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Explorations in the Medical Humanities: Inventions of the Soul

Public Humanities, Explorations in the Medical Humanities

dateOctober 16, 2017 timeMonday, 6:00pm–7:30pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Arden Hegele
  • Carmel Raz
  • Heidi Hausse
  • Lan Li

How and why would the legal discipline become interested in the science of the soul? In this talk, Jesús R. Velasco will offer an idea of the importance of this science of the soul, its nondisciplinary, and some of its theoretical issues. He will focus on one case of juridical appropriation of the science of the soul in which the legislator gives a legal and political reading of the cognitive processes that form Aristotelian aesthetics and 'psychology'. His main thesis is that the legal appropriation of the soul involves the articulation of systems of mutual surveillance among what medieval law called personae fictae, or what we normally refer to as the juridical person or the juridical subject. These forms of mutual surveillance are part of a biopolitical and governmental project that lies at the basis of the very configuration of a juridical subject. This configuration gradually erodes the notion of “nature,” only to replace it with a juridical institution that also carries the name of “nature.” This talk will focus mainly on the Mediterranean discussions about the soul, the psyche, cognitive process, and their appropriation in the realms of theology and law.