Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A postcard from the Hellenic republic

In Stoic philosophy, pneuma (πνεũμα) is the “breath of life”, a mixture of air and fire. The term originated among Greek medical writers who located human vitality in the breath. Pneuma is the active and creative presence in matter and exists in inanimate objects, where it is called ‘state’ or ‘tenor’. As John Sellars writes, “the material world itself has pneumatic qualities”.

Were the Stoics considering objects ‘actors’ before the actor-network theorists? What are the hospital’s pneumatic qualities? How will the Stoics help in thinking philosophically, metaphorically, about the contemporary pneuma-tic system of hospitals?

The postcard depicts Kos island, where Hippocrates practiced medicine, teaching under the tree depicted in the stamp. Information in this post is from Wikipedia, Stoicism by John Sellars and The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy edited by Keimpe Algra, Jonathan Barnes, Jaap Mansfeld and Malcolm Schofield.

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