What kind of souls do bacteria and other less-developed life forms have?

So, according to Aquinas, plants have vegetative souls and animals have sensitive souls. All life forms have souls though only man’s survives death due to it being rational. So, what kind of souls do bacteria have? I would hazard a guess that they are vegetative because they only grow or reproduce.

If you read Aquinas closer you will see that he defines souls other than human souls as souls which are dependent on their material bodies. So they are all classified as material souls ( spiritual but dependent on matter ), whereas human souls are not dependent on the bodies for which they are the life form. So it is not necessary to say that viruses or bacteria are vegetative or sensitive, it is only necessary to define them as life forms dependent on matter. It is for science to determine whether they are vegetative or sensitive or some combination thereof.


I agree with your guess.

I agree with this too, and my understanding of the science surrounding this is that bacteria, like plants, do not have sensation.

I wonder about venus fly traps, though, and other plants that have some sort of sensitive organ. Do they count as animals because they have a basic form of sensation?

Bacteria etc. have appetitive souls. They are locomotive and do not merely grow.

Very very tiny souls that can hardly sense, unlike higher animals. And no spirit. Only mankind has spirit and reason.

Do we care? I suppose we would have to concern ourselves with good versus bad bacteria and the like.

This is one I am leaving to God. He created everything, so He will have to be the One to deal with each things soul.

However, I do think animals have souls that do go to Heaven. Can’t help it.

Things that move and exhibit features like growth, healing, propagation, senses,and rationality are said to have a source of immanent activity called soul, the principle of activity. What is referred to as material, or physical souls means that their activity is strictly from matter and dependent on physical forces and matter to sustain their activity. eg. the sun provides radiation of heat, and heat provides incubation, absorption of water and minerals , it also provides chemical process etc. Their is also the ability to pass on this activity through propagation.

In man, all of these features are there , he has the vegetative aspect of life, the sentient aspect of life, and something quite different, the ability to reason, or intellectual life. Now the life of man is not due to being rational, but due another source of activity, a spiritual soul which has the faculties of reason and will. It is the faculties that give the clue to what kind of a soul man has. Rational intelligence, and volition are not sense realities like animals have. The mind deals with spiritual concepts, and can even be aware of itself. These properties belong to the world of the spirit. To animate this power we have to have an animating principle we call “a spiritual soul” We understand this soul is infused into the human body so that man is called “body and soul” It is also understood that the spiritual soul can provide man with the vegetative, and sentient properties of lower life forms. Also to note the souls are not the source of their own motion, God is. He is the source of all motion. You will likely hear a lot of rebuttal from so-called scientific quarters. Stick with the Church.

Actually it has been proven recently that plant life, including trees are very intelligent, they communicate with each other, can protect themselves in a number of ways against all kinds of threats, they can pick and choose in which direction they want to grow, they can sense other similar and non-similar plants around them.

I watched a documentary about this recently, and was amazed how intelligent plant life is!

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