Of the Forming of Man, of the External Senses, also those Inward, and the Mind; and of the Three-Fold Appetite of the Soul, and Passions of the Will.

Forming of man.

It is the opinion of some divines that God did not immediately[1] create the body of man, but by the assistance of the heavenly spirits compounded and framed him; which opinion Alcinous and Plato favor, thinking that God is the chief creator of the whole world, and of spirits, both good and bad, and therefore, immortalized them; but that all kinds of mortal animals were made only at the command of God; for, if he should have created them, they must have been immortal. The spirits, therefore, mixing Earth, Fire, Air, and Water together, made of them all, put together, one body, which they subjected to the service of the soul, assigning in it several provinces to each power thereof; to the meaner of them, mean and low places: as to anger, the midriff; to desire, the womb; but to the more noble senses, the head—as the tower of the whole body—and then the manifold organs of speech.

Mostly a matter of mythology best considered elsewhere; the pertinent point is that most of the sense organs literally as well as the systems responsible for speach are literally higher than those we associate with animal procreation or primitive emotions, a physical metaphore of what the remainder of the chapter discusses.

External senses.

They divide the senses into the external and internal. The external are divided into five, known to every one, to which there are allotted five organs, or subjects, as it were foundations; being so ordered that they which are placed in the more eminent part of the body, have a greater degree of purity.

The more pure senses are those which perceive their objects farthest off, as seeing and hearing; then the smelling, then the taste, which doth not perceive but that which is nigh. But the touch perceives both ways, for it perceives bodies nigh; and as sight discerns by the medium of the Air, so the touch perceives, by the medium of a stick or pole, bodies hard, soft and moist.

Now the touch only is common to all animals. And it is most certain that man hath this sense, and, in this and taste, he excels all other animals; but in the other three, he is excelled by some animals, as by a dog, who hears, sees and smells more acutely than man; and the lynx and eagles see more acutely than all other animals and man.

Again literally being higher is considered a metaphore of superiority, as well as the distance a sense can be perceived. Their classification by element is worth noting following the order of subtleness of the elements.

Internal senses.

Now the interior senses are, according to Averrois, divided into four,

For the virtues thereof [speaking of fantasy] in general, are discourse, dispositions, persecutions, and fights, and stirrings up to action, but in particular, the understanding of intellectuals, virtues, the manner of discipline, counsel, and election. This is that which shows us future things by dreams, whence the fancy is sometimes named the phantastical intellect. For it is the last impression of the understanding, which, as saith Iamblicus, is that belonging to all the powers of the mind, and forms all figures, resemblances of species, and operations, and things seen, and sends forth the impressions of other powers unto others. And those things which appear by sense, it stirs up into an opinion; but those things which appear by the intellect, in the second place, it offers to opinion; but of itself it receives images from all, and by its property, doth properly assign them, according to their assimilation; it forms all the actions of the soul, and accommodates the external to the internal and impresses the body with its impression.

Now these senses have their organs in the head, for the common sense and imagination take up the two forward cells of the brain, although Aristotle placeth the organ of the common sense in the heart; but the cogitative power possesseth the highest and middle part of the head; and, lastly, the memory the hindmost part thereof.

Moreover, the organs of voice and speech are many, as the inward muscles of the breast betwixt the ribs, the breasts, the lungs, the arteries, the windpipe, the bowing of the tongue, and all those parts and muscles that serve for breathing. But the proper organ of speech is the mouth, in which are framed words and speeches, the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the palate and the like.

For more on how the mind actually handles sensory input and how it relates to the imagination and dreams and the will it would be better to read a proper textbook on psychology[4]. William James’s “Psychology: The Briefer Course” while quite dated (particularly the earlier physiological chapters) set the groundwork rather than Freud or Jung for psychology as it is understood today, and is wholly suitable for essential familiarity and freely available.

The important point is that is this an aspect of the soul which is above that of simple plants (or even stones). That is, the animal soul, the subconscious, and in the case of humans, the every-day mind (which so far as the Greeks was considered lower than the philosophical or intellectual mind, but still of the mind). It is also the part of the mind from whence dreams come, and the part of the soul which mediates all of the others.

This “higher is better” metaphore arises again by placement of organs and (an obsolete) division of the physical brain[5]. Ask anyone which way heaven is, and they’ll hardly ever point down. In fact the etymologies of ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ simply translate ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ and are still used as such in medical contexts.


Above the sensible[6] soul, which expresseth its powers by the organs of the body, the incorporeal mind possesseth the highest place, and it hath a double nature;

The former being considered greater or higher or more subtle than the latter, in the same way sight is above taste or touch. Concerned with science and philosophy, the contemplation of itself, and of its environment, beyond what can be simply perceived by the organs at a given moment. Ask yourself: who is reading this to you? It is the contemplative mind which asks.

The latter being the mind of, essentially, every-day life, but here still higher than that of animals or trees or stones. This is the ‘phantasy, or power of judging’ spoken of previously, which is often ‘wholly taken up in consultation and action’.

Appetites of the Soul

This order of powers, therefore, Nature ordained in man, that by the external senses we might know corporeal things, and by those internal the representations of bodies, as also things abstracted by the mind and intellect, which are neither bodies nor any thing like them. And, according to this three-fold order of the powers of the soul, there are three Appetites in the soul:

Here we have completed something alike the classical Aristotelian model of the soul. The first, natural, which all of life partakes of, here associated with the material world and our senses which perceive it. The second, animal, essentially that which has some sense of self-preservation and the need to procreate, as animals and that which falls under the domain of psychology. The third, intellectial, above the ‘sensible soul’ of the first two and unique to humans, is that which can contemplate itself, and capable of things such as philosophy, mathematics, and magic, and cannot be perceived except by itself.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric also speaks of desire which is essentially the longing or seeking of appetition, with the volition to actively seek it out which the stone lacks, in Book 1, Part 11:

Everything, too, is pleasant for which we have the desire within us, since desire is the craving for pleasure. Of the desires some are irrational, some associated with reason. By irrational I mean those which do not arise from any opinion held by the mind. Of this kind are those known as ‘natural’; for instance, those originating in the body, such as the desire for nourishment, namely hunger and thirst, and a separate kind of desire answering to each kind of nourishment; and the desires connected with taste and sex and sensations of touch in general; and those of smell, hearing, and vision. Rational desires are those which we are induced to have; there are many things we desire to see or get because we have been told of them and induced to believe them good.

And on the soul proper, which you may have noticed is not considered seperate from the organism itself, in De Anima Book 2, Part 3:

Of the psychic powers above enumerated some kinds of living things, as we have said, possess all, some less than all, others one only. Those we have mentioned are the nutritive, the appetitive, the sensory, the locomotive, and the power of thinking. Plants have none but the first, the nutritive, while another order of living things has this plus the sensory. If any order of living things has the sensory, it must also have the appetitive; for appetite is the genus of which desire, passion, and wish are the species; now all animals have one sense at least, viz. touch, and whatever has a sense has the capacity for pleasure and pain and therefore has pleasant and painful objects present to it, and wherever these are present, there is desire, for desire is just appetition of what is pleasant. Further, all animals have the sense for food (for touch is the sense for food); the food of all living things consists of what is dry, moist, hot, cold,[9] and these are the qualities apprehended by touch; all other sensible qualities are apprehended by touch only indirectly. Sounds, colours, and odours contribute nothing to nutriment; flavours fall within the field of tangible qualities. Hunger and thirst are forms of desire, hunger a desire for what is dry and hot, thirst a desire for what is cold and moist; flavour is a sort of seasoning added to both. We must later clear up these points, but at present it may be enough to say that all animals that possess the sense of touch have also appetition. The case of imagination is obscure; we must examine it later. Certain kinds of animals possess in addition the power of locomotion, and still another order of animate beings, i.e. man and possibly another order like man or superior to him, the power of thinking, i.e. mind.
Hence we must ask in the case of each order of living things, What is its soul, i.e. What is the soul of plant, animal, man? Why the terms are related in this serial way must form the subject of later examination. But the facts are that the power of perception is never found apart from the power of self-nutrition, while-in plants-the latter is found isolated from the former. Again, no sense is found apart from that of touch, while touch is found by itself; many animals have neither sight, hearing, nor smell. Again, among living things that possess sense some have the power of locomotion, some not. Lastly, certain living beings-a small minority-possess calculation and thought, for (among mortal beings) those which possess calculation have all the other powers above mentioned, while the converse does not hold-indeed some live by imagination alone, while others have not even imagination.

Passions of the Will

But the will, although it be of itself of all things that are possible, yet, because it is free by its essence, it may be also of things that are impossible, as it was in the devil (desiring himself to be equal with God) and, therefore, is altered and depraved with pleasure and with continual anguish, whilst it assents to the inferior powers. Whence, from its depraved appetite, there arise four passions in it, with which, in like manner, the body is affected sometimes.

And all these four passions, arising from a depraved appetite for pleasure[14], the grief or perplexity itself doth also beget very many contrary passions[15], as horror, sadness, fear, and sorrow at another’s good without his own hurt, which we call envy, or sadness at another’s prosperity, just as pity is a certain kind of sadness at another’s misery.

Delusion is associated with evil which is perhaps a bit strong[16], but there is no doubt that a great many people live in a fantasy land, in the modern sense of “fantasy”. Many supposed “witches”, “psionicists”, and “magicians” fall prey to the third of these especially. Particularly those who think tools and materials are “crutches”, work “directly” with “energy”, think “real magick” is only about symbology and climbing the tree of life to henosis, and generally those unfamiliar with what psychosomatic effect, placibo effect, and ideomotor effect all mean, despite Agrippa having pointed out twice in this chapter alone (did you catch them?), and several more times in subsequent chapters, that the mind (or fantasy) can affect the body.

  1. That is, himself.  ↩

  2. The “common sense” is in the sense of its dealing with all of the outer senses, not in the sense of “do not jump in front of a moving vehicle.”  ↩

  3. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fantasy#Etymology. The sense here, obviously distinct from that of the imagination, is more the “power of judging”. It is what when you see a face or a tree knows it is a face or a tree, a capacity which even animals share, and hence it being considered of the animal appetite.  ↩

  4. Literally, “study of the soul”.  ↩

  5. “To witness the workings of the imaginative brain, researchers hooked 15 participants up to an fMRI scanner and asked them to visualize specific abstract shapes, then told them to imagine combining those shapes into more complex figures. What they discovered was a large cortical and subcortical network across the brain that produced the manipulations of imagery – the so-called mental workspace.” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/imagination-brain_n_3922136.html. Of course this is more unique to humans and the section which follows than the other animals.  ↩

  6. From Latin sēnsibilis (“perceptible by the senses, having feeling, sensible”), from sentiō (“to feel, perceive”).  ↩

  7. Defn: Prone to anger; easily provoked or inflamed to anger; choleric; irritable; as, an irascible man; an irascible temper or mood.  ↩

  8. Defn: 1. Exciting to, or liable to be affected by, concupiscence; provoking lustful desires. 2. Exciting desire, good or evil. The schools reduce all the passions to these two heads, the concupiscible and irascible appetite.  ↩

  9. Here also as it happens is a hint at Aristotle’s own thoughts on his four elements: To ignore them entirely and instead use the compositions of hot/cold and moist/dry, the pairs of which are essentially the analogs of yin and yang and from which the four elements (or the four sìxiàng of shaoyin, taiyin, shaoyang, and taiyang) are later derived. The tendencies of neohermeticists and especially later neopagans under the remnant influences of the mesmerist and vitalist movements to treat the elements as some manner of ‘energy’ you could somehow interact with directly is at best debased and bizzare. It is in understanding the interactions of hot and cold, or moist and dry, which leads to the elements’ usefulness in alchemy, medicine, and generally classifying things. But that is for other chapters.  ↩

  10. Defn: The act of pleasing highly; the state of being greatly pleased; delight.  ↩

  11. Defn: The act of pouring out; as, effusion of water, of blood, of grace, of words, and the like.  ↩

  12. Defn: To boast; to make a vain display of one’s own worth, attainments, decorations, or the like; to talk ostentatiously; to brag.  ↩

  13. Defn: Lifted high up; having great height; towering; high. Here, we can read it as ‘pride’.  ↩

  14. See also tanha.  ↩

  15. See also dukkha.  ↩

  16. Although hardly unique: see impermanence.  ↩