Sententia libri De anima
Commentary on Aristotle’s On the Soul
De dignitate, utilitate ac difficultate eius scientiae; veterum opiniones expenduntur; de unitate animae
Opinions about the Soul
Dignitatem, utilitatem, ordinem, ac difficultatem huius scientiae ad alias ostendit
The dignity, utility, order, and difficulty of this science
Bonorum et honorabilium notitiam opinantes, magis autem alteram altera aut secundum certitudinem aut ex eo quod meliorum quidem et mirabiliorum est, propter utraque haec animae historiam rationabiliter utique in primis ponemus.
Holding as we do that knowledge is of good and honorable things, yet that some kinds of knowledge are more so than others, either because they are more certain or because they are about better and more wonderful things, with good reason we give a primary place, for both these reasons, to an inquiry about the soul.
Videtur autem et ad veritatem omnem cognitio ipsius multum proficere, maxime autem ad naturam. Est enim tanquam principium animalium.
Indeed, knowledge of the soul would seem to help greatly in acquiring all truth, especially about the natural world; for it is, as it were, the principle of living things.
Inquirimus autem considerare et cognoscere naturamque ipsius et substantiam, postea quaecumque accidunt circa ipsam, quorum aliae proprie passiones videntur, aliae autem propter ipsam communes et animalibus inesse.
We seek, then, to consider and know, first, its nature and substance, then whatever qualities belong to it. Of these latter, some seem to be proper passions of the soul alone, others to be shared in common and to exist in living beings on account of it.
Omnino autem et penitus difficillimorum est accipere aliquam fidem de ipsa. Cum enim sit communis quaestio multis aliis, dico autem ea quae circa substantiam et ea quae quid est, fortassis alicui videbitur una quaedam methodus esse de omnibus de quibus volumus cognoscere substantiam, sicut et eorum quae secundum accidens propriorum demonstrationem. Quare quaerendum utique erit methodum istam.
To ascertain, however, anything reliable about it is one of the most difficult of undertakings. For, such a question being common to many other things—I mean, an inquiry into the substance, and what each thing is—it might seem to some that one definite procedure were available for all things of which we wished to know the substance, as there is demonstration for the accidental properties of things. So we should have to discover what is this one method.
Si autem non est una quaedam et communis methodus de eo quod quid est, amplius difficilius fit negotiari. Oportebit enim accipere circa unumquodque quis modus, cum manifestum fuerit utrum demonstratio aliqua sit, aut divisio, aut etiam aliqua alia methodus. Adhuc multas habet dubitationes et errores, ex quibus oportet quaerere; alia enim aliorum principia, sicut numerorum et planorum.
But if there is no one method for determining what a thing is, our inquiry becomes decidedly more difficult, for we shall have to find what procedure belongs to each case; for then it would be clear whether it a certain demonstration, or a division, or even some other procedure. And there are still many puzzles and uncertainties for which answers must be found. For there are different principles for different things, for instance, in the case of numbers and surfaces.
Primum autem fortassis necessarium est dividere in quo generum et quid sit, dico autem utrum hoc aliquid et substantia sit, aut qualitas, aut quantitas, aut etiam quoddam aliud divisorum praedicamentorum.
Perhaps the first thing needed is to divide off the genus of the subject and to say what it is—I mean, whether it be a particular thing and substance, or a quality, or a quantity, or any other of the different categories.
Adhuc autem utrum eorum quae in potentia sunt, an magis endelichia quaedam sit; differt enim non aliquid parvum. Considerandum autem et si partibilis sit, aut inpartibilis, et utrum sit similis speciei omnis anima an non? Si autem non similis speciei, utrum specie differant aut genere?
Further, whether it is among things in potency or is an actuality—no small distinction. Again, whether it is divisible or indivisible, and whether every soul is like in species or not, and if not, whether they differ specifically or generically.
Nunc quidem enim dicentes et quaerentes de anima, de humana solum videntur intendere. Formidandum autem quatinus non lateat utrum una ratio ipsius est, sicut animalis, aut secundum unumquodque altera, ut equi, canis, hominis deique, animal autem universale aut nihil est aut posterius. Similiter autem et si aliquod commune aliud praedicetur.
For those who at present talk of and discuss the soul seem to deal only with the human soul. One must be careful not to leave unexplored the question whether there is a single account of it, as there is of “animal," or a different one for each one--for example, for horse, dog, man, or god. Now, “animal” as a universal is nothing, or is something secondary. And we must say the same of any other common predicate.
Amplius autem si non multae animae, sed partes, utrum oportet quaerere prius totam animam aut partes. Difficile autem et harum determinare quales aptae natae sint alterae ab invicem esse, et utrum partes oportet quaerere prius aut opera ipsarum, ut intelligere aut intellectivum, et sentire aut sensitivum. Similiter autem et in aliis.
Further, if there are not many souls, but only many parts, we must ask whether one ought to look first at the whole soul or its parts. It is difficult to determine what sorts are by nature diverse from one another, and whether one ought to look first at the parts or their activities--for instance, at understanding or at the intellectual power, at sensing or at the sensitive power; and likewise in other instances.
Si autem opera prius, iterum utique dubitabit aliquis si obiecta horum prius quaerendum, sicut sensibile sensitivo et intelligibile intellectivo.
But if one is to examine first the activities, it might be asked whether one should not first inquire about their objects, for instance, the sensible thing before the sensitive power, and the intelligible thing before the intellectual power.
Videtur autem non solum quod quid est cognoscere utile esse ad cognoscendum causas accidentium substantiis, sicut in mathematicis quid rectum et quid obliquum et quid linea et planum ad cognoscendum quot rectis trianguli anguli sunt aequales. Sed e converso accidentia conferunt magnam partem ad cognoscendum quod quid est. Cum enim habeamus tradere secundum phantasiam de accidentibus aut omnibus aut pluribus, tunc et de substantia habebimus aliquid dicere optime. Omnis enim demonstrationis principium est quod quid est. Quare secundum quascumque diffinitiones non contingit accidentia cognoscere, sed neque imaginari de ipsis facile, manifestum quod dialecticae dictae sunt et vanae omnes.
Now, it seems that not only does knowing the substance help one to know the causes of the accidents of substances, as in mathematics, knowing what the straight is and what the curved is, and what a line is and what a plane is helps one know how many right angles equal the angles of a triangle. But, conversely, accidental qualities contribute much to knowing what a thing is. For when we can give an account of such accidents (either some or all) according to appearances, then we shall best have something to say about the substance. For the principle of every demonstration is what a thing is. Hence, whatsoever definitions do not afford us a knowledge of accidents, or even a fair conjecture about them, are obviously all said dialectically and are empty.
1. Bonorum et honorabilium, etc. Sicut Philosophus docet in XI De animalibus, in quolibet genere rerum necesse est prius considerare communia, [et seorsum] et postea propria unicuique illius generis (quem quidem modum Aristoteles servat in philosophia prima: in Metaphysicae enim primo tractat et considerat communia entis in quantum ens, postea vero considerat propria unicuique enti), cuius ratio est, quia nisi hoc fieret, idem diceretur frequenter. Rerum autem animatarum omnium quoddam genus est et ideo in consideratione rerum animatarum oportet primo considerare ea quae sunt communia omnibus animatis, postmodum vero illa quae propria sunt cuilibet rei animatae. Commune autem omnibus rebus animatis est anima; in hoc enim omnia animata conveniunt. Ad tradendum igitur scientiam de rebus animatis, necessarium fuit primo tradere scientiam de anima tamquam communem eis. Aristoteles ergo volens tradere scientiam de ipsis rebus animatis, primo tradit scientiam de anima, postmodum vero determinat de propriis singulis animatis in sequentibus libris.
1. Holding as we do that knowledge (402a1). In studying any genus of things, it is first of all necessary, as the Philosopher says in Parts of Animals, to consider separately what is common, and afterwards what is proper to each member of the genus. Such is Aristotle’s method in first philosophy; for at the beginning of the Metaphysics, he investigates and contemplates things common to being as being, and only then does he go on to things proper to each being. The reason for this procedure is that it saves frequent repetition. Now, there is a certain genus of all things that are ensouled; hence, in contemplating them, the first thing one must do is consider what ensouled things have in common, and afterwards what each has peculiar to itself. What they have in common is a soul; in this they are all alike. Therefore, in conveying knowledge about ensouled things, one must first convey it about the soul as that which is common to them all. Thus, when Aristotle sets out to treat of ensouled things, he begins with the soul; after which, in subsequent books, he determines the properties of particular ensouled beings.
2. In tractatu autem de anima quem habemus prae manibus, primo ponit prooemium, in quo facit tria quae necessaria sunt in quolibet prooemio. Qui enim facit prooemium tria intendit: primo enim ut reddat benevolum, secundo ut reddat docilem, tertio ut reddat attentum;
2. In the treatise that we are holding in our hands about the soul, we find, first, an introduction: in this, the author does the three things that should be done in any introduction. For in writing an introduction one has three objects in view: first, to gain the reader’s good will; second, to dispose him to learn; third, to win his attention.
benevolum quidem reddit ostendendo utilitatem scientiae; docilem, promittendo ordinem et distinctionem tractatus; attentum, attestando difficultatem tractatus. Quae quidem tria Aristoteles facit in prooemio huius tractatus:
The first object one achieves by showing the reader the value of the knowledge in question; the second, by explaining the plan and divisions of the treatise; the third, by warning him of its difficulties. And all this Aristotle does here.
primo enim ostendit dignitatem huius scientiae;
First, he points out the high value of the science he is introducing.
secundo vero ordinem huius tractatus, quid sit scilicet et qualiter sit tractandum de anima, ibi: inquirimus autem;
Second, at we seek then (402a7; ), he explains the plan of the treatise.
tertio vero ostendit difficultatem huius scientiae, ibi: omnino autem et penitus difficillimorum etc.
Third, at to ascertain, however, anything reliable (402a10; ), he warns of its difficulty.
Circa primum duo facit:
Under the first point, he explains:
primo enim ostendit dignitatem huius scientiae;
first, the dignity of this science;
secundo utilitatem eius, ibi: videtur autem et ad veritatem etc.
and then, at indeed knowledge (402a4; ), its utility.
3. Circa primum sciendum est quod omnis scientia bona est, et non solum bona, verum etiam honorabilis, nihilominus tamen in hoc una scientia superexcedit aliam. Quod autem omnis scientia sit bona, patet, quia bonum rei est illud secundum quod res habet esse perfectum, hoc enim unaquaeque res quaerit et desiderat; cum igitur scientia sit perfectio hominis in quantum homo, scientia est bonum hominis.
3. As regards, then, the said dignity, we should note that, while all knowledge is good and even honorable, one science can surpass another in this respect. All knowledge is obviously good because the good of anything is that which according to which the thing has perfect being, which all things seek after and desire; therefore, since knowledge is man's perfection as a man, knowledge is man's good.
Inter bona autem quaedam sunt laudabilia, illa scilicet quae sunt in ordine ad finem aliquem, laudamus enim bonum equum quia bene currit, quaedam vero sunt et honorabilia, illa scilicet quae sunt propter se ipsa, honoramus enim fines. In scientiis autem quaedam sunt practicae et quaedam speculativae, et hae differunt quia practicae sunt propter opus, speculativae vero propter se ipsas; et ideo scientiae speculativae et bonae sunt et honorabiles sunt, practicae vero laudabiles tantum. Omnis ergo scientia speculativa bona est et honorabilis,
Now, of good things some are praiseworthy, namely, those which are ordered to some end—as we praise a good horse because it runs well; while other good things are also honorable, namely, those that exist for their own sake; for we give honor to ends, not means. But of the sciences, some are practical, others speculative, the difference being that the former are for the sake of some work to be done, while the latter are for their own sake. The speculative sciences are, therefore, honorable as well as good, but the practical are only praiseworthy. Every speculative science, then, is both good and honorable.
4. sed in ipsis scientiis speculativis invenitur gradus quantum ad bonitatem et honorabilitatem; scientia namque omnis ex actu laudatur, omnis autem actus laudatur ex duobus, ex obiecto et ex qualitate seu modo; sicut aedificare est melius quam facere lectum, quia obiectum aedificationis est melius lecto, in eodem autem respectu eiusdem rei, ipsa qualitas gradum quemdam facit, quia quanto modus aedificii est melior, tanto melius est aedificium. Sic ergo si consideretur scientia seu actus eius ex obiecto, patet quod illa scientia est nobilior quae est meliorum et honorabiliorum; si vero consideretur ex qualitate seu modo, sic illa est nobilior quae est certior. Sic ergo dicitur una scientia [magis] nobilior altera aut quia est meliorum et honorabiliorum, aut quia est magis certa.
4. Yet even among the speculative sciences there are degrees of goodness and honorableness. For every science is praised first of due to its act, and every act is praised based on two things: its object and its manner or quality. Thus, building is a better activity than bed-making because its object is better, whereas when one makes the same thing and in the same respect, the quality itself established the degree, since inasmuch as the manner of the building is better, the building is also better. Considering science, then, or its act from the point of view of the object, that science is nobler which is concerned with better and nobler things; but from the point of view of its quality or manner, the nobler science is that which is more certain. One science, then, is reckoned nobler than another either because it concerns better and nobler objects or because it is more certain.
5. Sed hoc est in quibusdam scientiis diversum, quia aliquae sunt magis certae aliis et tamen sunt de rebus minus honorabilibus, alique vero sunt de rebus magis honorabilibus et melioribus et tamen sunt minus certe. Nihilominus tamen illa est melior quae de rebus melioribus et honorabilioribus est. Cuius ratio est quia, sicut dicit Philosophus in libro XI De animalibus, magis concupiscimus scire modicum de rebus honorabilioribus et altissimis, etiam si topice, id est probabiliter, illud sciamus, quam scire multum et per certitudinem de rebus minus nobilibus. Hoc enim habet nobilitatem ex se et ex sua substantia, illud vero ex modo et qualitate.
5. But there is this difference between sciences: some excel in certainty and yet are concerned with less honorable things, while others are concerned with more honorable and better things and are nevertheless less certain. All the same, that science is the better which is about better and more honorable things. For, as the Philosopher observes in Parts of Animals, we have a greater desire for even a little knowledge of more honorable and exalted things—even for a conjectural, that is, probable sort of knowledge—than for a great and certain knowledge of less noble things. For the former is noble in itself and from its substance, but the latter has it only through its quality or mode.
6. Haec autem scientia, scilicet de anima, utrumque habet, quia et certa est (hoc enim quilibet experitur in se ipso, quod scilicet habeat animam et quod anima vivificet) et quia est nobiliorum (anima enim est nobilior inter inferiores creaturas).
6. Now, this science of the soul has both merits. It has certainty; for everyone experiences within himself both that he has a soul and that the soul gives him life. Also, this science is about nobler things; for among lower creatures, the soul is quite noble.
Et hoc est quod dicit: nos opinantes notitiam, id est scientiam, omnem esse bonorum, id est de numero bonorum, et honorabilium;
This is what Aristotle means here when he says, holding as we do that knowledge (402a1), that is, science, is of good, that is, is in the number of good things, and honorable things.
sed altera scientia est magis bona et honorabilis altera; aut ex eo quod meliorum: illorum scilicet quae sunt in sua natura bona; et mirabiliorum, id est illorum quorum causa ignoratur; propter utraque haec, id est haec duo praedicta; animae historiam:
And one science is better and nobler than another because it is about better things, that is, things that are good in their nature, and more wonderful things, that is, things whose cause is unknown. For both these reasons, he goes on to say, we give a primary place to an inquiry about the soul.
dicit historiam, quia in quadam summa tractat de anima, non perveniendo ad finalem inquisitionem omnium quae pertinent ad ipsam animam in hoc tractatu; in primis: hoc si accipiatur quantum ad totam scientiam naturalem, non dicit ordinem sed dignitatem; si vero ad scientiam de rebus animatis tantum, sic ly in primis dicit ordinem.
He uses the term inquiry because he is going to discuss the soul in a summary way, without attempting, in this treatise, a thorough examination of all things that pertain to the soul itself. As to the words, a primary place, if they are taken as applying to the whole of natural science, then they refer to superiority in dignity and not to priority in order; but if they refer to the science of ensouled things only, they mean priority of order.
7. Consequenter cum dicit: videtur autem etc., reddit auditorem benevolum ex utilitate huius scientiae, dicens quod cognitio de anima videtur multum proficere ad omnem veritatem quae traditur in aliis scientiis. Ad omnes enim partes philosophiae insignes dat occasiones.
7. Then, at indeed knowledge (402a4), he gains the reader’s good will by showing the utility of this science. Knowledge of the soul, he says, would seem to help greatly in acquiring all truth treated in the other sciences. For it can be of considerable service to all parts of philosophy.
Quia si ad philosophiam primam attendamus, non possumus devenire in cognitionem divinorum et altissimarum causarum nisi per ea quae ex virtute intellectus primo acquirimus.
In first philosophy, it is impossible to come to knowledge of the divine and highest causes except through things that we acquire first from the power of understanding.
Si vero attendatur quantum ad moralem, non possumus perfecte ad scientiam moralem pervenire nisi sciamus potentias animae; et inde est quod Philosophus in Ethicis attribuit quaslibet virtutes diversis potentiis animae.
In fact, as regards moral philosophy, we cannot attain perfectly the science of morals unless we know the powers of the soul; this is why, in the Ethics, the Philosopher assigns certain virtues to the different powers of the soul.