De re praedicatur. Intentiones and forma totius according to Albertus Magnus
Paloma Hernández Rubio (UAM, Mexico City)

part of: Perception, Knowledge, and Assimilation
June 12, 2017, 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki

Auditorium IV in the main building of the University of Helsinki (Päärakennus)
Fabianinkatu 33

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  • European Research Council Project "Rationality in Perception: Transformations of Mind and Cognition 1250-1550" (Helsinki)
  • Research Programme "Representation and Reality. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Aristotelian Tradition" (Gothenburg)


In his commentary to De sex principiis, Albertus Magnus establishes the distinction between 'forma partis' and 'forma totius' in order to differentiate the ontological character of the 'forma in re' –which is a constituent of the composite substance– from the logical character of the 'forma post rem' –which is able to signify the totality of the substance, and thus can be predicated of it.

Albertus Magnus typifies the five universals (genus, species, differentia, propria and accidentia) as 'forma totius', which entails that that which is signified by 'accidentia' is not the accidental property, but rather the subject in which this property takes place. On the other hand, in his Commentary of the De anima 2.3.4 when he is commenting on Avicenna’s exposition of the different degrees of abstraction of the 'formae' and of the 'intentiones', Albertus typifies the 'formae' as the 'forma partis' and the 'intentiones' as the 'forma totius'.

By means of comparing these two texts, and by demonstrating the identity between 'intentio' and 'forma totius', I will solve a problem we find when it comes to Albertus Magnus’ theory of sensory perception, sc. why does he deal with the operations of the inner senses as logical operations –as logical predications–, even though there are no universal terms involved in these operations? The answer is that, according to Albert the Great, sensory operations work in the same way as the predications of concrete accidental terms, and this does not require universal terms at play: the 'proprium sensibile' signifies the substance.

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