Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Philosophical Works.: That the soul proper, in fact and name, is the rational soul, while the others are called so equivocally; wherein also is this statement, that the power of the mind extends throughout the whole body in fitting contact with every part.
XV. That the soul proper, in fact and name, is the rational soul, while the others are called so equivocally; wherein also is this statement, that the power of the mind extends throughout the whole body in fitting contact with every part 1643 .
1. Now, if some things in creation possess the nutritive faculty, and others again are regulated by the perceptive faculty, while the former have no share of perception nor the latter of the intellectual nature, and if for this reason any one is inclined to the opinion of a plurality of souls, such a man will be positing a variety of souls in a way not in accordance with their distinguishing definition. For everything which we conceive among existing things, if it be perfectly that which it is, is also properly called by the name it bears: but of that which is not every respect what it is called, the appellation also is vain. For instance:—if one were to show us true bread, we say that he properly applies the name to the subject: but if one were to show us instead that which had been made of stone to resemble the natural bread, which had the same shape, and equal size, and similarity of colour, so as in most points to be the same with its prototype, but which yet lacks the power of being food, on this account we say that the stone receives the name of “bread,” not properly, but by a misnomer, and all things which fall under the same description, which are not absolutely what they are called, have their name from a misuse of terms.
2. Thus, as the soul finds its perfection in that which is intellectual and rational, everything that is not so may indeed share the name of “soul,” but is not really soul, but a certain vital energy associated with the appellation of “soul 1644 .” And for this reason also He Who gave laws on every matter, gave the animal nature likewise, as not far removed from this vegetative life 1645 , for the use of man, to be for those who partake of it instead of herbs:—for He says, “Ye shall eat all kinds of flesh even as the green herb 1646 ;” for the perceptive energy seems to have but a slight advantage over that which is nourished and grows without it. Let this teach carnal men not to bind their intellect closely to the phenomena of sense, but rather to busy themselves with their spiritual advantages, as the true soul is found in these, while sense has equal power also among the brute creation.
3. The course of our argument, however, has diverged to another point: for the subject of our speculation was not the fact that the energy of mind is of more dignity among the attributes we conceive in man than the material element of his being, but the fact that the mind is not confined to any one part of us, but is equally in all and through all, neither surrounding anything without, nor being enclosed within anyp. 404 thing: for these phrases are properly applied to casks or other bodies that are placed one inside the other; but the union of the mental with the bodily presents a connection unspeakable and inconceivable,—not being within it (for the incorporeal is not enclosed in a body), nor yet surrounding it without (for that which is incorporeal does not include 1647 anything), but the mind approaching our nature in some inexplicable and incomprehensible way, and coming into contact with it, is to be regarded as both in it and around it, neither implanted in it nor enfolded with it, but in a way which we cannot speak or think, except so far as this, that while the nature prospers according to its own order, the mind is also operative; but if any misfortune befalls the former, the movement of the intellect halts correspondingly.
Otherwise chap. xvi. The Bodleian ms. of the Latin version gives the title:—“That the vital energy of the irrational creatures is not truly but equivocally called soul, and of the unspeakable communion of body and soul.”403:1644
τῇ τῆς ψυχῆς κλήσει συγκεκριμένη. The meaning is apparently something like that given; but if we might read συγκεχρημένη the sense of the passage would be much plainer.403:1645
Reading φυτικής for φυσικῆς as before, ch. 8, §4 (where see note).403:1646
Cf. Gen. ix. 3. The quotation, except the last few words, is not verbally from the LXX.404:1647
It does not seem of much consequence whether we read περιλαμβάνεται with Forbes and the mss., and treat it as of the middle voice, or περιλαμβάνει τι with the Paris Editt. The reading περιλαμβάνεται, taken passively, obscures the sense of the passage.
Next: A contemplation of the Divine utterance which said--“Let us make man after our image and likeness”; wherein is examined what is the definition of the image, and how the passible and mortal is like to the Blessed and Impassible, and how in the image there are male and female, seeing these are not in the prototype.
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