The theory of a soul of the world (ψυχὴ τοῦ κόσμου, anima mundi) is almost as ancient as European philosophy itself. As far as is known, Plato conceived of it first in Timaios 34 b 3–37 c 5 (but he returned to it also in Book 10 of the Laws, 896 d 10–898 c 8). The doctrine of the world soul – not endorsed by Aristotle except perhaps indirectly by implication of his theory of the active intellect (cf. De anima Γ 5, 430 a 10–25, etc.) – then received great philosophical emphasis in the Stoic and neo-Platonic schools, which essentially transformed it according to their respective metaphysical intuitions. In order to understand, more distinctly, the philosophical content of the concept of a soul of the world, we begin our enquiry with a brief presentation and analysis of Plato’s and, respectively, Plotinus’ concepts of the world soul. This will also help us see the specificity of the early modern concept of the Weltseele.


Cosmic Body European Philosophy Individual Soul Philosophical Content Platonic Conception 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts Department of General HumanitiesKároli University of the Hungarian Reformed ChurchBudapestHungary

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