Soul: Philosophical Definition

In antiquity, Aristotle asserts that soul shapes the body, while the atomistic school argues that the body is composed of atoms like any other object (materialism). In modern times, Nietzsche bring closer soul and body.

General Definitions of Soul:

  • Latin:

– anima air, breath, life principle.

– animus: the seat of thought, but also of feelings and passions

  • Common sense: the principle of sensibility and thought
  • Metaphysical meaning: spirit, thinking, thinking substance (apart from the body)

Specific definitions:

Aristotle: “The body will not be identical to the soul. The soul is the form of a natural body having life potentially the soul is not separable from the body” (soul)

Descartes: “So that what I say is to the soul by which I am what I am is entirely distinct from the body, and it is even easier to know him” (Discorse on method)

Nietzsche: “The soul is a word for a piece of the body” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)


Cite this article as: Tim, "Soul: Philosophical Definition, May 26, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 26, 2012,

Leave a Reply