The Parable of the Talents
Jesus, according to the Bible1, tells his followers a parable about a man who, before embarking on a long journey, called together his three servants and entrusted them with the greater part of his wealth. To the first servant, he gave five talents2 of gold, to the second, two talents, and to the third, one talent. Upon his return several years later, he called upon his servants to deliver up the wealth which he had left to them. The first servant reported that he had made productive use ofthe five talents entrusted to him and thereupon returned ten talents to his master, who was so delighted with this good and faithful servant, he rewarded him. The second servant made a similar report and returned
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Our inquiry builds upon the moderate immaterialistic view of the relationship between the mind and body, a view articulated by Mortimer J. Adler in his book, Intellect,3 and which may be summarized as follows: The brain is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition of conceptual thought. In other words, some immaterial substance (e.g.,human soul, spirit, or intellect) is required for conceptual thought, but conceptual thought depends upon the operation of the material brain, without which we could not think conceptually.4 Upon that, it is submitted that the difference in degree among humans in intellectual talent -- a difference, when evident in one extreme, we call gifted talent or genius -- has its basis in the dependence of conceptual thought upon the structure and operation of the material brain. Specifically, an intellectual talent springs from physical conditions in the brain that are disposed toward the exercise of that talent -- the better those conditions, the better the talent is likely to be. The causes of these bodily dispositions are, paradoxically, both material and, in a sense, divine.
This inquiry will begin with a brief review of the ancient concept of the mind or soul of living things, including their rational and non-rational powers, followed by a brief discussion of the human