Forms, Souls, and Embryos : Neoplatonists on Human Reproduction book cover
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Forms, Souls, and Embryos
Neoplatonists on Human Reproduction





ISBN 9780367874742
Published December 11, 2019 by Routledge
242 Pages

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Book Description

Forms, Souls, and Embryos allows readers coming from different backgrounds to appreciate the depth and originality with which the Neoplatonists engaged with and responded to a number of philosophical questions central to human reproduction, including: What is the causal explanation of the embryo’s formation? How and to what extent are Platonic Forms involved?  In what sense is a fetus ‘alive,’ and when does it become a human being?   Where does the embryo’s soul come from, and how is it connected to its body? This is the first full-length study in English of this fascinating subject, and is a must-read for anyone interested in Neoplatonism or the history of  medicine and embryology.

Table of Contents



Introduction





Chapter 1: The Embryological Background



General Background: Four Key Issues in Ancient Embryology



Embryology in Plato





Chapter 2: The Metaphysical Background



Metaphysical Models in Embryology



The Biological Development of the Theory of Forms





Chapter 3: Neoplatonic Embryology: The Core Theory



The One-Seed Theory



The Origin and Nature of the Seed



The Maternal Actualization of the Seed



Other External Factors in the Formation of the Offspring





Appendix to Chapter 3: Eclectic Theories



The Commentary on the Hippocratic On the Nature of the Child by John of Alexandria



Theophilus Protospatharius’ On the Construction of the Human Being



Pseudo-Galen’s De Spermate



Pseudo-Iamblichus’ Theology of Arithmetic



Pseudo-Galen’s Whether What is Carried in the Womb is a Living Thing



The Commentary on Aristotle’s On the Generation of Animals by Michael of Ephesus



Michael’s Interpretation of Aristotle’s Embryology



Michael’s Interpretation of Plato’s Embryology





Chapter 4: Formation and Animation of the Embryo



The Order of the Embryo’s Formation



The Animation of the Embryo





Chapter 5: The Problem of Teratogenesis





Epilogue





Bibliography





Index Locorum





Subject Index

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Reviews

"Wilberding’s Forms, Souls, and Embryos is a pioneering work. It explores the uncharted territory of late ancient philosophy’s growing interest in medicine and biology. Its distinguished achievement lies in discovering a new world for future research – the metaphysical foundation of the key concepts of conception and the origin of life, as presented in Neoplatonism, the school which carried the vitality of ancient thought into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Wilberding’s conclusion that the Neoplatonic attribution of causal significance to both sexes in biological generation does not constitute as quiet a revolution as it seems originally, is equally valid for the achievement of his book itself."

- Dr. Svetla Slaveva-Griffin, Florida State University, USA

 

"This is a fascinating book, well worth reading if you have any interest in Platonic philosophy or ancient philosophy more generally ... It is time that we took more notice of philosophical engagement with embryological theory from the earliest thinkers to the early modern period. Wilberding’s book is a major advance in scholarship in this area and will surely open up substantial avenues for further research. The typescript is immaculate; there are comprehensive notes, an excellent bibliography and index locorum. In short, this book in outstanding in content, style and presentation."

- Sophia M. Connell, University of Cambridge, UK, in the Bryn Mawr Classica Review