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Summa Theologica
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Whether impassibility excludes actual sensation from glorified bodies?

Objection 1: It would seem that impassibility excludes actual sensation from glorified bodies. For according to the Philosopher (De Anima ii, 11), "sensation is a kind of passion." But the glorified bodies will be impassible. Therefore they will not have actual sensation.

Objection 2: Further, natural alteration precedes spiritual* alteration, just as natural being precedes intentional being. Now glorified bodies, by reason of their impassibility, will not be subject to natural alteration. [*"Animalem," as though it were derived from "animus"---the mind. Cf. FS, Q[50], A[1],3m; FS, Q[52], A[1],3m.] Therefore they will not be subject to spiritual alteration which is requisite for sensation.

Objection 3: Further, whenever actual sensation is due to a new perception, there is a new judgment. But in that state there will be no new judgment, because "our thoughts will not then be unchangeable," as Augustine says (De Trin. xv, 16). Therefore there will be no actual sensation.

Objection 4: Further, when the act of one of the soul's powers is intense, the acts of the other powers are remiss. Now the soul will be supremely intent on the act of the contemplative power in contemplating God. Therefore the soul will have no actual sensation whatever.

On the contrary, It is written (Apoc. 1:7): "Every eye shall see Him." Therefore there will be actual sensation.

Further, according to the Philosopher (De Anima i, 2) "the animate is distinct from the inanimate by sensation and movement." Now there will be actual movement since they "shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds" (Wis. 3:7). Therefore there will also be actual sensation.

I answer that, All are agreed that there is some sensation in the bodies of the blessed: else the bodily life of the saints after the resurrection would be likened to sleep rather than to vigilance. Now this is not befitting that perfection, because in sleep a sensible body is not in the ultimate act of life, for which reason sleep is described as half-life. [*This is what Aristotle says: "The good and the bad are in sleep least distinguishable: hence men say that for half their lives there is no difference between the happy and the unhappy" (Ethic. i, 13)] But there is a difference of opinion as to the mode of sensation.

For some say that the glorified bodies will be impassible, and consequently "not susceptible to impressions from without" [*Cf. Q[74], A[4], On the contrary] and much less so than the heavenly bodies, because they will have actual sensations, not by receiving species from sensibles, but by emission of species. But this is impossible, since in the resurrection the specific nature will remain the same in man and in all his parts. Now the nature of sense is to be a passive power as the Philosopher proves (De Anima ii, text. 51,54). Wherefore if the saints, in the resurrection, were to have sensations by emitting and not by receiving species, sense in them would be not a passive but an active power, and thus it would not be the same specifically with sense as it is now, but would be some other power bestowed on them; for just as matter never becomes form, so a passive power never becomes active. Consequently others say that the senses will be actualized by receiving species, not indeed from external sensibles, but by an outflow from the higher powers, so that as now the higher powers receive from the lower, so on the contrary the lower powers will then receive from the higher. But this mode of reception does not result in real sensation, because every passive power, according to its specific nature, is determined to some special active principle, since a power as such bears relation to that with respect to which it is said to be the power. Wherefore since the proper active principle in external sensation is a thing existing outside the soul and not an intention thereof existing in the imagination or reason, if the organ of sense be not moved by external things, but by the imagination or other higher powers, there will be no true sensation. Hence we do not say that madmen or other witless persons (in whom there is this kind of outflow of species towards the organs of sense, on account of the powerful influence of the imagination) have real sensations, but that it seems to them that they have sensations. Consequently we must say with others that sensation in glorified bodies will result from the reception of things outside the soul. It must, however, be observed that the organs of sense are transmuted by things outside the soul in two ways. First by a natural transmutation, when namely the organ is disposed by the same natural quality as the thing outside the soul which acts on that organ: for instance, when the hand is heated by touching a hot object, or becomes fragrant through contact with a fragrant object. Secondly, by a spiritual transmutation, as when a sensible quality is received in an instrument, according to a spiritual mode of being, when, namely, the species or the intention of a quality, and not the quality itself is received: thus the pupil receives the species of whiteness and yet does not itself become white. Accordingly the first reception does not cause sensation, properly speaking, because the senses are receptive of species in matter but without matter. that is to say without the material "being" which the species had outside the soul (De Anima ii, text. 121). This reception transmutes the nature of the recipient, because in this way the quality is received according to its material "being." Consequently this kind of reception will not be in the glorified bodies, but the second, which of itself causes actual sensation, without changing the nature of the recipient.

Reply to Objection 1: As already explained, by this passion that takes place in actual sensation and is no other than the aforesaid reception of species, the body is not drawn away from natural quality, but is perfected by a spiritual change. Wherefore the impassibility of glorified bodies does not exclude this kind of passion.

Reply to Objection 2: Every subject of passion receives the action of the agent according to its mode. Accordingly if there be a thing that is naturally adapted to be altered by an active principle, with a natural and a spiritual alteration, the natural alteration precedes the spiritual alteration, just as natural precedes intentional being. If however a thing be naturally adapted to be altered only with a spiritual alteration it does not follow that it is altered naturally. For instance the air is not receptive of color, according to its natural being, but only according to its spiritual being, wherefore in this way alone is it altered: whereas, on the contrary, inanimate bodies are altered by sensible qualities only naturally and not spiritually. But in the glorified bodies there cannot be any natural alteration, and consequently there will be only spiritual alteration.

Reply to Objection 3: Just as there will be new reception of species in the organs of sensation, so there will be new judgment in the common sense: but there will be no new judgment on the point in the intellect; such is the case with one who sees what he knew before. The saying of Augustine, that "there our thoughts will not be changeable," refers to the thoughts of the intellectual part: therefore it is not to the point.

Reply to Objection 4: When one of two things is the type of the other, the attention of the soul to the one does not hinder or lessen its attention to the other: thus a physician while considering urine is not less but more able to bear in mind the rules of his art concerning the colors of urine. And since God is apprehended by the saints as the type of all things that will be done or known by them, their attention to perceiving sensibles, or to contemplating or doing anything else will nowise hinder their contemplation of God, nor conversely. Or we may say that the reason why one power is hindered in its act when another power is intensely engaged is because one power does not alone suffice for such an intense operation, unless it be assisted by receiving from the principle of life the inflow that the other powers or members should receive. And since in the saints all the powers will be most perfect, one will be able to operate intensely without thereby hindering the operation of another power even as it was with Christ.

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