Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 2, Spring 2009

Selected Articles of the Ancient Philosophy Society

Russell Winslow
Pages 299-316

On the Life of Thinking in Aristotle’s De Anima

In “On the Life of thinking in Aristotle’s De Anima,” the author offers an interpretation of the tripartite structure of the unified soul in Aristotle’s text. The principle activity that unities the nutritive, sensuously perceptive and noetically perceptive parts of the soul into a single, continuous entity is shown by our author to be genesis (or the sexual begetting of offspring). After establishing this observation, the paper provides the textual grounds to understand how both sensuous and noetic perception can be understood as a kind of embodied genesis. A further consequence of this argument will be an interpretation of “thinking,” of noetic perception, as a kind of open and passive reception of the primary forms of other beings. As such, Aristotle’s conception of thinking, qua nous, is a refreshing, if strange, contrast to the more common modern vision of “thinking” as the activity of an agent mentally seizing hold of beings in the service of the mastery of nature.