“If we need a brain for consciousness, then consciousness cannot survive the brain’s destruction.” This is a point I want to hammer home to the believers in a conscious afterlife (read: heaven/hell). If the soul is all that survives death, how are these people planning on admiring streets of gold or agonizing inside the burning hot lava of hell when there will be no possible way of experiencing these things?

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9 thoughts on “About That Soul…Thing”

Egoistpaul · December 19, 2009 at 4:46 am

For someone with a computer engineering degree like me, it is very easy to understand this dualism. The body is like the hardware; the mind is like the software. Software cannot work without a hardware. If my laptop dies, no software can run in it.

    godlessgirl · December 19, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Ah, I really appreciate analogies like this!

DrMatt · December 19, 2009 at 3:39 pm

This is not only an ancient quandry, it is the great philosophical divide between rationalists and empiricists.

Plato's otherworldly Forms were his way of refuting relativism. DesCartes and Leibniz both looked to thought existing outside our physical existance. How the non-material mind communicates with the material body has given rationalist philosophers something to ponder for centuries.

Theosophy to eastern theories of the greater Cosmic Consciousness have conjured non-corporeal existance as a safehaven from physical death.

Thought provoking. Thank you.

    godlessgirl · December 20, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Thanks for commenting! I wish I hadn't avoided challenging philosophy throughout my schooling šŸ˜‰

Kylyssa Shay · January 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

If a person is or has a "soul" then why does brain damage change who a person is? As a person who suffered a head injury I discovered just how pervasive this "soul" as a separate entity is.

While waiting for an appointment I once overheard a couple of women discussing the one woman's husband, who was in seeing the doctor. They were complaining about how he "let" his brain injury change his personality. The older woman then started talking about how they needed to get him back to going to church and he'd straighten out – as if church could fix a brain injury!

    godlessgirl · January 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    oh that poor man šŸ™

    Jake · May 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I think the problem with some of these thoughts is that they already assume too much. The problem is if you are looking at this from a anti-soul standpoint, you automatically think of software on a computer and done. This isn’t the whole idea though. The consciousness is the software and the body is the laptop but the soul is neither of those. the soul is the person using the laptop. Laptop damage will effect the software’s ability to function but not the user’s. The laptop’s failure does not render the user dead though it may render the software useless. Curiously though you can observe the laptop and the software to learn about the user’s usage but not his essence. Similarly, The functionality of the conscious or the brain are unrelated to the soul. And you can tell a lot about the output of the soul by monitoring the brain and personality but it will reveal nothing about the substance of the soul itself.

      Harold · March 30, 2011 at 1:03 am

      Stupid Reply function. See my post below.

Harold · March 30, 2011 at 1:02 am

Of course, you assume no less: that such a thing as a soul exists. We cannot see this thing, interact with it, or measure it. We have no way to prove or demonstrate that it exists. In fact, you have no evidence for each body having its own distinct soul, as you seem to favor, over distinct souls that inhabit a series of bodies (which actually fits your extension to the analogy better!) or a collective soul that animates all bodies or no souls at all. We canā€™t even define anything that would characterize the output of the soul. Many religions say that non-human animals have no souls, yet if you look at intelligent enough animals you can find evidence for memory, personality, language, and ethics. If souls existed, we have no reason to believe that humans have them and other animals do not.

We have no evidence for the existence of the soul. Unless evidence turns up, we should adopt the simplest possibility: no souls exist.

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