The Intellect Resides in the Soul,
Not the Material Brain
By Jim J. McCrea
Intellection does not take place in the brain but in that part of man which is spirit, which is his soul. Although Intellection does not take place in the brain, the brain is needed for intellection. How does this work?
First of all, the philosophers have concluded that the human intellect is two-fold. There exists the *agent* intellect and the *possible* intellect (teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas). The agent intellect utilizes forms given by the senses to abstract concepts. For example, a number of forms of individual cats, as given by the senses, are presented to the agent intellect. From these individual forms of cat, the agent intellect abstracts the concept of a cat, which is "catness." This concept of a cat is then presented to the possible intellect. The possible intellect is that which consciously grasps or apprehends that concept of a cat in conscious understanding. The possible intellect, then, is that which consciously understands concepts in general.
Now the brain is the organ that interfaces with the soul, that feeds the agent intellect (which is within the soul) with the sense impressions that it needs for abstraction. These sense impression either come from the senses directly, or from the imagination. A damaged or chemically imbalanced brain would present erroneous sense impressions to the agent intellect, thus impairing intellection. In brain damage or mental illness, the intellect itself has not malfunctioned, but it is being fed with erroneous information leading the intellect to come to erroneous conclusions.
Upon death, when the soul separates from the body, the brain is no longer operative in feeding the intellect with the sense impressions with which it uses to think. God, takes over that function and feeds the intellect directly. As a result, the intellect at death, for the first time, comes to its full potential. At that time, we will see reality immediately and directly, rather than through the murky and inefficient medium of the brain. We will see the inner essence of reality - that inner essence that we have never seen in this life.
Upon death, we will see our whole lives and each of our willed acts at once. We will see them in the light of God's truth as good or evil as God sees them. For some acts that we have deemed to be good in our lives, God may show them to us as evil. Other acts that we have deemed as of no importance, God may show them as very good. Upon death, we will see ourselves completely and comprehensively, and we will see our exact nature as actor within the world that we have lived. The nature of our role in the world will be seen precisely.
There will be no shadow of error in our knowledge after death, for an infallible God will be feeding the possible intellect directly without distortion. Intellection will not take place through the process of abstraction. With no sense images being given to the soul, the agent intellect will be inoperative, since it is the agent intellect that abstracts from sense images.
This situation will last until the resurrection of the body, where then our intellection will consist of both abstraction (at a much higher level than which occurred in our mortal life) and knowledge directly infused by God.
After death and at the General Resurrection, we will have knowledge infinitely beyond what we had in this earthly life.