USem in Classical Civilization: Victoria Wohl

Victoria Wohl
University of Toronto
Faculty House
Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 7:30pm
The Soul, the Cosmos, and Eternity in Heraclitus

This paper examines the relation between the soul (psukhê) and the cosmos in the early Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Heraclitus has been credited with discovering a new concept of the soul as a locus of emotion, perception, and self-reflection. But this “discovery" is complicated by the fact that the Heraclitean soul is also a material substance, continuous with the physical universe. My paper explores this continuity between the psukhê and the cosmos, but also a surprising point of discontinuity: the subject’s experience of time. For Heraclitus, the cosmos is eternal but human time is finite. This temporal schism sets the psukhê forever out of tempo with the revolutions of the cosmos and opens a space within both the cosmic structure and Heraclitus' account of it for the emergence of a new understanding of the subject. Find more information here.

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