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Metaphysical Thoughts: Part 2, Chapter 12.
Concerning the Human Mind.

    We pass now to created substance which we classify as extended and as thinking substance. By the former we understand matter or corporeal substance. By thinking substance we understand only human minds.

Angels are objects for consideration to the Theologian, not to the Metaphysician.
    Although angels are also created, since they are not known by our natural powers, they should not be regarded in Metaphysics. For their essence and existence are only known through revelation and so far they pertain only to Theology. Since the cognition of these beings is so entirely different from our ordinary form of knowledge the two should not be confused or classed together. No one should expect us, therefore, to discuss angels in this connection.

The human mind does not arise by traduction, but is created by God; but how, we do not know.
    We turn, therefore, to the human mind concerning which a few things remain to be said. It will be noted that we say nothing concerning the time of its creation, for it is not clear just when it is created since it can exist without the body. But it is evident that it does not arise by traduction for it would then have a place only in things already created, namely in modes of some substance. But substances, as we have plainly showed above, can be created only by the power of omnipotence.

In what sense the human soul is mortal.
    We shall add a few words concerning immortality. It is evident that we cannot say of any created object that its nature implies that it cannot be destroyed by the power of God. For he who has the power of creating an object has also the power of destroying it. Beside, as we have sufficiently shown above, no created object has in itself the power to exist, even for a moment, but in every case is continually procreated by God.

In what sense immortal.
    Although this is all true we all know that we have no concept of a destroyed object, as we have of an object disintegrated or of a generation of modes. For we can conceive clearly enough of the human organism being destroyed but not of the annihilation of its substance. Then philosophy does not inquire what God by His omnipotence is able to do, but seeks to determine from nature itself what laws God has really given to the world. Therefore, what it concludes is rational and fixed it concludes is so from the laws of nature. However we would not deny that God is able to change these laws and all other things as well. Therefore, when speaking of the soul we do not inquire what God is able to do but what follows from the laws of nature.

Its immortality demonstrated.
    Since it is true, as we have abundantly proven, that substance cannot be destroyed either by its own power, or by the power of any other created substance, unless I am mistaken, it follows that we are compelled to believe from the laws of nature that the soul is immortal. And if we choose to investigate further, we can very clearly demonstrate that it is so. For as we have just shown, it follows from the laws of nature that the mind is immortal. And these laws of nature are the decrees of God, appointed by his will, as we have already made evident. Then beside, these laws are unchangeable. From all of this we conclude with certainty that God has revealed His immutable will concerning man's immortality, not only by revelation, but also by natural reason.

God does not act contrary to, but above Nature, and God is its author.
    It is no objection to this opinion, if some one should say that at times God sets aside these natural laws in working miracles. For there are many thoughtful theologians who concede that God does not act contrary to, but above the laws of nature. That is, God has many laws of action which He has not made known to man; and these if revealed to man would seem equally natural with the ones he already knows. Therefore it is evident that minds are immortal. I do not see that anything remains to be said concerning its nature. Nor, indeed, concerning its specific functions is there anything to add unless I respond to the argument of certain authors who attempt to show that our sense of perception is not to be accepted as true.

Why some think the will is not free.
    There are some who think they can show that the will is not free but always determined by something from without. They believe this because they think of the will as something distinct from the mind, a substance whose sole nature it is to be indifferent. In order to remove all confusion on this subject we will explain the matter in such a way as to easily detect the fallacy of their arguments.

What the will is.
    We have said that the human mind is a thinking object. Whence it follows that from its nature, and that alone considered, it is able to do something, viz., to think; that is, to affirm and to deny. These forms of thought are determined either by something extra-mental or by the mind itself. But since the mind is a substance itself whose essence it is to think, it follows that thought can and should arise from the mind itself. Those mental acts which know no other cause than the mind itself, are called volitions. And the human mind so far as it is considered as a sufficient cause for producing these thoughts is called Will.

There is a Will.
    That the mind, though excited by no external object has power to act, is sufficiently proven by the example of the ass of Buridanus. For were a man instead of the ass placed in such a condition of equilibrium he would be regarded not as a thinking being but as a most stupid ass if he perished with thirst or hunger. Then this is evident also from the fact mentioned above, that we have willed to doubt everything, and not only to hold as doubtful those things which can be called in question, but also to expose what is false. (Vid. Principles of Descartes, Part 1. Art. 39).

And it is free.
    Further, it should be remembered that, although the mind is influenced by external objects to affirm or deny, it is not compelled even here but retains its freedom. For nothing has the power of destroying its essence. What it affirms or denies it is always free to affirm or to deny as was shown by Descartes in the fourth Meditation. Therefore, if any one asks why the mind wills this or that, we reply that it is because the mind is a thinking being whose very nature it is to wish, or to affirm or to deny. This is what it means to be a thinking being.

It must not be confused with desire.
    Having stated our position we will notice some arguments opposed to such a view.
(1) Such is the argument: If the will can choose contrary to the last judgment of the understanding, if it is able to choose contrary to that which is best as determined by the understanding, it is able to choose evil for the sake of its evil. But this conclusion is absurd. Therefore in the first place it is evident that they do not understand what the will is. They confuse it with the desire the mind has after it affirms or denies something. They were taught this by their teacher who defined the will as desire for the sake of some good (appetitum sub ratione boni). We would say on the contrary that the will is the affirming that this is good or bad, as we plainly showed when discussing the cause of error, and found that this arises because the will extends further than the understanding. If the mind did not affirm this or that is good, thus exercising its freedom, it would not desire it. Therefore we would reply to this argument by conceding that the mind cannot choose anything contrary to the last judgment of the understanding, that is, it cannot choose anything so far as it is unwilling; as is here supposed when we say that this thing is evil or that the mind does not choose it. But we deny that it is impossible for evil to be chosen or be considered good, for this would be contrary to all experience. For many evil things are thought to be good and many good things are considered evil.

Nor is it anything, except the mind.
    2. The second argument is (or the first if you prefer, since the other amounted to nothing): "If the will is not determined by the last practical judgment of the understanding it is self determined. But the will does not determine itself because in itself and from its nature it is indeterminate." From this they proceed to argue: "If the will by nature is indifferent to acting it cannot be determined by itself. That which determines anything must be determined, and that which is determined must be indeterminate. But the will considered as determining itself would be considered both as determinate and indeterminate. For these opponents presuppose nothing in the determining will that is not the same in the will either as determined or as about to be determined. Nor indeed can anything be affirmed. Therefore, the will cannot be determined by itself. But if not by itself then otherwise." These are the words of Professor Heereboordius of Leyden, [N1] in which he clearly shows that he understood by volition not the mind itself, but something else outside of the mind, a tabula rasa, as it were, free from all forms of thought and capable of receiving images upon itself. Or rather as a weight in equilibrium, which, as much as it is determined at all, from without, may be inclined to one side by another weight. Or finally as something which cannot be understood by the cognition of any mortal. We have just said, and indeed shown, that the will is nothing but the mind itself. That is, it is the thinking being, a being who affirms and denies. So we find when we consider the nature of mind that it has an equal power of affirming denying. For this, as I have said, is the meaning of thought. We conclude, therefore, that the mind thinks, that it has this power of affirming and of denying. Why then should we seek extra-mental reasons for doing what is sufficiently explained by the nature of the mind itself? But you say, "the mind is not determined more to affirm than to deny; hence some extra-mental cause for volition is necessary." But I argue the contrary; if the mind were by nature only capable of affirming (although such a conception is impossible as long as we conceive of the mind as thinking being) so that, however many causes concur, it is impossible for it to deny anything. Or if it could neither affimn or deny, it would be able to do neither. Or, finally, if it had the power, as we have shown it has, it would be able to do both from its nature alone, no other cause assisting. This is evidently the case for all who really give to a thinking being the power of thought. Those who separate the attribute of thought from the thing itself from which it is only distinguished by the reason, denude the thinking being of all thought and regard what remains as the fundamental substance of the Peripatetics. Therefore, I respond that if they understand by will something independent of thought, we will concede that their will is indeterminate. But we deny that the will is something void of understanding; on the other hand, we believe that it is thought, i.e., it is the power of affirming and of denying. Certainly nothing else will satisfy the conditions. Then, too, we deny that even if the will is indeterminate it is therefore despoiled of thought, and can be determined by any external object except God's infinite power. For to conceive of a thinking being without thought is the same as to conceive of an extended body without extension.
[Note N1]: Vid. ejus Meletemata Philosophica, ed. alt. Lugd. Bat 1659.

Why philosophers confuse mind with corporeal things.
    Finally, there is no need to consider other arguments, but I shall only say that opponents of this view confuse the mind with corporeal objects because they do not understand the will, or have a clear and a distinct concept of the mind. As has been said, this error arises from the fact that words properly used only to describe corporeal objects have been applied to spiritual things. For they have been accustomed to call those bodies indeterminate which are acted upon by two equivalent external forces acting in opposition to one another. Therefore, since they think that the will is indeterminate they seem to think of it as a body in equilibrium. And, because those bodies have nothing except what they receive from external causes (from which it follows that they are always determined by an external cause), they think that the same thing is true concerning the will. But as we have already made sufficiently clear why these things are so, we shall say no more.

    Concerning extended substance we have already spoken sufficiently and beside these two forms of created substance we know no others. What pertains to real accidents and to other qualities has also been sufficiently criticised nor is there need to take any further time in refuting them, so we take our hand from the table.
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