FOR SIMPLICITY’S SAKE we begin with the ancient Greeks, bearing in mind that for even earlier, pre-monotheistic, religions – otherwise known as the Pagans, Canaanites, animistic, matriarchal and primal religions – the spiritual imbued everything in the natural and physical world. More will be said on this later.
For the ancient Greeks, all humans were spiritual beings. There were four important spirit words – pneuma, nous, psyche and thumos. “Humans were enfolded and sustained by cosmic pneuma; ruled by the universally operative faculty of rational cognition nous; vivified by an individual psyche; and had an emotional attraction to the right, the noble, and the good thumos”. [i] In ancient Greek philosophy ‘spirituality’ had cosmic, intellectual, psychological and moral components and implications. This is a holistic view of spirituality which found favour once again in the late twentieth century.[ii]
[i] Steven G. Smith The Concept of the Spiritual (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988), 21.
[ii] For a humanist and premodern view of spirituality see Donald Evans, Spirituality and Human Nature ( Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), viii.