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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 7 [VI.]—We Often Need More Teaching as to What is Most Intimately Ours Than as to What is Further from Us.

But I have to put to you a far wider question arising out of our subject. Why should only a very few know why all men do what they do? Perhaps you will tell me, Because they have learnt the art of anatomy or experiment, which are both comprised in the physician’s education, which few obtain, while others have refused to acquire the information, although they might, of course, if they had liked. Here, then, I say nothing of the point why many try to acquire this information, but cannot, because they are hindered by a slow intellect (which, however, is a very strange fact) from learning of others what is done by their own selves and in their own selves. But this is a very important question which I now ask, Why I should have no need of art to know that there is a sun in the heavens, and a moon, and other stars; but must have the aid of art to know, on moving my finger, whence the act begins,—from the heart, or the brain, or from both, or from neither: why I do not require a teacher to know what is so much higher than me; but must yet wait for some one else to learn whence that is done by me which is done within me? For although we are said to think in our heart, and although we know what our thoughts are, without the knowledge of any other person, yet we know not in what part of the body we have the heart itself, where we do our thinking, unless we are taught it by some other person, who yet is ignorant of what we think. I am not unaware that when we hear that we should love God with our whole heart, this is not said of that portion of our flesh which lies under our ribs, but of that power that originates our thoughts. And this is properly designated by this name, because, as motion does not cease in the heart whence the pulsation of the veins radiates in every direction, so in the process of thought we do not rest in the act itself and abstain from further pondering. But although every sensation is imparted even to the body by the soul, how is it that we can count our external limbs, even in the dark and with closed eyes, by the bodily sense which is called “touch,” but we know nothing of our internal functions in the very central region of the soul itself, where that power is present which imparts life and animation to all else,—a mystery this which, I apprehend, no medical men of any kind, whether empirics, or anatomists, or dogmatists, or methodists, 2464 or any man living, have any knowledge of?



[The names of these various medical schools may be found explained in the article “Medicine” in the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. xv. See especially p. 802.—W.]

Next: Chapter 8

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