The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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  • For Aristotle, the faculty of thought is legitimately characterized as being receptive of its objects. To construe Aristotle as holding that it is not renders a significant part of DA 3.4 to be of highly questionable internal coherence, since it makes it seem that he is claiming that something foreign might intrude into a power that has no organ and render that power inoperable. Moreover, failure to acknowledge the intellect's receptivity renders what is clearly supposed to be an explanation (mind is unmixed because it 7 knows all things) otiose and virtually unrelated to the logic of his argument. Finally, the denial of the claim that νους is receptive forces onto Aristotle's Greek a sense that is totally inconsistent with other uses of the same words. For these reasons, it seems best to hold that, at least through his first argument in DA 3.4, Aristotle did not begin his treatment of νους with a merely tentative comparison between the faculties of thought and perception according to the formal reception thesis, only to later abandon the claim that this thesis holds for νους. Rather, throughout this part of the chapter, Aristotle believes that νους is receptive since its receptivity is essential for the validity of his argument and the consistency of his thought.··;·-


Joseph Magee presented “The receptivity of nous in de Anima III.4” to the Society at its meeting with the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association in San Diego in 1998. It was incorporated into his book, Unmixing the Intellect: Aristotle on Cognitive Powers and Bodily Organs, published by Greenwood Press in 2003.

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