Research Project: The Soul

The Research Project on the Soul is informed in some measure by the work of Cognitive Ecology

Some preliminary questions considered

Is human being composed of a spiritual and a bodily nature?

If so, then what may be said concerning to the essence of that spiritual nature or ‘soul’

(anima, psyche)?

Is the soul identical with the body?

Is the human soul a subsistent reality distinct from the body?

Do animals have souls? Do vegetables? [rocks?]

Is human nature defined by soul or does it comprise both soul and body? Is the soul immortal?

Is soul to be identified with ‘mind’ or some intellectual principle? What are the powers/faculties of the soul?

What is the relationship of these powers to each other?

Is the ‘soul’ distinguishable from its faculties?

Is the soul immortal?

If so, do the various distinct powers of the soul also share in immortality? What are the specific powers of the soul?

What is the relation of soul to the five senses?

Is the intellect one among many faculties, or is it the essence of the soul? Is the faculty of memory distinct from the intellect?

Is the faculty of reason also distinct from the intellect?

Is there a distinction between a theoretical and a practical intellect?

What is the conscience?

Are the sensuous appetites also faculties of the soul?

What is the relation between appetite and intellect?

What is the will?

What is the relation of will to intellect?

Is the will an intellectual or a sensuous power?

Does humanity possess free-will?

If so, is free-will cognitive or appetitive (or both) in nature?


Read and Listen to our Previous Sessions

February 10, 2014 – Marsilio Ficino and the Conversion of the Soul (reading group session)

November 3, 2014 – Douglas Hedley, “Nathaniel Ingelo’s Bentivolio and Urania (1669): Theories of Soul and the Early Modern Novel” (presentation via BlueJeans videoconferencing)

November 17, 2014 – Torrance Kirby, “Richard Hooker’s theory of law: an Elizabethan metaphysics of conversion” (paper presented via BlueJeans videoconferencing)

December 3, 2014 – Paul Yachnin, “The Soul of King Lear”


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Each member of the Research Group

• will assign two readings to the group

• will write two short (two or three pages) responses (I think we said that each of us would write responses to the readings we assigned)

• will contribute a very short (a paragraph or two) response to the two- or three-page responses The Group plans to

• organize a video meeting in early 2014

• plan for a presentation at the Ontario Stratford Festival Forum, Summer 2014

• bring into some level of dialogue (1) élite culture works such as Aquinas or Ficino, (2) popular works, texts, and artifacts such as, for example, plays, ballads, gravestone inscriptions or sculpture, and (3) practices such as oath-taking or acting

• seek to develop research questions that relate substantially to the Conversions research project

Group Members

Torrance Kirby (leader)

Simon Goldhill (fellow traveller)

James BrysonCoughlin, RebeccaMarguerite_DesLauriersCarlos_FraenkelAndrew_FulfordSimon_GoldhillDouglas_HedleyTorrance_KirbyEric ParkerPeter_Marshallpaul_yachnin