The term “vegetable soul” troubles the ear. The two words have such different contexts that joining them strikes us as either funny or nonsensical. The Aristotelian idea of souls as the efficient, formal, and final cause of life dominated discussions of plant life for roughly two thousand years. And yet the idea has disappeared from our vocabulary. Many authors have tackled the history of souls, emphasizing mind and self-hood, but the time is ripe for a history focusing on nutrition, reproduction, and vegetable life. Such a history provides both perspective and potential ways forward as we rediscover commonalities between human and non-human life.
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