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Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 80, 2006

Intelligence and the Philosophy of Mind

Kurt Pritzl
Pages 57-75

The Place of Intellect in Aristotle

This paper explores Aristotle’s account of the human intellect, with special emphasis on how this account relates to Aristotle’s treatment of nature. In his complex account of the intellect, Aristotle distinguishes very broadly between two types of intellection. One type (nous) involves the reception of what things are and is non-discursive in character, while the other type (dianoia) is the result of intellectual activity and is discursive in character. While Aristotle affirms that both types of thinking are distinctive and essential functions of the intellect, it is also clear that dianoia presupposes nous, insofar as dianoia assumes as given what nous has received. This paper also investigates Aristotle’s account of truth, arguing that the very principles of the intellect’s functioning are naturally given to the intellect. Given Aristotle’s account of the intellect as well as his account of truth and the principle of non-contradiction, one can see that, for Aristotle, nature has a primacy relative to the intellect.

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