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De Anima (On the Soul) (Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Aristotle , Hugh Lawson-Tancred
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For the Pre-Socratic philosophers the soul was the source of movement and sensation, while for Plato it was the seat of being, metaphysically distinct from the body that it was forced temporarily to inhabit. Plato's student Aristotle was determined to test the truth of both these beliefs against the emerging sciences of logic and biology. His examination of the huge variety of living organisms - the enormous range of their behaviour, their powers and their perceptual sophistication - convinced him of the inadequacy both of a materialist reduction and of a Platonic sublimation of the soul. In De Anima, he sought to set out his theory of the soul as the ultimate reality of embodied form and produced both a masterpiece of philosophical insight and a psychology of perennially fascinating subtlety.

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From the Back Cover

Knowledge, however, is an attribute of the soul, and so are perception, opinion, desire, wish, and appetency generally; animal locomotion also is produced by the soul; and likewise growth, maturity, and decay. Shall we then say that each of these belongs to the whole soul, that we think, that is, and perceive and are moved and in each of the other operations act and are acted upon with the whole soul, or that the different operations are to be assigned to different parts? -from Book I The writings of Greek philosopher ARISTOTLE (384BC-322BC)-student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great-are among the most influential on Western thought, and indeed upon Western civilization itself. From theology and logic to politics and even biology, there is no area of human knowledge that has not been touched by his thinking. In De Anima-which means, literally, On the Soul-the philosopher ponders the very nature of life itself. What is the essence of the lifeforce? Can we consider that plants and animals have souls? How does human intellect divide us from other animals? Is the human mind immortal? All these questions, and others that seem unanswerable, are explored in depth in this, one of the most important works ever written on such eternal questions. Students and armchair philosophers will find it a challenging-and rewarding-read.

About the Author

Aristotle was born in 384BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens at the Academy of Plato, on whose death in 347 he left, and some time later became tutor to Alexander the Great. On Alexander's succession to the throne of Macedonia in 336, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his school and research institute, the Lyceum. After Alexander's death he was driven out of Athens and feld to Chalcis in Euboea where he died in 322. His writings profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy.

HUGH LAWSON-TANCRED was born in 1955 and educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. He is a Departmental Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Birkbeck College in the University of London. He has published extensively on Aristotle and Plato and is currently engaged in research in computational linguistics. He translates widely from the Slavonic and Scandinavian languages. His translations of Aristotle's The Art of Rhetoric and De Anima are also published in Penguin Classics. He is married with a daughter and two sons and lives in North London and Somerset.

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More About the Author

Aristotle was born at Stageira, in the dominion of the kings of Macedonia, in 384 BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens in the Academy of Plato, on whose death in 347 he left, and, some time later, became tutor of the young Alexander the Great. When Alexander succeeded to the throne of Macedonia in 335, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his school and research institute, the Lyceum, to which his great erudition attracted a large number of scholars.

After Alexander's death in 323, anti-Macedonian feeling drove Aristotle out of Athens, and he fled to Chalcis in Euboea, where he died in 322. His writings, which were of extraordinary range, profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy, and they are still eagerly studied and debated by philosophers today. Very many of them have survived and among the most famous are the Ethics and the Politics.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice translation 11 Mar. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Philosopher's work "De Anima" is never easy reading but this translation with its introduction, glossary and general notes makes a difficult task easier. I found the English to be readable and each chapter with its own mini introduction helped me greatly. I had to buy this text for anthorpology but if you need or want to read "De Anima" I would recommend this edition.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but.... 12 Jan. 2015
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This seems to be a good translation - but the author is rather obsessed with giving the world his own opinions, the introduction and notes in this work are vastly longer than the sections of the work that are actually by Aristotle.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aristotle a spitfire? 27 July 2013
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I just read customers reviews on this book and they seduced me to believe that the hesitation that Aristotle had about the learnings of his former teachers (i.e. Plato) was driven by a preconception wich he would perhaps evenly by force make true. I think this is not true. Aristotle was 20 years the companion of Plato. In modern concepts (i.e. an academic study) this seems a lifetime. I think it is. Aristotle became Plato and then he disagreed. He found himself and all his work were the results of this. Plato himself described the alienation of Aristotle as the kicks that a young ass gives to his mother when it becomes mature. And he didn't bother about it. That Aristotle was absolutly different from Plato reveals the end of his live. He then came to the conclusion that looking at the work he had done, it only made him cold and lonesome. But he did not return to the works of Plato wich perhaps are better. No, he did not return to Plate but he turned to the myths. And he acknowledge that in his live his wondering allover had brought him a better understanding of the myths. And he was happy with them. One critic of him suggest that Aristotle has been throughout his whole live a religious man. This is very daring and the last word is not been said.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic 3 Sept. 2009
well, is it all Greek to you?
Aristotle's De Anima will make you want to learn more about everything... A classic philosopher whose illuminative thought is extremely fresh!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aristotle's Psychology in a Broader Context 9 Aug. 2003
By Joseph C. Hager, Ph.D. - Published on
Aristotle's short but profoundly influential work, De Anima, is set within a
rich supporting text authored by Hugh Lawson-Tancred, the Penquin edition's
translator and editor, that absorbs almost three-fourths of this volume.
Besides his lengthy introduction, the editor provides a useful glossary
of translations, summaries before each chapter, copious endnotes, and a
short bibliography, but no index.
Unlike more widely read, fully formed, straightforward books by Aristotle,
such as Politics and Ethics, De Anima asserts cryptic ideas and advances
viewpoints that seem quite strange today. The editor's Introduction addresses
such potential impediments for the Aristotelean neophyte and amplifies
problematic issues of interest to philosophers of any acquaintance. Aristotle's
subject is a general "principle of life" intrinsic to all plants and animals,
not any contemporary notion about the soul (psyche) suggested by its English
title, On The Soul. Aristotle's soul includes his psychology and topics such
as sensation and thought. Lawson-Tancred argues that Aristotle is indifferent
to the issue preoccupying epistomologists and psychologists during recent
centuries, Descartes's division of subjectivity into the body and mind. He claims
that Aristotle is concerned with general features of life, not with purely human
issues like consciousness. In discounting consciousness, Aristotle concurs with
anti-Cartesian positivists, but Lawson-Tancred argues that when Aristotle
says the soul is substance, he really means it, contradicting physicalist
contentions that it is an epiphenomenon or a list of special attributes.
Aristotle's soul is substance, but Aristotle rejects reducing the soul's
properties to the body's material.
Teleology is explanation implicating final causes, e.g., things fulfill
purposes for which they were created. Scientists reject creation and
ultimate purpose, and censure Aristotle for his teleological explanations.
Regarding the soul, however, Aristotle suggests that to understand biological
phenomena, the arrangement of material and its relationship to functions it
performs is key. Recent rethinking about Aristotle's functionalism has
reinvigorated his status in modern biology. Theologians generally view Aristotle's
work favorably, especially his emphasis on built-in purpose and final causes.
Lawson-Tancred recounts Aristotle's powerful influence on intellectual history
from his immediate successors, to assimilation in the neo-Platonic West, through
incorporation by Islamic and Christian theologians, connections that made
De Anima so important for over 2000 years.
Lawson-Tancred also discusses Aristotle's personal history and intellectual
development; his mentor, Plato, and their mutual influence; ideas of
other philosophers that Aristotle encountered, and De Anima in context
of his other works. He concludes by criticizing the interpretations of
Aristotle by the philosophers Brentano and Wilkes. Lawson-Tancred helps
the reader to understand many ideas, but two essential concepts Aristotle
developed elsewhere are prerequisite to understanding De Anima:
entelechy (entelecheia) and substance (ousia). Substance or essence is the
fundamental reality of existence. Form, Matter, and their composite
are types of substances. Matter is the inanimate, elemental substrate of
which things are composed, e.g., earth made into a statue. Form is the
structure and function outlined by a formula (logos), e.g., a statue artfully
shaped to resemble a woman. Things exist either in actuality (putting
to use) or potentiality (unexploited capacity). Form is actuality;
Matter is potentiality. Aristotle's theory is that Form combines with
Matter following the the Form's plan to actualize potential. Entelechy
is the possession of this intrinsic goal that is realized when Form and
Matter combine. Thus, Aristotle's teleological approach is called "Entelechism."
Aristotle uses entelechy repeatedly to describe the soul, as the following
summary of De Anima shows.
In Book I, Aristotle describes his subject: the soul, "the first
principle of living things," and considers its relation to intellect,
emotion, etc. He comments on other philosophers's works: whether
the soul is material, and what kind; its characteristic features
(it moves, senses, and lacks body); how it produces bodily movement;
etc. He criticizes theories that the soul is quantity or harmony or
participates in the whole universe. He concludes that the soul lacks
motion and is not material nor made of elements. Instead, the soul
comprises several faculties: e.g., cognition, appetite.
Book II begins with an important formulation: the soul is the "form of
the living body which potentially has life" (the organism's first actuality).
Having a soul distinguishes living from inanimate objects. The soul's
nutritive faculty is essential for all organisms, but animals have the
faculty of sensation, separating them from plants. Thus begins a hierarchy
of faculties from nutrition to intellect. In sensation, the sense organ
and sense-object, like the soul and body, participate in the Form/Matter
relationship. The sense organ receives the object's Form, not its matter,
in Aristotle's words, "as the wax takes the sign from the ring without the
iron and gold." He discusses each of the five senses, and makes a famous
distinction among perceptual elements (special, common, incidental).
Aristotle concludes discussing sensation in Book III by proposing functions
of the perceptive faculty that integrate individual senses. Imagination,
a faculty producing imagery, mediates between sensation and intellect.
Aristotle's remarks about intellect are among his most renowned, fecund,
and difficult. He describes the intellectual faculty, which includes thinking
and supposition, with the same physiological approach of his sensory theory.
The organ of thought receives the Form of the thought-object to realize thinking.
He calls the intellect a repository of Forms and distinguishes the active from
the passive intellect, providing inspiration for Thomas Aquinas's psychology.
Aristotle concludes with a discussion of motivation, i.e., what puts the
organism into action.
No other work contains a psychological theory like that presented in De Anima,
excepting Aquinas's derivative. Its resemblance to attribute (behaviorist)
theories of the mind cannot obscure Aristotle's radically different foundation.
His Form-Matter and Actuality-Potentiality concepts are not explanatory, only
a framework for inquiry. Its relevance, as Lawson-Tancred notes, to modern
psychology depends upon identifying an empirical approach to Aristotle's Form.
Aristotle's proposal that life has, or is, a principle provides an alternative
point of departure for scientists who find contemporary materialist dogma lacking
direction. De Anima, one of the most important books ever written, and long
neglected by scientific psychology, still puts life in an eternal debate.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 25 Sept. 2014
By The Morgans - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Needed it for school, came fast.
13 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars De Anima/On the Soul 29 July 2000
By "catholicandproud" - Published on
This book is something that everyone who is interested in truth and beauty should read. Every other philisophical writing is a mere foot note to this book and this particular edition is so accurate that it doesn't leave you wondering why.
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