Body and Gender, Soul and Reason in Late Antiquity

1st Edition

Gillian Clark

Published June 28, 2011
Reference - 346 Pages
ISBN 9781409423751 - CAT# Y239847
Series: Variorum Collected Studies

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What does it mean to say that a human being is body and soul, and how does each affect the other? Late antique philosophers, Christians included, asked these central questions. The papers collected here explore their answers, and use those answers to ask further questions, reading Iamblichus, Porphyry, Augustine and others in their social and intellectual context. Among the topics dealt with are the following. Humans are mortal rational beings, so how does the mortal body affect the rational soul? The body needs food: what foods are best for the soul, and is it right to eat animal foods if animals are less rational than humans? The body is gendered for reproduction: are reason and the soul also gendered? Ascetic lifestyles may free our bodies from the limitations of gender and desire, so that our souls are free to reconnect with the divine; but this need must be balanced with the claims of family and society. Philosophers asked whether life in the body is exile for the soul; Christians defended their claim that body as well as soul would live after death, and even the smallest fragment of a martyr's body is proof of resurrection.

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