On the Intellect

Introduction by Dimitri Gutas

Alfarabi says: “Therefore the agent intellect, which Aristotle named in the third treatise of his book De Anima, is a separate form, which neither was nor ever will be in material. And from the fact that the soul is actual intellect, all its power is for assimilating itself to intelligence that has gained intellect. It causes that essence, since it was potential intellect, to be actual intellect, and the things that were potentially understood to be actually understood. The relationship of this to potential intellect is like the relationship of the sun to the eye, which is potentially vision as long as it is in shadow. For vision is not potentially vision except while it is in shadow, but thought from shadow is potentially illumination, or actually deprivation of illumination, but thought of illumination is radiance from the opposition of what is radiant.”

Original Latin