Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Taylor, Richard C.

Second Advisor

Goldin, Owen

Third Advisor

Johnson, Mark


Contemporary scholarship has generally focused on two major influences that have shaped Thomas Aquinas’ account of the soul. The first set of scholarship focuses on how doctrinal concerns and the Augustinian and Scholastic traditions defined the central issue that Aquinas faced, viz., explaining how the soul can be treated as an individual substance that has an essential relationship to a body. The second set of scholarship focuses on Aquinas’s employment of Aristotle’s works in his attempt to resolve the issue. Contemporary assessments of Aquinas’s theory of the soul-body relation therefore take Aquinas to be offering a solution that follows directly from Aristotle’s hylomorphism and Aristotle’s remarks about human psychology. However, this provides an incomplete picture of Aquinas’s ontology of soul and its relationship with the body. Aristotle’s remarks about form, the form-matter relationship, the role of intellection in human psychology, and the status of the soul as form in light of its intellectual activity require significant interpretation on the part of the reader. Aquinas often turns to the works of Avicenna and Averroes for guidance in how to read Aristotle. Moreover, Avicenna’s own understanding of Aristotle’s view of the soul is heavily influenced by important conceptual changes to the notion of form in the Neoplatonic commentaries on Aristotle. Aquinas selectively follows interpretations or adopts principles found in the works of Avicenna and Averroes when presenting his own account of the soul. This is important, because these principles differ in important ways from Aristotle’s own views or from alternative interpretations of Aristotle’s remarks. Consideration of Aquinas’s Arabic/Islamic and Neoplatonic sources is therefore indispensable for a complete account of Aquinas’s conception of the soul as both a subsistent substance and substantial form.

Included in

Philosophy Commons