Contents: Ancient Hebrew and Homeric Greek life-force; Plato, Aristotle and Hellenistic thought; From the New Testament to St Augustine; Medieval Islamic and Christian ideas; Renaissance Platonism, Hermeticism and other heterodoxies; Mind and soul in English from Chaucer to Shakespeare; The triumph of rationalist concepts of mind and intellect; The empiricists' advocacy of matter designed for thought; Bibliography; Indexes.
Paul S. MacDonald, Murdoch University, Australia
'This book is essential reading for those who want to know how our current understanding of the human psyche evolved. Why does it now sound quaint, pious or ironic to speak, not of a person's mind, but of their soul and spirit? Paul MacDonald's magisterial history of these concepts helps to provide answers. The reader is guided on a journey from ancient Hebrew and Greek visions through all the main landmarks in the history of philosophical psychology, as well as less familiar territory from literature and theology. The sweep of his book is immense; [it undertakes] a monumental task whose results are very impressive.' David E. Cooper, Professor of Philosophy, University of Durham, UK 'The wide differences between the ways in which people of the past have understood themselves and our own ways show that the content of so-called folk psychology is utterly contingent, and this might bear on widely discussed issues in contemporary philosophy of mind. In this book, MacDonald shows himself to be a learned and acute scholar who provides an original and illuminating perspective even on previously familiar material.' Stewart Candlish, Professor of Philosophy, University of Western Australia. 'Those interested in exploring nonmaterial beliefs about human beings... in history, theology, metaphysics, spirituality, psychology, and philosophy will find that this well-crafted book seamlessly integrates all these areas. MacDonald demonstrates a careful and precise approach to conceptual and linguistic textual analysis... This book is a refreshing alternative to implausible, self-indulgent literary excursions. At the same time, [he] introduces his own thought-provoking critical observations into many of the ongoing debates.' Choice '... a magisterial work that belongs on the shelf of any serious student of philosophy and psychology of mind... Macdonald's book is a seminal one for anyone trying to understand the complex history of the concepts of soul, mind and spirit.' The Scientific and Medical Network Review 'MacDonald tells the story of human enquiry about the concept of mind from Homer to Hume. He elucidates complex matters with real skill, while never pretending to a simplicity that is lacking in the material. The range of reference is satisying generous.' Epworth Review '... MacDonald masterfully unveils the interrelated complexity of soul, mind, and spirit in the Western tradition... While this book will serve very well as an introductory text for courses on soul, mind or spirit, it serves also to assist those who are on their own quests to understand life itself... well informed, meticulous, and readable.' Philosophia Christi