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Of Pizza and Phantasms

By August 19, 2022No Comments
Photo by Tamas Pap on Unsplash

TidBits with Thomas: Armchair Philosophy Featuring Jed the Philosophical Experimental Stick Figure

Subject One—Know Thyself,  A Look at the Human Person

Series 2: Generas of the Soul
Part 3: Of Pizza and Phantasms: The sensitive soul, the appetitive soul, and the locomotive soul

Last week we looked at the vegetative soul. Jed seemed to have gotten confused, thinking that carrots somehow hunted and ate pizza. What Jed missed was that a vegetative soul is united to its body only and directs some elements of that body without ever uniting to aspects outside the body it is directing. Now we turn our focus on the next level of the soul which is called “the sensitive soul.”

And no, Jed we are not talking about warthogs whose feelings are easily hurt.

By sensitive soul we mean that it involves the senses (taste, touch, sight, et cetera). The sensitive soul is capable of extending beyond the materiality of the host to the sensible object itself, i.e. the thing perceived, like a pizza. Think of the example of seeing. Seeing requires an eye. This is the corporeal organ that facilitates this particular aspect of this power. Ears facilitate hearing, noses facilitate smelling, et cetera. With a sensitive soul, the pizza can be experienced by sight from far across the room. This is possible because the sensitive soul is united not only to the corporeal organ, the eyeball, but also to the object, in this case the pizza, extrinsic to the eye though it may be. In other words, something of the pizza enters the mind, immaterially, thus direct physical contact and absorption are not necessary.

This immaterial “something” is called a “phantasm.” If the subject seeing the pizza moves his gaze away from the pizza, the image of the pizza remains in the soul, particularly if the subject happens to be hungry at the time he first glanced at it.

This storage of images sensed is possible because of a power of the soul called the “imagination” or the “phantasy.” Phantasy is a subset of the sensitive soul. The job of the phantasy is simply to store images the senses receive. These images can be recalled. Perhaps when Jed saw the pizza, he had to mail an important stack of medical bills and was momentarily distracted from the pizza. In the meantime, the pizza is devoured by self-absorbed roommates. If the pizza’s phantasm did not remain in his soul, Jed would very easily forget the pizza altogether. Luckily for Jed however, the phantasm is stored and recalled, and now Jed can devote his energies to obtaining a pizza. He does this by employing the locomotive genus of a soul.

Locomotion provides the body a means of picking oneself up and physically changing, not just postures (as when a plant’s petals track the sun) but actual location. This is the power that allows Jed to walk down to the nearest pizzeria and purchase a pizza for himself. Notice that locomotion is dependent on the powers of the sensitive genus: one has to perceive and remember the object perceived (the pizza) in order to go searching for it.

Speaking of searching for pizzas, Jed and I are hungry. We have developed an appetite, which gives us the perfect backdrop to talk (ever so briefly) about the appetitive soul. In brief, the appetitive power of the soul is that which inclines a person towards some thing or some concept. Whereas the sensitive soul apprehends some thing, and the imagination can retain the phantasm of some thing, the appetitive soul desires that thing. Another way to put it is that the appetitive soul is the power to move the person towards (or away from) some thing, not in the sense of actual movement as in locomotion, but in the sense of fundamental direction and orientation.

Not a bad blog post’s day of work. We have been introduced to the sensitive soul, the appetitive soul, and the locomotive soul. Tune in next week when we take a TidBit look at the intellectual genus of the soul. Until then, stay inquisitive my friends!

Anthony Gallegos

Born and raised Catholic (thanks mom and dad!), Anthony Gallegos is a native of Denver, Colorado. He attended the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and earned a B-Phil from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. After successfully discerning that he was not called to the priesthood, Anthony married, began a family and graduated from the Augustine Institute with a Masters in Theological Studies. He has served various parishes in various capacities in the Archdiocese of Denver. He joined the Catholic Catechetical School in 2015 and is glad to be “back home again” working out of the same seminary that started his love of studying and teaching the faith.

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