Ancient Greek concepts of the soul varied considerably according to the particular era and philosophical school. The Epicureans considered the soul to be made up of atoms like the rest of the body. For the Platonists, the soul was an immaterial and incorporeal substance, akin to the gods yet part of the world of change and becoming. Aristotle's conception of the soul was obscure, though he did state that it was a form inseparable from the body.
In Christian theology, St. Augustine spoke of the soul as a "rider" on the body, making clear the split between the material and the immaterial, with the soul representing the "true" person. However, although body and soul were separate, it was not possible to conceive of a soul without its body. In the European Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas returned to the Greek philosophers' concept of the soul as a motivating principle of the body, independent but requiring the substance of the body to make an individual. From the Middle Ages onward, the existence and nature of the soul and its relationship to the body continued to be disputed in Western philosophy.
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Last modified: Sun Dec 27, 1998 / Jeremiah Genest
Last Modified: Fri Apr 24 12:15:00 EST 1998