The Soul Thing

I used to ask my IB TOK students to do an imaginary interviewing stint at a mall. No matter which one. Just ask people whether they have souls.

Now tell me in advance what % of the happy interviewees will say “Yes”?

Now I imagine that you, like them, will agree with me that some very high % will say “Yes”.

But why? Why do they say this?  I think that you are thinking that these putative victims of your interviewing – will be be a little at a loss and maybe a lot annoyed. Maybe people think they have souls because they learned it in church (or other variations of “because the Bible tells me so”)  or because they have had ‘spiritual’ experiences, the soul and the spirit being the same. (Are they?)

Or maybe at some point in their lives, they have thought their way through a self deconstruction…if I lose my arm, if I become blind, or paralyzed etc. … there will be still be me. That’s it … there’s a kernel ‘me’, an at-the-core-something which will always be there.. How can it be that all my thoughts and experiences, all my memories , all my family and friends and lovers…etc. should all my “me-ness” should vanish at death?

It’s impossible to believe that this or that relative or loved one is simply gone… even Faithful Fido must still exist somewhere, somehow…?

Do we carry with us a bias in favor of the soul that we carry with us, maybe like the self-preservation thing? Or are we infatuated with ourselves, fascinating things that we are?   I could go on. BUT… the take-away, the take-away I want here, is for you to carry this unanswerable question around with you silently watching, listening, reading, waiting for other people to say or do things that suggest to you their views, or lack of them, on the matter. You to become a soul sleuth. AND, I want you to ask questions to yourself – we don’t want you thought weird by your family and friends – about the question.

Questions like sort of thing a soul is, and what makes it special, and what ‘spirit’ is, and whether it is different from ‘soul’.  Don’t seek answers …gather evidence; no right answer here, just something to ask yourself in line at the Kroger store, or with the car radio off and your phone in the back seat. More later…

And By the Way:
“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre



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