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Old September 26 2013, 05:25 PM   #268
thestrangledcorpse's Avatar
Location: Brooklyn
Re: What Happens After Death

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
The main problem is that psyche and consciousness don't fully capture the essence of what is regarded as the classical soul. The brain may be the seat of consciousness, but it is not the seat of life.

Fused or conflated in the classical concept of the soul, along with psyche and consciousness, are notions of essence and vitality, and the supposed very "breath of life". It was assumed classically that the psyche was what animated matter, so, naturally, when preoccupied with the question of what the essence of life was, consciousness sprang to mind, as something essential. Ergo, when classical philosophers were considering what we call the soul, you have to ask yourself whether their concern was primarily with respect to the mind, or whether it was primarily with respect to the essence of life, or a combination.

To cite an important example contrary to your assumptions, Aristotle was concerned with the essence of life; in his view, even plants, as a form of life, had a kind of soul. His notion of soul, hardly an unimportant one in the history of philosophy, does not really resemble your interpretation of the soul, as something primarily pertaining to what we consider consciousness.

The conflation of consciousness and animation in classical philosophy is what makes your claim, that what people thought was going on according to #2 was really going on according to #1, problematic. In contemporary terms, we might recognize this as a conflation of cognition and metabolism.

My point is that at least some classical philosophers were really thinking about what we call metabolism when they were talking about the soul, while others might have been thinking of what we call either cognition or consciousness. Establishing how many went which way and what the important trends were is precisely the sort of research that would need to be performed, in order to settle the question of exactly how the classical philosophers got off track. Establishing what people were primarily concerned with is not simple, especially when there was this sort of conflation between what we now recognize as quite distinct processes.

All this is even beside the fact that more than a few people consider immortality and incorporeality to be essential aspects of what they call souls.

I hope this sheds some light on what I was trying to say.
I appreciate your thorough response, and I get what you are trying to say, but I think you've misunderstood my position. All I have attempted to argue is that any supernatural phenomena is really people misunderstanding natural phenomena, and so I feel I can stand by my claims.

You said I hijacked the term soul, and while you are correct that I gave it a limited definition, I never attempted to argue against anything other than that definition. I've never attempted to argue what exactly classical philosophers were referring to when they talked about the soul, and I would never presume to, I'm not nearly educated enough in classical philosophy to make that argument. When I said, "I absolutely contend that what people believed was going on in definition #2 was all along caused by definition #1." I was talking about 2 very specific definitions of soul.

So my first questions to you would be, going by those 2 specific definitions of soul, is my statement false? Is the burden of proof upon me to disprove definition 2?

Now, onto where the real confusion sprang up: what do we mean by soul?

I get that there are various meanings, and you've provided two possibilities as far as I can see regarding the classical soul, and I have attempted to incorporate them into my earlier hypotheses to improve those hypotheses and to make my position more clear:

1. What people have called the soul is in reality some natural function of the body, like metabolism or cognition; or some combination of functions, such as metabolism and cognition and breath, etc.; or all bodily functions that result in life, and terminates completely upon death.

2. The soul is some supernatural entity either of the body, or temporarily associated with the body, that may be considered the life force, the self, the spirit, or a combination of these things. It may or may not persist after death.

How do you find these definitions?

And this
All this is even beside the fact that more than a few people consider immortality and incorporeality to be essential aspects of what they call souls.
Definitely falls under definition 2, as supernatural, the burden of proof would be upon the individual making this claim, not on the sceptic doubting it.

The Enterprise is my TARDIS.
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