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Aristotle on the Common Sense (Oxford Aristotle Studies Series) [Tapa blanda]

Pavel Gregoric

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a learned, lucidly written, and compellingly argued treatment of its subject, one that surveys and helpfully synthesizes the immense ancient and modern literature on the topic. It also proposes some novel solutions to a number of long-standing textual and interpretative problems ... Students should begin their work on this issue here and experts should attend to it, as an undeniably original and important contribution to the scholarly conversation on this subject. (Sean D. Kirkland, Ancient Philosophy)

There has been little extended work devoted to the common sense, the faculty by which Aristotle thinks we coordinate and process the input of the five senses. The lacuna has now been filled by Pavel Gregoric's commendable monograph. This nuanced and original study represents a significant advance in our understanding of Aristotle's common sense. (Thomas K. Johansen, Mind)

Gregoric has produced a valuable contribution to our understanding both of Aristotle's philosophical terminology and of his theory of perception. Some of the texts he discusses in the book, such as (Hendrik Lorenz, Rhizai)

, have long been neglected, even though they provide substantive additions to and clarifications of Aristotle's theory. In discussing those and other texts, Gregoric provides us with well informed, detailed, and lucid interpretations, which, it should be added, are for the most part clearly correct and helpful. All serious students of ancient psychology should read this book. It will inform, illuminate, and stimulate.

Reseña del editor

Apart from using our eyes to see and our ears to hear, we regularly and effortlessly perform a number of complex perceptual operations that cannot be explained in terms of the five senses taken individually. Such operations include, for example, perceiving that the same object is white and sweet, noticing the difference between white and sweet, or knowing that one's senses are active. Observing that lower animals must be able to perform such operations, and being unprepared to ascribe any share in rationality to them, Aristotle explained such operations with reference to a higher-order perceptual capacity which unites and monitors the five senses. This capacity is known as the 'common sense' or sensus communis. Unfortunately, Aristotle provides only scattered and opaque references to this capacity. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the exact nature and functions of this capacity have been a matter of perennial controversy.

Pavel Gregoric offers and extensive and compelling treatment of the Aristotelian conception of the common sense, which has become part and parcel of Western psychological theories from antiquity through to the Middle Ages, and well into the early modern period. Aristotle on the Common Sense begins with an introduction to Aristotle's theory of perception and sets up a conceptual framework for the interpretation of textual evidence. In addition to analysing those passages which make explicit mention of the common sense, and drawing out the implications for Aristotle's terminology, Gregoric provides a detailed examination of each function of this Aristotelian faculty.

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5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas A lot remains common sense 18 de marzo de 2009
Por merjet - Publicado en
Formato:Tapa dura
The book is in three parts:
Part I. The Framework
Part II. The Terminology
Part III. Functions of the Common Sense

The stage is set by contrasting Plato's and Aristotle's views of the senses. In Plato's view the five senses are separate and the intellect integrates them. Aristotle's view of the matter tries to account for perception by nonhuman animals as well. So he says sensory input is integrated by the sensory capacity, by what he calls the `common sense', which also monitors sensory input. This monitoring function anticipates some modern conceptions of consciousness.

Aristotle conceptually divides the `soul' into different capacities. These are the nutritive, sensitive (perceptual and locomotive), and thinking. Plants have only the first one and only humans have the last one. The sensitive capacity of the soul is not an aggregate of the individual senses, but a unified whole. Memory, mainly in the form of images retained from sensory input, is also part of the sensitive capacity.

Integration recognizes the `common perceptibles', which are those perceived by more than one sense - change, rest, shape, magnitude, number, and one (or unity). These are sensed by both sight and touch. Part of the integration is cross-modal, e.g. that something is both hot and sweet, or colored and extended. The `special perceptibles' are those perceived by only one sense, such as taste, odor, and sound.

In sleep the common sense is incapacitated. Waking activates it. Aristotle argues that this is so because the common sense controls the peripheral sense organs. Awareness of an individual sense's activity or inactivity is the work of the common sense.

Four distinct functions of the common sense are identified: simultaneous perception, perceptual discrimination, control of the senses, and monitoring of the senses.

An interesting historical point is where Plato and Aristotle believed sensory integration occurred. Plato thought it was the brain, where he believed the rational soul was (in his dialogue Timaeus). Aristotle located the common sense in the heart. At the time there had been an intense and long standing debate among physicians regarding which organ it was. Plato sided with one school of physicians and Aristotle with the other.
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