Leuven University Press
The transformation of the science of the soul between 1260 and 1360
Aristotle's highly influential work on the soul, entitled De anima, formed part of the core curriculum of medieval universities and was discussed intensively. It covers a range of topics in philosophical psychology, such as the relationship between mind and body and the nature of abstract thought. However, there is a key difference in scope between the socalled ‘science of the soul', based on Aristotle, and modern philosophical psychology.
This book starts from a basic premise accepted by all medieval commentators, namely that the science of the soul studies not just human beings but all living beings. As such, its methodology and approach must also apply to plants and animals. The Science of the Soul discusses how philosophers, from Thomas Aquinas to Pierre d'Ailly, dealt with the difficult task of giving a unified account of life and traces the various stages in the transformation of the science of the soul between 1260 and 1360. The emerging picture is that of a gradual disruption of the unified approach to the soul, which will ultimately lead to the emergence of psychology as a separate discipline.
Chapter 1: Introduction1.1 Subject matter1.2 Status quaestionis1.3 Periodisation and sources1.3.1 A chronological list of consulted commentaries1.4 Orthography, punctuation and translations
Chapter 2: Overview2.1 The introduction of the De anima into the Latin West2.2 The soul as perfectio2.2.1 Avicenna's influence2.3 The soul as forma2.3.1 Immortal but not personal: radical Aristotelianism2.3.2 Formality and subsistence combined: Thomas Aquinas2.3.3 A substance, but also a form2.4 Unicity versus plurality of substantial form
Chapter 3: Methodologic al discussions3.1 The scientific status of the scientia de anima3.1.1 Imperceptibility3.1.2 Simplicity3.1.3 Potentiality3.1.4 The study of the soul within natural philosophy3.1.5 Radulphus Brito against John of Jandun3.1.6 An increasing focus on the intellect3.2 The subject matter of the scientia de anima3.2.1 The soul as subject matter3.2.2 The ensouled body sub ratione animae as subject matter3.2.3 Leaving the subject matter undecided3.2.4 Summary3.3 The epistemic status of the scientia de anima3.3.1 Unproblematic beginnings: Thomas Aquinas3.3.2 Certitude and nobility combined: Anonymus Van Steenberghen and Walter Burley3.3.3 Increasing difficulties: Anonymus Bazan, Radulphus Brito and John of Jandun3.3.4 The final stages: John Buridan and Nicole Oresme3.4 Conclusions
Chapter 4: The Aristotelian definition of the soul4.1 Aristotle's definition of the soul4.1.1 Thomas Aquinas's views on the matter of the soul4.1.2 The Anonymi4.2 Fourteenth-century interpretations4.2.1 The substantiality of the soul4.2.2 The actuality of the body4.3 Can we perceive the identity of accidents?4.3.1 Thomas Aquinas4.3.2 Radulphus Brito4.3.3 John of Jandun4.3.4 John Buridan4.4 Excursus: condemnations and polemics4.5 Conclusions
Chapter 5: Substance, powers and acts5.1 A curious fourteenth-century thought experiment5.2 One soul or multiple souls?5.2.1 John Buridan's arguments against a plurality of souls5.2.2 Nicole Oresme's hesitation5.2.3 Summary5.3 The relation between the soul and its powers5.3.1 Arguments against a real distinction5.3.2 Arguments in favor of a real distinction5.3.3 Some preliminary conclusions5.3.4 The identification of the soul with its powers5.4 The soul's presence in the body5.4.1 From annulose to perfect animals5.4.2 Is the soul extended or not?5.4.3 The discussion of the soul's presence after Ockham5.4.4 Is the power of sight really present in the foot?5.4.5 From annulose animals to perfect animals5.5 From animal soul to human soul5.5.1 The intellective soul: material or immaterial?5.6 Epilogue and conclusions5.6.1 The fragile unity of the science of the soul
Chapter 6: Final conclusions
BibliographyManuscriptsPublished sourcesSecondary literature
Index Codicum Manuscriptorum
Leaving aside these historiographical differences, one must say that Sander de Boer's study is a readable, solid and well-argued study. De Boer studies new material beyond beaten paths - concerning authors (e.g. the several Anonymi, Oresme and Jandun), as well as places (e.g. Ockham's reception not only in Oxford but also in Paris). He acutely judges the arguments of the different positions, and always offers a clear statement on them. The author surveys the existing literature and discusses it at the relevant places. In the end, one must explicitly highlight that De Boer discloses the systematic status of the relationship between soul and body in this particular period. Future scholars and students of philosophical psychology in the Middle Ages should take a look at De Boer's study in order to be able to better judge a certain position concerning philosophical psychology in a systematic way.Thomas Jeschke, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 76 (2014), 2