The diffusion of the de spiritu et anima and cistercian reflection on the soul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article investigates the early manuscript diffusion of the De spiritu et anima, widely circulated in the thirteenth century and beyond as a work of Augustine, but whose authorship has been much disputed. Building on the research of Norpoth (1924) into different versions of DSA, it compares the treatise to the De anima of Isaac of Stella, addressed to Alcher of Clairvaux, arguing that initially it circulated in a Cistercian context, before being studied in a scholastic milieu as a work of Augustine. It presents evidence supporting Alcher’s authorship of DSA, as signalled by the title Liber Alcheri de anima given in Tissier’s edition of 1664, likely to be based on a manuscript from Stella. It presents DSA as a text that combines Augustinian themes with the Boethian arguments of Isaac about the soul in its Type 1 version, but subsequently expands into a Type 2 version (printed by Tissier) and a little-circulated Type 3 version, which emphasizes the theme of self-knowledge. In a university context, it provided a discussion of the soul quite distinct from that provided by Aristotle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-330
Number of pages34
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Alcher of Clairvaux
  • Anthropology
  • Augustine
  • Boethius
  • Cistercians
  • Isaac of Stella
  • Manuscripts
  • Soul

Cite this