Aristotle’s On the Soul and On Memory and Recollection

Translated by Joe Sachs

6" x 9", 224 pages, introductory essay by Joe Sachs, glossary, bibliography, index.
Publication date, September 2001.
For pricing and ordering information, see the ordering section below.

Euclid's Elements cover On the Soul is also known by its Latin title De Anima or its Greek title Peri Psuchês.

What does it mean to be a natural living thing? Are plants and animals alive simply because of an arrangement of material parts, or does life spring from something else? In this timeless and profound inquiry, Aristotle presents a view of the psyche that avoids the simplifications both of the materialists and those who believe in the soul as something quite distinct from body. On the Soul also includes Aristotle's idiosyncratic and influential account of light and colors. On Memory and Recollection continues the investigation of some of the topics introduced in On the Soul.

Sachs's fresh and jargon-free approach to the translation of Aristotle, his lively and insightful introduction, and his notes and glossaries, all bring out the continuing relevance of Aristotle's thought to biological and philosophical questions.


  • A worthy successor to Sachs's brilliant Metaphysics translation
  • includes Aristotle's account of vision, light and colors
  • "Sachs's Introduction is the best thing you will ever read about Aristotle."
  • Glossary of Greek terms and their English counterparts

From Joe Sachs's Introduction to On the Soul

The inner life of the animal presents itself to us in its outer activity, and teaches us that we too dwell innately in our bodies. When the bird flies away, and doesn't bump into the branches and other obstacles it glides around, we recognize two things: that the bird itself originated its motion, and that it guides its course by means of perceiving the things around it. Living motion reflects an inner source, just as living perception requires an inner awareness. ... The two unities in the experience of the living body are one and the same, one soul. ...

The structure of this world, not some other that we may imagine or invent, but this one that we experience, must accommodate the structure of the natural and that means, pre-eminently, the living. ...

What is that structure? Aristotle traces it down many roads. In the Platonic dialogues, Socrates is always asking the question ti esti?, what is it?, about any single look that makes many perceptible things all be the same one thing. It is possible to treat this as a logical question, having to do with classifying the world, attaching universal names to particular things. But we can sort the world into any classes we please. Aristotle is interested in the way the world sorts itself out, and this is visible in anything that keeps on being the same while constantly undergoing change. And what if that enduring sameness is of a kind that could not even be present except in the course of change? In that case, the thing does not hold out passively against change, but absorbs change into itself, molds it into a new kind of identity, a second level of sameness, a higher order of being. For such a being, to be at all depends on its keeping on being what it is. Aristotle sums up this way of being in his phrase to ti ên einai... .


Aristotle's On the Soul is among the most important books on the premodern account of soul. ... But On the Soul is as difficult as it is important and, for the English-language reader, help is needed. Few translators can match Joe Sachs's commitment to letting Aristotle speak for himself and to making clear what Aristotle has said. Sachs's introduction and notes are special. Based on my classroom use of this book, Sachs's work is indispensable for the teaching of Aristotle's On the Soul.

— Richard F. Hassing
School of Philosophy, Catholic University
From a Classroom User of the Prepublication Edition of On the Soul

Ordering Information for Aristotle's On the Soul and On Memory and Recollection translated by Joe Sachs

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Clothbound with Dust Jacket, ISBN 978-1-888009-16-3, list price: $32.00.

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