Alexander of Aphrodisias: On the Soul: Part I: Soul as Form of the Body, Parts of the Soul, Nourishment, and Perception (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)

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Around 200 AD, the greatest defender and interpreter of Aristotle within his school, Alexander of Aphrodisias, composed his own book On the Soul, partly following the pattern of Aristotle's.
In the first half, translated in Part I, he discusses the soul as the form of the body, and the idea of parts or powers that constitute the soul of living things, including the two lowest powers: nutrition and perception. In the second half, to be translated in Part II, he discusses perception, representation, desire, understanding and - a notion emphasised by the Stoics - the governing part of the soul. He takes the soul to consist of these powers, which supervene on the mixture of the body's elemental ingredients, just as inanimate powers like buoyancy or lightness can supervene on other qualities. They are new, emergent causal powers of the living thing, which do not belong to the constituent ingredients of the body in themselves.
Through his notion of emergence, he seeks to steer between the Platonic dualism of soul and body and the extreme materialism of his Stoic rivals.

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Part I of the first English translation of the philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias' treatise On the Soul.

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Victor Caston is Professor of Philosophy and Classical Studies, University of Michigan.

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