Faculties of the soul

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The faculties of the soul are the individual characteristics of a soul. There have been different attempts to define them over the centuries.

Plato, Aristotle and their followers[edit]

Plato defined the faculties of the soul in terms of a three-fold division: the intellect (noûs), the nobler affections (thumós), and the appetites or passions (epithumetikón)[1] Aristotle also made a three-fold division of natural faculties, into vegetative, appetitive and rational elements,[2] though he later distinguished further divisions in the rational faculty, such as the faculty of judgement and that of cleverness (deinotes).[3]

Islamic philosophers continued his three-fold division;[4] but later Scholastic philosophers defined five groups of faculties:[5]

  • dunámeis - the "vegetative" faculty (threptikón), concerned with the maintenance and development of organic life
  • the appetite (oretikón), or the tendency to any good
  • the faculty of sense perception (aisthetikón)
  • the "locomotive" faculty (kinetikón), which presides over the various bodily movements
  • reason (dianoetikón)


John Calvin opposed the scholastic philosophers, favoring a two-fold division of the soul, consisting of intellect and of will.[6]

Faculty psychology[edit]

The secularisation of the Age of Enlightenment produced a faculty psychology of different but inherent mental powers such as intelligence or memory, distinct (as in Aristotelianism) from the acquired habits.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Faculties of the Soul". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  2. ^ Aristotle, Ethics (1976) p. 88-90
  3. ^ Aristotle, p. 218-222
  4. ^ S. S. Hawi, Islamic Naturalism and Mysticism (1974) p. 151
  5. ^ Faculties of the Soul
  6. ^ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (2008) p. 104
  7. ^ R. Gregory, The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 253-4

External links[edit]