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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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The Common Sense and the Related Capacities

The Common Sense and the Related Capacities

(p.52) 4 The Common Sense and the Related Capacities
Aristotle on the Common Sense

Pavel Gregoric

Oxford University Press

The conceptual division of the soul enables Aristotle not only to proceed systematically by explaining one capacity of the soul after another, but also to divide the soul along different joints , and thus to account for other, more complex, activities of animals. This is what Aristotle does in some treatises from the collection Parva Naturalia. In this chapter some crucial distinctions are drawn. First, there is the perceptual capacity of the soul which can operate not only as this or that individual sense, but also, on account of its unity, as a higher-order perceptual power which co-ordinates and monitors the senses. This power is known as the ‘common sense’ in the Aristotelian tradition, and it is the subject of the rest of this book. Second, there is the sensory capacity of the soul which comprises the perceptual capacity described above plus the imaginative capacity. This more general capacity can operate not only as perception or as imagination, but it can also combine their activities. It will be shown that this latter power is what Aristotle himself calls the ‘common sense’. Failure to observe these distinctions is the main source of problems surrounding Aristotle's notion of the common sense.

Keywords:   Parva Naturalia, soul, capacities, perceptual capacity, common sense, imagination, imaginative capacity, sensory capacity, conceptual division

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