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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 1998

Ancient Philosophy

Sandro D’Onofrio
Pages 112-120

The Metaphor of Light and the Active Intellect as Final Cause: De Anima III.5

The classical unresolved problem of the active intellect, raised by Aristotle in De Anima III.5, has received several interpretations in the history of philosophy. In this paper, I will recover the old hypotheses according to which the active intellect is the god of Aristotle's metaphysics. I propose that if the active intellect is god, it is not an efficient cause but the final cause of human thought-the entelecheia of the human rational soul. Nevertheless, the problem of the active intellect is insoluble simply because we do not count with all the elements required to obtain a sound solution. Yet it can be attenuated by an approach that renders much more coherence to De Anima III.5 than other attempts. To this end, I will (1) analyse the classical conception of Aristotle's two intellects, (2) work on the explanation par excellence of the active intellect, the metaphor of light, distinguishing the double conception of potency and act that may be found in it, and (3) analyse the concept of entelecheia as the process by which the active intellect actualizes intelligibles in the sense of the final cause.

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