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Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions

Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 472
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  • Book Info
    Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions
    Book Description:

    Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditionsexamines the interactions of rival-and incompatible-concepts of the mind in a highly original way.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9037-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note to Readers
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction: Toward an Integrated History of Anglo-Saxon Psychologies
    (pp. 3-16)

    The book of Genesis recounts an incident in which the patriarch Noah, having become quite drunk on wine produced in his own vineyard, lies disrobed in his tent. Noah’s middle son, Ham, enters the tent and commits the shameful act of looking at his naked father; Noah consequently curses Ham and the future progeny of Ham’s son Canaan. The events leading up to the climactic moment of the curse are told with remarkable brevity in the Latin Vulgate: ‘Coepitque Noe uir agricola exercere terram et plantauit uineam. Bibensque uinum inebriatus est et nudatus in tabernaculo suo.’¹ The Old English biblical...

  7. 1 Anglo-Saxon Anthropologies
    (pp. 17-53)

    Early Christian thinkers disagreed about the number of substances that make up the human being. Some favoured a tripartite anthropology that attributed to human nature a fleshly body, an animating soul (animain Latin,psuchêin Greek), and an intellectual spirit (spiritusin Latin,pneumain Greek). Others insisted that the spirit was merely a part of the soul, and consequently human nature comprised only two substances,¹ flesh and a ‘unitary’ soul, so called because it united in a single entity the powers to animate and govern the body, all mental activity, and the capacity to survive the death of...

  8. 2 The Hydraulic Model of the Mind in Old English Narrative
    (pp. 54-109)

    The wordbreostsefaoccurs nine times in the OE corpus, in six different poems.¹ Like many OE compound-formations,breostsefaimplies a relationship between its two elements, the breast and the mind, without specifying the nature of the relationship. Yet the meaning of the compound is not in doubt, because the OE corpus abounds in detailed depictions of the mind’s activity within the chest cavity and of the spatial and thermal changes wrought in the chest cavity by changing psychological conditions. This chapter documents the nature and behaviour of the mind-in-the-breast as portrayed in the distinctive OE verse and prose idioms....

  9. 3 The Hydraulic Model, Embodiment, and Emergent Metaphoricity
    (pp. 110-178)

    Though the previous chapter detailed the content of the Anglo-Saxons’ cardiocentric psychology and the hydraulic model of the mind, as well as the prominence of these concepts in OE narrative, I have not yet addressed the more elusive question of their role in Anglo-Saxon thought. Was the hydraulic model a figurative representation of the mind, with which Anglo-Saxon authors ornamented their diction and elevated it into a more poetic register? Was the hydraulic model a conceptual metaphor that the Anglo-Saxons consciously invoked in narrative, as a stand-in for a more abstract model of mind that was incompatible with the narrative...

  10. 4 The Psychological Inheritance of the Anglo-Saxons
    (pp. 179-227)

    The historical backdrop against which we can measure the metaphoricity of the vernacular model of psychology – including both cardiocentrism and the hydraulic model – consists primarily of datable texts containing psychological discourse in the classical tradition. Godden has defined the classical tradition in Anglo-Saxon psychology as that strain of thought which is most directly indebted to the Platonist-Christian tradition, and I agree that this is an apt description of what sets the works of Alcuin, Alfred, and Ælfric apart from most OE narrative treatments of the mind and soul.¹ For the purposes of the present study, however, it is...

  11. 5 First Lessons in the Meaning of Corporeality: Insular Latin Grammars and Riddles
    (pp. 228-280)

    According to the manuscript evidence surveyed in the previous chapter, the majority of Anglo-Saxons who acquired Latin literacy prior to the late tenth century probably never picked up a manuscript copy of any of Augustine’s discourses on incorporeality, epistemology, or the unitary soul. What, then, were the formative influences on the typical literate Anglo-Saxon’s understanding of substance and the soul? Before he or she could study Gregory’sDialogior consult Isidore’sEtymologiae, virtually every Anglo-Saxon who underwent formal training in Latin learned some version of the following definition of a noun: ‘Nomen quid est? Pars orationis cum casu, corpus aut...

  12. 6 Anglo-Saxon Psychology among the Carolingians: Alcuin, Candidus Wizo, and the Problem of Augustinian Pseudepigrapha
    (pp. 281-312)

    The short treatiseDe animae ratione liber ad Eulaliam uirginemby Alcuin of York (ca. 735–804) stands at the head of the intellectual genealogy that Godden has called the ‘classical tradition’ in Anglo-Saxon psychology.¹De ratione animae(hereafterDRA) takes the form of a letter to ‘Eulalia,’ which was Alcuin’s byname for Gundrada, the sister of Adalhard, abbot of Corbie. If Gundrada is also the addressee of Alcuin’sepistola204, she possessed enough learning to appreciate Alcuin’s use of logic in his arguments against Adoptianism.²DRAcovers a wide range of teachings pertaining to the soul, but those which...

  13. 7 The Alfredian Soliloquies: One Man’s Conversion to the Doctrine of the Unitary sawol
    (pp. 313-373)

    This chapter brings us to the first clear and self-conscious confrontation between the vernacular and classical traditions in Anglo-Saxon psychology, a confrontation that unfolds in the pages of theOE BoethiusandSoliloquies, which most scholars attribute to King Alfred the Great (871–899).² If we can judge from the epigraph above, which is unparalleled in Boethius’s Latin, the translator of theOE Boethiusvalued intellectual curiosity and cultivated an open-mindedness to philosophical alternatives to old, familiar beliefs. Such an outlook is easily attributable to Alfred, who accumulated a lifetime’s worth of experience with the vernacular concepts ofsawoland...

  14. 8 Ælfric’s Battle against Materialism
    (pp. 374-422)

    None of the evidence considered up to this point suggests that a Platonizing philosophical psychology was capable of supplanting any facet of vernacular psychology at any stratum of Anglo-Saxon society beyond those who progressed to an advanced stage of the literary curriculum and studied Boethius’sDe consolatione philosophiaewith the aid of commentaries. At middling and lower levels of education, the eclectic, often Stoicizing theories of substance and the strongly cardiocentric psychology of the Insular grammars and riddles posed no serious challenge to the vernacular tradition. Alcuin’sDe ratione animaetaught that the soul was both incorporeal and unitary, but...

  15. Epilogue: Challenges to Cardiocentrism and the Hydraulic Model during the Long Eleventh Century (ca. 990–ca. 1110)
    (pp. 423-444)

    According to the model of emergent metaphoricity that I proposed in chapter 3, a concept rooted in an embodied reality is reinforced by subjective experience and by idioms congruent with that experience; such a concept will function non-metaphorically in language and in thought until such time as a highly authoritative or inherently persuasive rival theory mounts a sustained challenge to the perception that the embodied reality and objective reality are one and the same. I have identified specific textual communities within Anglo-Saxon England that confronted challenges to cardiocentric psychology and the hydraulic model of the mind, most notably those challenges...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 445-480)
  17. Index
    (pp. 481-496)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 497-497)