The Soul

Hi guys and gals. Something that I’ve been thinking about lately is the soul. What evidence do we have that we (humans) have an immortal and immaterial soul? Thanks!

The way I think about it is, what evidence is there that we DON’T have an immortal soul?

When you finally hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you through the conscience, you’ll know that the soul is real.

I can think of two arguments that St. Thomas Aquinas offers.

St. Thomas notes that all individual dogs, which are material things, share a common canine nature, which the human intellect can grasp in a universal concept. Now, physical objects can only receive (say, the imprint of) individual things. A given area of snow, for example, can only receive the paw print of a particular, individual dog; a camera, the image of a particular scene.
Thomas then concludes: “Therefore, it is only as individuated that a form is received into a body [physical thing]. If, then, the intellect were a body, the intelligible forms of things would not be received into it except as individuated. But the intellect understands things by those forms of theirs which it has in its possession. So, if it were a body, it would not be cognizant of universals but only of particulars. But this is patently false. Therefore, no intellect is a body.”
Summa Contra Gentiles, II, 49, 4]

Thomas also argues that no physical body can be self-conscious (as in self-aware), or as he puts it, “self-reflexive.” A stone, or for that matter a dog, would have to be able to explicitly think about itself and its own personal, inner, mental acts. This is clearly not the case. The human being, however, can do these things. In Aquinas’ words: “the action of no body is self-reflexive. For it is proved in the Physics that no body is moved by itself except with respect to a part, so that one part of it is the mover and the other the moved. But in acting the intellect reflects on itself, not only as to a part, but as to the whole of itself. Therefore, it is not a body.”
Summa Contra Gentiles, II, 49, 8]

And your soul is what is up for grabs so to speak. The rebellious angels have one way to hurt God and that is capturing your soul. They can’t hurt Him any other way. They are on you 24/7. The only way to ward them off is to pray and live as Christian life you can. They are always there tempting you and will be there until they day you die. They won’t give up

Here are a couple everyday examples…Hope. Regret.

Animals cannot project something of themselves into future possibilities and desire the yet uncreated…unrealized.

Similiarly, animals do not regret their own behavior…which is a rearward projection into past actions.

Interesting and excellent post IMO.

What evidence do we have for human emotions and parent-child bonds? Yet, we know they exist.

Why not begin by defining what you mean by soul? There are many different beliefs about it. As is, your question seems too vague to answer, except by an equally ill-defined reply. And what would be the good in that?

Of course we would expect you to say that. Never the less it would be better not to use value judgments ( " except by an equally ill-defined reply "). Christians have given many arguments for the existence for the human soul. And this is topped off and defended by the Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church which declares De Fide that all human beings have a spiritual, immaterial soul which is the form ( i.e. substantial form ) of the human Person who is composed of body and soul. It is the human soul which gives life and existence to the body and controls and directs all the immanent functions of the Person.

Linus2nd

See post #4 above.

Also: Christians have given many arguments for the existence for the human soul. And this is topped off and defended by the Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church which declares De Fide that all human beings have a spiritual, immaterial soul which is the form ( i.e. substantial form ) of the human Person who is composed of body and soul. It is the human soul which gives life and existence to the body and controls and directs all the immanent functions of the Person.

Finally, read your Catechism. Not all people can follow the philosophical explanations for the existence of the human soul. But the Church defines infallibly that we have a spiritual, immaterial soul, the form of the body. Linus2nd

You will have to bear with my bad memory here, but a couple years ago during one of my psychology classes, the lecturer mentioned a very small weight (which I believe was less than a couple ounces) leaves the body after death. And this “weight which leaves” is not understood by science, as it does not count as part of the body, and neither is it calculated to be anything that was in the body, eg: gases, fluids, etc, etc. What made it more believable it that this “weight that leaves after death” is equal to every person, despite differences in body size, shape etc. I am really sorry that I cannot remember more details, as to the exact weight (in figures), and nature of the “weight that leaves”. BUT the lecturer did mention that this “weight which leaves the body after death” is beleived to be the soul.

As I said, I forgot the details of this whole thing a long time ago, but maybe someone else here will be able to explain it in further detail.

Hope this helps.

The “soul” as it has been conceived by the two greatest Western philosophical traditions: Platonism and Aristotelianism, is by definition immaterial. We can distinguish the soul from the body by recognising that the soul has (i) different properties and (ii) different powers from the body. For instance, the body is not a free agent but the soul is, or else, the body is not capable of experiencing anguish but the soul is. Of course, both philosophers envisaged the soul differently, and more recent Catholic theology has tended to side with Aristotle and Aquinas’ use of his philosophy, in which case, we would say that while the soul is distinguished from the body, it is intimately associated with the body.

As for the immortality of the soul, I’d suggest several arguments made by Plato in the Phaedo and Republic.

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