Epicurus's claim that the mind is in the heart


I'm looking for a reference to back the claim made on SEP:

The mind, which is located at the heart, is a center that controls the other soul-parts as well as the body, and that receives and processes information supplied by the subordinate parts.

I got this from:


If possible I would like an actual quote from some work of Epicurus to support this claim. Thank you!


Posted 2019-03-16T22:24:38.683

Reputation: 203

This was under the Stoic theory of the soul. I assume you would like Stoic references to this idea. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-03-16T23:53:25.777

yes please...... – Squirtle – 2019-03-17T00:06:55.583

A modern (ie post modern scientific anatomy) teacher who nevertheless insisted that the heart "on the right side!" is the seat of consciousness was Ramana https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/sri-ramana-maharshi-on-heart

– Rusi-packing-up – 2019-03-17T07:51:58.000

I once read a report saying that a system of neurons has been found in the heart, giving it some of the physical properties of the brain, but I've never seen this mentioned elsewhere. I may go looking again. It's a common claim. It may be muddled a little in writings on consciousness by the use of the word 'heart' to mean 'core', 'essence', 'ground' and so forth and not always the physical heart. – None – 2019-03-17T13:26:19.657

1@PeterJ Heart can mean 1 blood pump 2 what you call core essence etc roughly identifiable with Ramana's heart 3 solar plexus which would match your neuron definition 4 anahat chakra of yoga/tantra 5 possibly manipur chakra – Rusi-packing-up – 2019-03-17T15:41:07.850



Mind in the heart was a common Greek view, not specific to Epicurus, see Why did ancient Greeks think of "heart as seat of soul"? Epicurus's works are not extant, except for three letters on other topics included by Diogenes Laertius. So, alas, there are no direct quotes. But Lucretius's De Rerum Natura is considered a faithful exposition of Epicurean views, and he discusses soul's function and location at length in Book 3, 3.190ff:

Now, I claim mind and soul are held united
and together form a single nature,
but the main one, which, as it were, has power
in the entire body, is our judgment,
which we call the mind or understanding,
fixed in place in the mid-part of the chest.
For here throb fear and terror. Soothing joys
move round this region, too. And therefore here
are mind and understanding. Of the soul,
all other parts, dispersed through the whole body,
obey and are moved in accordance with
the will and inclination of the mind.


Posted 2019-03-16T22:24:38.683

Reputation: 38 006

Epicurus always seems to me to be right about so many things. It would be a shame (for me) if this notion were directly attributable to him and not just a commonly held belief at the time. So I'll choose to believe this is apocraphal :) – Richard – 2019-03-17T02:01:26.260