Udo Jeck
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
The first part of this essay analyses the beginning of the philosophy of the brain in early Greece by looking at the Pythagorean theories of the brain. The knowledge of this innovative achievement of the Pythagorean school was never completely lost; it also got through to the Middle Ages. The second part focuses on the effect of Pythagorean thinking on Albert the Great. Albert systematically studied all available sources on Pythagoreanism and in doing so acquired extensive knowledge of this philosophical movement. In the process, he also thought through the psychology of the Pythagoreans and came across their brain theory, which he carefully analysed, commented on, and criticised. Albert interpreted the brain-theoretical theses of the Pythagoreans that came to his knowledge from the viewpoint of a speculative construct of Pythagorean psychology, but in essence his accounts, as the third part of this article proves, match the historically secured facts from ancient sources: Albert knew that the Pythagoreans had not only thought out the relationship between mind and brain, but had also considered the question, which is so intensely debated today, whether animals think. The fourth and final part concludes the investigation by reconstructing the basic lines of Albert’s own brain theory: Albert developed a philosophy of the mind which, although allowing a mediated relationship of the intellect with the brain, rather emphasised the separation of the mind from the somatic sphere. From his point of view, the brain has no decisive function in the thought process. Because the Pythagoreans had thought differently, Albert only took critical note of their views.
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DOI 10.1075/bpjam.00072.jec
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