Aristotle Returns: A Second Medieval Synthesis
A second medieval synthesis arose through Muslim transmission of Aristotelian texts. This Aristotelian synthesis maintained subsistent souls but weakened the role of participation in cosmic life. Theologians reinterpreted Aristotle’s four causes, changing souls from dynamic processes into immaterial agents with biological faculties, the ability to cause life activities. Major players included the Islamic philosophers al-Kindî, al-Fârâbî, Ibn Sînâ, and Ibn Rushd and the Jewish theologian Maimonides. They questioned the life and ensoulment of plants as well as the persistence of human individuality after death. Nonetheless the language of vegetable souls and resurrection remained common. Animal souls continued to be taken for granted, including aspects of both will and reason.
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