The exhibition "The Soul is an Octopus. Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body“was situated in Rudolf Virchow’s Präparatesaal in the Medical History Museum | Photo: Christoph Geiger Title and beginning of Galen’s De locis affectis in the Laurentianus 74,30; f. 1r (copyright: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florenz)
The research group worked at the interface between the history of medicine and philosophy. The group examined how the faculties of the soul and the diseases of mind were localized in ancient times and how these ancient theories have contributed to the concepts of modern times.
18 Researchers
5 Research Projects
4 Dissertation Projects
54+ Publications
27+ Events
27 Cooperating partners

The spatial mapping of the body and the soul and their respective faculties can be seen as a part of the philosophical and medical exploration of intra-corporeal spaces. Galen’s theory of the “places of diseases” rests on methods for inferring from diagnostic tests to the location of a “diseased place”. The group reconstructed the theoretical foundations of this method. From a metaphysical point of view, the influential Aristotelian theory of the soul confronted rival theories based on materialist metaphysics. Epicureans, Stoics, and pneuma-theorists concentrate on the nexus between spiritual and corporeal realm. The group worked on editions of the principal source texts, analyze the conceptual framework contained and track its transformations from antiquity through the medieval reception with a focus on the Arabic transmission.


Research Projects