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Melancholy Cats, Lugged Bears, and Other Passionate Animals

Melancholy Cats, Lugged Bears, and Other Passionate Animals

Reading Shakespeare's Psychological Materialism across the Species Barrier

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter Three Melancholy Cats, Lugged Bears, and Other Passionate Animals
Source:
Humoring the Body
Author(s):
Gail Kern Paster
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226648484.003.0004

It is important to our historical understanding of the passions that they belonged to a part of the natural order jointly occupied by humans and animals. As Thomas Wright pointed out, “Those actions [of the soul] then which are common with vs, and beasts, we call Passions, and Affections, or perturbations of the mind.” For the early moderns, the core intelligibility of this commonplace observation depended upon three interrelated presuppositions of Renaissance cosmology. The first was that the hydraulic model governing early modern psychology was based “on a clear localisation of psychological function by organ or system of organs.” The second was that the four humors of yellow bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood were not confined to the human body but were distributed differentially to all those creatures, more and less perfect, possessing a heart and blood. The third, and perhaps most important, presupposition was the common possession of a sensitive soul. This chapter examines psychological materialism across the species barrier William Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV and Antony and Cleopatra.

Keywords:   passions, William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV, Antony and Cleopatra, soul, psychological materialism, species barrier, animals, humans, humors

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