The Evidence from Madness: Aristotle on the Mind-Body Problem

Aristotle, Physiognomics 808b

“[in this case] the soul and the body would experience things together, but they would not have the same reactions as one another. But, now, it is entirely clear that one follows another. This is especially obvious from the following. For madness seems to be a matter of the mind; doctors, however, respond to it by cleansing the body with medicines and also by telling them to pursue certain habits in life which may relieve the mind of madness.

So, the form of the body is relieved by treatments to the body at the very same time that the soul is freed from madness. Since they are both relieved together, it is clear that their reactions are in synchrony. It is also clear from this that the forms special to the body are similar to the capabilities of the mind, with the result that all similarities in living things are clear signs of some kind of sameness.”

ἡ ψυχή τε καὶ τὸ σῶμα συμπαθῆ, οὐ μέντοι συνδιατελοῦντα ἀλλήλοις. νῦν δὲ καταφανὲς ὅτι ἑκάτερον ἑκατέρῳ ἕπεται. μάλιστα μέντοι ἐκ τοῦδε δῆλον γένοιτο. μανία γὰρ δοκεῖ εἶναι περὶ ψυχήν, καὶ οἱ ἰατροὶ φαρμάκοις καθαίροντες τὸ σῶμα καὶ διαίταις τισὶ πρὸς αὐτοῖς χρησάμενοι ἀπαλλάττουσι τὴν ψυχὴν τῆς μανίας. ταῖς δὴ τοῦ σώματος θεραπείαις καὶ ἅμα ἥ τε τοῦ σώματος μορφὴ λέλυται καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ μανίας ἀπήλλακται. ἐπειδὴ οὖν ἅμα ἀμφότερα λύονται, δῆλον ὅτι συνδιατελοῦσιν ἀλλήλοις. συμφανὲς δὲ καὶ ὅτι ταῖς δυνάμεσι τῆς ψυχῆς ὅμοιαι αἱ μορφαὶ τοῖς σώμασιν ἐπιγίνονται, ὥστ᾿ ἐστὶν ἅπαντα ὅμοια ἐν τοῖς ζῴοις τοῦ αὐτοῦ τινὸς δηλωτικά.

Epictetus, Fr. 26

“Epictetus used to say, ‘you’re a tiny soul lugging around a corpse’.”

Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν, ὡς Ἐπίκτητος ἔλεγεν.

London, British Library, MS Additional 37049, f. 38v

Speechless About the Life of the Mind

Recent teaching advice from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Go Easy on the Socratic Method.

Plato, Philebus 21d-e

P: This argument has made me completely speechless right now

S: Let’s not give up yet! Let’s take up and examine the life of the mind too.

P: What sort of life are you talking about?

S: If someone would accept living while possessing intelligence, thought, knowledge and perfect memory, but without having any small or great part of pleasure or pain but instead be completely untouched by these kinds of things.

P: Socrates, neither life seems attractive to me, nor to anyone else, I believe.”

ΠΡΩ. Εἰς ἀφασίαν παντάπασί με, ὦ Σώκρατες, οὗτος ὁ λόγος ἐμβέβληκε τὰ νῦν.

ΣΩ. Μήπω τοίνυν μαλθακιζώμεθα, τὸν δὲ τοῦ νοῦ μεταλαβόντες αὖ βίον ἴδωμεν.

ΠΡΩ. Τὸν ποῖον δὴ λέγεις;

ΣΩ. Εἴ τις δέξαιτ᾿ ἂν αὖ ζῆν ἡμῶν φρόνησιν μὲν καὶ νοῦν καὶ ἐπιστήμην καὶ μνήμην πᾶσαν πάντων κεκτημένος, ἡδονῆς δὲ μετέχων μήτε μέγα μήτε σμικρόν, μηδ᾿ αὖ λύπης, ἀλλὰ τὸ παράπαν ἀπαθὴς πάντων τῶν τοιούτων.

ΠΡΩ. Οὐδέτερος ὁ βίος, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἔμοιγε τούτων αἱρετός, οὐδ᾿ ἄλλῳ μή ποτε, ὡς ἐγᾦμαι, φανῇ.

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