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Aristotle and Faculty Psychology


Anthony J. Fejfar, B.A., J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2009 by Anthony J. Fejfar

In Aristotle’s Psychology, Aristotle describes levels of consciousness or cognitive

capabilities, what he describes as “faculties.” In Aristotle the levels of consciousness can

be described as follows:

1. Sense Experience

2. Understanding (passive mind)

3. Judgment (active mind)

4. Imagination

As you may note, the foregoing parallel the Cognitional Structure in Lonergan as

well as Piaget and Kohlberg. In this essay I would like focus on imagination. It is clear

that formal operations thinking at Level 4 (Piaget), and formal operations moral

reasoning or ethics at Level 4 (Kohlberg), are only made possible with the use of the

imagination. Both formal operations functions require that the person imagine logical or

moral alternatives in the imagination.

Finally, it should be noted that the imagination is a real cognitive function and that

not all persons have it. This why some rather dense psychiatrists who are not in formal

operations do consider the imagination to exist. Such psychiatrists deluded in thinking

that a person can have a hallucination in the imagination when we all know that all the

content of the imagination is imaginary and is supposed to be.


Aristotle, “The Psychology” in the Pocket Aristotle (1958).