Show Less
Restricted access

Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi

A Reappraisal

Edited By Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese

This book is a reconsideration of spirituality as a lived experience in the lives of the contributors. The authors speak both as well-informed scholars and as individuals who experienced the lived spirituality they give voice to. The authors do not place themselves above and outside of what they are writing about but within that world. They speak of living psychospiritual traditions of healing both the self and the world; of traditions that have not disembedded the self from the wider world. Those traditions are from indigenous North and South America (5 essays), a Buddhist/Shakta from Bengal, an Indo-Persian Islamic psychoanalyst, and a mystical Jewish feminist rabbi. The book also includes a historical essay about the extermination of the Renaissance worldview of Anima Mundi.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter One: Western Modernity and the Fate of Anima Mundi (Frédérique Apffel-Marglin)


chapter one

Western Modernity and the Fate of Anima Mundi

Its Murder and Transformation into a Postmaterial Ecospirituality

frédérique apffel-marglin

There exist no occult forces in stones or plants. There are no amazing and marvelous sympathies and antipathies, in fact there exists nothing in the whole of nature which cannot be explained in terms of purely corporeal causes totally devoid of mind and thought. (Descartes [1641] 1998, Pr. Phil., Pt. 4, § 187)

The veneration wherewith men are imbued for what they call nature has been a discouraging impediment to the empire of man over the inferior creatures of God. (Boyle [1685] 2012, 15)

The Historical Demise of Anima Mundi

During the Enlightenment, the fathers of Western modernity and science, such as Descartes, Boyle, and Newton, actively argued against a prior Renaissance view that the world had a soul, that it was alive, and that all things in it—both human and nonhuman—were connected in an enormous web that was named Anima Mundi, the “Soul of the World.” This ensouled world was alive, and divinity pervaded it. The literate “occult philosophers,” as they are called, wrote on these topics. One of them, for instance, the fifteenth century philosopher Picco de la Mirandola (1463–1494), stated the following:

All this great body of the world is a soul, full of the intellect of God, who fills it within and without and vivifies the...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.