Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of On The Soul

Previous | Next

On The Soul   

the pericarp to shelter the fruit, while the roots of plants are

analogous to the mouth of animals, both serving for the absorption

of food. If, then, we have to give a general formula applicable to all

kinds of soul, we must describe it as the first grade of actuality

of a natural organized body. That is why we can wholly dismiss as

unnecessary the question whether the soul and the body are one: it

is as meaningless as to ask whether the wax and the shape given to

it by the stamp are one, or generally the matter of a thing and that

of which it is the matter. Unity has many senses (as many as 'is'

has), but the most proper and fundamental sense of both is the

relation of an actuality to that of which it is the actuality. We have

now given an answer to the question, What is soul?-an answer which

applies to it in its full extent. It is substance in the sense which

corresponds to the definitive formula of a thing's essence. That means

that it is 'the essential whatness' of a body of the character just

assigned. Suppose that what is literally an 'organ', like an axe, were

a natural body, its 'essential whatness', would have been its essence,

and so its soul; if this disappeared from it, it would have ceased

to be an axe, except in name. As it is, it is just an axe; it wants

the character which is required to make its whatness or formulable

essence a soul; for that, it would have had to be a natural body of

a particular kind, viz. one having in itself the power of setting

itself in movement and arresting itself. Next, apply this doctrine

in the case of the 'parts' of the living body. Suppose that the eye

were an animal-sight would have been its soul, for sight is the

substance or essence of the eye which corresponds to the formula,

the eye being merely the matter of seeing; when seeing is removed

the eye is no longer an eye, except in name-it is no more a real eye

than the eye of a statue or of a painted figure. We must now extend

our consideration from the 'parts' to the whole living body; for

what the departmental sense is to the bodily part which is its

organ, that the whole faculty of sense is to the whole sensitive

Previous | Next
Site Search