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Charts of the faculties of the soul

A philosophical-medical tradition
Question of the principle of life/activity/identity in the human being: powers and carriers of those powers >
soul; spirit; humors.

The Platonic soul


Timaeus 69b-72d
Creation of man: immortal soul (reason and understanding, in the head, its orbits attuned to the revolution of
the intelligent orbits of the universe) + a mortal body as its vehicle + a mortal soul (the site of mans
dreadful but necessary disturbances: pleasure, pain, boldness and fear, the spirit of anger and expectation
fused with unreasoning sense-perception and all-venturing lust) located in the body thus:
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the spirited, ambitious part: the heart capable of taking counsel from reason
the part consisting of appetites (for food, drink, sex): the liver does not understand the deliverances
of reason, and even if it were somehow aware of them, it would not have an innate regard for any of
them, but would be much more enticed by images and phantoms night and day

Republic VIII 580d-581c, 588c-589b


The citadel of the soul or an image of the soul in words:
1. the part with which one learns: rational: learning-loving and philosophical, always wholly straining
to know where truth lies // a human being
2. the part with which one gets angry: spirited: the pursuit of control, victory and high repute, victoryloving and honor-loving // a lion
3. a multiform part: appetitive: appetites for food, drink, sex, money- and profit-loving // a multicolored
beast with a ring of heads that it can grow and change at will

The medical soul (Greek-Arab medicine; Erasistratus, Galen, Razes, Haly Abbas, Avicenna)
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humors, qualities, elements


o blood | heat and moisture | air
o red bile | hot and dry | fire
o phlegm | cold and moist | water
o black bile | cold and dry | earth
spirit: cf. pneuma: vital pneuma (the heart) and psychic pneuma (the brain)
soul: types of soul cf. types of activities (Haly Abbas)
o rational/animal: sensation, motion; mind [phantasia, cogitatio, memoria] |animal spirit | brain
and nerves
o sensitive/vital: life, respiration, passions | vital spirit | heart and arteries
o vegetative: generation, nutrition, growth | natural spirit | liver and veins

The Avicennan soul


Soul as form/perfection of a living being; an incorporeal substance

Vegetative soul: nutrition, growth, generation


Sensitive/vital soul
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motive powers
o appetitive (irascible and concupiscible passions)
o motion-effecting power
apprehensive powers
o external senses
o internal senses
fantasia/sensus communis front ventricle; sense impressions/forms
imaginatio front ventricle; receives and retains the sense impressions
imaginativa/cogitativa central ventricle; compares, combines and divides things in
the imagination; can rush/wander from one to the other
extimativa no organ; highest power in animals; same functions as the imaginativa +
perceives intentiones in the sense impressions + a kind of judgment (whether
something is good or harmful, etc.); often hasty judgment; commands the moving
faculties
memorialis rear ventricle; stores up the intentiones

Human/rational soul (intellect): an active power which works with the appetitive powers, with the internal
senses, and by itself (good order of bodily and moral life) + a contemplative power: abstraction of
intelligible forms from the sensible forms in the imaginatio; with the help of intellectus agens (non-human,
the lunar intelligence) - immaterial
The medical and the philosophical perspectives compared
Avicenna on the passions (Harvey 25-27, 46-47):
o passions of the heart cf. the temperature (or complexion) of the spirit in its relation
with the motions of cogitation (including, above all, the imagination); e.g., the immoderate
mirth of drinkers; the melancholy man
o passions of the soul (insofar as it is joined to a body) impression/sensitive form in
imaginatio (hence also physical effects) + judgment in extimativa
Thomas Wright, The Passions of the Minde in Generall (1604), I.11, pp. 45-46:
First then, to our imagination commeth, by sense or memorie, some obiect to be knowne, convenient or
disconvenient to Nature, the which beeing knowne (for Ignoti nulla cupido1) in the imagination which
resideth in the former part of the braine (as we proove when we imagine any thing), presently the purer
spirites flocke from the brayne, by certayne secret channels to the heart, where they pitch at the doore,
signifying what an obiect was presented, convenient or disconvenient for it. The heart immediatly bendeth,
either to prosecute, or to eschewe it: and the better to effect that affection, draweth other humours to helpe
him, and so in pleasure concurre great store of pure spirites; in payne and sadnesse, much melancholy blood;
in ire, blood and choller; and not onely (as I sayde) the heart draweth, but also the same soule2 that
informeth the heart residing in other partes, sendeth the humours vnto the heart, to performe their service in
such a woorthie place: In like maner as when we feele hunger (caused by the sucking of the liver and defect
of nourishment in the stomacke) the same soule3 which informeth the stomacke, resideth in the hand, eyes,
and mouth; and in case of hunger, subordinateth them all to serve the stomacke, and satisfie the appetite
1
2
3

What is unknown none desires (Ovid, Art of Love, III.397).


The sensitive soul.
The vegetative soul.

thereof: Even so, in the hunger of the heart, the splene, the liver, the blood spirites, choller, and melancholy,
attende and serve it most diligently.
By this manifestly appeareth howe the diversities of complexions wonderfully increase or diminish
Passions: for, if the imagination bee very apprehensive, it sendeth greater store of spirites to the heart, and
maketh greater impression: likewise, if the heart be very hote, colde, moyst, tender, cholericke; sooner, and
more vehemently it is stirred to Passions thereunto proportionated; finally, if one abound more with one
humour than another, he sendeth more fewell to nourish the Passions, and so it continueth the longer, and the
stronger.
Reading: Ruth Harvey, The Inward Wits (1975).

University education in late C16-early C17 England (Aristotelian)

the arts course, merging and recombining the former seven liberal arts (the trivium: grammar, logic,
rhetoric; and the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) + philosophy natural
(including de anima) and moral
the higher faculties: theology, medicine, law

Alternative lines of intellectual influence, present in intellectual spaces outside the university: Hellenistic
(Stoic, Epicurean, skeptical) and Neo-Platonic.
Summary 1-4
1) The theoretical structure within which discussions of embodied mental life took place: theories of the

soul (the Aristotelian de anima tradition, but also the Stoic, medical, Platonic or Neo-Platonic
theories of the soul)
The soul in the de anima tradition
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Soul as form informing matter (hylomorphism): principle of existence and identity of natural entities.
Soul as principle of life: that in virtue of which activity in the natural world is explained.

Continuum of activities cf. levels of organization: plants-animals-humans; thus, the several souls in a
human being, governing the entire set of human activities vegetative, sensitive, as well as rational.
Complication in the history of thought: the emergence of the rational soul as an incorporeal, immortal
substance.
2) The place of the imagination within charts of a persons embodied mental life
The intermediary space between the outward senses and fully rational thought, cf. the medieval tradition of
the internal senses (also called inward wits):
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a space of communication between body and soul and of interrelation between the person and the
outer world;
functions of the internal senses: Collecting the (confusing) variety (copia) of sense impressions and
trying to order them by comparing, combining or dividing them, and also by forming incipient
judgments on their basis.

at the same time material (in direct collaboration with the parts, organs, humors and spirits of the
body, as well as with the pneumatic world outside it) and cognitive (as a dynamic repository and
manipulator of images/impressions/thoughts/conceits distinct from the
ratiocination/discourse/thinking of the rational soul).

3) The imagination among the internal senses


The Avicennan fivefold scheme (the most popular in medieval and early Renaissance thought): sensus
communis, imaginatio [retentive function], imaginativa/cogitativa [manipulating function], estimativa
[judging function], memorativa.
But not the only scheme: medieval variability in describing and classifying the internal senses + progressive
tendency to simplify the scheme; two main alternative triads by mid-C16:
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the Aristotelian triad: common sense, imagination, memory


the Galenic triad: imagination, reason, memory

The whole development rooted in the notion of an internal sensitive power, bridging the outward senses and
rational thought which Aristotle called the common sense. After the medieval proliferation of the internal
senses, Renaissance medical and philosophical thought seeks to unify the sensitive power and often
identifies the whole of it with the imagination/fantasy, owing to two factors:
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a return to the classics (Aristotle and Galen over the Arabs)


the Neo-Platonic influence: for the ancient Neo-Platonists (e.g., Plotinus, Synesius, Proclus), the
imagination was the single mediating faculty between sense and reason, working through the
phantastikon pneuma, the first body (or vehicle) of the soul; consequently, for the Renaissance NeoPlatonists (e.g., Marsilio Ficino, Gianfrancesco Pico, Giordano Bruno), the imagination appropriates
all the functions of the other internal senses (retentive, manipulative and judging) and is continuous
with the pneuma of the macrocosm, with specific results for their medical, magical and mystical
thought

Reading: Katharine Park, The Imagination in Renaissance Psychology (1974), chap. 2.

An illustration of copious sense impressions on the verge of being ordered: Giuseppe Archimboldos
Emperor Rudolph II (c. 1590-1)
Another example of sensitive-sensual variety: Agnolo Bronzino, Il Penello (with reference to the Modi, a
series of engravings by Giulio Romano, 1520s).
Consider also, as an illustration of the confusion of the senses on the threshold of the common sense through
the medium of imagination-based dream, or dream-like imagination:
Bottom [Awaking.] When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer: my next is, "Most fair Pyramus."
Heigh-ho! Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker! StType equation here.arveling!
God's my life, stol'n hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the
wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I
wasthere is no man can tell what. Methought I was,and methought I had,but man is but a
patch'd fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath
not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.
I will get Peter Quince to write a ballet of this dream: it shall be called Bottom's Dream, because it hath no
bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the Duke. Peradventure, to make it the more
gracious, I shall sing it at her death. (A Midsummer Nights Dream IV.1)

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