Authors
Caleb Cohoe
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Abstract
In De Anima I 4, Aristotle describes the intellect (nous) as a sort of substance, separate and incorruptible. Myles Burnyeat and Lloyd Gerson take this as proof that, for Aristotle, the intellect is a separate eternal entity, not a power belonging to individual humans. Against this reading, I show that this passage does not express Aristotle’s own views, but dialectically examines a reputable position (endoxon) about the intellect that seems to show that it can be subject to change. The passage’s argument for the indestructibility of intellect via an analogy to perception does not fit with Aristotle’s own views. Aristotle thinks that perception operates via bodily organs, but denies this of understanding. He also requires separability from the body for indestructibility, something this analogy rules out. However, Aristotle’s Platonist interlocutors may well endorse such an argument. My dialectical interpretation best resolves the interpretative difficulties and explains its place in the larger context, Aristotle’s discussion of Platonist views on the soul. Aristotle presents a challenge to his insistence that the soul is subject to change, dialectically resolves that challenge, and then ends by reserving the right to give a different account of the intellect.
Keywords Aristotle  soul  intellect  endoxa  dialectic  Platonism  Protrepticus  Heraclides of Pontus  separability
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Reprint years 2017, 2018
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2017.1373061
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Nature and Divinity in Plato's Timaeus.Sarah Broadie - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
The Epistemological Basis of Aristotelian Dialectic.Robert Bolton - 1990 - In D. Devereux & P. Pellegrin (eds.), Biologie, Logique Et Metaphysique Chez Aristote. Editions du Cnrs. pp. 185-236.
The Endoxon Mystique: What Endoxa Are and What They Are Not.Dorothea Frede - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 43:185-215.

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