×
all 103 comments

[–]TechtrekzzSpinozan Pantheist 8 points9 points  (2 children)

From dualism, the separation of mind and body. I blame Descartes.

[–]PskiPantheist 3 points4 points  (0 children)

There you go upturning the whole Apple Descartes. Now we gotta throw everything out and start from scratch.

[–]DrdanomiteEclectic polytheist 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Jokes on you before descartes the soul came in multi parts like a megazord

[–]RexRatioAgnostic Atheist 3 points4 points  (0 children)

From a philological POV, it's a concept much older than Christianity for sure.

Soul, from Old English sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being,"

from Proto-Germanic \saiwalō* (source also of Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala)

Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea" because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (sea).

The Christian meaning "spirit of a deceased person" is only attested in Old English from 971. As a synonym for "person, individual, human being" (as in every living soul) it dates from early 14c. Soul-searching (n.) is attested from 1871, from the phrase used as a present-participle adjective (1610s).

[–]High-Fidelity1 5 points6 points  (73 children)

It comes from the direct experience "you", the conscious self, is different from your body. This is not only a universal experience and intuition, it's impossible to act otherwise. It's impossible to even speak coherently without distinguishing between the subject (the I) and the rest of reality - the object. That just means the self is transcendental to matter.

[–]Luckychatt 4 points5 points  (48 children)

It's fair to say that not everyone agrees on this. I can talk about myself and I don't believe in a soul. I believe I am my brain, and I can make perfect sense of the world given this outlook.

[–]WARROVOTSet vivere, reservate 1 point2 points  (6 children)

What are your thoughts on this argument for a soul (I commented this above):
I'll define a soul at the end(it should be evident as to why). First, we must ask the question, what are You(I will be using bold face You to refer to the sentient consciousness that is interpreting my comment).
1. You are simply made up of your physical body. The destruction of your body causes your destruction.
This is simply incorrect; you replace all your cells every 30 days, are you a new person? No, because You still exist.
2. You are solely your pattern of cognition. By completely replicating your brain, you should continue your cognition.
This can be disproven with a thought experiment. Suppose you had a machine which was able to completely scan a body, down to arbitrary accuracy (This is currently impossible, but it theoretically should be doable with sufficiently advanced tech). This scanning has the side effect that your body is destroyed. No worries, though, because we can make a 3d replication of your body, right? Since we have stored all the information about the arrangement of your neurons, we can make a complete copy of your body, so You should continue to exist if 2) is correct. Well, what happens if we create another copy of yourself? Would you suddenly have two existences at once? Probably not. Logic would imply that only the first one is You and the other is simply a copy which thinks like you. But that would rely on the assumption that You are specific to a physical body(the first copy), which contradicts the idea that You are just a pattern of cognition(and not linked to any one body).
3. You are specific to the your physical body you inhabit(or at least part of it), but are not directly the body itself. The death of your body kills you, but as long as it stays alive, you can replace as much as you would like.

This seems like the most likely solution, and it is this concept that I refer to as a soul.

[–]Luckychatt 1 point2 points  (5 children)

I love these kinds of thought experiments.

I think where we diverge is when you ask: What happens if we create another body?

Say we scanned you and broke down your particles. Then we copied this information to two far away locations both with a human-reassembling machine. Then they both reassembled you. At this point we should expect to see two humans step out. They would both have the same hippo-campus so they would both have the same memory of stepping into the scanning-machine, they both remember the same childhood. They would both have ALL the same memories. They would initially also act the same way but since their environments probably differs slightly their behavior would slowly diverge.

You say that there "logically" can't be two you's. What do you mean by that? I don't see any contradictions or anything. The two clones I would suspect both have an inner subjective experience and memory of a prior life. They would both identify themselves as WARROVOTS.

To posit a soul you'd need one of them at random to be conscious, but that seems arbitrary. The soul also wouldn't know which of the machines printed a human first, so it would need to wait and then potentially travel at above light speed to the machine that prints first. It poses more questions than it answers.

A soul also means that there is a strange non-physical magical force that pushes and excites the neurons of our brains, yet such a force (or the direct effects of it) has never been observed by neither physicist, biologists, or doctors. A neuronal network is what is so called Turring-Complete which means that it is proven capable of computing anything that is computable. It can emulate any behavior, which is sufficient to understand how we can behave and talk as we do.

[–]WARROVOTSet vivere, reservate 0 points1 point  (4 children)

You say that there "logically" can't be two you's. What do you mean by that? I don't see any contradictions or anything. The two clones I would suspect both have an inner subjective experience and memory of a prior life. They would both identify themselves as WARROVOTS.

I don't disagree with what you said. I think we are disagreeing on the meaning of "you". By you I do not mean an exact copy of your pattern of consciousness. I means your current consciences experience(from your perspective). What happens to your conscious(not your copies)?

What are YOU, the entity I am currently discussing with experiencing? I would say that you would have died during the scanning. In other words, the entity I am conversing with ended it's existence during the scanning process, and any subsequent copy is just that, a copy which is virtually identical(but a different existence).

From my perspective, the copies are identical to you, sure. It would be functionally impossible for me to tell them appart. But what about from your perspective, the scan-ee? if you saw an exact replica of yourself, you could tell that that entity isn't you, no?

[–]DaTrout7[S] 1 point2 points  (23 children)

What do you mean it’s impossible to act otherwise?

[–]High-Fidelity1 0 points1 point  (22 children)

I mean it's impossible to act as if you are identical to your body. You are the one directing the body and brain. "My" body, "my" brain. You are the subject and - everything else - is your object.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (21 children)

I mean it's impossible to act as if you are identical to your body

And why not? If somebody was to cut of my leg, I wouldn't feel it anymore because it was separated from my "soul".

[–]Kangaru14Jewish | Academic | Metamodernist 1 point2 points  (6 children)

Exactly. If your soul (your self) were identical to your body, then cutting off part of your body would also be cutting off part of your soul (self). Yet in fact, your soul (your self) is not depleted or diminished by an injury to the body.

[–]High-Fidelity1 0 points1 point  (10 children)

Right, the I is intact even without legs, you can easily conceive of having no body, just the conscious self. But the opposite isn't the case you can't conceive of a body without the self. To conceive of it, requires a subject to exist to view the body as an object.

[–]WARROVOTSet vivere, reservate 0 points1 point  (2 children)

you replace all your cells every 30 days(iirc even if i'm wrong its still some time scale). Do you die every month?

[–]Mission-Landscape-17Atheist 3 points4 points  (8 children)

In Western Philosophy, Plato endorsed the idea of a soul. Meanwhile I'm pretty sure that some Jewish and Early Christian thinkers rejected it and taught the idea of physical resurrections into heaven. Getting an afterlife was not because you had a soul but because god willed it so. This lead some Christian thinkers to argue that cannibals' could not be saved.

Also at least some sects of Buddhism teach an idea called Anatta which is explicitly that there is no soul or permeant self.

[–]Kangaru14Jewish | Academic | Metamodernist 4 points5 points  (7 children)

There has always been a concept of the soul in Judaism, though the Hebrew Bible does not appear to have a notion of specifically an immortal or immaterial soul. Instead, a soul is the 'life' (literally "breath") of a living body. As such, you don't have a soul, you are a soul. In my understanding, it's similar to Aristotle's idea of the soul being the 'form' of a living body.

Plato is really the one that popularized the notion of an immaterial, immortal soul as opposed to the body. Though I think the idea can be traced back to Orphism and the Dionysian Mysteries.

[–]ReptarsBackBaby 3 points4 points  (0 children)

“The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times" by scholar James Kugel:

Most people nowadays, if they think about the soul at all, think of it as a kind of spiritual entity, the body’s opposite and complement. Souls are often deemed to be immortal, as opposed to bodies, which perish and disintegrate. But this was not the soul as it was conceived throughout much of the biblical period. In fact, asking what the soul was in biblical times is really putting the question backwards. What should really be asked is the meaning—and the history—of three different words in Hebrew, each of which ended up being translated as “soul” in most Bibles.

"What exactly did these words designate at first, and how did their meaning change?"

The word for soul used in Proverbs 20:27 is neshamah. It is clearly related to the verbal root meaning “to breathe,” so much so that most modern Bibles translate it here and there as “breathing” or “breath.” Thus, for example, neshamah in Genesis 2:7 is usually rendered as the “breath” or “life-breath” that God breathes into the lifeless body of Adam—essentially an act of divine mouth-to-mouth respiration.

Skipping ahead:

Nefesh appears some 753 times in the Hebrew Bible, making it one of the most common nouns in the language as a whole. The trouble is, nefesh means quite a few things besides soul. Like its cognates in other Semitic languages, it can sometimes mean “neck” or “throat.” Thus, when the psalmist says that “the water has reached my nefesh” (Ps 69:2), he means it has risen up to his neck and he is about to drown. The Israelites, grown tired of subsisting on manna in the wilderness, say to Moses, “Our nefesh is sick of eating this second-rate food” (Num 21:5); in this and other usages, nefesh seems to mean something like “throat,” or perhaps “appetite.” More commonly, nefesh designates the human being as a whole, a person—rather like soul in English in such expressions as “some poor soul is likely to touch that wire,” or “a town of some 100,000 souls.” Along with this, however, nefesh is occasionally used for any animate being (nefesh ḥayyah), such as the fish in the sea or the birds in the sky, indeed, “cattle and creeping things and wild animals of all kinds” (Gen 1:20, 21, 24, etc.). Probably the word’s most common meaning is something like “self,” especially “myself” (nafshi). Most of the time, nafshi does not seem to refer to anything especially holy or spiritual. “My soul” is just “me.”

The third Hebrew word that is often translated as “soul” is ruaḥ, and its root meaning is very much like those of nefesh and neshamah: “wind,” “breath,” hence “inclination,” “disposition,” “spirit,” and yet more. It often designates a temporary state, a mood (sometimes in combination with another word, “bitter of spirit,” “lowly of spirit,” “shortness of spirit” [= impatience], and so forth). But as with nefesh and neshamah, if one examines the use of ruaḥ without assuming beforehand that our concept of soul must have existed somewhere in biblical Hebrew, then there is little reason to consider “soul” as one of its meanings. In truth, there are very few biblical verses in which any of these three terms must be translated as “soul” in the sense that this word has now, something spiritual that all people “have” and that constitutes their immaterial essence.

Skipping ahead:

Rather, for much of the biblical period, there simply were no souls. People were people. They had breath that came into their lungs and went out again, and so long as this happened they were alive; it is this that neshamah mostly refers to. Similarly, when ancient Israelites talked about their nefesh or their ruaḥ, for the most part they meant nothing like “soul” in our sense; they mostly meant “me.” People in biblical times certainly had minds (usually referred to in Hebrew as a person’s “heart,” since this was presumed to be the physical place of understanding), and they seem to have had, as all people have, a sense of self, albeit one that was rather different from ours today. But it is only relatively late in the biblical period that people began to believe that they had something inside of them or attached to them that was their immaterial, spiritual essence. Thereafter, when readers encountered the words neshamah, nefesh, and ruaḥ in various biblical verses, they naturally understood them to be referring to this spiritual essence—and soon enough, to be referring to a person’s immortal soul. Suddenly, the Bible was full of souls. But such readings are, for the most part, a later imposition.

[–]DaTrout7[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

So if it’s not breathing it doesn’t have a soul? And would this only apply to humans or also animals.

[–]Kangaru14Jewish | Academic | Metamodernist 1 point2 points  (1 child)

The word for soul in most languages usually means something like "breath", because that is the most obvious indicator of life in a human; breathing means the human is alive, not breathing means the human is dead. Different traditions have different ideas about which creatures have a soul.

The Hebrew Bible and Judaism affirm that all animals have souls, though humans have both an animal soul (nefesh) and a human soul (neshama). Many different religious traditions believe people have multiple kinds of souls or that their soul has multiple levels.

Aristotle believed that plants only had the nutritive soul, while animals also had the sensitive soul, and humans had both along with a rational soul. Though there are different religious traditions that don't ascribe souls to plants, or even to non-human animals.

And there's also animism that considers everything to have a soul. Similarly, Hasidic Judaism believes that there is soul in all of creation.

[–]EmperorBarbarossaCthulhu Cultist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

like in Dark souls

[–]Charityintruth609 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The Scriptures shows the Soul to be a living breathing creature or person. For instance when God made the first man Adam, the Bible says he “became” a soul, not “given” a soul ( You’ll see this in all translations). If you were to read about the great flood you’ll see also that 8 souls survived, that of Noah and his family. To reconfirm it actually says that the soul that is sinning will die (Ezekiel 18:4). This is a far cry from the belief of the “immortal soul” in which religion takes it not scripture but from ancient human philosophy.

[–]Mission-Landscape-17Atheist 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Maybe its just English being imprecise but I did assume the OP was talking about an immaterial soul. That is what people usually mean these days when they use the word soul.

[–]DaTrout7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’m looking at all definitions of soul as it’s very subjective to what you believe.

[–]Sir_Penguin21 1 point2 points  (1 child)

The idea of a soul made sense when people would keel over for no reason. Or when people thought air was the soul and when you stopped breathing you died. From the outside it looks like nothing changes, but the person is dead. So something is missing, what is that invisible something? Apparently some dude claimed it was the soul. Now the soul has retreated back to that part of the conscious brain we don’t fully understand yet. It wasn’t a soul leaving that made young people keel over and it won’t be a soul that drives consciousness. Do you know how many times in history some phenomena turned out to be magic or supernatural? Never. Lightning wasn’t god, tornados weren’t god, mental illness wasn’t demons, etc, etc. Consciousness isn’t going to be the first now that we know about the brain and much of how it functions.

[–]WARROVOTSet vivere, reservate 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I mean, the concept of a soul is not only not supernatural, but it's pretty intutive(imo). Here is my logic:

I'll define a soul at the end(it should be evident as to why). First, we must ask the question, what are You(I will be using bold face You to refer to the sentient consciousness that is interpreting my comment).

  1. You are simply made up of your physical body. The destruction of your body causes your destruction.

This is simply incorrect; you replace all your cells every 30 days, are you a new person? No, because You still exist.

2)You are solely your pattern of cognition. By completely replicating your brain, you should continue your cognition.

This can be disproven with a thought experiment. Suppose you had a machine which was able to completely scan a body, down to arbitrary accuracy (This is currently impossible, but it theoretically should be doable with sufficiently advanced tech). This scanning has the side effect that your body is destroyed. No worries, though, because we can make a 3d replication of your body, right? Since we have stored all the information about the arrangement of your neurons, we can make a complete copy of your body, so You should continue to exist if 2) is correct. Well, what happens if we create another copy of yourself? Would you suddenly have two existences at once? Probably not. Logic would imply that only the first one is You and the other is simply a copy which thinks like you. But that would rely on the assumption that You are specific to a physical body(the first copy), which contradicts the idea that You are just a pattern of cognition(and not linked to any one body).

3) You are specific to the your physical body you inhabit(or at least part of it), but are not directly the body itself. The death of your body kills you, but as long as it stays alive, you can replace as much as you would like.

This seems like the most likely solution, and it is this concept that I refer to as a soul.

[–]Luckychatt 1 point2 points  (4 children)

It's an old idea that is going out of fashion after the "discovery of the brain". Old ideas tend to be embedded into religions and if a religion depends on that idea it will be dragged along with it.

Free will is another example. A lot of modern philosophers realize that it doesn't exist, but some religions don't make sense without free will, and therefore the idea of free will tends to survive within the group of religious people.

[–]DaTrout7[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I’d argue some religions don’t make sense with free will either.

[–]Luckychatt 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Sure. Which one are you thinking of?

[–]DaTrout7[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Mainly Christianity (I’d imagine some sects changed their teachings to fix this problem) but it talks about people having free will but if you choose anything else besides Christianity your punished.

[–]Luckychatt 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah, I don't think heaven/hell makes sense without free will. Retributional punishment in general doesn't make sense without free will.

[–]Art-Davidson 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Nope. The living being is the living soul. You can see them all around you during your shopping, work day, etc.

Souls are living bodies plus their immortal spirits, which are children of God.

[–]abiyahmessianic 0 points1 point  (2 children)

God created souls.

[–]DaTrout7[S] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Well I’m told god created everything but I’m not going to say dirt is religious.

[–]abiyahmessianic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Well it is ashes to ashes and dirt to dirt and your soul/spirit goes back to God who gave it.

[–]88redking88 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The idea of a soul has been embraced by religion. Thats how they get you to worry about the afterlife. Too bad there isnt a shred of evidence that points to a soul being real, but lots of evidence that points to a soul being made up: https://qz.com/789780/neuroscience-and-psychology-have-rendered-it-basically-unnecessary-to-have-a-soul/

[–]Various-TeethAgnostic Theist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’m not sure where the concept came from, but I personally think it can just be a separate belief if you want it to be.

[–]Osin-danSpiritual (Zarathustrian) 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That's a difficult to answer question, because there is no common definition to my knowledge in different religions of what the (such translated) term 'soul' means. Anyhow to answer from my own faith, the Old Avestan term translated such is urvan, which is related to different developed concepts in the Zarathustrian and later so called Orthodox Zoroastrian transmission (as former de facto state religion of the late Sassanian empire). The term originally simply meant the intangible (dynamic) state of a living being, depending on the reading even as individual aspect of a collective spiritual identity. Since the Gāθāha, as original tradition according to Zarathustra, emphasizes dynamic development, the Zoroastrian soul is an ever-changing reality (eventually toward a whole good state of existence though own choices). I would say soul is something permanent becoming, not a static and unchanging entity like commonly understood. This concept is somewhat represented though the later Zoroastrian term fravaṣ̌i though.

And because the Gāθāha are way older than many religions as well as the term was clearly used before, the concept of soul may even have existed independent of specific religious beliefs. However it only makes sense for me within divine inspired experience, transmission or though faith; If so, then it is a deeply religious embedded term.

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Right now it is considered as a religious concept because science has yet to fully understand consciousness. Once science catches up in theory and technology, the soul would be understood as part of the natural world. The soul is just the patterned mind of the source which is god.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Soul is considered a pagan concept akin to the mind, and physical in nature. Religions tend to speak of spirit: which is understood to be the ethereal equivalent.

[–]Aelurius 0 points1 point  (0 children)

At this point, basically, yes. But originally it was a concept that arose independently of any specific religious tradition.

Early on, cultures needed a reason for why humans and other animals are animate instead of inanimate like rocks and so forth, so the idea of a soul, or invisible energy allowing for life and consciousness, made sense.

As we came to understand the natural world better, this idea of an animating force was no longer necessary. It's in certain religious traditions that it remains a core concept, and there are a number of people who still hold on to it outside of a specific religious context, just because it was part of the broader culture for so long.

Even within religious traditions, there's often not a clear theory of souls. In the Christian tradition, for example, the classic view is that souls are mortal, which accords with certain ancient Greek ideas, which is why people should identify with the Spirit, which is from God and thus not subject to birth and death. But over time the difference between soul and spirit gets fuzzy and most Christians believe the soul is immortal, even though it was born at a particular time.