World Soul – Anima Mundi
On the Origins and Fortunes of a Fundamental Idea
Ed. by Helmig, Christoph
- First collected volume on the concept of a world soul in the history of thought
- Seminal readings on the interrelation of cosmology, psychology and theology
- Wide-ranging scope from Heraclitus and Plato to Neoplatonism and beyond
Aims and Scope
From Plato’s Timaeus onwards, the world or cosmos has been conceived of as a living, rational organism. Most notably in German Idealism, philosophers still talked of a ‘Weltseele’ (Schelling) or ‘Weltgeist’ (Hegel). This volume is the first collection of essays on the origin of the notion of the world soul (anima mundi) in Antiquity and beyond. It contains 14 original contributions by specialists in the field of ancient philosophy, the Platonic tradition and the history of theology. The topics range from the ‘obscure’ Presocratic Heraclitus, to Plato and his ancient readers in Middle and Neoplatonism (including the Stoics), to the reception of the idea of a world soul in the history of natural science. A general introduction highlights the fundamental steps in the development of the Platonic notion throughout late Antiquity and early Christian philosophy. Accessible to Classicists, historians of philosophy, theologians and invaluable to specialists in ancient philosophy, the book provides an overview of the fascinating discussions surrounding a conception that had a long-lasting effect on the history of Western thought.