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Pneuma

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Pneuma

Pneuma (πνεῦμα) is an ancient Greek word for "breath", and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul".[1][2] It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and in the Greek New Testament. In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from psyche (ψυχή), which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "soul".[3]

Classical antiquity

Presocratics

Pneuma, "air in motion, breath, wind," is equivalent in the material monism of Anaximenes to aer (ἀήρ, "air") as the element from which all else originated. This usage is the earliest extant occurrence of the term in philosophy.[4] A quotation from Anaximenes observes that "just as our soul (psyche), being air (aer), holds us together, so do breath (pneuma) and air (aer) encompass the whole world." In this early usage, aer and pneuma are synonymous.[5]

Ancient Greek medical theory

In consciousness in a body. According to Diocles and Praxagoras, the psychic pneuma mediates between the heart, regarded as the seat of Mind in some physiological theories of ancient medicine, and the brain.[6]

The disciples of [7]

Aristotle

The "connate pneuma" of Aristotle is the warm mobile "air" that in the sperm transmits the capacity for locomotion and certain sensations to the offspring. These movements derive from the soul of the parent and are embodied by the pneuma as a material substance in semen. Pneuma is necessary for life, and as in medical theory is involved with the "vital heat," but the Aristotelian pneuma is less precisely and thoroughly defined than that of the Stoics.[3]

Stoic pneuma

In cosmos.[9] In its highest form, pneuma constitutes the human soul (psychê), which is a fragment of the pneuma that is the soul of God (Zeus). As a force that structures matter, it exists even in inanimate objects.[10]

Judaism and Christianity

In Judaic and Christian usage, pneuma is a common word for "spirit" in the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament. At John 3:5, for example, pneuma is the Greek word translated into English as "spirit": "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit (pneuma), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

See also

References

  1. ^ Entry πνεῦμα, in Liddell-Scott-Jones, A Greek–English Lexicon, online version.
  2. ^ See pp.190, 195, 205 of François, Alexandre (2008), "Semantic maps and the typology of colexification: Intertwining polysemous networks across languages", in Vanhove, Martine, From Polysemy to Semantic change: Towards a Typology of Lexical Semantic Associations, Studies in Language Companion Series 106, Amsterdam, New York: Benjamins, pp. 163–215 .
  3. ^ a b Furley, D.J. (1999). From Aristotle to Augustine. History of Philosophy. Routledge. p. 29.  
  4. ^ Silvia Benso, "The Breathing of the Air: Presocratic Echoes in Levinas," in Levinas and the Ancients (Indiana University Press, 2008), p. 13.
  5. ^ Benso, "The Breathing of the Air," p. 14.
  6. ^ Philip J. van der Eijk, "The Heart, the Brain, the Blood and the pneuma: Hippocrates, Diocles and Aristotle on the Location of Cognitive Processes," in Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity: Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease (Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 131–132 et passim. ISBN 0-521-81800-1
  7. ^  
  8. ^ "Stoicism," Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Taylor & Francis, 1998), p. 145.
  9. ^ David Sedley, "Stoic Physics and Metaphysics," The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, p. 388.
  10. ^ John Sellars, Stoicism (University of California Press, 2006), pp. 98-104.

External links

  • The dictionary definition of pneuma at Wiktionary
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