Teachings of Aristotle "On the soul." The concept of "soul." Aristotle Metaphysics

Many achievements of modern scientific thought are based on discoveries made in ancient Greece. For example, Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Soul is used by those who try to explain what is happening in our universe, to delve into the network of nature. It would seem that for two thousand years something new could have been invented, but discoveries on a scale comparable to what the ancient Greek philosopher gave the world did not happen. Have you read at least one treatise of Aristotle? Not? Then let's deal with his immortal thoughts.

Aristotle's doctrine of the soul

Reasoning or basis?

The most interesting in the study of historical figures is the question of how such thoughts arose in the head of an ancient person. Reliably, of course, we will not know. The treatise of Aristotle "Metaphysics" nevertheless gives some idea of ​​the course of his reasoning. The ancient philosopher tried to determine how organisms differ from stones, soil, water and other objects related to inanimate nature. Some breathe, are born and die, others are unchanged in time. In order to describe his findings, the philosopher had to create his own conceptual apparatus. Scientists often face such a problem. They lack words, definitions to build and develop a theory. Aristotle had to introduce new concepts, which are described in his immortal work “Metaphysics”. In the text, he discusses what the heart and souls are, trying to explain how plants differ from animals. Much later, this treatise formed the basis for the creation of two directions in the philosophy of materialism and idealism. Aristotle's doctrine of the soul has features of both. The scientist considers the world from the point of view of the ratio of matter and form, tries to find out which of them is primary and directs the processes in a particular case.

heart and soul

About souls

A living organism must have something that is responsible for its organization, providing leadership. By such an organ Aristotle designated the soul. It cannot exist without a body, or rather, it does not feel anything. There is this unknown substance not only in humans and animals, but also in plants. Everything that is born and dies, known in the ancient world, is endowed with a soul in its thoughts. It is the vital principle of the body, which cannot exist without it. In addition, souls guide organisms, build them and guide them. They organize the meaningful activity of all living things. What is meant here is not a thought process, but a natural one. The plant, according to the ancient Greek thinker, also develops, produces leaves and bears fruit according to the plan of the soul. It is this fact that distinguishes wildlife from the dead. The first has something that allows for meaningful actions, namely to extend the genus. The physical body and soul are inextricably linked. They are essentially one. From this idea the philosopher deduces the need for a dual method of research. The soul is a concept that should be studied by natural scientists and dialecticians. It is impossible to describe its properties and mechanisms completely, relying on only one research method.

treatise of aristotle

Three kinds of souls

Aristotle, developing his theory, is trying to separate plants from thinking creatures. So, he introduces the concept of "birth of souls." There are three of them. In his opinion, the bodies are led by such:

  • plant (nutritious);
  • animal;
  • reasonable.

The first soul is responsible for the digestion process, it also directs the function of reproduction. It can be observed in plants. But Aristotle did not do this much, concentrating more on higher souls. The second is responsible for the movements and sensations of organisms. It is inherent in animals. The third soul is the immortal, human. It differs from the rest in that it is an organ of thinking, a particle of the divine mind.

Heart and soul

The philosopher did not consider the central organ of the body to be the brain, as it is today. He assigned this role to the heart. In addition, according to his theory, the soul lived in the blood. The body reacts to external stimuli. He perceives the world by hearing, smelling, sight and so on. Everything that the senses have fixed is subject to analysis. The body that deals with this is the soul. Animals, for example, are able to perceive the surrounding space and meaningfully respond to stimuli. They, as the scientist wrote, are characterized by such abilities as sensation, imagination, memory, movement, sensual desire. The latter refers to the occurrence of works and actions to implement them. The philosopher gives the concept of "soul" as follows: "The form of a living organic body." That is, organisms have what distinguishes them from stones or sand. It is their essence that makes them alive.

physical body and soul


Aristotle’s doctrine of the soul contains a description of all organisms known at that time, their classification. The philosopher believed that animals consist of homemeria, that is, small particles. Everyone has a source of heat - pneuma. This is a certain body that exists in the ether and passes through the genus through the paternal seed. The scientist calls the carrier of pneuma a heart. It receives nutrients through the veins and is distributed throughout the body by blood. Aristotle did not accept Plato's idea that the soul is divided into many parts. The eye cannot have a separate organ of life. In his opinion, one can speak only of two hypostases of the soul - mortal and divine. The first perished with the body, the second seemed to him eternal.


Reason distinguishes people from the rest of the living world. Aristotle's doctrine of the soul contains a detailed analysis of the mental functions of man. So, he identifies logical processes that differ from intuition. He calls wisdom the highest form of thinking. A person in the process of activity is capable of feelings that affect his physiology. The philosopher examines in detail what is the will, characteristic only of people. He calls it a meaningful social process, its manifestation is associated with the concept of duty and responsibility. Virtue, according to Aristotle, is the middle between the passions that own a person. It should strive for. He highlights the following virtues:

  • courage;
  • generosity;
  • prudence;
  • modesty;
  • truthfulness and others.

soul concept

Morality and education

Interestingly, Aristotle's “Metaphysics” is a doctrine of the soul that has a practical character. The philosopher tried to tell contemporaries how to remain human and raise children in the same spirit. So, he wrote that virtues are not given from birth. On the contrary, we come to the world with passions. They should learn to curb in order to find a middle ground. Each person should strive to manifest virtue in himself. The child should develop not only a reaction to stimuli, but also the correct attitude to actions. This is how a moral personality is formed. In addition, in the writings of Aristotle expressed, and now relevant, the idea that the approach to education should be individual, and not average. What is good for one is incomprehensible or bad for another.

aristotle metaphysics doctrine of the soul


Aristotle is rightfully considered the founder of all sciences. He gave the concept of how to approach the formulation and consideration of problems, how to conduct a discussion. From other ancient authors it is distinguished by dryness (scientific) presentation. The ancient thinker tried to formulate the basis of ideas about nature. The theory turned out to be so capacious that it still provides food for thought to the current representatives of science who develop his ideas. Many today are very interested in how Aristotle was able to penetrate the essence of things so deeply.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/A12163/

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