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Aristotle’s rainbow

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

Iris or rainbow, which one admires and wonders at a set of colors with an apparent body comes from Thaumus or wonder/’ between one’s own wonder and the source of wonder stands an apparition/ The wonderful induces in the wonderer its own cause”. In De anima III.3–5, shows that Phantasia (imagination) gives the mind access to the noēton (intelligible) “by suspending the truth-claim of the sensible and converting ‘I see a man’ into ‘It seems to be a man.’ It allows the sensible image to be viewed just as image” (161; 175–76). For the world to be intelligible, Phantasia must “transform the aisthēton [sensible] so it can be read as a noēton ” (177). Prior to the activation of the intellect, then, there is a passive intellect aware of the possible intelligible. As the precondition or access to the noēton , the passive intellect is “the ground of knowledge of ignorance” (179). One must therefore turn to wonder, which paradoxically combines the desire-to-know’s “indiscriminate greediness to transform the opaque into the plain” with our “recognition of the opaque in the plain” (167). 18 For this reason, De anima III.3–5 serves as an introduction to Metaphysics Α.1–2, whose subject is the relation of wisdom to wonder.

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