Aristotle on the Difference Between Plants, Animals, and Human Beings and on the Elements as Instruments of the Soul (De Anima 2.4.415b18) [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 63 (4):821-841 (2010)
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Why do all animals possess sense perception while plants don’t? And should the difference in quality of life between human beings and wolves be explained by supposing that wolves have degenerated souls? This paper argues that for Aristotle differences in quality of life among living beings are based on differences in the quality of their soul-principle together with the body that receives the soul. The paper proposes a new interpretation of On the Soul 2.4.415b18: “For all the natural bodies are instruments of the soul,” against all current interpretations. Aristotle there means that each of the four sublunary elements can be a part of the instrumental body of a soul. The paper continues with discussing the way in which Aristotle connects the several sublunar elements with different levels of life activity, and the troublesome passage in Generation of Animals 3.11.761b22, where Aristotle speaks about a fourth category of living creatures related to the fourth sublunary element, Fire, and the region of the Moon.



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