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    Thinking bodies: Aristotle on the biological aspects of human cognition

    Connell, Sophia M. (2021) Thinking bodies: Aristotle on the biological aspects of human cognition. In: Gregoric, P. and Jacob, F. (eds.) Encounters with Aristotelian Philosophy of Mind. London, UK: Routledge. ISBN 9780367439132. (In Press)

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    This paper aims to establish that, for Aristotle, the state of the physical body is crucial to the human capacity for theoretical understanding. In recent years, scholars have begun to recognise the importance of Aristotle’s biological writings for understanding his psychology, after the relative neglect of these connections. The relevance in particular of the so-called Parva naturalia, small works on what is common to body and soul, and the De motu animalium, a work devoted to animal motion in broad terms, has begun to fill in the picture of how the living body is involved in cognition. This paper will support this point of view by adding the De generatione animalium, a work which gives an account of the advent of soul capacities through the development of the body from the blood, under the control of the nutritive soul. An Aristotelian science of human physiology is a study of the “thinking body”, a person as a whole rather than disembodied nous. I will first set out factors that have made it difficult to integrate Aristotle’s biological treatises into our understanding of human thinking. Next, I will distinguish the thinking shared with other animals, from theoretical understanding, which is something only humans can achieve. I will then explain the aspects of the body that must facilitate and eventually bring about the capacity for thinking, before turning to Aristotle’s embryology where nutritive soul is ultimately responsible for the construction and maintenance of the thinking body. It will be concluded that only a human body leads to theoretical understanding and only a healthy human body can do so adequately.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sophia Connell
    Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2021 13:30
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:05


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