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Aristotle's Theory of the Soul in the De Anima

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Aristotle's Theory of the Soul in the De Anima centres on the kinds of souls possessed by different kinds of living things, distinguished by their different operations. He holds that the soul is the form, or essence of any living thing; that it is not a distinct substance from the body that it is in; that it is the possession of soul (of a specific kind) that makes an organism an organism at all, and thus that the notion of a body without a soul, or of a soul in the wrong kind of body, is simply unintelligible. Aristotle uses his familiar matter/form distinction to answer the question “What is soul?” he says that there are three sorts of substance which are matter, form and the compound of the matter and form. Aristotle is interested in compounds that are alive. These - plants and animals - are the things that have souls. Their souls are what make them living things. Aristotle also argues that the mind is immaterial, able to exist without the body, and immortal by “Saying that something has a soul just means that it is alive”
Meanwhile, Aristotle's hylomorphism is necessary here, however, in that he would like to be able to explain how living things are generated and change and grow. “For Aristotle this is the matter. Matter can take on new forms some of which are accidental while some our essential”. It is clear from this quote that Aristotle means something very different by his use of Forms. While Plato believed Forms were universal truths that can only be truly known to the immortal soul, Aristotle believed the Forms to be fully knowable through investigation unlike Plato's theory, “which sees individual things in this world as somehow participating in the unchanging world of the Forms, has difficult with explaining how thing...

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...of the body, and no problem arises of how soul and body can be united into a substantial whole: ‘there is no need to investigate whether the soul and the body are one, any more than the wax and the shape, or in general the matter of each thing and that of which it is the matter; for while “one” and “being” are said in many ways, the primary [sense] is actuality’ (De anima 2.1, 12B6–9).Many twentieth-century philosophers have been looking for just such a via media between materialism and dualism, at least for the case of the human mind; and much scholarly attention has gone into asking whether Aristotle’s view can be aligned with one of the modern alternatives, or whether it offers something preferable to any of the modern alternatives, or whether it is so bound up with a falsified Aristotelian science that it must regretfully be dismissed as no longer a live option.
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