Exploring the Possibility of Human Souls

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In summary: I don't know... feeling of self?. If Crick's and Koch's work is any indication, then there's no reason to believe that a soul can't be objectively measured and explained with science.In summary, there is no definitive proof that humans have souls, but there is evidence that supports the existence of souls.
  • #1
Just curious on your opinions.
Do you think humans actually have souls, separate from their mind and body, or is it just part of a chemical process within our minds?
I personally believe that people have souls, but it's kinda confusing, because they can seem to be altered by drugs and perspectives, which would indicate that we don't really have souls, but complex brain functions.
Soooo...what do you think?
 
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  • #2
It all depends what you mean by "soul." There are certain things we know from science. There are things we don't know from science that are debated as philosophy of mind. The typical conception of a soul, as a separate substance from physical substance that has some control over a physical body, has pretty much been discredited. It all depends on your definitions and assumptions though.

See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/, especially substance dualism and interactionism.
 
  • #3
kote said:
The typical conception of a soul, as a separate substance from physical substance that has some control over a physical body, has pretty much been discredited.

Isn't that a little strong for an issue that is scientifically untestable?
 
  • #4
pallidin said:
Isn't that a little strong for an issue that is scientifically untestable?

Your assumption that the existence of a soul can't be tested implies that souls do not influence the physical realm, which already excludes the possibility of interactionist substance dualism.

Substance dualism is testable. All the evidence we have says it doesn't exist.

There are other types of dualism and conceptions of souls, which is why I mentioned how important the definitions and assumptions are.
 
  • #7
kote said:
Your assumption that the existence of a soul can't be tested implies that souls do not influence the physical realm...

What? That doesn't make any sense.
Implications of untestable issues are commonly known as speculations.
 
  • #8
Gingers do have souls!
 
  • #9
pallidin said:
What? That doesn't make any sense.
Implications of untestable issues are commonly known as speculations.

We can test things that directly influence physics. Interactionist substance dualism posits a soul that directly influences physics. It is a testable hypothesis.

By the way, 1+1=2 isn't testable either. There are other ways to get knowledge besides scientific tests.
 
  • #10
I'll state my general philosophical position first: I'm a materialist. I don't believe in a dualistic sort of soul.

I believe the sensations we attribute to the soul are generally those of self-identity. But I also think we generally consider the soul a core part of ourselves that doesn't change easily. In this regard, I think genetics and early developmental neural wiring play a large part in this role, as well as traumatic events (assuming they aggressively rewire core brain circuitry). I also think our emotional memory plays a significant role.

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2007/October/04100702.asp
 
  • #11
The issue is science cannot quantify or qualify the properties of a 'soul'. I do not find that surprising. It is neither proof or disproof that 'souls' exist.
 
  • #12
Chronos said:
The issue is science cannot quantify or qualify the properties of a 'soul'. I do not find that surprising. It is neither proof or disproof that 'souls' exist.

This statement itself reveals a lot about souls though. Historically souls have been thought to control the body. Descartes thought that the soul interacted with the body through the pineal gland (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pineal-gland/).

If it is true that science can't quantify or qualify the properties of a soul, then the conception of a soul as acting on a body through some organ or some other physical method must be false. This is a statement about the nature of souls, and it disqualifies the possibility of the interactionist dualism that historically was the popular view. Your assertion that science can't quantify souls is a claim of the nonexistence of certain types of souls - the type that science would be able to test.
 
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  • #13
Chronos said:
The issue is science cannot quantify or qualify the properties of a 'soul'. I do not find that surprising. It is neither proof or disproof that 'souls' exist.

I disagree. Of course, you can't be fixated on any particular religion's definition of soul (I assume you're utilizing the Christian definition). What we're interested in is what gives rise to the people's sensation of having a soul or identity that is unique to themselves.

Francis Crick (an atheist, molecular biologist, and neuroscientist most famous for his contributions to discovering the structure of DNA) alludes to this in his book's title:
The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search For The Soul

Crick passed away in 2004, but his work is being carried on by Christof Koch.

Here's a paper by Koch: http://www.klab.caltech.edu/Papers/438.pdf [Broken]
Here, he makes the point that subjective experience can be objectively measured and explained.

Prior to reading any Crick or Koch, I'd always referred to my "secular soul" as being the more steady states in brain circuitry that provide a persistent self-identity.
 
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  • #14
I think that people's "souls" are really just their mind. The brain's really complex, so I'm sure it is capable of producing all of the things we think to be a "soul".
I blame chemical reactions, personality, and reasoning.
 
  • #15
I hope there is a "soul"; Otherwise I'm SOL in not too many years.
 
  • #16
pallidin said:
I hope there is a "soul"; Otherwise I'm SOL in not too many years.
We kinda all are, eventually.
 
  • #17
pallidin said:
I hope there is a "soul"; Otherwise I'm SOL in not too many years.

No, other way around.

If there's a soul; you may find it's going to be stuck on a spit and toasted.

Better that there's no soul. No soul, no consequences.

:biggrin:
 
  • #18
DaveC426913 said:
No, other way around.

If there's a soul; you may find it's going to be stuck on a spit and toasted.

Better that there's no soul. No soul, no consequences.

:biggrin:
I agree.
 
  • #19
There was a very good online, open, course in philosophy specifically on the soul. I thought it was extremely well done but I forget which university it was hosted at... I'll try to dig it up.
 
  • #20
zomgwtf said:
There was a very good online, open, course in philosophy specifically on the soul. I thought it was extremely well done but I forget which university it was hosted at... I'll try to dig it up.

http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy/death/
http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy/death/content/class-sessions [Broken]

?
 
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  • #21
kote said:

Yup, that's exactly the one I was referring to. Thanks. So it was on death sorry :smile:. I think the reason I thought it was specifically about the soul was because I had stopped watching after those parts... maybe I should finish it now. :rofl:
 
  • #22
DaveC426913 said:
Better that there's no soul. No soul, no consequences.

:biggrin:
Ditto. :P
 
  • #23
DaveC426913 said:
If there's a soul; you may find it's going to be stuck on a spit and toasted.

Yeah, and I can't even bring some BBQ sauce. :mad:
 
  • #24
This is a Soul:

http://allworldcars.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/kia_soul_production_31.jpg

I'm saving up to buy one.
 
  • #25
Math Is Hard said:
This is a Soul:

http://allworldcars.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/kia_soul_production_31.jpg

I'm saving up to buy one.

Do they have that on "lay-a-way"
 
  • #26
pallidin said:
Do they have that on "lay-a-way"

I'll probably have to get a pre-owned Soul. Which is kind of a drag since it will come with someone else's sins.
 
  • #27
Lol...
 
  • #28
Math Is Hard said:
I'll probably have to get a pre-owned Soul. Which is kind of a drag since it will come with someone else's sins.
At least it's cheap. And it functions.
Everything you need...
 
  • #29
I find it intersting that the notion of a soul is linked to consequence in an afterlife. It seems more reasonable that if such a thing existed, there would be no point in holding it accountable for what biological drives or desperations drove the person to.

I for one, would rather not vanish as though I'd never been. It is, for me, the dread that runs my life; not of imminant death or risk of harm... simply the inevitable dissolution of me, and those I love. I find the notion intolerable, and no less inescapable for that. Life can be terribly hard to face sometimes, but I LIKE being a "me"... whatever that is. I certainly don't want to suffer in some eternal torment, but I don't see how that is anything but mythology.

Ahhhh, I really wish I could believe in an afterlife. :cry:
 
  • #30
Frame Dragger said:
I find it intersting that the notion of a soul is linked to consequence in an afterlife.
I've no idea why people are talking about specific religious forms of the soul in this thread... especially since this is supposed to a philosophy forum.
 
  • #31
zomgwtf said:
I've no idea why people are talking about specific religious forms of the soul in this thread... especially since this is supposed to a philosophy forum.
I know of no other kind.

I'm going to guess that the philosphy field has adopted the term soul to apply to some other setof criteria? That was kind of dumb.
 
  • #32
DaveC426913 said:
I know of no other kind.
You only know of a soul that sins apply to? That's a shame.

I'm going to guess that the philosphy field has adopted the term soul to apply to some other setof criteria?
Err... criteria that doesn't fit 'sinning'?
Do you know anything about or read any philosophy? -Serious question.

That was kind of dumb.
I see... why do you come to the philosophy forums? I don't understand.
 
  • #33
zomgwtf said:
You only know of a soul that sins apply to? That's a shame.
I only know of a religious soul - the eternal afterlife kind. That's the question you asked, so that's the answer you got.

zomgwtf said:
Err... criteria that doesn't fit 'sinning'?
Why do you keep talking about sinning? I'm talking about a soul.

Do you see no distinction? Do you also see no distinction between a soul and wings and a halo? Why aren't you asking me about that?

zomgwtf said:
Do you know anything about or read any philosophy? -Serious question.
Your questions are all backwards. If you have some definition of a soul that is not about living on after one is dead then out with it!

zomgwtf said:
I see... why do you come to the philosophy forums? I don't understand.
I do not choose forums. I select 'new' posts from the menu, which gives me everything unfiltered by forum. Posts that interest me I participate in.
 
  • #34
Nah I spoke of a SPECIFIC religious soul. AKA Coming from the old testament, in which case the soul is defined as the combining of the body and the spirit. The soul is what separates from the body and is then weighed when you die... This isn't even the case for all of the Abrahemic faith churches. I think that talking about specific religion(s) is not allowed at these forums.

That's the soul everyone is talking about no? That's the one that I made mention to in my post which you responded to.

The OP had clearly intended this to be a constructive discussion on the issue of the soul existence from a philosophical persepective. Not some free for all make sarcastic remarks about sins and going to hell.
 
  • #35
zomgwtf said:
Nah I spoke of a SPECIFIC religious soul. AKA Coming from the old testament
No you didn't.

zomgwtf said:
The soul is what separates from the body and is then weighed when you die... This isn't even the case for all of the Abrahemic faith churches. I think that talking about specific religion(s) is not allowed at these forums
No one was. Except you. Now.
 

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