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Nemesius of Emesa on Human NatureA Cosmopolitan Anthropology from Roman Syria$
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David Lloyd Dusenbury

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198856962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198856962.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 January 2022

The Union of Substances

The Union of Substances

On Human Nature 2–5

Chapter:
(p.72) 3 The Union of Substances
Source:
Nemesius of Emesa on Human Nature
Author(s):

David Lloyd Dusenbury

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198856962.003.0003

In this chapter, on Human Nature 2–5, Nemesius denies that the soul is a body, a harmony, a mixture, or a quality. His cosmopolitan anthropology rests on the conviction that the human soul is an incorporeal and immortal substance. Yet this creates two acute problems for the bishop. First, how is an incorporeal soul united to a body? And second, is it possible for an immortal soul to be united to a non-human body? In settling the first question, Nemesius draws on both Plato and Galen. ‘The body is an instrument of the soul’, he writes. This is a concept which underlies his physiology and psychology. In his handling of the second question, though, Nemesius uses Galen’s medical philosophy to refute Platonic theories of reincarnation. This is a far-reaching decision: it means that Nemesius’ idea of human nature, as such—as an idea—diverges from much of the Platonic tradition in late antiquity.

Keywords:   Nemesius of Emesa, Early Christianity, Late antiquity, Patristics, Ancient philosophy, History of ideas, Cosmopolitanism, Galen, Iamblichus, Reincarnation

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