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A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

Ed. by Wildberg, Christian / Morison, Benjamin

4 Issues per year

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Volume 48, Issue 4


Heavenly Soul in Aristotle

Dougal Blyth
Published Online: 2015-10-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2013-0037


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.

: Aristotle; cosmology; soul

About the article

Published Online: 2015-10-07

Published in Print: 2015-10-01

Citation Information: Apeiron, Volume 48, Issue 4, Pages 427–465, ISSN (Online) 2156-7093, ISSN (Print) 0003-6390, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2013-0037.

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