The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

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If, therefore, man would understand the excellency of his soul, let him turn his eyes inwardly and look unto himself and search diligently his own mind, and there he shall see many admirable gifts and excellent ornaments, that must needs fill him with wonder and amazement; as reason, understanding, freedom of will, memory, etc., that clearly show the soul to be descended from a heavenly original, and that therefore it is of infinite duration and not subject to annihilation.

Yet for its many operations and offices while in the body it goes under several denominations: for when it enlivens the body it is called the soul; when it gives knowledge, the judgment of the mind; and when it recalls things past, the memory; when it discourses and discerns, reason; when it contemplates, the spirit; when it is the sensitive part, the senses. And these are the principal offices whereby the soul declares its powers and performs its actions. For being seated in the highest parts of the body it diffuses its force into every member. It is not propagated from the parents, nor mixed with gross matter, but the infused breath of God, immediately proceeding from Him; not passing from one to another as was the opinion of Pythagoras, who held a belief in transmigration of the soul; but that the soul is given to every infant by infusion, is the most received and orthodox opinion. And the learned do likewise agree that this is done when the infant is perfected in the womb, which happens about the twenty- fourth day after conception; especially for males, who are generally born at the end of nine months; but in females, who are not so soon formed and perfected, through defect of heat, until the fiftieth day. And though this day in either case cannot be truly set down, yet Hippocrates has given his opinion, that it is so when the child is formed and begins to move, when born in due season. In his book of the nature of infants, he says, if it be a male and be perfect on the thirtieth day, and move on the seventieth, he will be born in the seventh month; but if he be perfectly formed on the thirty-fifth day, he will move on the seventieth and will be born in the eighth month. Again, if he be perfectly formed on the forty-fifth day, he will move on the ninetieth and be born in the ninth month. Now from these paring of days and months, it plainly appears that the day of forming being doubled, makes up the day of moving, and the day, three times reckoned, makes up the day of birth. As thus, when thirty-five perfects the form, if you double it, makes seventy the day of motion; and three times seventy amounts to two hundred and ten days; while allowing thirty days to a month makes seven months, and so you must consider the rest. But as to a female the case is different; for it is longer perfecting in the womb, the mother ever going longer with a girl than with a boy, which makes the account differ; for a female formed in thirty days does not move until the seventieth day, and is born in the seventh month; when she is formed on the fortieth day, she does not move till the eightieth and is born in the eighth month; but, if she be perfectly formed on the forty-fifth day she moves on the ninetieth, and the child is born in the ninth month; but if she that is formed on the sixtieth day, moves on the one hundred and tenth day, she will be born in the tenth month. I treat the more largely of love that the reader may know that the reasonable soul is not propagated by the parents, but is infused by the Almighty, when the child has its perfect form, and is exactly distinguished in its lineaments.

Now, as the life of every other creature, as Moses shows, is in the blood, so the life of man consists in the soul, which although subject to passion, by reason of the gross composures of the body, in which it has a temporary confinement, yet it is immortal and cannot in itself corrupt or suffer change, it being a spark of the Divine Mind. And that every man has a peculiar soul plainly appears by the vast difference between the will, judgment, opinions, manners, and affections in men. This David observes when he says: "God hath fashioned the hearts and minds of men, and has given to every one his own being and a soul of its own nature." Hence Solomon rejoiced that God had given him a soul, and a body agreeable to it. It has been disputed among the learned in what part of the body the soul resides; some are of opinion its residence is in the middle of the heart, and from thence communicates itself to every part, which Solomon (Prov. iv. 23) seems to confirm when he says: "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." But many curious physicians, searching the works of nature in man's anatomy, do affirm that its chief seat is in the brain, from whence proceed the senses, the faculties, and actions, diffusing the operations of the soul through all parts of the body, whereby it is enlivened with heat and force to the heart, by the arteries, corodities, or sleepy arteries, which part upon the throat; which, if they happen to be broken or cut, they cause barrenness, and if stopped an apoplexy; for there must necessarily be ways through which the spirits, animal and vital, may have intercourse and convey native heat from the soul. For though the soul has its chief seat in one place, it operates in every part, exercising every member which are the soul's instruments, by which she discovers her power. But if it happen that any of the original parts are out of tune, its whole work is confused, as appears in idiots and mad men; though, in some of them, the soul, by a vigorous exertion of its power, recovers its innate strength and they become right after a long despondency in mind, but in others it is not recovered again in this life. For, as fire under ashes, or the sun obscured from our sight by thick clouds, afford not their native lustre, so the soul, overwhelmed in moist or morbid matter, is darkened and reason thereby overclouded; and though reason shines less in children than it does in such as are arrived at maturity, yet no man must imagine that the soul of an infant grows up with the child, for then would it again decay; but it suits itself to nature's weakness, and the imbecility of the body wherein it is placed, that it may operate the better. And as the body is more capable of recovering its influence, so the soul does more and more exert its faculties, having force and endowment at the time it enters the form of a child in the womb; for its substance can receive nothing less. And thus much to prove that the soul does not come from the parents, but is infused by God. I shall next prove its immortality and demonstrate the certainty of our resurrection.


That the soul of man is a Divine ray, infused by the Sovereign Creator, I have already proved, and now come to show that whatever immediately proceeds from Him, and participates of His nature, must be as immortal as its original; for, though all other creatures are endowed with life and motion, they yet lack a reasonable soul, and from thence it is concluded that their life is in their blood, and that being corruptible they perish and are no more; but man being endowed with a reasonable soul and stamped with a Divine image, is of a different nature, and though his body is corruptible, yet his soul being of an immortal nature cannot perish; but at the dissolution of the body returns to God who gave it, either to receive reward or punishment. Now, that the body can sin of itself is impossible, because wanting the soul, which is the principle of life, it cannot act nor proceed to anything either good or evil; for could it do so, it might even sin in the grave. But it is plain that after death there is a cessation; for as death leaves us so judgment will find us.

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