Human "souls"

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Re: Human "souls"

#16

Post by obsolete » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:34 pm

Kurieuo wrote:
obsolete wrote:Isn't to believe in an afterlife believing in substance duelism? There are many other religions that believe that a person has a soul. Unless you believe in reincarnation, or the atheist.
In Ecclesiastes 12:7 we read when we die, "the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." I can not see how this is not supportive of substance dualism.
I have to agree with Kurieuo from this Biblical stance. If this were not so I don't think that the Holy Spirit would have allowed Paul to write it.
I think you might be confusing Ecclesiastes with Ephesians (i.e., Paul writing it)?? :wave:
Either I need to stop reading so fast, or get my eyes checked :oops:
Jesus died for ALL. End of story.

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Re: Human "souls"

#17

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:57 am

Alright - so let me work my way through your responses, K:

First off, I take it you agree that we need to move beyond the terms "substance dualism" and even "Thomism" and be more precise, I agree with you that we should "quibble of what is entailed in such a position rather than terminology." Concerning my own position, I'm more comfortable with the term composite dualism than property dualism, not because I necessarily disagree with the latter, but because I think it is insufficient. Put differently, I don't think that there is one substance that has both mental and physical properties, per se; I think we are one substance which is composed of both a material and immaterial aspect. We should not, however, say that those aspects are themselves substances. It goes back to the form/matter thing for me.

So, whatever that says for or against your arguments with reference to property dualism, I'd like to defend composite dualism. And from your paper and responses here, I'm understanding you to adhere to a true substance dualism; you would see the "soul"/"spirit"/whatever-you-want-to-call-it part of man as a distinct substance that is somehow integrated with the substance of our physical bodies. Is this fair?
Moreland, who I am much in debt to for helping me to formulate my own beliefs re: this, defends the position of substance dualism which he defines as: "the view that the soul- I, the self, mind- is an immaterial substance different from the body to which it is related." So, "I am my soul and I have a body." (Moreland's Substance Dualism: Part 1)

If you can embrace these two statements in some way, then I believe you follow a form of substance dualism. Aquinas, as far as I am aware, never reduced his philosophy of human nature to that of property dualism. Many Thomists are in fact "substance dualists".
I cannot embrace those statements without severe qualification. I certainly agree that I am my soul, but if I say that, I mean absolutely nothing more than "I am me." I would not use the word "soul" to refer some spiritual/ghosty substance that lives inside my body. And while I would agree that I have a body, I would also say, "I am my body."

There are issues here with personhood I think it would help to get into. Notice the word "I" in "I am my body." What is an I? The concept includes identity, but it is more than that. It is the self. While there is clearly a sense in which the statement "I am my body" is false (is a dead body still the person?), yet still the self is not a person without a body. If you remove the body, the I is no longer a person. If, then, an I is a person, then an I cannot be an I if there is no body.
The argument that we do not understand how a soul interacts with a physical body, appears to be based on an appeal to our ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam). For it assumes if we do not know “how” A causes B, especially if the two consist of different properties, that it is not reasonable to believe the two can interact. Yet, as Craig and Moreland point out, a tack can be moved by a magnetic field, and gravity acts on a planet millions of miles away. (Moreland and Craig, Philosophical Foundations, 260) Gravitational forces and magnetic fields appear to have very different properties to the solid and spatially located entities they affect, and although we may not understand “how” such interaction takes place, it nonetheless does—just as we are alert to causation between the mind and body. As another example, even if one is not a theist, most do not view it as inconceivable to believe that God (given God's existence) created the material universe and could act within despite each one being very different.
But this misses the heart of the objection. We aren't simply appealing to ignorance here. We are appealing to the nature of the claim itself. Substance dualism proposes two substances that are, by definition, radically different. The immaterial substance is not extended, not physical, etc. Now, in order for causality to exist between two things, there must be a relationship between them. But a relationship between two things presupposes some point of commonality. That is, in fact, what we mean when we say that A caused B. We mean that A and B both have a relationship to C, and that relationship is common. It is that point of interaction where the causality takes place (whether that point be temporal or not). Thus, when I ask "where" or "how" a material and immaterial substance can interact, I am not just asking for a point in space and a mechanism; I am asking about the commonality between two radically different substances. As such doesn't exist, I argue that such is simply impossible.

Now, on a side note, you can argue that being itself is the point of contact, because if nothing else, both an immaterial and material substance have at least existence in common. I will assume, however, that you don't hold to that position for the sake of space and as I'm sure you are aware how that argument goes anyway. So, excepting that, I just don't see any way the two could interact at all.
A second defense is that the question of “how” the mind interacts with the body may not even arise. As Craig and Moreland explain in depth:

"One can ask how turning the key starts a car because there is an intermediate electrical system between the key and the car's running engine that is the means by which turning the key causes the engine to start. The “how” question is a request to describe that intermediate mechanism. But the interaction between mind and body may, and most likely is, direct and immediate." (ibid., 244)

If the interaction is direct and immediate, as Thomists would tend to believe, then there is no reason to assume there is an intermediate mechanism that facilitates the interaction.
A composite dualism is allowed to claim immediacy, because we do not believe in two separate substances. The relationship between form and matter is immediate simply by definition. But, again by definition, substance dualism is not immediate, contrary assertions notwithstanding. Now, perhaps I'm misunderstanding the term "immediate," but as I know it, one substance cannot be the immediate cause of an action in another substance for the simple reason that immediacy presupposes substantial unity. In other words, immediacy does not allow for separation, either in a spatial or substantial sense. I can, for example, be the immediate cause of my thoughts because I am me. I cannot, though, be the immediate cause of your thoughts, although I can certainly be the effecient cause. Example: Don't think of a pink elephant! ;)

It seems to me that the reason I can never be the immediate cause of your thoughts is that we are different things. If, though, we were the same thing, I could. But, obviously, we are not.

On the other hand, since I see the body/soul as two aspects of the same thing--that is, the same substance--I can, and do, appeal to immediacy. I just don't know how you can make the same claim?
You are correct Thomism does not leave itself open to this attack. Still, contemporary Thomists believe we are our soul and our material bodies depend upon the soul for their existence. There is a more intimate relationship with our soul being the "form" with certain inherent capacities (for sight, sound, smell, love, etc) and the "body" allow the capacities of the soul to be expressed. Although they may be interwoven together and work as a unity, they are still seen as two different substances exhibiting very different properties on each other. And I believe correctly so.
But form isn't a substance. I obviously agree that the soul is the form of the body, and the soul, as such, has certain basic capabilities that are expressed through the body. But if form isn't a substance, and if the soul is the form, then you can't say that the soul is a substance.

Let's put it another way: all real things (in the strict sense of the word) have form and matter. If the human form/matter is spoken of as soul/body, but if each of those are separate things, then what is the form of soul? And if the body is not the matter of the soul (for it could not be if the body is its own substance), then what is?

Bottom line here: if the soul is a substance and the body is a substance and these two substances have been joined together in a single being, then you need form and matter for both the body and soul. But if you do that, the question of intimacy seems much less appealing.
Good we agree on something. Do you remember when we seemed to agree on a whole lot more? :lol:
Ah, those were the days . . . it's the dispensationalism, man. Makes a person divisive! ;)
Just thought I'd add I only mentioned this NOT to parade it as some sort of intellectual badge, but rather I think it is good to sometimes identify whether the ideas being discussed are being thought of on the spot (as often happens in forum discussions), or whether they have been more thoroughly thought through. In this case, I have thought my beliefs through but you'd still be surprised. Let me just say for now that Panentheism, the idea that everything has its existence in God and the belief that everything came from God (a spiritual being) seems to me a hard fit for substance dualism proper.
I actually saw you in another thread mention panentheism somewhere. Yes, I was quite surprised to see you speaking positively of it. I wonder if there aren't several conceptions of the idea. Anywoo . . .
Still, we quite intuitively distinguish between physical and mental properties as being quite different in the world we live. The mind/body issue in philosophy would not exist or make sense if we intuitively saw they are the same. Yet, what is physical seems very different to that which is not like mental thoughts. As my paper you found attempts to demonstrate, mental and physical states are quite distinct. I also note in my paper the arguments presented favour property dualism (one substance expressing mental and physical properties). There are various types of property dualism, the most popular being epiphenomenalism (which I am quite sure, or at least hope, you do not advocate - at least I would be quite perplexed if you did). As a Christian, I think one ought to be clear about what they see this one substance is. Without proper reasoning it seems absurd to me to just assume it is so when the contrary seems the case.
Well I certainly agree that we need as much clarity as possible about what we are. While I do agree that thoughts are obviously of a different sort of thing than physical stuff, I don't think it is at all obvious that we can make the leap to two separate substances. It actually seems the other way to me. Rocks can exist both in reality and in my mind. No one, of course, would argue that rocks have a second immaterial substance built into them. But if rocks can exist in an immaterial way without there being a second immaterial substance, why should my mind itself be a second immaterial substance? Could it not, too, be an immaterial aspect of a material reality (or, better, the capacity of the soul to be able to recognize the immaterial aspect of reality)? In fact, the whole mind/body problem is only a problem because we do so associate our bodies with ourselves. I get hit in the head and I can't think straight. I lose consciousness when I sleep, but I don't stop existing. The difficulty isn't trying to show our body and soul are united, but rather that we have any kind of soul--especially one that could survive death--at all!
The passage in question speaks of the physical and immaterial. If this is not substance dualism, I don't know what is. Where does the OT speak of the human being as ONE substance? My words only convey that in OT Scripture "soul" when used often represents the entire human being. This does not rule out whether such a being is made of one or two substances (and I think Genesis 2 provides a good scriptural basis for a body+spirit complex).
While the word nephesh is not a philosophical term, you know its usage well enough to know that it never distinguishes between two substances. It always refers to the whole self. In other words, the uniform assumption of the OT is that of a single substance. It never thinks to discuss the issue any other way.

Secondly, I disagree that the passage in question "speaks of the physical and immaterial." It says that God breathed into man the breath of life, and that man became a living being. Surely you aren't suggesting that "the breath of life" is some separate substance? That would just be odd . . . it seems straightforward enough that the passage means that you have a lifeless body that is made alive. But, again, "life" isn't a substance, and to say, "to make a body alive means to infuse it with an immaterial substance called the soul" just begs the question. All the text says is that God breathed into the man the breath of life. After that, the OT is uniform in its equation with the nephesh with the whole person.

As an aside, do you believe that animals are also a body/soul duality?

Anyway, this has been really long, but I have the day off pretty much, and I wanted to get to this. Looking forward to your response!

God bless
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Human "souls"

#18

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:55 am

Sorry for the delay Chris. I've been so busy, but you've waited long enough. So I've taken some time out to polish off a response to most of your post. I will see if I can get to the rest as time allows.
Jac3510 wrote:Alright - so let me work my way through your responses, K:

First off, I take it you agree that we need to move beyond the terms "substance dualism" and even "Thomism" and be more precise, I agree with you that we should "quibble of what is entailed in such a position rather than terminology." Concerning my own position, I'm more comfortable with the term composite dualism than property dualism, not because I necessarily disagree with the latter, but because I think it is insufficient. Put differently, I don't think that there is one substance that has both mental and physical properties, per se; I think we are one substance which is composed of both a material and immaterial aspect. We should not, however, say that those aspects are themselves substances. It goes back to the form/matter thing for me.
I understand, and consider some composite substance dualistic positions to be quite sophisticated. For example, I have been intrigued by Merleau-Ponty's existentialist position which I never got to research, but as I understand, sees it as a category mistake to try analyse the mind external to our own physical existence. To try separate the two is nonsensical for such involves an external perspective looking in, but we should work from our existence. I'm not saying you necessarily agree with this, but it does add coherency and therefore some weight to a composite dualistic position.
Jac wrote:So, whatever that says for or against your arguments with reference to property dualism, I'd like to defend composite dualism. And from your paper and responses here, I'm understanding you to adhere to a true substance dualism; you would see the "soul"/"spirit"/whatever-you-want-to-call-it part of man as a distinct substance that is somehow integrated with the substance of our physical bodies. Is this fair?
Yes, I believe in two distinguishable substances that exhibit different properties.

To give quick examples as to what I mean by substance, water is a substance which has the properties of "wetness" or "transparency". A fruit such as an orange is a substance which has properties like an orange skin, roundness and tastes a certain way. So by substance, I simply mean that something can be classified as a substance if it possesses properties. Properties like mass or weightlessness, colour, a type of sound, shape, etc.
Jac wrote:
k wrote:Moreland, who I am much in debt to for helping me to formulate my own beliefs re: this, defends the position of substance dualism which he defines as: "the view that the soul- I, the self, mind- is an immaterial substance different from the body to which it is related." So, "I am my soul and I have a body." (Moreland's Substance Dualism: Part 1)

If you can embrace these two statements in some way, then I believe you follow a form of substance dualism. Aquinas, as far as I am aware, never reduced his philosophy of human nature to that of property dualism. Many Thomists are in fact "substance dualists".
I cannot embrace those statements without severe qualification. I certainly agree that I am my soul, but if I say that, I mean absolutely nothing more than "I am me." I would not use the word "soul" to refer some spiritual/ghosty substance that lives inside my body. And while I would agree that I have a body, I would also say, "I am my body."
Given I now understand you align yourself with a dualistic composite substance I understand what you are saying.
Jac wrote:There are issues here with personhood I think it would help to get into. Notice the word "I" in "I am my body." What is an I? The concept includes identity, but it is more than that. It is the self. While there is clearly a sense in which the statement "I am my body" is false (is a dead body still the person?), yet still the self is not a person without a body. If you remove the body, the I is no longer a person. If, then, an I is a person, then an I cannot be an I if there is no body.
Our bodies are forever changing. I am sure you have heard that every seven years (?) every atom in our bodies has been replaced. Thus, so the argument goes, our identity is not tied to our bodies. Which leads to whether our identify is bound to our memories, which leads to absurdities when considering questions like "what if those exact same memories were implanted in someone else?" Your position does not contain such absurdities since the self is comprised of both the physical and mental properties in one composite substance.

I would agree with your statement "I am my body" is false. I also agree that if our self is comprised of a physical (body) + immaterial (mind) composite, then it makes no sense that the body can be removed and our self (person) remain intact. Given this, I do not understand how you reconcile your position with being able to remove our body so that we are left with our spirit? If we comprise a body+soul composite substance, and indeed these can not be separated without destroying who we are, then how can we be raised up a spiritual body? (1 Cor 15:44) What does Paul even mean when he clearly distinguishes to between the two two types of bodies - natural and spiritual? Or what does Christ mean when he says: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt 10:28) If the two can be clearly divided into two, then we are talking about two substances.
Jac wrote:
K wrote:The argument that we do not understand how a soul interacts with a physical body, appears to be based on an appeal to our ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam). For it assumes if we do not know “how” A causes B, especially if the two consist of different properties, that it is not reasonable to believe the two can interact. Yet, as Craig and Moreland point out, a tack can be moved by a magnetic field, and gravity acts on a planet millions of miles away. (Moreland and Craig, Philosophical Foundations, 260) Gravitational forces and magnetic fields appear to have very different properties to the solid and spatially located entities they affect, and although we may not understand “how” such interaction takes place, it nonetheless does—just as we are alert to causation between the mind and body. As another example, even if one is not a theist, most do not view it as inconceivable to believe that God (given God's existence) created the material universe and could act within despite each one being very different.
But this misses the heart of the objection. We aren't simply appealing to ignorance here. We are appealing to the nature of the claim itself. Substance dualism proposes two substances that are, by definition, radically different. The immaterial substance is not extended, not physical, etc. Now, in order for causality to exist between two things, there must be a relationship between them. But a relationship between two things presupposes some point of commonality. That is, in fact, what we mean when we say that A caused B. We mean that A and B both have a relationship to C, and that relationship is common. It is that point of interaction where the causality takes place (whether that point be temporal or not). Thus, when I ask "where" or "how" a material and immaterial substance can interact, I am not just asking for a point in space and a mechanism; I am asking about the commonality between two radically different substances. As such doesn't exist, I argue that such is simply impossible.
Talk of the two being radically different actually lends itself against a composite substance position. If we really do have two radially different "substances" (or "aspects" if your prefer), then this radical difference finds a hard home in a position which views the two existing harmoniously in one composite substance. On the other hand, if you see a commonality between the two "aspects" in the one substance, then your arguments that the two are radically different can no longer apply. It is unreasonable to argue that the two are radically different, and then embrace the contrary of the two being harmonious. Looking at it another way; where you see substance dualism is hard-pressed to provide a commonality which allows interaction to take place, a dualistic composite substance is hard-pressed to explain how the two aspects can be harmonised together while being radically different.

Moving on, what commonality is there between male and female that the two can be united and made one? Were not the two created in a manner where they could bond. Is commonality required for the two different objects to relate (interact) with each other? I do not evidently see that it is, however I do see that there must be a "common language" in which two different objects (or substances) can relate to each other. You believe this "common language" is provided in a composite substance. I too would advocate their being combined, yet they are also separate for they each exhibit radically different properties (which you yourself understand when calling them "radically different").

Let me expound what I believe our self consists of. I believe we have a bodiless substance that has the capacity for thought, sight, hearing, touch, certain sensations. This substance is the essence of who we are. However, in and of itself, this bodiless substance can express nothing - no thought, no sight, no hearing, touch, experiencing sensations. God Himself sustains us in this most purified bodiless state. Ultimately this could be seen as Monism, however although we might have a human essence we are not really human until expressed. Such expression happens when God envelopes and interpenetrates (akin perhaps to the Trinity) a human bodily substance with our pure essence. This actualises our human capacities for thought, sight, hearing, touch, taste and so forth to be expressed. As the Trinity is one God, this substance might be seen as one composite (I have no qualms with that), but as we distinguish between the different persons in the Godhead which exhibit different roles, we can clearly distinguish between different substances which exhibit "radically" different properties.
Jac wrote:Now, on a side note, you can argue that being itself is the point of contact, because if nothing else, both an immaterial and material substance have at least existence in common. I will assume, however, that you don't hold to that position for the sake of space and as I'm sure you are aware how that argument goes anyway. So, excepting that, I just don't see any way the two could interact at all.
To counter, may I ask how you believe God in His immaterial (spiritual) existence was able to interact to bring about the material existence of our world and His creation? This argument, if it held up, would also knock God's creation of our material world ex nihlo on the head.

To answer how the two could interact (if indeed they can not do so on their own), what is wrong with believing in God's sustenance? What makes you think there must be a physical commonality between two objects to enable them to interact? There is no reason why God should be divorced from the equation in which everything holds together: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossian 1:17)
Jac wrote:As an aside, do you believe that animals are also a body/soul duality?
Yes. I recall also having this discussion with you in the past so might be worth trying to track that down.

However, poke a dog with a pin. If it seems to experience the qualitative sensation of pain and react accordingly, then a transaction from the body to the soul and back again has likely taken place. This transaction starts from the physical body which takes in the signal of being poked with a pin via nerves beneath the skin, which then causes certain neural firings to occur throughout the body and brain, impressing the phenomenal qualia (the sensation of what it is like) of being stuck with a pin onto their soul, after which they react producing a physical reaction such as yelping or biting.

Of course robots could be programed to provide certain reactions based upon certain events that happen to them. A robot dog might for instance be created and programmed to provide the exact same reactions as a normal living dog. God could have created animals like such machinery. Meaning they don't really experience pain. Their reactions have just been programmed so it looks like they do. However, I believe such skepticism is counter-intuitive. Such skepticism pushed to its logical conclusion would lead to someone even questioning whether other people around them really do experience the same things they do.

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Re: Human "souls"

#19

Post by Jac3510 » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:49 am

Hey Scott. No worrise on the delay. I've been putting 60-70 hours in a week at work, and between that and being slack-jawed and some of my more recent discussions, I don't know how I would have been able to offer a clear-headed response anyway. In any case, I have four hours of doing nothing but answering phone calls today, so I figure I would go ahead and respond to your last post.
I understand, and consider some composite substance dualistic positions to be quite sophisticated. For example, I have been intrigued by Merleau-Ponty's existentialist position which I never got to research, but as I understand, sees it as a category mistake to try analyse the mind external to our own physical existence. To try separate the two is nonsensical for such involves an external perspective looking in, but we should work from our existence. I'm not saying you necessarily agree with this, but it does add coherency and therefore some weight to a composite dualistic position.
I've actually not heart of the Merleau-Ponty position. I'll need to look into it myself, but I do agree that we should start from our existence. Following Veatch, Gilson, Owens, and ultimately, Aquinas, I've always been taught that a philosophy proper must begin with a study of being, out of which can flow a proper metaphysic. Actually, in light of that, I wonder what method Moreland employs to create a systematic philosophy.
Yes, I believe in two distinguishable substances that exhibit different properties.

To give quick examples as to what I mean by substance, water is a substance which has the properties of "wetness" or "transparency". A fruit such as an orange is a substance which has properties like an orange skin, roundness and tastes a certain way. So by substance, I simply mean that something can be classified as a substance if it possesses properties. Properties like mass or weightlessness, colour, a type of sound, shape, etc.
Sounds like a pretty universal conception of substance. So, question for you - do all substances have both form and matter (in the Aristotelean/Thomistic sense of the words)?
Our bodies are forever changing. I am sure you have heard that every seven years (?) every atom in our bodies has been replaced. Thus, so the argument goes, our identity is not tied to our bodies. Which leads to whether our identify is bound to our memories, which leads to absurdities when considering questions like "what if those exact same memories were implanted in someone else?" Your position does not contain such absurdities since the self is comprised of both the physical and mental properties in one composite substance.

I would agree with your statement "I am my body" is false. I also agree that if our self is comprised of a physical (body) + immaterial (mind) composite, then it makes no sense that the body can be removed and our self (person) remain intact. Given this, I do not understand how you reconcile your position with being able to remove our body so that we are left with our spirit? If we comprise a body+soul composite substance, and indeed these can not be separated without destroying who we are, then how can we be raised up a spiritual body? (1 Cor 15:44) What does Paul even mean when he clearly distinguishes to between the two two types of bodies - natural and spiritual? Or what does Christ mean when he says: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt 10:28) If the two can be clearly divided into two, then we are talking about two substances.
There are at least two ways to answer this, depending on if you hold to di- or trichotomy. Since I am undecided on that issue, I'll present both, each of which I think are valid.

From a dichotomist's perspective (to which I probably lean a bit), you can point out the fact that "matter" in the form/matter scheme does not necessarily mean physical atoms. More properly, it is the stuff out of which the thing is made, which gives any particular form a "thatness," as in THAT tree or THAT dog. Now, we certainly believe that angels have bodies of some sort, and yet I doubt anyone would declare that those bodies have a chemical composition. From this, I can only conclude that there is literally a type of matter that we, as mortal humans, have never (knowingly?) interacted with. Thus, we could very simply say that the form of the person is, at death, given a new matter to inform in paradise--a temporary spiritual body--and therefore, the person is indeed a person in the correct sense of the word.

From a trichotomists perspective, we can affirm the above, but add the factor of the spirit. Here, the language may start to sound a bit Cartesian (although we certainly wouldn't affirm that system!) in that the identity could perhaps be rooted in the pneuma moreso than the body/soul composite. As a result, you could simply say that the spirit is given a new body/soul composite in heaven, and the issue is resolved.

Now, my problem with that view is that I think it has the same problems I accuse subtance dualism of having. In fact, I regularly wonder if trichotomy isn't substance dualism after all (for, if we aren't saying that the spirit is a separate substance, what are we saying it is, and how is it different from the form/soul in the form/matter composite?!?). But I'll also say that I've not read any metaphysical treatments of trichotomy. In fact, if I were to convert to substance dualism, this would be the way it would have to go. First, prove the biblical position is trichotomy of dichotomy, and second, prove that trichotomy presupposes substance over composite dualism. But as it stands, I don't know that either of those statements can be proven.

But that is more than you asked for. The short answer: while awaiting the Resurrection, I believe we are given temporary bodies. Thus, personhood is preserved after death.
Talk of the two being radically different actually lends itself against a composite substance position. If we really do have two radially different "substances" (or "aspects" if your prefer), then this radical difference finds a hard home in a position which views the two existing harmoniously in one composite substance. On the other hand, if you see a commonality between the two "aspects" in the one substance, then your arguments that the two are radically different can no longer apply. It is unreasonable to argue that the two are radically different, and then embrace the contrary of the two being harmonious. Looking at it another way; where you see substance dualism is hard-pressed to provide a commonality which allows interaction to take place, a dualistic composite substance is hard-pressed to explain how the two aspects can be harmonised together while being radically different.
I would make a much stronger distintion between "substance" and "aspect" than you are. Let me explain. I believe that all real things, being substances, have both form and matter. A rock, for instance, has both. Now, matter is clearly material, but form is immaterial. By that, I mean what the rock is is not a thing that can be measured, tasted, weighed, etc. It's nature is "rockness." The matter is clearly material (in this case), and we say that a rock is in fact a particular rock becasue matter has been informed with the form of rock.

Now, in this example, are we saying there is a separate subtance called "rock" that is immaterial? Not at all! Consider Aristotle's old example of a king's signant ring. When pressed into wax, what is left is the form of the right, not its matter. That form is not material, but is expressed in the material. Likewise, that form is what is impressed in our minds. I would suggest that if you go so far as to consider form a substance, then you have absolutely no way to claim any knowledge of anything. The necessary result must be total epistemological skepticism. That's the problem that all Cartesianism encounters.

I assert, then, that form is NOT a substance. It is nothing like a substance. It is that aspect of a thing that makes it what it actually is. One final example should demonstrate this:

Consider, again, a rock. Now suppose that rock is cut in two and reshaped and painted randomly. Is it still a rock? Yes, it is. Is it still the same rock t was before? Yes it is. We say that that particular rock has changed. If it is not the same rock, then the rock, it turns out, has not changed at all. It has only been replaced with a new one. How, then, do we say that things can change and yet still be the same thing substantially as they were before? The answer is that a thing's matter changes while its form remains the same. But this proves my point, or if matter changes, but the form does not, then the form is not material. But it is obvious that rocks do not have in them a separate, immaterial substace, and still less do they have a substance called a "soul." But we must affirm that the whatness of the rock is still real, and that it does not change, and that it consquently must be immaterial. To deny this will, again, land a person in complete epistemological skepticism.
Moving on, what commonality is there between male and female that the two can be united and made one? Were not the two created in a manner where they could bond. Is commonality required for the two different objects to relate (interact) with each other? I do not evidently see that it is, however I do see that there must be a "common language" in which two different objects (or substances) can relate to each other. You believe this "common language" is provided in a composite substance. I too would advocate their being combined, yet they are also separate for they each exhibit radically different properties (which you yourself understand when calling them "radically different").
The commonality between male and female is that they are both human. They both have material bodies, and therefore, they can affect one another--they can bond--on a material level. So I would still assert that ontological commonality (as opposed to the linguistic commonality you here propose) is required. In the case of composite dualism, we do haev ontological commonality, for form (immaterial) and matter (material) are grounded in substance, that is, they have the same substance in common.

But I do not see how a linguistic commonality (I take your word "language" here rather literally, even though you put it in quotation marks--some clarification if I have misunderstood you would be appreciated) could serve as a sufficient basis for interaction to occur. Language only describes reality. It does not determine it. I can see no means by which an immaterial substance can "talk" to a material substance and vice versa.
Let me expound what I believe our self consists of. I believe we have a bodiless substance that has the capacity for thought, sight, hearing, touch, certain sensations. This substance is the essence of who we are. However, in and of itself, this bodiless substance can express nothing - no thought, no sight, no hearing, touch, experiencing sensations. God Himself sustains us in this most purified bodiless state. Ultimately this could be seen as Monism, however although we might have a human essence we are not really human until expressed. Such expression happens when God envelopes and interpenetrates (akin perhaps to the Trinity) a human bodily substance with our pure essence. This actualises our human capacities for thought, sight, hearing, touch, taste and so forth to be expressed. As the Trinity is one God, this substance might be seen as one composite (I have no qualms with that), but as we distinguish between the different persons in the Godhead which exhibit different roles, we can clearly distinguish between different substances which exhibit "radically" different properties.
This is precisely the way Descarte understood the self. How, then, can you avoid complete epistemological skepticism? Descarte did it by arguing that God would never lie, but that begs the question, because he has no proof of God. His ontological argument fails. If our true selves are little souls that drive around bodies (which, I realize, is a simplistic caricature of your position!), then how can you know anything at all? When I see a tree, my brain is only interpreting light patterns and creating a picture in my mind (for you, the soul). But if that is the case, then all your soul has direct access to are the pictures it itself creates based on the sense perception handed to it by the body (however that happens). This means that since you have no access to the world in itself, you cannot know the world in itself. You can only know the world as your mind interprets the signals it receives.

In short, how do you know the picture your mind paints of reality actually matches reality if you have no direct access to reality itself?
To counter, may I ask how you believe God in His immaterial (spiritual) existence was able to interact to bring about the material existence of our world and His creation? This argument, if it held up, would also knock God's creation of our material world ex nihlo on the head.
The case with God is justifiably different on the level of Being. Ultimately, God is pure existence, or existence actualized. What ALL things have in common, be they natural or supernatural, sensible or supersensible, is that they have being (existence). As a result, God grants all things existence. He interacts with them at the level of being itself. This, by the way, also goes a long way in grounding God's omniscience in Himself, for if you take God to be static with reference to time, and you take all existence as coming from God, then you can say everything that existed, exists, and will exist, do so directly because God grants it existence. But if God grants it existence, then He certainly must know about it as well.

Of course, none of this helps with reference to the body/soul duality, because we cannot say that they interact on the level of being (the soul does not give being to the body; God does).
To answer how the two could interact (if indeed they can not do so on their own), what is wrong with believing in God's sustenance? What makes you think there must be a physical commonality between two objects to enable them to interact? There is no reason why God should be divorced from the equation in which everything holds together: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossian 1:17)
There is a view very similar to the one you are positing here that was held by many Christians shortly after Descarte came on the scene. I forget its name, but basically, it recognizes that there can be no causality between two unlike substances (for there can be no relationship, as relationship presupposes commonality of substance), but argues that God basically holds the two together like two positive ends of a magnet. Further, it argues that any time something happens to the body, God Himelf causes the thing to happen to the soul. In the strictest sense of the word, then, there is no relationship between body and soul. Just a correspondance that God administers. When I prick my finger and experience pain, my soul experiences pain, not because my body did anything to my soul, but because God created the sensation Himself (being that there is no bridge other that God Himself that would be capable of that).

If that were a last resort, I suppose I could hold to it, but if you think through it, I'm sure you can see it is rather silly. It smacks, to me, of a conclusion reached in desparation . . . like the limited atonement of Calvinism. ;)
Yes. I recall also having this discussion with you in the past so might be worth trying to track that down.

However, poke a dog with a pin. If it seems to experience the qualitative sensation of pain and react accordingly, then a transaction from the body to the soul and back again has likely taken place. This transaction starts from the physical body which takes in the signal of being poked with a pin via nerves beneath the skin, which then causes certain neural firings to occur throughout the body and brain, impressing the phenomenal qualia (the sensation of what it is like) of being stuck with a pin onto their soul, after which they react producing a physical reaction such as yelping or biting.

Of course robots could be programed to provide certain reactions based upon certain events that happen to them. A robot dog might for instance be created and programmed to provide the exact same reactions as a normal living dog. God could have created animals like such machinery. Meaning they don't really experience pain. Their reactions have just been programmed so it looks like they do. However, I believe such skepticism is counter-intuitive. Such skepticism pushed to its logical conclusion would lead to someone even questioning whether other people around them really do experience the same things they do.
I thought you had said that you believed as much. For the life of me, I can't remember why I asked. In any case, I do agree with your discussion on sensation here and artificial life as well as the slippery slope you provided. I'm still not sure how you actually get sensation from the body to an immaterial soul, but I suppose we'll get more into that when you get a chance to respond.
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And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Human "souls"

#20

Post by jlay » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:36 pm

Watchmen Nee wrote extensively on the body, soul, spirit issue.

I usually just come away with a headache.

The issue of "soul" usually gets folks thinking about death. What happens? where do we go, etc? I think the world we live in is an amazing opportunity to explain the supernatural. Imagine going back to 1892 and saying that within 100 years we will live in the world of the invisible, using invisible waves to transmit music, images, and even entire libraries of information nearly instantaneously all across the world and through space. It would have been considered supernatural. If you'd mentioned another 200 years earlier you'd probably be burned as a witch.

Today we experience the supernatural everyday. We don't consider it supernatural because we understand it and KNOW how it works. We don't fall over in surprise when we turn on our TV, radio, or answer a mobile phone. People often create for themselves a roadblock because they are unwilling to conceive of an afterlife. Yet, while they are thinking this, invisible waves are flying by their heads transmitting enormous amounts of data. That data can be stored indefinately, and moved from one data base to another at the stroke of a key. I think God can handle the "soul" thing just fine.
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Re: Human "souls"

#21

Post by cslewislover » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:22 pm

I'm going to ask the question
Please answer if you can
Is there anybody's children can tell me
What is the soul of a man?

Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?


I've travelled different countries
Travelled to the furthest lands
Couldn't find nobody could tell me
What is the soul of a man

Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?


I saw a crowd stand talking
I just came up in time
Was teaching the lawyers and the doctors
That a man ain't nothing but his mind

Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?


I read the Bible often
I try to read it right
As far as I can understand
It's nothing but a burning light

Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?


When Christ taught in the temple
The people all stood amazed
Was teaching the lawyers and the doctors
How to raise a man from the grave

Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?


Based on the original by Blind Willie Johnson (1930), adapted by Bruce Cockburn (Nothing But a Burning Light 1991).
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Re: Human "souls"

#22

Post by cslewislover » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:40 pm

"I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." (2 Peter 1:13)

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (2 Cor 5:1-9).

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart j and be with Christ, k which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." (Phil 1:21-24)


These verses make it obvious to me that what "we" are is in a temporary housing, sometimes referred to as a "tent." A tent is not a solid or permanent dwelling, and one without a foundation. That seems pretty dualist to me, coming from the bible, and not latter philosophers. As far as the OT is concerned, from what I've read God had not revealed much about the afterlife and so the relevancy of having a separate soul or spirit would be less. And so there is less to glean on the subject from it.

It seems obvious that who "we" are is also influenced by our genes and our experiences, which greatly includes our sensual input. I have a hard time with Kurieou's belief that our soul and senses are so intertwined. I wouldn't know, but since our senses are based on material/physical things, to me I would think of the soul as placing meaning on the input from the senses, not that the senses were part of the soul itself somehow. But I hadn't read on this aspect before; it seems to make no difference. (I'm not sure. If we were under torture to deny Christ or God, and the physical pain caused us to weaken and deny God, would that be a reflection of the state of our soul?).

God breathing at us was brought up, and that is of course interesting. Genesis 2:7 makes it sound like we became physically animate because God breathed in us. But the fall makes it instead seem like this God-given life was spiritual--that we didn't die physically at the time, but spiritually. I'm not saying I know the answer to this. But then when the Lord visits the disciples after his resurrection, he breathes on them then, to receive the Holy Spirit. One becomes alive again with the reception of God's breath, the Holy Spirit (John 20:22; also John 3:3-8), and this has nothing to do with our physical body or senses.
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Re: Human "souls"

#23

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:47 am

I can see why, from those translations, you could get dualism, csll. But, being only translations, it's best to check others. Let's consider each:

2 Pet 1:13-14
  • I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. (NASB)

    Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. (KJV)

    I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. (ESV)
First, notice that none of these say that we "live" in our earthly tents. That word is supplied by the NIV. It isn't in the Greek. It simply says, "As long as I am in this tabernacle." Second, while the ESV talks about laying aside "my body," they are clarifying the more literal second usage of "tabernacle." The KJV and NASB have it right. Thus, no dualism is in view here, any more than when I say "my body" I am not talking about something separate from myself. The theology, though, is clear. The Tabernacle was not permanent. The Temple was. Likewise, our glorified bodies, not these mortal ones, will be permanent.

1 Cor 5:1-9
  • For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord--for we walk by faith, not by sight--we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. (NASB)

    For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. (KJV)

    For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (ESV)
Notice here the NASB directly refutes any idea of dualism. The idea of clothing sounds like it could support the notion, but here, it says that we are already naked! "For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life." The ESV takes this differently, saying "not that we are unclothed."

In any case, the issue here is nakedness vs. clothing, and that clothing can be of an earthly or heavenly kind. We desire to be clothed with heavenly clothes, and what are those? Eternal righteousness. Nakedness speaks of shame, but what shame is there in not having a body? The shame is in evil deeds, and more specifically, the shame is in death. If you press further, you will find Paul speaking of the judgment seat of Christ, where we will be judged for things done "in the body," that is, for things done in this very life. Paul, then, is not making a case of being in the body vs. being out of the body; he is making a case for shameful vs. righteous life, which is why all of the passage drives toward being accepted by Christ.

Phil 1:21-24
  • For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (NASB)

    For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (KJV)

    For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (ESV)
Here, the NIV over-reaches again, subtly, but importantly. They render the verse, " If I am to go on living in the body," but you can see from these, that isn't at all the idea. Even the NASB takes it slightly too far. The lit. translation would be, "But if to live in the flesh, this to me is fruitful work." He is talking about the mode of life. There is no idea in this passage about his spirit, which is the true "Paul," being in the body or not. The question is he to be on earth away from Christ or in heaven with Christ? To be "in the flesh" (not "in the body") is to be away from Christ.

So we still have no biblical evidence for dualism. Further, the problems you raise, csll, against dualism are rather important. If the spirit really is separate from the body, then just how can our senses affect this non-material thing? The whole notion is rather silly. As far as your question concerning the Fall, I believe we did die physically that day, as I've discussed before. I'll use the same analogy I always do here. When you pick a flower from the ground or leaf from a tree, over the course of a few days, we watch it wither. A week later, we say it is dead. My question: when did it die? Answer, the very second we picked it from its source of life. It just takes the decay a few days to set it.

So it was with Adam. As soon as Adam sinned, he was disconnected from the source of life. Thus, it is absolutely true that the very day he ate from the tree, he literally died.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Human "souls"

#24

Post by cslewislover » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:34 am

Well, I basically disagree with you and your justifications (I think my body affects "me," but I very much think I'm a separate thing from my body - maybe as you age you'll understand :D ). *shrugs* Lol. We should be clothed in Christ as well, which could make it sound like we get swallowed up (if you wanted to go there), but we don't. I don't see that the translations are that different either. I believe God intended for everyday people to understand his Word - the hope He offers - without nuances or subtleties that would make them doubt or cause division.
. . . the problems you raise, csll, against dualism are rather important. If the spirit really is separate from the body, then just how can our senses affect this non-material thing? The whole notion is rather silly.
I don't see it as silly at all! :P God is spirit and he interacts with the physical somehow. It's a mystery, it's not silly. Sound waves and other forces like that do not seem physical to us, yet they have physical effects. I would say that radio waves are not physical at all, in a material sense, yet they interact with my physical radio. There are many examples. And I'm sure God's spirit and whatever part of us that is spirit is much more mysterious than that.

We have learned so much through searching and through science, but I think some things are unknowable to us in our present form. There are mysteries to accept as mysteries.

I don't know about the death issue, and as it doesn't concern my at this time and I have too much else to do, I won't comment on that further.
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Re: Human "souls"

#25

Post by Kurieuo » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:06 pm

Ok... to revisit this topic with a long coming response. :wave: (sorry!)
Jac3510 wrote:
K wrote:I understand, and consider some composite substance dualistic positions to be quite sophisticated. For example, I have been intrigued by Merleau-Ponty's existentialist position which I never got to research, but as I understand, sees it as a category mistake to try analyse the mind external to our own physical existence. To try separate the two is nonsensical for such involves an external perspective looking in, but we should work from our existence. I'm not saying you necessarily agree with this, but it does add coherency and therefore some weight to a composite dualistic position.
I've actually not heart of the Merleau-Ponty position. I'll need to look into it myself, but I do agree that we should start from our existence. Following Veatch, Gilson, Owens, and ultimately, Aquinas, I've always been taught that a philosophy proper must begin with a study of being, out of which can flow a proper metaphysic. Actually, in light of that, I wonder what method Moreland employs to create a systematic philosophy.
I must say I strongly disagree. When studying theology and undertaking philosophy, I too began from a framework (after Descartes) where philosophy began with my own existence. However, in the face of strong postmodern challenges on our self and being, when I seriously reflected upon these postmodern challenges, I realised reasoning cannot start with our existence.

Philosophy questions anything which could possibly be questioned, and gives an even playing field on all logically possible ideas regardless of their reality. Postmodernity questions the reality of a distinct self - our very being. You might still embrace your self as the starting point for philosophical reasoning, as I once did, however let it be admitted that this is not based on purely logical/philosophical grounds. For any argument we present for doing so (for example, "I think therefore I am") starts with presuming the existence of our self and is thereby superflous... circular... begs the question.

Practically speaking, it may make good sense to begin with our self. Logically speaking, you can't get there. Ergo, philosophy does not begin with our being, or a study of our being. If it does, we are quickly lead to doubt and nihilism when seriously contemplating postmodern reasoning and arguments. Rather, the proper place for philosophy to begin is at its source - God. I am very sympathetic to Barth's Christocentricism in particular. It is only through the Creator that we can truly understand ourselves and metaphysical issues. And if the Creator does not exist than philosophy simply abounds with futile games and any real understanding is at a loss.
Jac wrote:
K wrote:Yes, I believe in two distinguishable substances that exhibit different properties.

To give quick examples as to what I mean by substance, water is a substance which has the properties of "wetness" or "transparency". A fruit such as an orange is a substance which has properties like an orange skin, roundness and tastes a certain way. So by substance, I simply mean that something can be classified as a substance if it possesses properties. Properties like mass or weightlessness, colour, a type of sound, shape, etc.
Sounds like a pretty universal conception of substance. So, question for you - do all substances have both form and matter (in the Aristotelean/Thomistic sense of the words)?
Hmm… You may need to elaborate on your question.

My understanding is that Aristotle sees substance (in particular 'human') as being found in 'form'. If asked, “what is the substance of a human?”, Aristotle might reply form. Yet, without matter, form is not realised.

If this question is asked to me, I can't respond. To me a human entity is comprised of two distinguishable substances - soul and body. I hesistate to identify 'soul' = 'form' and 'body' = 'matter' although they most closely correspond to each other. I feel 'soul' is more than mere 'form'. Conceptually, I picture the human 'soul' as an ethereal substance which is full of potentiality (sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing, spirituality, emotion, etc). The disembodied soul is sustained in God.

Perhaps that last sentence (disembodied soul being sustained in God) is where we can find common ground. For if we take God out of the picture, a disembodied soul could no longer exist for nothing sustains it. As such, once our body dies, so too would our soul. This being the case, it would appear as though a human being is comprised of one substance consisting of both physical and immaterial properties rather than two separate substances - one physical and one immaterial.

In any case, only when compounding the two together (soul and body) is there any possibility of having a 'human entity'.
Jac wrote:
K wrote:Our bodies are forever changing. I am sure you have heard that every seven years (?) every atom in our bodies has been replaced. Thus, so the argument goes, our identity is not tied to our bodies. Which leads to whether our identify is bound to our memories, which leads to absurdities when considering questions like "what if those exact same memories were implanted in someone else?" Your position does not contain such absurdities since the self is comprised of both the physical and mental properties in one composite substance.

I would agree with your statement "I am my body" is false. I also agree that if our self is comprised of a physical (body) + immaterial (mind) composite, then it makes no sense that the body can be removed and our self (person) remain intact. Given this, I do not understand how you reconcile your position with being able to remove our body so that we are left with our spirit? If we comprise a body+soul composite substance, and indeed these can not be separated without destroying who we are, then how can we be raised up a spiritual body? (1 Cor 15:44) What does Paul even mean when he clearly distinguishes to between the two two types of bodies - natural and spiritual? Or what does Christ mean when he says: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt 10:28) If the two can be clearly divided into two, then we are talking about two substances.
There are at least two ways to answer this, depending on if you hold to di- or trichotomy. Since I am undecided on that issue, I'll present both, each of which I think are valid.

From a dichotomist's perspective (to which I probably lean a bit), you can point out the fact that "matter" in the form/matter scheme does not necessarily mean physical atoms. More properly, it is the stuff out of which the thing is made, which gives any particular form a "thatness," as in THAT tree or THAT dog. Now, we certainly believe that angels have bodies of some sort, and yet I doubt anyone would declare that those bodies have a chemical composition. From this, I can only conclude that there is literally a type of matter that we, as mortal humans, have never (knowingly?) interacted with. Thus, we could very simply say that the form of the person is, at death, given a new matter to inform in paradise--a temporary spiritual body--and therefore, the person is indeed a person in the correct sense of the word.

From a trichotomists perspective, we can affirm the above, but add the factor of the spirit. Here, the language may start to sound a bit Cartesian (although we certainly wouldn't affirm that system!) in that the identity could perhaps be rooted in the pneuma moreso than the body/soul composite. As a result, you could simply say that the spirit is given a new body/soul composite in heaven, and the issue is resolved.

Now, my problem with that view is that I think it has the same problems I accuse subtance dualism of having. In fact, I regularly wonder if trichotomy isn't substance dualism after all (for, if we aren't saying that the spirit is a separate substance, what are we saying it is, and how is it different from the form/soul in the form/matter composite?!?). But I'll also say that I've not read any metaphysical treatments of trichotomy. In fact, if I were to convert to substance dualism, this would be the way it would have to go. First, prove the biblical position is trichotomy of dichotomy, and second, prove that trichotomy presupposes substance over composite dualism. But as it stands, I don't know that either of those statements can be proven.

But that is more than you asked for. The short answer: while awaiting the Resurrection, I believe we are given temporary bodies. Thus, personhood is preserved after death.
I need some clarification here. I am understanding from your words that you believe:

1. Human beings consist of one substance.
2. The substance human beings are comprised of is not limited to "physical stuff", but may include a "spiritual stuff", "angelic stuff" or something of the sort.

Thus,

3. When a human being dies, the "physical stuff" no longer exists and is replaced with a new "temporary" spiritual body.
or
4. When a human being dies, they no longer exist, but are given a new "temporary" spiritual body.
or
5. Something else???

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Re: Human "souls"

#26

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:21 pm

I must say I strongly disagree. When studying theology and undertaking philosophy, I too began from a framework (after Descartes) where philosophy began with my own existence. However, in the face of strong postmodern challenges on our self and being, when I seriously reflected upon these postmodern challenges, I realised reasoning cannot start with our existence.

Philosophy questions anything which could possibly be questioned, and gives an even playing field on all logically possible ideas regardless of their reality. Postmodernity questions the reality of a distinct self - our very being. You might still embrace your self as the starting point for philosophical reasoning, as I once did, however let it be admitted that this is not based on purely logical/philosophical grounds. For any argument we present for doing so (for example, "I think therefore I am") starts with presuming the existence of our self and is thereby superflous... circular... begs the question.

Practically speaking, it may make good sense to begin with our self. Logically speaking, you can't get there. Ergo, philosophy does not begin with our being, or a study of our being. If it does, we are quickly lead to doubt and nihilism when seriously contemplating postmodern reasoning and arguments. Rather, the proper place for philosophy to begin is at its source - God. I am very sympathetic to Barth's Christocentricism in particular. It is only through the Creator that we can truly understand ourselves and metaphysical issues. And if the Creator does not exist than philosophy simply abounds with futile games and any real understanding is at a loss.
Forgive me for being unclear.

When I said we start with our own existence, I most definitely did not mean we should follow a Cartesian framework, and this for two reasons:

1. To take the famous, "I think, therefore I am," I find this to be logically invalid. It presumes the meaning of "I" and therefore begs the question. Who is to say that "I" couldn't mean the same thing as "it" in the sentence, "It is raining." At best, Descarte could say, "There are thoughts." That doesn't help much, now does it?

2. Even if you were to decide that an "I" actually exists (I don't know how, based on his reasoning), it certainly doesn't get you anywhere, because you can never know if anything your "I" perceives is actually real. How would you get outside of yourself to compare what you perceived with the thing itself? You can never know! Such is the fate of all philosophies that begin with epistemology.

What I actually meant was that we start with being itself. Even given Descarte's proof that at least thoughts exist, what we do know is that something exists. A proper philosophy, then, begins with existence itself, or, as Owens calls it, being qua being.

Unfortunately, I can't agree with you that the place to begin is with God. What data do you consider when talking about God? The Bible? Why? Says who? How do you know it exists? How do you know you can understand a single word of it? Why do you even presume His existence in the first place? If we can just assume God's existence, why not our own?

The only thing we can get away with "assuming" is being itself. Thus, that must be the starting point, because if there is no being, there is nothing to contemplate, and, for that matter, no one (or nothing) to do the contemplating.
Hmm… You may need to elaborate on your question.

My understanding is that Aristotle sees substance (in particular 'human') as being found in 'form'. If asked, “what is the substance of a human?”, Aristotle might reply form. Yet, without matter, form is not realised.

If this question is asked to me, I can't respond. To me a human entity is comprised of two distinguishable substances - soul and body. I hesistate to identify 'soul' = 'form' and 'body' = 'matter' although they most closely correspond to each other. I feel 'soul' is more than mere 'form'. Conceptually, I picture the human 'soul' as an ethereal substance which is full of potentiality (sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing, spirituality, emotion, etc). The disembodied soul is sustained in God.

Perhaps that last sentence (disembodied soul being sustained in God) is where we can find common ground. For if we take God out of the picture, a disembodied soul could no longer exist for nothing sustains it. As such, once our body dies, so too would our soul. This being the case, it would appear as though a human being is comprised of one substance consisting of both physical and immaterial properties rather than two separate substances - one physical and one immaterial.

In any case, only when compounding the two together (soul and body) is there any possibility of having a 'human entity'.
Substances aren't just form. Substance, rather, "signifies being as existing in and by itself, and serving as a subject or basis for accidents and accidental changes." As I'm sure you know, forms can't change. Excluding God, the only way for substance to exist is if it has both form and matter. (God is excluded because He is "being as existing in and by itself"."

So, I am asking you if you recognize that all substances have both form and matter?

With that said, I can see why you would take "substance" the way you do. The distinction between essence and substance is often difficult to make. Aristotle wouldn't say, precisely, that the substance of man is his form; he would, though, say that the essence of the man is his form.

Let me ask you another question: when you are at a funeral, is the body in the casket human? Since it no longer has a soul, in your view, it would seem not, but that certainly seems odd. If it isn't a human body, then what is it?

What I can agree with is this:
"In any case, only when compounding the two together (soul and body) is there any possibility of having a 'human entity'. "
If we change the words 'human entity' to 'human person'.
I need some clarification here. I am understanding from your words that you believe:

1. Human beings consist of one substance.
2. The substance human beings are comprised of is not limited to "physical stuff", but may include a "spiritual stuff", "angelic stuff" or something of the sort.

Thus,

3. When a human being dies, the "physical stuff" no longer exists and is replaced with a new "temporary" spiritual body.
or
4. When a human being dies, they no longer exist, but are given a new "temporary" spiritual body.
or
5. Something else???
We should distinguish between a human and a person. All humans are persons. Not all persons are humans. As alluded to above, a person must have both a body and soul to be a person--conditional unity, Erickson calls it. Thus, when a person dies, the person is sustained by God by giving them a temporary spiritual body.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Human "souls"

#27

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:29 am

Jac3510 wrote:
I must say I strongly disagree. When studying theology and undertaking philosophy, I too began from a framework (after Descartes) where philosophy began with my own existence. However, in the face of strong postmodern challenges on our self and being, when I seriously reflected upon these postmodern challenges, I realised reasoning cannot start with our existence.

Philosophy questions anything which could possibly be questioned, and gives an even playing field on all logically possible ideas regardless of their reality. Postmodernity questions the reality of a distinct self - our very being. You might still embrace your self as the starting point for philosophical reasoning, as I once did, however let it be admitted that this is not based on purely logical/philosophical grounds. For any argument we present for doing so (for example, "I think therefore I am") starts with presuming the existence of our self and is thereby superflous... circular... begs the question.

Practically speaking, it may make good sense to begin with our self. Logically speaking, you can't get there. Ergo, philosophy does not begin with our being, or a study of our being. If it does, we are quickly lead to doubt and nihilism when seriously contemplating postmodern reasoning and arguments. Rather, the proper place for philosophy to begin is at its source - God. I am very sympathetic to Barth's Christocentricism in particular. It is only through the Creator that we can truly understand ourselves and metaphysical issues. And if the Creator does not exist than philosophy simply abounds with futile games and any real understanding is at a loss.
Forgive me for being unclear.

When I said we start with our own existence, I most definitely did not mean we should follow a Cartesian framework, and this for two reasons:

1. To take the famous, "I think, therefore I am," I find this to be logically invalid. It presumes the meaning of "I" and therefore begs the question. Who is to say that "I" couldn't mean the same thing as "it" in the sentence, "It is raining." At best, Descarte could say, "There are thoughts." That doesn't help much, now does it?

2. Even if you were to decide that an "I" actually exists (I don't know how, based on his reasoning), it certainly doesn't get you anywhere, because you can never know if anything your "I" perceives is actually real. How would you get outside of yourself to compare what you perceived with the thing itself? You can never know! Such is the fate of all philosophies that begin with epistemology.

What I actually meant was that we start with being itself. Even given Descarte's proof that at least thoughts exist, what we do know is that something exists.

A proper philosophy, then, begins with existence itself, or, as Owens calls it, being qua being.
Everything up until that last sentence I can agree with, and you write it well. I am not sure how you can logically fair any better than Descartes by removing the 'I' and starting just with 'being'.

You know, if all things must be logically proven, then philosophy itself doesn't even get started for it must be proven that logical reasoning itself is valid. This can't be done for essentially the same reasons you put forward for Descartes' "I think, therefore I am." And for these same reasons one also can't logically begin with "being" either.

No, to embrace philosophy, "being", and my own existence, I can not use logical reasoning for I only end up committing fallacies. Rather, I must look to praxis or what seems most practical to me, and place my faith in the obvious. Some might consider such things foundational truths and leave it at that, but for me, I found it hard accepting them as such in the face of post-modern challenges on philosophical reasoning and truth itself. Accepting something based on what is practical allows me to embrace philosophical reasoning, "being" and my own existence. While not based on logical reasoning, I believe it is more practically rational to accept such things since to not would make me miserably crazy and lost in an undesirable nihilistic circle of never being able to embrace anything as true, or false, if such concepts even make sense.
Jac wrote:Unfortunately, I can't agree with you that the place to begin is with God. What data do you consider when talking about God? The Bible? Why? Says who? How do you know it exists? How do you know you can understand a single word of it? Why do you even presume His existence in the first place? If we can just assume God's existence, why not our own?
My reasoning above should explain how I accept many obvious things, and these things - logic, being, my self - can be attributed to being rooted in God's existence. For I logically deduce through accepting my own contingent existence (that I exist, but have not always existed) that something non-contingent must exist prior to myself and all other causes that are themselves contingent. Accepting the impossibility of an infinite regress, it is not hard for me to deduce God's existence using much reasoning I've become familiar with thanks to Craig and in particular his kalam cosmological argument.

Once you reach God, God becomes the correct starting point since He is the source. But what God? Well as I have been drawn to Christ as you also were, Christ as our Creator becomes the logical starting point. I can then adopt a Christocentric position to understand myself, existence and a range of metaphysical issues. Hopefully that helps to clarify some things for you.


In a way, we really aren't that far apart. I do start out embracing "being", and I guess immediately thereafter myself. I just do not embrace my existence based on logical reasoning (which I don't see as possible), but rather I embraced my existence based on what I call a practical rationality. With a foundation to begin from, I begin reaching and accepting other conclusions. For example the existence of God and Christ being the Creator. I then apply these to add, change and make more coherent other beliefs I hold. The moment I reach Christ (or Christ reaches me), the rightful beginning point for me in any pursuit of truth undertaking becomes the source of truth itself - Christ aka God.

That is enough from me for now. Hopefully you were able to follow what I was saying... it is the first time I've attempted to express it so happy to elaborate on anything.

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Re: Human "souls"

#28

Post by Kurieuo » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:35 am

Jac3510 wrote:
K wrote:Hmm… You may need to elaborate on your question.

My understanding is that Aristotle sees substance (in particular 'human') as being found in 'form'. If asked, “what is the substance of a human?”, Aristotle might reply form. Yet, without matter, form is not realised.

If this question is asked to me, I can't respond. To me a human entity is comprised of two distinguishable substances - soul and body. I hesistate to identify 'soul' = 'form' and 'body' = 'matter' although they most closely correspond to each other. I feel 'soul' is more than mere 'form'. Conceptually, I picture the human 'soul' as an ethereal substance which is full of potentiality (sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing, spirituality, emotion, etc). The disembodied soul is sustained in God.

Perhaps that last sentence (disembodied soul being sustained in God) is where we can find common ground. For if we take God out of the picture, a disembodied soul could no longer exist for nothing sustains it. As such, once our body dies, so too would our soul. This being the case, it would appear as though a human being is comprised of one substance consisting of both physical and immaterial properties rather than two separate substances - one physical and one immaterial.

In any case, only when compounding the two together (soul and body) is there any possibility of having a 'human entity'.
Substances aren't just form. Substance, rather, "signifies being as existing in and by itself, and serving as a subject or basis for accidents and accidental changes." As I'm sure you know, forms can't change. Excluding God, the only way for substance to exist is if it has both form and matter. (God is excluded because He is "being as existing in and by itself"."

So, I am asking you if you recognize that all substances have both form and matter?

With that said, I can see why you would take "substance" the way you do. The distinction between essence and substance is often difficult to make. Aristotle wouldn't say, precisely, that the substance of man is his form; he would, though, say that the essence of the man is his form.

Let me ask you another question: when you are at a funeral, is the body in the casket human? Since it no longer has a soul, in your view, it would seem not, but that certainly seems odd. If it isn't a human body, then what is it?

What I can agree with is this:
"In any case, only when compounding the two together (soul and body) is there any possibility of having a 'human entity'. "
If we change the words 'human entity' to 'human person'.
I think we might be misunderstanding each other when it comes to the term "substance". I'm not too sure adding in "form" helps either.

Firstly I agree that substances are not just form. I'd further agree forms do not change, where I understand "form" to be like the design blueprints of creature (whether a human being, an angel or some animal). Each have different forms / different designs. Perhaps God could add to or change a human person's human form, which greatly complicates the metaphysical issues involved, but lets leave that discussion aside.

Now where I disagree is that "substance" has both form and matter. Perhaps this comes down to a different philosophical understanding we both have of what "substance" means. As I mentioned earlier in this thread some time ago:
  • To give quick examples as to what I mean by substance, water is a substance which has the properties of "wetness" or "transparency". A fruit such as an orange is a substance which has properties like an orange skin, roundness and tastes a certain way. So by substance, I simply mean that something can be classified as a substance if it possesses properties. Properties like mass or weightlessness, colour, a type of sound, shape, etc.
Now "form" to me is a substance for is possesses design properties of what a creature is like and capable of doing if matter is added. For example, a bat has a radar-like capacity. This capacity inherent in their "bat form" is expressed through their material body. I think it safe to say God did not design human form to possess radar-like capacity, although God did give us sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Each of these senses become expressed via our physical bodies. Blind people might not be able to see, but their human form still means they have the capacity for sight. Just because the body does not tap into this capacity properly, does not mean that such capacity is gone. No, a human form is a human form even if the body is damaged or not working.

I am not sure where that sits with you. I know from other threads I've read that you don't believe God consists of a substance. Whereas I would say God consists of a substance since He possesses certain properties - goodness, rightousness, omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, etc. I also understand you might simply believe God to be all form, consisting of nothing material. I feel I could agree with you, although its not something I've reflected deeply on. Given this, you might say I don't believe God consists of a substance (as you understand substance). Yet, I do believe God consists of a substance on my understanding of substance.
Jac wrote:
K wrote:I need some clarification here. I am understanding from your words that you believe:

1. Human beings consist of one substance.
2. The substance human beings are comprised of is not limited to "physical stuff", but may include a "spiritual stuff", "angelic stuff" or something of the sort.

Thus,

3. When a human being dies, the "physical stuff" no longer exists and is replaced with a new "temporary" spiritual body.
or
4. When a human being dies, they no longer exist, but are given a new "temporary" spiritual body.
or
5. Something else???
We should distinguish between a human and a person. All humans are persons. Not all persons are humans. As alluded to above, a person must have both a body and soul to be a person--conditional unity, Erickson calls it. Thus, when a person dies, the person is sustained by God by giving them a temporary spiritual body.
I agree and have no issue with accepting your words here. It in interesting we both believe in God's sustenance after physical death. Perhaps we really are misunderstanding each other when the term "substance" is employed. I don't know if this is understating the differences between us though.

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Re: Human "souls"

#29

Post by Kurieuo » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:45 am

Jac wrote:Let me ask you another question: when you are at a funeral, is the body in the casket human? Since it no longer has a soul, in your view, it would seem not, but that certainly seems odd. If it isn't a human body, then what is it?
The body is a human body because it is able to interface with human form (or was able to before it expired).

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Re: Human "souls"

#30

Post by Byblos » Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:18 am

Kurieuo wrote:
Jac wrote:Let me ask you another question: when you are at a funeral, is the body in the casket human? Since it no longer has a soul, in your view, it would seem not, but that certainly seems odd. If it isn't a human body, then what is it?
The body is a human body because it is able to interface with human form (or was able to before it expired).
I'm glad you guys revived this topic as I was reading it with great interest (although I must admit it is beyond my level of philosophic comprehension). In any case, I just wanted to comment on that last tidbit from my perspective as a Christian who has roots in the Antiochian Church. We do not put much emphasis on burial (mourning, yes, but not burial). I'm not entirely certain if this is related to the limited real estate available or some other religious factor but we don't bury our dead in individual graves like in the West. I've always taken that as an utter insignificance attached to the physical body after death because 1) we're still alive in spirit, and 2) because we will eventually receive a new body. Having lived my entire adult life in the West, this practice almost seems barbaric to me now but it is what it is. My personal opinion aside, I must do some research to confirm it.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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