Ancient Mind

Ancient Mind - On Constructing an Ancient Personality A...

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On Constructing an Ancient Personality A brief extract from a writing by Ben Witherington III 1 …our own modern way of thinking about the relationship of the body and the mind, or the body and the spirit/soul, have largely arisen out of Cartestian ways of thinking. 2 Rene Descartes distinguished pointedly between mind (the nonphysical realm and the supernatural) and the body (material existence and the natural). 3 For Descartes the “I,” or the sense of human identity could be identified with the mind or soul: “I think, therefore I am.” In such a worldview the body can neatly be distinguished from the mind as simply a physical nature, a house of the soul. There is no essential connection or relationship of substance between body and mind, or body and soul, or body and spirit. “On the one side were body, matter, nature, and the physical; on the other were soul or mind, nonmatter, the supernatural, and the spirit or the psychological. 4 Whatever we may think or say about this dichotomy such a dichotomized approach has affected and continues to affect modern ways of thinking about human life and personality and also about the way God works in a mechanistic natural universe. 5 To be sure, there has been some quite proper reaction to this mode of thinking in modern medical discussions of humans as psychosomatic wholes and in explorations of holistic medicine. But we still remain deeply influenced by the Cartesian model. It prevents us from hearing ancient texts and ideas about the body and the human person as we should—for Cartesian ways of thinking would have been quite foreign to the ancients. Martin suggests that the ancients saw the human body as hierarchically arranged, in a
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This note was uploaded on 09/26/2011 for the course GPH 225 taught by Professor Gph225 during the Winter '10 term at DePaul.

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Ancient Mind - On Constructing an Ancient Personality A...

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