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Research Seminar on Aquinas on Knowing as Being and Being-About - Thérèse Scarpelli Cory | Open lecture

12 de outubro | 17h30 | Sala do Departamento de Filosofia

Prof. Thérèse Scarpelli Cory*
(John and Jean Oesterle College Chair and Associate Professor; Notre Dame University, IN)

Open lecture
Knowing as Being from Aristotle to Aquinas: An Alternative Model of Mind in the Graeco-Arabic-Latin Tradition

12 October | 17h30 | Department of Philosophy (Tower B - 1st Floor)

This lecture would set up the broad historical picture; why we should attend to the way that we imaginatively "model" mental activities in interpreting historical thinkers, and how a "metaphysical model" of knowing as a kind of being is developed in Aristotle, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Plotinus, Averroes, and Aquinas.

Aquinas on Knowing as Being and Being-About

12 - 19 October 2018
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto

Free attendance, with previous registration by email to

What conceptual models shape our thinking about the mind and its activities or experiences?  This lecture and seminar studies a neglected model of the mind in a key Latin medieval thinker, Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’s model of the mind, which I call an “intellectual metaphysics,” diverges strikingly from a model (more familiar from later thinkers such as Descartes) of the mind as a space in which information is “contained” and “displayed” to an inner eye. I argue that this Cartesian “containment” or “visual” model has implicitly and anachronistically shaped contemporary readings of Aquinas’s theory of intellect, and is responsible for some well-known recent difficulties that have been raised concerning to his theory of human knowing.  In reality, Aquinas conceives of mind and its activities in terms of acquiring a new kind of being, rather than containing ideas.  According to this “metaphysical model,” the intellect is constituted by what it knows; to be an intellect-thinking-about-justice is to be “intelligible justice,” or justice existing in intellectual-intelligible being.  Unfolding this metaphysical model and its implication, we will examine a new, historically-sensitive reading of Aquinas’s theory of mind and knowing against the background of his Greek and Arabic sources, and explore the implications for his treatment of problems concerning mind’s relation to extramental objects (i.e., what makes thoughts be “about” something?).

Comments by: Tommaso Piazza (Università degli studi di Pavia), Rodrigo Guerizoli (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro); Celia López Alcalde; José Meirinhos, Paula Oliveira e Silva, Sofia Miguens (Universidade do Porto).


15 - 19 October 2018 | 10h30-12h30 | Department of Philosophy (Tower B - 1st Floor)

1. "Intelligibility and the Order of Intellects in Aquinas" (Discussion of chs. 1-3)

2-3. "Forms and Likenesses: The Problem of Intelligible Species" (Discussion of chs. 4-5)

4. "Intentionality and Attention in Aquinas" (Discussion of ch. 6)

5. "The Verbum and the Human Soul in Aquinas" (Discussion of chs. 7-8)

*Thérèse Scarpelli Cory 
is John and Jean Oesterle College Chair and Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, IN (USA)
University web page:

More information:

Medieaval and Early Modern Philosophy TL (Gabinete de Filosofia Medieval) / Instituto de Filosofia da Universidade do Porto - FIL/00502
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)
Support: American Corner Porto FLUP (American Spaces, USA Embassy)
U.Porto e Banco Santander - Programa Santander Universidades


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