In the history of the concept of pneuma, the writings of Aristotle are considered a turning point: he develops a complex conception of pneuma and assigns it a central role in the generation, development and workings of the body and soul. After Aristotle, the importance and supremacy of pneuma in medical and philosophical thought is almost undisputed; yet, while it constitutes an important stage in this history, the period after Aristotle has attracted little attention. The aim of this conference is to fill this lacuna by focusing on post-Aristotelian conceptions of pneuma, and tracing changes in the history of ideas of pneuma from the early Hellenistic period to the early Middle Ages.

The conference will look at the concept of pneuma from a number of perspectives: (a) the role of pneuma in physics, psychology, physiology, embryology and pathology; (b) definitions of pneuma among different schools and where & why these views intersect, e.g. Peripatetic, Stoic, Medical (Dogmatic, Methodist, “Pneumatist”), Neoplatonist, Arabic; (c) pneuma in social & religious contexts – e.g. pagan, Talmudic, Christian, Islamic. The main questions the conference will address are: How is pneuma defined and conceptualized at different times and in different traditions? Which functions or capacities are assigned to pneuma in the cosmos and in living bodies? What role does the concept of “innate pneuma” play in our sources? What causal or explanatory role is assigned to it and how is it distinguished from other types of pneuma and related concepts like innate heat and cosmic fire? What is the relation between pneuma and soul? How did changes in anatomical knowledge (e.g. the discoveries of the nerves and the arteries) influence and transform the conception of pneuma and did professional conceptions of pneuma filter into lay knowledge? And finally, what role did Aristotle’s doctrine of pneuma play in the shaping of later ideas?


09:30 - 09:45
Welcome and Introduction
09:45 - 10:45
Soul and Pneuma in Pseudo-Aristotle’s De spiritu
Pavel Gregoric
10:45 - 11:00
Short coffee break
11:00 - 12:00
Strato on Pneuma
Luciana Repici
12:00 - 14:00
Lunch Break
14:00 - 15:00
Aristotle’s Second Breath: The Concept of Pneuma in the Ancient Greek Tradition of Natural Problems
Michiel Meeusen
15:00 - 15:30
Coffee break
15:30 - 16:30
Pneuma in Hellenistic Medicine
Heinrich von Staden
16:30 - 16:45
Short coffee break
16:45 - 17:45
The Spirit of Stoicism
Teun Tieleman
09:30 - 10:30
Asclepiades of Bythinia on Pneuma
David Leith
10:30 - 10:45
Short coffee break
10:45 - 11:45
Galen’s Account of the Lung as an Instrument of Pneumatic Elaboration
Julius Rocca
11:45 - 13:45
Lunch break
13:45 - 14:45
Vital Pneuma, Tonos and the Spirited Part of the Soul in Galen
Julia Trompeter
14:45 - 15:00
Short coffee break
15:00 - 16:00
Pneuma in Galen: Physiology, Metaphysics and Aristotle
Peter N. Singer
16:00 - 16:30
Coffee break
16:30 - 17:30
"Tonic Movement": Pneumatic Dynamics and Motoricity according to Galen
Armelle Debru
17:30 - 17:45
Short coffee break
17:45 - 18:45
"An Instrument of the Soul": Philosophical and Medical Context of Galen’s Physiology of Pneuma
Inna Kupreeva
19:30 - 21:30
Conference Dinner for speakers
10:00 - 11:00
The Pneumatic Body and the Animation of the Embryo
James Wilberding
11:00 - 11:30
Short coffee break
11:30 - 12:30
The Neoplatonic Concept of the Pneumatic Ochema
Bettina Bohle
12:30 - 14:30
Lunch Break
14:30 - 15:30
Theories on Pneuma in the Work of the Late Byzantine Physician John Zacharias Aktouarios
Petros Bouras-Vallianatos
15:30 - 16:00
Coffee Break
16:00 - 16:30
Concluding Remarks