The Galen Project


Article by Julia Trompeter on voluntary motion in Galen

Dr Julia Trompeter has written an article titled “The Actions of Spirit and Appetite: Voluntary Motion in Galen”, which was published in Phronèsis (philosophical magazine).

This article shows the relevance of Galen’s twofold conception of pneuma for his psychophysical adaption of the tripartite soul. In this context, it additionally casts some light on his controversial concept of voluntary motion. Galen is severely criticized for combining Plato’s tripartition-cum-trilocation of the soul, in which each part constitutes its own source of motivation, with the demand that the faculty of voluntary motion is limited to the rational part, being the only one located in the brain and having access to the relevant nerves. This paper gives a solution to this notorious puzzle by focusing on the pneuma, blood and innate heat: when the innate heat increases, the irrational parts can affect the brain’s function to such an extent that the rational part’s volitions are reduced to their own desires.

You can find the article here: