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Title: The Human Intellect: Aristotle's Conception of Nous in his De Anima
Authors: Cohoe, Caleb Murray
Advisors: Lorenz, Hendrik
Cooper, John M
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Aristotle
De Anima
Subjects: Philosophy
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: I examine Aristotle's account of <italic>nous</italic>, the intellect or power of understanding, in the <italic>De Anima</italic> (<italic>DA</italic>) and the implications this account has for Aristotle's conception of the human being. At the beginning of the <italic>DA</italic> Aristotle presents what I argue is a condition for separability in existence: the soul is separable from the body if it has some activity that can be done without the body. In order to determine whether Aristotle thinks the soul meets this condition, I lay out his metaphysical views concerning human beings. I argue that for Aristotle the human being, not the body or the soul, is the underlying subject of all human activities, including understanding. I then argue that Aristotle's conception of the soul is compatible with the soul having powers and activities that do not involve the body. If the intellectual power and its activities can exist separately from the body, the human being can as well. I present Aristotle's account of the intentionality of cognitive states, both perceptual and intellectual, and use this account to reconstruct and defend Aristotle's argument in III 4 that the intellect cannot have a bodily organ. Understanding is universal, but any cognitive activity that operates through bodily organs will be particular. I then argue that in <italic>DA</italic> III 5 Aristotle introduces a human intellectual power, the productive intellect, which draws out the intelligible characteristics of things from the images we possess in order to produce understanding. I maintain that my Human Intellect view, according to which Aristotle is claiming that the <italic>human</italic> intellect is undying and divine, is superior to the Divine Intellect view, on which Aristotle's claim is about a divine extra-human intellect. On my view, understanding is not an activity that is done with the body, it only employs the soul. Aristotle can reasonably maintain that understanding no longer requires images after the destruction of the body, since there is no longer a need to coordinate with other cognitive powers. Human beings persist after death because we continue to understand, although we can no longer remember or experience emotions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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