Analiza i Egzystencja (Jan 2017)

Rational vs. Mystical Readings of Aristotle’s Nous Poietikos Introduction to the Subject and Overview of Central Positions

  • Sonia Kamińska

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 39


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In my paper, I will give an overview of the readings of nous poietikos, the active intellect from De Anima. Sadly, Aristotle describes it in a cryptic way, which resulted in many different theories. I will order them by introducing a division into “mystical” and “rational”. The mystical ones are rooted in a view that nous poietikos does not belong to particular human beings, but is identical with Deity or a divine sphere. According to the rational readings it is our cognitive tool and through its activity we can learn about the Deity and emulate it. The mystics are: Eudemus, Avicenna, Averroes, from the newer philosophers E. Zeller and from the contemporary ones – V. Caston. The rationalists are: Theophrastus, Thomas Aquinas, the XIXth century Aristotelian revival and from the contemporary thinkers – A. Kosman.