Wenqi 文氣 (literary pneuma) is a foundational idea in Chinese aesthetics. It has remained elusive since its initial formulation, however. This is so largely because previous scholars did not examine its ontological and epistemological conditions in analytic terms, still less explore its implications in a conceptual framework of artistic creation. Here, it is proposed to explore its general as well as specific implications against the larger background of Chinese intellectual thought and in relation to contemporary theories of literature and (...) aesthetics. Through a philosophical inquiry, wenqi is here reconceived as an integration of the primal energy of the universe, the creative energy of human beings, and the totalizing force that animates an artistic work. Wenqi is viewed not as a substance or a product but as a creative and shaping force that flows from the writer into his writing, gives it a distinct shape, and makes it different from any other writing. The theory of wenqi is a system of aesthetic principles that govern the creative and shaping force operating in the space of three intertwined entities: the macrocosm of the universe including human society, the microcosm of the writer, and the microcosm of his writing. (shrink)
. Recent discussions of the mind‐brain and the soul‐body problems have been both advanced and complexified by the cognitive sciences. I focus explicitly here on emergence, supervenience, and nonreductive physicalist theories of human personhood in light of recent advances in the Christian‐Buddhist dialogue. While traditional self and no‐self views pitted Christianity versus Buddhism versus science, I show how the nonreductive physicalist proposal regarding human personhood emerging from the neuroscientific enterprise both contributes to and is enriched by the Christian concept of (...)pneuma and the Buddhist concept of pratityasamutpada. (shrink)
The idea of a self-organized system brings both political and biological discourses together, for they both aim at explaining how a certain compound can achieve self-unity out of plurality. Whereas biological metaphors in politics have been much examined, political metaphors in biology have not. In this paper I intend to show how political metaphors can enlighten biological discourses, taking the work of Aristotle as a case-study. The relationship between the main elements of a living-body could be better understood within a (...) political scheme: the soul rules over the body through pneuma, its prime minister. This scheme entails, thus, to re-examine Aristotle’s definition of soul in the light of the key concept of pneuma, and to replace the hylemorphic explanation with a triadic one. On the one hand, soul is the entelecheia of the body as it keeps both the form and the end of the organism, which is its unity. On the other hand, the moving-efficacious principle that performs unity by circulating through the body, and by linking the body to its environment is pneuma. Therefore, the political formula: “the king does not govern” could shed light upon the structure of the living body: whereas the soul rules the body, pneuma governs it. Although Aristotle does not build his biology upon political concepts, metaphors are already there, shaping his explanations, within the bio-theo-political paradigm of autarchy. (shrink)
This book offers an original new account of one of Aristotle's central doctrines. Freudenthal He recreates from Aristotle's writings a more complete theory of material substance which is able to explain the problematical areas of the way matter organizes itself and the persistence of matter, to show that the hitherto ignored concept of vital heat is as central in explaining material substance as soul or form.
Fortunately, there is heat; and Freudenthal is keen to promote it as an overlooked central factor in Aristotle’s theory of material substance. He begins in agreement with the many scholars who argue that Aristotle’s theory of the four elements underdetermines the plain fact that there are organic substances which exhibit both synchronic and diachronic unity. He goes further than most, however, by arguing that left unaugmented Aristotle’s account of the four basic elements would positively preclude the existence of these forms (...) of unity. For Aristotle embraces the Presocratic picture of the four elements as engaged in “endemic strife”, so constituted that their natural propensities lead them to separate and dissolve rather than to unite and synthesize. Thus, for example, each of the four elements has a natural direction, which ought to result in fire and air ever moving upward and away from earth and water, which will move downward if unimpeded. Hence, as Aristotle himself recognizes, some agent force is required to hold the four elements together when they are mixed. (shrink)
This volume examines the influence that Epicureanism and Stoicism, two philosophies of nature and human nature articulated during classical times, exerted on the development of European thought to the Enlightenment. Although the influence of these philosophies has often been noted in certain areas, such as the influence of Stoicism on the development of Christian thought and the influence of Epicureanism on modern materialism, the chapters in this volume forward a new awareness of the degree to which these philosophies and their (...) continued interaction informed European intellectual life well into early modern times. The influence of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies in the areas of literature, philosophy, theology, and science are considered. Many thinkers continue to perceive these philosophies as significant alternatives for understanding the human and natural worlds. Having become incorporated into the canon of philosophical alternatives, Epicureanism and Stoicism continued to exert identifiable influences on scientific and philosphical thought at least until the middle of the eighteenth century. (shrink)
The introduction to this book begins with the claim that it will provide new perspectives on the relationships between form and matter in Aristotle's thought, identifying as a point of departure the "basic level" where they interact, namely, in the coming-to-be of composite material substances, notably living things, and in their stable persistence, both at the level of the individual and of the species. Central to this interaction, it is claimed, is vital heat, the significance of which has not been (...) fully appreciated. Aristotle nowhere offers a systematic theory of vital heat, but the author attempts to recover such a thing from scattered discussions; in so doing, he argues for its unitary explanatory role in relation to all the soul's functions, makes some suggestions concerning its origin in Presocratic thought, and suggests its likely provenance in Aristotle's early theological cosmology. (shrink)
The conceptualization of the vital force of living beings as a kind of breath and heat is at least as old as Homer. The assumptions that life and living things were somehow causally related to 'heat' and 'breath' would go on to inform much of ancient medicine and philosophy. This is the first volume to consider the relationship of the notions of heat, breath, and soul in ancient Greek philosophy and science from the Presocratics to Aristotle. Bringing together specialists both (...) on early Greek philosophy and on Aristotle, it brings an approach drawn from the history of science to the study of both fields. The chapters give fresh and detailed interpretations of the theory of soul in Heraclitus, Empedocles, Parmenides, Diogenes of Appolonia, and Democritus, as well as in the Hippocratic Corpus, Plato's Timaeus, and various works of Aristotle. (shrink)
The work _De spiritu_ is an important but neglected work by Aristotle. It clearly shows for the first time that Aristotle assumed a special body as the ‘instrument’ of the soul. By means of this soul/body the soul forms the visible body of plants, animals and human beings.