Study Questions for Aristotle Selections

eds. Irwin and Fine
(Hackett Publishing Company, 1995)

On Soul (pp.169ff.)

Study questions by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised on February 12, 2007
Minor revisions to Bekker numbers in questions 21-23

Book II (pp. 176ff.)

Chapter 1

1. What three things does Aristotle distinguish at 412a7-9?

2. Correlate matter and form with actuality and potentiality. (412a10)

3. What type of body does Aristotle single out now? (412a11-14)

    Are these substances?

4. How does the body exist? What, then, is the soul? (a16-22)

    Note Aristotle's new stress on substance as form.

5. Distinguish the two kinds of actuality. Use the relationships between knowing something and attending to what one knows, (the faculty of) sight and seeing. (412a23-28; 412b18-24)

6. How does Aristotle define the soul in general? (412a27; 412b5; cf. the whole passage 412b1-11)

7. If an axe lost its ability to chop trees, would it still be an axe in the same sense?

    Is a dead animal an animal in the normal sense of the term? (412b10-24)

8. What bodies that are potentially alive is Aristotle talking about here? (412b25-26)

    What is Aristotle's point here?

Chapter 2

9. In what several ways is living spoken of? (413a23-26)

10. What sort of life can be separated from the others? (413a31)

Chapter 3

11. What several parts of soul does A. list?

12. What does A. mean when it says that soul will have a single account in the same way that figure does? (414b20ff.)

Chapter 4

13. What are the functions of the type of soul discussed in this chapter?

14. In what three ways is soul a cause? (425b9-27)

Chapter 5
14. What three sorts of potentiality does A. distinguish at 417a22-30?

15. What is the relation between the perceiver and the perceptible object (a) when the perceiver is being affected and (b) when it has been affected? (418a5-7)

Chapter 6

16. What is meant by "proper object of perception"? (418a13-17)

common object of perception? (418a17ff.)

Chapter 11

17. What is it about the nature of a sense organ that enables it to register (some but not all) perceptible qualities? (424a3-11)

Chapter 12

18. How does each sense receive the perceptible forms of things? (424a18)

Book III

Chapter 1

19. Is there a proper sense organ for "common objects" of perception? (425a14-15)

20. By what perception do we perceive all common objects? (a16)

Chapter 2

21. Explain "the actuality of . . . " (425b26-27)

22. Where is the actuality of the object of perception, e.g., actuality of color or flavor? (426a4-6; see also a18-19)

23. How does Aristotle respond to earlier naturalists, e.g., Democritus, who suppose there was no flavor without taste? (426a20-28)

Chapter 3

24. Why is "appearance" (phantasia) distinct from perception? (428a6ff.) Note that A. claims here that perceptions are always true. (a11-12)

25. How does A. argue that appearance is distinct from belief? (428a19-b5)

26. What positive relation does appearance have to perception? How is appearance related to motion? (b10-17)

Chapter 4

27. How is "understanding" (noein) like perception? (429a14-18)

28. What does it mean to say that "intellect" (noûs) understands all things? (n18) Note that this makes Aristotle a rather bold epistemological optimist.

29. Why does A. say it must be unmixed? (a19; see also a25-27)

30. In what sense is intellect purely potential? (a20)

31. How does intellect differ from perception in its being unaffected? (429a30-b5)

32. Why does A. say intellect is separable? (b5)

33. What kind of knowledge (first or second act?) is A. talking about at 429b6-9?

34. How does the analogy of the writing tablet help explain the nature of intellect and its relation to its objects? (430a1-2)

35. In Aristotle's view, is intellect an object to itself?

Chapter 5

This chapter concerns the "productive intellect" (noûs poiêtikos) also known in other translations and many commentaries as "agent intellect." This passage has given rise to much debate over the centuries involving Aristotle commentators like Alexander of Aphrodisias, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, and Thomas Aquinas.

36. With what premise does this section begin (a10-13) Note its sweeping nature.

37. Describe the two sorts of intellect:

a. Which corresponds to matter? (a15)
b. Which corresponds to the producer? (a 16)
c. Which becomes all things? (a15)
d. Which produces all things? (a17)
e. Which is like light? (a17)
f. Which is like color? (a17-18)
g. Which is separable? (a18)
h. Which is unaffected? (a18)
i. Which is unmixed? (a18)
j. Which is more valuable? (a19)
k. Which is the place of potential knowledge? (a20-21)
l. Which is the place of actual knowledge? (a20-21)
m. Which is temporally prior in an individual? (a22)
n. Which is a permanent feature of intellect? (a22-23)
o. Which alone is immortal and everlasting? (a23)
p. Which is perishable? (a25)