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INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

This work is one of a triad of relatively short treatises on the soul (psyche) collected together at the end of volume 4 and the beginning of volume 5 of Kühn’s Galeni Opera Omnia.1 It is included here with the other two works on krasis/eukrasia/dyskrasia because it extends these concepts to the structure and function of the rational soul, which Galen, like Plato, localizes in the brain. The essence of Galen’s argument is, as the title makes clear, that the characteristics and capacities of the rational soul are dependent on the krasis of the body, and specifically of the brain and meninges, if this is truly the location of the rational soul, as Galen believes. Indeed, he says in the work itself that “it will also be necessary, then, for those who postulate the soul to be a specific substance, to concede that it is itself a slave to the krasias of the body.” Having stated his main point, in the opening two sections he also articulates three other points deemed important, as follows:

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INTRODUCTION

  • 1. From observations on young children it is apparent there are from a very early age individual differences in the capacities of the rational soul.
  • 2. The soul has a substance, which is responsible for its functions.
  • 3. The soul has a number of capacities, the number being equal to the number of its functions, this being in keeping with his concept of capacity (dunamis) as applied to other organs.

The next eight sections consist mainly of long quotations from Galen’s three most revered authorities—Plato (3–6, 10), Aristotle (7), and Hippocrates (8–9)—interspersed with his own comments and observations. A summary of the views of the three men, accepted or rejected, follows:

Plato: (a) Galen accepts his tripartite division of the soul into rational (in the brain), spirited (in the heart), and appetitive (in the liver); (b) he opposes Plato’s claim that the rational soul is incorporeal and immortal, and can survive without a body; (c) he claims Plato’s recognition that kakochymia and drinking wine can adversely affect the rational soul commits him to the belief that it is affected by bodily states (krasis); (d) he considers Plato’s view that the wetness of the receiving body at birth can adversely affect intelligence.

Aristotle: Galen claims that the quotations given support two suppositions: (a) the capacities of the soul at birth follow the krasis of the maternal blood; (b) the capacities of the soul follow the krasis (nature) generally of the body.

Hippocrates: Galen claims that the quotations given show: (a) Hippocrates subscribed to the four elements/four

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.galen-souls_traits_bodily_temperament.2020