Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.




DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-A099-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Conventionally translated ‘soul’, psychē is the standard word in classical Greek for the centre of an animal’s, and especially a human being’s, ‘life’. In its earliest usage (in Homer) psychē is a breath-like material persisting after death as a mere ghost. Its precise reference to the locus of thought and emotion only began under the influence of philosophy. From the beginning of the fourth century bc it became normal to pair and contrast psychē with ‘body’ (soma). The term generated sophisticated discussions. Leading questions include: Is psychē immortal? Is it corporeal or incorporeal? What are its parts or functions?

Citing this article:
Long, A.A.. Psychē, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A099-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.