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Sign In Join Now. Already joined AMC Stubs in a theatre? Get Tickets. Premium Offerings. AMC independent. International Films. Find A Theatre. AMC Dine-In. Perfectly Popcorn. MacGuffins Bar. Why did ostrich run from the tiger? Because, one says easily, it desired to survive and so engaged in avoidance behavior. Why did the human being drive to the opera and sit quietly in her seat? Because, it seems, she desired to hear the music and to observe the spectacle. In these, as in countless other cases, the explanation of animal action, human and non-human alike, easily and unreflectively appeals to desire.

This is why Aristotle does not end his De Anima with a discussion of mind. Instead, after discussing mind, he notes that all animals are capable of locomotion, only to deny that any one of the faculties of the soul so far considered viz. Although he had initially identified only these three faculties of soul De Anima ii 2, b12 , Aristotle now notes that something must explain the fact that animals engage in goal-directed behavior in order to achieve their conscious and unconscious goals.

The wanted explanation cannot, he urges, be found somehow in the nutritive faculty, since plants, as living beings, have that power of soul, but do not move themselves around in pursuit of their goals; nor is it due to perception, since even some animals have this faculty without ever moving themselves at all, in any way Aristotle evidently has in mind sponges, oysters, and certain testacea, Historia Animalium i 1, b6—9; viii 1 b12; Partibus Animalium iv 5, b34, c8 ; nor again can it be a product of mind, since insofar as it is contemplative, mind does not focus upon objects likely to issue in directives for action, and insofar as it does commend action, mind is not of itself sufficient to engender motion, but instead relies upon appetite De Anima iii 9, b14—33a5.

Indeed, using the same form of reasoning, that a faculty cannot account for purposive action if its activity is insufficient to initiate motion, Aristotle initially concludes that even desire itself orexis cannot be responsible for action. After all, continent people, unlike those who are completely and virtuously moderate, have depraved desires but do not, precisely because they are continent, ever act upon them De Anima iii 9 a6—8; cf. Nicomachean Ethics i 13, b So their desires are insufficient for action.

Consequently, he concludes, desire alone, considered as a single faculty, cannot explain purposive action, at least not completely. Ultimately, though, Aristotle does come to the conclusion that there is a faculty of desire orektikon whose occupation it is to initiate animal motion. Perhaps his initial reservations pertained only to one species of desire considered in isolation. He understands this conclusion, however, in tandem with another which also serves as a qualification of his earlier finding that mind cannot be the source of motion.

He holds, in fact, that it is reasonable to posit two faculties implicated in animal movement: desire and practical reason De Anima iii 10, a17—19 , though they do not work in isolation from one another. Rather, practical reason, broadly construed to incorporate the kind of image-processing present in non-human animals, is a source of movement when it focuses upon an object of desire as something desirable.

So, practical reason and desire act corporately as the sources of purposive motion in all animals, both human and non-human De Anima iii 10, a9—16 , even though, ultimately, it is desire whose objects prick practical intellect and set it in motion De Anima iii 10, a17—2. For this reason, Aristotle concludes, there is a faculty of desire whose activities and objects are primarily, if not autonomously or discretely, responsible for initiating end-directed motion in animals.

What animals seek in action is some object of desire which is or seems to them to be good. Aristotle displays some hesitation in his discussion of desire and its relation to practical reason in the aetiology of animal action. Some have consequently concluded that his treatment can be regarded as at best inchoate or, worse, as positively befuddled. There seem to be no grounds for any such harsh assessment, however.

De Anima (On the Soul)

Equally likely is that Aristotle is simply sensitive to the complexities involved in any approach to the intertwining issues in the philosophy of action. Unlike some later Humeans, he evidently appreciates that the data and phenomena in this domain are unstable, wobbling and retreating at the approach of taxonomizing theory. The antecedents of action, he rightly concludes, involve some sort of faculty of desire; but he is reluctant to conclude that desire is the sole or sufficient faculty implicated in the explanation of purposive behavior.

In some way, he concludes, practical reason and imagination have indispensable roles to play as well. Shields nd. Hylomorphism in General 3. Hylomorphic Soul-body Relations 4. Psychic Faculties 5. Nutrition 6. Perception 7. Mind 8. Hylomorphism in General In De Anima , Aristotle makes extensive use of technical terminology introduced and explained elsewhere in his writings. These four factors he terms the four causes aitiai : The material cause : that from which something is generated and out of which it is made, e. The formal cause : the structure which the matter realizes and in terms of which the matter comes to be something determinate, e.

The final cause : the purpose or goal of the compound of form and matter, e. Nutrition When turning to these individual faculties of the soul, Aristotle considers nutrition first, for two related reasons. Perception Aristotle devotes a great deal of attention to perception, discussing both the general faculty and the individual senses. For the suggestion that thinking is to be understood at least partially in terms of isomorphisms between our representational capacities and the objects of our cognition has had, for good reason, a durable appeal.

To the degree that hylomorphism is generally defensible, then, its application in this domain provides a theoretically rich framework for investigating the nature of thought. Desire In both perception and thinking, animal souls are in some ways active and in some ways passive. Bibliography All translations of passages in Aristotle in the above entry are by the author. Beare, J. Hamlyn, D. Jannone, A. Lawson-Tancred, H. Rodier, G. Ross, G. Ross, W. Theiler, W. Anthologies and Monographs Barnes, L. Schofield, and R.

Sorabji eds. Bretano, Franz, , The Psychology of Aristotle , ed. Durrant, M. Ellis, John ed. Gill, Mary Louise and James G. Lennox eds. Lloyd, G. Owen eds. Nussbaum, Martha C.

A philosopher’s lifelong quest to understand the making of the mind.

Burnyeat, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Wedin, Michael V. Articles and Book Chapters Ackrill, J. Barker, A. Lloyd and G. Salles ed.

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Shields ed. Bradshaw, D. Nussbaum and A. Rorty eds. Remarks on De Anima 2. Perler ed. Bynum, T. Cashdollar, S. Frede and B. Reis eds. Gotthelf and J. Durrant ed. Cohen, S. Gotthelf ed. Corcilius, K. De Ley, H. Easterling, H.


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Osborne, C. Owens, J. Catan ed. Price, A. Richardson, Henry S. Some animals in addition have other senses sight, hearing, taste , and some have more subtle versions of each the ability to distinguish objects in a complex way, beyond mere pleasure and pain. He discusses how these function. Some animals have in addition the powers of memory , imagination , and self-motion. Book III discusses the mind or rational soul, which belongs to humans alone. He argues that thinking is different from both sense-perception and imagination because the senses can never lie and imagination is a power to make something sensed appear again, while thinking can sometimes be false.

And since the mind is able to think when it wishes, it must be divided into two faculties: one which contains all the mind's ideas which are able to be considered, and another which brings them into act, i. These are called the possible and agent intellect. The possible intellect is an " unscribed tablet " and the store-house of all concepts, i. When the mind wishes to think, the agent intellect recalls these ideas from the possible intellect and combines them to form thoughts. The agent intellect is also the faculty which abstracts the "whatness" or intelligibility of all sensed objects and stores them in the possible intellect.

For example, when a student learns a proof for the Pythagorean theorem, his agent intellect abstracts the intelligibility of all the images his eye senses and that are a result of the translation by imagination of sense perceptions into immaterial phantasmata , i. When he wishes to recall the proof, say, for demonstration in class the next day, his agent intellect recalls the concepts and their relations from the possible intellect and formulates the statements that make up the arguments in the proof.

The argument for the existence of the agent intellect in Chapter V perhaps due to its concision has been interpreted in a variety of ways. One standard scholastic interpretation is given in the Commentary on De anima begun by Thomas Aquinas when he was regent at the studium provinciale at Santa Sabina in Rome, the forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.

Aquinas' commentary is based on the new translation of the text from the Greek completed by Aquinas' Dominican associate at Viterbo William of Moerbeke in But the soul is sometimes in potency and act. Therefore, the soul must have this difference. In other words, since the mind can move from not understanding to understanding and from knowing to thinking, there must be something to cause the mind to go from knowing nothing to knowing something, and from knowing something but not thinking about it to actually thinking about it.

Aristotle also argues that the mind only the agent intellect is immaterial, able to exist without the body, and immortal. His arguments are notoriously concise. This has caused much confusion over the centuries, causing a rivalry between different schools of interpretation, most notably, between the Arabian commentator Averroes and St Thomas Aquinas [ citation needed ].

One argument for its immaterial existence runs like this: if the mind were material, then it would have to possess a corresponding thinking-organ.

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And since all the senses have their corresponding sense-organs, thinking would then be like sensing. But sensing can never be false, and therefore thinking could never be false. And this is of course untrue. Therefore, Aristotle concludes, the mind is immaterial.