The origin of the soul became a systematic subject of speculation in Greek philosophy and medicine. In early Christian thought, three theories evolved: the soul was held to be either generated from the parents (traducianism) or it was believed to be formed by a special act of creation on God’s part (creationism), or else it’s origin was related to a former realm (pre-existence). These alternatives, in numerous guises and theoretical cross breedings, intrigued medieval and early modern philosophers, theologians and scientists until the eighteenth century. This introduction (Leen Spruit, The Origin of the Soul from Antiquity to the Early Modern Era. A Short Introduction, pp. 190, € 24,00) offers a summary reconstruction of relevant debates and issues, guiding the reader in doctrinal paths where medicine, philosophy and theology intermingle.
Leen Spruit is now associate researcher at the center for the History of Philosophy and Science of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, and lecturer of Dutch language and literature at the ‘Sapienza’ University in Rome; his research interests regard history of cognitive psychology and censorship of science and natural philosophy in the early modern period; his publications include Species intelligibilis (2 vols., 1994-1995), Catholic Church and Modern Science (4 vols. 2009, with Ugo Baldini), and essays on Agostino Nifo, Bernardino Telesio, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella, Kepler, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.