Aug 21 2012

De Anima by Aristotle

I think of “soul” as another word for consciousness, but Aristotle says remarkably little about consciousness in this book. For Aristotle the primary characteristic of the soul is that it moves or animates the body. The secondary characteristic is that it is endowed with perception through the physical sense organs. By the time he comes to the subject of intellect, imagination, and desire, his writing is very confused. There are some intriguing ideas in this work, but I find Aristotle’s writing highly technical and excruciatingly dull, not the sort of thing I would take with me to the beach or on a long flight. And much of his thinking relating to physiology we now know to be flat out wrong. A good early start in Western thought, but one that left much to be improved on.

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