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Aristotle’s De Anima

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Aristotle’s De Anima
Phil 5354

Instructor: Dr. David Squires
Office and Hours: by appointment

Course Description

This course will consist of a close reading of Aristotle’s De Anima.  Our reading will be augmented by one medieval commentary (Aquinas) and one contemporary commentary (Shields).  The latter commentary is a particularly recent addition to the commentary tradition by a world-class scholar of Greek philosophy, while the former inspired Pico de Mirandola to remark that “without Thomas, Aristotle would be mute.”

Greek Reading Group

Attached to this course will be an optional Greek reading group in which, once a week, we will read a Greek text of the De Anima slowly.

Required Texts

Aristotle: De Anima, Translated with an Introduction and Commentary by Christopher Shields.  Clarendon Press: Oxford, 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-19-924344-0 (hbk.)
ISBN: 978-0019-924345-7 (pbk.)

Some translation of St. Thomas’s Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima

Recommended Texts

The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, Volume One.  Edited by Jonathan Barnes, Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1995.
ISBN13: 978-0-691-01650-4

Thomas Aquinas: A Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima, Trans., Robert Pasnau.  Yale University Press: New Haven & London, 1999.
ISBN13: 978-0-300-07420-4

* For non-Greek readers of Aristotle’s De Anima, I recommend frequently comparing/contrasting Shields’s translation with some other translation.  The Smith translation in Barnes’s Complete Works is suitable.

* For readers of St. Thomas’s Commentary, I strongly recommend either reading the Latin or adopting Pasnau’s translation over Foster’s and Humphries’s translation.  Foster’s and Humphries’s, however, is free online.


Term Paper (50%): Each student must submit a 15-20 pp argumentative term paper for this course by xx/xx/xx.  An abstract of your paper must be submitted by xx/xx/xx.  Shields’s commentary and bibliography is an excellent place to start tracking down appropriate secondary literature. 

Participation (50%): This class will be run as a directed discussion of the De Anima and of the two chosen commentaries.  Students are expected to attend and participate in each class meeting by generating questions about and analysis of both the De Anima and our two commentaries.  Additionally, each student must post 2-5 substantive questions and/or talking points to the discussion board on Blackboard before 8:00pm the day before each class.  The board will not be used for discussion, but only as a place to share your questions/talking points with the instructor and other students in the class before the next day’s discussion.  Your questions/talking points may pertain to the De Anima itself or to either of our two commentaries.  The instructor may call upon students to further elucidate their posts in class in order to facilitate discussion.

Academic Policies:

Disabilities: If you have a disability that may require special assistance, please contact Counseling Services/Disability Services, which is located on the second floor of Crooker Center.  You may also call Debby Jones or Rose Signorello at (713) 525-6983 or (713) 525-3162.

Academic Integrity: Students are expected to comply with the University of St. Thomas’s Academic Integrity policy (A.02.11).  The penalty for academic dishonesty of any kind is a failing grade for the course.  

Classroom Etiquette: Laptops and Mobile devices other than the one on which a student is using Zoom should not be used during class.  Students must find an appropriate place to attend class away from distractions and should not be on the move during class.  Please avoid eating or other distracting activities during class.

Recording Policy: Do not produce recordings of any kind (e.g. video, audio, etc.) of classroom lectures or discussions, unless you have written permission from the university and permission from me.


Week 1:
Class 1 (1/11) Intro.  Read the General Introduction in Shields’s commentary.
Class 2 (1/13) Aristotle’s Physics Book 1.7-9, Book 2

Week 2:
Class 3 (1/18) Aristotle’s De Anima 1.1, Commentaries on 1.1
Class 4 (1/20) Aristotle’s De Anima 1.2, Commentaries on 1.2

Week 3:
Class 5 (1/25) Aristotle’s De Anima 1.3, Commentaries on 1.3
Class 6 (1/27) Aristotle’s De Anima 1.4, Commentaries on 1.4

Week 4:
Class 7 (2/1) Aristotle’s De Anima 1.5, Commentaries on 1.5
Class 8 (2/3) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.1, Commentaries on 2.1

Week 5:
Class 9 (2/8) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.2, Commentaries on 2.2
Class 10 (2/10) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.3, Commentaries on 2.3

Week 6:
Class 11 (2/15) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.4, Commentaries on 2.4
Class 12 (2/17) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.4, Commentaries on 2.4

Week 7:
Class 13 (2/22) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.5, Commentaries on 2.5
Class 14 (2/24) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.6, Commentaries on 2.6

Week 8:
Class 15 (3/1) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.7, Commentaries on 2.7
Class 16 (3/3) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.12, Commentaries on 2.12
Read De Anima 2.8-11 over Spring Break (commentaries optional).

Week 9:
Class 17 (3/15) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.1, Commentaries on 3.1
Class 18 (3/17) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.2, Commentaries on 3.2

Week 10:
Class 19 (3/22) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.3, Commentaries on 3.3
Class 20 (3/24) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.4, Commentaries on 3.4

Week 11:
Class 21 (3/29) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.5, Commentaries on 3.5
Class 22 (3/31) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.6, Commentaries on 3.6

Week 12:
Class 23 (4/5) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.7, Commentaries on 3.7
Class 24 (4/7) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.8, Commentaries on 3.8

Week 13:
Class 25 (4/12) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.9, Commentaries on 3.9
Class 26 (4/14) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.10, Commentaries on 3.10

Week 14:
Class 27 (4/19) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.11, Commentaries on 3.11
Class 28 (4/21) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.12, Commentaries on 3.12

Week 15:
Class 29 (4/26) Aristotle’s De Anima 3.13, Commentaries on 3.13
Class 30 (4/28) Review