Chapter IV

The Essential Difference of Man's Vegetative and Sentient Souls

 

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I. The Difference of Man's Vegetative Soul

II. The Difference of Man's Sentient Soul

        A. The Practical Intellect and the Imaginative and Stimulative Faculties

        B. The Imaginative Faculty and Prophecy

 

I. The Difference of Man's Vegetative Soul

Know that the activity of the vegetative soul that is in man is not like the activity of the vegetative soul that is in animals or vegetation. In truth, better and more noble actions come from the vegetative soul that is in man than from the vegetative soul in animals and all the more so, the one that is in vegetation.


II. The Difference of Man's Sentient Soul

A. The Practical Intellect and the Imaginative and Stimulative Faculties

Similarly, the action of the imaginative faculty that is in man - which is part of the sentient soul - is not like the action of the imaginative faculty that is in the other animals. Man's imagination can come up with many strategies and schemes to prepare for a desired action that the animal imagination does not have the ability to do. This is all necessitated by nature (b'teva) because the human species is in need of many crafts that can only be accomplished with the first faculty of the practical intellect - which is in reality a combination of the imaginative faculty and the stimulative faculty. This faculty was discussed in the third chapter, in our explanation of the human intellect1, because it is not found in the other animals. But in truth, the first faculty of the practical intellect is in man as a result of the functioning of the sentient soul - meaning, from the imaginative and stimulative faculties2.


Similarly, the distancing of evil actions and the choice of good actions3 is from the imaginative faculty - specifically, its stimulative faculty. This is clear and there is no need to explain it at length.


B. The Imaginative Faculty and Prophecy

Similarly, the intuitive faculty4 in man which can make remarkable predictions of the future is the function of a highly developed imaginative faculty. The Rav, the Guide of righteousness, of blessed memory, has informed us that the perfection of the imaginative faculty is a necessary precondition of prophecy. This is because the prophet make the future known in regard to practical matters. He also instructs the people of his generation to follow many practically good habits. However, there is no connection between the Active Intellect - which is the cause of his prophecy - and these practical matters. What happens is that the influence of the Active Intellect effects his intellectual faculty and makes him instantly know the truth of the entirety of existence without any demonstrative premises. The influence of the intellectual faculty - which influences the imaginative faculty because they join together - causes the intuitive faculty - which is a result of the imaginative faculty - to strengthen because it has received the divine influence. It strengthens to the point that it can make amazing predictions of the future, the likes of which are not in the nature of the general intuitive faculty to know. Similarly, it teaches good practical habits with the strength of his imaginative faculty with which he receives divine strength through the medium of the Active Intellect and through the medium of his own actualizing intellect (seikhel haMitpael).


However, being that the imaginative faculty is without any doubt a physical faculty, it can not escape materializing whatever it grasps. It even imagines non-material entities as physical. For example, it is known that lines and points are not physical. However, a man still draws them with his pen as a physical form because he is accustomed to grasping a physical substance.


Similarly, when the imaginative faculty receives this glorious influence it represents the Active Intellect - which is its cause, meaning, the cause of the influence - as if it were a man standing before him, speaking with him and telling him about the future using speech. Or, he shows it to him in riddles like the almond staff and the boiling pot5. Also it can appear to him that he is teaching him good habits which he should guide the people of his generation to follow. All this occurs in his imagination. These things do not actually exist. It is known that the Active Intellect has no physical attributes or physical form.


This is the true understanding of the prophetic vision: when the glorious influence comes to affect the intellectual faculty - which is not physical - this faculty is greatly strengthened to the point that his senses and his physical faculties are suppressed and he falls into a deep slumber as a result of the increasing might of his non-physical faculty and the weakening of the physical faculties from it - meaning, from the intellectual faculty and the imagination.


On account of the fact that the imaginative faculty is internal and is close to being similar to the intellect it continues to function normally even during sleep. At this time the intellectual faculty

receives the 'influence' in accordance with his degree of preparedness. He is then elevated to the highest level; he grasps the truth of the entirety of existence, suddenly. Then this 'influence' influences his imagination through his intellect until he grasps future events and general habits. All of this appears to him in his imagination as if it came to him from the external senses - but they only came to him on account of the 'influence' of the intellect, as we said.

1See Chapter Three, IA.

2See Chapter Two, IIB2.

3This is the second faculty of the practical intellect. See Chapter Three, IB.

4This is the כח המשער. Ibn Tibbon in his Peirush Milot Zarot (PMZ) writes:

כח משער - הוא שם לכח שבו יחשב האדם שכך יהיה, לא שיהיה לו בו שום ידיעה, נגזר מ"כמו שער בנפשו כן הוא", וכן "מאה שערים", כלומר, מאה ממה שחשב ודימה; ובלעז קוראים העניין הזה, 'אדישמר', ובערבי, 'שעור' - העברי והערבי והארמי שווים במלה הזאת:

5See the first chapter of Yirmiyahu.