Images, Appearances, and Phantasia in Aristotle

Phronesis 57 (3):251-278 (2012)
Abstract Aristotle's account of Phantasia in De Anima 3.3 is notoriously difficult to decipher. At one point he describes Phantasia as a capacity for producing images, but then later in the same chapter it is clear Phantasia is supposed to explain appearances, such as why the sun appears to be a foot wide. Many commentators argue that images cannot explain appearances, and so they claim that Aristotle is using Phantasia in two different ways. In this paper I argue that images actually explain perceptual appearances for Aristotle, and so Phantasia always refers to images. I take a new approach to interpreting DA 3.3, reading it alongside Plato's Theaetetus and Sophist . In the Theaetetus , Socrates explains how memory gives rise to perceptual appearance. I claim that Aristotle adopts Socrates' account of perceptual appearance, but what Socrates calls memory, Aristotle calls Phantasia
Keywords phantasia   Aristotle   perception   memory   imagination   Plato
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DOI 10.1163/156852812X641272
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