The Soul and its Instrumental Body

A Reinterpretation of Aristotle's Philosophy of Living Nature


For more than 1800 years it has been supposed that Aristotle viewed the soul as the entelechy of the visible body which is 'equipped with organs'. This book argues that in actual fact he saw the soul as the entelechy of a natural body 'that serves as its instrument'. This correction puts paid to W. Jaeger's hypothesis of a three-phase development in Aristotle. The author of this book defends the unity of Aristotle's philosophy of living nature in De anima, in the biological treatises, and in the lost dialogues. Aristotle should therefore be regarded as the author of the notion of the 'vehicle of the soul' and of a 'non-Platonic' dualism. The current understanding of his influence on Hellenistic philosophy needs to change accordingly.

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Abraham P. Bos, Ph.D. (1971) in Philosophy, M.A. Classics, M.A. Philosophy, Free University of Amsterdam, is Professor in Ancient and Patristic Philosophy at the Free University of Amsterdam. He has published extensively on Aristotle and on Philo of Alexandria and the Churchfathers.
"The book deals with a fascinating research subject and it is written in a very clear and accessible style. It includes an extensive bibliography (23 pp.), an index of ancient and modern authors, and a very helpful list of references to the texts of Aristotle and to other ancient texts."
G.P. Luttikhuizen, Philosophia Reformata, 2004.

1. Aristotle’s psychology reconsidered
2. The modern debate on Aristotle’s psychology
3. Pneuma as the organon of the soul in De motu animalium
4. What body is suitable for receiving the soul ( De anima I 3, 407b13-26)?
5. Aristotle’s new psychology in De anima II 1-2
6. The soul in its instrumental body as the sailor in his ship ( De anima II 1, 413a8-9)
7. Aristotle’s problems with the standard psychological theories
8. The role of vital heat and pneuma in De generatione animalium
9. ‘Fire above’: the relation of the soul to the body that receives soul, in Aristotle’s De longitudine et brevitate vitae 2-3
10. Pneuma and the theory of soul in De mundo
11. The ultimate problem: how did Aristotle relate the intellect, which is not bound up with sôma, to the soul, which is always connected with sôma?
12. Aristotle’s lost works: the consequences of reinterpreting the psychology of De anima
13. The information on Aristotle’s Eudemus
14. The fifth element as the substance of the soul
15. The comparison of the steersman and his ship in Aristotle’s lost works and elsewhere
16. The soul’s ‘bondage’ according to a lost work by Aristotle
17. The integration of the psychology of Aristotle’s Eudemus and his De anima
18. Final considerations and conclusions

Index nominum
Index locorum
All those interested in Aristotle, ancient philosophy, psychology, the problem of body and mind, Gnosticism.