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Summa Theologica
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Whether the intellectual virtues remain after this life?

Objection 1: It would seem that the intellectual virtues do not remain after this life. For the Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:8,9) that "knowledge shall be destroyed," and he states the reason to be because "we know in part." Now just as the knowledge of science is in part, i.e. imperfect; so also is the knowledge of the other intellectual virtues, as long as this life lasts. Therefore all the intellectual virtues will cease after this life.

Objection 2: Further, the Philosopher says (Categor. vi) that since science is a habit, it is a quality difficult to remove: for it is not easily lost, except by reason of some great change or sickness. But no bodily change is so great as that of death. Therefore science and the other intellectual virtues do not remain after death.

Objection 3: Further, the intellectual virtues perfect the intellect so that it may perform its proper act well. Now there seems to be no act of the intellect after this life, since "the soul understands nothing without a phantasm" (De Anima iii, text. 30); and, after this life, the phantasms do not remain, since their only subject is an organ of the body. Therefore the intellectual virtues do not remain after this life.

On the contrary, The knowledge of what is universal and necessary is more constant than that of particular and contingent things. Now the knowledge of contingent particulars remains in man after this life; for instance, the knowledge of what one has done or suffered, according to Lk. 16:25: "Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy life-time, and likewise Lazarus evil things." Much more, therefore, does the knowledge of universal and necessary things remain, which belong to science and the other intellectual virtues.

I answer that, As stated in the FP, Q[79], A[6] some have held that the intelligible species do not remain in the passive intellect except when it actually understands; and that so long as actual consideration ceases, the species are not preserved save in the sensitive powers which are acts of bodily organs, viz. in the powers of imagination and memory. Now these powers cease when the body is corrupted: and consequently, according to this opinion, neither science nor any other intellectual virtue will remain after this life when once the body is corrupted.

But this opinion is contrary to the mind of Aristotle, who states (De Anima iii, text. 8) that "the possible intellect is in act when it is identified with each thing as knowing it; and yet, even then, it is in potentiality to consider it actually." It is also contrary to reason, because intelligible species are contained by the "possible" intellect immovably, according to the mode of their container. Hence the "possible" intellect is called "the abode of the species" (De Anima iii) because it preserves the intelligible species.

And yet the phantasms, by turning to which man understands in this life, by applying the intelligible species to them as stated in the FP, Q[84], A[7]; FP, Q[85], A[1], ad 5, cease as soon as the body is corrupted. Hence, so far as the phantasms are concerned, which are the quasi-material element in the intellectual virtues, these latter cease when the body is destroyed: but as regards the intelligible species, which are in the "possible" intellect, the intellectual virtues remain. Now the species are the quasi-formal element of the intellectual virtues. Therefore these remain after this life, as regards their formal element, just as we have stated concerning the moral virtues (A[1]).

Reply to Objection 1: The saying of the Apostle is to be understood as referring to the material element in science, and to the mode of understanding; because, to it, neither do the phantasms remain, when the body is destroyed; nor will science be applied by turning to the phantasms.

Reply to Objection 2: Sickness destroys the habit of science as to its material element, viz. the phantasms, but not as to the intelligible species, which are in the "possible" intellect.

Reply to Objection 3: As stated in the FP, Q[89], A[1] the separated soul has a mode of understanding, other than by turning to the phantasms. Consequently science remains, yet not as to the same mode of operation; as we have stated concerning the moral virtues (A[1]).

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