Classical and Contemporary Hylomorphism and Human Soul

Keywords: human soul; analytic hylomorphism; classical hylomorphism; ; intellectual powers of human soul; William Jaworski


Hylomorphism and related to it classical concept of the human soul—understood as a substantial form of the human being—are traditionally supported and commented on by the followers of the Aristotelian-Thomistic thought, both in its classical and contemporary (analytic) approach. At the same time, hylomorphism has recently found a new group of followers, coming from the circles of analytic metaphysics, unrelated to the classical school of thought. This article strives to answer the question of the relation of the new, analytic versions of hylomorphism to its classical definition. Moreover, it also analyzes their application in the debate concerning the mind-body problem in philosophy of mind, as well as the question of their reference to the concept of the human soul. It seems that the mereological and structural reinterpretation of the material and the formal causes (the latter is also understood as a part of a whole, an incomplete entity or substance, a power uniting other relevant powers, or a principle of re-identification of the elements of a substance) departs considerably from the classical definition of hylomorphism. Moreover, the suggestion of William Jaworski – who argues in favor of the new hylomorphism in the mind-body debate – to define mental phenomena as “structured manifestations of powers” belonging to the parts of human body, not only raises some serious metaphysical concerns, but also seems to leave no “space” for the classical concept of human soul. These difficulties notwithstanding, one should appreciate an attempt of the proponents of the new analytic hylomorphism at finding an alternative to the extreme positions of substance or property dualism and eliminative or reductionist materialism in the contemporary discussion concerning the mind-body problem.


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