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The Science of the Soul

The Commentary Tradition on Aristotle's De anima, c. 1260-c. 1360

Sander W. de Boer

Publication Year: 2012

The transformation of the science of the soul between 1260 and 1360 Aristotle's highly influential work on the soul, entitled De anima, formed part of the core curriculum of medieval universities and was discussed intensively. It covers a range of topics in philosophical psychology, such as the relationship between mind and body and the nature of abstract thought. However, there is a key difference in scope between the socalled ‘science of the soul', based on Aristotle, and modern philosophical psychology. This book starts from a basic premise accepted by all medieval commentators, namely that the science of the soul studies not just human beings but all living beings. As such, its methodology and approach must also apply to plants and animals. The Science of the Soul discusses how philosophers, from Thomas Aquinas to Pierre d'Ailly, dealt with the difficult task of giving a unified account of life and traces the various stages in the transformation of the science of the soul between 1260 and 1360. The emerging picture is that of a gradual disruption of the unified approach to the soul, which will ultimately lead to the emergence of psychology as a separate discipline.

Published by: Leuven University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-8


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-14

...I cannot think of a more fitting way to begin this book than by quoting this passage from Augustine. With the support of an authority of such stature, devoting a study in the history of philosophy to the soul seems to need little justification. Augustine’s words are, indeed, apt to describe the situation in the period under discussion in this book, the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After studying the ...

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2. Overview

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pp. 15-44

...In this chapter I will provide an overview of a few of the more important discussions that can be found in the commentaries on the De anima. This will help to prepare for the more detailed discussions in the coming chapters. At the same time, it will give me the opportunity to introduce a selection of the most important literature. My aim is not to give a complete account of either the secondary...

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3. Methodological Discussions

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pp. 45-122

...In order to understand how medieval philosophers looked at the scientia de anima we should first examine the questions which they explicitly devoted to its status. Most commentaries on book I of the De anima contain a number of questions that discuss methodological aspects, the most important of which are: 1. Is the scientia de anima really a science? And if so, what is its place in the ...

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4. The Aristotelian Definition of the Soul

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pp. 123-208

...The first doctrinal aspect of Aristotle’s De anima that any commentator has to come to grips with is Aristotle’s famous definition of the soul: ‘the soul is the first act of a natural organic body having life in potency’, which was rendered into Latin as ‘anima est actus primus corporis physici organici vitam habentis in potentia.’ Most commentators devoted several questions to their discussion of ...

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5. Substance, Powers and Acts

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pp. 209-300

...Aquinas approvingly paraphrases Aristotle when he writes that defining the soul — as Aristotle had done in the beginning of book ii of the De anima — amounts to nothing more than to giving a sketchy, preliminary description of it: Deinde epilogando colligit que dicta sunt et dicit quod secundum predicta de-terminatum est de anima et posita est anime descriptio figuraliter, quasi extrinsece...

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6. Final Conclusions

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pp. 301-306

...In the introduction, I claimed that it is better to say that scientia de anima transformed than to say that it changed. In this concluding chapter I want to bring together what I think were some of the most important transformations in the period c. 1260–c. 1360. In doing so, I will also take up the question of the relation between the methodological and the doctrinal parts of the commentaries....


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pp. 307-326

Index Codicum Manuscriptorum

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pp. 327-328

Index Nominum

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pp. 329-333

De Wulf-Mansion Centre Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

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pp. 334-340

E-ISBN-13: 9789461660787
Print-ISBN-13: 9789058679307

Page Count: 500
Publication Year: 2012