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The Soul-Body Problem at Paris ca 1200-1250

Hugh of St-Cher and His Contemporaries

Magdalena Bieniak, Raffaella Roncarati

Publication Year: 2010

The soul-body problem was among the most controversial issues discussed in 13th century Europe, and it continues to capture much attention today as the quest to understand human identity becomes more and more urgent. What made the discussion about this problem particularly interesting in the scholastic period was the tension between the traditional dualist doctrines and a growing need to affirm the unity of the human being. This debate is frequently interpreted as a conflict between the ‘new' philosophy, conveyed by the rediscovered works of Aristotle and his followers, and doctrinal requirements, especially the belief in the soul's immortality. However, a thorough examination of Parisian texts, written between approximately 1150 and 1260, leads us to conclusions which may seem surprising. In this book, the study and edition of some little-known texts of Hugh of St-Cher and his contemporaries reveals an extremely rich and colourful picture of the Parisian anthropological debate of the time. This book also offers an opportunity to reconsider some received views concerning medieval philosophy, such as the conviction that the notion of ‘person' did not play any major role in the anthropological controversies. The study covers a wide range of authors, from Gilbert of Poitiers to Thomas Aquinas, and it is partly based on previously unedited material, published for the first time in the Appendix.

Published by: Leuven University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

A well-known American proverb reads as follows: “If you see a turtle sitting on a fencepost, he had help getting there”. This study was only possible thanks to those scholars who generously offered me their time and their qualified competence. Above all, I am grateful to Prof. Riccardo Quinto (Padua), ...

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pp. 1-6

This research originates from an edition and a study of a short disputed question written in the first half of the 1230s by Hugh of St-Cher and entitled De anima.1 The question is part of a collection of a very large number of quaestiones disputatae and other texts compiled in the Paris environment ...

Part One. Towards the Unity of the Human Being

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1.1 Accidental union of the soul with the body and Unibilitas substantialis of the human soul

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pp. 9-46

The center point of the present study is Hugh of St-Cher’s anthropology.1 It is the center point, although not a privileged one: it is central because reconstructing the opinions of this theologian is our primary purpose; it is not privileged because these opinions must be seen and evaluated within a broader context. ...

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1.2 The human soul and the concept of person

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pp. 47-90

The substantial and immortal ability to be united with the body represents the main feature differentiating the human soul from the angel. The first article of Hugh of St-Cher’s question De anima centres around this doctrine. Nevertheless, the reason why Hugh adopts this position is not totally clear; ..

Part Two. Between Soul and Body: The Powers of the Soul

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pp. 93-94

The problem of the union of the soul with the body in the thirteenth century cannot be easily confined within one thematic field. As already seen in the previous section, the problem of the unity of the human being is approached not only in the questions specifically relating to the conjunction of soul and body, ...

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2.1 The Rational Powers: The Soul as Image of the Trinity

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pp. 95-118

Before addressing the problem of the ontological status of the faculties of the soul, and in order to understand the approach adopted by Hugh of St-Cher and other theologians of his time, we have to present some fundamental distinctions. ...

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2.2 The Sensitive and Vegetative Powers

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pp. 119-150

As previously mentioned, in the thirteenth century, the debate concerning the sensitive and vegetative powers takes its particular shape thanks to the reception of sources inspired by Aristotle’s thought. This type of speculation is introduced into the Parisian Faculty of Theology mainly as a result of Philip the Chancellor’s activity. ...

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2.3 The Problem of Memory

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pp. 151-170

At the beginning of the second part of the present book, I introduced a distinction between two types of literary sources employed in the psychological speculation at the beginning of the thirteenth century, i.e. the theological sources and the philosophical sources. ...

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pp. 171-176

The analysis of Hugh of St-Cher’s anthropological writings represents the starting point and the chief purpose of this book. The conclusion we formulate here, therefore, concerns primarily the thought of this Dominican master. Nevertheless, any understanding of Hugh’s works would be impossible without a comparison with the doctrines of his contemporaries ...

Appendix: Text Editions

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pp. 177-214


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pp. 215-238


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pp. 239-246

De Wulf-Mansion Centre Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

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pp. 259-264

E-ISBN-13: 9789461660251
Print-ISBN-13: 9789058678027

Page Count: 253
Publication Year: 2010