Spiritual developmentMetaphysics

The doctrine of Aristotle "On the soul." The concept of "soul". Metaphysics of Aristotle

Many of the achievements of modern scientific thought are based on discoveries made in ancient Greece. For example, the doctrine of Aristotle "On the soul" is used by those who try to explain what is happening in our universe, to penetrate into the network of nature. It would seem that for two thousand years you could come up with something new, but discoveries on a scale comparable to what the ancient Greek philosopher gave the world did not happen. Did you read at least one treatise of Aristotle? No? Then let's deal with his immortal thoughts.

Reasoning or the basis?

The most interesting in the study of historical personalities is the question of how in the head of an ancient man such thoughts arose. Certainly, of course, we do not recognize this. Aristotle's treatise "Metaphysics" nevertheless gives some idea of the course of his reasoning. Ancient philosopher tried to determine what organisms are different from stones, soil, water and other objects related to inanimate nature. Some breathe, are born and die, others are immutable in time. In order to describe his conclusions, the philosopher had to create his own conceptual apparatus. Scientists often encounter this problem. They lack words, definitions, in order to build and develop a theory. Aristotle had to introduce new concepts, which are described in his immortal work "Metaphysics." In the text he talks about what the heart and soul are, trying to explain what the plants differ from animals. Much later, this treatise formed the basis for the creation of two trends in the philosophy of materialism and idealism. The doctrine of Aristotle about the soul has the features of both. The scientist examines the world from the point of view of the correlation of matter and form, tries to find out which of them primarily and directs the processes in one or another case.

About souls

A living organism must have something in charge of its organization that leads the administration. By such an organ Aristotle designated the soul. It can not exist without a body, or rather, does not feel anything. There is this unknown substance not only in man and animals, but also in plants. Everything that is born and dies, known in the ancient world, according to his thoughts is endowed with soul. It is the vital principle of a body that can not exist without it. In addition, the souls guide the organisms, build them and guide them. They organize meaningful activities of all life. Here we have in mind not a thought process, but a natural process. The plant, according to the ancient Greek thinker, is also developing, releasing leaves and fruiting according to the plan of the soul. It is this fact that distinguishes living nature from the dead. The first has something that allows you to make meaningful actions, namely, to extend the family. The physical body and soul are inextricably linked. They are, in fact, one whole. From this idea the philosopher deduces the need for a dual method of investigation. The soul is a concept that must be studied by natural scientists and dialecticians. It is impossible to describe its properties and mechanisms in full, relying only on one method of investigation.

Three Kinds of Shower

Aristotle, developing his theory, tries to separate plants from thinking beings. So, he introduces the concept of "childbirth". There are three in total. In his opinion, bodies are led by such:

  • Plant (nutritious);
  • Animal;
  • Reasonable.

The first soul is responsible for the process of digestion, it also controls the function of reproduction. It can be observed in plants. But this topic Aristotle did little, more concentrating on the higher souls. The second is responsible for the movements and sensations of organisms. It is inherent in animals. The third soul is immortal, human. It differs from the others in that it is an organ of thought, a particle of the divine mind.

Heart and soul

The philosopher considered the central body of the body not the brain, as it is today. He took this role to heart. In addition, according to his theory, the soul inhabited the blood. The body reacts to external stimuli. He perceives the world by hearing, smelling, seeing, and so on. Everything that the senses have recorded is subjected to analysis. The body that does this is the soul. Animals, for example, are able to perceive the surrounding space and sensibly react to stimuli. They, as the scientist wrote, are characterized by such abilities as sensation, imagination, memory, movement, sensual aspiration. The latter refers to the emergence of deeds and actions to implement them. The concept of "soul" philosopher gives this: "The shape of a living organic body." That is, organisms have something that distinguishes them from stones or sand. This is their essence, making them alive.


Aristotle's doctrine of the soul contains a description of all organisms known at the time, their classification. The philosopher believed that animals consist of gommes, that is, small particles. Everyone has a source of heat - pneuma. This is a kind of body existing in the ether and passing through the genus through the father's seed. The scientist calls the bearer pneumatic the heart. Nutrients enter through it through the veins and are distributed along the body by blood. Aristotle did not accept Plato's idea that the soul is divided into many parts. The eye can not have a separate organ of life. In his opinion, we can speak only about two hypostases of the soul - mortal and divine. The first perished along with the body, the second seemed eternal to him.


The mind distinguishes people from the rest of the living world. Aristotle's doctrine of the soul contains a detailed analysis of man's mental functions. So, he distinguishes logical processes that differ from intuition. The highest form of thinking he calls wisdom. A person in the process of activity is capable of feelings that affect his physiology. The philosopher examines in detail what is the will that is peculiar only to people. He calls it a meaningful social process, its manifestation is connected with the notion of duty and responsibility. Virtue, according to Aristotle, is the middle between the passions that own a person. It should be pursued. He singles out such virtues:

  • courage;
  • generosity;
  • prudence;
  • modesty;
  • Truthfulness and others.

Morality and upbringing

It is interesting that the "Metaphysics" of Aristotle is a doctrine of the soul, which has a practical character. The philosopher tried to tell his contemporaries how to remain a man and raise children in the same spirit. Thus, he wrote that virtues are not given from birth. On the contrary, we come to the world with passions. They should learn to harness to find the middle. Every person should strive for the manifestation of virtue in himself. The child should develop not only a reaction to stimuli, but also a correct attitude towards actions. This is how the moral personality is formed. In addition, in Aristotle's writings, the idea that the approach to education should be individual, rather than averaged, is expressed, and now topical. What is good for one is unclear or bad for another.


Aristotle is rightly considered the ancestor of all sciences. He gave the concept of how to approach the formulation and consideration of problems, how to conduct a discussion. From other ancient authors he is distinguished by the dryness (scientific) of presentation. Ancient thinker tried to formulate the foundations of ideas about nature. The theory has turned out to be so capacious that it still gives food for thought to the current representatives of science, who develop its ideas. Many people today are very interested in how Aristotle could penetrate so deeply into the essence of things.

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