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 Exploring The Concept Of The Human Soul

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PostSubject: Exploring The Concept Of The Human Soul   Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:15 pm

Exploring The Concept Of The Human Soul

The soul is your link with the divine, yet exactly what it is and how it works has been the subject of much theological and philosophical contention. The question "what is the soul?" has puzzled man for thousands of years, and many different religions and philosophers have all come up with their own view on this fundamental question. The main point of agreement is the the soul infuses the body and is the spark of life and consciousness that makes you the unique individual that you are. The mental processes called the "mind" are a part of the soul, but not its entirety.

A belief in the soul implies a belief in your own imortality, that although the physical flesh may perish, the spirit or essence, the soul, continues to exist beyond death. Where the soul goes, be it an afterlife, to reincarnate, or become one with divinity, is another question whose answer depends upon your spiritual beliefs.

There are certain philosophical terms regarding the soul, listed below:

Plurity of the soul: The belief that the soul is comprised of parts.
Limited immortality: The idea that the soul merges into oneness with the universe, losing indivuality to become part of a greater whole.
Metempsychosis: Another name for reincarnation, the transition of the soul from body to body through different lifetimes, in an effort to evolve to achieve perfection.
Transmigration: The journeying of the soul from one body to another, as in recarnation.
Universal Soul: The concept that there is one perfect soul, from which all human souls begin and seek to reunite.
Twin soul: The concept that two people share one soul.

We look into these terms in greater detail as this study progresses.
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PostSubject: Re: Exploring The Concept Of The Human Soul   Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:17 pm

Humanity has specualted on the nature of its divinity throughout the ages and across the world.
Here are some, but by no means all, of these ideas.

Ancient Greece

The Homeric poems, with which most ancient writers can safely be assumed to be intimately familiar, use the word ‘soul’ in two distinguishable, probably related, ways. The soul is, on the one hand, something that a human being risks in battle and loses in death. On the other hand, it is what at the time of death departs from the person's limbs and travels to the underworld, where it has a more or less pitiful afterlife as a shade or image of the deceased person. It has been suggested that what is referred to as soul in either case is in fact thought of as one and the same thing, something that a person can risk and lose and that, after death, endures as a shade in the underworld. The suggestion is plausible, but cannot be verified. In any case, once a person's soul has departed for good, the person is dead. The presence of soul therefore distinguishes a living human body from a corpse. However, this is plainly not to say that the soul is thought of as what accounts for, or is responsible for, the activities, responses, operations and the like that constitute a person's life. Homer never says that anyone does anything in virtue of, or with, their soul, nor does he attribute any activity to the soul of a living person. Thus, though the presence or absence of soul marks out a person's life, it is not otherwise associated with that life. Moreover, it is a striking feature of Homeric usage that, in Furley's words, to mention soul is to suggest death: someone's soul comes to mind only when their life is thought, by themselves or others, to be at risk. Thus Achilles says that he is continuously risking his soul (Iliad 9.322), and Agenor reflects on the fact that even Achilles has just one soul (Iliad 11.569). It should also be pointed out that in the Homeric poems, only human beings are said to have and to lose souls. Correspondingly, Homer never envisages shades or images of non-human creatures in the underworld. These two facts taken together suggest that in whatever precise way the soul is conceived of as associated with life, it is in any case thought to be connected not with life in general, or life in all its forms, but rather, more specifically, with the life of a human being. Several significant developments occurred in the ways Greeks thought and spoke about the soul in the sixth and fifth centuries. The questions about the soul that are formulated and discussed in the writings of Plato and Aristotle to some extent arise from, and need to be interpreted against the background of, these sixth and fifth century developments. One factor that is of central importance is the gradual loss of the Homeric connection between mentioning a person's soul and the thought that their life is vulnerable or at risk.

In ordinary fifth century Greek, having soul is simply being alive; hence the emergence at about this time, of the adjective ‘ensouled’ [empsuchos] as the standard word meaning “alive”, which was applied not just to human beings, but to other living things as well. There is some reason to think that the word ‘soul’ was used in this straightforwardly positive way already in the sixth century. Thales of Miletus, who is credited with successfully predicting a solar eclipse occurring in 585, reportedly attributed soul to magnets, on the grounds that magnets are capable of moving iron (Aristotle, De Anima 1.2, 405a19-21). Thales' thought was presumably that since it is distinctive of living things to be able to initiate movement, magnets must in fact be alive or, in other words, ensouled. Thus, while Homer spoke of soul only in the case of human beings, in sixth and fifth century usage soul is attributed to every kind of living thing. What is in place, then, at this time is the notion that soul is what distinguishes that which is alive from that which is not.

However, it is not just that soul is said to be present in every living thing. It is also the case that an increasingly broad range of ways of acting and being acted on is attributed to the soul. Thus it has come to be natural, by the end of the fifth century, to refer pleasure taken in food and drink, as well as sexual desire, to the soul. People are said, for example, to satisfy their souls with rich food, and the souls of gods and men are claimed to be subject to sexual desire. In contexts of intense emotion or crisis, feelings like love and hate, joy and grief, anger and shame are associated with the soul. “Nothing bites the soul of a man more than dishonor”, says Ajax in a fragment from a tragedy of unknown authorship, just before he commits suicide. Oedipus says that his soul laments the misery of his city and its inhabitants (Oedipus Tyrannus 64). Moreover, the soul is also importantly connected with boldness and courage, especially in battle. Courageous people are said, for instance in Herodotus and Thucydides, to have enduring or strong souls. In the Hippocratic text Airs, Waters, Places, the soul is thought of as the place of courage or, as the case may be, its opposite: in the case of lowland inhabitants, courage and endurance are not in their souls by nature, but must be instilled by law, similarly in benign climates, men are fleshy, ill-jointed, moist, without endurance and weak in soul.

The connection between the soul and characteristics like boldness and courage in battle is plainly an aspect of the noteworthy fifth century development whereby the soul comes to be thought of as the source or bearer of moral qualities such as, for instance, temperance and justice. In Pericles' funeral oration that Thucydides includes in his account of the Peloponnesian War, he says that those who know most clearly the sweet and the terrible, and yet do not as a result turn away from danger, are rightly judged “strongest with regard to soul”. This text, and others like it indicate a semantic extension whereby ‘soul’ comes to denote a person's moral character, often, but not always, with special regard to qualities such as endurance and courage. While the connection with courage is obvious in a number of texts, there are other texts in which the soul is the bearer of other admirable qualities, such as a Euripidean fragment that speaks of the desire characteristic of a soul that is just, temperate and good. Hippolytus, in Euripides' play named after him, describes himself as having a “virgin soul” (Hippolytus 1006), obviously to evoke his abstinence from sex. In Pindar's second Olympian, salvation is promised to those who “keep their souls from unjust acts” (2.68-70). The last two texts mentioned may well be influenced by Orphic and Pythagorean beliefs about the nature and immortality of the soul, to which we will turn in due course. But it would be a mistake to think that the moralization of the soul (i.e. its association with moral characteristics) wholly depended on Orphic and Pythagorean speculation. It would, at the very least, be to disregard the soul's connection with courage in poetry, the historians and in Hippocratic writings.

To educated fifth century speakers of Greek, it would have been natural to think of qualities of soul as accounting for, and being manifested in, a person's morally significant behavior. Pericles acts courageously, and Hippolytus temperately, or chastely, because of the qualities of their souls from which such actions have a strong tendency to flow, and their actions express and make evident the courage, temperance and the like that characterize their souls. Once we are in a position properly to appreciate the connection between soul and moral character that must already have been felt to be natural at this stage, it should come as no surprise that the soul is also taken to be something that engages in activities like thinking and planning. If the soul is, in some sense, responsible for courageous acts, for instance, it is only to be expected that the soul also grasps what, in the circumstances, courage calls for, and how, at some suitable level of detail, the courageous act must be performed.

Thus in a speech of Antiphon, the jury is urged to “take away from the accused the soul that planned the crime”, in striking juxtaposition of the ideas of life-soul (as in Homer) and of soul as responsible for practical thought. Somewhat similarly, in a Sophoclean fragment someone says that “a kindly soul with just thoughts is a better inventor than any sophist” (cf. also Euripides, Orestes 1180). Moreover, it is easy to see that there are connections between familiar uses of ‘soul’ in emotional contexts and attributions to the soul of cognitive and intellectual activities and achievements. There is, after all, no clear-cut and manifest difference between, say, being in the emotional state of fear and having a terrifying thought or perception. When Oedipus' soul laments, or Ajax's soul is bitten by dishonor, emotion obviously goes hand in hand with cognition, and if it is natural to refer the one to the soul, there should be nothing puzzling about attributions to it of the other. Thus in non-philosophical Greek of the fifth century the soul is treated as the bearer of moral qualities, and also as responsible for practical thought and cognition.

Plato's Theories of Soul

The various developments that occurred in the sixth and fifth centuries in how Greeks thought and spoke of the soul resulted in a very complex notion that strikes one as remarkably close to conceptions of the soul that we find in fourth century philosophical theories, notably Plato's. There is thus some reason to think that the philosophical theories in question are best interpreted as working with, and on, the relatively non-theoretical notion of the soul that by the end of the fifth century has come to be embedded in ordinary language. In what follows our main concern will be to characterize some of the theories in question. But we should also attend, wherever this seems appropriate and helpful, to ways in which familiarity with the ordinary notion of the soul might enable us better to understand why a theory or an argument proceeds the way it does. In addition, we should note ways in which philosophical theories might seem to clarify and further articulate the ordinary notion. We begin with Plato, and with a question that is intimately tied up with the ordinary notion of the soul as it developed from the Homeric poems onwards, namely whether a person's soul does indeed survive the person's death.

Aristotle's Theory of Soul

Aristotle's theory, as it is presented primarily in the De Anima, comes very close to providing a comprehensive, fully developed account of the soul in all its aspects and functions, an account that articulates the ways in which all of the vital functions of all animate organisms are related to the soul. In doing so, the theory comes very close to offering a comprehensive answer to a question that arises from the ordinary Greek notion of soul, namely how precisely it is that the soul, which is agreed to be in some way or other responsible for a variety of things living creatures (especially humans) do and experience, also is the distinguishing mark of the animate. According to Aristotle's theory, a soul is a particular kind of nature, a principle that accounts for change and rest in the particular case of living bodies, i.e. plants, nonhuman animals and human beings. The relation between soul and body, on Aristotle's view, is also an instance of the more general relation between form and matter: thus an ensouled, living body is a particular kind of in-formed matter. Slightly simplifying things by limiting ourselves to the sublunary world we can describe the theory as furnishing a unified explanatory framework within which all vital functions alike, from metabolism to reasoning, are treated as functions performed by natural organisms of suitable structure and complexity. The soul of an animate organism, in this framework, is nothing other than its system of active abilities to perform the vital functions that organisms of its kind naturally perform, so that when an organism engages in the relevant activities (e.g., nutrition, movement or thought) it does so in virtue of the system of abilities that is its soul.

Given that the soul is, according to Aristotle's theory, a system of abilities possessed and manifested by animate bodies of suitable structure, it is clear that the soul is, according to Aristotle, not itself a body or a corporeal thing. Thus Aristotle agrees with the Phaedo's claim that souls are very different from bodies. Moreover, Aristotle seems to think that all the abilities that are constitutive of the souls of plants, beasts and humans are such that their exercise involves and requires bodily parts and organs. This is obviously so with, for instance, the abilities for movement in respect of place (e.g., by walking or flying), and for sense-perception, which requires sense-organs. Aristotle does not, however, think that there is an organ of thought, and so he also does not think that the exercise of the ability to think involves the use of a bodily part or organ that exists specifically for this use. Nevertheless, he does seem to take the view that the activity of the human intellect always involves some activity of the perceptual apparatus, and hence requires the presence, and proper arrangement, of suitable bodily parts and organs; for he seems to think that sensory impressions [phantasmata] are somehow involved in every occurrent act of thought, at least as far as human beings are concerned. If so, Aristotle in fact seems to be committed to the view that, contrary to the Platonic position, even human souls are not capable of existence and (perhaps as importantly) activity apart from the body

It is noteworthy that Aristotle's theory does not mark off those vital functions that are mental by relating them to the soul in some special way that differs from and goes beyond the way in which vital functions in general are so related. It is certainly not part of Aristotle's theory that the soul is specially and directly responsible for mental functions by performing them on its own, whereas it is less directly responsible for the performance by the living organism of other vital functions such as growth. As this aspect of his theory suggests, Aristotle is confident that once one has a proper understanding of how to explain natural phenomena in general, there is no reason to suppose that mental functions like perception, desire and at least some forms of thinking cannot be explained simply by appealing to the principles in terms of which natural phenomena in general are properly understood and explained.

It might be thought that since Aristotle's theory treats mental functions and other vital functions exactly alike, it obscures a crucial distinction. This worry, however, turns out to be unjustified. The theory treats mental and other vital functions alike only in that it views both kinds of functions as performed by natural organisms of the right kind of structure and complexity. Viewing mental and other vital functions in this way is perfectly compatible with introducing a distinction between mental and other functions if concerns of some kind or other call for such a distinction. Aristotle is perfectly capable, for instance, of setting aside non-mental vital functions as irrelevant for the purposes of practical philosophy.

Ancient philosophy did not, of course, end with classical Stoicism, or indeed with the Hellenistic period, and neither did ancient theorizing about the soul. The revival of interest in the works of both Plato and Aristotle beginning in the second half of the second century B.C. prominently included renewed interest in Platonic and Aristotelian conceptions of the soul, sparking novel theoretical developments, such as, for instance, Plotinus' argument that the soul could not be spatially extended, since no spatially extended item could account for the unity of the subject of sense-perception. Christian writers such as Clement of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa were heavily indebted to philosophical theories of soul, especially Platonic ones, but also introduced new concerns and interests of their own. Nevertheless, these and other post-classical developments in every case need to be interpreted within the framework and context furnished by the classical theories that some of us have been considering in some detail.

Plato and the Soulmate Theory.

In the Symposium dated c. 385–370 BC, Plato talked about the theory that originally humans had 2 hearts, 2 heads and 4 legs. Some interpretations say that Zeus feared the power of humans and some say he was aggrevated with human arrogance. So he split the soul in two. This created a longing for completeness that no other soul could fill. The two souls would go through lifetimes searching for their other half. In theory the point of twin flames is that eventually the two polarities of the same soul, holding the same frequency, will reunite breaking through the veil and remembering their true selves.

It's written throughout world mythology with slight variations.

Christianity teaches the immortality of the soul, which is created by God and placed on Earth to experience life and exercise free will. After death the soul will be judged on its deds and go to heaven or hell accordingly. But what does it teach of soulmates?

Old Testament

In Judeo-Christian soul mate theory, God fashions an adrogynous creature containing both sexes in his own image, which comprises the essence of spirit. God then decides to give this spirit a ‘living soul’ and creates Adam, and then his female ‘half’ Eve out of his rib.

New Testament

As in Plato's soul mate theory, the New Testament says that humans were was once whole, but were then divided to create its mate. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that God had originally made them:
Quote :
“male and female... for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh... no more twain, but one flesh.” – Matthew 19:4-6

Hindus beleive that all souls are part of a Universal Soul, Atman, which is also the sum of all the Gods. The soul is the unity that links all living beings, as parts of the greater whole. The soul transmigrates through different incarnations until it realises its unity with Atman and no longer needs to reincarnate. In Hinduism soul mate theory, the universal soul becomes conscious of itself, desire companionship, and therefore brings forth from its own Being the male and the female.
Quote :
“He then made his Self fall in two, and thence arose husband and wife...” – Robert O. Ballou, The Portable World Bible

The legend of the Egyptian Gods Osiris and Isis dates back 5,000 years. Essentially, these two began their connection in the womb, where they are born as twins. They're also very much in love. Later in life, Osiris is kidnapped and killed by his jealous brother, Set. In grief, Isis merges with Oriris' spirit, and they conceive a god-like child, Horus. Angered, Set has his brother's body cut up into fourteen pieces. In response, Isis shows her eternal love by gathering the pieces of her husband's body, until he eventually comes back to life.
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