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Aristotle on the Role of Heat in Plant Life

From the book Nutrition and Nutritive Soul in Aristotle and Aristotelianism

  • Giouli Korobili


Any modern scholar of Aristotle’s natural philosophy would right away admit that, according to Aristotle, all living things, in order to maintain their lives, undoubtedly need, among other factors, a principle of soul and vital heat. Despite this scholarly consensus, so little has been written concerning vital heat in plants, even though Aristotle treats them as ensouled beings endowed with the most basic part of the soul, the nutritive soul. Above all, one of the most crucial questions remains obscure: ‘What does this vital heat actually do inside a plant?’, especially in the light of the idea that plants manifest a far less complex structure than animals and humans. In this paper, I try to answer this question by offering an interpretation of the role heat plays in the internal processes taking place throughout a plant’s life cycle.

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