Document Type


Publication Date



Presented at the Conference on Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Fordham University, 2012


In the Long Commentary on the De anima, Averroes posits three separate intelligences in the anima rationalis or the rational soul: agent intellect or intellectus agens, material or passible intellect, intellectus possibilis or intellectus passibilis, and speculative intellect, intellectus speculativus, or actualized or acquired intellect, intellectus adeptus. In the De anima 3.1.5, “there are three parts of the intellect in the soul; the first is the receptive intellect, the second, the active intellect, and the third is actual intellection…,” that is, speculative or actualized, agent, and material. While material intellect is “partly generable and corruptible, partly eternal,” corporeal and incorporeal, the speculative and agent intellects are purely eternal and incorporeal. In the De anima 3.1.5, the existence of intelligibles or first principles in intellect, as they are understood in actualized intellect, “does not simply result from the reception of the object,” the sensible form in sense perception in material intellect, “but consists in attention to, or perception of, the represented forms…,” the cognition of the forms in actualized intellect wherein they can be understood as intelligibles, which requires both the participation of active intellect and the motivation of the individual for intellectual development. The goal of intellectual development is to achieve union with active intellect, the final entelechy, and through this union the highest bliss in life can be achieved. Such bliss can only be achieved “in the eve of life.” All individual material intellects are capable of some ability to form concepts and abstract ideas at a basic level, but beyond that intellectual development varies among individuals according to the level of volition. Complete knowledge of the material world results in complete unity between the material intellect and the active intellect.