Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Soul theory

So what does everyone think about the soul? I think it is the most plausible thing we have discussed. I don't think it necessarily encodes an entire person or being, but merely the core so if you have a kind soul when you are alive, when you are reincarnated you will still be kind whether it is kind as a person or animal. (obviously i am assuming reincarnation here) but if you go with soul to heaven or hell theory then i think the soul takes on a different meaning. in that case i think the soul remains you as you the only difference would be that it doesn't have a material body. I dunno, what do you guys think?

12 Comments:

Blogger Kate said...

oh and i have a question, can someone explain begging the question?? thanks

9:18 AM  
Blogger Sam Lehman said...

being as I am a religious person, I have trouble disregarding the soul theory. However, especially in the short novel we discussed, the soul theory was pretty well torn apart by the materialists.
I did however enjoy our tri-alist view which incoprorated the mind, body and soul. this would provide a soul "book" inwhich the activites and history of the mind would be written, showing as it were some X that could survive E.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Well, lets stir up some controversy so we can start arguing and getting some blog points ;)

Here is an argument for soul theory that I throw out for everyone to agree with/disagree with/deny premises/reform into a better argument, whatever people want to do with it.

1. If there is not enough physical evidence (either in the brain or elsewhere in the body) to fully explain all mental attributes (conscious thought, reasoning power, memory, emotions, etc.), then the addition of a nonphysical portion of a person is needed to explain all mental attributes.
2. There is not enough physical evidence to fully explain all mental attributes.
3. Therefore the addition of a nonphysical portion of a person is needed to fully explain all mental attributes.
4. If (3), then materialism is false.
5. Therefore materialism is false.

Assuming (incorrectly) that materialism and the soul theory are the only viable theories, this would be an indirect argument supporting the soul theory.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I can't give up on soul theory either. I know there are a lot of other theories that make soul theory implausible but i feel like Jason's argument has a point. there are so many unexplainable things that happen and i like to attribute them to the soul. it's kind of like g-d, what's to say that she exists, there is no physical evidence, there are just feelings and a strong belief. i feel the same way about soul, except i think i feel even more certain that there is a soul

7:55 AM  
Blogger Russell said...

I disagree with premise 2. I think there is a lot of useful physical information being gathered by science, but the thing is that we have not figured out all of its meaning, so we have not totally qualified what we have yet. This would get rid of the requirement of nonphysical explanations.

I don't remember what "begging the question" is. My best guess is that is means that someone is making assumptions that they need to prove, but I don't definitly know.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Most of my backing on premise 2 is in the thread below, where I show how many things go wrong when we assume that everything can be explained by physical properties. Included in these are duplication, causing someone to be identical to someone else in terms of mind/brain states, and even ignoring all the metaphysical problems by the best guesses we have comparing our brains to less complex brains (for example, gorilla brains) there isn't enough physical difference in the minds to account for the vast difference in mental capabilities.

If there is some nonphysical soul connected with a person it essentialy solves the questions of duplication and identical physical characteristics causing two distinct people being identical to each other.

And as for begging the question, when you assume that a view you are trying to prove in order to support a premise to prove the view is begging the question. For example, if I had an argument

1. If materialism is right, then the soul theory must be wrong.
2. Materialism is right.
3. Therefore the soul theory must be wrong.

That would be an example of begging the question. (At least I think so, someone let me know if I got that wrong.)

5:59 PM  
Blogger Sabrina Sitkoski said...

So I am very religious. I agree with Sam and I also like the idea of a person being three parts, body, mind and soul. I think that it is a very good theory if it can get more than one major world religion to agree with it.
As for soul theory being true so materialism is false (summarized not the actual argument) I don’t know if this was something that we read for class or something that I read for my paper, but I read something that said that a lot of people who use religion as a basis for soul theory being correct completely support materialism, but simply say that there is also a soul that cannot be proven. I like this idea. I have a lot of confidence in science and believe that it might be possible that we will someday be able to scientifically explain all of the workings of the brain. So I feel that my view must take that into account. I realize that that does not allow for any objections because it is not an actual provable argument, but that is my take on the materialism verses soul theory question.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

If the brain did fully explain all mental states and all that a person is is the culmination of those mental states, there is no evidence or need of a soul, and there would be no use of one. If a person had a soul, and in order for that being to be a full person they required a soul, then the soul would need to serve some kind of function that either could not be done or was not done by physical things. It would seem illogical to say that all persons have souls, and the souls are immaterial parts of the person and are a fundamental requirement to be a person, but the soul serves no purpose. Under that reasoning some being could be created that was identical to a person in every way other than having a soul, and we would never be able to tell the difference. It could even be the case that, for example, all men had souls and all women did not (or visa versa) and we would never know or be able to tell the difference because the souls do not contribute to the person other than it is a requirement to be a person.

I know it hinges on religion and belief of souls in this scenario, but it just seems to me that under that reasoning you could assign any number of nonmaterial parts of a person that gave no contribution to a person but was a fundamental requirement for a person and it would make no difference. I believe the argument for souls saying that they are required to fully explain all mental attributes is a lot more logical and believable than saying that souls exist but don't do anything.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Dan McCormick said...

I'd also like to point out the soul origin problem. That is, when does the soul come about? Is it modern humans, what about neandrethals? If so, gorillas? When do we stop, because surely we would want to say that something down the line doesn't have a soul. Furthermore, assuming a religious view, we would like to connect the soul with immortality perhaps, but most people don't think there is a gorilla heaven etc. But gorillas have brains similar to ours, and if evolutionary theory is correct, then species are more of a continuim of evolution than completely different entities (and i know evolutionary theory is not necessarily correct). So how do we explain the sudden emergence of souls?
Also, since people can change quite drastically, what part of you would be represented in heaven? Perhaps you were very violent as a youth and calm as a senior, so how would you be manifested in heaven?
Soul theory sounds nice, but there are too many fuzzy edges for me. While the physical representation isn't complete yet, it seems like we at least have a concrete path to walk down.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I'd like to deny premise one of jason's previous argument. I think that there is enough physical evidence. Clearly, we don't have all the information we need to explain all the mental capabilities that we have. However, I think there is enough physical evidence to suggest the potential that the rest does exist within the physical world. The progress we've made in discovering how the brain works has occured at such a rapid rate withtin just the past few decades. Every day we discover new things that fill in more gaps, but also suggest that we know even less than we thought we did. For example, the LGN, in the brain, we discovered it's uses, but then realized that about 80% of what is does is unknown. There is so much unknown about the brain and how it works, and so much mystery surrounding it, i don't think we can say there isn't enough physical evidence to be found. I think it's clear the potential and likelyhood for physical evidence clearly exists.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Russell said...

What I addressed was the quality of the scientific evidence that we have, and what I got in return was an argument for useless souls. I am saying that the brain is what we are. The mind is a result of the experiences we have and all the processes taking place in the brain. We don't even need a soul in this case, and the mind is not a functioning thing in this case, merely the sum of all our senses.
I also think that our essence is what we make of it. People in previous posts have argued something close to that tune that by simply believeing in something, it actually is there, like with a soul. I say that all the mind is is the sum of the outputs of the brain. I think it can be that simple and I believe a bias is what is holding peope back from agreeing or even considering this viewpoint.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Michael Silverman said...

I also disagree with premise one not even because there is a ton of evidence for explanations of emotions and every mental atribute in the brain, but because in order for premise one to stand, there must be no way it is metaphysically possible for sience to explain everything in the mind, if Jason wants to defend his argument, he will have to tell me why there is no way sience can explain the brain, rather than saying theres lots of mysterious things going on in the brain and sience doesn't know it all.

11:28 AM  

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