How a material soul


How a material (animal) soul can have feelings and can move and have vegetation? How can a soul be material?


Its a poor way of expressing it of course as all souls by definition are not matter but organises matter into a coherent living whole.

What the expression really means is that such immaterial animal souls are not eternal - they die with the matter when the matter is so badly damaged it cannot endure.


Why our soul not die also with matter?
How we can arugue?


Because we’re created “in the image and likeness of God”.

That cannot mean that we have a physical “likeness” to Him – after all, God is purely spiritual, and not at all physical! Therefore, our ‘likeness’ is spiritual. God is eternal – and we are immortal in our souls.


Human souls are eternal because not only do they support vegetative and sensitive (animal) functions but also intellectual functions.

The ancients argued that intellectual functions are beyond the ability of matter.
Therefore they are spiritual functions that indicate the presence of a “substantial” soul which exists independently of matter. Yes, a material brain is needed as an “instrument” of the spiritual soul but its existence is not dependent on the existence of the brain. Hence, not being made of matter, the intellect of the soul is eternal and therefore the soul itself is eternal and survives death.


I would be very careful with Platonic dualism. If the soul were truly separate from the body, it begs the question why God would give material bodies in the first place. In the dualistic approach, the body hinders the soul from being able to fully comprehend transcendental reality. The ancients also said that the body must die in order for the soul to be completely liberated. The body is considered a temple of the Holy Spirit, and in light of Christ’s resurrection, retains a unique element of the individuated human person.

I would ascribe more to Aristotle’s Hylomorphic account of Substance. The soul and body are compounded and mutually reliant on one another. At bodily death, the soul still retains immortality since life cannot admit death, but it is not complete until it is unified with the resurrected body.


God is not at all physical? Are you saying Jesus Christ wasn’t physical?


HS there is no dualism, either Platonic or Cartesian, here.
Please point out what strongly leads you to this conclusion.

You will note I put the word “instrument” in quotes.
That should have given you pause for thought before advising us of your newly acquired boilerplate ideas from your Seminary Thomistic/Greek philosophy papers :slightly_smiling_face:.

I am clearly speaking in colloquial terms to one who has no such education. To expect the precision of terms you get in an academic philosophy discussion is neither contextual nor pastorally helpful in the real world I suggest.

Obviously I did not mean the brain is an “instrument” in the Platonic “pilot of a ship” way that Aquinas argues against in the SCG. However the fully functioning organ of intellection is clearly necessary if a person is to function intellectually on earth as opposed to the afterlife.

If you want to be picky and feel “instrument” is not the best single word to use on a lay public forum to explain in very brief form why the soul is eternal be my guest to offer another…


HS you are using the same lense with Gorgias that you applied to my post.
You seem to be nit picking people’s posts more to demonstrate your new found learning than to correct any gross error which is not actually there.

From context Gorgias clearly means that being made in God’s image and likeness is about reflecting the Divine Nature not the Divine Person of the Son.

The divine nature is clearly spiritual. Do you disagree?


a soul has a body. A body is not the soul, or doesn’t have a soul.

I think CS Lewis pointed this out.


I apologize if I came across as pompous BlackFriar! That is absolutely not my intention! I specifically had a problem with the way you phrased, “substantial” soul independent of matter. It just implies that the soul itself is substantial and matter is substantial. Obviously as you know that is refuted form an Aristotelian/Thomistic perspective. I just wanted to make sure both sides of the coin were accurately being presented. In no way am I trying to show off “new found knowledge” the way you are presenting me.


No I don’t, You are right that his divine nature is spiritual. But we are not incorporeal things, I just don’t think we can divorce matter from God’s image and likeness


Yet that is exactly what Genesis seems to do.
Our physicality comes from the clay, our spirit directly from God.


You don’t need to apologise, I am simply observing that you must adapt learning to circumstance.
We are in an apolgetics forum not a pedantic philosophy forum.
Our OP is not a philosopher but a layman. Adapt your posts to where he is at instead of where you are at. You are introducing very fine distinctions that people are not even concerned about or capable of appreciating at this stage. Its unnecessary and confusing.

We adapt knowledge to our audience’s needs not our own.

I specifically had a problem with the way you phrased, “substantial” soul independent of matter. It just implies that the soul itself is substantial and matter is substantial.

OK. Actually I didn’t say this. I said:

the presence of a “substantial” soul which exists independently of matter.

I didn’t say the soul is independent of matter, I said it [can] exist independently of matter.
That is the very definition of “substantial”.

Why do you have a problem with this?


Honestly, due to misinterpretation on my part. I read it as you were saying that the substantial soul exists as an independent substantial thing in the body, as if to say the soul does not need it. Once (in my mind) you established the dualistic approach of the soul body relationship, it influenced the way I thought you were phrasing the soul using the brain as an “instrument”. Maybe if you clarified which “Ancients” you were talking about, it would have not left the comment open to misinterpretation. I was wrong to assume that by “ancients” you meant Plato.

I really don’t appreciate your condescending tone. If you are a Friar, it is very unbecoming of someone from the “Dominican Tradition”. I merely wanted to initiate conversation, I’m pretty sure thats what a forum is for right? I’ll be praying for you.


If you are a seminarian you will need to get used to good faith but robust objective observations of patterns of behaviour that are fedback to you. You decide whether or not it is food for thought or to be rejected. Its not about ego but the flock you will one day minister to.

If you cannot learn from well meaning curmudgeons like myself then you are going to be a very mediocre priest. St Catherine said the same. Life is too short to get too put out by these sorts of frictions.
God bless and speed with your formation.



OK, Mr Humble Theologian… :wink: Riddle me this:

Creation happened at a particular point in time (in fact, it gave rise to time itself!). At that point in time, did Jesus Christ exist?

If not, then how could we have been made in the (physical) image and likeness of the Word-not-yet-made-Incarnate?




Don’t get me wrong, I can absolutely take feedback, and I have accepted the important aspects of the feedback you have given. Have you, you know, considered not being a curmudgeon? Its a pretty happy lifestyle! Lol Just kidding. Wish you the best brother. Be assured of my prayers and please pray for my continued pursuit of Christ and the virtue of humility!


This may be off the rails a bit, but Quantum Theory holds that information cannot be destroyed.


This is about human soul or animal soul? Or any soul?

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