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IV. ARISTOTLE'S DEFINITION OF SOUL.
Fully to understand the Aristotelian definition of the Soul requires a more than ordinary acquaintance with the technical phraseology of Aristotle's Metaphysics. To begin with, we may say that Aristotle regards the soul and body as two sides of an antithesis, in which the opposing members only exist in the true sense of the terms in their combination with each other. The writer begins his inquiry with the fact of the existence of natural living objects. There are natural as opposed to artificial things: and of such natural phenomena there are some which possess life, others which are lifeless. Life itself, he defines, as the process of nutrition, increase and decay from an internal principle'. Here then, in the 'living natural object,' we find a concrete reality which presents us with two sides or aspects—the one body, the other soul. But body itself is not soul: soul is rather an attribute or predicate of body: the form to which body acts as matter.
Soul is thus, from Aristotle's point of view, more or less dependent on the body: but it is only on the other hand in soul that body attains its true reality. Body is then not so much the physical basis of the soul as soul the cause or reason of the body. The physiological phenomena of the body find, in fact, their truth in soul, as their final outcome, but as at the same time their end and higher meaning. In Aristotle's own peculiar phraseology, soul is the substantial reality or essence (ovoía) of the body.
Aristotle's Theory of Substance is well known to be full of apparent inconsistencies. While on the one hand the logical treatises regard substance as the individual object, the particular thing (Tode T)—such and such a man, such and such a plant, the Metaphysics frequently identify real being with the universal or generic notion-man or plant conceived of in their general
1 11. 1, 41214, ζωὴν δὲ λέγομεν τὴν δι' αὐτοῦ τροφήν τε καὶ αὔξησιν καὶ φθίσιν.
character. To the tract on Categories,' 'first substances definite forms of existence, 'secondary substances' the genera and species in which first substances are contained': to the writer of the Metaphysics, amid much that corresponds entirely with the teaching of the Organon, there is a tendency to regard 'first substances' as specific forms and constitutive notions2.
These two accounts of substance are not however really so far apart as they are sometimes thought to be. Neither in his
- logical nor in his metaphysical writings does Aristotle ostensibly recede from his antagonism to the Platonic account of real being or true existence. To Plato, the real had been the general notion, the universal permanent element which was to be found in no one individual thing, but yet gave life and existence to them all the idea (as it is commonly designated) which made each thing to be what it actually was. Against this theory of the 'real,' Aristotle's philosophy is one continuous protest. To Aristotle the real being, the substantial truth, the essential nature of things-for by all these terms we may translate the Greek expression-lies in the union of two elements, which may be separated by an effort of analysis, but which form complementary sides in every really existing thing. The members of this antithetic synthesis may be variously denominated. We may say that everything which really 'is,' and to which qualities attach themselves, is the result of a coalition between an unformed original indeterminate matter (λn) on the one hand,
1 Categ. c. 5, 2311, οὐσία δέ ἐστιν ἡ κυριώτατά τε καὶ πρώτως καὶ μάλιστα λεγομένη, ἡ μήτε καθ' ὑποκειμένου τινὸς λέγεται μήτ' ἐν ὑποκειμένῳ τινί ἐστιν, οἷον ὁ τὶς ἄνθρωπος ἢ ὁ τὶς ἵππος· δεύτεραι δὲ οὐσίαι λέγονται ἐν οἷς εἴδεσιν αἱ πρώτως οὐσίαι λεγόμεναι ὑπάρχουσι. So also Metaphys. Z. 3, 1o1ga8, ουσία is explained as τὸ μὴ καθ’ ὑποκειμένου ἀλλὰ καθ' οὗ τὰ ἄλλα. Still more definitely it is said, Categories, 310, πᾶσα δὲ οὐσία δοκεῖ τόδε τι σημαίνειν: a result also expressed in the reasonings of Metaph. Z. 16, 104134, τῶν καθόλου λεγομένων οὐθὲν οὐσία. Cp. also Gen. An. IV. 2, 76734.
2 Metaph. Ζ. 7, 1033°1, είδος δὲ λέγω τὸ τί ἣν εἶναι ἑκάστου καὶ τὴν πρώτην οὐσίαν. Z. 11. 1037, ἡ οὐσία γάρ ἐστι τὸ εἶδος τὸ ἕνον......and more clearly ro3751, τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι ἕκαστον ἐπὶ τινῶν μὲν ταὐτόν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τῶν πρώτων οὐσιῶν, οἷον καμπυ λότης καὶ καμπυλότητι εἶναι, εἰ πρώτη ἐστίν. λέγω δὲ πρώτην ἡ μὴ λέγεται τῷ ἄλλο ἐν ἄλλῳ εἶναι καὶ ὑποκειμένῳ ὡς ύλη.
and a regulative creative form (eidos) on the other. Matter, as conceived by Aristotle, is thus the original substratum, the indefinite unformed starting-point which is as yet mere negation, but is to become something actual: while Form is the mode in which this undetermined something passes from its state of merely negative existence into that of real definite being. Or again, we may say, every real thing is at once individual and universal: it is either an individual universalized by the relations in which it exists or an universal individualized through the particular conditions which determinate existence imposes on it. The truth of things thus lies in the fully determined concrete rather than in the vague or empty abstract: or, in Aristotelian phraseology, it is a combination (ovvoλov) in which matter merges in form and form gains reality through an as yet unformed matter'. And in some such sense as this Soul is the substance—that is, the concrete reality or substantial truth of Body.
Soul therefore, Aristotle himself elsewhere says, is the realization of the body (évépyeia owμatos). This conception of realization occupies a prominent place in Aristotle's philosophy. The world Aristotle regarded as a perpetual process of development-a constant transformation of what merely had the power of being into that which actually existed. Existence therefore shewed us two inseparable and correlative aspects of its operations a state of potentiality or capability (dúvaus) on the one hand, and a state of actualization or realization (évépyeιa) on
1 Metaphys. Z. το, 103:529, καθόλου δ ̓ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐσία, ἀλλὰ σύνολόν τι ἐκ τουδὶ τοῦ λόγου καὶ τησδὶ τῆς ὕλης ὡς καθόλου. Cp. 105729, ἡ οὐσία γάρ ἐστι τὸ εἶδος τὸ ἐνόν, ἐξ οὗ καὶ τῆς ὕλης ἡ σύνοδος λέγεται ουσία. And the sense of fully determined reality as equivalent to ovoia is put most clearly De Interpret. c. 13, 13923, τὰ μὲν ἄνευ δυνάμεως ἐνέργειαί εἰσιν, οἷον αἱ πρῶται οὐσίαι. For Aristotle's conception of λn the following passages are important: De Gen. I. 4, 320*2, ĔOTL δὲ ὕλη μάλιστα μὲν καὶ κυρίως τὸ ὑποκείμενον γενέσεως καὶ φθορᾶς δεκτικόν: Meta. Η. 1, 104227, ὕλην λέγω ἢ μὴ τόδε τι οὖσα ἐνεργείᾳ δυνάμει ἐστὶ τόδε τι: or more simply in Meta. Z. 3, 1029 20, λέγω δ ̓ ὕλην ἣ καθ ̓ αὑτὴν μήτε τι μήτε ποσὸν μήτε ἄλλο μηθὲν λέγεται οἷς ώρισται τὸ ὄν. So shortly it is the ἀόριστον, the undetermined.
Meta. H. 3, 1043*35.
the other this realization being itself in turn only a stage of potentiality for the development of some other aspect of reality. It should be evident from this in what sense it is that soul is the realization of the body. Without soul, Aristotle implies, the body is a mere potential existence, a mere possible substratum for development in future: it is nothing actual or real. But the whole meaning of a potential capacity lies in its reference to the actual realization which expresses it'. Just as the seed reaches its true meaning in the tree, so the soul constitutes the real significance of the body. Soul is thus not only the realization, the true meaning of the body: it is also in a sense its end or termination. When an organism has advanced so far as to possess a soul, it has reached, as it were, its last stage in develop
To express this aspect of the mental functions, Aristotle makes use of the word entelechy (ei Teλéxela). The word is one which explains itself. Frequently, it is true, Aristotle fails to draw any strict line of distinction between entelechy and energy: but in theory, at least, the two are definitely separated from each other, and evépyeta represents merely a stage on the path towards évre éxeia. Entelechy in short is the realization which contains the end (Téλos) of a process: the complete expression of some function-the perfection of some phenomenon, the last stage in that process from potentiality to reality which we have already noticed. Soul then is not only the realization of the body it is its perfect realization or full development.
There is however a further differentiation of the term evTeλeXela in the definition of the soul. The full development of any χεια object or of any idea may be either implicit or explicit. The cognitive powers of man for instance find their development on the one hand in the possession of scientific truths and general
1 Eth. Nic. IX. 9, 1170a17, ǹ dè dúvaμis eis tùv èvépyelav åváycтal.
2 Meta. Θ. 8, 10:0^23, διὸ καὶ τοὔνομα ἐνέργεια λέγεται κατὰ τὸ ἔργον καὶ συντείνει πρὸς τὴν ἐντελέχειαν. Whereas ἐντελέχεια connotes as it were both ἔργον and τέλος : it is a έξις which is at the same tiune ἐνέργεια.
knowledge, on the other hand in the application of these truths to new fields of intellectual interest. The knowledge, in other words, through which man as a rational being attains the full fruition, the perfect realization of his faculties, may be either knowledge possessed but dormant in the mind or it may proceed. to something further and be this same knowledge consciously applied and used. Now it is in the first of these two senses that soul is the entelechy or perfect realization of the body: it is the first or earliest that is the relatively dormant or implicit actualization in which our bodily processes attain their real truth. "Thus then," writes Aristotle, "if we be required to frame some one common definition which will apply to every form of soul, it will be that soul is the earlier perfect realization of a natural organized body1." The words imply that Aristotle knows how perilous it is to lay down any general phrases which will apply to all the different forms of soul in the wide meaning in which he employs the expression. The love of concrete particular facts which shews itself in the distrust which he expresses in the Ethics for vague general theories and definitions would have led him rather to pass directly to the study of the different phases of soul and the distinctive characteristics of the separate mental functions. But the need of a general comprehensive study of psychology in opposition to the limited and unsystematic propositions of earlier thinkers made it imperative on Aristotle to supply a conception of the soul which should apply not merely to that vital force which gave meaning to the human organism but also to the animal creation generally and even to the forms of vegetable life. And such a comprehensive definition of the soul Aristotle found in calling it the earliest entelechy of body- the perfect development which having reached the stage of realization is capable of continued action,
1 De An. II. I, 41254, εἰ δή τι κοινὸν ἐπὶ πάσης ψυχῆς δεῖ λέγειν, εἴη ἂν ἐντελέχεια η πρώτη σώματος φυσικοῦ ὀργανικοῦ.
3 Εth. Nic. 11. 7, 1107*29, οἱ μὲν καθόλου (λόγοι) κενώτεροί εἰσιν, οἱ δ' ἐπὶ μέρους ἀληθινώτεροι.