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  1. #1
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    What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Despite years of these discussions I must admit I simply have no idea what a 'soul' is. Does the term have any meaning in the English language at all? So please answer as directly as possible.

    1. Do you believe you have a soul?
    2. If so what is it? What are it's attributes?



    PS

    I of course in the common usage of the term answer NO .

  2. #2
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    If you mean something that survives beyond by death, I have no way of knowing for sure, but no reason to believe I do have one either.

    So... No

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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone
    Does the term have any meaning in the English language at all?
    Quote Originally Posted by dictionary.com
    the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
    Quote Originally Posted by wiktionary.org
    The spirit or essence of a person usually thought to consist of ones's thoughts and personality. Often believed to live on after the person’s death.
    I think that these two definitions are a pretty good summary of the popular conception of a "soul." In general, the soul is considered to have two distinct characteristics: a) it is the essence of a person's being; b) it exists separate from that person's physical body.

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone
    1. Do you believe you have a soul?
    2. If so what is it? What are it's attributes?
    1. I do somewhat consider myself to have a "soul", but my definition is a little bit off from popular opinion. I think the wording of the first part should be changed a little, and I completely discount the second part.

    2. In my eyes, the soul is more or less an illusion, or a concept, that we form as a way to organize our existence. The idea that I have a "soul" is no more real than the idea that I have a "mind" or a "personality." I label my soul as the feeling I have that I exist as a sentient being rather than a simple hunk of flesh. That is all. My "soul" is the result of the firing of neurons in my brain.
    So...

    I finaggled my way into being able to do a Philosophy minor. I blame you, ODN.


  4. #4
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    The problem with the definition of 'soul' is the physical aspect. If a thing is not physical, then in what sense does it exist?

  5. #5
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dio
    The problem with the definition of 'soul' is the physical aspect. If a thing is not physical, then in what sense does it exist?
    Our ideas, in fact all knowledge is not physical. Do they not exist?
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

  6. #6
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Dio and Chad I have this problem. I really prefer if we all address the actual topic of the thread. So while we can go on to other subjects later, could you please respond directly to the questions I posed as did the earlier posters ?

  7. #7
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    Dio and Chad I have this problem. I really prefer if we all address the actual topic of the thread. So while we can go on to other subjects later, could you please respond directly to the questions I posed as did the earlier posters ?
    Okay, well I have a teesy, weensy problem too. If one of your questions is "What are [a soul's] attributes?", which it is, and if there is an emerging theme in the thread that one of the attributes of a soul could be that it is a non-physical thing, which also is, then my question is perfectly aligned with the "actual topic" of this thread. I'd invite you, as a matter of fact, to show how it is the case that my question was NOT relevant to the thread and/or its current direction. I'd further take the opportunity to point out that the single post most UNrelated to the topic of this thread is the one I'm replying to now, as it has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not a person has a soul and what such a thing might be. Last, I'd invite YOU to consider the all of the above, and all that it implies, and to then stay on the topic of your own thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chad
    Our ideas, in fact all knowledge is not physical. Do they not exist?
    Nonsense. In what way is the current body of knowledge not physical? It's certainly not something that just floats around on the ether. It's captured on, and physically exists within, various forms of recording media ranging from stone tablets to ancient scrolls and books, to tapes, to CDs, all the way to the very neurons floating around in our quite physical brains.

    Now, if you want to argue that souls exist in the same sense as the ideas that exist in one’s mind, then I’d ask in what sense souls exist other than in a person’s mind. What is a soul outside of nothing more than a concept, or idea, bearing in mind that there is a distinct difference between things that “exist” solely in concept and hypothetical expressions – such as the “strings” in string theory, or Superman – and "things" that do in fact exist in the form of observable and/or repeatable physical phenomena, such as gravity or "time".

    In order to claim that something actually exists, you have to point to something that suggests that it actually does, or that at least something must exist in order to explain certain phenomena, such as the so-called “dark matter” used to address certain cosmological observations. If one claims that something that “is” is not physical, then this begs the question “In what sense does something that is strictly and supposedly non-physical actually exist?” (Which, to those inappropriately concerned about the direction of the thread, implies that my answer to first question in the opening post of this thread is ‘no’)

  8. #8
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Gee man cool out, I was not trying to start a fight. I am just curious about people's actual beliefs. In particular what is this soul thing to those who believe. In fact it is interesting that as of now no one has stated that they do believe in the existence of a soul. I would have assumed that most people do believe in souls so this is a surprise to me.

  9. #9
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    Gee man cool out, I was not trying to start a fight.
    Fair enough, but it seemed like you were being a smart-ass when you were addressing me and Chad. In the future, if you want people to simply answer the questions and not debate anything, then:

    1) You should say such as much in the OP
    2) You should create a poll to go along with the thread and
    3) You should post them in non-debate forums

    That will give everyone a sense of what the "actual topic" is and you can then avoid the "problem" you said you had in this one.
    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    I am just curious about people's actual beliefs. In particular what is this soul thing to those who believe. In fact it is interesting that as of now no one has stated that they do believe in the existence of a soul. I would have assumed that most people do believe in souls so this is a surprise to me.
    Well, don't know what to tell you. It actually seems to me that your questions have been answered. The answers to your questions from what I can tell are as follows:

    You don't

    Spotty doesn't

    Hope does, but it doesn't exist in any way outside of a concept

    I don't

    Chad implies that he does

    Where's the problem? How has this thread failed to provide what you're looking for?

  10. #10
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    No I am not disappointed just surprised. I would have thought that more people would talk about their belief in a soul as something non physical. It seems in this area I am not in the minority I thought I was.

    Maybe Chad does believe or maybe not that is why I (badly) made my earlier post.

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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    Despite years of these discussions I must admit I simply have no idea what a 'soul' is. Does the term have any meaning in the English language at all? So please answer as directly as possible.
    The soul, according to many religious and philosophical traditions, is the self-aware essence unique to a particular living being. In these traditions the soul is thought to incorporate the inner essence of each living being, and to be the true basis for sapience, rather than the brain or any other material or natural part of the biological organism. Some religions and philosophies on the other hand believe in the soul having a material component, and some have even tried to establish the weight of the soul. Souls are usually considered to be immortal and to exist prior to incarnation.

    The concept of the soul has strong links with notions of an afterlife, but opinions may vary wildly, even within a given religion, as to what may happen to the soul after the death of the body. It also shares as a PIE root of spirit.

    What is a soul


    1. Do you believe you have a soul?
    1. I do believe I have a soul.

    2. If so what is it? What are it's attributes?
There is no physical attributes. It can't be seen, and the existence thereof can most likely not be proven either. It is a "believe", just like I believe that there is life after death.
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  • #12
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Aspoestertjie thanks for replying


    I would appreciate it if you could help me understand about your belief


    1. Why do you think you have a soul ?

    2. Since you and I agree it cannot be detected, how do you or anyone else know anything about it ?

    3. Is it possible that you believe that you have a soul mostly because you find that belief useful to you regardless of any questions concerning the 'existence' of the soul ?

  • #13
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Letís see, do I believe that I have a soul?

    Yes, very much so. Mostly due to personal experiences and how I define a soul.

    What is a soul and its attributes?

    What defines a soul in my opinion is the sort of energy you sense within yourself when you put all thoughts out of your mind and instead focus on a certain part of your body like your hand. That energy or life essence as Aspoestertjie put it is the soul to me. It is the sort of energy that just makes you feel alive.
    Just to let you know, I love playing devil's advocate.


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    I know I may not be the smartest person in the world but don't call me stupid just because I disagree with you.

  • #14
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    Despite years of these discussions I must admit I simply have no idea what a 'soul' is. Does the term have any meaning in the English language at all? So please answer as directly as possible.
    I find it hard to believe that you have no definition for a soul. The idea is hardly new, and with the advent of google, I'm sure you could look it up.

    Are you perhaps merely interested in what those of us on this forum think of as a soul?

    Do you believe you have a soul?
    Yes. I believe all living things have a soul. From the basest algae to the long lived redwoods to the idiot down the block who believes that playing rap music loud enough to damage his hearing have souls.

    If so what is it? What are it's attributes?
    I have a wicked urge to type colorless, tasteless, odorless, and so on and just be done, but in the hopes of an honest discussion, I won't.

    I think the soul is that "life spark" that causes all things to function. To respire, to live, to simply..."be."

    Are viruses included in this list? I don't know. I don't know that they technically are alive in the commonly held definition of the term. I've seen that one bandied about on here, and am on the fence...

    I of course in the common usage of the term answer NO .
    For what reasons?


    _________________________________ Post Merged _________________________________


    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post


    I would appreciate it if you could help me understand about your belief
    Since you furthered the discussion with these questions, I'll go ahead and answer them as well.

    1. Why do you think you have a soul ?
    Because I believe in God. /shrug

    2. Since you and I agree it cannot be detected, how do you or anyone else know anything about it ?
    We don't. It is simply understood as being rather indefinable beyond the motive force for life. It is undetectable, illusory, and hard to grasp.

    3. Is it possible that you believe that you have a soul mostly because you find that belief useful to you regardless of any questions concerning the 'existence' of the soul ?
    I don't know how "useful" my belief is. It doesn't wash dishes, make money, or watch the kiddos. It's simply something I believe. Sort of like doorknobs. I believe in those as well.
    Last edited by Slipnish; May 4th, 2008 at 07:20 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

  • #15
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dio
    Nonsense. In what way is the current body of knowledge not physical? It's certainly not something that just floats around on the ether. It's captured on, and physically exists within, various forms of recording media ranging from stone tablets to ancient scrolls and books, to tapes, to CDs, all the way to the very neurons floating around in our quite physical brains.

    Now, if you want to argue that souls exist in the same sense as the ideas that exist in one’s mind, then I’d ask in what sense souls exist other than in a person’s mind. What is a soul outside of nothing more than a concept, or idea, bearing in mind that there is a distinct difference between things that “exist” solely in concept and hypothetical expressions – such as the “strings” in string theory, or Superman – and "things" that do in fact exist in the form of observable and/or repeatable physical phenomena, such as gravity or "time".

    In order to claim that something actually exists, you have to point to something that suggests that it actually does, or that at least something must exist in order to explain certain phenomena, such as the so-called “dark matter” used to address certain cosmological observations. If one claims that something that “is” is not physical, then this begs the question “In what sense does something that is strictly and supposedly non-physical actually exist?” (Which, to those inappropriately concerned about the direction of the thread, implies that my answer to first question in the opening post of this thread is ‘no’)
    All of which is a bunch of meaningless scritch scratch, mere scriblings on a paper and so on.

    The meaning, the idea itself exists independent of this physical recording. If it was dependent upon the physical media on which it is recorded then you would expect its meaning to change depending on which media it exist on.

    In other words, the meaning of an idea would be completely different depending on whether it was written on paper, recorded on tape, fired in neuron, written in English, written in Russian, etc.

    Thats because if its dependent upon having a physical existence, then it will be affected by what that physical existence it is. Hence, when the format or physical existence changes so would its meaning.

    And I dont want to argue that souls are the equivalent of ideas. What I am arguing is that there can be a non-physical existence and that information is an example of such.

    You could say I am arguing for platonic existence, at least as far as the existence of ideas. Although seemingly wide of the mark of the original discussion, it does tie in as it establishes existence beyond simply matter.
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

  • #16
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Lets see... gravity is undefinable ... the soul is undefinable ... does that mean religion is undefinable? Could it be that the soul escapes gravity upon death? Anything is possible.

    Every religion attaches a different meaning to the soul. In my religion everyone shares the same soul - that makes the existance and meaning of the soul universal. Our lives are but a moment in time - our soul is eternal.

    There is no heaven and hell - just heaven, and we're all going there together. I look forward to debating you all there. This topic is in the religion section - I've yet to see a religious arguement. Right now it's all hypothetical.


    _________________________________ Post Merged _________________________________


    Here's additional reading on what I was trying to say:


    A Case for Universal Restoration

    The subject of personal eschatology -- humankind's ultimate destiny -- has always received ample attention in the Christian tradition. Evangelistic preachers set forth heaven and hell to their flocks. Tracts and billboards challenge passersby with the solemn inquiry, "Where will you spend eternity?"

    It hardly seems the stuff of controversy. For most Christians, it is a truism that after death some go "up" to be with Jesus and some "down" to join the devil's minions, forever.

    But historically, there has been no consensus on this issue. Many Christians throughout the ages have embraced universalism. This "larger hope" affirms that all humanity will ultimately be restored to God. All will reach the harbor of eternal joy and peace.

    Universalism is one of three Christian perspectives on human destiny. Each has had its able defenders throughout church history.

    The views are as follows:

    1. The traditional view: The soul is immortal by nature and will spend eternity either in the bliss of heaven or the torments of hell. Most who hold this view concede that the vast majority of mankind throughout all ages will endure the latter. Once death occurs, it is too late to repent and believe -- the grave ends our probation and fixes our destiny. Augustine was among the most prominent theologians to expound this view.

    2. The conditional immortality/annihilationist view: The soul is mortal by nature and sleeps until the resurrection at Christ's Second Coming. Jesus will raise the righteous dead immortal and annihilate the wicked dead in fiery judgment. Like view #1, it asserts that most human beings will, unfortunately, not be saved. And like the traditional view, it maintains that eternal destiny is inalterable once a person is dead. It is the doctrine of the Adventist tradition. Church Fathers who held this view (arguably) include Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.

    3. The universal restoration view: The issue here is not whether the soul is mortal or immortal. It is this: All human beings will ultimately enjoy redemption and the presence of God forever. Some find the abundant life on this side of the grave -- they are called "the elect," "the saints" and "the firstfruits." Others may face a fearful judgment and retribution, either in this life or the next. But in the end, they will join the company of the redeemed. This was the view of Origen and Gregory of Nyssa.

    There are variations on all of these views. But generally speaking, the above statements sum them up. The traditional view is currently dominant in Christendom and has been for centuries. Still, many have held the other two views and have used the Bible for support.

    How can this be? Is Scripture so inconclusive about something as important as the destiny of mankind?

    http://geocities.com/shsnj_2000/theo...storation.html
    Last edited by Snoop; May 4th, 2008 at 08:11 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  • #17
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    ...The meaning, the idea itself exists independent of this physical recording. If it was dependent upon the physical media on which it is recorded then you would expect its meaning to change depending on which media it exist on...
    What the hell are you talking about? Did you miss the part where I pointed out that some things only exist as observable or repeatable phenomena?
    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    ...And I dont want to argue that souls are the equivalent of ideas.
    Then why are you?
    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    ...What I am arguing is that there can be a non-physical existence and that information is an example of such...
    You haven't shown this in the slightest.
    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    ...You could say I am arguing for platonic existence, at least as far as the existence of ideas. Although seemingly wide of the mark of the original discussion, it does tie in as it establishes existence beyond simply matter.
    False. How so?

  • #18
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    Aspoestertjie thanks for replying
    I would appreciate it if you could help me understand about your belief
    1. Why do you think you have a soul ?
    Because I believe in God and I believe in life after death. If I did not believe in life after death, I would not believe in having a soul either. If I did not believe in life after death, my faith is futile.

    2. Since you and I agree it cannot be detected, how do you or anyone else know anything about it ?
    There are many scriptures in the Bible where God promises that those who believe in Him, will live even after they die. Just by reading the Word of God, you will understand a bit more about what it means to have a soul.

    Do you only believe in things you can see, touch or feel?

    3. Is it possible that you believe that you have a soul mostly because you find that belief useful to you regardless of any questions concerning the 'existence' of the soul ?
    I don't think it is "useful" as I can not really "use" my soul. All that I know is that if I did not have a soul, then I could not believe in God either.

    The Resurrection of the Dead
    12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

    Biblegateway.com

    Above text might give you some idea why I believe I have a soul.
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Oh boy , answers now I have people to talk to so I am happy.

    Snoop
    You state that this is not a religious issue yet both Aspoestertjie and Slipnish state clearly that they believe they have souls due to their belief in God. I think that clearly qualifies this as a religious subject don't you ?

    You also make the statement gravity is undefinable" . I do not follow that at all. Gravity is very exactly definable and testable. What did you mean by your comment?


    Slipnish You state

    It's simply something I believe. Sort of like doorknobs. I believe in those as well.
    My small brain does not understand that comment. Certainly doorknobs are specifically useful and nothing like the undefinable ineffable Soul. What was your point ?

    Aspoestertjie You ask if I believe in only things that I can touch and feel. Well yes basically. Now I do need to expand touch and feel to include touching/feeling with sophisticated instruments and or math when performed by those people who have trained their entire lives to achieve the understanding that I will never have. I must also require that that touching/feeling be repeatable and be able to be independently verified by other trained toucher/feelers so that unscrupulous TF'rs will not be able to manipulate me into poor decisions though feeding me biased information. Lastly the term believe is also used in English to mean a shorthand for a positive feeling toward certain states. So to state "Do I believe in marriage" is not asking me if I think the state of marriage actually exists but rather if I have a positive feeling toward the state represented by that term. While in that sense I do 'believe in' some things that cannot currently be touched or felt, I am certain that those things also are representations of physical processes and in theory they could be measured and understood scientifically. In practice of course it is not possible to do so and that may always be the case. However even those emotional/mental states can be measured in a general manner such as studies that have shown that married men live longer than unmarried ones

    There seems to be general agreement that there is no way to prove/disprove the existence of the soul so belief cannot be based on repeatable evidence. Given that it cannot be proved what reasons could there be for said belief ? I can think of only these two but I am interested in any others so please add to my list.

    1. Believing assists people in their lives
    2. People believe through repeated hearsay. They have been told that something called a souls exists through friends/TV/Books/Respected Elders/Parents/.... and therefore they believe it to be true.
    Last edited by isaone; May 5th, 2008 at 04:44 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  • #20
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    Re: What is the 'soul' ? do you have one?

    Quote Originally Posted by isaone View Post
    You also make the statement gravity is undefinable" . I do not follow that at all. Gravity is very exactly definable and testable. What did you mean by your comment?
    We just had a thread about where gravity comes from - there was no definitive answer.

    Yes, this is a religious debate - a debate about the validity of beliefs (another subject extensively covered on ODN). It's all good - if there is no such thing as a soul, then nothing is lost in having a belief in one.
    Last edited by Snoop; May 5th, 2008 at 05:10 PM.
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