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Life and Death: The Soul
Transcript of Life and Death: The Soul
Is life after death possible? Life After Death Resurrection or Reincarnation? Which makes most sense? Reincarnation Resurrection Philosophical Problems with Life after Death Problem of Evil Arguments against belief in Life After Death Disembodied Existence Dualism John Hick's Replica Theory Monism/Materialism Dualism vs Monism Plato (424-347 BCE) Aristotle (384-322 BCE) Traducianism - Hick believed that this idea that souls are passed down from parents is better than Roman Catholic teaching that souls are implanted by God. Near Death Experiences Irenaeus and Soul-making
the Irenaean theodicy states that man must have the capability for evil so that he can choose to develop into God's likeness (soul-making)
this is rewarded in the afterlife Three Key Ideas:
1. belief in the afterlife is human wishful thinking
2. there is no evidence to suggest that people survive death
3. it makes no sense to talk about a person surviving death since a person is a physical entity Meaningfulness:
Vienna Circle/Logical Positivists argued, as they did with language, that analytic statements cannot be made about life after death and life after death cannot be empirically verified, therefore talk of life after death is meaningless
However, John Hick suggested the Eschatological Verification Principle, but this would only work if their was some sort of continuing cognitive presence to experience life after death. both dualistic
both include ideas of justice and fairness
both have problems with continuity of body Hinduism:
the soul is eternal and in the cycle of samsara which is governed by the law of karma
dualistic theory of life after death
if a person incurs bad karma then they are reborn into a worse body or position, but if they incur good karma they are reborn into a better body or position and ultimately escape the samsara
the physical world is temporary and the true reality is Brahman.
in every body their is an 'ATMAN' or 'JIVA', or soul, which animates the body and this is the essence. all living things have an atman Aquinas Gilbert Ryle (1900-76) Richard Dawkins (1941-) Sightings of Dead People Mediums/Spiritualism Regression to past lives Predestination
in the Christian tradition there is great emphasis on justice and God judging us based on our actions and this can only take place after death. It is therefore suggested that people bring Hell upon themselves by choosing to reject God by leading a sinful life
In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, no one is predestined to go to hell
However some Christians believe in Divine Election (not the same as predestination), put forward by John Calvin (1509-1564), which says that some people are destined for a relationship with God and some are not. Whether someone goes to heaven or hell is a matter only for God and a matter that only God will understand.
Some Protestant groups which are offshoots from Calvinism hold the doctrine of predestination highly. There is biblical support for it in the Book of Revelation which refers to 144000 servants of God who are saved (Revelation 7:12) Does Life after Death make sense? Descartes (1596-1650) there is only one type of matter - when the body dies, so does the brain ontology is the study of existence and takes roughly two perspectives:
monism - the world is made up of only one fundamental substance (physicalism)
dualism - the world consists of two distinct types of existence: physical and mental existence is more than just the physical - consciousness may not exist in any space or time but in a place beyond both - the soul... Plato believed that there were two separate realms - the World of Appearances and the World of the Forms (c.f. Allegory of the Cave)
The body and soul are parts of these realms and are total opposites - the soul has the ability to know the truth through reason, while the body only has sense experience which is fallible.
The Soul is unchanging and immortal, living before and after incarnation into the human body
Key works on the Soul are PHAEDO, MENO and REPUBLIC The Soul things which make up a person are:
sarx - physical part (ingredients: blood, flesh etc.)
soma - sum total of body's components (c.f. category mistake)
pneuma - the spirit or rational part of human being
nous - thinking mind
psyche - emotions and physical sensations and experiences: this is the animating element The PSYCHE is also called the SOUL and for Plato is the real part of the person, somehow temporarily attached to the sarx. The Soul is also made up of three parts:
3. emotion Charioteer analogy - reason is the driver and appetite and emotion the two horses. Reason is there to control these inferior qualities In Meno Plato uses the analogy of a slave boy solving a geometry puzzle he never before seen to explain his belief in immortality - the boy must be using knowledge he had from before birth. The Myth of Er end of Republic
a soldier called Er died on the battlefield but 10 days later when the bodies were to be recovered for funerals, Er's body had not decayed at all.
On the 12th day when his body was placed on the funeral pyre, he came back to life and told everyone of his experiences in the afterlife
He set out on a journey where judges punished and rewarded dead souls (similar concept to heaven and hell follows)
Souls chose for themselves their next life on earth if they have been rewarded, some choosing great power or dictatorship
Souls who have been punished choose more wisely because they better understand peace and justice.
Once the souls have chosen their destinies they drink the water from the River of Forgetfulness so that they forget their experience and previous lives, all except for Er who was freed to return to educate his friends Criticisms doesn't match our feeling of being unified wholes
category mistake made by Plato assuming different parts of humans
belief in immortality rests upon belief in World of the Forms
Life is not the opposite of death
is the soul in three parts
evidence for Myth of Er?? 'Cogito ergo sum' - I think therefore I am
the mind is not in the body and is not the same as the brain. It is a non-corporeal substance.
The property of the mind-substance is consciousness and it takes up no space
mind is where feelings, sensations and thoughts are known to the person
body performs all physical activities known to all
mind and body interact with each other and can cause events in each other but remain separate.
Our identity comes from our ability to think and reason so it is concievable that we may survive after death 'Our soul is of a nature entirely independent of the body, and consequently... it is not bound to die with it.'
Discourse on Method 1637 The soul is the 'anima' which animates the body but is entirely separate from it
'the soul is what makes our body live'
however, only when the soul is joined to a body does it become and individual Hard Materialism - individual characteristics are no more than physical ones and consciousness is nothing more than brain activity
Soft Materialism - not all characteristics are material ones and consciousness is more than just a brain process the body and the soul are inseparable - example of wax tablet with a stamp pressed on it - stamp is inseparable from the wax just as the soul is inseparable from the person
the soul is the 'essence' of the person - the body is in a constant state of change so the soul is the substance which stays the same to identify the person.
there is no possibility for life after death the soul includes the matter and structure of the body within its functions and capabilities.
the soul can be explained in purely natural terms: in De Anima Aristotle says that 'the soul is in some sense the principle of animal life' and that there are various types of soul:
plants have 'nutritive' souls
animals have 'perspective' souls
humans have a higher degree of soul because they have the ability to reason
the soul is the capacity of the body to do whatever it is supposed to do ''To attain any assured knowledge of the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world'
De Anima, Book 1 hard materialist Ryle spoke about the soul which he calls 'the ghost in the machine' as a 'category mistake' - it was a language mistake.
He gave the following examples of how Plato and Descartes had got it wrong:
1. University example
2. Gloves example
3. Team Spirit in Cricket
The soul is not a separate entity from the body but an intrinsic part of it rejected Descartes The Concept of the Mind (1949) there is no part of a person that is not physical or cannot be explained by physical phenomena
consciousness cannot be separated from the brain and nothing exists except matter so there is no life after death In THE SELFISH GENE (1976), Dawkins explains that humans are nothing more than 'survival machines' and do not have a soul that distinguishes them from other animals.
Humans are the vehicle of genes whose only interests are replicating themselves -
'survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes'
In RIVER OUT OF EDEN, Dawkins asserts 'there is no spirit-driven force, no throbbing, heaving, pullulatin, protoplasmic, mystic jelly. Life is just bytes and bytes and bytes of digital information'
human self-awareness is not due to a soul but because self-awareness has evolutionary advantages Dawkins, like Russell, says that religious belief in ideas such as the immortality of the soul have no sound basis and are solely wish fulfillment for those who lack courage in dealing with the idea of their own mortality. consciousness is no more than electo-chemical events within the brain, it is not a 'magic ingredient' given by God to make humans in his image. In 'Resurrection of the Person', Hick rejects dualism but presents a defence for bodily resurrection
human beings are a 'psycho-somatic unity' and mind and body cannot be separated - he rejects Ryle's ghost in a machine Replica Theory resurrection is a divine action in which an exact replica of ourselves in created in a different place, not on earth
resurrection could take place instantaneously at death or after a time lapse determined by God.
the replica exists in a 'different space' from us that is observable only by God
the replica is not a copy because they can only exist in one place at one time
example of person disappearing in London and reappearing in New York. Identification with original person:
the replica and the original person cannot exist at the same time
the replica has the same 'consciousness, memory emotion and volition' as the original person so they are identifiable with it Problems...
continuity of the person if they are dead for a time?
at what stage of their life is the person replicated?
is a person really identifiable by their 'consciousness, memory, emotion and volition'?
why couldn't God make two of the same person?
rests on belief in God and creator
if it is logically possible to create a number of replicas the which one would be real? Christianity and Resurrection
central idea - Jesus' resurrection: if Jesus (a man) can be resurrected, maybe humans can too?
resurrection reminds Christians that death is not the end and God will not abandon them when they are dying
'For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died' (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14)
Key points about Jesus' resurrection:
he is changed and different - Mary and Martha see him as a gardener (John 20:11-18) and the road to Emanaus (Luke 24: 13-35)
he has a bodily presence but not recognised
idea of physical body after death - not popular in philosophy!
Peter Geach says there must be bodily resurrection in life after death as it is the only way to recognise people Judgement
life after death is important for Christians because it provides justice (c.f. Kant)
Matthew 25: 31-46 Parable of Sheep and Goats
Matthew 25-40 - God will judge you on your actions in this life as you have free will
Also notion of forgiveness and repentance Issues with this...
philosophical problem with the nature of the link between one person and the next
if you incur bad karma, are you damaging the next life for yourself or for someone else?
Swinburne rejects reincarnation saying that there is no link between the old dead person and the new baby - they share nothing
laptop hard drive example
Stephen Davis points out that the doctrine of karma is supposed to explain the problem of suffering but what is the link between the new person and the suffering person in the past life?
growing population - more souls being created somewhere?
who decides how people are to be rewarded or punished?
evidence for laws of karma? Reincarnation accepts lack of bodily rebirth but this could also be a flaw (Geach says only meaningful way to talk about like after death is bodily resurrection)
Resurrection allows recognition of an individual where reincarnation does not
Evidence for reincarnation is stronger (see past lives)
reincarnation is for everyone whereas resurrection is only those chosen? "Evidence" for disembodied existence modern technology means that dead people can be resuscitated
Dr Raymond Moody - experiences are so similar that they are more than coincidence. They have the following qualities:
feeling of being outside body/ floating above it
able to observe what is happening to body
heightened awareness and absence of physical pain
sense of bliss, ecstasy and peace
rapid movement do bright light at the end
dead relatives waiting at end of tunnel in presence of divine being
shown panoramic view of their life
able to judge themselves objectively
told it is not their time to die and return to bodies However no two experiences are the same and the longer the person is clinically dead, the more in depth the experience
Also not all people who are resuscitated have a near-death experience
Counter argument is that they are 'near death' so may have other factors such as a lack of oxygen acting on them.
Also, many criteria are similar to William James' criteria for mystical experiences - usually religious people who claim to have had these experiences... Dr Deepak Chopra said that bodies are comprised of energy and when an individual dies their energy field may retain its image. He considered a person's 'ghost' to be their consciousness manifesting itself through the remaining energy.
Ghosts must be more than hallucination because they are seen my more than one person Other explanations...
hoaxes or elaborate tricks
ghosts could be mistaken in identity Some people have claimed to remember previous lives, especially children, and these have sometimes been backed up by historical records e.g. Barra boy
Others have regressed to previous lives under hypnosis e.g. man who remembered being a civil war foot soldier But...
they might just be remembering things from earlier in their lives
there could be a cultural gene which passes down information about ancestors (?)
some memories may result from psychological problems which present themselves are memories from past lives but are actually suppressed memories from this life
children may mistake reality and other stories they have heard and think that stories are true and attribute them to themselves mediums often pass on accurate information about the dead which they can have had no previous knowledge of
they suggest that the deceased are still 'alive' in another dimension But...
many mediums have been exposed as frauds who prey on the vulnerable for money
it has been argued that there is not spirit world but that mediums can telepathically communicate with other individuals to retrieve information Felix Culpa - 'happy fault' the Fall was a good thing because we have Jesus... Anthony Flew (1923-2010):
essay 'Can a Man Witness His Own Funeral'
Flew argues a physicalist viewpoint - the minds of humans are united with physical bodies and people are mortal.
He says 'people are what you meet' - a particular physical person not their soul
talk of life after death is 'self-contradictory' - it makes no sense Bertrand Russel (1872-1970):
'all that constitutes a person is a series of experiences connected by memory and by certain similarities of the sort we call habit'
memories are linked to the brain just as a river is associated with its bed - if the river bed is destroyed so is any meaningful sense of the use of the word river.
after death the person's memories which make them who they are die with the brain
Russel argues that belief in life after death is wishful thinking because 'fear of death' is 'instinctive' Some have argued that there must be a bodily presence to identify a person (individuation), and if this can't happen then disembodied existence and life after death have no logical basis.