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Papers

Forthcoming and in Print

Why De Anima Needs III.12–13
Forthcoming. | Contact me for a copy.

Review of Thomas Johansen, The Powers of Aristotle’s Soul
2016. Philosophical Review 125 (1): 135138. | Preprint

In Progress

Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Discriminative Mean
I develop an analogy between the senses and the character virtues to show that perceptual discrimination, in its most basic form, is a state in which the subject is presented with the essential, mind-independent nature of a sensible quality.

Aristotle on Soul as a “Complex Activity”
In the biological works Aristotle articulates a conception of the soul as a “certain complex activity” that grounds explanations of all of an organism’s natural attributes. I argue that this conception of soul is also present in the De Anima, where Aristotle uses it to defend the unity of the various species of soul in the face of the observation that “life is said in many ways”.

Hearing Speech Incidentally
Current views over the semantic content of auditory perception range between the liberal (we literally hear the meaning of an utterance made in a language we understand) and the conservative (hearing an utterance in a language we understand is only a matter of hearing semantically relevant features, such as phonemes, in addition to low-level properties like pitch and timbre). I argue for a moderate view on the basis of an Aristotelian distinction between per se and incidental perceptual contents, and I suggest that this broadly speaking Aristotelian theory of perceptual content warrants serious consideration in its own right.

Aristotle on Why Animals Have Phantasia
I propose a new way of coming to grips with Aristotle’s exegetically slippery notion of phantasia (imagination), taking as my starting point Aristotle’s ambivalence in De Anima on whether to attribute the faculty of phantasia to all or to some animals. I argue that Aristotle ambivalence reflects a dual role for that faculty in his psychology. Phantasia plausibly belongs to all animals because it is responsible for providing the phenomenal, qualitative aspects of cognitive episodes; but it plausibly belongs only to cognitively advanced animals insofar as it enables representation of what are for them vitally important, but not directly perceptible, features of the perceptual environment.