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  • Forming the Mind: Essays on the Internal Senses and the Mind/Body Problem from Avicenna to the Medical Enlightenment
  • Kevin White
Henrik Lagerlund, editor. Forming the Mind: Essays on the Internal Senses and the Mind/Body Problem from Avicenna to the Medical Enlightenment. Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Mind, 5. Dordrecht: Springer, 2007. Pp. x + 345. Cloth, €149.95.

This collection grew out of a conference held in Uppsala in 2002, at which an international group of scholars met to discuss several texts from between 1100 and 1700 dealing with questions of philosophical psychology. The conference was motivated by the thesis that the history of philosophy in these six centuries should not be divided into a medieval and a modern period, but rather seen as a continuous tradition (ix).

Henrik Lagerlund’s introduction traces the origin of issues in contemporary philosophy of mind to an event well before Descartes (where history of philosophy of mind is usually said to begin), namely the Latinizing introduction of Aristotelian Arabic thought in the twelfth century (1). But there is a difference between contemporary and earlier concerns: “Today we want to explain how phenomena like consciousness and intentionality are possible in a material (or physical) world. The problem that faced medieval philosophers and Descartes was rather the opposite, that is, how can matter at all have an effect on the mental (non-material) and how can such a noble thing as a mind be united to a material body” (2). Moreover, there are in fact several mind-body problems: the interaction problem, the unification problem, the problem of the existence of sensations in the mind, and the problem of combining and reconciling efficient and final causality (ibid.). Lagerlund sketches a history of some central themes concerning soul and mind that starts from Aristotle’s De anima, proceeds through Augustine, Avicenna, Aquinas, Ockham, and Buridan, and concludes with the Fifth Lateran Council in whose wake Descartes was writing.

The fourteen remaining chapters follow the chronological order of their more particular subjects. The first concerns the moment of Arabic-Latin translation and the issue of memory: Carla di Martino’s “Memory and Recollection in Ibn Sînâ’s and Ibn Rushd’s Philosophical Texts translated into Latin in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: A Perspective on the Doctrine of the Internal Senses in Arabic Psychological Science.”

Then follow six chapters on scholastic thinkers, each of which includes results of and thoughtful reflection on some useful spadework on lesser known texts: Rega Wood’s “Imagination and Experience in the Sensory Soul and Beyond: Richard Rufus, Roger Bacon and Their Contemporaries” (which highlights Bacon’s Avicennian psychology); Mikko Yrjönsuuri’s “The Soul as an Entity: Dante, Aquinas, and Olivi”; Christopher J. Martin’s “Self-Knowledge and Cognitive Ascent: Thomas Aquinas and Peter Olivi on the KK-Thesis”; Calvin G. Normore’s “The Invention of Singular Thought” (by Ockham); Jack Zupko, “John Buridan on the Immateriality of the Intellect”; and Olaf Pluta’s “How Matter Becomes Mind: Late-Medieval Theories of Emergence” (on Buridan and the psychology of Alexander of Aphrodisias). [End Page 137]

Representing the Renaissance is a chapter by Timo Joutsivuo on “Passions and Old Men in Renaissance Gerontology,” a study of two medical texts from 1489 and 1594.

The next five contributions bring us into the age of Descartes, though with reference to thinkers before and after. Peter King asks, “Why Isn’t the Mind-Body Problem Medieval?”, and the answer turns on medieval use of sensatio, a term that always has reference to the body. In “Matter, Mind, and Hylomorphism in Ibn Gabirol and Spinoza,” Tamar Rudavsky compares these two thinkers on their pantheism, materialism, and psychology, and raises the general question of what counts as Jewish philosophy. In “Cajetan and Suarez on Agent Sense: Metaphysics and Epistemology in Late Aristotelian Thought,” Cees Leijenhorst discusses philosophical responses to the problematic appearance of “upward” causality in sensation, with reference to Cajetan, Suarez, and the early Descartes. Deborah Brown’s “Is Descartes’ Body a Mode of Mind?” argues that Descartes was less of a dualist than is usually thought; and Robert Pasnau, in “Mind and Extension (Descartes, Hobbes, More),” investigates these...