Aristotle's <i>De Anima</i>

Aristotle's De Anima

Aristotle background

De Anima, background

De Anima, Book I

Book II

Book III (c3 on)
Aristotle considers imagination, mind, and motivation.
What should we as contemporary philosophers of mind take away from this?

Some foreshadowing hypotheses
The birth of the modern, scientific world view is the victory of causal explanation over teleological explanation. However, we are (at least as of yet) unable to explain biological entities or minds without teleological explanation. Recognizing this, Descartes divides the world into the teleological and the causal -- realms of mind and of body, respectively. Most of the contemporary problems of mind is concerned with making sense of mental phenomena in terms of our best theory. I suggest that the reason this seems problematic, and the reason we struggle with forms of explanation, is that it is yet unclear how our best theory will explain normativity.

That said, I urge you not to indulge in the common fallacy of denying the antecedent of a conditional. One cannot reason from these first two claims to the third claim:
  1. If we have an immaterial soul that has certain normative properties, then we have certain purposes and values.
  2. We do not have an immaterial soul that has certain normative properties.
  3. We do not have certain purposes and values.
I pick this only as an example, and do not mean to claim that Descartes was wrong. Rather, I am just pointing out that those who claim Descartes was wrong should not be read as claiming also that we have no purposes or values.

That is, the problem of explaining normativity is a real problem, but the rejection of this or that specific explanation of normativity is not proof that we cannot account for normativity with some other theory.