Aping Logic? Albert the Great on Animal Mind and Action

  • Jörg Alejandro TellkampEmail author
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 16)


Albert the Great’s cognitive psychology extends beyond the specific interest of analysing human cognition. This article argues that some animal species, especially primates, have the ability to grasp the material world in a meaningful, i.e., intentional way and display complex types of behaviour that makes it plausible to assume that they have inferential capacities. The physiological similarities between many animal species and human beings allow to establish that those similarities also hold on the cognitive level of sensory knowledge. Thus, if human beings are able to perform certain inferential tasks based solely on sensory information, so can those animals on account of their physiological similarities, namely because they have sense organs and a structured brain that houses the inner senses which are needed to perform those activities. This leads to the idea that, if some animal species engaged in mental activities similar to human mental activities, then they could be said to perform complex tasks, such as basic forms of thinking. But since animals do not have a conceptual apparatus at their disposal, their acts of thinking, or rather proto-thinking, would have to be non-conceptual. Hence, for Albert the Great intelligence in nature manifests itself in various degrees and it does not entail a Cartesian dualistic hiatus between mind and matter.


Animal Species Mentalmental Content Animal Life Intentional Content Minor Premise 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Autónoma MetropolitanaMexico CityMexico

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