Heavenly Soul in Aristotle

Dougal Blyth
  • Apeiron, January 2013, De Gruyter
  • DOI: 10.1515/apeiron-2013-0037

What is it about?

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.

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