Aristotle's De Anima : On Why the Soul is Not a Set of Capacities

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (2):185-200 (2011)
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Although it is common for interpreters of Aristotle's De Anima to treat the soul as a specially related set of powers of capacities, I argue against this view on the grounds that the plausible options for reconciling the claim that the soul is a set of powers with Aristotle's repeated claim that the soul is an actuality cannot be unsuccessful. Moreover, I argue that there are good reasons to be wary of attributing to Aristotle the view that the soul is a set of powers because this claim conflicts with several of his metaphysical commitments, most importantly his claims about form and substance. I argue that although there are passages in the De Anima in which Aristotle discusses the soul in terms of its powers or capacities, these discussions do not establish that the soul is a set of capacities



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Rebekah Johnston
Wilfrid Laurier University

References found in this work

On the Soul. Aristotle - 2004 - In Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton University Press. pp. 641-692.
Body and Soul in Aristotle.Richard Sorabji - 1993 - In Michael Durrant & Aristotle (eds.), Aristotle's de Anima in Focus. Routledge. pp. 63-.
Physicalism. [REVIEW]Geoffrey Hellman - 1980 - Philosophical Review 89 (4):625.
Mind and Imagination in Aristotle.Christopher Shields - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):371.
Aristotle's Definition of Soul.William Charlton - 1980 - Phronesis 25 (2):170 - 186.

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