Soul

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Richard Swinburne went on this quote to argue that out souls know of their freedom to choose. I disagree, because he suggests that a soul possesses some sort of ability to discern, to calculate. The soul has the ability to sense, but not to know. Before I delve into the many possibilities of the existence and vita of the soul, I must say that as well as there being a body-soul divisive dualism, I believe that there is a definite soul-mind division, in spite of the fact that they both ‘share’ the predicate of ‘being’ metaphysical.

The mind is the metaphysical state beyond the brain, able to reason, to dream, to calculate amongst many fantastic things. Indeed, science has proven that these things happen through neurones and connections in the brain, but the process of thought itself is, inarguably, something different that most of us have already experienced. We are not aware of our brains making the connections, but what we are aware of are thoughts making connections. These must come from the mind.

The soul is an entirely different state of metaphysics. Do we see or feel it ‘working’ like the mind? No, not at all. Why? Because the soul has no conscious awareness of its own presence, despite that the mind is conscious that there is something pulling it towards certain attributes. Plato put an emphasis upon reason as a ‘handler’ in the ψχε[1] for the emotions or passions and appetite and spirit of the soul.[2] This soul is one alive through contemplation, Philosophy, logic and reasoning such as I am trying. Although Plato had no place for the arts in his theory, I would disagree by saying that our soul is intrinsically linked with our own type of art. It must be this which supplies us with a passion for whatever we love doing – but also, I believe that it is this which is unlocked through the arts. I listen to music at a particularly loud volume because I must be able to feel it not only in my head and physically through my aural system, but also in my heart. That is the only way to explain the phenomenon.

The soul must have a container when physical, but can exist in the metaphysical realm (that is, after death) as itself, without a ‘body’ to contain it. However, the soul cannot interact in itself; when faced with a phenomenal realm, it must have some device through which its desires can be realised.

The soul is the base of all true emotions, because, for the theist, it is through this that one is able to ‘reach’ God and have a relationship with Him. Indeed, the mind knows of these things, but (even if contrary to evidence) it must rely on the soul to feel for God. When we have Earthly relationship, we know of them through our senses; the inner state of the soul and relationships is accessed through reflection, even meditation. Hence, the reason religious orders spend a lot of time in prayer. Only through bringing the insight of their soul to the surface can they be with God.

The soul is a difficult piece to understand. It is both selfless and selfish at the same time. Both focused on Love and contentment, and focused on how to prospect itself. In the end, however, one must remember that the soul is not deliberately perverse; it simply has no pure knowledge of society and its ways.

The soul is only one of the identifications of our spirit and personality. The second is found through morality and the growth of a conscience.

However, the mind and soul come together at times when a decision must be made between the benevolence and logic that society demands of us and the aggressive self-nature that we possess as appetite within ourselves. Here, the soul is an entity of desire, of maintenance without the knowledge of sustaining so, for instance, like a child who wants all the sweet food they see. (If one was to look at the soul from a Freudian perspective, one would notice that sense of selfish id that is present.) Together, the mind and the soul must have an adjudicator between them, which should lead to decisions of the most moral course of action to take. This is conscience. Neither operates under the conscience, and neither have the ability to correctly reason an action without the remote of the other. As the soul is self-interested, it needs the empirically-gathered knowledge and evidence of the mind (plus, one might argue, imagination to extrapolate consequences) to balance.

[1] psyche (here, literally ‘inner life’)

[2] See Plato’s Three-Part Soul

The End

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