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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Nature of the Soul
By Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)
From ‘On the Soul,’ Book iii., Chapter 6

CONCERNING that part of the soul, however, by which the soul knows (and is prudentially wise) whether it is separable or not separable, according to magnitude, but according to reason, it must be considered what difference it possesses, and how intellectual perception is produced. If, therefore, to perceive intellectually is the same thing as to perceive sensibly, it will either be to suffer something from the intelligible, or something else of this kind. It is necessary, however, that it should be impassive, but capable of receiving form; and in capacity a thing of this kind, but not this; and also, that as the sensitive power is to sensibles, so should intellect be to intelligibles. It is necessary, therefore, since it understands all things, that it should be unmingled, as Anaxagoras says, that it may predominate: but this is that it may know; for that which is foreign at the same time presenting itself to the view, impedes and obstructs.  1
  Hence, neither is there any other nature of it than this, that it is possible. That, therefore, which is called the intellect of soul (I mean the intellect by which the soul energizes dianoetically and hypoleptically), is nothing in energy of beings before it intellectually perceives them. Hence, neither is it reasonable that it should be mingled with body; for thus it would become a thing with certain quality, would be hot or cold, and would have a certain organ in the same manner as the sensitive power. Now, however, there is no organ of it. In a proper manner, therefore, do they speak, who say that the soul is the place of forms; except that this is not true of the whole soul, but of that which is intellective; nor is it forms in entelecheia, but in capacity. But that the impassivity of the sensitive and intellective power is not similar, is evident in the sensoria and in sense. For sense cannot perceive from a vehement sensible object (as for instance, sounds from very loud sounds; nor from strong odors and colors can it either see or smell): but intellect, when it understands anything very intelligible, does not less understand inferior concerns, but even understands them in a greater degree; for the sensitive power is not without body, but intellect is separate from body.  2
  When however it becomes particulars, in such a manner as he is said to possess scientific knowledge who scientifically knows in energy (and this happens when it is able to energize through itself), then also it is similarly in a certain respect in capacity, yet not after the same manner as before it learnt or discovered; and it is then itself able to understand itself. By the sensitive power, therefore, it distinguishes the hot and the cold, and those things of which flesh is a certain reason; but by another power, either separate, or as an inflected line subsists with reference to itself when it is extended, it distinguishes the essence of flesh. Further still, in those things which consist in ablation, the straight is as the flat nose; for it subsists with the continued.  3
  Some one, however, may question, if intellect is simple and impassive and has nothing in common with anything, as Anaxagoras says, how it can perceive intellectually, if to perceive intellectually is to suffer something; for so far as something is common to both, the one appears to act, but the other to suffer. Again, it may also be doubted whether intellect is itself intelligible. For either intellect will also be present with other things, if it is not intelligible according to another thing, but the intelligible is one certain thing in species; or it will have something mingled, which will make it to be intelligible in the same manner as other things. Or shall we say that to suffer subsists according to something common? On which account, it was before observed that intellect is in capacity, in a certain respect, intelligibles, but is no one of them in entelecheia, before it understands or perceives intellectually. But it is necessary to conceive of it as of a table in which nothing is written in entelecheia; which happens to be the case in intellect. But in those things which have matter, each of the intelligibles is in capacity only. Hence, intellect will not be present with them; for the intellect of such things is capacity without matter. But with intellect the intelligible will be present.
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  Since, however, in every nature there is something which is matter to each genus (and this because it is all those in capacity), and something which is the cause and affective, because it produces all things (in such a manner as art is affected with respect to matter), it is necessary that these differences should also be inherent in the soul. And the one is an intellect of this kind because it becomes all things; but the other because it produces all things as a certain habit, such for instance as light. For in a certain respect, light also causes colors which are in capacity to be colors in energy. And this intellect is separate, unmingled, and impassive, since it is in its essence energy; for the efficient is always more honorable than the patient, and the principle than matter. Science, also, in energy is the same as the thing [which is scientifically known]. But science which is in capacity is prior in time in the one [to science in energy]; though, in short, neither [is capacity prior to energy] in time. It does not, however, perceive intellectually at one time and at another time not, but separate intellect is alone this very thing which it is; and this alone is immortal and eternal. We do not, however, remember because this is impassive; but the passive intellect is corruptible, and without this the separate intellect understands nothing.  5

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