Author Topic: What is the soul?  (Read 2251 times)

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Offline epidemic

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2014, 07:33:33 AM »
JB,

This feeling you have, this energy that must exist, assume for one moment that there was no soul, how would the biological computer's life be different?  What would be lacking, how do you think your perception of love would be different.

I mean technically I understand that the energy of your existence is indefinite, in that the radiation of your thoughts and heat signature radiates out in all directions but like a radio signal or a flash of light it just continues to spread in all directions for all eternity.  But like the flash of light it does not care, think, reason, it just is.  Why would you think your energy is coherent, and reasoning for all eternity?

if the soul does exist, why can you change its perceptions, and basic essence by physical means.  Why does Phineas Gauge's basic nature change after a TBI? 
Quote
In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was "no longer Gage"
  There are numerous indications that who you are is contained in the physical matter that is your brain.  You can be completely changed at the most basic of levels by trauma/injury, and or drug.  You can be physically reprogramed my mental trauma or even intentional brain washing. 

I don't understand what the soul is if you can change it by physical means.  I also see no evidence of permanence, just because I have biological processes that allow me to view the world, love, hate, enjoy I see no reason that this has to be caused by a permanent soul/spirit.

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #30 on: May 12, 2014, 08:42:14 AM »
How widespread is the soul concept historically amongst the world's religions and how do they compare descriptively?

Anyone know?

i) The greek soul - psyche[1] this, as others above have already stated, was originally just the 'life force' which distinguished the animate from the inanimate. So a stone has no soul, a plant has some, an animal somewhat more, and humans the most. This general principle then gets 'reified' (made into a thing) in two different ways - Plato and later Platonist thinkers emphasized the soul as an immaterial unchanging object which constituted the true aspect of a person, in particular the rational aspect (as opposed to our corruptible 'false' bodies which would include our appetites and desires). This soul had the advantage of being 'immortal' (both preceeding and after death)[2]. Aristotle and later scholastic thinkers developed the soul as the 'potential' for a human (think of a factory mold, waiting to be filled by molten metal); this soul was philosophically subtler and did not hint at existence before life so was adopted by the Catholic church who, using some fancy footwork (Aquinas), claimed that this type of soul, while not able to exist without a body, allowed for the possibility of resurrection. These two versions of the soul dominate in the western world.

ii) The Hindu soul - From the Sanskrit word atman, in many regards very similar to Plato's notion of the soul, it is also an unchanging object which constitutes the true person; it is also opposed to the corruptible body (sharira in Sanskrit), also exists both before and after life; in this case in a cycle of rebirth (karma-samsara). One key difference is that this 'soul' is not the starkly rational aspect found in Plato but includes desires and appetites; thus the 'soul' keeps us bound to the cycle of death and rebirth. To a certain extent the goal of Hinduism is to overcome the drives of the atman, just as much as the sharira.

iii) The Chinese soul - There is no clear word meaning 'soul' - some people have associated the notion of Chinese word ch'i[3] but this is not really so; ch'i is basically all stuff - physical matter is just slow heavy ch'i - so our bodies are ch'i. If there is a 'soul' in Chinese thought it will be of ch'i too - but then everything is! Perhaps the best word to be translated as soul is shen[4]. However even here we run into difficulties - at one extreme shen can refer to folk story spirits and ghosts; hwoever it can also be an attribute: shen ren - soulful person, or even objects[5]. Here we do seem to have a notion of soul which is far from the Greek Soul (Platonic or Aristotelian); while it can refer to things (spirits) it is mostly used metaphorically, in the way we might use 'spiritual' in the West.

iv) The Pagan soul - While it is ridiculous to create such a category there does seem to be a distinct notion of 'soul' which appears in various animist and shamanic cultures (eg. Pre-Christian paganism, Siberian Shamanism, Japanese + Chinese folk religion, African Vodun, South American Shamanism, Australian Dreamtime etc...). So very loosely: there is a 'soul' world which exits parallel to the mundane everyday one. In this world all things have an attendant 'soul' even things we might think of as inanimate like stones, mountains, rivers etc... This world is mysterious and interacted with through ritual and Shamanic practice. Here the soul is not so much a part of a person, but an associated 'alter-ego', very unlike the Greek soul or the soul of Chinese philosophy. This 'soul' is mysterious and ambiguous existing, as it does, in an different world.



I'm sure I've made several errors of simplification and of course there are many more versions not mentioned
 1. anima in latin, from which we get words like 'animated', 'animal', 'inanimate', 'animatron' etc...
 2. A very similar soul was 're-discovered' by Descartes - see Meidtations on First Philosophy
 3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi
 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen_(Chinese_religion)
 5. Chapter 19 of the Chuang-tzu gives the story of Engraver Chi'ing whose carved wood has shen - soulful carvings.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline screwtape

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #31 on: May 12, 2014, 03:52:52 PM »
The soul is what animates the body.

So, animals and insects also have souls?  Interesting.  That is very heterodox.

How can you tell such a thing exists?


Materialsm hits a brick wall with the immaterial soul. It has never, can never, and will never be able to explain what leaves a person's body when they expire.

Actually that is untrue.  What leaves is heat energy.  You die, you cool off.  And if we know your weight, we can approximate pretty closely how much energy leaves.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #32 on: May 12, 2014, 05:39:14 PM »
My doggies have souls and they will go to doggie heaven one day.
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #33 on: May 12, 2014, 06:38:11 PM »

The fact is, everything you are is a function of your brain activity. Full stop. 

Does that mean you would never distinguish between thinking something and feeling something?
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2014, 06:44:50 PM »

The fact is, everything you are is a function of your brain activity. Full stop. 

Does that mean you would never distinguish between thinking something and feeling something?

From all I've read, heard and considered, it is not possible to have a feeling without some thought behind it as the causal agent.  I will ask you to dwell on that for a bit, and then tell me how a feeling could occur without some thought process (whether conscious or subconscious) behind it.
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2014, 07:01:49 PM »
I do agree that brain activity leads to feeling, but that doesn't really explain what feeling actually is, and why we distinguish it from thought.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2014, 07:24:31 PM »
I'm not sure what you're getting at.  Dogs & cats have feelings; does that too perplex you?
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Offline Defiance

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #37 on: May 12, 2014, 07:46:37 PM »
The soul is what animates the body.

So, animals and insects also have souls?  Interesting.  That is very heterodox.

How can you tell such a thing exists?


Materialsm hits a brick wall with the immaterial soul. It has never, can never, and will never be able to explain what leaves a person's body when they expire.

Actually that is untrue.  What leaves is heat energy.  You die, you cool off.  And if we know your weight, we can approximate pretty closely how much energy leaves.

I am assuming we can use Einstein's e=mc2?
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Offline junebug72

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2014, 08:27:00 PM »
JB,

This feeling you have, this energy that must exist, assume for one moment that there was no soul, how would the biological computer's life be different?  What would be lacking, how do you think your perception of love would be different.

I try not to make assumptions.



I mean technically I understand that the energy of your existence is indefinite, in that the radiation of your thoughts and heat signature radiates out in all directions but like a radio signal or a flash of light it just continues to spread in all directions for all eternity.  But like the flash of light it does not care, think, reason, it just is.  Why would you think your energy is coherent, and reasoning for all eternity?

I guess it is hope for existence w/o suffering.  Hope in reuniting with my loved ones.  Just hope.



if the soul does exist, why can you change its perceptions, and basic essence by physical means.  Why does Phineas Gauge's basic nature change after a TBI? 
Quote
In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was "no longer Gage"
  There are numerous indications that who you are is contained in the physical matter that is your brain.  You can be completely changed at the most basic of levels by trauma/injury, and or drug.  You can be physically reprogramed my mental trauma or even intentional brain washing.

I think your soul only changes if you allow it to.  You can take a tragedy and turn it into something positive or negative.  It's up to you.  You control your perception not your soul.  If there is trauma to the brain I don't think that changes your soul.  Look at that Congress Lady from Arizona, ugh I can't remember her name.  She got shot in the head.  Her spirit is stronger now IMO than ever before.  The same as me with my cancer battle.  I read in a Chicken Soup for Breast Cancer book a phrase that I really understood was; "you can tread on my body but you may NOT tread on my soul".



I don't understand what the soul is if you can change it by physical means.  I also see no evidence of permanence, just because I have biological processes that allow me to view the world, love, hate, enjoy I see no reason that this has to be caused by a permanent soul/spirit.

You can allow changes to the character of your soul, IMO.   

I'm sure there are perfectly good reasons why you feel no need to have a permanent soul.
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Offline Defiance

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2014, 09:35:50 PM »
Junebug.

You do not understand the Phineas Gage refernce.

After he was impaled through his eye, and through his brain, he changed almost completely.  He had no choice or anything to do with it. His brain composition literally changed.

So the phrase "I think your soul only changes if you allow it to" does not make sense.
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Offline Jag

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #40 on: May 12, 2014, 10:11:07 PM »
Junebug.

You do not understand the Phineas Gage refernce.

After he was impaled through his eye, and through his brain, he changed almost completely.  He had no choice or anything to do with it. His brain composition literally changed.


The spike went through his prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain where decision-making and impulse control lives. When Gage's was damaged by the rail spike, he lost the ability to manage his temper or control his impulses, his "acceptable social behavior" judgment was gone. One could argue that he was no longer the "same man" in any way other than biologically.
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Offline Defiance

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #41 on: May 12, 2014, 10:34:32 PM »
Junebug.

You do not understand the Phineas Gage refernce.

After he was impaled through his eye, and through his brain, he changed almost completely.  He had no choice or anything to do with it. His brain composition literally changed.


The spike went through his prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain where decision-making and impulse control lives. When Gage's was damaged by the rail spike, he lost the ability to manage his temper or control his impulses, his "acceptable social behavior" judgment was gone. One could argue that he was no longer the "same man" in any way other than biologically.
Correct, and agreed.

One could even argue that even biologically, he changed because that area, prefrontal cortex, is also responsible for personality.
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*Humanity turns bad again, when God knew it would*
We should feel guilty for this.

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #42 on: May 13, 2014, 12:17:16 AM »

You do not understand the Phineas Gage refernce.


I don't know if Gage is a good example, because he was poorly documented. There are probably a lot of newer examples.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #43 on: May 13, 2014, 06:58:49 AM »
Junebug.

You do not understand the Phineas Gage refernce.

After he was impaled through his eye, and through his brain, he changed almost completely.  He had no choice or anything to do with it. His brain composition literally changed.

So the phrase "I think your soul only changes if you allow it to" does not make sense.


You have told me a story about a change to Gage's brain.  I don't think it changed his soul.  The fact that he survived at all shows me his spirit is strong. 

If it wasn't for freeing the spirit there would be nothing wrong with keeping bodies on life support indefinitely.  So why is it morally acceptable to pull the switch?

I did not misunderstand.  I shared with you how I look at stuff.  I think the brain and the spirit are two different things.
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Offline Defiance

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #44 on: May 13, 2014, 07:10:48 AM »
Junebug.

You do not understand the Phineas Gage refernce.

After he was impaled through his eye, and through his brain, he changed almost completely.  He had no choice or anything to do with it. His brain composition literally changed.

So the phrase "I think your soul only changes if you allow it to" does not make sense.


You have told me a story about a change to Gage's brain.  I don't think it changed his soul.  The fact that he survived at all shows me his spirit is strong. 

If it wasn't for freeing the spirit there would be nothing wrong with keeping bodies on life support indefinitely.  So why is it morally acceptable to pull the switch?

I did not misunderstand.  I shared with you how I look at stuff.  I think the brain and the spirit are two different things.
His "spirit" is not the reason he survived. It was purely medical. Why would he act differently, even from family and friends if his "soul" hasn't changed.
"God is just and fair"
*God kills 2.5 million of people he KNEW would turn out like this in the flood*
*Humanity turns bad again, when God knew it would*
We should feel guilty for this.

Offline penfold

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #45 on: May 13, 2014, 07:51:54 AM »
You have told me a story about a change to Gage's brain.  I don't think it changed his soul.  The fact that he survived at all shows me his spirit is strong. 

Sorry to butt in. I think the problem, Junebug, is that if you can attribute change in personality to the brain, what does the 'spirit' actually do? We know that brain injuries can affect: memory, language, emotions, sexuality, etc... In fact, as far as I am aware, there is not a single aspect of human behaviour we cannot link to the brain[1].

If all behaviour links to the brain, what role is left for the spirit?

If it plays no role then why should we suppose it exists?
 1. That is not to say we understand what is 'going on' in the brain, but we can, using things like fMRIs measure the activity, no matter how mysterious.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #46 on: May 13, 2014, 08:35:03 AM »

His "spirit" is not the reason he survived. It was purely medical. Why would he act differently, even from family and friends if his "soul" hasn't changed.

Because his brain was damaged. 

I "think" it was his spirit. 

Spirit healing is what integrative nursing is all about.  The oncologists around my town have spiritual counselors and highly recommend it when facing a cancer battle.  Yes I'm pretty sure this is becoming the normal around the country in medicine.  I just read an article the other day in a local magazine called Sophie.  They spoke to DR Laura Fleck, neurologist. http://sophiemagazine.com/healthy-living/the-meaning-in-medicine%E2%80%A9/


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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #47 on: May 13, 2014, 08:55:31 AM »
junebug, you're exhausting. I think you'd do well to adopt what what W.K. Clifford offered:

"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #48 on: May 13, 2014, 09:22:32 AM »
You have told me a story about a change to Gage's brain.  I don't think it changed his soul.  The fact that he survived at all shows me his spirit is strong. 

Sorry to butt in. I think the problem, Junebug, is that if you can attribute change in personality to the brain, what does the 'spirit' actually do? We know that brain injuries can affect: memory, language, emotions, sexuality, etc... In fact, as far as I am aware, there is not a single aspect of human behaviour we cannot link to the brain[1].

If all behaviour links to the brain, what role is left for the spirit?

If it plays no role then why should we suppose it exists?
 1. That is not to say we understand what is 'going on' in the brain, but we can, using things like fMRIs measure the activity, no matter how mysterious.

Penfold I am glad you have joined the conversation.  ;)

I think the spirit is what connects everything together.  Like you to me, us to the trees, to the waters, to the air, to stars, to lovers. 



 

 
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #49 on: May 13, 2014, 09:31:21 AM »
I think the spirit is what connects everything together.  Like you to me, us to the trees, to the waters, to the air, to stars, to lovers. 

Oh, now I know what you are talking about: light.

Or, the internet.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #50 on: May 13, 2014, 09:40:37 AM »

I think the spirit is what connects everything together.  Like you to me, us to the trees, to the waters, to the air, to stars, to lovers. 


Sounds a bit like you are talking about Being, but I'm not sure...

Is this spirit a thing or a concept?

For example the signs "2" and "76" are connected by a concept: number. Whereas "Bristol" and "Wales" are connected by a thing: the Severn Bridge.

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2014, 09:42:25 AM »
junebug, you're exhausting. I think you'd do well to adopt what what W.K. Clifford offered:

"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

Thanks! ;)

I have sufficient evidence "for me" to perceive what I do and I am open to changing my perception.

I firmly believe you must find your own evidence, FIRM.  It's about the climb and how you get there not the religion you chose or don't chose.  That stuff can lead you in the wrong direction.  Your spirit won't.  IMO. 



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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #52 on: May 13, 2014, 09:47:25 AM »

I think the spirit is what connects everything together.  Like you to me, us to the trees, to the waters, to the air, to stars, to lovers. 


Sounds a bit like you are talking about Being, but I'm not sure...

Is this spirit a thing or a concept?

For example the signs "2" and "76" are connected by a concept: number. Whereas "Bristol" and "Wales" are connected by a thing: the Severn Bridge.

Shoot penfold I'm not sure either. :o  I don't think there is anything to compare the spirit to.  What does that mean?

I think the spirit is what connects everything together.  Like you to me, us to the trees, to the waters, to the air, to stars, to lovers. 

Oh, now I know what you are talking about: light.

Or, the internet.

Could be talking about light.  Could be.

Good one. ;)
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #53 on: May 13, 2014, 09:53:32 AM »
I think the spirit is what connects everything together.  Like you to me, us to the trees, to the waters, to the air, to stars, to lovers. 

Oh, now I know what you are talking about: light.

Or, the internet.

Could be talking about light.  Could be.

Good one. ;)
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #54 on: May 13, 2014, 10:06:23 AM »
Shoot penfold I'm not sure either. :o  I don't think there is anything to compare the spirit to.  What does that mean?

I suppose the reason I ask is this.

If your spirit is simply a concept which you use to unite things then that is fine, there is no limit on how we can or should talk about the world. Similarly if someone speaks of their 'soul' as a concept which unifies all their disparate parts I am fine with that; in fact I think it is a useful way to talk. It is what I mean when I say something is 'good for my soul' etc... We don't ask if concepts exist or not, but rather whether they are useful (try for yourself - which is a better question "Does the concept of number exist?" vs "Is the concept of number useful?")

However if your spirit is a thing then the situation is different. If it is a thing then the question of existence is central. If you want to know whether something exists then you must seek objective evidence. Here I think those who believe in the soul/spirit as a thing, run into problems, because it seems to me that there is no objective evidence for their existence (hence my original question about the function of 'spirit').


I guess what I am saying is this; if by 'spirit' you just mean some concept then fair enough; but if by 'spirit' you mean a thing then you should be prepared to provide objective evidence for that claim.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #55 on: May 13, 2014, 10:12:52 AM »
I firmly believe you must find your own evidence

There is no "my evidence" or "your evidence", there is only evidence.  What you are displaying is the opposite; where you adopt......nay.....embrace a "neat idea" and then go ahead and try to find evidence (no matter how tissue-thin) to back it up, and then smugly feel that your beliefs are true & correct.  This is tantamount to shooting an arrow at a barn wall from 300' away, and then walking up and drawing the bullseye where the arrow landed.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2014, 11:33:22 AM »
Actually that is untrue.  What leaves is heat energy.  You die, you cool off.  And if we know your weight, we can approximate pretty closely how much energy leaves.

I am assuming we can use Einstein's e=mc2?

nah.  I'm talking thermal energy.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_energy#Definitions
When something dies its entire mass is not coverted to energy.  But its heat dissipates and it becomes room temperature.
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Re: What is the soul?
« Reply #57 on: May 13, 2014, 11:52:58 AM »
I firmly believe you must find your own evidence

There is no "my evidence" or "your evidence", there is only evidence.  What you are displaying is the opposite; where you adopt......nay.....embrace a "neat idea" and then go ahead and try to find evidence (no matter how tissue-thin) to back it up, and then smugly feel that your beliefs are true & correct.  This is tantamount to shooting an arrow at a barn wall from 300' away, and then walking up and drawing the bullseye where the arrow landed.

If you want to know how hard scientific objectivity is, then find something to measure; something mundane, like alkaline battery performance. Mid-way through your battery testing, you will develop a hypothesis about which brand is better, and then you will start to become attached to your theory, and start to avoid testing it too much, in case you find a batch that is worse than the loser brands. The amount of effort that you put into doing testing, demands that you find a productive result: or something to say about the topic. If you feel that you are wasting your time, then you will become despondent and lose hair. Then you will start to accept funding from a rival brand, and start to fudge the results.

Science takes persistence and unfortunately a great deal of intelligence to come up with a hypothesis worth testing.
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.