vineri, 4 noiembrie 2011

Aristotle, On Soul, III, 3: Soul as a Conqueror

427a17-19. There are two distinguishing characteristics by which people mainly define the soul: motion in respect of place; and thinking, understanding, and perceiving 

Why do the people find thought as also a limitation and, therefore, as a definable thing?
Not just for the order in Aristotle’s text, we should think the process of thinking as a diaphora that is conceived secondarily, being seized after the first grasp of ‘movement in respect of place’.

The secondary status implies that the thought is conceived after the model of movement. If the movement of living beings shows us that they cannot be captured as simple items of our world, so does the thought.

To observe thinking as a difference requires primarily a scrutiny of others, not a self inquiry. How do we observe others thinking? Not by their expressed thoughts, because the language is the way people present us without any sense of strangeness. We observe others thinking by the suspicion they are not entirely involved in their observable deeds or movement. Just as they escape the naming and numbering through their movement, they escape further the movement itself through something we call thinking. Hence, the thought is the remaining part of an action.

As a remaining part, the thought is concealed behind actions, and it appears most salient in the way of deceiving. The thought deceives the reality of the things and places surrounding the action. For this reason, its first appearance is in the province of falsehood, not in that of truth.

When others are conceived as thinking, understanding, and perceiving, they are conceived as having the possibility of deceiving us. They resist to our intention to reduce them to our descriptions by the power of deceiving us.

The strangeness of others as living beings independent from us involves their possible adversity to us.

Others menace our comfort in living among things of our world by their capacity of closing the world to their own lives. When they thought of the things of the world, or also understand and perceive them, they leave us with the impression that the world cannot be entirely ours.

Moreover, since the distinction of ‘thinking, understanding, and perceiving’ belongs to Aristotle, not to the common sense, what we see in others’ behavior as thinking beings is the simple movement of occupying our world.

Therefore, the self recognition of our thought does not involve the serenity of a meditative act, but the troublesome state of conquering the things of the world before others do the same on their behalf.

As a consequence, the language used for expressing our thought frequently prefer to take a normative tone, as we meet in the case of the simple designation of things by using nouns.

Thus, the soul is not that ‘self’ that undergoes the actions of things over it, but our individual being in need of conquering the things of the world.