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ing, on the point of view from which they are regarded (Cóvo): it is in short a distinction not a division'. It is therefore only by an effort of abstraction that we can distinguish between different faculties of soul: just in fact as we can, according to the Nicomachean Ethics, distinguish between the convex and concave, or as, to use the additional illustration of the Eudemian Ethics, we can in the case of one and the same line distinguish between its straightness and its colour? We may separate in short between the sensitive and the conceptive powers of mind : but it is one and the same mind to which sensations are brought and by which concepts are formed : and the distinction, so far as it exists, is only a difference in the manner of the mind's activity in dealing with materials of knowledge.

The number of the mental faculties is accordingly a subject on which Aristotle is somewhat indifferent. Sometimes (11. 3. I) the faculties are spoken of as five—the nutritive, sensitive, conative, locomotive and intellectual: at other times (II. 2. 7) four only are enumerated, because the conative and locomotive faculties are practically one: while, at other times, since the sensitive faculty is the basis of the conative, three only are enumerated and the Aristotelian scheme of psychic faculties reduces itself to the faculty of nutrition, the faculty of sense and the faculty of thought' Soul therefore is itself defined as the fundamental principle of life, of sense-perception and of thought*: it is the unity in which they are all embraced. For

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1 11. 2. 10, 413b29, το δε λόγω ότι έτερα φανερόν αισθητικό γάρ είναι και δοξα. στικό έτερον, είπερ και το αισθάνεσθαι του δοξάζειν.

2 Eth. Nic. Ι. 13, 1102428, ταύτα δε πότερον διόρισται καθάπερ τα του σώματος μόρια και παν το μεριστών ή τω λόγω δύο εστίν, αχώριστα πεφυκότα καθάπερ εν τη περιφερεία το κυρτόν και το κοίλον.

Eth. Eud. II. I, I2Igb32, ôtabếpet 6” oilop oto cu ueptor vux) or eỉ αμερής, έχει μέντοι δυνάμεις διαφόρους ώσπερ εν τω καμπύλω το κοίλον και το κυρτόν αδιαχώριστον, και το ευθύ και το λευκόν καίτοι το ευθύ ου λευκόν.

3 III. 7, 431813, ουχ έτερον το ορεκτικών και φευκτικόν ούτ' άλλήλων ούτε του αισθητικού αλλά το είναι άλλο.

4 11. 2. 12, 414812, η ψυχή δε τούτο ή ζώμεν και αισθανόμεθα και διανοούμεθα πρώτως. .

(Aristotle further explains) these souls or faculties of soul form an ascending series in which the higher faculty involves and comprehends the lower. The functions of nutrition are the basis for the faculties of sense: and the exercise of sense is necessary to provide a foundation and materials for thought. “ The different forms of soul in fact stand to one another in the same way as do the several species of figure: both in the case of figures and of animate beings the earlier forms always exist potentially in the later!:" Just in short as the triangle may be regarded as the basis of all other rectilineal figures: so, in like manner, may the nutritive functions be viewed as the presupposition of all the later faculties, so that the possession of the sensitive faculties involves the possession of the faculties of nutrition, while the exercise of reasoning and thought implies and rests upon both the nutrient and sentient capacities.

Two points of view must be however steadily embraced in studying Aristotle's theory of faculties. On the one hand, it must be remembered that no higher exercise of soul can be dissevered from its lower animal presuppositions. But on the other hand we must remember also that each one of these faculties is a faculty of soul, and that it is only by reference to the unity of the soul that each can be rightly understood. Nor must we fail to note the general distinction Aristotle draws between that which is prior in order of time and that which is prior in order of thought. If modern theories of development have often neglected the distinction between ‘nature' and 'history,' between the chronological genesis of a phenomenon and its existence as a logical conception, Aristotle repeatedly asserts that the reality precedes the potentiality and that if in time the lower form has the priority, still, in thought and real being, the higher, more developed form always stands the first. And in reading his natural history, as we may call it, of the mind,

1 11. 3, 414628.

we cannot too often recall his own caution against forgetting whether we should describe how each thing naturally comes into existence or how it actually is .


The first among these psychic faculties, that viz. which constitutes the basis of vegetable life—need not detain us long. It also, we must remember, is a first entelechy—the implicit perfection of plant life—the cause or principle on which the different phenomena of growth eventually rest. Its work may be reduced to two main functions—those of reproduction and of absorbing food. It stands therefore first among those steps or stages of ideal perfection which Aristotle knows as 'souls.' It is accordingly 'the most common form of the soul:' it is the essential characteristic of all vegetable life and it forms the necessary presupposition of all the higher faculties, because it secures those very conditions of existence without which any further exercise of function is impossible. Its two functions—reproduction and nutrition-are in Aristotle's theory closely connected with one another. The absorption of food is but the beginning of that process which finds its natural termination in the creation of another life. Nature in no one of all her operations acts without an aim or fruitlessly: and the assimilation of nutrition has for its end the permanent continuance of existence. “It is in fact the most natural of functions in every animal to generate another like itself in order that the individual may thus as far as possible participate in the eternal and divine.” The character of food itself as nourishment Aristotle takes some trouble to determine. The common opinion he finds is that

1 De Part. Αn. 64018, δεί δε μή λεληθέναι πότερον προσήκει λέγειν πως έκαστον γίνεσθαι πέφυκε μάλλον ή πώς έστιν. . ή γάρ γένεσις ένεκα της ουσίας εστίν, αλλ' ουχ η ουσία ένεκα της γενέσεως. Μetaph. Μ. 1077218, το ατελές μέγεθος γενέσει μεν πρότερον έστι, τη ουσία δ' ύστερον, οιον άψυχον εμψύχου.

contrary is nourished by contrary: but there are others who explain it by the contact of similars. Between these two opinions, Aristotle, in accordance with his usual method, takes up an intermediate position. “So far," he thinks, “as the food is undigested, the contrary is nurtured by the contrary: so far as it is digested the like is nurtured by the like","—in other words the food becomes assimilated to the organism which it is destined to maintain.

Assimilation is thus the character of the process through which the lowest of the psychic faculties displays its operation. But we shall find that the mode of action thus assigned the nutrient faculties foreshadows as it were the manner in which all the other activities of soul are conceived to act. We may in fact say, with Bäumker, that while the plant assimilates the material in a material manner, sense assimilates the material in an immaterial manner, and thought assimilates the immaterial in an immaterial manner.

And if this be more epigrammatic than true, it is at least the case that both in sensation and in thought, the work of soul resolves itself into a “receptive” act which cannot but carry with it many of the assimilating associations of the nutrient activities,


From the capacities of growth and reproduction, Aristotle passes to the faculties of sense. These sentient capacities mark a decided point in the development of life on earth : for it is the possession of the powers of sense which first constitutes the animal”. As the vegetable functions were characteristic of the plant, so it is the attribute of sensation which distinguishes the animal from objects simply animate. There is indeed, as we


II. 4, 41607. · De Part. An. III. 4, 666*34: To Swov aio noel plotal. De An. 11. 2. 4, 413b2.

have seen, a certain amount of similarity, between the action of the nutrient and the action of the sensitive capacities in dealing with their materials. Both receive or apprehend their object, but the degree to which they do so is intrinsically different. The faculties which constitute plant life simply devour their object, they take in the matter as well as the form of that which they employ as nutriment; whereas the faculties of sense receive nothing but the form of their object while they leave the matter, of which it is composed, untouched'.

Sensation is thus usually explained by Aristotle as a process in which we are 'moved' or 'affected' (literally, 'suffer') by an external object'. It involves therefore immediately an 'alteration' or a qualitative transformation : the affection, which is the vehicle of alteration, produces a change in the nature or quality of the organ which perceives. The hand in fact, Aristotle might be taken to imply, becomes, when it perceives something, altered in its quality: it loses its own temperature and becomes cold or hot like its object : it is altered or transformed by the external object of sensation'. So again the eye in perceiving colour becomes as it were coloured itself*: it is subject, that is, to a qualitative change by means of the affection to which it is exposed. But this susceptibility upon the part of sense is not a susceptibility to the actual object of sensation : it is but the specific character, the determining form which the sense receives. And accordingly we find the faculty of sense defined as a power of receiving sensible objects without their material concomitants,

1 11. 12, 424*32—424b2.

ΙΙ. 5, 416633: ή δ' αίσθησις εν τω κινείσθαι τε και πάσχειν συμβαίνει δοκεί γάρ αλλοίωσις τις είναι. αλλοίωσις itself is regarded as a kind of κίνησις, και μεταβολή κατά το ποιόν, and more definitely we read De Gen. Ι. 4, 31991ο: αλλοίωσις μέν έστιν όταν υπομένοντος του υποκειμένου, αισθητού όντος, μεταβάλλη εν τοίς αυτού πάθεσιν ή εναντίοις ουσιν ή μεταξύ. That πάθος is the vehicle of αλλοίωσις appears from Metaph. Δ. 21, 1022015, πάθος λέγεται ένα μεν τρόπον ποιότης καθ' ήν άλλοιούσθαι ενδέχεται.

3 So in 11. 12. 4, 424*34, Aristotle asks why plants do not perceive-kal yap ψύχεται και θερμαίνεται-i.e. they display signs of that αλλοίωσις which was said to constitute perception.

5 1ΙΙ. 2, 425622: το ορών έστιν ώς κεχρωμάτισται.

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