Mechanism Displaces the Soul
After Aquinas, the Aristotelian concept of souls, carefully tended for two millennia, started to unravel. William of Ockham introduced nominalism and voluntarism, necessitating observation and leading to empiricism. Luther and Calvin questioned the dual creation and the power of human intellect. In the seventeenth century Gassendi and Descartes introduced the mechanical philosophy, pushing formal and final causes out of the natural world. The mechanical philosophers embraced a machine metaphor, an ontological elimination (materialism), and an etiological reduction. Only the last proved useful for advancing biology. Physiological and psychological accounts of life took on distinct and irreconcilable vocabularies, with the term “soul” frequently reserved for the latter. Biology lacked a unifying principle for the next two centuries.
- Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1997.Google Scholar
- Canguilhem, Georges. Knowledge of Life. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.Google Scholar
- Crowe, Michael J., ed. The Extraterrestrial Life Debate: Antiquity to 1915, A Source Book. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.Google Scholar
- Descartes, Rene. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, 2 vols. Edited by J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, and D. Murdoch. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
- Descartes, Rene. Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy. Edited by David Weissman. Rethinking the Western Tradition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
- Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy with Selections from the Objections and Replies, 2nd ed. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.Google Scholar
- Keller, Evelyn Fox. Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
- Lennon, Thomas M. “Bayle and Late Seventeenth-Century Thought.” In Psyche and Soma: Physicians and Metaphysicians on the Mind-Body Problem from Antiquity to Enlightenment, edited by John P. Wright and Paul Potter, 197–215. Oxford: Clarendon, 2000.Google Scholar
- Lokhorst, Gert-Jan. “Descartes and the Pineal Gland.” In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2017 ed. Stanford University, 1997–. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2017/entries/pineal-gland/.
- Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works. Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, 55 vols. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1955–1986. Google Scholar
- Martin, Raymond, and John Barresi. The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self: An Intellectual History of Personal Identity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
- Mix, Lucas J. “Proper Activity, Preference, and the Meaning of Life.” Philosophy and Theory in Biology 6 (2014). http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/ptb.6959004.0006.001.
- Osler, Margaret J. Reconfiguring the World: Nature, God, and Human Understanding from the Middle Ages to Early Modern Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
- Ruse, Michael. Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. Google Scholar
- Voss, Stephen. “Descartes: Heart and Soul.” In Psyche and Soma: Physicians and Metaphysicians on the Mind-Body Problem from Antiquity to Enlightenment, edited by John P. Wright and Paul Potter, 173–196. Oxford: Clarendon, 2000.Google Scholar