Does Aristotle Refute the Harmonia Theory of the Soul?


In Aristotle’s On the Soul he considers and refutes two versions of the harmonia theory of the soul’s relation to the body. According to the harmonia theory, the soul is to the body what the tuning of a musical instrument is to its material parts. Though he believes himself to have entirely dismissed the view, he has not. I argue that Aristotle’s hylomorphic account is, in fact, an instance of the harmonia theory.

Share and Cite:

Young, D. (2013) Does Aristotle Refute the Harmonia Theory of the Soul?. Open Journal of Philosophy, 3, 47-54. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2013.31008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Ackrill, J. L. (1973). Aristotle’s definitions of Psuche. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 73, 119-133.
[2] Barnes, J. (1982). The presocratic philosophers. Boston, MA: Routledge.
[3] Barnes, J. (1975). Aristotle’s concept of mind. In J. Barnes, M. Schofield, & R. Sorabji (Eds.), Articles on Aristotle, psychology and aesthetics (pp. 32-41). London: Duckworth.
[4] Bogen, J. (1996). Fire in the belly: Aristotelian elements, organisms, and chemical compounds. In F. A. Lewis, & R. Bolton (Eds.), Form, matter, and mixture in Aristotle (pp. 183-216). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
[5] Caston, V. (1997). Epiphenomenalisms, ancient and modern. The Philosophical Review, 106, 309-363. doi:10.2307/2998397
[6] Code, A., & Moravcsik, J. (1992). Explaining various forms of living. In M. C. Nussbaum, & A. Rorty (Eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s De anima (pp. 129-145). Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press.
[7] Charlton, W. (1985). Aristotle and the Harmonia theory. In A. Gotthelf (Ed.), Aristotle on nature and living things: Philosophical and historical studies (pp. 131-150). Pittsburgh, PA: Mathesis Publications Inc.
[8] Fine, K. (1996). The problem of mixture. In F. A. Lewis, & R. Bolton (Eds.), Form, matter, and mixture in Aristotle. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
[9] Heinaman, R. (1990). Aristotle and the mind-body problem. Phronesis, 35, 83-102. doi:10.1163/156852890X00042
[10] Heinze, R. (1899). Themistius: In libros Aristotelis De Anima paraphrasis. Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 5.
[11] Hicks, R. D. (1907). Aristotle: De anima; with translation, introduction and notes. Cambridge: University Press.
[12] Ilievski, P. H. (1993). The origin and semantic development of the term harmony. Illinois Classical Studies, 18, 19-29.
[13] Irwin, T. H. (1988). Aristotle’s first principles. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[14] Joachim, H. H. (1904). Aristotle’s conception of chemical combination. Journal of Philology, 29, 72-86.
[15] Joachim, H. H. (1970). Aristotle on coming-to-be and passing-away. (De generatione et cormptione). Hildesheim, New York: G. Olims.
[16] Meyer, B. (1932). Harmonia; bedeutungsgeschichte des wortes von homer bis aristoteles. Ph.D. Dissertation, Zurich: Universit?t Freiburg.
[17] Ross, W. D. (1953). Aristotle’s metaphysics, a revised text with introduction and commentary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
[18] Ross, W. D. (1960). Aristotelis physica. Oxonii: E Typographeo Clarendoniano.
[19] Ross, W. D. (1961). Aristotle: De anima. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
[20] Shields, C. (1988). Soul and body in Aristotle. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 6, 103-137.
[21] Sorabji, R. 1975. Body and soul in Aristotle. In J. Barnes, M. Schofield, & R. Sorabji (Eds.), Articles on Aristotle (pp. 42-64). London: Duckworth.
[22] Todd, R. B. (1996). Themistius: On Aristotle’s “on the soul”. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
[23] Wedin, M. V. (2000). Aristotle’s theory of substance: The categories and metaphysics zeta, Oxford Aristotle studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[24] White, N. P. (1971). Aristotle on sameness and oneness. The Philosophical Review, 80, 177-197. doi:10.2307/2184029
[25] Whiting, J. (1992). Living Bodies. In M. C. Nussbaum, & A. Rorty (Eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s De anima. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.