Aristotle on the Separability of Mind

Fred D. Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195187489
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Aristotle on the Separability of Mind

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  • Classical Philosophy
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In De Anima, Aristotle addresses the problem of whether the mind is separable from the body. In book I, he broaches the broader question of whether the affections of the soul, including emotion, desire, and perception, are separable from the body. In book II, Aristotle follows his explication of the general definition of the soul with the remark that “neither the soul nor certain parts of it, if it naturally has parts, are separable from the body. Yet nothing prevents some [parts from being separable], because they are not the actualizations of any body.” By “parts,” Aristotle means separable faculties or powers, including nutrition, perception, mind, and desire. The issue of separability is signalled at the beginning of the treatment of mind in book III. If mind alone turned out to be separable from the body, the study of the soul would not belong exclusively to physics but would spill over into first philosophy. This would imply either that psychology consists of two separate sciences, or else that first philosophy and physics are not mutually exclusive.

Keywords: Aristotle; mind; body; soul; separability; De Anima; philosophy; psychology; physics; parts

Article.  18706 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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