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Dualistic tendencies in Aristotle's Psychobiology

Grant number: 16/02485-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2016
Effective date (End): November 30, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Lucas Angioni
Grantee:Roberto Grasso
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):17/25952-5 - The efficacy of Aristotle's soul: vitalistic powers vs embodied activities, BE.EP.PD


The present research proposal concerns the problematic tension between Aristotle's hylomorphism (a philosophically sophisticated form of materialism) and some dualistic tendencies in his psychobiology. The investigation plans to demonstrate that the source of such tendencies does not lie - as claimed by current dualistic interpretations - in the peculiar 'immateriality' and 'separation' granted to the intellect, but rather resides in Aristotle's physiology and in his description of (perceptual and intellectual) cognitive activities. To this end, the proposed inquiry will offer a novel reading of relevant theses in his psychological and biological works, including the description of aisthsis (sense, or sensation) as a mesots ('mean state', or, in the view that will be proposed, 'mediating intercession grounded on proportion'), and the definition of perception and intellection as 'reception of forms without matter'. The expected conclusion is that the soul, in its role of immaterial physiological agent and receptacle of cognized abstractions, is neither reducible to, nor emergent from, the material elements making up the body. This raises the question of whether - and how - the dualism such a conclusion appears to entail can be compatible with hylomorphism. In the assessment of this final question, special attention will be paid to contemporary developments in the metaphysics of powers, which may provide an understanding of the consistency between Aristotle's dualistic tendencies and his hylomorphism.