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Zanchi’s Aristotle (10): Man as Simulacrum, Man as “Smaller World”

In today’s installment from his prolegomena to Aristotle’s Physica, Zanchi again explains man as microcosm, which he now refers to as “smaller world” (minorem mundum,) in different terms–the terms of human physiology–in a way that will presumably strike most modern readers as passing strange. I leave it here without further comment.

But others call him a “smaller world” [minorem mundum] because he bears a simulacrum of those three worlds about which I spoke above, which1 they explain as follows: there are three (they say) parts of man, which correspond to those three worlds. The first and highest is the head, in which the seat of the reason and the mind is placed. This corresponds to the first–namely, the angelic and intelligent–world, where intelligences are. The second part goes from the neck down to the thigh, where the heart is. And this part, since the principle of life, heat, and motion is contained in it, corresponds to the second world–namely, the heavenly one, where the principle of motion is, and from which life flows into all the things below. The third part goes from the thigh down to the feet, which, since the seedbed of production, generation, and corruption resides in it, is said to correspond to this lowest world, where the receptacle of generation and corruption is.2

  1. The antecedent is “simulacrum.”
  2. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.