Neoplatonic Sailors and Peripatetic Ships: Aristotle, Alexander, and Philoponus

Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (4):545-566 (2013)
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The Opening Chapter of De Anima II, in which Aristotle outlines an extremely general and universally applicable characterization of the soul (κοινότατος λόγος), closes with a perplexing comparison, which seems to contradict the general drift of that definiens1. After carefully arguing that the body-soul relation is a token of the hylomorphic model, which accounts for the substantial unity of every natural compound, Aristotle writes, “[F]urther, it remains unclear [ἄδηλον] whether the soul may not be the actuality of its body in the sense in which the sailor is the actuality of the ship” (413a8–9).2 Far from being found in the body as the functional organization of its matter, this remark suggests that the soul ..



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