Beliefs About Believers

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI:
Beliefs About Believers

Show Summary Details


In antiquity conceptions of the soul-what plus a body makes a person- varied greatly. Most included some kind of immortality. Pythagoras initiated the theory of a soul migrating between bodies of different animals and even vegetables. Anaxagoras made Mind (Nous), the faculty of discerning and imposing order on things, into the cosmic force. However, Aristotle rightly transferred soul from the category of Substance (Thing) to those of Action and Passion (Functions). The soul is the Form of the Body The Atomists postulated special soul atoms, lighter and more mobile than others. At death the combinations disperse. Alone among ancient soul theories, Aristotle's, being based on observations (low beliefs), and getting the ontology right (action-passion), may claim scientific status. It was Plato's, however, which survived into Christian thought, being the principal Greek contribution to Christian theology.

Keywords: metempsychosis; immortality; Nous; mind; ontology; theology; matter/form

Chapter.  2801 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.