Phronesis 47 (1):28-90 (2002)

Abstract
This is a close scrutiny of De Anima II 5, led by two questions. First, what can be learned from so long and intricate a discussion about the neglected problem of how to read an Aristotelian chapter? Second, what can the chapter, properly read, teach us about some widely debated issues in Aristotle's theory of perception? I argue that it refutes two claims defended by Martha Nussbaum, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Sorabji: that when Aristotle speaks of the perceiver becoming like the object perceived, the assimilation he has in mind is ordinary alteration of the type exemplified when fire heats the surrounding air, that this alteration stands to perceptual awareness as matter to form. Claim is wrong because the assimilation that perceiving is is not ordinary alteration. Claim is wrong because the special type of alteration that perceiving is is not its underlying material realisation. Indeed, there is no mention in the text of any underlying material realisation for perceiving. The positive aim of II 5 is to introduce the distinction between first and second potentiality, each with their own type of actuality. In both cases the actuality is an alteration different from ordinary alteration. Perception exemplifies one of these new types of alteration, another is found in the acquisition of knowledge and in an embryo's first acquisition of the power of perception. The introduction of suitably refined meanings of 'alteration' allows Aristotle to explain perception and learning within the framework of his physics, which by definition is the study of things that change. He adapts his standard notion of alteration, familiar from Physics III 1-3 and De Generatione et Corruptione I, to the task of accounting for the cognitive accuracy of perception and second potentiality knowledge: both are achievements of a natural, inborn receptivity to objective truth. Throughout the paper I pay special attention to issues of text and translation, and to Aristotle's cross-referencing, and I emphasise what the chapter does not say as well as what it does. In particular, the last section argues that the textual absence of any underlying material realisation for perceiving supports a view I have defended elsewhere, that Aristotelian perception involves no material processes, only standing material conditions. This absence is as telling as others noted earlier. Our reading must respect the spirit of the text as Aristotle wrote it
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/156852802760075693
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,587
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Is an Aristotelian Philosophy of Mind Still Credible? (A Draft).Myles Burnyeat - 1992 - In Martha C. Nussbaum & Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s de Anima. Clarendon Press. pp. 15-26.
Why Aristotle Needs Imagination.Victor Caston - 1996 - Phronesis 41 (1):20-55.
Aristotle on Sense Perception.Thomas J. Slakey - 1961 - Philosophical Review 70 (4):470-484.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Why De Anima Needs III.12-13.Robert Howton - 2020 - In Gweltaz Guyomarc'H., Claire Louguet & Charlotte Murgier (eds.), Aristote et l'âme humaine. Lectures de 'De anima' III offertes à Michel Crubellier. Leuven: pp. 329-350.
What's Aristotelian About Neo‐Aristotelian Virtue Ethics?Sukaina Hirji - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):671-696.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How Much Happens When Aristotle Sees Red and Hears Middle C? Remarks on De Anima 2. 7-8.Myles Burnyeat - 1995 - In Martha C. Nussbaum & Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s de Anima. Clarendon Press. pp. 421-34.
Is an Aristotelian Philosophy of Mind Still Credible? (A Draft).Myles Burnyeat - 1992 - In Martha C. Nussbaum & Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s de Anima. Clarendon Press. pp. 15-26.
Aristotle: De Anima.R. D. Hicks & Aristotle (eds.) - 1907 - Cambridge University.
Dialectic, Motion, and Perception: De Anima Book I.Charlotte Witt - 1992 - In Martha Craven Nussbaum & Amélie Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle's de Anima. Oxford University Press. pp. 169--183.
Desire and the Good in De Anima.Henry Richardson - 1992 - In Martha Craven Nussbaum & Amélie Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle's de Anima. Oxford University Press.
The Nous-Body Problem in Aristotle.Deborah K. W. Modrak - 1991 - Review of Metaphysics 44 (4):755 - 774.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2014-03-24

Total views
563 ( #13,522 of 2,461,980 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #223,153 of 2,461,980 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes