Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Soul and You

Is the soul and the body separable?  Does one "survive" without the other?  Aristotle and Plato had their ideas - St. Thomas Aquinas triumphs (as the pic above is entitled).
A couple folks adding their thoughts on this in a different forum:
Thomistic hylomorphism is a philosophy of the human person.  It is differentiated from 'dualism' which (as Plato said) was a way of looking at the human person as if the soul were stuck in the body.  It is also different from materialism, which states that their is no immaterial soul, that the human person is only matter.

Hylomorphism states that there is a immaterial soul and material body, but the soul is not just stuck in the body.  The body is not a chain holding the soul down from it's true freedom (again, this is something Plato says in one of his dialogues).  Rather the immaterial soul and the material body are intimately connected and, though it might be an oversimplification to say it this way, the soul shapes, in a sense, the form of the body.

Some interpret hylomorphism to say that the body and soul are still two separate things, but others interpret hylomorphism to say that there is no way to really separate the two, that they are again intimately linked and that it is strange to think of one without the other.

...Aquinas was not so emphatic about form and matter’s inseparability. As a  Dominican priest, Aquinas had high regard for Scripture, which  indicates a separation is possible. Verses such as Matthew 10:28 teach  that the body and soul are not mutually dependent: “Do not be afraid of  those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Perhaps the strongest  argument against stringent Aristotelian hylomorphism is in 1  Corinthians 15:40, where Paul writes of the resurrection: “There are  also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of  the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies  is another.”

Nevertheless, Aquinas was able to combine hylomorphism with essential  Christian tenets. He claimed that, even though the soul and body are  linked, the soul can survive without the body. The soul is simply  incomplete until re-embodied. The soul or “form” of a human exists in  an unnatural state until God resurrects the body. In this way Aquinas  explained the transition between the death of the earthly body and the  resurrection of a heavenly body. Having a body, according to Aquinas, is  essential to being human, and thus humanity cannot be perfected without  one.
Another adds:
I will try and explain Thomistic hylomorphism, how one of my uncle explained me with an example.
I have a car. My car is made up of both the form of a car and the matter of a car.

The car is made up of certain pieces of matter, let's say exactly 10,000 pieces of matter, for simplicity's sake. We could disassemble the car and there would be exactly 10,000 parts we could line up.

There's also molds for the car parts and a blueprint for it's assembly. I have all those things to make another copy of my car.

One could say that the matter of the car is simply the 10,000 parts lined up and that the form of the car is the blueprint and molds - really, the form is the precise 'outline' of all the car parts assembled in the right way to make the car. The parts all have to be in the right place to be called 'the form of a car'.
Does this make sense?
I found this discussion intriguing, and open the topic here for discussion too...  thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. #Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.
    > Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    > Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    > And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer


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