What is an argument against animism

Animism is the belief that all material objects are conscious and have rational souls in the same way humans do. So for example, rocks, couches, chairs, grass, etc has a rational soul.

I was wondering what a good philosophical argument would be against this?

Do these things have any properties that would follow from an essence that is sentient or rational?

If that were true, wouldn’t their salvation be an issue? Jesus never preached to couches.

I think the teaching in animism is that all things have one or more souls but not necessarily a rational soul.

“[S]tatic things like stones, skis, and food products are ‘not persons’ because they only share one soul in common with humans and lack the kind of sentience that would enable them to move and show signs of animated life, consciousness, and motivation.” – Katherine Swancut, Animism https://www.anthroencyclopedia.com/entry/animism

The distinction of humans is that the soul is a rational soul and that which is rational is immortal. No other creature has the rational capacity of a human.

Is it? I have never heard of anyone who believes such a thing.

People classified (always by others) as Animists believe that living and non-living things have something like a ‘spiritual essence’ and possibly a relationship with other things. But ‘soul’ and ‘rational soul’ are contrasts of western thought which developed as believers in theistic religious displaced Animists.

Can you find someone who believes what you say ‘Animists’ believe?

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The speculation would be that these objects were created the same way man was and given a intellect by God.

I think the other posters are correct that animist beliefs aren’t being correctly summed up.

Still, to address it in Thomist terms, we expect the properties of a thing with a specific essence (definition) to be what reveals the essence to us. I’m not aware of any rock or tree which demonstrates any properties that should follow from sentience or rationality.

I’ll add that we’re of course familiar with human persons who fall into a vegetative state. Still, from a broad survey of human persons, one can know that such cases are aberrations, cases where something has gone wrong and the properties we know are standard are failing to manifest themselves because of how things went wrong. But no rock has nutritional, sensitive, or rational powers we’d associate with living the things. And while a tree has properties that point to nutritional/vegetative powers, no tree has properties that point to a sensitive or rational essence. And while dogs demonstrate powers we’d associate with a sensitive essence, they don’t demonstrate any we’d associate with a rational essence. If we don’t see properties that point to these things, it seems we’ve no reason to suppose they have these things.

But I’ll leave it to the animist to (1) define their actual beliefs and (2) provide an argument as to why we should believe the positive claims.

If that were true, why are they immovable? how can such ‘souls’ teach good or evil if they cannot move or communicate? the evidence points to them being neutral, mere objects.

Ultimately there is no compelling argument against the reality of immaterial essences of things. Without relying on scripture, the system of Aquinas is just incoherent

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