Aristotle on the Common Sense

Paperback | December 13, 2011

byPavel Gregoric

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Apart from using our eyes to see and our ears to hear, we regularly and effortlessly perform a number of complex perceptual operations that cannot be explained in terms of the five senses taken individually. Such operations include, for example, perceiving that the same object is white andsweet, noticing the difference between white and sweet, or knowing that one's senses are active. Observing that lower animals must be able to perform such operations, and being unprepared to ascribe any share in rationality to them, Aristotle explained such operations with reference to ahigher-order perceptual capacity which unites and monitors the five senses. This capacity is known as the 'common sense' or sensus communis. Unfortunately, Aristotle provides only scattered and opaque references to this capacity. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the exact nature andfunctions of this capacity have been a matter of perennial controversy. Pavel Gregoric offers and extensive and compelling treatment of the Aristotelian conception of the common sense, which has become part and parcel of Western psychological theories from antiquity through to the Middle Ages, and well into the early modern period. Aristotle on the Common Sense beginswith an introduction to Aristotle's theory of perception and sets up a conceptual framework for the interpretation of textual evidence. In addition to analysing those passages which make explicit mention of the common sense, and drawing out the implications for Aristotle's terminology, Gregoricprovides a detailed examination of each function of this Aristotelian faculty.

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Apart from using our eyes to see and our ears to hear, we regularly and effortlessly perform a number of complex perceptual operations that cannot be explained in terms of the five senses taken individually. Such operations include, for example, perceiving that the same object is white andsweet, noticing the difference between white an...

Paul Gregoric is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:266 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:December 13, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199640092

ISBN - 13:9780199640096

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAbbreviationsIntroductionPart I: The Framework1. Aristotle's project and method2. The perceptual capacity of the soul3. The sensory apparatus4. The common sense and the related capacitiesPart II: The Terminology1. Overlooked occurrences of the phrase 'common sense'2. De Anima III.1 425a273. De Partibus Animalium IV.10 686a314. De Memoria et Reminiscentia 1 450a105. De Anima III.7 431b56. Conclusions on the terminologyPart III: Functions of the common sense1. Simultaneous perception and cross-modal binding2. Perceptual discrimination3. Waking, sleep, and control of the senses4. Perceiving that we see and hear, and monitoring of the senses5. Other roles of the common senseConclusionAppendixBibliographyGeneral IndexIndex of Passages

Editorial Reviews

`Gregoric is no doubt right that this power deserves extended study, and his Part III accounts of its various functions are genuinely illuminating.' Jennifer Whiting, Classical Review