Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias on Active Intellectual Cognition

  • Frans A. J. de HaasEmail author
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 23)


Since Antiquity, “active cognition” has been a problematic notion in Aristotelian scholarship. Part of the problem is the definition of what counts as “active”. In the first part of this paper I shall offer a short survey on various contenders for “active” perceptual cognition defended in recent interpretations of Aristotle, by way of introduction to the more complicated problems of “active” intellectual cognition. In the second part of the paper I will offer—in outline—my interpretation of Aristotle’s theory of intellectual cognition, which takes the most recent findings in the area of perceptual cognition as a starting point. Here I pursue the analogy that Aristotle sets up between perception and intellection throughout the De anima. In the third part of the paper I shall examine a number of influential accounts of active intellectual cognition found in the corpus of Alexander of Aphrodisias, in particular Mantissa 2–5 (also known as De intellectu). These accounts each develop the analogies offered in Aristotle’s De anima III.5 in their own way.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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