We begin then with the soul, a subject that Aristotle claimed was one of the most difficult to investigate yet one of the most valuable entities to be investigated. Aristotle's own analysis, in De Anima, remains important to later Christian conceptions, as Aquinas's large commentary on the text testifies.4 In fact, the text is being revisited today by a number of contemporary moral and analytical philosophers concerned with overcoming the mind/body dualisms bequeathed by various Cartesians5 — though wrestled against vigorously, if in the end vainly, by Descartes himself. What Aristotle has to say about the soul is instructive and we shall build upon it.
First of all, while there is no identity there is a profound relationship between the soul and the body such that all 'the affections [pathe] of the soul involve the body' (403a16);6 affections are, in an older translation, 'en-mattered'. Even intellection that might be thought to operate independently of the body, does not, because to understand requires imagination and there can be no imagining without the body. As Aquinas concludes: 'Understanding, then, it seems, does not occur where there is no body',7 though later I wish to reverse the direction of this thinking and suggest all understanding affects the body. Aristotle himself suggests this when he goes on to exemplify
4 Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima: St Thomas Aquinas, trs. Kenelm Foster O.P. and Silvester Humphries O.P. (Notre Dame, Ind.: Dumb Ox Books, 1994). In a somewhat similar manner — though the vocabulary differs from both Aristotle and Aquinas — Maurice Merleau-Ponty has examined the way that 'every thought known to us occurs to a flesh'. See his essay 'The Intertwining — The Chiasm' in The Visible and the Invisible, ed. Claude Lefort and tr. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1968), p. 146. Other Christian theologians whose reflections upon the soul took the form of commentary upon Aristotle's De Anima include Albertus Magnus, Cajetan and Suarez. A number of French phenomenologists, after Merleau-Ponty, have also returned to Aristotle's text — Rémi Brague and Jean-Louis Chrétien among them.
5 See Martha C. Nussbaum and Amélie Oksenberg Rorty eds., Essays on Aristotle's De Anima (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992) and Christopher Shields, 'Some Recent Approaches to Aristotle's De Anima' in Aristotle: De Anima, tr. D.W Hamlyn (Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 257—81.
6 I refer throughout to Hamlyn's translation, which has become the standard, scholarly version in English of the Greek text.
in a manner that recalls the citation from John Damascene: 'Being angry is a particular movement of the body of such and such a kind' (403a24, see also 408b5). For Aristotle 'the soul, therefore, will be the actuality of the body' (412a16) where actuality is related to potentiality as form to matter. The soul is the body's 'essential whatness'.
Secondly, the soul is the origin of movement: sensation, appetite and thought are each considered movements with respect to the soul (415b8).8 The body is not, then, self-moving and autonomous. Rather, it participates in motions, engaging in them passively and actively.9 The soul as the origin of motion is both unmoved and always in motion (408b29). It is 'unmoved' because it is stirred into moving by objects that it recognises as desirable.10
Thirdly, the soul is not the mind; cognitive operations take place within, and are governed by, the soul. So that throughout the treatise Aristotle refers to the soul's actuality consisting in its possession of knowledge. It is the 'enmattered' soul that knows; knows in a more profound because more inclusive way than the mind alone knows. The soul's knowledge is also the body's knowledge.
I wish to continue this line of thought because I want to suggest the body is always immersed in what, after Merleau-Ponty, I will call a field of intentions or, otherwise said, a politics that the mind frequently only recognises later, and that this is the fundamental level at which the body operates inter-subjectively. At this level the political engagement is ontological. But we move too quickly. I must first show how the enmattered knowledge of the soul is implicated in this field of intentions. We must define 'knowledge' here because evidently I am not talking about knowledge as a body of facts. In Britain, increasingly, education is being reduced to just this — the imparting of information, where information can be quantified as a commodity. That is simply head-knowledge, or what Aristotle will call 'the power to think ... [that] alone is capable of existence in isolation from all other psychic powers' (413b24, modified translation). Head-knowledge is know
8 Aristotle here is following Plato, who also viewed motion as properly belonging to the soul. See Phaedrus, 245c ff. See also Laws 897 where Plato recognises motion as not primarily about physical forces (as in Newton), but as emotional and intellectual. It is in and through such motions that there is participation in the Forms, and therefore in the Good as the highest Form.
9 My understanding of motion in Plato, Aristotle and Christian theology is indebted to Simon Oliver's immensely interesting study, Philosophy, God and Motion (London: Routledge, 2005).
10 'The "motion" of the soul is the energeia of "seeing" or "understanding" an object as significant so as then to initiate kinesis, ibid., p. 47. See also D.J. Furley, 'Self-Movers'in Mary Louise Gill and J.G. Lennox eds., Self-Motion from Aristotle to Newton (Princeton University Press, 1994). As Oliver recognises, with Aristotle difference becomes the fulcrum for motion such that all bodies are caught up in matrices of interactive relations. As such, motion is ecstatic (see Philosophy, God and Motion, p. 49).
ledge as representation. It is not irrelevant to the condition I am pursuing, but it is not identical with it. The knowledge I am speaking of is more like the knowledge a sports person has with respect to the position of his or her body to a ball, a bat, another competitor. It is frequently said of Tim Henman, Britain's number one tennisplayer, that he is too intelligent and lets his mind rather than his instincts rule his playing. For professional experience has shown that a body that has been highly trained and disciplined in a certain sport knows of itself where it must be in order to win or perform to its very best. The knowledge I am speaking of, then, has much to do with performance, on the one hand, and relation, on the other. Knowledge occurs within a relational process called knowing. It is an active condition. Knowledge here is both an intuiting and a practising, a coming to know and a practical 'knowing how to' that issues from being trained in how to do it. Nobody simply knows how to cook; and to cook so that flavours and textures of foods distinctively offset each other takes practice. Knowledge is inseparable, then, from experience and socialisation; it is always a 'knowing how to'. So I might say I know Arthur Schnitzler wrote a collection of short stories published in 1925 and entitled Die Frau des Richters, but what I suggest is happening is that I am actually saying I know how to use the term short story, the numbers composing a date and recognise a name, Arthur Schnitzler, with respect to authoring this work. I know how to employ three forms of speaking in a grammatical unit. I am saying no more than Wittgenstein said here, but unlike Wittgenstein, I want to relate this knowing to the enmattered soul and the politics or field of intentions that are intrinsic to intersubjective living. Knowledge becomes a performance demonstrating that one knows how to. But it is also only relational. That is, that performance takes place within the context of other performances and in response to these other performances. Knowing, then, is implicated in economies or movements of response, exchange and declaration. It is continually caught up in communicating and in the communications of others. Even when asleep the ensouled body communicates — by how it lies, turns, moans, snores or is simply still. It communicates with respect to others, in answer to others, as a declaration to others. I am not some monadic centre of my knowing and my knowledge; I am immersed in a transcorporeal exchange of knowledges in which sensing is always simultaneously sensibility. That is what I mean by a field of intentions. I am caught up in an interactive knowing that issues from micro acts of interpretation that concern what the body is in contact with and that become necessary, inevitable, because I am placed within intricate webs of communication. In a final and elliptical essay on the phenomenology of the body, Maurice Merleau-Ponty writes of how 'my own body's "invisibility" can invest the other bodies I see. Hence my body can assume segments derived from the body of another, just as my substance passes into them.'11 In this transcorporeality the ensouled body is already politicised; for its knowing is politicised — that is, its knowing only issues from that ensouled body being an active participant in a larger social grouping. Its knowing is always political because it is always relational.12 We could relate the body's knowledge to a gnomic saying by Nietzsche: 'The body is a big reason, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a herd and shepherd. A tool for your body is your small reason, my brother, which you call "spirit", a small tool and toy for your big reason.'13
So much, then, for the manner in which the enmattered soul exists politically. But what about eros? How does the appetitive relate to this ontologised, and politicised, epistemology? Let us not speak, as Kant did, of a faculty of desire as if desire was a divisible unit of the soul. The soul is indivisible, as Aristotle demonstrated. On the other hand, in the past I have referred to eros as the animator of intention. On this model, eros would be an animator of movement within the soul, along with thought and sensation. But this now strikes me as a highly mechanistic understanding of desire. It figures desire as a source, a centre from which movement issues. And so we might conceive the soul as constituted by three sources of animation: desire, sensation and thought. This would then lead to three kinds of motion within the soul. But the indivisibility of the soul would suggest this was not the case. It would suggest that desire cannot be divorced from sensation and thought; that desire is actualised only with respect to sensation and thought. Aristotle observes that where there is 'sense-perception, then also [there is] imagination and desire [orexis]. For where there is sense-perception, there is also both pain and pleasure, and where these are, there is of necessity also wanting [epithumia]' (413b16). Orexis is a general. word for longing in which there are three forms of desire: passion (thumia), wishing (boulesis) and wanting (epithumia). 14 Aristotle views only 'wishing' to be associated with the rational part of the soul; passion and wanting are subrational but nevertheless associated with thinking because of the role played by the imagination (433b5). We will develop this line of thinking later. For now what is central is that desire is not a source; it is a condition. If the condition of the soul is both the origin of motion and always in motion, this motion is related to the soul's desiring.
11 'Eye and Mind', tr. Carleton Dallery in The Primacy of Perception, ed. James M. Eddie (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 168.
12 Obviously such relational knowing is also implicated in ethics because of its continual involvement with others.
13 Sämtliche Werke, Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 4, Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari eds. (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988), p. 39.
14 See Hamlyn's translation, p. 92.
What is desired is actuality, the complete realisation of the form of what the body senses. All things move for Aristotle, towards their true topos or condition in the world (Physics VIII.4). Kinesis is then related to desire (III.10.a17—20). Aristotle does not employ the term eros15 (although Plato uses epithumia to denote sexual desire), but as the notion of desiring was associated with the Christian command to love from at least the time of Origen,16 so we find, in Christian theology, much support for the idea of the soul as the seat of transformative and ecstatic love. It is evident in the work of Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Bernard of Clairvaux and many of those medieval commentators on Canticum Canticorum.17 The soul is
15 It is well known that in the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle speaks of friendship or philia (Books 8 and 9). He outlines three different teloi for philial love — pleasure, usefulness and virtue — which give rise to three modes of behaviour. One might think that these forms of friendship might be connected with the different modes of desiring and kinesis: thumia and epithumia with pleasure (hedonia) and usefulness, which are inferior forms of philia and the more rational boulesis with the virtuous form of philia. But, in fact, the main verb throughout for desiring is boulomai. Sometimes he uses the middle voice of ephiemi or the more acquisitive form of desiring in orego, but references to epithumia are rare (Book 9.v.3). Earlier he quite explicitly informs us that pleasure (eudaemonia) is not itself a motion (1.7). It is an aspect of energeia, a realisation, an end in itself. Pleasure is not, then, a dynamic aspect of desire — as it is for Plato in the Symposium. But Aristotle does not examine this association, and, unlike Plato, he nowhere investigates the difference between philia and either eros or agape. In fact, in Books 8 and 9, although phileo is dominant he uses both agapao and erao as synonyms (8.i.6; 8.iii.1; 9.xii.1), and under philia includes erotikos and erastos (8.iii.5; 8.iv.1; 9.i.2; 9.v.3).
16 See Origen's Commentary on the Song of Songs, 63—71, for an argument in favour of the use of eros by Christian theologians to discuss both God's own loving and the Christian's love of God (made possible on the basis of God as the origin of all possible loving). Origen refuses here to view eros as simply an acquisitive and appetitive desire. As in Plato's Lysis and Phaedrus (though not in the Symposium), eros is recognised as ecstatic, demanding the forgetting of self and excessive to utilitarian ends. In his own Commentary on the Songs of Songs, Gregory of Nyssa goes even further, speaking of eros as the intensification or realisation of agape: 'The bride is wounded by a spiritual fiery shaft of desire (eros). For agape which is aroused is called eros' (Werner Jaeger and Hermann Langerbeck eds., Gre-gorii Nysseni in Canticum Canticorum, Leiden: Brill, 1960, p. 383). A detailed study of eros in the Platonic and the early Christian traditions can be found in J.M. Rist, Eros and Psyche: Studies in Plato, Plotinus and Origen (University of Toronto Press, 1964) and Catherine Osbourne, Eros Unveiled: Plato and the God of Love (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994). Both of these authors are critical of the influential study Agape and Eros by Anders Nygren, tr. Philip S. Watson (London: SPCK, 1953). See also James Barr, 'Words for Love in Biblical Greek' in L.D. Hurst and N.T. Wright eds., The Glory of Christ in the New Testament (Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 3—18, for a series of insightful observations on agape, eros and philia. Barr concludes significantly: 'though eros is used in disapproved erotic contexts, this in no sense sets it apart from philia and agapesis, which are typically used also in theologically positive relations' (p. 10).
17 For an overall examination of commentaries on the Canticum Canticorum, see Denys Turner, Eros and Allegory: Medieval Exegesis of the Song of Songs (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Cistercian, 1995). For an excellent reappraisal of 'desire' in Gregory of Nyssa, see Martin Laird, 'Under Solomon's Tutelage: The Education of Desire in Homilies on the Song of Songs , in Modern Theology 18 (4), October (2002), pp. 507—26. On page 521 he points out how important it is 'to be aware of a certain lack of consistency in Gregory's vocabulary of desire'. For a concise account of 'desire' in Bernard, see Pierre Dumontier, Saint Bernard et la Bible (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer, 1953), pp. 39—43.
not the source of desire; to desire is written into the nature of what it is to be ensouled, to participate in the world as one who senses, thinks and creatively responds to what is continually being given. To desire is to be educated, not erased, in Christian praxis; one cannot desire without a body, as one cannot think without a body.18
Let me relate this understanding of desire back to my earlier sketch of what it is to know, and suggest the body's knowledge is intimately associated with the movements of desire. It is because of this that I would reject any idea that psychoanalysis murdered the older conception of the soul; psychoanalysis, when it concerns itself with the dream-life and the imaginary as they cooperate with the somatic, offers us tools for what St Paul would call the discernment of the spirits — those movements of affection within the soul. Psychoanalysis becomes a hermeneutical art. But if the body's knowledge is constituted in and through its negotiations with other bodies and is intimately associated with desire, then the economies of response that I outlined above, those fields of intention, are caught up in complex movements of desiring. Desire then both is politically informed and politically informs. Desire is produced and desire is a work that produces. There is a canny scene in Star Trek: The Next Generation where the android Data is captured by the Borg. The queen of the Borg reads a strong determination of Data's desire to experience life as a real (conceived as emotional) human being. She stages this desire for him by electronically mapping onto Data's arm a piece of human skin. The camera closes in for a shot of the taut piece of skin, white (this is Hollywood), pimpled, covered in tiny golden hairs. The queen of the Borg blows softly across these hairs. 'Do you feel that, Data?' she asks, in a voice as warm and deep as seduction itself. 'Was that good for you, Data?' she asks, quickly associating sensation with erotic appetite, her blowing lightly on the hairs of the flesh with having sex. Desire, sensation and thought are inseparably associated here in operations that move across the subjectivies of two bodies. Data's desire to be an affective human is reproduced for him as a desire for sexual satisfaction. This, of course, is another of Hollywood's ideologies. But the point I am wishing to make is only that the body's knowledge is informed by desire while desire is also informed by the way that the body sensuously encounters and negotiates the thoughts and knowledges of other bodies. Desire, that fosters determinations for how the body will act, will itself be disciplined by that body's
18 Challenging some earlier readings of the call to apatheia, Morwenna Ludlow observes with respect to Gregory of Nyssa that 'Apatheia is ... not the absence of desire but freedom from any materialistic impulse or passion'; Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 58. But the education of materialistic impulses does not deny but intensifies appreciations of embodiment.
engagement in the world. As such, politics is always an impassioned affair; and the movements of desire, sensation and thought within the soul mean the politics of the body's knowledge is continually under revision. Of course this observation would also have come as no surprise to Plato — whose Republic is founded upon the city as structured according to the human soul; nor Aristotle, who in Nicomachean Ethics conceived politics to be inseparable from phileo; nor Perikles, who urged that citizens 'should fall in love with' the city, employing — in his Funeral Oration — the erotic term for lovers, erastai;19 nor Augustine, who represented the city of God as a specific social form organised according to a orientation of desire towards God. A certain analogy governs the relationship between the enfleshed psyche and the gathering and negotiation of knowledges in the polis. What I am suggesting here is that entwined physical, rational and spiritual growth and nourishment of the 'enmattered soul' is determined by the body's negotiations with other bodies.
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