but partially in the others. Wherefore, as the powers of the intellective part remain in the separated soul, the latter will remain entire and undiminished, although the sensitive powers do not remain actually: as neither is the king's power decreased by the death of a mayor who shared his authority.

Reply to Objection 5. The body co-operates in merit, as an essential part of the man who merits. The sensitive powers, however, do not co-operate thus, since they are of the genus of accidents. Hence the comparison fails.

Reply to Objection 6. The powers of the sensitive soul are said to be acts of the organs, not as though they were the essential forms of those organs, except in reference to the soul whose powers they are. But they are the acts of the organs, by perfecting them for their proper operations, as heat is the act of fire by perfecting it for the purpose of heating. Wherefore, just as a fire would remain identically the same, although another individual heat were in it (even so the cold of water that has been heated returns not identically the same, although the water remains the same in identity), so the organs will be the same identically, although the powers be not identically the same.

Reply to Objection 7. The Philosopher is speaking there of these powers as being rooted in the soul. This is clear from his saying that "old age is an affection not of the soul, but of that in which the soul is," namely the body. For in this way the powers of the soul are neither weakened nor corrupted on account of the body.

Article 2. Whether the acts of the sensitive powers remain in the separated soul?

Objection 1. It would seem that the acts of the sensitive powers remain in the separated soul. For Augustine says (De Spiritu et Anima xv): "When the soul leaves the body it derives pleasure or sorrow through being affected with these" (namely the imagination, and the concupiscible and irascible faculties) "according to its merits." But the imagination, the concupiscible, and the irascible are sensitive powers. Therefore the separated soul will be affected as regards the sensitive powers, and consequently will be in some act by reason of them.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii) that "the body feels not, but the soul through the body," and further on: "The soul feels certain things, not through the body but without the body." Now that which befits the soul without the body can be in the soul separated from the body. Therefore the soul will then be able to feel actually.

Objection 3. Further, to see images of bodies, as occurs in sleep, belongs to imaginary vision which is in the sensitive part. Now it happens that the separated soul sees images of bodies in the same way as when we sleep. Thus Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii): "For I see not why the soul has an image of its own body when, the body lying senseless, yet not quite dead, it sees some things which many have related after returning to life from this suspended animation and yet has it not when it has left the body through death having taken place." For it is unintelligible that the soul should have an image of its body, except in so far as it sees that image: wherefore he said before of those who lie senseless that "they have a certain image of their own body, by which they are able to be borne to corporeal places and by means of sensible images to take cognizance of such things as they see." Therefore the separated soul can exercise the acts of the sensitive powers.

Objection 4. Further, the memory is a power of the sensitive part, as proved in De Memor. et Remin. i. Now separated souls will actually remember the things they did in this world: wherefore it is said to the rich glutton (Luke 16:25): "Remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime." Therefore the separated soul will exercise the act of a sensitive power.

Objection 5. Further, according to the Philosopher (De Anima iii, 9) the irascible and concupiscible are in the sensitive part. But joy and sorrow, love and hatred, fear and hope, and similar emotions which according to our faith we hold to be in separated souls, are in the irascible and concupiscible. Therefore separated souls will not be deprived of the acts of the sensitive powers.

On the contrary, That which is common to soul and body cannot remain in the separated soul. Now all the operations of the sensitive powers are common to the soul and body: and this is evident from the fact that no sensitive power exercises an act except through a bodily organ. Therefore the separated soul will be deprived of the acts of the sensitive powers.

Further, the Philosopher says (De Anima i, 4), that "when the body is corrupted, the soul neither remembers nor loves," and the same applies to all the acts of the sensitive powers. Therefore the separated soul does not exercise the act of any sensitive power.

I answer that, Some distinguish two kinds of acts in the sensitive powers: external acts which the soul exercises through the body. and these do not remain in the separated soul; and internal acts which the soul performs by itself; and these will be in the separated soul. This statement would seem to have originated from the opinion of Plato, who held that the soul is united to the body, as a perfect substance nowise dependant on the body, and merely as a mover is united to the thing moved. This is an evident consequence of transmigration which he held. And since according to him nothing is in motion except what is moved, and lest he should go on indefinitely, he said that the first mover moves itself, and he maintained that the soul is the cause of its own movement. Accordingly there would be a twofold movement of the soul, one by which it moves itself, and another whereby the body is moved by the soul: so that this act "to see" is first of all in the soul itself as moving itself, and secondly in the bodily organ in so far as the soul moves the body. This opinion is refuted by the Philosopher (De Anima i, 3) who proves that the soul does not move itself, and that it is nowise moved in respect of such operations as seeing, feeling, and the like, but that such operations are movements of the composite only. We must therefore conclude that the acts of the sensitive powers nowise remain in the separated soul, except perhaps as in their remote origin.

Reply to Objection 1. Some deny that this book is Augustine's: for it is ascribed to a Cistercian who compiled it from Augustine's works and added things of his own. Hence we are not to take what is written there, as having authority. If, however, its authority should be maintained, it must be said that the meaning is that the separated soul is affected with imagination and other like powers, not as though such affection were the act of the aforesaid powers, but in the sense that the soul will be affected in the future life for good or ill, according to the things which it committed in the body through the imagination and other like powers: so that the imagination and such like powers are not supposed to elicit that affection, but to have elicited in the body the merit of that affection.

Reply to Objection 2. The soul is said to feel through the body, not as though the act of feeling belonged to the soul by itself, but as belonging to the whole composite by reason of the soul, just as we say that heat heats. That which is added, namely that the soul feels some things without the body, such as fear and so forth, means that it feels such things without the outward movement of the body that takes place in the acts of the proper senses: since fear and like passions do not occur without any bodily movement.

It may also be replied that Augustine is speaking according to the opinion of the Platonists who maintained this as stated above.

Reply to Objection 3. Augustine speaks there as nearly throughout that book, as one inquiring and not deciding. For it is clear that there is no comparison between the soul of a sleeper and the separated soul: since the soul of the sleeper uses the organ of imagination wherein corporeal images are impressed; which cannot be said of the separated soul. Or we may reply that images of things are in the soul, both as to the sensitive and imaginative power and as to the intellective power, with greater or lesser abstraction from matter and material conditions. Wherefore Augustine's comparison holds in this respect that just as the images of corporeal things are in the soul of the dreamer or of one who is carried out of his mind, imaginatively, so are they in the separated soul intellectively: but not that they are in the separated soul imaginatively.

Reply to Objection 4. As stated in the first book (Sent. i, D, 3, qu. 4), memory has a twofold signification. Sometimes it means a power of the sensitive part, in so far as its gaze extends over past time; and in this way the act of the memory will not be in the separated soul. Wherefore the Philosopher says (De Anima i, 4) that "when this," the body to wit, "is corrupted, the soul remembers not." In another way memory is used to designate that part of the imagination which pertains to the intellective faculty, in so far namely as it abstracts from all differences of time, since it regards not only the past but also the present, and the future as Augustine says (De Trin. xiv, 11). Taking memory in this sense the separated soul will remember [Cf. I, 77, 8; I, 89, 6].

Reply to Objection 5. Love, joy, sorrow, and the like, have a twofold signification. Sometimes they denote passions of the sensitive appetite, and thus they will not be in the separated soul, because in this way they are not exercised without a definite movement of the heart. In another way they denote acts of the will which is in the intellective part: and in this way they will be in the separated soul, even as delight will be there without bodily movement, even as it is in God, namely in so far as it is a simple movement of the will. In this sense the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 14) that "God's joy is one simple delight."

Article 3. Whether the separated soul can suffer from a bodily fire?

Objection 1. It would seem that the separated soul cannot suffer from a bodily fire. For Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii): "The things that affect the soul well or ill after its separation from the body, are not corporeal but resemble corporeal things." Therefore the separated soul is not punished with a bodily fire.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii) says that "the agent is always more excellent than the patient." But it is impossible for any body to be more excellent than the separated soul. Therefore it cannot suffer from a body.

Objection 3. Further, according to the Philosopher (De Gener. i) and Boethius (De Duab. Natur.) only those things that agree in matter are active and passive in relation to one another. But the soul and corporeal fire do not agree in matter, since there is no matter common to spiritual and corporeal things: wherefore they cannot be changed into one another, as Boethius says (De Duab. Natur.). Therefore the separated soul does not suffer from a bodily fire.

Objection 4. Further, whatsoever is patient receives something from the agent. Therefore if the soul suffer from the bodily fire, it will receive something therefrom. Now whatsoever is received in a thing is received according to the mode of the recipient. Therefore that which is received in the soul from the fire, is in it not materially but spiritually. Now the forms of things existing spiritually in the soul are its perfections. Therefore though it be granted that the soul suffer from the bodily fire, this will not conduce to its punishment, but rather to its perfection.

Objection 5. Further, if it be said that the soul is punished merely by seeing the fire, as Gregory would seem to say (Dial. iv, 29).

On the contrary, if the soul sees the fire of hell, it cannot see it save by intellectual vision, since it has not the organs by which sensitive or imaginative vision is effected. But it would seem impossible for intellectual vision to be the cause of sorrow, since "there is no sorrow contrary to the pleasure of considering," according to the Philosopher (Topic. i, 13). Therefore the soul is not punished by that vision.

Objection 6. Further, if it be said that the soul suffers from the corporeal fire, through being held thereby, even as now it is held by the body while living in the body; on the contrary, the soul while living in the body is held by the body in so far as there results one thing from the soul and the body, as from form and matter. But the soul will not be the form of that corporeal fire. Therefore it cannot be held by the fire in the manner aforesaid.

Objection 7. Further, every bodily agent acts by contact. But a corporeal fire cannot be in contact with the soul, since contact is only between corporeal things whose bounds come together. Therefore the soul suffers not from that fire.

Objection 8. Further, an organic agent does not act on a remote object, except through acting on the intermediate objects; wherefore it is able to act at a fixed distance in proportion to its power. But souls, or at least the demons to whom this equally applies, are sometimes outside the place of hell, since sometimes they appear to men even in this world: and yet they are not then free from punishment, for just as the glory of the saints is never interrupted, so neither is the punishment of the damned. And yet we do not find that all the intermediate things suffer from the fire of hell: nor again is it credible that any corporeal thing of an elemental nature has such a power that its action can reach to such a distance. Therefore it does not seem that the pains suffered by the souls of the damned are inflicted by a corporeal fire.

On the contrary, The possibility of suffering from a corporeal fire is equally consistent with separated souls and with demons. Now demons suffer therefrom since they are punished by that fire into which the bodies of the damned will be cast after the resurrection, and which must needs be as corporeal fire. This is evident from the words of our Lord (Matthew 25:41), "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil," etc. Therefore separated souls also can suffer from that fire.

Further, punishment should correspond to sin. Now in sinning the soul subjected itself to the body by sinful concupiscence. Therefore it is just that it should be punished by being made subject to a bodily thing by suffering therefrom.

Further, there is greater union between form and matter than between agent and patient. Now the diversity of spiritual and corporeal nature does not hinder the soul from being the form of the body. Therefore neither is it an obstacle to its suffering from a body.

I answer that, Given that the fire of hell is not so called metaphorically, nor an imaginary fire, but a real corporeal fire, we must needs say that the soul will suffer punishment from a corporeal fire, since our Lord said (Matthew 25:41) that this fire was prepared for the devil and his angels, who are incorporeal even as the soul. But how it is that they can thus suffer is explained in many ways.

For some have said that the mere fact that the soul sees the fire makes the soul suffer from the fire: wherefore Gregory (Dial. iv, 29) says: "The soul suffers from the fire by merely seeing it." But this does not seem sufficient, because whatever is seen, from the fact that it is seen, is a perfection of the seer. wherefore it cannot conduce to his punishment, as seen. Sometimes, however, it is of a penal or unpleasant nature accidentally, in so far, to wit, as it is apprehended as something hurtful, and consequently, besides the fact that the soul sees the fire, there must needs be some relation of the soul to the fire, according to which the fire is hurtful to the soul.

Hence others have said that although a corporeal fire cannot burn the soul, the soul nevertheless apprehends it as hurtful to itself, and in consequence of this apprehension is seized with fear and sorrow, in fulfillment of Psalm 13:5, "They have trembled for fear, where there was no fear." Hence Gregory says (Dial. iv, 29) that "the soul burns through seeing itself aflame." But this, again, seems insufficient, because in this case the soul would suffer from the fire, not in reality but only in apprehension: for although a real passion of sorrow or pain may result from a false imagination, as Augustine observes (Gen. ad lit. xii), it cannot be said in relation to that passion that one really suffers from the thing, but from the image of the thing that is present to one's fancy. Moreover, this kind of suffering would be more unlike real suffering than that which results from imaginary vision, since the latter is stated to result from real images of things, which images the soul carries about with it, whereas the former results from false fancies which the erring soul imagines: and furthermore, it is not probable that separated souls or demons, who are endowed with keen intelligence, would think it possible for a corporeal fire to hurt them, if they were nowise distressed thereby.

Hence others say that it is necessary to admit that the soul suffers even really from the corporeal fire: wherefore Gregory says (Dial. iv, 29): "We can gather from the words of the Gospel, that the soul suffers from the fire not only by seeing it, but also by feeling it." They explain the possibility of this as follows. They say that this corporeal fire can be considered in two ways. First, as a corporeal thing, and thus it has not the power to act on the soul. Secondly, as the instrument of the vengeance of Divine justice. For the order of Divine justice demands that the soul which by sinning subjected itself to corporeal things should be subjected to them also in punishment. Now an instrument acts not only in virtue of its own nature, but also in virtue of the principal agent: wherefore it is not unreasonable if that fire, seeing that it acts in virtue of a spiritual agent, should act on the spirit of a man or demon, in the same way as we have explained the sanctification of the soul by the sacraments (III, 62, 1,4).

But, again, this does not seem to suffice, since every instrument, in acting on that on which it is used instrumentally, has its own connatural action besides the action whereby it acts in virtue of the principal agent: in fact it is by fulfilling the former that it effects the latter action, even as, in Baptism, it is by laving the body that water sanctifies the soul, and the saw by cutting wood produces the shape of a house.

Hence we must allow the fire to exercise on the soul an action connatural to the fire, in order that it may be the instrument of Divine justice in the punishment of sin: and for this reason we must say that a body cannot naturally act on a spirit, nor in any way be hurtful or distressful to it, except in so far as the latter is in some way united to a body: for thus we observe that "the corruptible body is a load upon the soul" (Wisdom 9:15). Now a spirit is united to a body in two ways. In one way as form to matter, so that from their union there results one thing simply: and the spirit that is thus united to a body both quickens the body and is somewhat burdened by the body: but it is not thus that the spirit of man or demon is united to the corporeal fire. In another way as the mover is united to the things moved, or as a thing placed is united to place, even as incorporeal things are in a place. In this way created incorporeal spirits are confined to a place, being in one place in such a way as not to be in another. Now although of its nature a corporeal thing is able to confine an incorporeal spirit to a place, it is not able of its nature to detain an incorporeal spirit in the place to which it is confined, and so to tie it to that place that it be unable to seek another, since a spirit is not by nature in a place so as to be subject to place. But the corporeal fire is enabled as the instrument of the vengeance of Divine justice thus to detain a spirit; and thus it has a penal effect on it, by hindering it from fulfilling its own will, that is by hindering it from acting where it will and as it will.

This way is asserted by Gregory (Dial. iv, 29). For in explaining how the soul can suffer from that fire by feeling it, he expresses himself as follows: "Since Truth declares the rich sinner to be condemned to fire, will any wise man deny that the souls of the wicked are imprisoned in flames?" Julian [Bishop of Toledo, Prognostic ii, 17] says the same as quoted by the Master (Sent. iv, D, 44): "If the incorporeal spirit of a living man is held by the body, why shall it not be held after death by a corporeal fire?" and Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi, 10) that "just as, although the soul is spiritual and the body corporeal, man is so fashioned that the soul is united to the body as giving it life, and on account of this union conceives a great love for its body, so it is chained to the fire, as receiving punishment therefrom, and from this union conceives a loathing."

Accordingly we must unite all the aforesaid modes together, in order to understand perfectly how the soul suffers from a corporeal fire: so as to say that the fire of its nature is able to have an incorporeal spirit united to it as a thing placed is united to a place; that as the instrument of Divine justice it is enabled to detain it enchained as it were, and in this respect this fire is really hurtful to the spirit, and thus the soul seeing the fire as something hurtful to it is tormented by the fire. Hence Gregory (Dial. iv, 29) mentions all these in order, as may be seen from the above quotations.

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine speaks there as one inquiring: wherefore he expresses himself otherwise when deciding the point, as quoted above (De Civ. Dei xxi). Or we may reply that Augustine means to say that the things which are the proximate occasion of the soul's pain or sorrow are spiritual, since it would not be distressed unless it apprehended the fire as hurtful to it: wherefore the fire as apprehended is the proximate cause of its distress, whereas the corporeal fire which exists outside the soul is the remote cause of its distress.

Reply to Objection 2. Although the soul is simply more excellent than the fire, the fire is relatively more excellent than the soul, in so far, to wit, as it is the instrument of Divine justice.

Reply to Objection 3. The Philosopher and Boethius are speaking of the action whereby the patient is changed into the nature of the agent. Such is not the action of the fire on the soul: and consequently the argument is not conclusive.

Reply to Objection 4. By acting on the soul the fire bestows nothing on it but detains it, as stated above. Hence the argument is not to the point.

Reply to Objection 5. In intellectual vision sorrow is not caused by the fact that something is seen, since the thing seen as such can nowise be contrary to the intellect. But in the sensible vision the thing seen, by its very action on the sight so as to be seen, there may be accidentally something corruptive of the sight, in so far as it destroys the harmony of the organ Nevertheless, intellectual vision may cause sorrow, in so far as the thing seen is apprehended as hurtful, not that it hurts through being seen, but in some other way no matter which. It is thus that the soul in seeing the fire is distressed.

Reply to Objection 6. The comparison does not hold in every respect, but it does in some, as explained above.

Reply to Objection 7. Although there is no bodily contact between the soul and body, there is a certain spiritual contact between them (even as the mover of the heaven, being spiritual, touches the heaven, when it moves it, with a spiritual contact) in the same way as a "painful object is said to touch," as stated in De Gener. i. This mode of contact is sufficient for action.

Reply to Objection 8. The souls of the damned are never outside hell, except by Divine permission, either for the instruction or for the trial of the elect. And wherever they are outside hell they nevertheless always see the fire thereof as prepared for their punishment. Wherefore, since this vision is the immediate cause of their distress, as stated above, wherever they are, they suffer from hell-fire. Even so prisoners, though outside the prison, suffer somewhat from the prison, seeing themselves condemned thereto. Hence just as the glory of the elect is not diminished, neither as to the essential, nor as to the accidental reward, if they happen to be outside the empyrean, in fact this somewhat conduces to their glory, so the punishment of the damned is nowise diminished, if by God's permission they happen to be outside hell for a time. A gloss on James 3:6, "inflameth the wheel of our nativity," etc., is in agreement with this, for it is worded thus: "The devil, wherever he is, whether in the air or under the earth, drags with him the torments of his flames." But the objection argues as though the corporeal fire tortured the spirit immediately in the same way as it torments bodies.

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ

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