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Divination and Human NatureA Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity$
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Peter T. Struck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691169392

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691169392.001.0001

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Aristotle on Foresight through Dreams

Aristotle on Foresight through Dreams

(p.91) Chapter 2 Aristotle on Foresight through Dreams
Divination and Human Nature

Peter T. Struck

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Aristotle's thoughts on divination. As with Plato, his most detailed thinking on divination centres on dreams. He positions noncoincidental prescient dreams as examples of surplus knowledge that are provocative, and he sets out to attempt to explain them. The cognitive event underlying them is nondiscursive, happens in a lower region of the soul, and emerges from the cusp of physiology and psychology. Unlike with Plato, we do not have a range of references to the phenomenon across the corpus, which we might aggregate and use to discern facets of his views. Instead, we have a concentrated treatment in one treatise, On Divination during Sleep. The text is the shortest among his surviving corpus, and it is entirely justified to take this as a rough index of its importance to him, relative to such larger issues as ethics, the structure of animal bodies, or causation.

Keywords:   Aristotle, ancient divination, dreams, surplus knowledge, On Divination during Sleep

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