>The latin translation of the arabic sentence should be: 
><intellectus in formis agit universalitatem>, which I would 
>translate as <the mind infuses(agit) universalism in our ideas 
>forms)>. The mind is any individual person's brain, which is 
>partially associated with the universal mind. In 
>other words: all of us, all men/women share the mechanism of 
>thinking, we all share the power to give shape to ideas, which 
>is a trait of the universal mind.

I think the translation is "The intellect does universals in 

The passive intellect receives the forms through the senses and 
the active (or agent - hence agit) intellect uses the logical 
intentions of genus, species and difference to create universals.

Avicenna and Aquinas agree up to this point.  Avicenna then 
creates a problem based on his assumption that universals are 
identical in all intellects.  If this were the case there would 
be no room for error or scientific advance.  To solve his 
problem he develops the no-ownership theory or universal mind in 
which we all participate whereas Aquinas says "the intellectually
grasped form has its universality not according to the exietnce it has
in an intellect but according as it is related to real things as a
likeness of them",

Aquinas posits an essence by which we know things and by which 
things exist but which we can only know through positing 
universals or models (Popper's conjectures) subject to 
experimental verification (Popper's refutations).  The Aquinas / 
Avicenna and Popper / Wittgenstein arguments are essentially the 

Avicenna I think confuses the creative or poetic intellect with the
agent intellect which does participate in the anima mundi or
collective unconscious.  

On Avicenna's view there can only be a heightened consciousness 
which receives more truth than its fellows.  Scientific 
knowledge is found by learning from a more open mind than one's 
own, one more transparent to the universal mind rather than by 
the painful route of conjecture and refutation, hypothesis and 

Richard Dawkins book "The Extended Phenotype" argues that 
specific difference is located at the genome level rather than 
the phenotype level.  Regardless of the merits of his argument 
this illustrates that specific differences are not "read" from 
nature but thought through using universals in this case the 
genetic / DNA model.  Under Avicenna's view we would never have 
got to this model.  I believe that its Nobel Prizewinning 
discoverers have credited Aristotle with its discovery.

We could of course proceed to an argument as to whether genes 
are real (are atoms real?) but on Aquinas' theory we hopefully 
wouldn't feel the urge.  Only the essence is real and our 
universals are means of knowing about essences as defined under 
the logical intentions of genus, species and difference: 
unsheath your dagger definitions, as Joyce says, if you want to 
cut reality but don't forget that you are cutting it.

Is this important?  The no-ownership theory leads to diminished 
responsibility and to the emergence of charismatic individuals 
who claim to represent reality more purely by being  more receptive to
the universal mind: "I can see what you can't see", the 
condition of several Eliot characters. By definition I would not 
be able to argue against such an individual and would be by 
definition a heretic.  Sound familiar?  The model is the 
intellect as radio receiver - the heretic is receiving static or 
is tuned to the wrong station.

Once truth has been read and written there can be no further 
advance, no scientific advance because there is no real concept 
of error.  

Christianity does not subscibe to a no-ownership theory.  On the 
contrary it holds each man ultimately responsible for his own 
intellect.  The Church's position re science is (not without
justification) misunderstood and an interesting read is Arthur
Koestler's well documented essay on Galileo and the Church in "The

The non-ownership theory and the related mind as substance theories
pop out of the intellectual woodwork periodically and invariably
underpin despotic ideologies: this theory is just one of the many
enemies of the open society, but a particularly invidious one because
of its romantic appeal and the fact that it attacks the very basis of
intellectual life: Wittgenstein and Hitler both got it from
Schophenhauer in "The World as Will and Representation".