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Whether spirit is a body.

Next one inquires whether spirit is a body.

1. It seems not. For it is impossible for two bodies to exist [at the same place] in the same time. But spirit is in the arteries at the same time as the blood. Therefore, spirit is not a body.

2. In addition, according to the Philosopher in the second book of the Ethics, the mean is equally distant from the extremes. But spirit is just like a nature midway between the substance of the soul and the body. Therefore, by the same argument by which spirit is a body, soul also will be a body.

3. In addition, spirit is a medium or instrument of the sensitive power, just as heat is of the quickening [vivificativae] or vegetative power. But heat is not a body, but is rather an accident. Therefore, by the same argument, neither will spirit be a body.

To the contrary. Everything capable of motion is a body. But spirit is capable of motion. Therefore, it is a body, for it crosses from the brain to other parts of the body.

In response, some say that spirit is not a body but an accident, since just as the celestial bodies operate with a mediating external light, so sensitive bodies operate with a mediating internal light. But that internal light is spirit. Yet this does not seem true, because a thing is neither made active nor moved by the fact that it receives light. But in a body activity and motion are caused by spirits. Therefore, the spirit is not light.

Thus one must respond that one must consider two things in spirit, namely, the nature of clarity and transparence, and spirit receives this clarity and transparence from the power and heat of the heart, in which it is generated. One must also consider the subject of this transparence, because an accident does not exist without a subject, and in this way spirit is a body. And this is clear from the determination made by the author of On the Difference between Spirit and Soul [De differentia spiritus et animate], for he says that "spirit is a subtle body."[1]

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must respond that spirit is a subtle and very penetrating body. This is evident from thunder and earthquakes. Moreover, the parts of an animal's body are rarefied and porous; otherwise, not every part of the animal would be nourished and grow. Thus when the spirit moves in the body, it passes through the porous passages of the body, just like the spirit that enters or exits from the earth or just like the vapors that ascend in the air. Nevertheless, these do not exist at the same time and place with the air, so that two bodies would exist at the same time, which is impossible. But air cedes its place to the vapors, just as the subtler cedes its place to the coarser. It is the same for the motion of the spirit in the body.

2. To the second argument one must reply that because an animal consists of a soul and a body and its operation is of the whole and not just of the part, for this reason there are some [powers] ordered to its operation with respect to the soul, and some with respect to the body. With respect to the soul there are potencies and powers, and with respect to the body there are heat and spirit. Thus, spirit better conforms to the nature of the body than to that of the soul, and this is why spirit is more a body.

3. To the third argument one must respond that spirit and heat cannot be treated in the same way, since heat signifies a single quality through which an agent operates, and it is not a substance of the quality itself, although some physicians, like Haly, posit that heat is a substance because by heat they understand that in which heat is grounded as well as the heat itself.[2]

But spirit denotes that very substance for which there are accidents like motion and other such things.

  • [1] Costa ben Luca, De differentia spiritus et animae 1 (Barach 1878, p. 121).
  • [2] I.e., Haly 'Abbas (d. 1010), one of the most famous of all Muslim scientists and physicians. One of his works, translated into Latin by Constantine the
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