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What Is A Soul?


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I see discussions here and elsewhere about the nature of souls, the question of whether animals have souls, etc. I've been asked (by myself and others) if I believe that humans, animals, and plants have souls. But I can't answer because I do not know how to even begin defining a soul. So I would like some input. What exactly is a soul?

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I always thought a soul was what we typically might call a ghost. The kind of being that is forced to walk the Earth after death because the person did something horribly wrong during their lifetime. I also wondered if the soul was just another name for our memory. To be honest, I have no idea what a soul is and since I became an atheist, I really don't have to investigate a mystical concept that I deem to be a waste of time.

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I'll take a shot at a definition:

To my mind, a soul is the unique self of an individual. Their likes, dislikes, loves hopes, dreams, feelings ideas, and particular view of the world. Their personality I suppose. Now as to whether or not it's immortal or not it up to debate.

The only ones who absolutely know for sure are the dead, and they're not talking. Either because death IS the end, or they could tell us but won't, or they can't. (Of course, they can't is up to debate due to some believing in visits from ghosts.)

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I see discussions here and elsewhere about the nature of souls, the question of whether animals have souls, etc. I've been asked (by myself and others) if I believe that humans, animals, and plants have souls. But I can't answer because I do not know how to even begin defining a soul. So I would like some input. What exactly is a soul?

 

Soul

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Soul (disambiguation).

In many religions and parts of philosophy, the soul is the immaterial part of a person. It is usually thought to consist of one's thoughts and personality, and can be synonymous with the spirit, mind or self.[1] In theology, the soul is often believed to live on after the person’s death, and some religions posit that God creates souls. In some cultures, non-human living things, and sometimes inanimate objects are said to have souls, a belief known as animism.[2]

The terms soul and spirit are often used interchangeably, although the former may be viewed as a more worldly and less transcendent aspect of a person than the latter.[3] The words soul and psyche can also be treated synonymously, although psyche has relatively more physical connotations, whereas soul is connected more closely to metaphysics and religion.[4]

 

Yea, I've been intrigued myself from time to time regarding this particular topic. It's so ingrained in human thinking/culture/religion. From my own personal experience as one who makes rational decisions on observable fact(s) in this known universe, I haven't seen proof thereof. Doesn't mean they don't exist, but in my opinion, if they do, they may exist on a different plane or as the Wiki pointed out as the "immaterial part of a person". Guess we'll find out some day!

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I see discussions here and elsewhere about the nature of souls, the question of whether animals have souls, etc. I've been asked (by myself and others) if I believe that humans, animals, and plants have souls. But I can't answer because I do not know how to even begin defining a soul. So I would like some input. What exactly is a soul?

 

This is a great question... you will get dozens of answers... in Greek, Hebrew and in Old English, French and German. Each will be a little different.

 

 

What they all have in common is that they are about an INDIVIDUAL. It is what makes you YOU. (I just wrote you you) Personality in Psychology, Ego, according to Freud, Self according to George Meade and Charles Horton Cooley...

 

It is an understanding of what makes a person "different" from other people. It is learned. It is an accumulation of our life experiences and our reinforced responses to those experiences.

 

The ancient Hebrews believed it was what lived on after your death... as a memory in those that loved you. If you died without heirs, or friends... your memory (SOUL) died forever.

 

It gives new understanding to the whole resurrected imagery... a person can not be resurrected, (they theoretically can be raised from the dead)... only memories can be resurrected. SOULS, so to speak. Every February 12 we resurrect memories of Abraham Lincoln here in Illinois. Even more so this year. (his 200th birthday) In a sense he is resurrected and lives forever.

 

Therefor, Jesus was not physically raised from the dead, but he was resurrected in the hearts and minds of the disciples after they fell away in despair in the night after the crucifixion.

 

Does the phrase "Jesus in your heart" make more sense with understanding?

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I've heard several definitions of "soul." It is blood, breath, same as spirit, separate from spirit, the eternal person, a fragment of a larger entity.

 

My thought is that anyone is free to devise their own definition, because like a god, it is an invention of the human mind. If you can't see it, taste it, smell it, or detect it by any natural means, it's whatever you want to make up.

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What is a soul? It tends to be that thing about ourselves we can't fully explain in scientific terms. It's the illusive object of our attention, which escapes our focus every time we turn our head towards it. It's kind'a like the sun, you know it's there, but you can't look straight into it without losing your sight.

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Something with life in it is a living soul. Some claim a soul is a separate and spiritual representation of a person that is reclaimed by God when that person dies. I believe everything that has life is a living soul with no difference whether animal or human. If it has the energy of life, it is a living soul, trees too.

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I see discussions here and elsewhere about the nature of souls, the question of whether animals have souls, etc. I've been asked (by myself and others) if I believe that humans, animals, and plants have souls. But I can't answer because I do not know how to even begin defining a soul. So I would like some input. What exactly is a soul?

 

This is a great question... you will get dozens of answers... in Greek, Hebrew and in Old English, French and German. Each will be a little different.

 

 

What they all have in common is that they are about an INDIVIDUAL. It is what makes you YOU. (I just wrote you you) Personality in Psychology, Ego, according to Freud, Self according to George Meade and Charles Horton Cooley...

 

It is an understanding of what makes a person "different" from other people. It is learned. It is an accumulation of our life experiences and our reinforced responses to those experiences.

 

The ancient Hebrews believed it was what lived on after your death... as a memory in those that loved you. If you died without heirs, or friends... your memory (SOUL) died forever.

 

It gives new understanding to the whole resurrected imagery... a person can not be resurrected, (they theoretically can be raised from the dead)... only memories can be resurrected. SOULS, so to speak. Every February 12 we resurrect memories of Abraham Lincoln here in Illinois. Even more so this year. (his 200th birthday) In a sense he is resurrected and lives forever.

 

Therefor, Jesus was not physically raised from the dead, but he was resurrected in the hearts and minds of the disciples after they fell away in despair in the night after the crucifixion.

 

Does the phrase "Jesus in your heart" make more sense with understanding?

 

I've had the exact same thought. Though I framed it in terms of wondering what need there was for a ressurection for one who never died? But you're right. Hopefully, the is a remnant of sensible Christianity that can be preservered.

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Thanks to everyone who replied. I think I'm going to probably avoid using the term soul because it doesn't really seem to have a clear definition.

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Love your icon, Crazycatlady. :)

 

For me, the soul is the self, one's inner being, but it is part of the body, just as the brain is. I don't view it in a dualism sense and whatever affects the mind, affects one's inner being. Just like illness not only affects the body, it affects one's emotional state too and vice versa. It's all part of the whole, just as one's hand is part of one's body.

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