Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Anna Usacheva: The Human Brain, Consciousness and a Quest for Immortality in Nemesius of Emesa

In his De natura hominis, Nemesius stated a few vaguely contradictory concepts about the intellective faculties (discursive thought, memory and speech) of the human soul and about the body-soul relationship in the present life and in respect of potential immortality. In his attempt to stay faithful to the Christian aspiration of salvation Nemesius follows Platonic tradition and claims the self-sufficiency, pre-existence and independence of the human soul, whose connection to the body is but a matter of disposition and relation. He also submits to the teleological Peripatetic-Galenic logic when arguing that the human rational soul is bound to the body by a task of guiding the body-soul compound of the human being towards immortality. He even accepts that due to the unconfused union between the soul and the body, the former can in some cases experience certain change especially if it gives too much license to the bodily desires. This vacillation between the determinism of the bodily constraints and the freedom of the incorporeal rational soul lead Nemesius to contemplate the free will and providence. Streck traced his thoughts on this matter to Aristotle and his concept of the power of choice. I'm going to shift this view by focusing instead on the Aristotelian notion of phronēsis and Galenic physiological understanding ofsympatheia(sc. between the soul and the body), which procure the proper condition for the soul's teaching the body and being taught by it.

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