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Aristotle's De anima in the Middle Ages: A History of the Mind–Body Problem(s)

Vak 2011-2012

Admission requirements

Sufficient background in philosophy

Description

Aristotle’s De anima is by far the most influential work in the history of philosophical psychology. Despite Descartes’s efforts of getting rid of the Aristotelian tradition once and for all, philosophers continued to developed Aristotle’s views of the soul, or: mind, body relation, even up to this day. It is, however, not an easy work to interpret. Aristotle has been read as defending functionalism, emergentism, a sui generis theory, and even substance dualism. In other words, name a theory in philosophy of mind and it has probably been attributed to Aristotle at some point. How is this possible? This seminar explores the question by turning to the medieval commentary tradition on the De anima . The medieval commentators developed and transformed Aristotle’s sometimes sketchy ideas into competing sophisticated psychological theories. Topics include the difference between soul and mind, the nature of the soul body relation, the interactions between sense cognition and abstract thought, and the possibility of self-knowledge. Turning to the medieval commentary tradition also allows us to address a methodological question: to what extent is it useful to apply contemporary labels such as functionalism to ancient and medieval views. Do these help us or hinder us?

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.

Timetable

Friday, 13:00-16:00

See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2011-2012 , Master’s Programmes in Philosophy (Dutch website)
See Timetables Philosophy 2011-2012 , Master’s Programmes in Philosophy (English website)

Mode of instruction

Seminar

Assessment method

  • Final paper

Blackboard

Yes

Reading list

A list of seminar readings will be made available.

Registration

Please register for this course on uSis.

Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Dr. ing. S.W. de Boer

Remarks

Specialisation (MA Philosophy): History and Philosophy of the Sciences
Specialisations (MA Philosophy of a Specific Discipline): Philosophy of Humanities, Philosophy of Psychology