The Soul

well, as a matter of cognitive processing the mind certainly begins with the specific and prescinds from its specificity to the abstract - e.g. the mind takes what’s specific to the marks of ink on the page in my textbook, and then moves from there to the recognition that “1+1=2” is a true proposition.

but the question is an ontological one, at bottom: if propositions (for example) are abstract objects, and if the human mind is capable of being acquainted with them, then the human mind cannot be (only) concrete.

and propositions and sets and properties, etc. cannot just be patterns, since they exist whether or not there are any physical things patterning them.

the latter: mind, or intellection, is a function of the soul.

Okay. What other functions does this ‘soul’ thingy have? I’m not being a crank – I really do not know! Speak to me as if I were a space alien. Spell it out, so I can join the discussion as an equal; even if I still need training wheels I can keep up, given a bike.

Still though, given the OP…aren’t you jumping the gun? Sure you can define a thing as itself, but kiss goodbye any inquisitive discussion, even if you try to derail into aspects of the defined suject.

Neurones in the brain aren’t replaced i think

I don’t really understand the subject but are you talking about the memory here? or imagination, is memory a function of the brian e.g remembering the form of a number and applying it to a situation, and imagination e.g thinking of an object that has not been seen before a function of the soul? :shrug:

are you saying the soul is the imagination and other things like faith and decision making?

thanks everyone for your ideas on this :slight_smile:

“Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem showed that Principia could not be both consistent and complete. According to the theorem, for every sufficiently powerful logical system (such as Principia), there exists a statement G that essentially reads, “The statement G cannot be proved.” Such a statement is a sort of Catch-22: if G is provable, then it’s false, and the system is therefore inconsistent; and if G is not provable, then it’s true, and the system is therefore incomplete.
Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem shows that basic arithmetic cannot be used to prove its own consistency, so it certainly cannot be used to prove the consistency of anything stronger. In other words, the statement “there are no contradictions in the Principia system” cannot be proven true or false in the Principia system unless there are contradictions in the system (in which case it can be proven both true and false)”

From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principia_Mathematica

everything has an essence and characteristics. A living essence is something we are all born with, something that must develop: existence begets individuality…A particular manifestation or example of this essence: it has its own historicity. The human body is a grouping of elements, what makes it alive is the soul, the animating principle. The soul grows the body, it forms these material elements of the body. The soul is the first principle, or act, of the body. Since the intellectual soul is capable of knowing all material things, and since in order to know a material thing there must be no material thing within it, the soul was definitely not corporeal. Therefore, the soul had an operation separate from the body and therefore could subsist without the body. Furthermore, since the rational soul of human beings was subsistent and was not made up of matter and form, it could not be destroyed in any natural process. For the ancient Greeks, the same word [soul] meant ‘alive’ perhaps denoting a coupling of flesh and mind to be a living human being.

it is the seat of free will, also.

[quote=Nepenthe]Still though, given the OP…aren’t you jumping the gun? Sure you can define a thing as itself, but kiss goodbye any inquisitive discussion, even if you try to derail into aspects of the defined suject.
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not sure i understand what you’re saying here.

Uh huh. I was doing much better with Godel – I understand the concepts and relevancy there (jumping the system, self-definition/representation etc) and have known these ideas from youth.

But thanks. Next up?

Hm…free will? I rather tend towards the ‘free won’t’ model, myself.

i’m not sure what this has to do with anything i’ve said…

whether or not all propositions are capable of being proven true or false, they are all, in fact, true or false (or neither); and what you know when you know the truth-value of a certain proposition is a property of an abstract object.

perhaps ironically, godel himself was a dyed-in-the-wool platonist who believed that mathematical truths are forms that are intuited directly by us…

What seems to be the case is that brain cells (all? some?) regenerate, but new brain cells are not produced. I’m open to being corrected on this, but at a glance it seems that even at the brain level we’re materially different over time.

[quote=Nepenthe]Okay. What other functions does this ‘soul’ thingy have? I’m not being a crank – I really do not know! Speak to me as if I were a space alien. Spell it out, so I can join the discussion as an equal; even if I still need training wheels I can keep up, given a bike.
[/quote]

Others may have their own views, so I’ll just stipulate this is my take on it - and hopefully in line with traditional thought for the most part.

I view the soul as the fundamental essence of mental identity and character, and a totality of individual thought and historicity. It is entirely unique to an individual (because each person can only have a single history unique to themselves), is not sufficiently represented by the material alone (as, even if there is no ‘mental substance’, the history of the material is essential to an individual soul, the material changes occur over time, etc), functions with factors external to the bodily material itself (environment), among other reasons.

I also don’t consider it to be a concept we are utterly 100% certain of, outside of what the Church teaches - and what the Church teaches seems to me to be thoughtful and limited. In most conversations, it seems like ‘soul’ is automatically given a definition of ‘a ghost that inhabits the body, and doesn’t die when the body does’. I don’t rule out substance dualism necessarily, but I also don’t think it’s essential to the concept of the soul. (Then again, I think even eliminative material descriptions of mind force talk of a soul if they intend to remain coherent.)

It was in response to this, which I assume was some attempt to underpin the logic of your reasoning

What’s “1+1=2”, if not something akin to a platonic form?

as for this next bit:

Whether or not all propositions are capable of being proven true or false, they are all, in fact, true or false (or neither); and what you know when you know the truth-value of a certain proposition is a property of an abstract object.

It seems to me that the impact of Godel’s proposition may have escaped you (or I am failing to get what you’re proposing). You are simply in a position to know the property of an abstract object within a self referential system. Stating that you know the property of an abstract *object *as opposed to an abstract *concept *alludes to the object having some kind of innate reality of it’s own - which is a clever use of language.

Concepts are *not *physical objects. Put it this way, if we take the stance that concepts ARE objects or capable of independent objective reality, then that would mean concepts like atheism also possess that quality. It’s a Pandora’s Box that is self defeating surely???

perhaps ironically, godel himself was a dyed-in-the-wool platonist who believed that mathematical truths are forms that are intuited directly by us…

Who was driven insane by his attempts to prove what you are trying to here?:wink:

(The following summary is borrowed from one of my very old philosophy books)

The classic definition in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas is that the soul is the vitalizing principle–the principle by which a thing is able to perform the activities we associate with being alive. Everything that is alive has a soul: bacteria, plants, fungi, animals, etc.

Under this traditional definition, there are three types of powers: vegetative, animal, and rational.

The vegetative powers are growth, reproduction, and nutrition.

There are numerous animal powers: Concupiscible (love, desire, joy, hate, etc.), Irascible (hope, courage, fear, despair, anger), External (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch), and Internal (imagination, memory, estimation, unifying sense).

Finally, there are the rational powers: intellect and will.

It is only the rational powers that are not material; hence, a being having intellect or will must have a immaterial, spiritual soul. According to Catholic philosophy, humans are the only material beings that have intellect and will, thus only humans have a spiritual soul.

Of course, there are some objections that come up here, but seeing as though I’m short on time right now, identifying those are left as an exercise to the reader.

what do you mean, “self-referential system”?

[quote=FightingFat]Stating that you know the property of an abstract *object *as opposed to an abstract *concept *alludes to the object having some kind of innate reality of it’s own - which is a clever use of language.
[/quote]

not really all that clever - more of a natural use of language.

[quote=FightingFat]Concepts are *not *physical objects.
[/quote]

who’s talking about concepts? certainly not me…

that having been said, if you are a materialist, then concepts most definitely are physical objects, since they are (or are logically/naturally supervenient upon) brain-states.

[quote=Fighting Fat] Put it this way, if we take the stance that concepts ARE objects or capable of independent objective reality, then that would mean concepts like atheism also possess that quality. It’s a Pandora’s Box that is self defeating surely???
[/quote]

again, not sure how we started talking about concepts…

but even if concepts do have independent existence, that’s got nothing to do with the (un)reality of the content of the concepts; even if there might be a thing in the world named “the concept of atheism”, that in no way entails that there isn’t a god.

perhaps you should take a quick look at the online stanford encyclopedia of philosophy for a primer on abstract objects and concepts - that would make the way for our conversation a little straighter.

This is Lonergan’s take on Godel, straight out of Insight

Gödel’s theorum is to the effect that any set of mathematical definitions and postulates gives rise to further questions that cannot be answered on the basis of the definitions and postulates. Consider, then a series of sets of definitions and postulates, say P, Q, R, … Such that if P is assumed there arise questions that can be answered only by assuming Q, if Q is assumed there arise questions only that can be answered only by assuming R, and so forth. Then, besides the succesive lower contexts, P, Q, R…there also is the upper context in which Gödel’s theorum is expressed. Moreover, inasmuch as the theorum is quite general, the upper context is independent of the content of any particular contexts such as P, Q, R…finally, since there is no last lower context that is definitive, since R will demand a context S, and S a context T, and T a context U, and so on indefinitely, the really significant context is the upper context; all lower contexts P,Q,R,S,T,U…are provisional and they attain a definitive significance only in the measure that they give access to the upper context.

Phhhhheeeew! :slight_smile:

I think there are some fascinating arguments both for and against the existence of an immortal soul. I think the best one in post-medieval philosophy was offered by Descartes; I think his point about our concious awareness being essential to who we are as a being is true. (Without conciousness we cease to exist as persons). However, Descartes never convincingly showed how an immaterial soul could interact with a material body.

I know several philosophers of religion have recently used arguments to try and show we have a part of us which survives death. I don’t know these arguments in detail, but I will certainly study them in more detail.

For me, I don’t think it is necessary to prove the existence of an immortal soul to reasonably believe that God exists and that it is possible to have a relationship with him. It is enough for me to show that the human mind has a capacity and openness to transcendence. While our mind is not unlimited in cognitive power, it does seem able to grasp intelligible truths and seem capable of certain modes of conciousness which could at least be described as transcendent. Of course, there are still some difficult epistemological issues and questions which are raised if we believe the human mind can have cognition of transcendent reality (posed most acutely by Kant) but I think focusing on how this is possible for an embodied being with a mind, rather than trying to prove we have an immaterial, immortal and imperishable soul, is a more fruitful course for the philosophy of religion.

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