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Unformatted text preview: Aristotle on the Soul Matter and Form 1. Aristotle uses his familiar matter/form distinction to answer the question “What is soul?” At the beginning of De Anima I I.1, he says that there are three sorts of substance: a. Matter (potentiality) b. Form (actuality) c. The compound of matter and form 2. 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. 3. Since form is what makes matter a “this,” the soul is the form of a living thing. (Not its shape, but its actuality , that in virtue of which it is the kind of living thing that it is.) Grades of Actuality and Potentiality 1. Aristotle distinguishes between two levels of actuality ( entelecheia ). At 412a11 he gives knowing and attending as examples of these two kinds of actuality. (It has become traditional to call these first and second actuality, respectively.) At 412a22-26 he elaborates this example and adds this one: being asleep vs. being awake . But he does not fully clarify this important distinction until I I.5 (417a22-30), to which we now turn....
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- Spring '09
- actuality, istotle