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Aristotle on Various Types of Alteration in De Anima II 5

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In De Anima II 5, 417a21-b16, Aristotle makes a number of distinctions between types of transitions, affections, and alterations. The objective of this paper is to sort out the relationships between these distinctions by means of determining which of the distinguished types of change can be coextensive and which cannot, and which can overlap and which cannot. From the results of this analysis, an interpretation of 417a21-b16 is then constructed that differs from previous interpretations in certain important respects, chief among which is its characterization of transitions from first potentiality to first actuality, e.g., learning, not as ‘ordinary’, but rather as acquisitions of natural dispositions or faculties.

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Affiliations: 1: Philosophy Department, University of California Santa Cruz, Cowell Academic Services 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA95064 USA, Email:


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