Passive intellect is a term used in both psychology and philosophy.


Passive intellect is the psychological concept of knowledge that is not being actively used (as opposed to active knowledge). For example, if you simply know French, but do not happen to be speaking it at the moment, it would be considered passive knowledge. If you are speaking French, your knowledge of it is currently active knowledge for you. Passive intellect is sometimes represented by three straight lines of equal length stacked together [1].


In Aristotle's psychology, the passive intellect (nous pathetikos) corresponds to sensing/feeling part of the mind, in contrast with the active intellect (nous poietikos) or thinking part.

Later philosophers, including Averroes and St. Thomas Aquinas, elaborated on Artistotle's distinction between the active intellect and passive intellect.


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