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Francis Garden - 1878 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy




Spirits, Animal Spirits

Spirits, Animal Spirits. When people speak of "high spirits," or "great animal spirits," the majority are probably quite unaware that they are borrowing terms from a once prevalent though now abandoned philosophy. So, however, it is. It was long believed that the nerves were hollow tubes, through which ran to and from the brain subtle fluids or vapours which were called the animal spirits. Nay, many, such as Bacon and others of his time, held that all matter enclosed such.(1) The prevalence of this doctrine in Bacon's speculations on natural history must be familiar to all who are acquainted with his Sylva Sylvarum; and in the De Veterum Sapientia he makes the hidden Proserpine symbolical of the occult spirit in things.


To return, however, to animal spirits. Descartes considered their operation the cause of all our movements, sensations, and perceptions. The theory I believe to be quite obsolete, resting on facts without evidence; nay, at variance with what we know of the nerves, and utterly failing to explain the insoluble mystery of perception, and the acting of matter on mind. Its remains nevertheless are found in the phrases by which we habitually denote vivacity of temperament.


(1) Going much farther back, the well-known passage in the sixth Æneid will occur to my readers.



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