domingo 17 de outubro de 2021
I should finish with the other harmonisation that was crucial for Christian acceptance of Aristotle – the issue of individual immortality. This time, even Plato ’s views caused some problem. Although he makes Socrates assure his friends in the Phaedo on the day of his execution that he personally will survive, there is room for worry that the rational soul, which is what Plato regards as the true self, is rather impersonal. On one interpretation, Plato ’s First Alcibiades even recognises this at 130D. The worry comes to a head when Plotinus discusses those disembodied human souls which have attained the ideal state of identifying themselves with Intellect, and whose thoughts have the same content – the Platonic Forms. What is there left to distinguish these souls from each other? Plotinus ’ analogy is with a theorem in a mathematical system. Each theorem is distinct, but cannot be understood as a theorem, except in terms of the whole system.
But if this preserves some individuality, why should Aristotle agree? He insists from the opening chapter of On the Soul that no mental activities, with the possible exception of thinking, can occur apart from a body The soul turns out to exist only as enforming a living body, so that, presumably, we perish when we die. The special case of thinking is discussed in Book 3, ch. 5. Here room is made for a productive intellect to be resident in us. But is this intellect part of us, or, as Alexander was to say, is it rather God resident in us, which offers no immortality to us? Themistius disagreed with Alexander, and made it part of the human soul. But even that leaves a question: is it a soul shared by the human race, as the followers of Averroes were later to say, or is it individual? In his controversy with the Averroists, Thomas Aquinas claimed support from Themistius , who allowed for individual intellects. What Averroes did was to apply to all of our intellect what Philoponus and ‘Philoponus ’ conceded about part of our  intellect, that its immortality is merely an unending succession of mortal intellects. In this example, Plato as well as Aristotle have to be subjected to careful reinterpretation, to get the desired result. [SorabjiPC3 :18-19]