The Soul is an Octopus. Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body

Credit: Christoph Geiger / Medical History Museum Berlin / Topoi

‘Substances in Service of the Soul’’ -Credit: Christoph Geiger ‘Dissection as a Method of Discovery’- Credit: Christoph Geiger ‘Brain and Heart as Organs of the Soul’ -Credit: Christoph Geiger ‘Localising the Soul in the Body’- Credit: Christoph Geiger

The exhibition “The Soul is an Octopus” examined ancient conceptions of the soul and its interaction with the human body. In Graeco-Roman thought the soul was not only the basis of an individual person’s thinking, feeling or moral character. It was also a biological principle that gave life and structure to the body. The soul enabled the material body to function so that human beings could move or think. The body in return was thought of as carrying out the functions of the soul as its organon–the Greek word for instrument. From the ways in which the soul’s instruments functioned or failed to function, as in cases of illness, ancient philosophers and medical thinkers tried to infer the nature of the soul itself. Thus pathologies of body and mind indicated where and how the functions of the soul were being disrupted, and played a valuable part in understanding the nature and the operations of the soul.

Credit: Topoi

The exhibition showed at:
Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité | May 11, 2016 to September 11, 2016 | Exhibition opening: May 10, 2016
Deutsches Medizinhistorisches Museum Ingolstadt | July 20, 2017 to January 21, 2018
Klinikum Christophsbad in Göppingen | February 15, 2018 to July 15, 2018

Credit: Uta Kornmeier Credit: Uta KornmeierCredit: Uta Kornmeier

For more information:

Exhibition catalogue pdf icon