Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Aristotle’s works on politics, ethics, and metaphysics have made him one of the most widely read of the Greek philosophers. The title of this book, On the Soul, is a signal to the reader that the topic is critical to understanding humans. Some scholars believe On the Soul was part of Aristotle’s general lectures on biology at his institution of learning, the Lyceum, while others place the work at a later point in his life. Aristotle typically wrote and then revised many of his works, and this book likely was revised several times as well.
On the Soul is divided into three books with several chapters in each. Book 1 begins with Aristotle’s assertion of the importance of his topic. Understanding the nature of the soul, he claims, is important to understanding the principle that animates all animal life. He is quick to acknowledge that the topic is a difficult one; but its importance is obvious. Equally important, he argues, is how one approaches the topic of understanding the essence of the soul, its form or true nature. Accounting for the properties that make up that essence can lead a person to understand the soul itself.
The balance of book 1 is taken up with Aristotle’s effort to obtain an understanding of these properties through the works of other philosophers. While he advances his reasons for disagreeing with their wisdom, Aristotle concludes from his survey of their thinking that all are in agreement...
(The entire section is 1136 words.)
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