Anatomy of Melancholy, 154-157: Of the Soul and her Faculties

A of M 154 SPIRIT quote

Well, I could have drawn more anatomical pictures for the last section, but probably no one needs to see me get into membranes and ventricles. So I am moving on to spirits and souls, because I really prefer ghosts to blood and guts.

And I may be reading too much into this, but wow, look at Burton being all progressive and using “her” instead of “his” in this section. I am definitely reading too much into it, because there have been some far less progressive sections on gender in what I have read so far. But anyhow… that is a subject for another post probably.

According to Aristotle, the soul is defined to be [Greek: entelecheia], perfectio et actus primus corporis organici, vitam habentis in potentia: the perfection or first act of an organical body, having power of life, which most philosophers approve. But many doubts arise about the essence, subject, seat, distinction, and subordinate faculties of it. For the essence and particular knowledge, of all other things it is most hard (be it of man or beast) to discern, as Aristotle himself, Tully, Picus Mirandula, Tolet, and other neoteric
philosophers confess:–“We can understand all things by her, but what she is we cannot apprehend.”

Neoteric means modern or recent. So there. If nothing else, you will occasionally learn a neat new word if you read with me.


This post is part of a long, tedious, and very illustrated read-along of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy – more info here and follow along on Facebook here. Illustrations posted via devon_isadevon on Instagram. Please follow me on Instagram? It is lonely there.

Leave a Reply