Press "Enter" to skip to content

St. Thomas Aquinas on the Ends of Speaking and Writing

“If man were by nature a solitary animal the passions of the soul by which he was conformed to things so as to have knowledge of them would be sufficient for him; but since he is by nature a political and social animal it was necessary that his conceptions be made known to others. This he does through vocal sound. Therefore there had to be significant vocal sounds in order that men might live together. Whence those who speak different languages find it difficult to live together in social unity.

If man had only sensitive cognition, which is of the here and now, such significant vocal sounds as the other animals use to manifest their conceptions to each other would be sufficient for him to live with others. But man also has the advantage of intellectual cognition, which abstracts from the here and now, and as a consequence, is concerned with things distant in place and future in time as well as things present according to time and place. Hence the use of writing was necessary so that he might manifest his conceptions to those who are distant according to place and to those who will come in future time.”

St. Thomas Aquinas
Commentary on Aristotle’s “On Interpretation”
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.