Active Cognition

Challenges to an Aristotelian Tradition

  • Véronique Decaix
  • Ana María Mora-Márquez

Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 23)

About this book


This edited work draws on a range of contributed expertise to trace the fortune of an Aristotelian thesis over different periods in the history of philosophy. It presents eight cases of direct or indirect challenges to the Aristotelian passive account of human cognition, taking the reader from late antiquity to the 20th century. Chapters analyse the (often indirect) effect of Aristotle’s account of cognition on later periods. In his influential De anima, Aristotle describes human cognition, both sensitive and intellectual, as the reception of a form in the cognitive subject.


Aristotle’s account has been commonly interpreted as fundamentally passive – the cognitive subject is a passive actor upon which a cognitive process is acted by the object. However, at least from the time of Alexander of Aphrodisias onwards, this interpretation has been challenged by authors who posit a fundamental active aspect of cognition. Readers will discover how one or more of three concerns – ontological superiority, direct realism and moral responsibility – drive the active accounts of cognition. Contributed chapters from top scholars examine how these three concerns lead thinkers to take issue with the idea that cognition is a passive process. The authors consider Jesuit accounts of cognition, Malebranche on judgment, and Wittgenstein on perception, as well as Stumpf on active cognition, among other relevant works.


This book is ideally suited to scholars of philosophy, especially those with an interest in medieval epistemology, the influence of Aristotle, philosophy of mind and theories of cognition.


Active Cognition Alexander of Aphrodisias on Intellection Aristotle on Intellection Jesuit Epistemology Malebranche on Judgment Medieval Epistemology Medieval Psychology Medieval Theories of Cognition Stumpf on Active Cognition Wittgenstein on Perception Robert Kilwardby’s Theory of Perception Agustinianism-Averroisant Cognition as Intellectual Constitution - Dietrich of Freiberg

Editors and affiliations

  • Véronique Decaix
    • 1
  • Ana María Mora-Márquez
    • 2
  1. 1.Université Paris 1, Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance
  2. 2.Gothenburg University (FLoV)GothenburgSweden

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-35303-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-35304-9
  • Series Print ISSN 1573-5834
  • Series Online ISSN 2542-9922
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