ANDREW RUCZEL OF KOŚCIAN—a master of the department of arts of Kraków Academy int he fifteenth century, a follower of Averroism and of the naturalism of the the via moderna.
In 1422 he began studies in the department of arts, earned his bachelor’s degree in 1445, and his master’s in 1495. He is the author of treatises of astronomical and philosophical compilations: De altitudine mundi and De altitudine gloriae mundanae. He was one of the first followers of the realistic orientation which in the third quarter of the fifteenth century prevailed over the previously dominant nominalistic tendencies. His commentary on Aristotle’s De anima (Quaestiones super I–III libros “De anima” Aristotelis, BJ 2024) is especially noteworthy. The commentary was written in the spirit of Averroism that belonged to the via antiqua. Andrew Ruczel takes up the question of the relation of soul and body. He resolves this question in accordance with the Averroistic tradition but with a large measure of naturalism. Andrew Ruczel distinguishes two substantial forms in man: the sensory soul (the form of the individual man), and the intellectual soul (a substance separate from man, the common form of all men). The individual human soul is only a natural form and is therefore mortal, corruptible, and not subsistent. The ontological composition of the individual man is the same as the ontological composition of a beast. The intellectual soul is a strictly spiritual substance that exists apart from man and is joined with man only by “consanguinity” in activity because it is adapted to the human body in the process of cognition performed with the body’s help. The powers of the soul are really distinct from the soul. Within the intellectual soul, the potential intellect and the agent intellect are not two faculties, but two substances, as it were, joined with each other on the principle of potency and act.
Andrew Ruczel thought that there was a single intellect common to the whole human race. He thought that the relation of individual men to the intellect is the same as the relation of fixed stars to the mover of the eighth sphere. Andrew Ruczel thought that this view was probable from the philosophical point of view, but from the point of view of faith we should hold that each man has his own intellectual soul which does not come from the potentiality of matter but which is created and infused. In questions concerning the sources of knowledge he continued the genetic empiricism that began in the Kraków Academy in previous years. He held that the human intellect which it comes into being is as if nothing were written on it and thereby can understand everything. Andrew Ruczel criticized the position that the intellectual powers are not distinct from the intellectual soul and the view that the potential intellect and the agent intellect are one and the same intellect as it receives or produces knowledge. According to Andrew Ruczel the potential intellect and the agent intellect, which is common to the whole human race, together create the intellectual soul, which is an immaterial substance. The potential intellect, which he also called the “material intellect”, has the character of an active potency and is subject to changes described as passio. The agent intellect has an actual nature. Andrew Ruczel answers the question: “In what way do both these intellects join and create the soul?” He says that the intellectual soul is a collection of two immaterial substances (the agent intellect and the material intellect), but on the other hand he regards it as a substance composed of potency—the potential intellect, and act—the agent intellect.
In accordance with the Averroistic tradition, Andrew Ruczel devotes many passages to the potential intellect which he describes as a substance separate from the body and matter, and it possesses a nature of pure potency. In his explanation of the term “material intellect” he explains that it refers to the potential intellect insofar as it is the spiritual matter of the agent intellect; insofar as it is capable of becoming anything, that is, capable of receiving and knowing everything, it is potential. The agent intellect is necessary for knowledge for it acts upon phantasms and upon the potential intellect. Andrew Ruczel ascribes unity to the intellect and says that the entire intellect knows, not merely the potential intellect which receives knowledge. He also says that the entire human being has unity, for he holds that not only the intellect, but the whole man knows. The intellect is not what performs the act of knowledge but is that whereby the man knows. As he describes the nature of the agent intellect, Andrew Ruczel engages in polemics against the dominant opinions on this matter in the Kraków school, namely the opinion of the so-called new way, according to which the agent intellect is a substance separate from man. He also engages in polemics against the opinion of Paul of Worczyn who taught that one intellect exists which as that which receives cognitive forms is called the potential intellect, and as that which causes knowledge is called the agent intellect. Andrew Ruczel thinks that the potential intellect and the agent intellect are two substances that compose the human intellectual soul. The whole that arises in this way Andrew Ruczel does not call a substance but an aggregate (aggregatum), which acts by one of its parts and is capable of being acted upon by the other part.
The classical question in Averroism was: If there is one common intellect, how can different people have different results of knowledge? Andrew Ruczel answers the question on two levels: (1) the individualization of knowledge (he regards the whole individual man of whom the intellect is a part as the knowing subject); (2) the differentiation of the contents of knowledge located in one intellect (the individualization of content is caused by the different phantasms of different people). In accordance with the Averroistic tradition, Andrew Ruczel holds that the intellect knows generalities, but he questions intuitive knowledge (according to the Averroists, knowledge without phantasms is proper to the intellect in a state of full perfection). Andrew Ruczel thinks that sensory knowledge must precede all intellectual knowledge. According to him, the intellect possesses no operation of its own that is not communicated to the body. Even intellectual abilities or habits belong the whole man, namely to the connection of intellect and body. Only God knows intuitively. Man knows by abstraction.
Andrew Ruczel was inclined to accept, in the spirit of Averroism, the double criterium of truth, and to separate knowledge, reason, and philosophy from faith and theology.
H. Barycz, Historia Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego w epoce Humanizmu [History of Jagiellonian University in the epoch of Humanism], Kr 1935; M. Markowski, Un commentaire averroiste sur le “De anima” de la moitié du XVe siècle dans ms BJ, 2024, MPhP 9 (1961), 41–50; Z. Kuksewicz, Filozofia człowieka. Teoria duszy [Philosophy of man. Theory of the soul], in: Dzieje filozofii średniowiecznej w Polsce [History of medieval philosophy in Poland], Wr 1975, V 129–131 (passim).