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Aristotle on the Common Sense$
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Pavel Gregoric

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277377

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199277377.001.0001

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Other Roles of the Common Sense

Other Roles of the Common Sense

(p.193) 5 Other Roles of the Common Sense
Aristotle on the Common Sense

Pavel Gregoric

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers two perceptual operations which can be plausibly related to the common sense. These two perceptual operations are often regarded as functions of the common sense. In fact, the first one, perception of the common perceptibles, is usually regarded as the most salient function of the common sense, a view that is largely based on an erroneous reading of Aristotle's argument in De Anima III.1 425 a 12-27. It is argued that Aristotle gives us no reason to think that the common sense is necessary for perception of all types of common perceptibles, although it may be necessary for perception of some types. Moreover, it is plausible to suggest that the common sense enhances the sensitivity of the individual senses to the common perceptibles in a number of ways. The other perceptual operation in which the common sense might play a role is accidental perception. Both forms of accidental perception — perception of the accidental perceptibles, and perception of the special perceptibles of one sense by another sense (here called ‘cross-modal perception’) — are probably achieved not by the higher-order perceptual power, but by the sensory capacity of the soul, since these operations seem to require joint operation of perception and imagination.

Keywords:   De Anima, common sense, perception, imagination, common perceptibles, accidental perceptibles, accidental perception, cross-modal perception

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