In the 20th century theorists of mind were almost exclusively concerned with various versions of the materialist thesis, but prior to current debates accounts of soul and mind reveal an extraordinary richness and complexity which bear careful and impartial investigation. This book is the first single-authored, comprehensive work to examine the historical, linguistic and conceptual issues involved in exploring the basic features of the human mind - from its most remote origins to the beginning of the modern period. MacDonald traces the development of an armature of psychical concepts from the Old Testament and Homer's works to the 18th century advocacy of an empirical science of the mind. Along the way, detailed attention is paid to the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Epicurus, before turning to look at the New Testament, Neoplatonism, Augustine, Medieval Islam, Aquinas and Dante. Treatment of Renaissance theories is followed by an unusual (perhaps unique) chapter on the words "soul" and "mind" in English literature from Chaucer to Shakespeare; the story then rejoins the mainstream with analyses of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Chapter-focused bibliographies.
Paul S. MacDonald is Lecturer in Philosophy at Murdoch University, Australia.
'...this volume is a must....There simply is nothing like it on the international publishing menu...the author has found a very appealing style of presentation, keeping the reader fascinated without sacrificing soundness of scholarship.' Horst Ruthrof, Murdoch University Perth Western Australia ’The first volume of this magisterial work concerned the history of the concept of mind within the recognised Western philosophical tradition. Here Paul Macdonald tackles the heterodox and occult tradition with the same thoroughness of scholarship and staggering erudition as was apparent in his earlier book. ... Macdonald's book can serve as an encyclopaedic point of reference to a relatively neglected aspect of the history of ideas sitting alongside his earlier work. Together these books represent a massive intellectual achievement that deserve a wide readership in the academic community while at the same time being accessible to the informed general reader.’ Scientific and Medical Network Review