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On The Soul   

has found no supporter unless we count as such those who have declared

soul to be, or to be compounded of, all the elements. All, then, it

may be said, characterize the soul by three marks, Movement,

Sensation, Incorporeality, and each of these is traced back to the

first principles. That is why (with one exception) all those who

define the soul by its power of knowing make it either an element or

constructed out of the elements. The language they all use is similar;

like, they say, is known by like; as the soul knows everything, they

construct it out of all the principles. Hence all those who admit

but one cause or element, make the soul also one (e.g. fire or air),

while those who admit a multiplicity of principles make the soul

also multiple. The exception is Anaxagoras; he alone says that mind is

impassible and has nothing in common with anything else. But, if

this is so, how or in virtue of what cause can it know? That

Anaxagoras has not explained, nor can any answer be inferred from

his words. All who acknowledge pairs of opposites among their

principles, construct the soul also out of these contraries, while

those who admit as principles only one contrary of each pair, e.g.

either hot or cold, likewise make the soul some one of these. That

is why, also, they allow themselves to be guided by the names; those

who identify soul with the hot argue that sen (to live) is derived

from sein (to boil), while those who identify it with the cold say

that soul (psuche) is so called from the process of respiration and

(katapsuxis). Such are the traditional opinions concerning soul,

together with the grounds on which they are maintained.


We must begin our examination with movement; for doubtless, not only

is it false that the essence of soul is correctly described by those

who say that it is what moves (or is capable of moving) itself, but it

is an impossibility that movement should be even an attribute of it.

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