Posted: May 28th, 2021
Aristotle basically believes that a soul is the basic or core essence of a living organism. The notion of a body or form without a soul is simply unintelligible. Soul is what makes a living thing alive. Plants and animals that include man have souls. But Aristotle believes that every kind of living thing possessed a different kind of soul. Soul is simply defined by Aristotle “as the expression or realization of a natural body” by which he basically elaborate “soul according to its functions” (“On the Soul”).
He holds the idea that there is a strong connection between the psychological states of living organisms (their sense of logic, reason and physical manifestations as product of their thought processes) and physiological processes. Body and soul are unified. “The movements or the development of the soul is manifested through the body” thus the soul is the substance that characterized the living body (Sachs 2001). The soul is inseparable from the body since it provides essential characters to it.
However, Aristotle believes that every kind of living thing possesses a different version of soul. The nature of soul according to Aristotle depends on the type of organism and its position in the hierarchy. What makes a human being authentic to other living organisms is his ability to hold rational beliefs and to exercise reason. He classified life into different levels because of the soul they possessed. Plants have the lowest level of soul, animals other than humans have a higher level of souls and humans possessed the highest level of soul having the capacity for reason.
Both plants and animals obtain what they need for reproduction and growth but only animals specifically man have a sense of touch or sensory, perception and cognitive abilities. The biological nature of human beings with their unique capacities to think and feel is definitely a reward. Aristotle says: “We must maintain, further, that the soul is also the cause of the living body as the original source of local movement.
The power of locomotion is not found, however, in all living things. But change of quality and change of quantity are also due to the soul. Sensation is held to be a qualitative alteration, and nothing except what has soul in it is capable of sensation. The same holds of the quantitative changes which constitute growth and decay; nothing grows or decays naturally except what feeds itself, and nothing feeds itself except what has a share of soul in it” (Sachs 2001).
Aristotle opposed the popular belief in Philosophy that a soul is a separate entity that can exist even without a body. However, Aristotle believes that the soul moves the body. Sensation, locomotion, biological and eventually physical development are caused by the soul. All the faculties of the soul are inseparable from the living body except our sense of reason, since reason will not die and fade. It has the capacity to live and facilitates even after death but not perception.
When the living body dies, their biological and physical development and sensory faculties will eventually stop and obstruct. Aristotle in his views on soul basically believes that soul is not a separate entity but rather it is the actuality of the living body. Soul can not be immortal. When the living body dies the exercise or faculty of soul also stops with the exception of reason of course, since reason can stand on his own even after the death.
On the Soul. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 28, 2009, from
Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/428826/On-the-Soul
Aristotle. Aristotle’s On the Soul: And, On Memory and Recollection. Sachs (2001). Green Lion Press
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