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Pythagorean schools, reasoning as they do "as if it were possible for any soul to clothe itself in any body." Soul and body are on the contrary closely adapted to one another, and to disregard the nature of the body which is to be the receptacle of some definite form of soul is as absurd as if we were to speak of the carpenter's art as clothing itself in flutes: the truth being that soul can make use of the body only under the same limitations as those under which an art can make use of its fitting instruments1.
The Atomists had indeed attempted to explain the relation of the body to the soul: and by their conception of the soul as made up of infinitely small globules like the motes we see in sunbeams, they had sought to explain the way in which it acts upon the body. But their explanation, Aristotle thinks, is ludicrously insufficient. It is in fact, as an explanation of the influence which the mind exercises on the body, no better than that which the comedian Philippus gave of the movements of the wooden Aphrodite of Dædalus when he referred it to an injection of quicksilver. Soul, it seems to Aristotle, does not act on the body in this materialistic machine-like manner; it is through the influence of will and thought (διὰ προαιρέσεώς τινος καὶ vonoews) that such interaction of soul and body is possible2. And in Aristotle's day there was no historian of materialism to add "as if this were not obvious to the very savage long before science had made the slightest beginning"."
A like antipathy on the part of Aristotle to any crudely materialistic psychology appears in the language which he uses with regard to all attempts to attach physical predicates directly to the mind and to speak of soul as being moved or sustaining shocks. Many mental phenomena are indeed, he grants, movements, and thinking no less than anger may depend on certain changes in the organism. "But to describe the soul as feeling angry is no more appropriate than to speak of it as 1 40724, παραπλήσιον δὲ λέ σιν ὥσπερ εἴ τις φαίη τὴν τεκτονικὴν εἰς αὐλοὺς
Lange, Geschichte d. Materialismus, 1. 16.
2 I. 3, 40624.
weaving or building. Perhaps, indeed, it is better to say not that the soul pities or learns or infers but rather that the man does so through his soul." Nor, Aristotle continues, must this be understood as though the process were conducted in the mind: all that is meant is that the process sometimes terminates in, sometimes starts from soul. Sense-perception, for example, is an instance of a mental act terminating in mind, because in sense-perception a merely material process has to be brought back to mind and translated into a conscious image: recollection on the other hand is an instance of a process which starts from mind-originates, that is, in a conscious subjective effort to recal a lost idea and ends in the physiological survival of it in our organism'.
The unity of the mental phenomena is another point which Aristotle maintains most strongly in the criticisms which he passes on the conceptions of his predecessors. To resolve the soul into the different elements is to lose sight of that combining force, that synthetic agency, which alone can render knowledge possible. Empedocles' theory of cognition is thus a most inadequate expression of our mental energy. It holds that each objective element in nature is known by a corresponding element in mind-earth by earth, water by water, fire by fire. But such disjunction of the different elements loses sight, Aristotle thinks, of just that very point which supplies the rationale of knowledge. It is not the elements but the ratios which subsist between them which enable us to know: so that there is evidently no use of the elements being present in the mind without the different ratios and compositions which especially serve to constitute an act of knowledge".
1 1. 4, 40811, τὸ δὲ λέγειν ὀργίζεσθαι τὴν ψυχὴν ὅμοιον κἂν εἴ τις λέγοι τὴν ψυχὴν ὑφαίνειν ἢ οἰκοδομεῖν· βέλτιον γὰρ ἴσως μὴ λέγειν τὴν ψυχὴν ἐλεεῖν ἢ μανθάνειν ἀλλὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπον τῇ ψυχῇ.
* 403b15, τοῦτο δὲ μὴ ὡς ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῆς κινήσεως οὔσης, ἀλλ' ὁτὲ μὲν μέχρι ἐκείνης, ὁτὲ δ' ἀπ' ἐκείνης, οἷον ἡ μὲν αἴσθησις ἀπὸ τωνδί, ἡ δ ̓ ἀνάμνησις ἀπ' ἐκείνης ἐπὶ τὰς ἐν τοῖς αἰσθητηρίοις κινήσεις ἢ μονάς.
3 1. 5, 410*7, οὐδὲν οὖν ὄφελος εἶναι τὰ στοιχεῖα ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ εἰ μὴ καὶ οἱ λόγοι
The Platonic psychology supplies materials for a large part of Aristotle's criticisms on the views held by the thinkers of his day respecting soul. The half-mathematical half-metaphysical theories of the Timæus meet with little sympathetic treatment at Aristotle's hands. The doctrine of a world-soul "distributed according to harmonic numbers" and "borne altogether in harmonic courses" throws, to Aristotle's mind, but little light upon the real questions of psychology'. Yet, as Teichmüller reminds us (Studien, p. 252), Aristotle's theory of a creative reason is in some respects only a development of Plato's conception of a world-soul: and the inconsistencies which Aristotle's prosaic interpretation of the expressions of the Timaus discovers in the doctrine had been partly foreseen by Plato himself (Tim. 29 C). Aristotle generally is not seen at his best when engaged in criticizing Plato. Unphilosophical however as are the arguments brought against the Idea of Good in the Ethics or against ideas generally in the Metaphysics, they are surpassed in quibbling commonplaceness by those directed in the Psychology against the theory of a world-soul. Construing literally all that Plato said about the soul being a circle-the sphere of the 'same' and the sphere of the 'other'-Aristotle goes on to object that the soul cannot be represented as a magnitude (uéyeCos)—that since circular movement is everlasting the thought of this world-soul will be so too (as if Aristotle himself did not claim just this eternal thought for his own 'creative reason'), that thought is liker rest than motion, and that "happiness cannot be an attribute of what is acted on by force." It is, as Teichmüller with no unmerited pleasantry remarks, as if one were to criticize Goethe's saying, "Green is the golden tree of life," on the ground that gold is not green, and that a tree is not made of metal because otherwise its sap could not be assimilated by diffusion.
ἐνέσονται καὶ ἡ σύνθεσις· γνωριεῖ γὰρ ἕκαστον τὸ ὅμοιον, τὸ δ ̓ ὀστοῦν ἡ τὸν ἄνθρωπον οὐθὲν εἰ μὴ καὶ ταῦτ ̓ ἐνέσται, τοῦτο δ' ὅτι ἀδύνατον, οὐθὲν δεῖ λέγειν.
1 1. 3. 407.
The Platonic Psychology however did not confine itself to the doctrine of a world-soul propounded in the Timæus. In the Republic the axiom of contradiction had been somewhat skilfully applied to distinguish Reason from Appetite and both from the spirit of indignation, the sense of honour (evμòs) which abets the reason: and in the Timaus these three faculties are assigned to different portions of the physiological structure, thought having its dwelling in the head, spirit being located in the breast and heart, and appetite residing in the lower regions (Timaus 69 D).These faculties were accordingly regarded as so many parts (μépn) or kinds (eïồn or yévn) of soul: and though Plato raises the question (Republic, 436) whether each of these functions be separate or whether it be with the whole soul (öλŋ Tux) that we are engaged in each particular application, his general exposition tends to regard the three as separate and independent entities, so that we think with one part, desire with another, and shew spirit with a third part of our mental organism'.
This separation of faculties appears to Aristotle decidedly unsatisfactory. To regard the mind as reasoning with one part of itself, desiring with another, and so forth, is to destroy implicitly its essential unity. The body by itself cannot certainly form a sufficient bond of union: and we are met. directly by the difficulty of finding some force or other which will account for the actual oneness of our mental organism2. And even such a simple division of faculties as that of rational and irrational is exposed to the objection that will embraces elements which fall within each of these two sides of our nature3.
1 Probably however as Mr Archer-Hind suggests (Journal of Philology, no. 19) the physiological partition of the Timaus is not to be taken literally, and the unity claimed for the soul in the Phado is compatible with the threefold division of the Republic on the assumption that “in connection with the body soul assumes certain phases which are temporary and only exist in relation to the body."
2 1. 5, 411°5, λέγουσι δή τινες μεριστὴν αὐτὴν καὶ ἄλλῳ μὲν νοεῖν ἄλλῳ δὲ ἐπι θυμεῖν. τί οὖν δή ποτε συνέχει τὴν ψυχὴν, εἰ μεριστὴ πέφυκεν; οὐ γὰρ δὴ τό γε σῶμα· δοκεῖ γὰρ τοὐναντίον μᾶλλον ἡ ψυχὴ τὸ σῶμα συνέχειν.
3 111. 9, 43122, ἔχει δὲ ἀπορίαν εὐθὺς πῶς τε δεῖ μόρια λέγειν τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ πόσα. τρόπον γάρ τινα ἄπειρα φαίνεται, καὶ οὐ μόνον ἅ τινες λέγουσι διορίζοντες λογιστικὸν καὶ θυμικὸν καὶ ἐπιθυμητικόν, οἱ δὲ τὸ λόγον ἔχον καὶ τὸ ἄλογον κ.τ.λ.
These criticisms on previous psychologists are evidently not entirely the self-satisfied work which Francis Bacon supposed all Aristotle's historical investigations to be. Aristotle is not merely seeking to demolish all existing theories before proceeding to develope his own views: or at any rate, he is not demolishing them merely for the demolition's sake. The historical standpoint, which is so characteristic of Aristotle in all his writings, has an entirely different significance. To Aristotle as to Coleridge, "the very fact that any doctrine had been believed by thoughtful men was part of the problem to be solved, was one of the phenomena to be accounted for." And if we must allow that Aristotle shews little power of viewing a conception from the standpoint of its original advocates and tends in general to criticise a theory too much from the platform of his own formulæ and doctrines, we must none the less recognise the value of the light he throws upon preceding psychological speculation. He prepares us at the least for the results he himself will lay before us: he helps us to understand the significance of his own work by the statement of that to which it is opposed: he gives us a keener appreciation of the difficulties which we have to face and of the dangers which we must avoid. Already we have learned from the mistakes of previous thinkers that no abstract theory of mind will satisfy the facts which call for explanation: that we must not limit our investigation of psychical phenomena to the single phase of their existence in man: that the bodily environment must not be treated as of no importance: and that the unity of the mental faculties must be beyond all things steadfastly maintained'. And Aristotle's own definition of the Soul is in great part only a restatement of these different propositions.
1 De An. 1. 5, 41obi6, πάντες δὲ καὶ οἱ διὰ τὸ γνωρίζειν καὶ αἰσθάνεσθαι τὰ ὄντα τὴν ψυχὴν ἐκ τῶν στοιχείων λέγοντες αὐτὴν, καὶ οἱ τὸ κινητικώτατον, οὐ περὶ πάσης λέγουσι ψυχῆς.