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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 7, 2015

Heavenly Soul in Aristotle

Dougal Blyth
From the journal Apeiron


Several prominent scholars assume that Aristotle regards the heavenly spheres as self-moving or rationally ensouled. Against this I argue first, Ph. 8.5 gives no support, and passages in Ph. 8 imply that all self-movers are terrestrial animals; second, passages in De motu animalium and De caelo where the heaven is called alive do not imply a quasi-animal soul; third, the exclusion of incidental self-movement from the heavens in Ph. 8.6 cannot be explained by locating movers in or on the spheres; fourth, the passage in Ph. 8.10 concerning the prime mover’s location must be understood with that in De caelo 1.9 placing the changeless beings beyond the cosmos; fifth, Metaph. 12.7 and 9 exclude a heavenly intellect separate from the prime mover; and sixth, the heaven’s desire, responsible for its movement, consists in physical excitation of its aitherial body, analogous to animal desire in MA 10.

Published Online: 2015-10-7
Published in Print: 2015-10-1

© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston