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The Evolution of the Concept of Psyche from Homer to Aristotle.pdf

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\\Server03\productn\T\THE\22-1\THE101.txt unknown Seq: 1 6-MAY-02 10:37 The Evolution of the Concept of Psyche from Homer to Aristotle Gabor Katona † Princeton University Abstract In the following essay I examine those aspects of the evolution of the concept of psyche from Homer to Aris- totle that show striking dissimilarities with our modern understanding of the soul/mind. In my analysis I will give more room to the problem of the Homeric soul-w
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  \\Server03\productn\T\THE\22-1\THE101.txt unknown Seq: 1 6-MAY-02 10:37 The Evolution of the Concept of Psyche from Homer to Aristotle Gabor Katona † Princeton University AbstractIn the following essay I examine those aspects of theevolution of the concept of psyche from Homer to Aris-totle that show striking dissimilarities with our modernunderstanding of the soul/mind. In my analysis I will givemore room to the problem of the Homeric soul-words,for Homer’s picture of the soul seems to be especiallychallenging for our conceptual schemes. My guiding sus-picion during this study is that there is a temptation formodern students of this subject (like myself) to suppose agreater continuity between their understanding of what itis to be a soul or mind and ancient thinkers’ grasp of thesame experiential field than is warranted by available tex-tual evidence. I will focus on some of the astonishing fea-tures of the concept of psyche from Homer to Aristotle—- features that I was, hopefully, able to reconstruct inspite of the assimilating force of my prejudices.1.T HE  H OMERIC PSYCHE The first problem we face when entering the Homeric texts is thelack of a center or spiritual core of man’s behavior that could be theequivalent of our “soul” or “mind”. 1  Instead there are several “soul- † Correspondence concerning this essay may be sent to Gabor Katona,Princeton University, History of Science Department, Dickinson Hall,Princeton, NJ 08544 1 See Bruno Snell: Discovery of the Mind , Cambridge, Mass.,:Harvard University Press, 1953, p. 8. C. A. van Peursen: Body, Soul,Spirit  , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966, pp. 87-88. Arthur W.Adkins: From the Many to the One: A Study of Personality and Viewsof Human Nature in the Context of Ancient Greek Society, Values, andBeliefs , Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970, pp. 15-16. David B.Claus: Toward the Soul: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Psyche BeforePlato, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981, pp. 1-7. Jan Bremmer:  \\Server03\productn\T\THE\22-1\THE101.txt unknown Seq: 2 6-MAY-02 10:37 Psyche from Homer to Aristotle 29 words” denoting different aspects of behavior. They refer to physicalorgans, “mental functions”, or the results of those functions. Which of the following terms should be rendered as “soul”: thymos, nous,menos, phrenes, psyche, ker, ethor,  or  kardie ? What are we looking forwhen we try to identify a “concept of the soul” in Homer? Of course,tradition suggests that out of all available soul-words we concentrateon psyche, since, due to later developments following Homer, psychebecame the core-concept of what is meant by the mental. But doessuch a later development warrant our choice of singling out psyche as“the soul” in Homer? Laying this question aside in this essay, I ratherpursue the following line of thought: What kind of transformations hadthis early, Homeric, anthropology undergone until it reached Plato’scomprehensive personal “soul” which is (a) the immortal, divine partof man, (b) the center of his whole being, (c) the seat of rational judg-ment and moral choice, and (d) an antagonist of the body, related to itas master to slave? 2 1.1.Lack of unity the Homeric self  Homeric man understood himself as an aggregate of different“mental” agents (  fragmentary  thesis). 3  Homeric man did not knowgenuine personal decision 4 , did not yet know of the will   as an ethical The Early Greek Concept of the Soul  , Princeton: Princeton UniversityPress, 1983, pp. 3-12. Daniel N. Robinson:  Aristotle’s Psychology , NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1989pp. 4-5.Ferenc Lenard:  Alelektan utjai  (The Ways of Psychology), Budapest: Akademiai Kiado,1986, pp. 11-13. Charles Taylor: Sources of the Self  , Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard University Press, 1989, p. 118. I. Sz. Kon: Enunk nyomaban (Quest for the Self), Budapest: Kossuth Konyvkiado, 1989, pp. 71-73. 2 Concerning the development of  psyche  from Homer to Plato seeDaniel D. Robinson:  Aristotle’s Psychology , New York: Columbia Uni-versity Press, 1989, pp. 1-29. D. B. Claus: Toward the Soul  , pp. 3-4. J.Bremmer: The Early Greek Concept of the Soul  , pp. 24, 54, 66-69. A.W. Adkins: From the Many to the One , pp. 44-48, 60-62. R. B. Onians: The Origins of European Thought  , Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Uni-versity Press, 1951, pp. 115-118. Charles Taylor: Sources of the Self  , pp.111-126. Peursen: Body, Soul, Spirit  , p. 92. 3 B. Snell: Discovery of the Mind , pp. 19-22. Cf. Peursen: Body, Soul,Spirit  , (1966), p. 89. A. W. Adkins: From the Many to the One,  p. 75.Charles Taylor: Sources of the Self  , p. 117. Paolo Vivante: The Homeric Imagination: A Study of Homer’s Poetic Perception of Reality , Bloom-ington: Indiana University Press, 1970, p. 35. 4 B. Snell: Discovery of the Mind , pp. 20, 31. Cf. Laszlo Versenyi : Man’s Measure: A Study of the Greek Image of Man from Homer toSophocles , Albany: State University of New York Press, 1974, p. 12.  \\Server03\productn\T\THE\22-1\THE101.txt unknown Seq: 3 6-MAY-02 10:37 30  Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psy. Vol. 22, No. 1, 2002 factor 5 , and he constantly felt himself decisively influenced (guided orimpeded) by gods 6  ( lack of personal decision  thesis). Concerning the  fragmentary thesis , the different interpretations boil down to two basictypes: (1) The Homeric self is dualistic; (2) the Homeric self is multi-ple. According to (1) the different “soul-words” fall under two com-prehensive categories. Rohde opted for the duality of the visible man (the body and its functions) and  psyche  (“the other self”, the double of the self, etc.). 7  Bremmer distinguished between body souls  endowingthe body with life and consciousness and the  free soul   representing theindividual. The free soul is  psyche  in Homer; it is active during uncon-sciousness. The body souls ( thymos , nous , menos ) are active duringwaking life. Claus maintains that the Homeric soul-words express twotypes of underlying semantic categories: thought words  and life-forcewords.  Among the eight soul-words analyzed by Claus, nous  and  phren/phrenes  belong to the thought word category, whereas thymos , menos , ethor  , and ker   are life-force words. (Claus, 1981, 15-16).Advocates of (2), the “multiple soul” view, like Snell, Peursen,Vivante, Taylor, and Versenyi claim that the Homeric self is frag-mented according to the different soul-words employed to grasp differ-ent aspects of the field we unifyingly call the mental  . The self is the 5 B. Snell: Discovery of the Mind,  pp. 30-31. Cf. A. C. Fellman & M.Fellman: The Primacy of the Will in Late Nineteen-Century AmericanIdeology of the Self, Historical Reflections, 1977/4, pp. 26-45. 6 B. Snell: Discovery of the Mind,  p. 20, pp. 29-32. Cf. Peursen: “Thusthere is no room within man for an individual, personal soul. Wheremodern man would wish to speak of a highly personal action orthought, Homeric man sees other   forces at work, divine powers. Fran-kel puts a particular emphasis on this point, describing archaic man asan ‘open field’ for these forces, in which the ‘I’ and the ‘non-I’ arehardly separated and the frontiers between them as yet scarcelydefined.(  Body, Soul, Spirit,  p. 91). See also Charles Taylor: Sources of the Self  , p. 118; A. W. Adkins: From the Many to the One,  pp. 28-44. I.Sz. Kon: Enunk nyomaban  (Quest for the Self), p. 9. J. E. Raven & G.S. Kirk: The Presocratic Philosophers, Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-sity Press, 1957, pp. 213-214. 7 Erwin Rohde: Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality Among the Greeks , Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press, 1972.pp.4-10. Relying on the ruling anthropological theories of his day,Rohde argued that occurrences of  psyche in Homer were manifesta-tions of the belief in the Doppelg¨ anger  . For a critique of Rohde’s the-ory see D. B. Claus: Toward the Soul, pp. 1-2. J. Bremmer: The EarlyGreek Concept of the Soul, pp. 6-7. Herbert Weir Smyth: HarvardEssays on Classical Subjects , Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press,1968, p. 244.  \\Server03\productn\T\THE\22-1\THE101.txt unknown Seq: 4 6-MAY-02 10:37 Psyche from Homer to Aristotle 31 open field of internal and external forces that determine behavior. InHomer we witness the immediate flux and fusion of feelings, actions,thoughts, gestures, inner and outer worlds. 8  The thesis of the “frag-mentary, battleground-like” Homeric self, however, seems untenablein the light of the following: Homeric heroes had no difficulty saying ‘Iwish’ or ‘I thought’, therefore they must have had a sense of a psychicwhole, a psychic coherence implied by the use of the personal pro-noun. 9  Achilles urges: “ But let us allow these things to be over and donewith, having subdued our thymos  in our chest  .” 10  In this situation it isthe whole personality expressed by the personal pronoun that inhibitsimpulses.The lack of personal decision thesis  emphasizes that in most cases theaction of a Homeric hero is instigated by his thymos  or nous , or feetand hands 11  instead of by a representative core of personality that 8 B. Snell: Discovery of the Mind , pp. 1-22. Peursen: Body, Soul,Spirit,  pp. 90-95. Charles Taylor: Sources of the Self  , pp. 117-119. P.Vivante: The Homeric Imagination , pp. 35-36. L. Versenyi : Man’sMeasure , pp. 10-13. For the critique of this view see D. B. Claus: Toward the Soul,  p. 59. 9 H. Lloyd-Jones:  The Justice of Zeus , Berkeley: University of Cali-fornia Press, 1971, p. 9. K. J. Dover: Greek Popular Morality in theTime of Plato and Aristotle , Oxford, 1974, p. 151. J. Bremmer: TheEarly Greek Concept of the Soul,  pp. 66-67. Taylor, on the contrary,claims: “To the modern, this fragmentation, and the seeming confusionabout merit and responsibility, are very puzzling. Some have beentempted to make light of Snell’s thesis, and to deny that Homeric manwas all that different from us in his way of understanding decision andresponsibility.”( Sources of the Self  , p. 118.) Versenyi observes: “It isnot that the self in Homer has absolutely no unity. To begin with it hasthe same kind of loose unity that the episodic epic as a whole has: onethat barely holds the separate and discrete aspects of a man’s personal-ity together.” ( Man’s Measure,  p. 12.) 10 Homer:  Iliad , 19.65. (Homer: The Iliad, translated by StanleyLombardo, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishers, 1997.) See also Iliad,1.188 where Achilles controls his thymos . Cf. A. W. Adkins: From theMany to the One,  p. 22. 11 For body parts as instigating factors see Iliad. 1.166. “For Homerthe feet, the knees, the hands, the eyes are not simply parts of thebody, but instruments or agents charged with an overflowing energy,and single acts are often represented as self-developing processesalmost independent of a person’s control: it is then the feet that stepsout, the knees that move and carry away, the hands that crave foraction, the eyes that look and gaze.” (P. Vivante: The Homeric Imagi-nation , pp. 35-36.)

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