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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That the Mind is Not in a Part of the Body; Wherein Also is a Distinction of the Movements of the Body and of the Soul

Patrologia Graeca 44.173-6  * Greek Fonts


UT we have wandered far from our subject, for the purpose of our argument was to show that the mind is not restricted to any part of the body, but is equally in touch with the whole, producing its motion according to the nature of the part which is under its influence. There are cases, however, in which the mind even follows the bodily impulses, and becomes, as it were, their servant; for often the bodily nature takes the lead by introducing either the sense of that which gives pain or the desire for that which gives pleasure, so that it may be said to furnish the first beginnings, by producing in us the desire for food, or, generally, the impulse towards some pleasant thing; while the mind, receiving such an impulse, furnishes the body by its own intelligence with the proper means towards the desired object. Such a condition, indeed, does not occur in all, save in those of a somewhat slavish disposition, who bring the reason into bondage to the impulses of their nature and pay servile homage to the pleasures of sense by allowing them the alliance of their mind; but in the case of more perfect men this does not happen; for the mind takes the lead, and chooses the expedient course by reason and not by passion, while their nature follows in the tracks of its leader.


Ὅτι οὐκ ἐν μέρει τοῦ σώματος ὁ νοῦς. Ἐν ᾧ καὶ διάκρισις τῶν τε σωματικῶν καὶ ψυχικῶν κινημάτων

Ἀλλὰ πολὺ τῶν προκειμένων ἀπεπλανήθημεν. Δεῖξαι γὰρ ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος προέθετο τὸ μὴ μέρει τινὶ τοῦ σώματος ἐνδεδέσθαι τὸν νοῦν, ἀλλὰ παντὸς κατὰ τὸ ἴσον ἐφάπτεσθαι͵ καταλλήλως τῇ φύσει τοῦ ὑποκειμένου μέρους ἐνεργοῦντα τὴν κίνησιν. Ἔστι δὲ ὅπου καὶ ἐπακολουθεῖ ταῖς φυσικαῖς ὁρμαῖς ὁ νοῦς͵ οἷον ὑπηρέτης γενόμενος. Καθηγεῖται γὰρ πολλάκις ἡ τοῦ σώματος φύσις καὶ τοῦ λυποῦντος αἴσθησιν ἐντιθεῖσα καὶ τοῦ εὐφραίνοντος ἐπιθυμίαν͵ ὥστε ταύτην μὲν τὰς πρώτας παρέχειν ἀρχὰς ἢ βρώσεως ὄρεξιν ἤ τινος ὅλως τῶν καθ' ἡδονὴν τὴν ὁρμὴν ἐμποιοῦσαν͵ τὸν δὲ νοῦν ἐκδεχόμενον τὰς τοιαύτας ὁρμὰς ταῖς οἰκείαις περινοίαις τὰς πρὸς τὸ ποθούμενον [176] ἀφορμὰς συνεκπορίζειν τῷ σώματι. Τὸ δὲ τοιοῦτον οὐκ ἐπὶ πάντων ἐστίν͵ ἀλλὰ μόνων τῶν ἀνδραποδωδέστερον διακειμένων͵ οἳ δουλώσαντες τὸν λόγον ταῖς ὁρμαῖς τῆς φύσεως͵ διὰ τῆς τοῦ νοῦ συμμαχίας τὸ κατὰ τὰς αἰσθήσεις ἡδὺ δουλοπρεπῶς κολακεύουσιν. Ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν τελειοτέρων οὐχ οὕτως γίνεται. Καθηγεῖται γὰρ ὁ νοῦς͵ λόγῳ καὶ οὐχὶ πάθει τὸ λυσιτελὲς προαιρούμενος, ἡ δὲ φύσις κατ' ἴχνος ἕπεται τῷ προκαθηγουμένῳ.

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

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