Aristotle’s Immortal Intellect

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 75:97-106 (2001)
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Abstract

Recent scholarship understands Aristotle to hold that the human intellect is in part corruptible and in part immortal. The main textual support claimed for this understanding is De Anima III.5, where Aristotle, it is said, presents his doctrine of an immortal active intellect and a mortal passive intellect. In this paper I show that Aristotle distinguishes at III.5 not an active and a passive intellect, but an agent and a potential intellect, both immortal. I further show that the mortal passive intellect mentioned at the end of III.5 is an analogous use of the term intellect, and refers to imagination, the act of a corruptible bodily organ, here called intellect only because it supplies the images from which intellect abstracts concepts.

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