• dazed
    32
    The concept of the soul is integral to the judeo christian framework. It is the focal point for responsibility and human personhood. But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny:

    Either the soul depends on brain function to act or it doesn't.
    If it does depend on brain function then how can it be held responsible for its actions, since they are actually determined by brain function. The soul never acts independently of the brain, so how can it really be said to effect any acts? The soul is really just along for the ride.

    If the soul doesn't depend on brain function and is actually the determinant of actions, then in theory the actions of a soul would be the same irrespective of a person's brain function, but we know that people's actions vary significantly with brain function.

    So it seems clear that the soul is a passenger as the brain acts...but if that's the case then how can it really ever be responsible for anything?

    Take for example the sad case of someone who suffers a traumatic brain injury which results in them becoming violent. In the judeo christian framework the soul in the person is clearly not changed by the brain injury. But the soul's acts have completely changed...so in what way does the soul remain and continue to have a casual role in acts? This person with a traumatic brain injury ends up killing another person. Are we to imagine that the soul struggled against the brain to prevent this act but lost? But then the brain is ultimately more powerful than the soul in causal force? So how can any soul be held responsible for anything? But if souls can't be held responsible, how can they be judged by the deity?

    As my grandfather's brain eroded due to Alzheimers, his behaviours changed significantly. As a teenager, I was taught to believe that my grandfather's essence, his soul was unchanged and that he was still in there. But I couldn't help thinking, well why is that I can't see him anymore in his behaviours, he seems to have left the building. It seems clear to me that in fact "he" was his brain and as it eroded, he changed.

    The concept of the soul erodes under close scrutiny, at least when you link it to responsibility for human behaviour. But a soul without a link to responsibility can't support the judeo-christian framework since responsibility and judgment are integral to that framework.
  • christian2017
    520


    this premise you put forth isn't a main topic of theology in the Christian church. I would be surprised if some denomination did not believe this but none of these premises are Biblical to the extent that they could be held by all denominations. These sound like something written by a theologian going back to the enlightenment and more likely back to medieval times. The Bible certainly doesn't dictate these premises.
  • christian2017
    520
    The Jews probably don't hold to these premises either.
  • bert1
    313
    The concept of the soul is integral to the judeo christian frameworkdazed

    I'm doubtful if the framework has a metaphysical concept of soul. It has a moral, and functional one. The soul plays a role in our mortal and immortal lives. But I am not aware of any theory of what the soul actually is and how it interacts with the brain or whatever. I'm probably ignorant though.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.2k
    The concept of the soul is integral to the judeo christian framework. It is the focal point for responsibility and human personhood. But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny:

    Either the soul depends on brain function to act or it doesn't.
    If it does depend on brain function then how can it be held responsible for its actions, since they are actually determined by brain function. The soul never acts independently of the brain, so how can it really be said to effect any acts? The soul is really just along for the ride.
    dazed

    I think that this is a misunderstanding. All living things are endowed with soul, so it is not true that the soul is the focal point of responsibility and personhood. The rational mind, which is a property of the human soul, with intention and free will, is the focal point of responsibility and personhood.
  • Serving Zion
    160
    The concept of the soul is integral to the judeo christian framework. It is the focal point for responsibility and human personhood. But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny:dazed

    Yep. Keep digging into it - look at the root word in the scriptures, Hebrew נפש "nephesh". You are describing a concept that is prevalent in churches, that is essentially extra-biblical lore, and you are naming it "the Judeo-Christian" idea of soul. It isn't beneficial to do that, because it will prejudice your discussions with other Christians, as myself for example, and your reading of the messages that the writers were expressing through the bible.
  • BrianW
    880


    If you are interested in learning more about the soul (and spirit) though not necessarily according to christian teachings, read "The Spirits' Book" by Allan Kardec. It has an explanation (not scientific) on the situation of the soul/spirit with respect to mental deficiencies.

    Theosophy also delineates an elaborate relation between our bodies, spirits and souls.
  • 3017amen
    860
    then the brain is ultimately more powerful than the soul in causal force? So how can any soul be held responsible for anything? Bdazed

    Consider the (metaphysical) soul in another way:

    Imagine the soul as an informational database of storage. Where the hardrive operating system storage of information is kept over time. Information collected from this life's experience.
    The soul could be the a priori eternal thing in itself, that includes all your genetic footprints ... .

    In that hypothesis, the brain could simply be part of the software. And the game that you desire to upload into it, is your volitional existence.

    I don't think the soul can be held responsible.
  • dazed
    32
    ep. Keep digging into it - look at the root word in the scriptures, Hebrew נפש "nephesh". You are describing a concept that is prevalent in churches, that is essentially extra-biblical lore, and you are naming it "the Judeo-Christian" idea of soul. It isn't beneficial to do that, because it will prejudice your discussions with other Christians, as myself for example, and your reading of the messages that the writers were expressing through the bible.Serving Zion

    ok so whatever it is that you ascribe moral responsibility to, the same issue issue persists, the concept of some sort of self that is independent of the brain and has causal force in human behaviour just doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of observations of human behaviour and the links with brain changes in structure and function.
  • dazed
    32
    I don't think the soul can be held responsible.3017amen

    then why are some souls sent to heaven and some to hell?
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    If it does depend on brain function then how can it be held responsible for its actions, since they are actually determined by brain function.dazed

    The brain itself doesn’t act - to say that it does is the mereological fallacy, to attribute to parts that which is an activity or property of the whole. The brain is part of the human anatomy and really only operates in its embodied form. It's a mistake to believe that 'science' has 'proven' or 'knows' the relations between brain, body, mind and self. These are all highly complex and murky topics from the scientific pov, believing that science has solved them or knows them is just 'scientism'. (See this review.)

    Certainly the questions you raise about brain injury are difficult cases, but there are also cases where people with catastrophic brain injuries recover much more of their abilities and personality than had been expected (for instance the case of Simon Lewis.)

    In my view the expression 'soul' does not refer to an appendage or something one has, but is a symbol for the totality of the being - attributes, inclinations, talents, tendencies, history, and potential. It embraces the physical but also transcends it. There is much about the totality of ourselves which can't be made available to conscious introspection or made knowable to science. ('No man may know the depths of the soul, so great a measure does it have' ~ some sage.) So it's not as if something called 'the soul' exists - that is where you get into the problems of reification, of trying to visualize such matters as objects, while they're not, but are foundational to the nature of living beings.
  • creativesoul
    6.7k
    Certainly the questions you raise about brain injury are difficult cases, but there are also cases where people with catastrophic brain injuries recover much more of their abilities and personality than had been expected...Wayfarer

    Yours truly...

    :wink:
  • Serving Zion
    160
    The brain is only an instrument for the spirit. The soul in fact is responsible for the judgments that render it into the possession of the spirits. Brain doesn't determine personality, it is the spirit operating the brain and heart to lead the soul to act according to its intention.
  • Valentinus
    589
    The concept of the soul is integral to the judeo christian framework. It is the focal point for responsibility and human personhood.dazed

    You may have it precisely wrong.
    The decisions both of those traditions (which are not each "one" set of traditions in either case) put so much emphasis upon are not necessary outcomes after accepting a set of conditions but come down to what a person can do in a place and time.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    753

    Is it not logically possible that the soul is the primary source of free act, but then the brain is also necessary for its final product? Consider the analogy of the brain, the tongue, and speaking a language. The primary source of the act of speaking is the brain, but the tongue is also necessary to produce the words.
  • dazed
    32
    Is it not logically possible that the soul is the primary source of free act, but then the brain is also necessary for its final product? Consider the analogy of the brain, the tongue, and speaking a language. The primary source of the act of speaking is the brain, but the tongue is also necessary to produce the words.Samuel Lacrampe

    so along these lines when brain function diminishes such as in the case of injury or dementia, the "signal" from the actual cause of action (the soul) is the same, but the resulting act is different because the brain is not operating properly

    So God has the ability to judge us on the basis of the originating soul signal?

    in such a scenario, it's not actually our final acts that can be judged but rather our soul signals, but then how do we know when we are sinning or not since all we can experience is our acts and we can't experience our soul signals?
  • 3017amen
    860
    why are some souls sent to heaven and some to hell?dazed

    Dazed, as a Christian Existentialist I don't believe in hell. I'm sorry I won't be able to help you there. Though I don't necessarily consider myself a Unitarian Universalist, much of their apologetics I endorse.

    As far as my personal ethics and some examples thereof:

    1. Don't believe in killing humans.
    2. Don't believe in capital punishment
    3. Believe in law of attraction
    4. Believe we choose our own hell on Earth
    5. Believe Jesus exists

    (With respect to item 2. politically, I don't believe in a cushy prison life for heinous crimes-deterrent. )

    For more insight, look at the NDE phenomenon that people experience.
  • NOS4A2
    1.5k


    The soul is but a consolation for those who fear death. It is their last chance at immortality. But wherever we look it is missing or otherwise immeasurable, and therefor not something noticed, but imagined.
  • 3017amen
    860
    t wherever we look it is missing or otherwise immeasurable, and therefor not something noticed, but imagined.NOS4A2

    Are you suggesting anything from consciousness that is immeasurable does not exist?
  • NOS4A2
    1.5k


    Are you suggesting anything from consciousness that is immeasurable does not exist?

    I’m only suggesting that anything immeasurable cannot be measured.
  • Serving Zion
    160
    The spirit is the way of thinking. When we make decisions about which ideas to believe (as it happens every time an idea comes to us - whether by words in direct conversation like this, or through media like books, tv, music, imagination etc), then if we choose to stay thinking in the way of the truth, then our thinking is being led by the Spirit of Truth (AKA: The Spirit of God, John 14:15-21).

    However, in order to stay with the truth, we need a sufficient reason to follow it (as opposed to following the desire that would put us at odds with the truth).

    Therefore, the judgement already happens in the moment we make the decisions (John 3:18-21). That is how people get cut off from God and eventually come to grope around in darkness while wrestling with the efforts He is making to bring them back to the authentic knowledge of Him. Their soul already is enslaved by sin at that stage (Romans 7:14), because they aren't thinking in the way of the truth. But their body is still functional, their way of thinking is still capable of coming into purity (notice that word: purity - of the knowledge of truth, to be thinking truthfully without compromising it. Jesus speaks about unclean spirits in Matthew 12:43-45, Mark 5:12-15, John 15:3 for example, which is to say that any demonic spirit is not pure - it has enslaved the mind to think in a way that is corrupted, fallacious, intellectually dishonest).

    So this is how the story of Lazarus and the rich man shows that after death the rich man who had died while having been severed from Christ (eg: Matthew 25:45, 1 John 3:17, 1 John 4:16), and he calls to Lazarus to bring him some water, but Abraham says there is a great chasm set so that one cannot pass over to the other. That is because our name is all based upon who we are and what we have done (Proverbs 22:1). When I say that our name is our way of thinking, it is the reputation that I call to mind - not just the sound of the syllables, it is "who I am" according to my knowledge of myself and what the world's opinion might be. Once a person's body has expired, there is no way they can do any further in reality to change their name, but as long as a person is able to manifest into reality, they are able to create evidence in reality of who they are that is useful to The Holy Spirit as He is healing us and giving us confidence to stand boldly in the knowledge that we are righteous in His sight because of our devotion to following Him (John 14:6).

    Now at this stage, realise that the person who is demonically possessed does not understand the truth of reality such that they would act with care and responsibility toward creation - thus they act irresponsibly and cause all sorts of suffering because their way of thinking has convinced them to think there is no cost to bear for it. But when they do finally come to realise that they have done evil upon the earth, they are ashamed and full of self-pity at their foolishness. That is true torment when they wish they had done better while they could - and that is like a worm that eats them up (Mark 9:48). That realisation actually can happen before the body expires, btw, and when that happens, there is an opportunity in Jesus Christ for new life in the covenant of baptism (Romans 6:4-7, 1 Peter 3:21).
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    753
    in such a scenario, it's not actually our final acts that can be judged but rather our soul signals, but then how do we know when we are sinning or not since all we can experience is our acts and we can't experience our soul signals?dazed
    Good question. A common saying in christianity is that "God judges the heart of men"; where "heart" in religion is roughly equivalent to "intentions" in philosophy. As you say, we are not wholly responsible for our acts due to the brain's health, but we are wholly responsible for our intentions to act; intentions which come from our soul, and for which we are always in full control.

    Much better than knowledge of our acts, we have full knowledge of our intentions; since by definition it comes from us.
  • dazed
    32
    Much better than knowledge of our acts, we have full knowledge of our intentions; since by definition it comes from us.Samuel Lacrampe

    actually my conscious experience is that we often have no clue about our intentions, 'why did I do that?" "what was I thinking there?", it seems that in fact we are passengers along for the ride as our brains decide what actions to take.

    Are you proposing that a "good" brain damaged person who is now prone to violence knows that they have good intentions even where they commit violent acts ? Should we not imprison and jail such a person because they are in fact acting properly? how can we judge their acts since we don't have access to their intentions?

    And what about the analogies with other complex primates? Primates have been intentionally brain damaged and the changes in their behaviour have been noted related to the change in brain function. Do such primates have souls? Are we to surmise that they too have intentions that have been skewed by impaired brain function?
  • Serving Zion
    160
    it seems that in fact we are passengers along for the ride as our brains decide what actions to take.dazed

    The soul is the article of interest for the spirits, because it is the ego that combines all faculties (brain, gut, heart, conscience, memory, name) into a person who perceives that his life is his own life.

    It is the soul that, (depending how it has been formed and its placement in relation to the world), summarily goes toward the success of God or Satan in leading it to follow their directions. That is why Christian scriptures emphasise so greatly to be separated from the world, not loving the things that the world loves, being "transformed" by "renewing" the mind. It literally is about bringing the soul into freedom and safety from the adversary, the destroyer.

    Also, do not forget that Jesus would have healed anyone who was with him who had suffered brain damage (eg Luke 22:50-51), and that is God's vision for the end of the war (ie: John 14:12, Romans 8:20-21).
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    753
    actually my conscious experience is that we often have no clue about our intentions, 'why did I do that?" "what was I thinking there?"dazed
    This happens to me too, but when I ask such questions, I mean it to say "even though I know my intentions were good (let's suppose), why did I believe that such act would lead to a good outcome?" Alternatively, it is possible to forget our intentions when they occurred a long time ago. E.g. I cannot tell you what my intentions were for an act that occurred 10 years ago (although I fully knew them back then).


    Are you proposing that a "good" brain damaged person who is now prone to violence knows that they have good intentions even where they commit violent acts ?dazed
    This is a complex question, and the answer depends on the level of mental damage. The explanation below is a bit butchered but hopefully gets the point across.

    • Low level of damage: I am oversensitive and thus more prone to access of anger, but I rationally know better, and therefore I would be responsible if I acted upon these oversensitive feelings.
    • Medium level: I can no longer discern true from false perceptions. I can still intend to be good, but my false perceptions have convinced me that my neighbour is trying to kill me. Thus fighting him is perceived to me as being self-defence, which would not be immoral. It would be an error and I would be dangerous, but it would be an honest error.
    • High level: All my rational powers have disappeared, and thus by extension also my power of intentions, leaving only the basic animal instincts. Although I am still alive, my rational self is no longer there. No more intentions means no more responsibilities.


    Should we not imprison and jail such a person because they are in fact acting properly? how can we judge their acts since we don't have access to their intentions?dazed
    Technically speaking, since we cannot know other people's intentions with certainty, it follows we cannot judge their intentions. In christianity, only two beings are able to judge my heart: myself and God. However, we can judge the act in itself, and also put people in jail if we judge it is safer for society. Finally, we can still reasonably judge the intentions of others if we know them well. For one thing, we can ask them directly: "Did you intend to harm your neighbour?" -"Yep. He got on my nerves, and I never claimed to be a good person".


    And what about the analogies with other complex primates? [...]dazed
    I think I can answer, but this is kind of a separate topic, so I suggest putting it on hold for now for the sake of keeping the discussion more focused.
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