Ipsum quoque hominem aliter sensus, aliter imaginatio, aliter ratio, aliter intellegentia contuetur. sensus enim figuram in subiecta materia constitutam, imaginatio vero solam sine materia iudicat figuram; ratio vero hanc quoque transcendit speciemque ipsam, quae singularibus inest, universali consideratione perpendit. intellegentiae vero celsior oculus exsistit; supergressa namque universitatis ambitum, ipsam illam simplicem formam pura mentis acie contuetur. in quo illud maxime considerandum est: nam superior comprehendendi vis amplectitur inferiorem, inferior vero ad superiorem nullo modo consurgit. neque enim sensus aliquid extra materiam valet vel universales species imaginatio contuetur vel ratio capit simplicem formam; sed intellegentia quasi desuper spectans concepta forma quae subsunt etiam cuncta diiudicat, sed eo modo quo formam ipsam, quae nulli alii nota esse poterat, comprehendit. nam et rationis universum et imaginationis figuram et materiale sensibile cognoscit nec ratione utens nec imaginatione nec sensibus, sed illo uno ictu mentis formaliter, ut ita dicam, cuncta prospiciens. ratio quoque, cum quid universale respicit, nec imaginatione nec sensibus utens imaginabilia vel sensibilia comprehendit. haec est enim quae conceptionis suae universale ita definit: homo est animal bipes rationale. quae cum universalis notio sit, tum imaginabilem sensibilemque esse rem nullus ignorat, quod ilia non in imaginatione vel sensu sed in rationali conceptione considerat. imaginatio quoque, tametsi ex sensibus visendi formandique figuras sumpsit exordium, sensu tamen absente sensibilia quaeque collustrat, non sensibili sed imaginaria ratione iudicandi. videsne igitur ut in cognoscendo cuncta sua potius facultate quam eorum quae cognoscuntur utantur? neque id iniuria; nam cum omne iudicium iudicantis actus exsistat, necesse est ut suam quisque operam non ex aliena sed ex propria potestate perficiat.
(Boëthius, De Consolatione Philosophiae 5.4.27-39)
Similarly, sense perception, imagination, reason, and understanding, each in its distinct way, view the same human being. For sense perception judges the shape as it has been constituted in its subject material, while imagination judges the shape alone, without its material; reason transcends this as well and from its universal point of view weighs in the balance that very appearance that is present in all individuals. And the eye of understanding exists as something higher yet; for it has passed beyond what is encompassed by universality and views the one simple form itself in the pure vision of the mind. In all of this, here is the one point that must be considered in particular: Namely, that the higher power of comprehension embraces the lower, but in no way does the lower rise to the level of the higher. For sense perception has no power beyond what is material; imagination does not view universal appearances; reason does not grasp the simple form. Understanding, however, looking down as it were from on high, grasps the form and then judges separately the things that are beneath it, all of them; but it does so in the way in which it comprehends the form itself, which could not be known to any of the other powers. For it perceives reason’s universal and imagination’s shape and sense perception’s material, but not by using reason or imagination or the senses but by the characteristic single stroke of mind, formally, if I may use the word, seeing all things in advance. And reason similarly: When it views something universal, it comprehends the things that can be perceived by imagination and the senses, but not by using imagination or the senses. This is reason, and it defines the universal of its own conception this way: A human being is a two-legged, rational animal. And although this is a universal knowledge, there is no one who is unaware that its object is a thing of the imagination and a thing of sense perception as well, yet a thing that this knowledge looks at not by imagination and not by sense but in its state of rational conception. And imagination similarly: Even if it has taken from the senses the starting point of seeing and forming shapes, nevertheless it is in the absence of sense that it casts its gaze over each and every thing of the senses by a rationale of judgment that is not of the senses but of the imagination. So do you see how in perception all things use their own capability rather than the capability of the things that are perceived? And not without cause: For since every judgment exists as an act of the one who judges, it is necessarily the case that all who judge bring their work to completion by their own true powers, and not by a power outside of themselves. (tr. Joel C. Relihan)