Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 359

Aristotle's On the Soul does not contain any characters, per se. Character is defined in two very different ways. First, character is defined literally as a person or persona. These characters tend to appear in plays, novels, and short stories. Many tend to be fictional (made up). The other definition of character refers to the qualities a person possesses. These qualities are defined through mental and moral characteristics.

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For all intents and purposes, Aristotle's text does not include characters when one tries to identify persons who act or do things in the text itself. That said, one could argue that the text does include character as regards the second definition addressed—the moral and mental qualities possessed by Aristotle himself.

Aristotle's character is defined through his desire to tackle the challenge of defining and categorizing the soul. Aristotle, knowing how difficult it will prove to be to do this, refuses to end his discussion after openly stating that gaining "knowledge about the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world." What is illustrated here is that his character is willing to take on things which may prove to be futile.

Aristotle also looks to those in the past for wisdom. This proves that he is willing to learn from others and appreciates the knowledge those in the past possessed and left for those who followed them. This speaks to Aristotle's character trait of valuing the importance of being informed.

One final character trait a person can find in Aristotle is persistence. He looks to uncover the truths behind the soul even though he seems to uncover more questions than answers.

If one is looking for a list of "characters" present in the text, meaning people, here is a list:

  1. Aristotle
  2. Democritus
  3. Anaxagoras
  4. Empedocles
  5. Plato
  6. Diogenes
  7. Heraclitus
  8. Alcmaeon
  9. Hippo
  10. Timaeus
  11. God
  12. The Soul—given that, according to Aristotle, "Why has not everything a soul, since everything either is an element, or is formed out of one or several or all of the elements." This, therefore, makes the soul something concrete. By stating that it exists, it possesses being; a being, then, may be defined as a character.

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