Aristotle About Spirits

This article covers the view of Aristotle about spirits.

Aristotle is the most renowned figure of ancient philosophy after Plato and Socrates. He continued and still continues, to be connected to the Peripatetic School, which he founded based on deductive and inductive thought. Unlike his master Plato, he followed the way of deducing conclusions from premises and analogy. With this rationalism, he both secured a long life for his philosophy and struck great blows at mechanistic and helical thoughts. According to Aristotle, life depends on the spirit. If life is a movement, it is the spirit that sets it in motion. The spirit is neither of the same essence and nature as the body nor completely separate from it. The body is something akin to an instrument of the spirit, and life develops based on the spirit.

Like his teacher Plato, Aristotle places the spirit in different categories. However, according to him, the spirit is created with the body and returns to its origin after the death of the body. It experiences a process of perfection during the life of the body, and on reaching perfection, it gains resemblance to the Divine Being, continuing to live in pleasures that are particular to itself.



With such thoughts, Aristotle gave both Muslim scholars and Christian thinkers much to occupy themselves with over long centuries. But today he is no more than a subject of philosophical study.

After Aristotle, neither Epicurus (341–270 BCE) nor Zeno of Citium (333–264 BCE) were able to offer considerable thoughts about the spirit. Following Democritus’ way of thought, Epicurus confined himself within the narrow frame of sensations, while Zeno, who founded the School of Stoic Pantheism, spent his life approaching everything through the window of some sort of skepticism and repeating the thoughts of his predecessors. He asserted that it was the duty of researchers and people of knowledge to study things and events, and they should keep themselves within this frame, not imagining that they can arrive at the absolute truth by merely reading. Thus, he blocked the way of research to some extent.

By M. Fethullah Gulen

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