ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

185. Isaac of Stella and Alcher of Clairvaux. -- About the middle of the twelfth century there appeared two small treatises on psychology which are important as summing up the current psychological teaching of this first period. One, entitled De Anima, is in the form of a letter written about 1162 by ISAAC OF STELLA (born in England, became a Cistercian monk at Citeaux, abbot of Stella about 1147, died about 1169). The other, known as Liber de Spiritu et Anima, is probably the reply of Isaac's correspondent, ALCHER OF CLAIRVAUX. The De Anima is a collection of rather disconnected views which were apparently drawn from their author by the insistence of Alcher.{1} The Liber de Spiritu et Anima, on the contrary, is a well-arranged treatise which must have had a considerable didactic value, and is full of erudition besides.{2} Both authors were manifestly imbued with the spirit of the Augustinian psychology. The soul rules the body; its union with the body is a friendly union, though the latter impedes the full and free exercise of its activities; it is devoted to its prison.{3} The powers of the soul are manifold, but none of them really distinct from the soul itself. We may decipher in it vestiges of the Blessed Trinity.{4} Alcher gives a long description of all the soul's activities, from the vis vitalis and animalis up to intelligence. Isaac has summarized the solution of the Universals problem in this significant formula: "secundae enim substantiae sunt in primis, sed primae a secundis".{5}

{1} "Cogis me dilectissime, scire quod nescio; et quod nondum didici docere" (MIGNE, P.L., t. 194, col. 1875).

{2} In his Quaestio Unica de Anima, art. 12, a. 1, St. Thomas attributes this treatise to an anonymous Cistercian monk. This would be Alcher. Cf. 133, iii., 2.

{3} "Sociata namque illi, licet ejus societate praegravetur, ineffabili tamen conditione diligit illud; amat carcerem suum" (De Spiritu et Anima, Migne, t. 40, col. 789).

{4} Ibid., cap. 6.

{5} Op. cit., col. 1884.

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