• SJS

Ignorant Hunger in My Chest

There's a classical model of the person divided into three parts. The first is the intellect, associated with the mind. It is your ability to think and reason, to properly and logically consider the world. The second is your appetite, associated with your stomach. It is your body's inclination toward pleasurable or desirable things. The traditional paradigm is that your appetites should be rightly ordered per the mind's power to make good decisions. This two-part model is something I have known since high school.


But there is a third part, the will, associated with the chest or breath. Sometimes I have heard this called the thumos, a passion or spiritedness which pushes the person toward something or someone. I have only in the past few years or so come to understand the idea of the thumos and its importance.


I love to feed my head with fascinating things. I love to learn, to read, to watch, to experience ideas, people, and places that give my mind a sensational experience. In a way, I have an intellectual appetite. But, like any appetite, I fear it is overwhelming and distracting. For, while I feed my intellect, I neglect my body and ultimately acquiesce to bodily appetites that are unhealthy.


But worse, I have a severely lacking spiritedness unless it is something my mind desires. I have little thumos for working out or eating well, lacking energy or will for prayer and contemplation, and a suffering desire for conversation beyond what my mind already knows and wants to know more.

I am not saying I lack free will to choose better nutrition, or devote more time to my faith, or engage in talks others want to have. I can choose them. I am admitting I don't want to. I am admitting my will -- my heart, my spirit, my thumos -- simply does not wish for those things.


But, and to risk a cliche, I also want to want those things. I am hungry for better health and ignorant of others. My spirit ignores that which is good yet hungers to be better. Can I will my heart to will good things? Can I find a spirit to improve the thumos itself? If I have hope for anything it is that I can.

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