Edited by Caleb Cohoe (Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver)
|Summary||In his On the Soul, Aristotle offers one of the first systematic accounts of the soul and of its role in explaining living activities. In book one he criticizes the views of his predecessors, Plato and the Pre-Socratics. In books two and three, Aristotle develops his own account of the soul, characterizing it as the fulfillment or actuality of an organic body. The soul is the principle that makes the bodies of living things actually be alive. Thus, on his account, living things are composites of matter and form: they are hylomorphic (the technical term for Aristotle's view, based on the Greek words for matter and form). After laying out this general account, Aristotle discusses three fundamentally different kinds of soul power: a nutritive or vegetative power that allows living things to grow, nourish themselves and reproduce; a perceptual power that allows animals to perceive and respond to the world around them; and an intellectual power that allows human beings to understand the natures of things. Aristotle characterizes the powers these souls have by analyzing their activities and the objects these activities involve (e.g. in order to define the power of perception, he gives an account of the activity of perception and an account of perceptible objects). Aristotle's text was the key reference point for much of ancient and medieval psychology and philosophy of mind and has continued to have a significant influence up to the present day. There has been continuing debate on the extent to which Aristotle's hylomorphism represents a distinct or viable position when seen from the vantage point of contemporary philosophy of mind (see Aristotle:Soul for further details). Both the overall orientation of Aristotle's philosophy of mind (e.g. is it naturalistic or not?) and the details are highly controversial, as the articles in this category and its subcategories make clear.|
|Key works||Aristotle's most important work in this area is his De Anima (the work is usually referred to by its Latin name) or On the Soul (editions include Aristotle 2002, and Aristotle & Reeve 1956). There are two excellent recent translations into English by Christopher Shields (Shields 2016) and C.D.C. Reeve (Reeve & Aristotle 2017). Important commentaries on the work include Hicks (Hicks & Aristotle 1907), Ross (Aristotle & Reeve 1956), Rodier (Aristotle & Rodier 1900), and Polansky (Polansky 2007). Aristotle's other psychological works are found in the Parva Naturalia, including De Sensu or On Sense and the Sensible and De Memoria or On Memory and Recollection (ARISTOTLE 1955). He also discusses claims that are relevant to his philosophy of mind in a number of other works. His discussion of animal motion in De Motu Animalium sheds light on his discussion of locomotion in On the Soul while his biological works offer further information on how Aristotle thinks the soul and body interact (e.g. Balme 1992). Other relevant texts in other works include his treatment of different kinds of knowledge in book six of the Nicomachean Ethics and his discussion of the the nature of form and substance in the Metaphysics (Aristotle 1994; Aristotle 1994).|
|Introductions||Chapter four of Jonathan Lear's Aristotle: The Desire to Understand provides a helpful and very readable introduction to Aristotle's views on the soul and on cognition (Lear 1988). Christopher Shields' Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Aristotle's Psychology gives an excellent overview of Aristotle's philosophy of mind and of the main interpretative disputes currently going on in the literature (Shields 2008).|
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