Aristotle’s De Anima is regarded as the first text concerning what today we call psychology or to translate that, words about the soul. It is a relatively short text, in comparison with the Ethics, the Metaphysics, and the Physics, containing only three books. It is typically situated between the Physics and the Ethics as it draws on many of the principles of the first and is a necessary preparation for the last. Contemporaries might categorize the text as proceeding from a behaviourist model of psychology because designates the parts of the soul according to its various activities or behaviours. In the podcast we consider St Thomas’ commentary on this text and follow Aristotle’s division into three books.
Book One – Considers the problem to examined in the text, namely to answer what is the soul? and what are it’s parts? Here Aristotle begins by considering typical conclusions reached by other philosophers to these questions. We haven’t taken these up in the podcast as a portion of the show reflects upon the various conclusions of modern psychologists on this topic. We do consider some of what Aristotle has to say about the value of psychology.
Book Two – Takes up Aristotle’s answers to these questions and explores two of the three various parts of the soul, namely the vegetative part and the sensitive part.