8.21.2009

A Few Notes on The Soul

Many people wonder whether people can exist beyond their earthly life. "Is there an afterlife?" they ask. But what if most people are mistaken in thinking that this is something that cannot be known with certainty? What if the existence of an immortal soul can be demonstrated rationally?

- The soul is the principle of life. The ancient and medieval philosophers would not distinguish between "being alive" and "having a soul."

-The classical understanding of the nature of the human soul entails some understanding of universals. Something that is universal cannot be particular. Something that is not particular cannot be material. Universals are not material. All men are particular, but Man is universal.

-The intellect resides in the soul. It is the soul of man, then, that understands. What does the soul understand? Universals. The soul understands that which is not material. The soul is not dependent on matter in order to understand. The human soul is not material.

2 comments:

  1. Hi E.R. Bourne,

    I'm interested in the topic of an afterlife, mostly the scientific research supporting the afterlife hypothesis. This is a topic I deal with in my blog.

    My approach is a little bit different than the Tomistic approach (not because I consider the latter wrong, but because I think the survival might be supported by scientific evidence).

    If you have interest in the scientific research on survival, let me know; I can recommend some good contemporary literature on it.

    Congratulations for your blog.

    Jime

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  2. I am certainly interested in your recommendations and would very much like to see them.

    I would warn, however, against relying only on scientific (purely empirical) research in order to understand the truth about the soul. In fact, I would largely avoid it for one particular reason:

    The immortality of the soul is not an hypothesis. An hypothesis is an educated guess at the best explanation of a certain phenomenon which, in principle, can be empirically falsifiable or demonstrable.

    The nature of the intellect in particular and of the soul in general is understood metaphysically, meaning that it is through metaphysical demonstration that the nature of the soul is determined. It does not make recourse to empirical claims for reasons that should be obvious, the soul is immaterial. It also is not an hypothesis seeking the best explanation for a particular phenomenon. The conclusion that the soul is immortal becomes clear once the premises are understood. It is on these premises, then, that the argument relies and not the modern scientific method.

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