Avant nous le déluge: Aristotle’s notion of intellectual grasp

R. J Hankinson

in Episteme, etc.

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738036 | DOI:
Avant nous le déluge: Aristotle’s notion of intellectual grasp

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Plato remarked that Anaxagoras made no use of his nous. But the concept is undeniably important, and equally undeniably complex. Indeed, it is misleading to speak as though there were a single such concept at all. Nous in Anaxagoras is not the same as nous in Plato; while Aristotle's various treatments of the subject differ both from those of his predecessors and also, apparently, from one another. It is tempting to conclude that nous is at best a very general umbrella under whose capacious awning a variety of quite distinct ideas may shelter, at worst perhaps that it is simply and irremediably homonymous. Such a view has been adopted by, among others, Jonathan Barnes, the dedicatee of this volume. This chapter, however, shows how some at least of Aristotle's apparently divergent usages of the term in fact conceal an important measure of underlying unity, and in particular to integrate a problematic case in Nicomachean Ethics VI 11 with some of the more central ones.

Keywords: Plato; nous; Aristotle; Nicomachean Ethics

Chapter.  17126 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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