Reception of Intelligible Forms in the Possible Intellect

As was stated above, the higher an intellectual substance is in perfection, the more universal are the intelligible forms it possesses. Of all the intellectual substances, consequently, the human intellect, which we have called possible, has forms of the least universality. This is the reason it receives its intelligible forms from sensible things.

This can be made clear from another point of view. A form must have some proportion to the potency which receives it. Therefore, since of all intellectual substances man’s possible intellect is found to be the closest to corporeal matter, its intelligible forms must, likewise, be most closely allied to material things.


St. Thomas Aquinas. (1265-1274). Compendium Theologiae: Reception of Intelligible Forms in the Possible Intellect, trans. by Cyril Vollert. St. Louis & London: B. Herder Book Co., 1947

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Agere Sequitur Esse