The Objection from Touch: Sensation, Extension, and the Soul in Augustine’s The Quantity of the Soul

in History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract

In The Quantity of the Soul, Augustine puts forward the view that the soul is immaterial and that its quantity (quantitas) must be understood in terms of power rather than spatial extension. Against this view, his friend and interlocutor Evodius raises an important objection, The Objection from Touch, which argues that the soul’s exercise of tactile sensation requires that it be extended through the parts of the body. This paper examines Evodius’s objection and Augustine’s response to it. Particular attention is given to certain features of Augustine’s theory of sensation that this exchange reveals, especially his view that the eyes undergo passion-at-a-distance or are acted on at a place where they are not present.

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