I know that Aristotle usually talks about things in the framework of Hylomorphism, meaning everything has form and matter as dual aspects of one being. However, there is one exception.The intellect is understood as an immaterial power that has no organ. How can this be? How can an immaterial intellect be generated from animal powers that are grounded in physical reality? Does Aristotle talk about this?

  • 1
    Why should intellect be generated from "animal powers"? Aristotle's intellect is potentiality, i.e. matter without form, not "immaterial". This is what enables it to perform its function - take on any form, which no physical thing can do, see Cohoe, Why the Intellect Cannot Have a Bodily Organ. It is grounded in his hylomorphic reality, but not all reality is physical for Aristotle.
    – Conifold
    Oct 21, 2022 at 20:56
  • I found an answer from Professor Klima. faculty.fordham.edu/klima/phru1000/…. @Conifold Oct 21, 2022 at 21:14
  • This conflict was resolved by Aristotle famous Commentator, Averroes, by claiming that the human intellect is a separate, non-inherent form to which all humans are joined pretty much like terminals to a mainframe computer, by exchanging information. The separate intellect receives the sensory input from humans, does its intellectual processing and sends back its output to individual humans. Humans, therefore, only differ from brutes by having access to this separate intellect, but they themselves do not do the thinking that is taking place in the separate intellect. Oct 21, 2022 at 21:24
  • 1
    Are you specifically asking what Aristotle thought about this? Or are you asking how the intellect arises?
    – BillOnne
    Oct 22, 2022 at 1:26
  • This answer discusses Aristotle's picture of a common sense giving rise to mental objects, & nous as situating ourselves to these in ways that include the social & intersubjective philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/94261/…
    – CriglCragl
    Oct 25, 2022 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


In Aristotle's philosophy, the intellect (nous) is the highest faculty of the human mind, and it is what enables us to think abstract thoughts and understand concepts that are not tied to physical objects. Unlike other mental faculties, which are associated with the body and its organs, the intellect is an immaterial power that is not connected to the physical world. This means that it cannot be generated from animal powers, which are grounded in the physical world, but must come from some other source.

Aristotle discusses the origin of the intellect in his treatise "On the Soul," where he argues that the intellect is not generated by the body, but is instead a separate substance that is joined with the body. According to Aristotle, the intellect is a divine and eternal substance that exists independently of the body, and it is only through the body that we are able to access its powers. In this sense, the intellect is not generated by the body, but is instead present in every human being from birth.

While Aristotle does not provide a detailed explanation of how the intellect comes to be joined with the body, he does suggest that it is through our sense perceptions that we are able to connect with the intellect and access its powers. By engaging with the world through our senses, we are able to form abstract concepts and ideas that are not tied to any particular physical object, and it is through this process that we are able to use our intellect.

Overall, Aristotle's view of the intellect is unique among the ancient philosophers, and it has had a profound influence on Western philosophy and thought. While his explanation of the intellect's origin may not be fully satisfying, it does provide a framework for understanding the nature of the intellect and its relationship to the body and the physical world.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .