Aristotle's De Anima is the first systematic philosophical account of the soul, which serves to explain the functioning of all mortal living things. In his commentary, Ronald Polansky argues that the work is far more structured and systematic than previously supposed. He contends that Aristotle seeks a comprehensive understanding of the soul and its faculties. By closely tracing the unfolding of the many-layered argumentation and the way Aristotle fits his inquiry meticulously within his scheme of the sciences, Polansky answers questions relating to the general definition of soul and the treatment of each of the soul's principal capacities: nutrition, sense perception, phantasia, intellect, and locomotion. The commentary sheds light on every section of the De Anima and the work as a unit. It offers a challenge to earlier and current interpretations of the relevance and meaning of Aristotle's highly influential treatise.
Ronald Polansky is Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University. Editor of the journal Ancient Philosophy since founding it in 1979, he is the author of Philosophy and Knowledge: A Commentary on Plato's Theaetetus, and co-editor of Bioethics: Ancient Themes in Contemporary Issues.
Introduction; 1. The De Anima and self-knowledge; 2. Study of soul in relation to physics; 3. The cognitive faculties and physics; 4. Aristotle's procedures and the quest for thoroughness; 5. Background assumptions for study of the soul; 6. The truth and interest of the De Anima; 7. The text of the De Anima; Book 1: 1. The nobility and difficulty of study of soul. Its connection with body; 2. The predecessors' use of soul to account for motion and perception; 3. Criticism of predecessors' way of accounting for motion; 4. Criticism of the harmonia view as an account of motion; 5. Criticism of predecessors' way of accounting for cognition; Book 2: 1. Definition of soul; 2. What is life?; 3. How powers of soul are distributed and united in the soul; 4. The nutritive faculty, its object and subfaculties; 5. Clarification of being affected, living as saving, and the first definition of sense; 6. The three sorts of sensible objects; 7. Vision, its medium, and object; 8. Hearing, sound, and voice; 9. Smell and odor; 10. Taste is a contact sense. The tasteable; 11. Touch, the tangibles, and sense as a mean; 12. Definition of sense and whether sensibles affect non-perceiving bodies; Book 3: 1. In the world as it is there can be but the five senses; 2. What allows for perceiving that we perceive? Sense comes together in a common power so that the five senses are subfaculties of a central sense faculty; 3. Distinguishing sense and thought. What is phantasia?; 4. What is mind as that capable of thinking all things; 5. What enables thinking to occur; 6. The sorts of intelligible objects; 7. Phantasia has a role in all thinking; 8. The mind can think all things; 9. There is a capacity for progressive motion; 10. The desiderative capacity is the primary cause of progressive motion; 11. Even the simplest animals have indefinite phantasia and calculative phantasia fits the account of progressive motion; 12. The necessary order of the faculties of the soul; 13. The sort of body requisite to support the order of the faculties of soul; Bibliography.
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