Aristotle - On The Soul - Sheet1 Page 1 350 BC ON THE SOUL...

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Unformatted text preview: Sheet1 Page 1 350 BC ON THE SOUL by Aristotle translated by J. A. Smith Book I 1 HOLDING as we do that, while knowledge of any kind is a thing to be honoured and prized, one kind of it may, either by reason of its greater exactness or of a higher dignity and greater wonderfulness in its objects, be more honourable and precious than another, on both accounts we should naturally be led to place in the front rank the study of the soul. The knowledge of the soul admittedly contributes greatly to the advance of truth in general, and, above all, to our understanding of Nature, for the soul is in some sense the principle of animal life. Our aim is to grasp and understand, first its essential nature, and secondly its properties taught to be affections proper to the soul itself, while others are considered to attach to the animal owing to the presence within it of soul. To attain any assured knowledge about the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world. As the form of question which here presents itself, viz. the question 'What is it?', recurs in other fields, it might be supposed that there was some single method of inquiry applicable to all objects whose essential nature (as we are endeavouring to ascertain there is for derived properties the single method of demonstration) would be this unique method. But if there is no such single and general method for solving the question of essence, our task becomes still more difficult have to determine the appropriate process of investigation. If to this there be a clear answer, e.g. that the process is demonstration or division, or some known method, difficulties and hesitations still beset us-with what facts shall we begin the inquiry? For the facts which form the starting-points in different subjects must be different, as e.g. in the case of numbers and surfaces. First, no doubt, it is necessary to determine in which of the summa genera soul lies, what it is substance, or is it a quale or a quantum, or some other of the remaining kinds of predicates which we have distinguished? Further, does soul belong to the class of potential existents, or is it not rather an actuality? Our answer to this question is of the greatest importance. We must consider also whether soul is divisible or is without parts, Sheet1 Page 2 and whether it is everywhere homogeneous or not homogeneous, whether its various forms are different specifically or generically: up to the present time those who have discussed and investigated soul seem to have confined themselves to the human soul. We must be careful not to ignore the question whether soul can be defined in a single unambiguous formula, as is the case with animal, or whether we must not give a separate formula for each of it, as we do for horse, dog, man, god (in the latter case the universal' animal-and so too every other 'common predicate'-being treated either as nothing at all or as a later product). Further, if what exists is not a plurality of souls, but a plurality of parts of...
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Aristotle - On The Soul - Sheet1 Page 1 350 BC ON THE SOUL...

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