Powers of Aristotles Soul

By: Thomas Kjeller Johansen

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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 Aristotles Soul, Thomas Kjeller Johansen investigates his main work on psychology, the De Anima, from this perspective. He shows how Aristotle conceives of the souls capacities and how he uses them to account for the souls of living beings. Johansen offersan 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 souls capacities. Against the background of Aristotles theory of science, Johansen argues that the capacities of the soul serve as causalprinciples in the explanation of the various life forms. He develops detailed readings of Aristotles treatment of nutrition, perception, and intellect, which show the souls various roles as formal, final and efficient causes, and argues that the so-called agent intellect falls outside the scope of Aristotles natural scientific approach to the soul. Other psychological activities, various kinds of perception (including perceiving that we perceive), memory, imagination, are accounted forin 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 tothe 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 Aristotles biological and minor psychological works.
Publication Date:
18 / 10 / 2012

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