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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

An Examination of the Question Where the Ruling Principle is to Be Considered to Reside; Wherein Also is a Discussion of Tears and Laughter, and a Physiological Speculation as to the Inter-Relation of Matter, Nature, and Minds

Patrologia Graeca 44.156-164  * Greek Fonts


ET there be an end, then, of all the vain and conjectural discussion of those who confine the intelligible energy to certain bodily organs; of whom some lay it down that the ruling principle is in the heart, while others say that the mind resides in the brain, strengthening such opinions by some plausible superficialities. For he who ascribes the principal authority to the heart makes its local position evidence of his argument (because it seems that it somehow occupies the middle position in the body ), on the ground that the motion of the will is easily distributed from the centre to the whole body, and so proceeds to operation; and he makes the troublesome and passionate disposition of man a testimony for his argument, because such affections seem to move this part sympathetically. Those, on the other hand, who consecrate the brain to reasoning, say that the head has been built by nature as a kind of citadel of the whole body, and that in it the mind dwells like a king, with a bodyguard of senses surrounding it like messengers and shield-bearers. And these find a sign of their opinion in the fact that the reasoning of those who have suffered some injury to the membrane of the brain is abnormally distorted, and that those whose heads are heavy with intoxication ignore what is seemly.

Ἐξέτασις͵ ἐν τίνι τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν νομιστέον͵ ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ δακρύων καὶ περὶ γέλωτος φυσιολογία καὶ θεώρημά τι φυσικὸν περὶ τῆς κατὰ τὴν ὕλην καὶ τὴν φύσιν καὶ τὸν νοῦν κοινωνίας

Σιγάτω τοίνυν πᾶσα στοχαστικὴ ματαιολογία τῶν μορίοις τισὶ σωματικοῖς τὴν νοητὴν ἐναποκλειόντων ἐνέργειαν͵ ὧν οἱ μὲν ἐν καρδίᾳ τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν εἶναι τίθενται͵ οἱ δὲ τῷ ἐγκεφάλῳ τὸν νοῦν ἐνδιαιτᾶσθαί φασιν͵ ἐπιπολαίοις τισὶ πιθανότησι τὰς τοιαύτας ἐπινοίας κρατοῦντες. Ὁ μὲν γὰρ τῇ καρδίᾳ προστιθεὶς τὴν ἡγεμονίαν͵ τὴν κατὰ τόπον αὐτῆς θέσιν ποιεῖται τοῦ λόγου τεκμήριον͵ διὰ τὸ δοκεῖν πως τὴν μέσην τοῦ παντὸς σώματος ἐπέχειν χώραν αὐτήν͵ ὡς τῆς προαιρετικῆς κινήσεως εὐκόλως ἐκ τοῦ μέσου πρὸς ἅπαν μεριζομένης σῶμα καὶ οὕτως εἰς ἐνέργειαν προϊούσης. Καὶ μαρτύριον ποιεῖται τοῦ λόγου τὴν λυπηράν τε καὶ θυμώδη τοῦ ἀνθρώπου διάθεσιν͵ ὅτι δοκεῖ πως τὰ τοιαῦτα πάθη συγκινεῖν τὸ μέρος τοῦτο πρὸς τὴν συμπάθειαν. Οἱ δὲ τὸν ἐγκέφαλον ἀφιεροῦντες τῷ λογισμῷ͵ ὥσπερ ἀκρόπολίν τινα τοῦ παντὸς σώματος τὴν κεφαλὴν δεδομῆσθαι παρὰ τῆς φύσεως λέγουσιν· ἐνοικεῖν δὲ ταύτῃ καθάπερ τινὰ βασιλέα τὸν νοῦν͵ οἷόν τισιν ἀγγελιαφόροις ἢ ὑπασπισταῖς͵ τοῖς αἰσθητηρίοις ἐν κύκλῳ δορυφορούμενον. Σημεῖον δὲ καὶ οὗτοι τῆς τοιαύτης ὑπονοίας ποιοῦνται͵ τὸ παράγεσθαι τοῦ καθεστῶτος τὸν λογισμὸν τῶν κεκακωμένων τὰς μήνιγγας͵ καὶ τὸ ἐν ἀγνοίᾳ τοῦ πρέποντος [157] γίνεσθαι τοὺς ἐν μέθῃ καρηβαρήσαντας.

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Cf. St Basil the Great, On the Creation of the World (Hexaemeron)

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