Souls: what's the difference

What is the difference between a Material soul and a Spiritual Soul?

I’m placing the question in non catholic religions as I wonder what everyone thinks.

I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “Material Soul”. The soul of man is his intellect and will and the life force which, when joined with the body makes a human. Man also has a spirit which is different from the soul. Scripture certainly makes a distinction between spirit and soul:

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)

The following is from the Catechism:

*362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. “Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God”.

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

CCC 367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly”, with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming. 236 The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. 237 “Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.*

I’m in agreement with you. A friend was explaining to her daughter that animals have Material Souls…etc. I’ve never heard that, but thought the question deserved some thought.

Animals do have a “spirit” of sorts; the life force that animates them, but they do not have a soul.

The Problem of Life’s Purpose | Frank Sheed | An excerpt from A Map of Life

To the detached observer man is something of a curiosity. He lives in two worlds at once, and this not as a being who belongs to one world and has simply got tangled up in another, but as a being who belongs essentially to both of them. God, who alone exists in His own right, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, who exists without the shadow of limitation, made all things. Considering the beings God has made, we find two broad categories, spirit and matter.

Spirit is being which has the power of knowing and willing. Matter is being which has not these powers. There is a more obvious but less important distinction between them: matter can be perceived by the senses, spirit cannot.

Of God’s creatures there are some that are pure spirits–angels–with no material part. There are some that are purely material–animals, plants, stones and the rest–with no spiritual part. Between them is man. In him alone spirit and matter are united: by his soul he is a spirit as the angels are: by his body he is part of the material universe.

And, as has already been said, he belongs to both worlds by his essence. He is not simply a spirit who is for the moment tied down to, or tied up in, a body. It is of his very nature to be a union of matter and spirit.

The soul of man is not more essentially a partner in the human compound than his body: but it is the more important partner. For in the first place it is the principle of life in the body: it remains with the body so long as the body is capable of being animated by it: the body corrupts whereas the soul continues in existence; and in the second place it knows and wills: that is, it has the two faculties of intellect and will by which it can enter into conscious and determined relationship with all that is.

It is very interesting

Is this a book?, online, speach, other source??

by “material soul” do you mean, mortal soul?

A mortal soul is what animals have; it only exists until death.

Immortal souls are what humans have. They exist beyond the grave and into eternity.

It’s a book and a great one! A Map of Life by Frank Sheed

No she definately said Material soul. like a piece of fabric Material.

Cool I’ll put it on my list.:thumbsup:

Souls are not material but spiritual…:confused:

Four humans yes

A friend was explaining to her daughter that animals have Material Souls…etc.

Animals have material souls which cease to exist once they die. Their souls are mortal non-human souls.

Humans have spiritual souls that continue to exist after death.

Pope John Paul II declared in a public audience in 1990 that ‘also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren’

Respect for the integrity of creation

2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.195 Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.196

2416 Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.197 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

“material soul” sounds like an oximoron since the soul is not material but spiritual.

This must be referring to our tendencies and attractions to material things which deadens the soul-making it numb to a life of the spirit.

Giving in to our concupiscience; the influence of the world and of the Devil-is a recipe for spiritual numbness.

We must have a life of prayer and a life of the spirit-nurtured by the Sacracments of Confession and Communion-praying the Rosary daily.

The opposite would be a life of pleasure and a life of the body-nurtured by the world and the Devil.

IMHO, there is nothing immortal about man. Only God is Immortal. The reason why man was taken out of the Garden of Eden was to prevent him from eating of the tree of life and live forever. (Gen. 3:22) It means that man was not to possess the attribute of immortality.

According to the Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, from the moment of death, both man and beast have one only lot. Both have the same life-breath, and man has no advantage over the beast. Both go to the same place; both were made from the dust, and to the dust they both return. Who knows if the life-breath of the children of men goes upward and the life-breath of beasts goes earthward?

This makes me think of Shintoism. I believe there is no difference between souls that are not confined to a body and those that are.

The human soul is immortal in the sense that it does not cease to exist after death. It goes to either Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell. Animal souls cease to exist after death.

Your quote refers to where the state of the human soul was before our Savior came. We were separated from God, spiritually dead, but our spirits did not cease to exist.

No, humans are not immortal. Our souls are. That’s what separates us from the animals. That’s how we have innate knowledge that there is a Creator, and longing for the Perfect. Perfect Love, Justice, Peace, Truth, Knowledge: All that God is.

One principle is that all living things have a soul. Here soul is defined as what makes an organic body live. Now when any living thing dies, its soul is separated from its body. In the case of plants and animals the soul goes out of existence. But in the case of man, the soul remains in existence because it is a spiritual or immaterial thing. Consequently, it differs from the souls of animals in two important respects. First, it is the seat of intelligence or reason. For this reason a man is held responsible for his actions in a way that animals are not. Secondly, the soul is immortal. A thing which has no physical parts cannot fall apart or be poisoned or be crushed or be put out of existence. For this reason the souls of the saved will always be aware of themselves as enjoying the vision of God for all eternity. This enjoyment will be the result of having chosen to act on earth in such a way that one did the will of God rather than one’s own will. And the souls of the damned will be aware of themselves as never attaining this vision of God because they have shown by their lives on earth that they did not wish this vision but instead preferred their own will…read more at

For further reading…

God Bless :slight_smile:

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