(ISB) - The Interaction between Soul and Body That Some Attribute to a Flow of Energy from the Body, Some to a Flow of Energy from the Spirit, and Some to a Preestablished Harmony

ISB 19

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19. To these things I will add this Relation. After these things were written, I prayed to the Lord that I might be permitted to converse with disciples of Aristotle, and at the same time with disciples of Descartes, and with disciples of Leibnitz, in order that I might draw forth the opinions of their minds concerning the interaction between the soul and the body. After my prayer, there were present nine men, three Aristotelians, three Cartesians, and three Leibnitzians; and they stood around me, the admirers of Aristotle on the left side, the followers of Descartes on the right, and the supporters of Leibnitz behind. Quite a distance away, and at intervals from each other, were seen three persons as it were crowned with laurel, and I knew from an inflowing perception that they were those three great leaders or teachers themselves. Behind Leibnitz stood one holding in his hand the skirt of his garment, and I was told that it was Wolff. Those nine men, when they beheld one another, at first saluted and spoke to one another in a courteous tone. [2] But presently there arose from below a spirit with a torch in his right hand, which he shook before their faces, whereupon they became enemies, three against three, and looked at one another with a fierce countenance; for they were seized with the lust of disputing and discussing. Then the Aristotelians, who were also scholastics, began to speak, saying, Who does not see that objects flow in through the senses into the soul, as one enters through the doors into a chamber, and that the soul thinks according to such influx? When a lover sees a beautiful virgin or his bride, does not his eye sparkle and carry the love of her into the soul? When a miser sees bags of money, does he not burn for them with every sense, and thence convey this order into the soul, and excite the cupidity of possessing them? When a proud man hears his praises from another, does he not prick up his ears, and do not these transmit those praises to the soul? Are not the senses of the body like outer courts, through which alone there is entrance to the soul? From these things and innumerable others like them, who can conclude otherwise than that influx is from nature, or is physical? [3] To these statements the followers of Descartes, who had held their fingers on their foreheads, and now withdrew them, replied, saying, Alas, you speak from appearances. Do you not know that the eye does not love a virgin or a bride from itself, but from the soul? Likewise that the senses of the body do not covet the bags of money from themselves, but from the soul? and similarly that the ears do not seize on the praises of flatterers in any other manner? Is it not perception that causes sensation? and perception is of the soul, and not of the organs. Tell, if you can, what else makes the tongue and lips to speak but the thought? and what else makes the hands to work but the will? and thought and will are of the soul, and not of the body. Thus what makes the eye to see, and the ears to hear, and the other organs to feel, but the soul? From these things, and innumerable others like them, everyone whose wisdom is above the sensual things of the body, concludes, that there is no influx of the body into the soul, but of the soul into the body, which we call occasional, and also spiritual influx. [4] When these had been heard, the three men who stood behind the former triads, who were the supporters of Leibnitz, lifted up their voices, saying, We have heard the arguments on both sides, and have compared them, and we have perceived that in many particulars the latter are stronger than the former, and that in many others the former are stronger than the latter; wherefore if it is permitted, we will settle the dispute. And on being asked how, they said, There is not any influx of the soul into the body, nor of the body into the soul, but there is a unanimous and instantaneous operation of both together, which a celebrated author has distinguished by a beautiful name, calling it preestablished harmony. [5] Hereupon there appeared again the spirit with the torch in his hand, but now in his left, and he shook it at the back of their heads, whence their ideas of everything became confused and they cried out together, Neither our soul nor body knows what part to take, wherefore let us decide this dispute by lot, and we will favor the lot which comes out first. And they took three pieces of paper, and wrote on one of them, physical influx, on another spiritual influx, and on the third, preestablished harmony; and they put these three pieces into a hat. Then they chose one of their number to draw, and he, putting in his hand, took hold of that on which was written spiritual influx; and when this was seen and read, they all said, yet some with a clear and flowing, some with a faint and smothered voice, Let us favor this because it came out first. [6] But then an angel suddenly stood by, and said, Do not believe that the paper in favor of spiritual influx came out by chance, but from providence; for you do not see its truth because you are in confused ideas, but the truth itself presented itself to the hand of him that drew the lots, that you might favor it.


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