Usually we say that we 'have' a body than that we 'are' a body. Essentially we are human beings but is it wrong to deny that we are bodies according to Thomas?

  • Some references ? Feb 10, 2020 at 10:40
  • Maybe "is" must be intended in terms of essence: what is the essence of human beings ? Feb 10, 2020 at 10:42
  • Yes, it is wrong. According to the Aristotelian hylomorphism that Aquinas followed, any thing is a fusion of matter and form. It is wrong to say that it is either on its own. Our body is the matter, and our soul is the form. It is particularly wrong with the body because, unlike the soul, it does not even subsist on its own.
    – Conifold
    Feb 10, 2020 at 10:54
  • you say 'Yes, it is wrong'. But that means that 'we are a body' is correct? Probably you meant 'no it is not wrong because we are humans 'made of' body'?
    – Marijn
    Feb 10, 2020 at 11:38
  • There is nothing contradictory in saying that we both have and are a body. Indeed, there are phenomenologists and anthropologists building their whole philosophies on the point that humans both have and are their body.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Feb 10, 2020 at 12:50

1 Answer 1


According to the well-known Aristotelian definition, humans are "rational animals", i.e. animals (with body) with intellectual faculties.

See Aquinas: Body and Soul:

Considered as a substantial form of a material body, the soul exists in a living being as the substantial form of an animal.

Humans are substances, made of matter and form. The living being is the human.

There is no "modern" self that "owns the body".

  • Do you think that nobody in those days ever had said or discussed about the line 'I have or am a body'?
    – Marijn
    Feb 10, 2020 at 11:47

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