I’m reading a book History of Philosophy and Aristotle is blowing me away so much that I have to share here.

Have you spent your whole life hearing about the “soul” as if it were basically Casper the Friendly Ghost overlaid onto your body?
For Aristotle, the life of an entity consists of its nourishment, growth and self-consumption. Thus the soul is the form or realization of a living body. The soul “informs,” or gives form to, the matter of a living thing, giving it its corporal being and making it a live body; that is, it is not a question of the soul’s being superimposed on the body or added to it; rather, the body is a living body because it has a soul. According to Aristotle’s definition (De Anima, II, 1), the soul is the realization or first entelechy of a natural organic body. If the eye were a living creature, Aristotle says, its soul would be its sight. The eye is the matter of sight, and if sight is lacking there is no eye; and just as the eye, strictly speaking, is the physical eye united with the power of sight, so the soul and the body make up the living thing.

Marias, Julian (2012-10-02). History of Philosophy (pp. 78-79). Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.
That’s awesome. My reading of this is that Aristotle’s sense of soul was closer to our metaphorical use of the word –
as in the phrase, “the soul of poetry.” For him the soul is that thing which is capable of arriving at his definition of perfection, a state of being so utterly oneself that it could be considered an archetype.

Here’s this guy surrounded by people who sacrifice animals to ensure a good harvest, and he goes and creates a system of reason that is so non-superstitious that it forms the basis of philosophy and logic to this day. It takes a mind that is not only precise, but incredibly alert and discriminating as to his own thought to be able to shut out the contexts around him.  What a context too – the mythology of the Greeks, a highly influential artifact of culture on its own merit.  

Instead of allowing his unique mind to become submerged in these beliefs, he rejects superstition and the ephemeral contexts around him.  
This philosophy, while influenced by his predecessors and contemporaries, is the product of a painstaking selectivity about which influences to permit.

Aristotle is an artisan of the mind, whittling away excess thought, as if he were Michelangelo chipping away the unneeded plaster.

The resulting cognitive construct is pure and uncluttered, universal and timeless.  What a superlative gift to offer to the rest of us humans …

 

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