The Powers of Aristotle's Soul

The Powers of Aristotle's Soul

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Aristotle is considered by many to be the founder of 'faculty psychology'-the attempt to explain a variety of psychological phenomena by reference to a few inborn capacities. In The Powers of Aristotle's Soul, Thomas Kjeller Johansen investigates his main work on psychology, the De Anima, from this perspective. He shows how Aristotle conceives of the soul's capacities and how he uses them to account for the souls of living beings. Johansen offers
an original account of how Aristotle defines the capacities in relation to their activities and proper objects, and considers the relationship of the body to the definition of the soul's capacities. Against the background of Aristotle's theory of science, Johansen argues that the capacities of the soul serve as causal
principles in the explanation of the various life forms. He develops detailed readings of Aristotle's treatment of nutrition, perception, and intellect, which show the soul's various roles as formal, final and efficient causes, and argues that the so-called 'agent' intellect falls outside the scope of Aristotle's natural scientific approach to the soul. Other psychological activities, various kinds of perception (including 'perceiving that we perceive'), memory, imagination, are accounted for
in their explanatory dependency on the basic capacities. The ability to move spatially is similarly explained as derivative from the perceptual or intellectual capacities. Johansen claims that these capacities together with the nutritive may be understood as 'parts' of the soul, as they are basic to
the definition and explanation of the various kinds of soul. Finally, he considers how the account of the capacities in the De Anima is adopted and adapted in Aristotle's biological and minor psychological works.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 23mm | 622g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199658439
  • 9780199658435
  • 1,795,953

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Abbreviations ; Introduction ; 1. Circumscribing the soul ; 2. Towards a scientific definition of the soul ; 3. Parts and unity in the definition of the soul ; 4. The definition of dunamis ; 5. The priority of the objects over the capacities of the soul ; 6. The importance of nutrition ; 7. The soul as an efficient cause ; 8. The matter of the soul's activities ; 9. The perceptual capacity extended ; 10. Phantasia ; 11. The intellect and the limits of naturalism ; 12. The locomotive capacity ; 13. The descent from definition: The capacities of the soul applied ; 14. The capacities in the Parts and lives of animals
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Review quote

[T]his fine and important book ... should be required reading for anyone with an interest in Aristotleas psychology and theory of nature. It is sure to serve as a touchstone in debates about the issues it treats for many years to come. * Mark A. Johnstone, Mind * The Powers of Aristotle's Soul is certain to be a valuable contribution to the existing literature on Aristotles De Anima. Its novelty lies in its overall approach to De Anima, as it seeks to situate the work within Aristotles natural philosophy while offering an interpretation of the relationship between the various capacities of Aristotles soul. While the work functions splendidly as a whole, a number of its individual chapters are able to stand alone as
valuable discussions of the particular capacities central to De Anima. The work will be most valuable to scholars and advanced students of Aristotle with an interest in Aristotles scientific methodology and psychology; it will also be useful for historians and contemporary philosophers with an interest in the
history of faculty psychology and the Aristotelian accounts of perception and nutrition * Journal of the History of Philosophy * Johansen proves, once again, that he is at the cutting edge of scholarship on Aristotle, not falling into any particular camp of interpretation but forging a new way into studying the ancients. * Tijdschrift voor Filosofie * a significant contribution to our understanding of capacities and the soul in Aristotle and to our overall understanding of the De Anima. [Johansens] interpretations are always carefully developed and show an excellent grasp of Aristotle's entire corpus . . . I would recommend this work for all scholars working on Aristotle or on ancient understandings of powers or the soul. It may also prove of interest for those in contemporary philosophy who are working on the
notion of powers * Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews *
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About Thomas Kjeller Johansen

Thomas Kjeller Johansen studied Philosophy and Classics at Cambridge, before taking up lectureships at Bristol, Edinburgh and Oxford. He has held a British Academy Research Readership, a membership at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and a fellowship the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC. He is the author of Plato's Natural Philosophy (CUP, 2004), Aristotle on the Sense-Organs (CUP, 1998), and the translator of Plato,
Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics, 2008).
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