What Plato called ideals; Aristotle called essence (or form), and its opposite, matter. Matter is without shape or form or purpose. It is just “stuff,” pure potential, no actuality. Essence is what provides the shape or form or purpose to matter. Essence is “perfect,” “complete,” but it has no substance, no solidity.This theory was dubbed Hylomorphism, and Aristotle applied this to a soul, but he uses terms like matter (body) and form (soul or spark).
He defines a soul as that which makes a living thing alive. Life is a property of living things, just as knowledge and health are. Therefore, a soul is a “form”—that is, a “specifying principle or cause”—of a living thing. Aristotle says that a soul is related to its body, as “form to matter.” In short, a soul is a sort of divine source that sparks life into a body. A soul cannot exist without the body, but a body can without a soul (though it would be a dead corpse). The two are supposed to be lumped together; essence and matter need each other. However, the soul is not a component in and of itself, but a force, an activator, a “spark” that animates the body. Essence realizes (“makes real”) matter. This process, the movement from formless stuff to complete being, is called actualization. According to Aristotle this spark is the powers of nourishment, perception, locomotion, and understanding.
Aristotle argues, there is no problem in explaining the unity of body and soul, just as th...
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...levers to “produce, or prevent, or change their movements in some way.” Or as an organist (our conscious mind) who plays certain notes to activate desired pipes. Just as the air “passes from there into one or other of the pipes, depending on the different ways in which the organist moves his fingers on the keyboard.” You can think of our machine’s heart and arteries, which push air into our lungs “like the bellows of an organ,” or stimulates certain nerves. Our nerves, muscle fibers, eyes, heart, lungs, and organs are merely the circuit boards, wiring, tubing, and gadgets of a higher machine assembled by God. Descartes views on the human condition are much more nuanced and detailed. While Aristotle must deal with the limited technology of the times, Descartes is able to use anatomy, machinery, and a few hundred extra years of discovery and thought to aid his theories.
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