31 pages 1 hour read


On the Soul

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | BCE

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Important Quotes

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“[W]e would be right to place the inquiry into the soul among the first kinds of knowledge.”

(Book 1, Chapter 1, Page 126)

Aristotle begins On the Soul by asserting the importance of the subject of the soul. He views the soul as of primary importance because it is the principle that governs all living things. This quote reflects Aristotle’s hierarchical view of knowledge and his generally methodical approach to examining philosophical questions.

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“In general, and in all ways, it is one of the hardest things to gain any conviction about the soul.” 

(Book 1, Chapter 1, Page 126)

Aristotle’s conviction about the difficulty of the subject matter is borne out in the text itself, which is at times highly abstract, challenging to follow, disjointed, and fragmentary. In putting this statement at the beginning of the work, however, Aristotle prepares us for these difficulties.

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“[S]oul is that by which primarily we live and perceive and think.”

(Book 2, Chapter 2, Page 161)

This is one of several pithy statements in the book about the nature of the soul. This one binds together the three main functions of the soul: biological life, the operation of the senses, and the operation of intellect—the latter implies that the statement is made specifically from the point of view of human life.