What is a Soul?

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

User avatar
Harbal
Posts: 4023
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:03 pm
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

What is a Soul?

Post by Harbal » Sat May 04, 2019 10:36 am

It cannot be seen or measured and there are no scientific instruments that can observe it. So how do we know we have a soul? Well we’ve been told so, that’s how. But is there anything about the soul that we can work out for ourselves?

Well a soul can’t be the same thing as consciousness because our consciousness can undergo changes that a soul cannot; or at least I presume it cannot. Is a soul susceptible to dementia, or the same kind of changes that the consciousness might face after a brain injury? If so, it seems a depressing thought that the soul could spend eternity in that state. Although I can’t say it with certainty, I’m going to conclude that the soul is not the same thing as consciousness.

Is it safe to assume that consciousness ceases to be after death? Consciousness certainly seems to be very dependent on brain function so it probably is safe to assume that it vanishes when the brain stops functioning. Consciousness, then, must be purely a mortal phenomenon; while the soul, it is said, is immortal. Can we now then say that only the soul is subject to anything that might happen after physical death, and that consciousness will not be involved?

So what is the connection between consciousness and soul? Well we know that the soul will be held responsible for the choices we consciously make, so our soul must be constantly influencing us, even though we don’t seem to have any insight into its process of doing so. It would seem as though we are merely vehicles being driven by our souls.

When I think about what the entity me actually is, obviously my physical body plays a part in my concept of self identity, but primarily I am thinking of my attitudes and opinions, my likes and dislikes, my emotions and what gives rise them, my memories, my personality and character. Are all these things mirrored in my soul? If so, I can’t imagine what the reason for this duplication might be. In the light of the conclusions I have already come to, I can’t seem to avoid the further conclusion that my soul and I are two separate entities that have an intimate coexistence but will, at some point, go our separate ways. This controlling thing I call the soul may well be accountable for its actions once we have parted company, but, during our coexistence, it seems to consider itself completely unanswerable to me.

While I might not have fully answered the original question, ‘what is a soul’, it seems that I can at least say that it isn’t the conscious me; so why should I give a toss about what happens to it after it has left its mortal coil?

Scott Mayers
Posts: 1339
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:53 am
Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Scott Mayers » Sat May 04, 2019 1:20 pm

I disagree. The 'soul' (related etymologically to 'solo'?) is the 'conscience' versus the mere 'conscious' but again derive from the same sources.

As such, this would just BE the 'consciousness' that seems to exist by some to be separate from the brain. This is just an illusion though. It IS the brain's activity with the illusion of VALUES that we deem real but have a hard time grasping.

Being that it is a real think in Totality though, in that way it is harmless to think of it existing at least in a permanent HISTORY of the whole. In this case it always exists.

But I'm guessing you are thinking something spiritually meaningful to think of?

uwot
Posts: 4153
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by uwot » Sat May 04, 2019 2:02 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 10:36 am
It cannot be seen or measured and there are no scientific instruments that can observe it.
The weird thing is, that might not be true. We've no idea what consciousness is. We know that it is associated with electrical and chemical (which ultimately is all to do with the movement of electrons) processes. So is consciousness the actual processes, or is it somehow the field they generate?
If you think in terms of a light bulb, there are all the electrons squeezing through the filament that makes it incandescent. So is consciousness like the glowing filament, or the light? Dunno personally, but if the light is a better analogy then it doesn't vanish once the bulb is broken, or the brain is dead, it just forms a 'halo' that spreads across 'heaven' for eternity (or as long as the universe exists). Anyone with a handy Electroencephalograph contraption can confirm this. Maybe we can see the 'soul' without recognising it as such.

Dubious
Posts: 2129
Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 7:40 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Dubious » Sun May 05, 2019 12:30 am

For me the soul concept is valid only as metaphor. There is no physiological process which underpins it as would exist in consciousness. Even if there were an aura or field which emanates from a living brain amenable to measurement, which by report is likely, then it's simply a science fact which has no correlation to soul as we imagine it to be. When deceased that kind of extent no-longer exists its source being defunct. One can't upon death wish to live again; put another way all further modulations in that medium have ceased.

User avatar
Greta
Posts: 4392
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2015 8:10 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Greta » Sun May 05, 2019 3:17 am

Harbal wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 10:36 am
So what is the connection between consciousness and soul? Well we know that the soul will be held responsible for the choices we consciously make, so our soul must be constantly influencing us, even though we don’t seem to have any insight into its process of doing so. It would seem as though we are merely vehicles being driven by our souls.

... While I might not have fully answered the original question, ‘what is a soul’, it seems that I can at least say that it isn’t the conscious me; so why should I give a toss about what happens to it after it has left its mortal coil?
Hi Harbs, LTNS. I think a soul is not something owned by individuals, but expressed by them. And then they snuff it and afterwards others will express similar things in similar ways.

Various people (and animals) are "cut out of the same cloth". Types. There's a number of systems supposed to define personality types - from Jung's archetypes, to astrology, to modern personality metrics used by corporations to hire and reject. We know personality types are real because they keep popping up again and again (bullies, warriors, victims, catalysts, introversion, extroversion, etc), but it's difficult to rigorously/objectively describe them.

So, horribly simplified, your soul is your particular bundle of most powerful tendencies. But how much of your soul is actually yours? Harbal, how similar would you be to the Harbal of today if you had been raised by chimpanzees in the wild rather than in a middle class(?) home? What exclusively Harbalesque qualities would still shine through? When I do this thought experiment on myself the answer is "bugger all". That tells me that much of what I think of as "me" is really my culture and humanity (and to some extent my common "mammalness" and "chordateness") filtered through my body.

So, aside from relationships, what will be lost when I go? In my experience, the vast majority of my "original ideas" and "inspirations" were also thought of by others with access to roughly the same information and thus drawing similar logical conclusions. That makes us each a part of broader zeitgeists. I'm part of the progressive side, for instance. Others resonate with the regression for reasons I can't understand because I'm intrinsically a progressive thinker. None of us asked to have these preferences either, they just are because probability said so :)

I'm interested to know what humanity's creations will become when they outlast us. Not being biological, they will surely outlast us. The only question is whether they will be motivated to do anything once the last humans are gone.

Having said all that, I'm still hopeful that some weird dimensional quantum nonsense might allow some kind of enjoyable post-mortem afterlife when I shuffle from this mortal coil.

User avatar
Harbal
Posts: 4023
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:03 pm
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Harbal » Sun May 05, 2019 6:19 am

Greta wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 3:17 am
Hi Harbs, LTNS.
Hello, Greta.

The word "soul" seems to mean different things to different people but I was thinking about how mainstream Western religion thinks of it. If we did have that kind of soul that persists after our physical death and travels on to a higher level of existence, it would not be the same thing as that which we call "ourself". If a soul had consciousness and awareness, they would have to be be separate from and inaccessible to those associated with our physical existence. In other words, if a soul went to Heaven, then the none physical part of me, the part that I refer to as "I", would not go with it; that part would cease to exist upon physical death and experience nothing of the soul's further adventures. My soul and my conscious awareness cannot be the same thing; my conscious awareness cannot experience Heaven.

Walker
Posts: 6435
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:00 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Walker » Sun May 05, 2019 8:18 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 10:36 am
It cannot be seen or measured and there are no scientific instruments that can observe it. So how do we know we have a soul? Well we’ve been told so, that’s how. But is there anything about the soul that we can work out for ourselves?
In order of increasing physical subtlety: body detects body, thought detects thought, consciousness detects consciousness, and soul detects soul. Soul is of a physicality too subtle for body to detect, although not too subtle for soul to detect. A soulful person is mostly empty because in the space vacated by ignorance only soul is there to be seen, so the form is seen as soulful by that which sees soul, which is soul.

User avatar
Harbal
Posts: 4023
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:03 pm
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Harbal » Sun May 05, 2019 8:30 pm

Walker wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:18 pm
Soul is of a physicality too subtle for body to detect, although not too subtle for soul to detect.
So the fact that we cannot detect the soul is not evidence that casts doubt on its existence, but rather, evidence that it exists but is undetectable? You also seem to be saying that if we want to observe the soul, we can do this by simply imagining it. :?

AlexW
Posts: 376
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:53 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by AlexW » Sun May 05, 2019 11:59 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:30 pm
the fact that we cannot detect the soul is not evidence that casts doubt on its existence, but rather, evidence that it exists but is undetectable?
This could be a clue... maybe it is "undetectable" because it is not a thing?
To detect means to single out, to extract from the flow of experience and state "this is my soul" (or really any other thing) - extracting a thing from experience is always a mental process - this means that we can only detect a "soul" be analysing/labelling our direct experience using thought - all things/objects are detected like that.
What thought cannot detect is the whole, infinity, as it is not a thing - thus... maybe the soul is infinite and this is the reason why it cannot be detected.
But this also means that "soul" (I would rather call it consciousness) is all there is - and that it appears as all things, thoughts included...

User avatar
henry quirk
Posts: 4367
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:07 pm

Post by henry quirk » Mon May 06, 2019 1:46 am

Crom gives a man *courage, free-will, and the strength to slay his enemies at birth. It's useless to call upon him, as Crom is a gloomy and savage god who despises weaklings. He is more likely to send forth death and destruction from his great mountain. R. Howard









*soul

Walker
Posts: 6435
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:00 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Walker » Mon May 06, 2019 10:42 am

Harbal wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:30 pm
Walker wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:18 pm
Soul is of a physicality too subtle for body to detect, although not too subtle for soul to detect.
So the fact that we cannot detect the soul is not evidence that casts doubt on its existence, but rather, evidence that it exists but is undetectable? You also seem to be saying that if we want to observe the soul, we can do this by simply imagining it. :?
Look more closely at your comment. No one wrote that we cannot detect the soul. What was written was that soul detects soul.

Listening to an amateur attempt play-by-play sports broadcasting can be hilarious, especially in baseball. It’s a fading skill meant for radio, the theater of the mind. Television announcers don’t even bother with play-by-play anymore. They just let the viewers’ eyes do the talking. Take baseball. Play-by-play radio announces the action as it is happening. The action can happen fast and once the action starts an untrained broadcaster is liable to say anything. He may announce that the runner is safe when the runner is out. He may announce that the second baseman caught the ball when it was actually the third baseman who caught the ball. He may call the pitch a ball after seeing the umpire call the pitch a strike. Why? Imagination is interfering with perception. If there wasn’t a stadium full of witnesses to see what actually did happen, right there in front of the announcer’s eyes, the announcer may even defend as true what his imagination told him to say, although he may have a suspicion that he didn't see what he said he saw.

User avatar
Harbal
Posts: 4023
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:03 pm
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Harbal » Mon May 06, 2019 10:58 am

Walker wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 10:42 am
What was written was that soul detects soul.
But I neither know what the soul is nor where it is, nor, indeed, even if it is. So how am I to go about asking it to describe itself?

Walker
Posts: 6435
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:00 am

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Walker » Mon May 06, 2019 11:05 am

Harbal wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 10:58 am
Walker wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 10:42 am
What was written was that soul detects soul.
But I neither know what the soul is nor where it is, nor, indeed, even if it is. So how am I to go about asking it to describe itself?
You must begin by giving what has been said (written) more thought than you just gave it. Examine the thought transmission under various conditions: indoors, outdoors, during sunlight, during moonlight, in the rain, when alone, in a crowd, etc. Pay particular attention to conditions that call upon primal knowledge. See if you can see the souls of others and if you think you can, what exactly is being perceived and how, by what or whom? You know these things, and that pixels on a glowing screen is a narrow range for reality that never-the-less, can say all in the transmission of the ball game, though the receiver may be too gross for all reception.

User avatar
Harbal
Posts: 4023
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:03 pm
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: What is a Soul?

Post by Harbal » Mon May 06, 2019 11:30 am

Walker wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:05 am
Examine the thought transmission under various conditions: indoors, outdoors, during sunlight, during moonlight, in the rain, when alone, in a crowd, etc.
Although I am trying to be open minded about it, Walker, I am very doubtful about the existence of the soul. There are many things we do not yet understand, but I can't think of any mystery that would be solved by accepting the existence of the soul; I see no soul shaped gaps in our knowledge. If this is how it seems to me from the comfort of my sofa, I'm pretty sure it would still seem that way if I were standing in the moonlight, or being rained on.

User avatar
vegetariantaxidermy
Posts: 7841
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:45 am
Location: Narniabiznus

Re:

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Mon May 06, 2019 11:04 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 1:46 am
Crom gives a man *courage, free-will, and the strength to slay his enemies at birth. It's useless to call upon him, as Crom is a gloomy and savage god who despises weaklings. He is more likely to send forth death and destruction from his great mountain. R. Howard









*soul
So that's how you view yourself. Explains a lot. Poor Americans. They do love to base their lives around frivolous Hollywood made-for-entertainment movies. I mean, just look at all the 'trekkies' out there.

Image

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dontaskme and 3 guests