How can a soul go to heaven without a body?

It is my understanding that the body and soul form a unity, the soul being the form of the body. I also understand that the soul is immortal and is separated from the body at death. How is this possible if the soul is the form of the body, forming a whole with it? How is it possible for a soul to go to heaven without a body?

Dear friend,

When we say that the soul is the form of the body, we are not using the word ‘form’ to mean the shape of the body. We are using it in the way Aristotle used it in his philosophy

Aristotle was interested in questions such as ‘what is it about a table that gives it its tableness?’ He believed that the form of an object was not some kind of abstract ideal. He believed that the form of an object was contained within the object itself. To put it another way, its form was within the structure itself. This meant that the form of an object could be perceived using ones senses. The substance of a table is the wood and the nails and the glue. However, the form of the table is that it has four legs…etc

(see: scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/aristotle_matter_form.htm)

So the soul is what gives the human body its humanness. At death, the body is able to keep its shape since the shape is not its form in Aristotle’s philosophical scheme. But without its form, it is dead. The Church teaches that even though the soul may be in heaven after death, the human person isn’t complete until the final resurrection when the body will be re-united with its form, the soul.

I hope I have not added to your confusion. Do check out the link above.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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