Graduate Seminar: The Soul

Autumn 2021


seminar Information:

PHIL 93236
Professors Kraus and Shields
Seminar Meetings: W 9.00-11.45
Malloy 220


Office Hours and Contact Information:


Office: Malloy Hall 309
Office hours: Th 2-3 pm and by appointment 



Office: Malloy Hall 327
Office hours: W 13.00-14.30 and by appointment

N.b. I prefer e-mail to telephone as a manner of student contact. I make an effort to answer student e-mails promptly, but please be aware that I measure promptness in this domain in days rather than hours or minutes.



There are no required texts for this course.

Still, it will be useful for you to have available (and every philosopher should own):

      • Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle vols. I and 2, ed. J. Barnes (Princeton: 1984)

Less complete but superior in terms of translation, and with a marvelous annotated glossary is: 

      • Irwin, T. and Fine, G., Aristotle: Selections (Hackett: 1995)

Similarly useful and, again, something which should be readily available  on the shelf of every philosopher: 

      • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. and trans. P. Guyer and A. Woods (Cambridge: 1998)

Other readings are accessible via Philosopher’s Index, available in Hesburgh Library. Where copyright infringement is not an issue, we will provide links.


Requirements and Protocol:

Seminar participants will offer one seminar presentation and write two essays, one in the neighbourhood of 2,000-2,500 and the other, the seminar paper, in the neighbourhood of 6,000 words. It is assumed, though not required, that one of your essays will grow out of your seminar presentation. 

Due dates for the essays:

Essay One: 15 October

Essay Two: 3 December


Essay topics will be developed on an individual basis in conjunction with the seminar leaders.

These essays are to be submitted electronically in a main-stream word-processing format or (if you use something non-standard) as .pdf documents, to the addresses given above. Papers will be accepted until 17.00 on their due dates.


Attendance is expected at all seminar meetings.



What constitutes the unity of an animal? What constitutes the unity of a person? The aim of this course is to explore conceptions of the soul as a principle of unity, drawing from contemporary sources as well as from selected thinkers from the Ancient and the Modern periods. Philosophers of both periods understood the soul to ground the unity of living beings and then also, more specifically, the unity of persons conceived as mental subjects. Yet what such grounding amounts to changes radically throughout the centuries. Aristotle, for instance, considers the soul as a metaphysical principle that gives a being its essential nature and so also as a principle of intelligibility through which such a being can be explained. Kant, by contrast, rejects metaphysical accounts of the soul, but retains a set of related ideas that still function as normative principles through which living beings and psychological persons can be understood.

By drawing on these and other historical conceptions, the seminar will pursue a systematic issue: it will examine the overarching thesis that it is not possible to provide a defensible account of the unity of either persons or living beings more generally without adverting to some workable notion of the soul, at least in terms of its normative dimension. This dimension includes most centrally—though not exclusively—the role of the soul in teleological explanation. The historical figures will include Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant among others, but we will equally dip into contemporary literature on aggregation and unity.

Week One: A question of Unity, a Question of Privilege 
    • Aristotle, Categories 1-5
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics Z 17
    • Simons, Peter (1998), ‘Farewell to Substance: a Differentiated Leave-Taking,’ Ratio N.S. 11, 235-252
    • Koslicki, Kathrin (2015), ‘In Defense of Substance,’ in Themes from Ontology, Mind, and Logic, ed. S. Lapointe (Brill), 60-80
Week Two: Aristotelian Hylomorphism: its promises and Problems 
    • Williams, Bernard, ‘Hylomorphism,’ Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 4 (1986), 189-99
    •  Johnston, ‘Hylomorphism,’ Journal of Philosophy 103 (2006), 652-698
Week Three: Kant’s Hylomorphism
    • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
      • Transcendental Aesthetic (Introduction: A19/B33-A22/B36; On Space: A22/B37-A30/B45)
      • Amphiboly of the Concepts of Reflection (A266/B322-A268/B324)
        • If you are not familiar with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, then I recommend that you also read the Introduction (A1-16 and B1-30; especially sections I, II, IV, and V in the B-Edition)
    • Pippin, Robert (1982), Kant’s Theory of Form: An Essay on the Critique of Pure Reason (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press)
      • Ch. 1 (‘Introduction: Transcendental Philosophy’), 1-25
    • Boyle, Matthew, ‘Kant’s Hylomorphism and the Thing in Itself,’ to appear in The Aristotelian Kant, ed. Wolfram Gobsch and Thomas Land.
    • Further Reading:
      • Konstantin Pollok, Kant’s Theory of Normativity (Cambridge University Press)
        • Ch. 4 (‘Hylomorphism and Normativity,’ 121-142)
        • Ch. 5 (‘Determinable Sensibility and Intellectual Determination,’ 143-195)
Week Four: Meanness and Profligacy
    • Sosa, Ernest (1987), ‘Subjects Among Other Things’ in Philosophical Perspectives vol. I, ed. J. Tomberlin (Ridgeview Publishing Co.), 155-87
    • Van Cleve, James (2008), ‘The Moon and Sixpence,’ in Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, ed. J. Hawthorne, T. Sider, and D. Zimmerman (Blackwell), 321-40.
    • Unger, Peter (2006), ‘There Are No Ordinary Things,’ in Philosophical Papers II, ed. Peter Unger, (Oxford University Press), 3-35
    • Markosian, Ned (1998), ‘Brutal Composition,’ Philosophical Studies 92, 211-49.

    • Merricks, Trenton (2106), ’Do Ordinary Objects Exist? No.’ in Current Controversies in Metaphysics, ed. Elizabeth Barnes (Routledge), 135-148
Week Five: Form and Unity in Aristotle
    • Koslicki, Kathrin (2006), ‘Aristotle’s Mereology and the Status of Form,’ Journal of Philosophy 103, 715-736
    • Koslicki, Kathrin (2103), ‘Substance, Independence and Unity,’ in Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, E. Feser, ed. (Palgrave/Macmillan), 169-195
    • Lewis, Frank (1995),  ‘Aristotle on the Unity of Substance,’ in  Form, Matter, and Mixture in Aristotle, F. Lewis and R. Bolton edd. (Wiley-Blackwell), 222-265
    • Shields, Christopher (2019), ‘Hylomorphic Offices,’ Dialogoi, 215-236
    • Shields, Christopher, ‘Hylomorphisms’ (Draft), to appear in Dialogoi (2022)


Week Six: Unified Mental Substances in Leibniz and Suárez
    • Suárez, Metaphysical Disputation XV
    • Rozemond, Marleen, ‘Unity in the Multiplicity of Suárez’ Soul,’ in The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez, edd. B. Hill and H. Lagerlund (Oxford: 2012), 154-172.
    • Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics (§8)
    • Leibniz, The Monadology (§§1-20)
    • Woolhouse, R. (1982), ‘The nature of an individual substance,’ in Leibniz: Critical and Interpretive Essays, ed. M. Hooker (University of Minnesota Press), 45–64; reprinted in Woolhouse (1994), 82–104.
    • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
      • Transcendental Analytic: Transcendental Logic (A50/B74-A57/B82)
      • Analytic of Concepts (A66/B90-A83/B109)
    • Engstrom, Stephen (2006), ‘Understanding and Sensibility,’ Inquiry Vol. 49, No. 1, 2–25
    • Pippin, Robert (1982), Kant’s Theory of Form: An Essay on the Critique of Pure Reason (Yale University Press)
      • Ch. 4 (‘Concepts’), 88-123 (esp. 88-104)
      • Optional: Ch. 8 (‘Conclusions: Kant’s Formalism’), 216-232
    • Further Reading:
      • McLear, Colin (2015), ‘Two Kinds of Unity in Kant,’ Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (1), 79-110 
Week Eight: The Form and Unity of Consciousness in Kant
    • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
      • Transcendental Deduction of the Categories (§§16-20, B132-143; focus on §16)
    • Kraus, Katharina (2020), Kant on Self-Knowledge and Self-Formation (Cambridge University Press),
      • Ch. 3 (‘The General Form of Reflexivity’), 83-129 (esp. 83-92 and 105-120)
    • Further Reading:
      • Allison, Henry (2004), Kant’s Transcendental Idealism 
        • Ch. 7 (‘The Transcendental Deduction’), 159-201
Week Nine: Mid-semester Break
Week Ten: Substance and Unity in Kant 
    • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
      • First Analogy (A182/B224-A189/B232)
      • First Paralogism (A348-351)
        • Optional: Introduction to the Paralogisms (A341/B399-A348/B406)
    • Van Cleve, James (1999), Problems from Kant (Oxford)
      • Ch. 8 (‘Substance and the First Analogy’), 105-121
      • Ch. 11 (‘Problems of the Self), 172-186
    • Further Reading:
      • Allison, Henry (2004), Kant’s Transcendental Idealism
        • Ch. 9 (‘The Analogies,’ esp. 229-246)
      • Strawson, Peter F. (2000), ‘Kant on Substance,’ in Strawson, P. F., Entity and Identity: And other essays (Oxford), Ch. 16, 268-279
Week Eleven: Life, Unity, and Normativity in ARistotle
    • Shields, Christopher (2012), ‘The Dialectic of Life,’ Synthese 185, 103-124
    • Korsgaard, Christine (2009), Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity (Oxford)
      • Ch. Two (‘The Metaphysics of Normativity’)
Week Twelve: Life, Unity, and normativity in Kant
    • Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment (§§64-66, 5:369-377; §70, 5:386-388; §75, 5:398-400)
      • If you are not familiar with Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, then I recommend that you also read the Introduction (5:171-198; especially sections III, IV, V and IX)
    • Ginsborg, Hannah (2015), ‘Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes,’ in Ginsborg, Hannah, The Normativity of Nature (Oxford), 255-280
    • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
      • Transcendental Dialectic: On transcendental ideas (A321/B377-A332/B389)
      • Appendix to the Dialectic, Part II (A669/B697-A684/B712):
        • Optional: Appendix to the Dialectic, Part I (A642/B670-A668/B696)
    • Optional: Kant, Critique of Practical Reason
      • The Immortality of the Soul as a Postulate of Practical Reason (5:122-124)
    • Kraus, Katharina (2020), Kant on Self-Knowledge and Self-Formation (Cambridge University Press)
      • Chapter 7 (‘The Demand of Practical Reason and Self-Formation’)
      • Optional: Chapter 5 (‘The Guiding Idea of Inner Experience’)
    • Further Reading:
      • Korsgaard, Christine (2009), Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity (Oxford)
        • Ch. 7 (‘The Constitutional Model’)
      • Aristotle, De Anima ii.1-2, iii.4, and iii.5
Week Fourteen: Thanksgiving Recess
Week Fifteen: Quodlibetal 
Lecture Slides (Shields)

1. The Soul—a Principle of Privileged Ontology

2. Hylomorphism–Two Ways In