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Thus, the degree to which we have understood something is conditional upon the degree to which it is separated from matter and motion.It follows then that speculative objects, the subject-matter of the speculative-sciences, insofar as they are what are understood, will be separated from matter and motion to some degree.Hence, our understanding of a thing is separated from its matter and is necessary to it in some respect.Now, what is in motion is not necessary, since what is in motion can change.But if a thing’s existence is so defined as to include matter and motion, then it follows that it depends on matter and motion for its being; for it cannot be understood to be without matter and motion.Hence, all things that include matter and motion in their definitions are dependent on matter and motion for their being, but not all things that depend on matter and motion for their being depend on matter and motion for their being understood.In other words, the matter/form composite is predicated neither of, nor in, anything else and is the primary referent of being; all other things are said of it.The details of this very rich metaphysical landscape are described below.
Such things are thus immaterial things; however, Thomas here draws a distinction.
Furthermore, assuming our understanding is correct, when we understand a thing to be a tree, we do not understand it to be a dog, or a horse, or a cat.
Thus, in our understanding of a tree, we understand that which is necessary for the tree to be a tree, and not of anything that is not a tree.
Any distinctions that obtain amongst speculative objects will in turn signify distinctions amongst the sciences that consider those objects; and we can find distinctions amongst speculative objects based upon their disposition towards matter and motion.
There are three divisions that can apply to speculative objects, thereby permitting us to differentiate the sciences that consider such objects: (i) there is a class of speculative objects that are dependent on matter and motion both for their being and for their being understood, for instance, human beings cannot be without matter, and they cannot be understood without their constituent matter (flesh and bones); (ii) there is a class of speculative objects that depend on matter and motion for their being, but not for their being understood, for instance, we can understand lines, numbers, and points without thereby understanding the matter in which they are found, yet such things cannot be without matter; (iii) there is a class of speculative objects that depend on matter and motion neither for their being nor for their being understood.
being, that is, a study of the most fundamental aspects of being that constitute a being and without which it could not be.