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Aristotelian Psychology 1250-1650
Editor: Dominik Perler
Aristotle’s De anima shaped philosophical debates far beyond the Middle Ages and gave rise to a number of theories about the nature of the soul, its various functions and its relation to the body. The ten contributions to this book, a special issue of the journal Vivarium, examine some of these theories in the period between Albertus Magnus and Descartes. They pay particular attention to the question of how the metaphysical status of the soul and its parts was explained, and analyze Aristotelian accounts of cognitive activities such as perceiving, imagining and thinking. The ten case studies focus both on defenders of the Aristotelian paradigm and on its critics, arguing that one should not look for a moment of break with Aristotelianism, but for various stages of transformation.
Contributors are Lilli Alanen, Joel Biard, Jean-Baptiste Brenet, Richard Cross, Dag Hasse, Peter King, Ian Mclean, Martin Lenz, Lodi Nauta, Dominik Perler and Markus Wild.
In: Rethinking the History of Skepticism
In: Medieval Perceptual Puzzles
In: Spinoza's Ethics
In: Transformations of the Soul
Author: Dominik Perler


Medieval philosophers clearly recognized that emotions are not simply "raw feelings" but complex mental states that include cognitive components. They analyzed these components both on the sensory and on the intellectual level, paying particular attention to the different types of cognition that are involved. This paper focuses on William Ockham and Adam Wodeham, two fourteenth-century authors who presented a detailed account of "sensory passions" and "volitional passions". It intends to show that these two philosophers provided both a structural and a functional analysis of emotions, i.e., they explained the various elements constituting emotions and delineated the causal relations between these elements. Ockham as well as Wodeham emphasized that "sensory passions" are not only based upon cognitions but include a cognitive component and are therefore intentional. In addition, they pointed out that "volitional passions" are based upon a conceptualization and an evaluation of given objects. This cognitivist approach to emotions enabled them to explain the complex phenomenon of emotional conflict, a phenomenon that has its origin in the co-presence of various emotions that involve conflicting evaluations.

In: Vivarium
In: Vivarium
Author: Dominik Perler

It seems quite natural that we have cognitive access not only to things around us, but also to our own acts of perceiving and thinking. How is this access possible? How is it related to the access we have to external things? And how certain is it? This paper discusses these questions by focusing on Francisco Suárez’s (1548-1617) theory, which gives an account of various forms of access to oneself and thereby presents an elaborate theory of consciousness. It argues that Suárez clearly distinguishes between first-order sensory consciousness (we have immediate access to our acts of perceiving because there is a special experience built into these acts) and second-order intellectual consciousness (we have access to our acts of thinking because we can produce reflexive acts directed at them). Moreover, Suárez attempts to explain the unity of consciousness by referring to a single soul with hierarchically ordered faculties that is responsible both for first-order and for second-order consciousness.

In: Vivarium