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Wednesday, December 30, 2009


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Hello Maverick Philosopher

I read your blog all the time, have for a year now. I think you are one of the best things on the net. I am a youth minister, deeply interested in philosophy and constantly instructed by your work. I read SOULS AND MURDER today and thought your counter-arguments in blue were fantastic. I'd just like to briefly mention one more. I think part of the reason God puts us on this earth is to do work HERE, to help make this world more heavenly, to make the world a better place. Murder stops a person in the middle of that mission, it keeps a person from 'building God's Kingdom' in the world itself. Stopping someone on a divine mission is certainly worse than burning down a house. That, too, would be consistent with T1-T7 and yet give us a reason to think that murder is a morally horrendous act. So even a true Universalist would have good reasons for condemnation of murder in the strongest possible terms.

Happy New Year, Mr Orsak. Thanks for the kind words. Glad we basically agree. There is work to do here in this material world and this work is necessary for the soul's development. And so even if I am essentially a soul and only accidentally embodied, my embodiment cannot be be a matter of indifference to the welfare and development of my soul. Especially if, as you imply, one has been charged by God to make this world a better place.

To All,

Preamble to the Tribute:

The present post is totally unrelated to the above subject, except insofar as it expresses my own Tribute to Bill's spiritual character and to that extent I agree with his comments above. The fact of posting it at this thread represents my insistence that this Tribute needs to see the light of day and Bill's refusal to post it as a separate entry. This is my way of bypassing his, on this occasion, irrational and stubborn disposition on this matter.

A New Year Tribute to a Friend,

A New Year is the occasion we make commitments to ourselves, family and friends. This year I will not make any. Instead I wish to distinguish two commitments. The first is a commitment I made many years ago. It almost perished. The second is a commitment someone else made many years ago. He kept it, nourished it, and by so doing restored to life mine. This is a tribute to Bill Vallicella.

All commitments, by their very nature, aim at some good (to echo Aristotle). They instruct the will to pursue that which we know we ought. Therefore, keeping commitments is a higher good, for by so doing we realize our inner aspirations to pursue the good. But there is yet an even higher good. This higher good inspires others to rekindle commitments they made and forsaken. Forsaken commitments dim the soul. They steer the will to seek shadows. Shadows are neither light nor darkness; they dwell in between, breathing both yet being neither. I forsaken my commitment and unaware found myself in the shadows.

Some commitments pledge to correct past wrongs, while others vow to seek a fresh and better path. Both kinds resolve a change that improves the human spirit and are for that reason commendable. And, then, there is that other commitment of which Plato spoke: the commitment to seek the divine virtues* of the truth, the good, and the beautiful. A commitment to seek the divine virtues is neither a pledge to correct past wrongs nor is it the pursuit of fresh starts, for it is not a call for change. It is rather a longing for that which ascends the limits of the human condition; a yearning to touch the enduring mysteries of existence itself. It is a commitment to seek that which philosophy, theology, spirituality, the arts, sciences and all other noble human pursuits share.

A commitment to pursue the divine virtues stems from the core of our being, not our will. Yet keeping it, maintaining it, and nourishing it come-what-may commands our will and nothing less than the whole of our will. Long time ago I found this commitment in the core of my being, despite my will. Long time ago my friend Bill Vallicella found his commitment to the divine virtues within the core of his own being. Unlike me, he had the will and nothing less than the whole of his will to maintain and nourish his commitment. And his unwavering will in this commitment found me and brought me out of the shadows.

At this point it is customary to acknowledge the debt owed and express one’s gratitude. But what is a debt that is impossible to repay? And so I am left with the only thing that is possible for me to do: express my gratitude to my friend Bill Vallicella for simply being who he is.


I request that Bill post this tribute on his site: not in vanity, but for the sake of honoring the truth which he so diligently seeks.

* I learned the apt term ‘divine virtue’ as a collective term for the truth, the good, and the beautiful from my friend Pini Ben-Or who himself encountered it while reading commentary on the Kabala. I do not recall the name of the commentator and I do not know whether the term has been used for this purpose by others.

The tribute is full of wisdom and very moving, if it is appropriate for me to comment on it. It is a good thing it's found its way to the blog.

Failing in the commitment to the 'things' you spoke about is being further on the path to virtue than having no commitment at all. I have not yet been able to turn desires and longings into a steadfast dedication.

Another ground which is consistent with T1-T6 might stem from the soul's nature itself. On the hylemorphic conception of embodiment, it isn't a merely causal relation - our souls are spread throughout our bodies. Or something analogous to that, anyway. This way if you cut off my arm, you are harming me, and not just my body, because my soul is (in some sense) there.

This point is not my own, I got it from Pruss: http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/ap85/papers/JHComments.html


"...our souls are spread throughout our bodies."

As such the view is somewhat puzzling. If my soul is spread throughout my whole body, then it is in my nails, hair, and every cell of my skin. It is in the tumor that is growing in my head, and it enters every new cell that is created. Being in the tumor that grows in my head, it will in time kill me. (Hence, part of my soul is out to kill me) It is in my bowels,saliva which I spit, etc., (perhaps there is no need to go on). Thus, when I cut my nails, loose my hair, shed dead cells, and so on I discard each time *part of my soul*; or so it would seem. But, does it make sense to talk about part-whole relationship concerning the soul? The view seems to be stated, at least in part, in spatio-temporal metaphors borrowed from the material world.

Pruss in "Comments on John Haldane’s “The Soul”" proposes to think of the soul as "that entity which gives all the electrons in my body their identity, their characteristic patterns of behavior."

The analogy is to the laws of nature which govern material objects in general. The intuition, I suppose, is that the soul is to the body like the laws of nature are to the material entities which they govern. And it should be noted that this later relationship cannot be described in terms of part-whole or other spatial metaphors such as that the laws are *in* the objects: for what could this mean? However, even if we ignore for the moment the problem of how we describe this relationship without spatio-temporal metaphors, there is an additional problem with Pruss' suggestion. If the soul is what gives every electron, molecule, cell, limb, and every organ made out of these its "identity" and "characteristic patterns of behavior", then there are two options:

(1) The soul is the subject matter of the sciences of cell-biology, anatomy, medicine, neuroscience, etc., for these are the sciences that describe the "identity" and constitution of living organisms in order to explain their "characteristic patterns of behavior". But, now, these very sciences tell us that much of our physical make-up such as the structure of cells, the function and structure of many organs, etc., are not unique to us but are shared by many other animals who are said to lack a soul. If the soul is simply what constitutes the identity of electrons, cells, and other material entities that make-up our body, then all other creatures on earth have a soul too. But, then, on any reasonable account, the notion of the soul simply collapses into that which explains the behavior of material things that make up our bodies: namely, the biological laws. What difference is there between this notion of a soul and that which is studied by the life sciences?

(2) The soul is not identical to the laws, mechanisms, and physical structure studied by biology, medicine, etc. Nevertheless, if the soul is the thing that gives all of the material things its "identity" but these are not identical to the laws described by the natural sciences, then it would seem that the soul becomes just another name for the old "vital force" theory. Since this vital force is not investigated by the usual sciences, then these sciences tell us nothing about the manner in which the soul as a vital force gives electrons, cells, etc., their "identity". Hence, the question is what is this way and how can we know about it? And, moreover, if I wish to gather some nutritional information or any other health matter, who should I consult: a medical doctor or a vitalist doctor?

The second option mentioned above is much like the "dual-aspect theory". According to dual-aspect, each physical part of my body from limbs such the heart, liver, hands, legs, head, eyes, etc., to its smallest physical elements is animated by two different aspects: physical and the soul. The physical animation is described by the natural sciences, but these cannot describe the manner in which the soul animates these physical objects. And, now, the question arises, how does the soul animate each physical element in my body? It is not enough to say merely that it is only due to the soul's way of animating my arm that I am entitled to say that this arm is mine, for that would not be really true. I am entitled to say that this arm is mine because it is integrated in terms of its physical operations with the rest of my body. One might then ask: yes, but what makes this body *yours*? Good question! But this is precisely one of the questions that motivates the inquiry into the metaphysics of souls to begin with. To say that this body is mine because it is animated by a soul that is spread throughout it is not pushing explanation much further than what we had before when we referred to the physical continuity of the arm with my body. This new explanation simply posits something (the soul) that mimics properties of the body (continuity, etc.,) and tells us that it is dues to these properties that my arm is *mine*. I don't think we got here a very informative explanation, unless of course I completely misunderstood Pruss' proposal. But, then, I would like to be enlightened exactly at which point did I go astray.



Thank you. There is always room to refine our will and improve it so as to dedicate ourselves to our commitments.

Happy New Year



Good comment. On the hylomorphic conception of Aristotle and Aquinas, the soul is the substantial form of the body. So there is a sense in which the soul pervades the body or as you say is "spread throughout" the body. Of course, this has to be understood in some appropriately spiritual or nonphysical way, and this will present conceptual difficulties. But now I should read Peter's comment lest I anticipate something he will say.

Matt and Peter,

Peter's original challenge was this: we all agree that murder is morally worse than house-destruction. But what reason could an immortaist have for maintaining this given what he believes as spelled out in Peter's T-theses?

Now that challenge is adequately met in my 'blue' comments to Peter's post above, but also can be met by the hylomorphist. For the hylomorphist, the soul is the substantial form of the body. So the hylomorphist can give the following reason in answer to Peter: the destruction of a man's body causes his soul to become incomplete. Now I don't believe that hylomorphism with respect to the soul-body relation is tenable. But even if I am right about this, the untenability of hylomorphism is irrelevant. For the sole issue before us is whether the immortalist can give a reason for his differential judgment as to house-destruction and body-destruction. And that he can do, in several different ways.


Here is a similar pattern of challenge and response:

What reason could an atheist and mortalist have for thinking anything objectively morally better or worse than anything else? After all, one who rejects God rejects the very possibility of an objective foundation for moral judgments. So even though, as a matter of fact, the atheist/mortalist does consider some things morally better/worse than others, he has no justification for doing so given his atheism.

But the atheist can respond by claiming that morality can have an objective foundation without God. It could have a purely axiological foundation in objective values (Nicolai Hartmann, e.g.), or it could have an objective foundation in objective facts about human nature.

In such a way the atheist meets the challenge. It would be irrelevant for the theist to then starting attacking either the axiological or the naturalistic foundation of objective morality. For the sole question was whether the atheist could have a reason to maintain the objectivity of morals in the face of the nonexistence of God as opposed to being logically forced into denying the objectivity of moral judgment.

Even if all non-theological foundations are untenable, that still doesn't show that the atheist has no reason. An ultimately untenable reason is till a reason.

The pattern iterates. How can an atheist maintain, consistently with his atheism, that life has a meaning? Will the atheist be forced into silence by that mere challenge? And so on.

The Soul-Hypothesis, Soul-Making, and Moral Judgments: A reply to Bill’s Objections.

My purpose in writing “What if there were souls” was to initiate a discussion about the Soul-hypothesis, the Metaphysics of Souls, and its consequences regarding our moral concepts. I am pleased that Bill found it worth posting (despite his critical comments). It is worth repeating that I do not think that anyone, including theists, immortalists, and atheists think that murder is morally on a par with an act such as burning another’s house. The purpose of the analogy was to explore the ramifications of the soul-hypothesis and soul ontology upon moral discourse. Other issues will undoubtedly emerge. In this spirit I will now respond to some of Bill’s objections.

I stand corrected about the distinction Bill noted regarding theism vs. immortalism. My argument, whatever its worth, pertains only to immortalist-theists.

Bill advances two objections against my argument: the argument from Faulty-Analogy and the objection from Embodiment. Since the objection from Embodiment is the center-piece of his response, I shall focus on this objection in the present post. We can deal with Bill’s Faulty-Analogy objection in subsequent discussions.

1) The Embodiment Objection: The Embodiment objection relies on the notion that even if souls are immortal, their “moral-spiritual” development and growth (or corruption) require embodiment. Embodiment, if I understand correctly, is the joining of the immortal soul with a corporeal body so as to be able to journey in the physical world in order “to become genuine individuals and to become worthy of participation in the divine life. The soul progresses and regresses depending on its experience in the world of time and flux and how it reacts to these experiences.” (Bill’s response above). I can think of three different versions of Embodiment:

(A) Strong-Embodiment: embodiment is a necessary condition for the maturation of the soul;

(B) Weak-Embodiment: embodiment is a sufficient condition for the maturation of the soul;

(C) Embodiment-Light: embodiment is neither a necessary condition nor is it a sufficient condition for the soul’s maturation. Rather it is a *contributing condition* in two senses: (a) when embodiment is present, then together with other suitable conditions it facilitates the soul’s maturation; but (b) the soul can mature in state-of-affairs in which embodiment is altogether absent.

2) Embodiment-light is not going to carry the day on behalf of Bill’s objections against my argument. After all, since embodiment-light is consistent with the soul’s potential to mature in circumstances in which embodiment is entirely absent, murdering my neighbor cannot deprive him from the opportunity for his soul to mature. Since his soul can mature in circumstances other than embodiment, my neighbor’s soul subsequent to the murder most likely takes full advantage of those opportunities. Hence, embodiment-light won’t do.

3) What about weak-embodiment? Weak embodiment is simply false: embodiment alone cannot be a sufficient condition for the soul’s maturation. Suppose we freeze someone when they are two years old and keep them frozen forever in a way that their body does not die, but it does not function in the normal way. While their soul is still in a state of embodiment, it will not mature much when the body in which it resides is in a frozen condition.

4) So we are left with strong-embodiment where embodiment is a necessary condition for a soul’s maturation: i.e., in the absence of embodiment, the soul cannot mature; it becomes dormant. Call this the “deep freeze” condition of the soul. Thus, in the absence of embodiment, the soul goes into a deep-freeze condition, it ceases to change or mature, and it remains dormant until re-embodied once again.

(The deep-freeze of the soul is not to be confused with the example regarding the weak-embodiment version: unlike in that example where the body is frozen in the physical sense, deep-freeze in the present context is a metaphor for the soul itself becoming dormant.)

Unlike the other two versions, strong-embodiment is not obviously false and moreover it does appear to accomplish a sharp demarcation between murdering my neighbor versus merely burning his house. For according to strong-embodiment, by murdering my neighbor I caused his soul to enter into deep-freeze and thereby cease maturing. Hence, my murderous act prevented my neighbor’s soul from the opportunity to mature in the normal course of things and since maturation of the soul is thought to have moral worth, my act does not result in mere temporary inconvenience. Or at least so this argument is supposed to go.

5) Despite the apparent success of strong-embodiment to deflect my argument, it is vulnerable to further objections. Strong-embodiment’s success in deflecting my argument depends upon turning embodiment into a necessary condition for the maturation of the soul. But the gain thereby achieved bears a considerable cost. For if embodiment is required in order for the soul to mature, or even change in any way whatsoever, then it follows that in the absence of embodiment the soul cannot change, mature, or in any way benefit from any conditions present in a realm that lacks physical embodiment. In particular, the soul cannot be said to flourish and improve during what Bill calls “divine life” in the presence of God, for such “divine life” does not involve a physical embodiment. But surely the pinnacle of “divine life” in the presence of God, the point that makes such life so valuable, is that it confers upon our soul the potential to flourish and improve in a manner quite unlike the type of growth and improvement possible while embodied in this world. In fact, a case can be made that the most important motivation for the immortalist-theist to believe in the existence of souls is that it affords the comfort that, under suitable conditions, our soul will join God and experience the kind of improvement and joy that only God’s presence can afford. Thus, strong-embodiment succeeds to deflect my argument, but only by undermining one of the most important reasons an immortalist-theist has to believe in souls in the first place. It is debatable whether the price is worth the gain.

6) Bill may respond as follows. I am confusing two different kinds of maturity that the soul may experience. There is the kind of maturity that is possible within the bounds of the physical world, call this “worldly-maturity”. There is a second kind of maturity, an “other-worldly” maturity that a soul may experience and this second kind of maturity is possible only in the presence of God which of course does not feature any physical dimensions. Naturally, the other-worldly maturity is much more valuable than the worldly-maturity, and the point of the later is to prepare an individual for the much more prized benefits afforded only by the former. Strong-embodiment, properly understood, is a necessary condition only for worldly-maturity; embodiment is not, nor can it be by the nature of the case, a necessary condition for other-worldly maturity.

7) The present response offers me an easy way of reintroducing my argument, and this time in a much more lethal form. In the previous argument, my central point was merely that holding theses (T1)-(T7) seems to commit the immortalist-theist to a counterintuitive moral equivalence between murder and burning a house. Now I can use the engine of the very same argument to make an even more counter-intuitive point: murder, it now appears, is a morally superior act than merely burning a house. How does that follow? Well, other-worldly maturity is of a higher value than worldly-maturity. Moreover, by the above distinction and the accompanying revisions made to the strong-embodiment version, embodiment is only required for worldly-maturity and not for other-worldly maturity of the soul. Hence, while murder deprives the soul from the opportunity to enjoy worldly-maturity, it affords the soul a much more prized form of maturity; namely, other-worldly maturity. Therefore, according to the present reasoning, murder turns out to be a highly moral act of liberating a soul from its shackles to this world, its embodiment, so as to enable it to enjoy other-worldly maturity in the presence of God. Clearly, something went terribly wrong here. But, what?

8) Perhaps, this: my mistake in my most recent argument is to fail to recognize that embodiment is necessary in order to enable an individual to shape their soul in this world so as to qualify for the benefits afforded by other-worldly maturation. Let a soul that qualifies for other-worldly maturation called a “righteous-soul”. Thus, molding our soul into a righteous-soul is a prerequisite for enjoying the benefits of other-worldly maturation. So the present counter-argument takes the following form:

(i) Embodiment is a necessary condition for worldly-maturation:
(ii) Worldly-maturation is necessary in order to develop a righteous-soul;
(iii) Righteous-soul is a necessary condition in order to benefit from other-worldly maturation.
(iv) Embodiment is a necessary condition for other-worldly maturation.

Murder is depriving a soul from embodiment and, thereby, preventing it from other-worldly maturation. Hence, contrary to my argument, murder is the ultimate act of moral depravity.

9) But there are several difficulties with this picture. Suppose a young infant dies from a fatal disease. Due to its early death, this infant did not have ample embodiment-time for worldly-maturation so as to prepare a righteous-soul that would qualify it for other-worldly maturation. According to the above version of the argument, this infant is not going to qualify for the benefits afforded by other-worldly-maturation. But such a conclusion is a moral outrage. The infant contracted a disease which it did not seek, it did not deserve, and it certainly did not choose to die. Instead of being compensated for the tragic fate it suffered, it is now being victimized once again by being excluded from the benefit of “divine life” and other-worldly maturation. The same goes for an infant who is devoured by a wild beast, killed in a car accident, became a casualty of collateral damage in a war, murdered brutally by human monsters, and so on.

The infant example can be replicated regarding all human beings. The age of the infant is only a convenient and clear case, but it is not essential to the central point being made here. At any point, time, and stage in life a person has the potential to remake their soul. (Bill himself gives such an example at the end of his commentary.) Yet death no matter in what form deprives him from the opportunity to exercise this potential. Should we nevertheless stipulate that at such-and-such a time and age the opportunity no longer exists? And were exactly we draw the line: i.e., at which point of the human soul’s development are we ready to say that this soul has had ample embodiment time to mature to a point where its other-worldly fate is already fixed?

10) My original argument as well as the above rejoinder to Bill’s objection is intended to highlight the following predicament in which the immortalist-theists find themselves. Our moral scale which rates deeds according to a certain moral ranking is calibrated by reference to what we know about the human condition which includes vulnerability, suffering, and eventual death. Relative to this scale murder is one of the gravest deeds possible because it causes death and death is irreversible and as final as anything can get. Now, the soul-hypothesis is a way of overcoming the finality of death and mitigating in some ways the other worldly perils of the human condition. But once we have introduced the soul in order to help us overcome the perils of the human condition, we have changed the very nature of the human condition and we are thereby compelled to also change the parameters which determine how we calibrate our moral scale. Thus, if immortality is conferred upon us due to the existence of a soul, then this fact completely alters the moral significance of our deeds including murder. In light of the existence of the soul, murder no longer entails unequivocally a final end to human existence. We must now factor into our moral assessment the relative merits of two different fates caused by murder: the fate of the body and the fate of the soul. But we can assess the relative moral merits of these two different outcomes only if we already know how the two are related and how the fate of one impacts the fate of the other.

11) The fundamental questions, then, are these:

(a) What form the linkage between body and soul should take and how intimately should this linkage be forged?

(b) What are the inherent characteristics of the body and the soul conceived apart from each other and also independently from the consequent linkage between them?

(c) Does the linkage between the soul and the body induces a change in the fundamental nature of each when considered apart from this linkage and if so, what is the nature and extent of this change?

12) Thus far I have not discussed questions (a) and (b) in any depth, although assumptions about certain ways of answering them were made both by my argument as well as by Bill’s response. Assumptions about the nature of the soul, the body, and their relationship were incorporated into some of the T-theses and the soul-making theodicy on which Bill’s response is based involves additional assumptions. On the whole, however, the discussion focused primarily upon (c). The fundamental theme of my argument was that the soul-hypothesis has far reaching implications regarding the very nature and meaning of our life and that these implications may radically alter adjacent spheres that supervene upon one or another conception of life. One of these adjacent spheres is morality.

13) Consider the following two examples which illustrate the extent to which fundamental changes in the conditions of our existence induce inevitable changes in our moral concepts. Theft is an appropriation of the property and belonging of another without their consent. Now, suppose that an inexplicable change occurs in the fabric of the universe as a result of which any item appropriated without consent is instantly replaced by an identical item. Clearly, such a change would drastically alter our concept of property, property ownership, and as a result would inevitably render the concept of theft useless. There will no longer be a need to classify deeds as theft.

Similarly, suppose that advanced technology provides us with a so-called “instant life suspension device” (ILSUD) which is un-invasively implanted in the human body. ILSUD causes all life sustaining mechanisms of the body to be suspended at the instant of any life threatening injury thereby preventing the injury to cause immediate death. By so doing, ILSUD gains valuable time and enables proper life saving medical care to be administered which invariably saves the life of the injured person. Thus, an incident of deliberately shooting someone which would have caused certain death prior to the introduction of ILSUD, no longer has such effect thanks to ILSUD. Hence, deliberately shooting someone without just cause will no longer be murder, for doing so will never result in death. Instead, it will be an act of deliberate injury that invokes quite a different moral and legal response.

14) Conclusion: I maintain that the soul-hypothesis has the same effect upon our moral concepts. If we wish to seriously entertain the conjecture that the soul-hypothesis is true, then this conjecture compels us to radically alter the basis upon which we make moral judgments. The trouble is that unless we know the exact nature of the changes that the soul-hypothesis entails about the conditions of our life and the nature of death and its consequences, we have no way of discerning the changes the soul-hypothesis compels upon our moral judgments. The purpose of my original argument was to highlight these consequences of taking seriously the soul-hypothesis and invite a discussion about how to approach them. The purpose of the present response to Bill’s Embodiment objection is to reemphasize the difficulty and non-triviality of this task.


An atheist finds some meaning in life whilst having a sumptuous breakfast or refuting his 'deluded 'companions. A few years back I had a brief fling with Dawkin's Atheism , I found it penetrated into everything I did and thought. I became blind to nature's treasures, important elements of books and music and lost a good deal of respect for my fellow man. To be consistently Atheist meant ignoring all the big questions , not laughing for a moment, having no spiritual moments , to be a lost character from a Dostoevsky novel .

Now I'm searching for something, I do not know what , but at least I can find solace in philosophy , Jazz and Kerouac. To be silent (both introspectively and expressively ) as an Atheist is to expose oneself to an incessant and turbulently ululating doubt.

Ideally , a friendly atheist accepts the theist and his untenable objective basis of morality ( God) , likewise an amiable theist tolerates the untenable objective morality found by the Atheist.

Happy New Year!

Rob (Your imaginary friend from Scotland)

I think the most general way to phrase Bill's initial objection to Peter's argument is to say that while self is identical with the soul (T6), certain good for the soul is possible only in the state of embodiment. While the same is true for the state of possessing a house (for example, the good of providing a person in need with a meal and a bed), physical death may constitute a change in the 'metaphysical condition' of the soul. For instance, no second embodiment may be possible. The same cannot be said about losing a house and the analogy fails.

The relation of embodiment to the development of the soul is considered by Peter in paragraph 1) of his recent comment. The possibility of Light Embodiment (1C) is rejected on the grounds that if there are other ways to achieve all the goods for the soul that the embodiment can achieve, then physical death does not deprive the soul of any possibilities and thus the initial soul objection fails. But this does not follow from 1C as stated.

For 1C includes the following sub-possibilities:

1C1: While it is true that there are other ways to achieve the good that embodiment can achieve, once a soul has been embodied, all the other options vanish.

1C2: It is not the very fact of embodiment that deprives the soul of all the other possibilities, but certain acts when embodied or achieving a certain stage of development (or degradation) while embodied. The very fact of embodiment may still deprive the soul of some options.

Under 1C2 murder is always wrong, and in a qualitatively different way than house destruction. The degree to which it is wrong would depend on what options that are still available for the soul of the victim. Thus, the soul-making objection still stands. Moreover, 1C2 allows us to avoid the difficulty that Peter sees with Strong-Embodiment and expresses in paragraph 9). For under 1C2 the death of an infant might not necessarily deprive the soul of the good that can be achieved by embodiment and the soul can eventually still undergo other-worldly-maturation.

Furthermore, Peter claims that changes in the conditions of human existence induce changes in our moral concepts. That is most certainly true. The example given is theft in a world in which stolen goods replicate themselves so that the original owner is not deprived of anything. Half jokingly I might say that this is the case for our world -- for digitally distributed goods.

As far as I understand Peter implies - please correct me if I am wrong - that the soul hypothesis, when properly understood, may seriously change the way we evaluate murder. But this is I think based on an implicit assumption that our current condemnation of murder is not based on the soul hypothesis (SH), or more specifically, is based on a hypothesis that man is purely material. This seems to me to be false, at least for the Western tradition. The specific reasons to condemn murder under SH were given by Bill and defended above.


Thanks for the detailed contribution. It is important to understand how moral theory and metaphysics join up. I think we agree that normative ethics (moral theory) cannot 'hang in the air' but must be grounded in metaphysics, and in particular in philosophical anthropology (the metaphysics of human nature). Depending on how we answer 'What is man?' we get different answers as to what we ought to do and leave undone, what the human good is, and so on. It is to be expected that mortalist and immortalist will give different answers.

I should add that we are living on dwindling Judeo-Christian capital. If that capital should run out, then contra what you say above, we will not all agree that murder is morally on a par with house-destruction. It is not as if we will hold to the standard view no matter what. It is an illusion to think that J-C values can survive a radical change in metaphysics. We have to be open to a revision of moral judgments as a result of a revision of metaphysical judgments.

That's a preliminary remark.

Jan and Bill,

I thank Jan for the thought provoking comments. I hope you will find the time and inclination to continue making contributions to this thread. I will respond to your comments and hopefully push the envelop further. Meanwhile if you have further thoughts, just push the post-button.


You are touching upon the crux of what I have tried to bring to the table with this topic. Indeed, metaphysics and moral theory are intertwined (i.e., the interconnection goes in both directions). How revision in one might impact changes in the other is indeed what is at the heart of my second post. But the nuances here matter.

For instance, one avenue to pursue with regard to the relation between soul and body and the notion of Embodiment is whether embodiment of the soul onto the body is causal or constitutive or perhaps something else. And, conversely, does soul-making requires constitutive-embodiment, mere causal-embodiment, or once again some other form of embodiment. Here the proposal by Pruss which Matt has floated, among other ideas, may need a more careful scrutiny than I have given to it in my response to Matt. I hope we can pursue these matters further.

Hi Peter,

You sure write a lot! I don't fully understand the hylemorphic view but I offer the following in response to your relpy to me.

Re nails and hair: I think on hylemorphism the presence of the soul is what is supposed to ground the difference between your body and stuff that isn't your body. So when you shed skin or hair it ceases to fall under the soul's purview - we know this because we don't claim that shed skin is part of your body anymore.

Re the tumour: I guess you would have a faulty soul. Don't we all? It's a fallen world after all.

Re your 1) and 2): I think the hylemorphist would make the claim that my body would not have developed that way it has, nor behave the way it presently does, if it did not first and foremost follow soul-laws, rather than natural laws. But the soul isn't identical to these soul-laws, it just explains the shape they take. So 2), but I don't see why one should care too much about the empirical testability issues you raise - support for hylemorphism will likely be held to come from other sources.

You also write: 'To say that this body is mine because it is animated by a soul that is spread throughout it is not pushing explanation much further than what we had before when we referred to the physical continuity of the arm with my body.' Maybe so, but I don't think anyone will invoke hylemorphism to account for the identity-conditions of the body. They will claim that the soul is in fact the ground, but will not urge you to accept H. for the sake of being able to say that. Again, my impression is that support for hylomorphism comes from other sources.

Re your other stuff: I think Bill's Hell case better withstands the sort of arguments you raise. If when you die you face the Last Judgement, an event that will seal your fate for all eternity, then killing someone will certainly bring about something quite irreversible. And arguably this makes death a much more serious matter than on atheistic materialism, since the stakes are so much higher. With materialism it's just vanilla non-existence all round.

The sort of concerns you express in 9) can be met with either a good theory of original sin, or by claiming that God annihilates such infants.

Lastly, materialism has it's problems with death too. Chemically, you and your 1-second-old corpse are strikingly similar. So what justifies granting the former such special treatment? Materialism also seems to imply that we aren't really all that special - the same sort of stuff that we are made of can be found in rocks and rivers and trees, but they aren't all that special, so why are we? (You seem to think that what makes death so bad is its irreversability, but plenty of things are irreversible: like my having bacon and eggs for breakfast on the 2nd of Jan 2010. But that's no great shakes, so there is still quite a lot of work to be done here in trying to ground the severity of murder.)

My point here is just to show that materialism doesn't somehow get a free pass on this stuff, it faces problems too.

Another thought that just occurred to me: the wrongness of murder won't simply be a fuction of the evil of death, you also have to factor in evil motives on the part of the murderer. The theist-immortalist could claim that while death is only moderately evil, nevertheless God has so constituted us that the natural reaction we have to other human beings is a mixture of awe, wonder, love, care etc., so that in order to commit a murder a human being has to have deliberately and perversely suppressed such desires and replaced them with the opposing desires. This shows that so long as we recognise that the evil of death and the evil of murder are distinct, then even if the former is of moderate severity, it is still possible for the latter to be much more severe.

Matt and Peter,

You are right to point out that the tables can be turned on Peter. If we are just land mammals, then why is it OK to thin animal herds but not human 'herds'? Why is it so much worse to kill me than my cat? The idea that we are special is part of the dwindling Judeo-Christian capital I was talking about. How can one be a materialist and also maintain traditional J-C valuations?

Bill and Matt,

Just a few words about "turning the tables", atheism, materialism, and morality:

First, turning the tables on me, the atheist, or the materialist has no bearing on the merit or de-merit of the argument under consideration. Even if atheism or materialism or both are untenable, the issues raised need to be addressed.

Second, one should distinguish theism and materialism. One can conceivably be an atheist but not a materialist: at least an argument is needed to show that atheists are forced to be materialists.

Third, while I am atheist-leaning, I am definitely not a materialist.

Fourth, it is not at all obvious that theism has an advantage so far as morality is concerned over an atheist. Divine commandment theory has its own difficulties as well as some shared by the atheist. For instance, it certainly does not follow that A ought to be done from the mere fact that God commands that it without additional premises. The most likely such premise is "If God commands A, then A ought to be done." But this premise needs to be also justified and such a justification will naturally lead to questions about the relationship between God, morality and other metaphysical questions.

Matt says "The sort of concerns you express in 9) can be met with either a good theory of original sin, or by claiming that God annihilates such infants."

I have not yet seen a "good theory of original sin" since I do not think that the Adam and Eve narrative in Genesis has anything to do with sin, original or otherwise. So I perhaps should say that if you refer by "original sin" to that narrative, then there cannot be a "good" theory of original sin.
As for your comment that in regards to my infant example we could just say that "God annihilating such infants"; well, I would find such a claim a "moral outrage" and maintain that no theory which features in it a perfect God could accommodate such a claim. One might just as well respond to my original post by saying:

"well, sure, if souls exist, then murder is morally equivalent to burning a house; so what?"

Both claims are, in my opinion, a prima facie refutation of the premises that entail them.


You don't need to hold to the particulars of the Genesis narrative to hold to Original Sin, just so long as you distinguish between pre- and post-lapsarian humanity. But a good account of Original Sin will involve inherited guilt.

I didn't read your infant example carefully enough; maybe God would give such infants a finite compensatory afterlife, or maybe send them to Limbo. Either way, the theist can preserve the claim that a certain amount of soul-making is required before one can enter into the divine presence.


My point is that there is no "sin" in the Genesis narrative and, hence, there cannot be an "original one". In my view, the Adam and Eve narrative speaks about the ascend of man, not his fall. Hence, it makes no sense to speak about inheriting sin or guilt. Moreover, I do not understand how one can *inherit* the moral properties of an act performed by someone else. Since sin or wrongdoing require responsibility and I cannot be responsible for someone else's actions, I cannot be morally blameworthy nor can I be found guilty for the wrongdoing of another. While in certain circumstances one may have the *feeling* of guilt for the actions of others, this is an emotional reaction not moral blameworthiness.

Your proposals regarding the infant example are not going to work. Either we judge that in the circumstances of my infant example there is a moral imperative that such infants ought to be allowed to enjoy other-worldly maturation and divine life or we don't. If we so judge, then we can take it for granted that God will do so, because God always does what ought to be done. Therefore, the infants are guaranteed an other-worldly maturation and therefore my argument about this case goes through. On the other hand, if we cannot be sure that God does what ought to be done and these infants might end up in some place other than divine life, then we might just as well say that murder is morally equivalent to burning a house. Either way my point goes through.


"Turning the tables" is relevant in the following sense. If the mortalist argues that the immortalist cannot account for the moral difference between murder and house-destruction, and it turns out that the mortalist cannot account for the moral difference between the wanton slaying of a man and the wanton slaying of a bear, then, so far, we have been given no reason to prefer mortalism over immortalism.

"Turning the tables" is irrelevant in the following sense. If reasonable objections can be brought against a position, then those objections are reasonable whether or not reasonable objections can be brought against a second position that is inconsistent with the first. That I take it is Peter's point.


Why must a theist be a divine-command theorist? A theist could maintain that ethics is grounded in axiology, that values cannot exist except as divine accusatives, that God is subject to these values, and that nothing is right or wrong merely because God commands it.


I fully agree that our culture is running on vapours of J-C fuel that powered it for millenia. Our moral judgements are still based on the underlying metaphysics. Indeed, it cannot be expected to last forever. A case in point is the debate between Peter Singer and judge Richard Posner.


Both agree that man is not metaphysically different from other animals. R. Posner does not want to admit that this implies that killing a man is fundamentally no different than killing a brute. P. Singer does not shy away from saying it. Clinging to J-C ethics without metaphysics seems in the long run impossible.

Regarding your last post, I still maintain that your objection to Peter's initial argument stands and we have no symmetry between materialism and soul hypothesis. It is not under SH that murder is equivalent with slaying a bear or destroying a house.


Thank you for the kind words. It is certainly true that the relation between self, body and soul may have crucial implications for ethics. For before we can understand at what good man aims, we need to understand what man is. Let's try to analyze this relation.

I have never understood A-T metaphysics, so please consider the following with more than a grain of salt. Given hyleomorphic dualism (HD), murder is indeed different than house destruction. The question is, does HD plausibly entail that souls are immortal? How does form of a body survive its death? It is difficult to imagine form of a thing existing apart from it.

The example that Aristotle uses at one point is that of a form of an object of art existing in the mind of an artist. This suggests a way in which a soul, while the form of the body, can exist when the body is destroyed. For if man has a maker, then while not embodied, soul might exist 'in the mind' of its maker. Does Aquinas actually pursue this analogy?

Under this view, we would not speak of embodiment, but rather of debodiment. For the primary object here is not soul, but man -- body and soul. Soul alone, even if it can exist separated from the body, is not complete. It seems to me to be the view that still frequently underlines the condemnation of murder in the West.

The second possibility is that the soul is a primary object. The general question is in what ways non physical objects can manifest themselves in the physical world. I think the following distinction is useful. I will call the first way Embodiment (E), and the second Reflection (R).

Embodiment is basically what we have been talking about; it is characterised by one-to-one correspondence. That is, a single non physical being somehow takes a single physical body. What is important, the non physical object is in some sense contained in the composite object. Reflection is on the other hand characterised by one-many correspondence. Many physical things can reflect one non physical thing. Moreover, the physical manifestations do not contain the non physical object. They are just reflections, perhaps even imitations of the non physical in the realm of physical.

One can find a myriad of examples of R way of manifestation. The most striking to me is that of certain mathematical objects, the simplest of which would be geometric figures, say a circle. The application of R to self-soul-body relation seems to me to have been well developed by Plotinus. As far as I understand Hinduism, it is applicable there too.

What is more interesting, there seem to be no examples of E manifestation, apart from the supposed embodiment of a soul. The best I can think of is the case of a natural number n and a set of physical objects of cardinality n -- say a set of n turnips. It is not an imitation of a number, as a wobbly attempt to draw a circle is an imitation of a real circle. The number n is canonically contained in it too. But the correspondence is still not one to one, for there exist many sets of a given cardinality. So what is actually needed is the set of all sets of cardinality n. But such an object can hardly be called a physical object, even if we concede that the set of n turnips is a physical object in and of itself.

Conclusion: The case of one to one embodiment of a non physical being is the most unique and for me the most difficult to understand of all the considered possibilities.

Damnably wordy post for the amount of content.

Response to Jan,

Jan’s proposals in his post dated Saturday, January 2, at 10:28 AM focuses our attention on the potential of Embodiment-Light to buttress Bill’s response against my argument. Jan suggests that I perhaps might have been a bit too hasty in dismissing Embodiment-Light and so he urges us to reconsider it. Since Jan’s response does not explicitly address my arguments against strong and weak embodiment, I will assume at least for now that he accepts them. He is of course entitled to reconsider his views on this matter.

Recall that embodiment-light is the view that embodiment is neither necessary nor sufficient in order for the soul to obtain divine goods. Rather it is a *contributing condition* either in the sense that even when embodiment holds other conditions must be also present or that embodiment is just one possibility of obtaining divine goods, but there may be others not involving embodiment at all. Jan suggests that embodiment-light in this sense contains two “sub-possibilities” which he formulates as follows:

“1C1: While it is true that there are other ways to achieve the good that embodiment can achieve, once a soul has been embodied, all the other options vanish.
1C2: It is not the very fact of embodiment that deprives the soul of all the other possibilities, but certain acts when embodied or achieving a certain stage of development (or degradation) while embodied. The very fact of embodiment may still deprive the soul of some options.”

1) I will examine Jan’s 1C1 first. The idea behind Jan’s 1C1 is to distinguish between two different ways that embodiment relates to the obtaining of divine goods. Call the first ‘pre-embodiment’ and the second ‘post-embodiment’. Now, in the case of pre-embodiment, there are several different ways for the soul to obtain divine goods, embodiment being one of these possible ways. However, the situation changes radically once embodiment is actualized. For in the case of post-embodiment all other alternatives “vanish”; they are no longer available for the soul, leaving embodiment as the only recourse for the soul to obtain divine goods. Thus, embodiment is a necessary condition for the soul to obtain divine goods only post-embodiment, but not pre-embodiment. Since in the case of post-embodiment, continued embodiment becomes a necessary condition for the soul to obtain divine goods and since murder deprives the soul from the only means it has available to obtain such goods, murder is a grave moral breach.

1.1) A nice illustration of the distinction Jan has in mind is marriage in a monogamous society. As a bachelor (and if I am lucky), there are several candidates available as my possible marital partners. We can put this as follows:

P. If Peter is a bachelor at t, then it is possible that x is Peter’s marital partner at t & it is possible that y is Peter’s marital partner at t & it is possible that z is Peter’s marital partner at t.

From P together with the proposition “Peter is a bachelor at t” we are entitled to deduce that “it is possible that x is Peter’s marital partner at t” and “it is possible that y is Peter’s marital partner at t” and so forth. However, none of these inferences are legitimate once I am married and the proposition “Peter is not a bachelor at t” is true.

1.2) Similarly, we might phrase the situation of prior-embodiment as follows, where S is a soul:

E. If S is disembodied at t, then it is possible that embodiment is a means to divine goods at t & it is possible that such-and-such is a means to divine goods at t & it is possible that so-and-so is a means to divine goods at t.

From E together with the proposition “S is disembodied at t” we can likewise infer the propositions: it is possible that embodiment is a means to divine goods at t; & it is possible that such-and-such is a means to divine goods at t; & it is possible that so-and-so is a means to divine goods at t. However, none of these inferences are legitimate consequences of (E) once it is not the case that S is embodied at t, for then the proposition “S is disembodied at t” is false.

1.3) But, now, notice what happens to the matrimonial example if I become a bachelor once again either due to a divorce or due to the untimely death of my wife. As long as I am married, no one other than my wife can be my marital partner. However, once I become a bachelor again, all other previously vanished candidates for marital partnership suddenly re-emerge: they are once again possible marital candidates.

1.4) I maintain that the same happens with Jan’s proposal as formulated by 1C1. Thus, *as long as a soul is embodied*, all other means of obtaining divine goods indeed vanish: they are no longer possible means of obtaining the divine goods for the duration of embodiment. But once the soul is no longer embodied, regardless of the reason, the other possible means of obtaining the divine goods reappear and are once again available to be used by the soul in order to obtain divine goods. Since murder causes the soul to be disembodied, all other means of obtaining divine goods resurface once again and are made available to the soul. At this point my argument can be reintroduced just as before.

1.5) In response to the above, Jan might be tempted to strengthen 1C1 so as to say that post-embodiment all other options of obtaining divine goods “vanish” forever regardless of whether the soul becomes disembodied once again. But such a revision collapses 1C1 into strong-embodiment because now embodiment becomes a necessary condition for obtaining divine goods. As a form of strong-embodiment, 1C1 is vulnerable to the same argument I have raised against strong-embodiment.

2) Unlike 1C1, Jan’s 1C2 adds the provision that embodiment plus actions or plus certain type of actions or plus a certain level of maturity is what deprives the soul from taking advantage of other possible means of obtaining divine goods. Call this ‘embodiment+’. But the only way I can see that embodiment+ can deprive a soul from taking advantage of alternative means of obtaining divine goods is if it is viewed as a necessary condition for obtaining such divine goods. But if embodiment+ is a necessary condition to obtain divine goods, then it becomes a version of strong-embodiment and, hence vulnerable to the objections I raised against the original version of strong-embodiment. For instance, since an infant that dies cannot satisfy the embodiment+ conditions, it cannot take advantage of any other alternative means to obtain divine goods. Hence, such an infant cannot enjoy the benefits afforded by divine goods. I consider such a consequence a fatal flaw in any view which entails it.



"Damnably wordy post for the amount of content."

Please do not say that because it draws unflattering attention to the length/content ratio of my own posts! Just kidding! I need to review and think about your latest post. It raises some intriguing possibilities regarding soul/body relations.


"If reasonable objections can be brought against a position, then those objections are reasonable whether or not reasonable objections can be brought against a second position that is inconsistent with the first. That I take it is Peter's point."


Once again, I wish to remind everyone that my purpose was not to raise an objections against immortalist-theists in order to thereby advance the case of atheism. My purpose was to raise an objection against immortalist-theism in order to advance a discussion about it.


Thanks for a detailed answer. What I meant by 1C1 is what you more eloquently put forward in 1.5). Indeed, once embodiment happens, 1C1 thus understood clearly collapses to strong embodiment. In particular, the infant death objection holds. I did not intended it as an answer to your argument, but as a simplest representative of the class of sub possibilities of 1C that I want to consider.

The proposition that I put my money on is 1C2. I do not fully understand your critique of embodiment+. You write:

"the only way I can see that embodiment+ can deprive a soul from taking advantage of alternative means of obtaining divine goods is if it is viewed as a necessary condition for obtaining such divine goods"

It seems to me to be clearly false. An image that might be useful is that of a blacksmith wanting to forge a sharp, hard sword from a piece of metal. The piece of metal stands for the soul that is to be developed. The qualities of the sword stand for the qualities of the soul required for participation in the divine life. Now, there may be many ways to harden a sword. It is also clear that the process may go disastrously wrong, so that the sword is beyond repair by any other method of hardening. For instance, the material may have been polluted. It certainly does not imply that undergoing the method of hardening that went wrong is a necessary condition for making a desired sword.

Within this picture, a death of an infant would correspond to a hardening process that has barely started, but has been rendered impossible to perform by some factor. Say, the tool needed for this particular process broke. There might still be other possibilities for making a hard sword.

Unless I misunderstood your objection to embodiment+, I think it still stands and is immune to infant death objection.

Reply to Jan,

Sorry, I think I misunderstood your 1C2 version of embodiment+. Let me state several different ways of construing it and examine their viability. S is a particular soul; D a particular body:

Embodiment+(a): If (S is embodied in D and the union of (S&D) achieves a certain degree of maturity), then S is eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods.

Embodiment+(b): If S is embodied in D, then (S is eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods only if the union of (S&D) achieve a certain degree of maturity).

Note that in both versions achieving a certain degree of maturity renders S merely *eligible for consideration*, but does not guarantee, the obtaining of divine goods.

Now, I think you would agree that Embodiment+(a) is a version of Weak-Embodiment and as such is subject to similar objections I raised against the later.

In Embodiment+(b), however, embodiment and the maturation of the union of soul and body play different roles. Embodiment as such is a sufficient condition for a conditional proposition in which the maturity of the union of soul and body are necessary in order for the soul to be eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods. It seems to me, however, that Embodiment+(b) is also subject to the infant death objection. For in the case of the infant, the soul is embodied and hence the sufficient condition is satisfied. Moreover, in virtue of its untimely death, the necessary condition that the union of body and soul achieve a certain maturity is not satisfied. It then follows that the soul of the infant is not eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods; and this is the conclusion we wish to avoid in the infant death case.

Now, your sword analogy and in particular the analogy to the infant death case suggests that any given method of hardening the sword is one among many possible methods to sharpen and harden the sword, none of which is individually necessary but each is sufficient. This suggests the following formulation:

Embodiment+(c): If S is embodied in D, then (if the union of (S&D) achieves a certain degree of maturity, then S is eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods).

But Embodiment+(c) is logically equivalent to Embodiment+(a) and, hence, to Weak-Embodiment and,therefore, subject to the very same objections.

A fourth version of embodiment+ may be as follows:

Embodiment+(d): If S is embodied in D, then (the union of (S&D) achieving a certain degree of maturity is an *enabling condition* for S to be eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods).

So once the soul is embedded, then its union with the body achieving certain degree of maturity *enables* the soul to become eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods, but it is by no means the only way to become so eligible. There may be other ways of becoming eligible.

Embodiment+(d) indeed blocks the dead infant objection as follows: even though the infant’s soul was embedded and even though its union with the body did not achieve the degree of maturity required to become eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods due to the infant’s premature death, it is not prevented from being eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods, since alternative routes are still available to the infant’s soul to become so eligible other than the union of the soul with the body.

There are two difficulties with Embodiment+(d). First, while it blocks the dead infant objection, it opens the door wide open to a modified version of my original objection. Suppose my neighbor’s union of the soul and body achieved a certain degree of maturity insufficient to conclusively determine whether he is eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods. Then, surely, just like the infant’s case, he is entitled to alternative means of obtaining such eligibility in the event the union of his body and soul cannot continue the process of maturation. Thus, by murdering him at exactly this point in his life, his soul surely will be entitled to take advantage of these alternative ways to obtain eligibility. This example takes us back to my original argument.

Second, the phrase ‘enabling condition’ is not a truth-functional connective. Therefore, in order to make sense of Embodiment+(d) we might have to appeal to a modal formulation. However, I cannot presently think of a modal formulation that will achieve the following two desiderata: (i) block any objection similar to and including the infant death objection and at the same time (ii) block my original argument or modified versions thereof. Perhaps you or someone else could explore a suitable modal formulation, while I contemplate this problem as well.


Would you please explain the expression:

"Soul S is eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods" ?

The expression is crucial and I want my reply to have as much bearing on what you say as possible.

As far as I understand, we suppose that successfully undergoing a ‘preparatory perfecting‘ is a necessary condition for a soul to participate in the divine life. We are discussing the modal relation of this ‘preparatory perfecting‘ to embodiment.

Do you perhaps mean:

(Soul S in a state s is eligible for consideration to obtain divine goods) iff (It is possible for S in a state s to participate in the divine life in the future) ?


In light of your proposal in the last post perhaps we should rephrase the propositional components as follows:

(1) S is embodied "in" D;
(2) The union of (S&D) achieve a certain degree of maturity;
(3) S is in state s at time t;
(4) S in state s at time t qualifies S to obtain divine goods in the future.

where 'qualifies to obtain divine goods' means that certain (perhaps not fully known by us) requirements to participate in the divine life are satisfied by S in state s at a given time.

We are also assuming that the maturation of the union of (S&D) causes S to be in state s.

So I am willing to accept these formulations and drop 'eligible' in favor of 'qualifies' as explained above.

What do you think?


That clarifies things. Still, the part

"'qualifies to obtain divine goods' means that certain (perhaps not fully known by us) requirements to participate in the divine life are satisfied by S in state s at a given time."

is not entirely clear to me. Do you mean that such a soul is certain to participate in the divine life in the future, or that it is merely not impossible?

What is lurking in the background here is a theory of the process of the preparation of a soul for the divine life. For instance, if there is a second (perhaps qualitatively different) embodiment after the first one, then it is possible that no degree of maturation during the first one can guarantee participation in the divine life. This is the point of 1C2 I am trying to defend -- embodiment may neither be sufficient nor necessary.


Another interpretation of the quoted statement that occurs to me is

"Were the person P whose soul S is in the described state s at time t killed at t, then S would necessarily participate in the divine life at some future time".

Is this perhaps the correct one?


It is time to take stock of the current state of our debate:

1) So far as I see, the soul-making theorist makes the following contribution to the present debate. The soul-hypothesis has long been associated with the thesis that the soul survives death in some form. On its own, the soul-hypothesis is vulnerable to my murder-argument on the assumption that murder cannot cause the soul to cease to exist. So the idea behind the soul-making response is to point out that the mere continued existence of the soul is not the only factor that is at stake here. If it were, then my murder-argument would be easily decisive. The strategy of the soul-making theorist is to introduce something else that is at stake in addition to the mere continued existence of the soul.

1.1) The additional factor that is at stake is divine life. How does the introduction of divine life bear upon my murder-argument? Well, the soul-making thoerist, so far as I can see, must maintain that embodiment-plus-maturation is a *means* toward the goal of the soul to achieve divine life. So even though murder cannot cause the soul to cease to exist, it nonetheless deprives the soul from something else that is valuable: namely, the means of obtaining divine life. Therefore, murder is a grave moral breach. This is roughly the counter-argument of the soul-making theorist to my argument from murder.

2) There are two inherent problems facing this counter-argument and we have been struggling with them ever since Bill introduced it. These are the two problems:

(A) While one may grant for the sake of the argument that the goal of divine life is *inherently valuable*, any particular means of achieving divine life is not valuable in and of itself, but is valuable only as means of achieving the goal of divine life: hence, embodiment-cum-maturation has only *instrumental value* and is not in itself and independently from the goal of divine life valuable;

(B) Typically means-ends relationships are *causal* and as such they introduce two general difficulties:

(i) The problem of causal under-determination;
(ii) The problem of logical form;

3) The problem of under-determination is manifested in the present context as follows:

(a) There may be alternative causal chains that lead to the same effect: thus, it could be that embodiment-cum-maturity is just one among many different possible means to the goal of divine life. Hence, embodiment-cum-maturity cannot be a necessary condition to achieve the goal of divine life;

(b) Embodiment-cum-maturity may be one element, initial or intermediary, in a complex causal chain that the soul needs to transit on the way to divine life. This is the sort of case you have in mind when you note that “…if there is a second (perhaps qualitatively different) embodiment after the first one, then it is possible that no degree of maturation during the first one can guarantee participation in the divine life.” This problem once again excludes embodiment-cum-maturity from being a necessary condition for divine life.

4) The problem of logical form is simply the fact that the logical form of causal relations may not be truth-functional. This bears directly upon the distinction between strong, weak, and light embodiment which I have proposed as alternative ways of articulating the relationship between embodiment-cum-maturation and divine life. The trouble is that the first two are formulated as purely truth-functional and if the relationship in question is causal and, therefore, cannot be given a truth-functional formulation, then they cannot capture the intent of the soul-making theorist. That is why I have formulated Embodiment-Light in terms of the non-truth-functional “contributing conditions” or “enabling conditions”. At the time I have too hastily dismissed this alternative, not realizing the complexity of the issues involved. You immediately fastened upon this option as the best avenue for the soul-making theorist to capture the desired relationship. And, of course, you note in your last post that “embodiment may neither be sufficient nor necessary”; if we see embodiment-cum-maturity as (at least in part) a causal means towards the end of divine life, then it cannot be stated merely in terms of truth-functional forms such as necessary or sufficient conditions, whether or not my “enabling conditions” is a suitable formulation of this relationship.

5) These are in my view at least two central theoretical problems we face in this discussion, which is to echo your statement from the last post “What is lurking in the background here is a theory of the process of the preparation of a soul for the divine life." The soul-making theorist, thus, faces two weighty theoretical problems when it comes to my murder-argument.

5.1) First, since embodiment-cum-maturation is merely a means toward the end of achieving divine life, it has merely *instrumental value* and, moreover, it inherits whatever value it has from being causal means towards the goal of divine life. Therefore, from this point of view, murder cannot be construed as directly depriving a person from life which has inherent value on its own and independently from anything else. Rather, murder according to the soul-making theorist must be construed as depriving a person from at most the means toward some other end and, therefore, the moral gravity of murder depends now on a nuanced relationship between the instrumental value of the means deprived and the inherent value of the end sought.

5.2) Second, since the relationship between the means and the end is causal, it cannot be stated in simple truth-functional terms. Hence, embodiment-cum-maturation cannot be either necessary means or sufficient means towards the end of divine life. It must be stated in some other way yet to be precisely formulated. Now, the combined effect of these two problems puts the soul-making theorist in a dilemma exploited by my murder-case. Since the value of embodiment-cum-maturation is merely instrumental, depriving a soul from it cannot be a decisive consideration when it comes to the opportunity of obtaining divine life. Moreover, since the soul-making theorist cannot clearly formulate the exact causal relationship that obtains between embodiment-cum-maturity as means toward divine life as end, he cannot provide a decisive way of assessing the extent of damage caused by one or another way of depriving a soul from this particular means of achieving the inherently valuable end of divine life. The result is that the soul-making theorist has trouble accounting for both the murder-case and the infant-death case, and their various variants, simultaneously. If he adequately accounts for one, he is vulnerable to the other.

5.3) I think that these considerations summarize some of the challenges posed to the soul-making theorist by the murder-argument. Perhaps we can focus upon some of these issues as the discussion proceeds.


That is an excellent post. I need some time to think it over, but I tentatively agree with everything you say.

If you would further clarify the statement that I asked about in my previous post, I would gladly reply to your survey of possible interpretations of Embodiment+. I have a suspicion it might not be conclusive.

Moreover, I am still hopeful of showing that 1C2 or its variant allows perhaps a little weakened objection of Bill and avoids the infant death objection and those similar to it. Like you, I find this objection a defeater for Strong Embodiment, provided of course that the embodiment of a soul happens before the birth, which is more than plausible. Defending a contrary statement would make one a soul-theoretic counterpart to Peter Singer.

As an introductory example, please consider one of the simplest variants of 1C2, and one of the simplest models of the process in question. That is, the process of perfecting the soul for the participation in the divine life.

1C3: There are multiple possible ways by which a soul can be made fit for the divine life. For every soul S, ultimately one of those ways is actualised.

This is a special case of 1C2. It would correspond to universalism in Christian theology.

Bill's objection states that one of the factors that make murder evil is that it terminates or impedes moral and spiritual progress of the soul of the victim. It is clear that under 1C3 murder does not terminate the soul's progress. To refute the objection (under 1C3) one need still show that bodily death does not impede the soul's progress. It is not the least clear to me how it is to be done. It is also clear that the infant death objection does not apply.

What makes the impediment of the soul's progress evil may not just be the toil and trouble it is subjected to before attaining the participation in the divine life. It may be an action against the order of things, and if there exists a Creator, against His will -- for souls may be made for divine life. Again, this does not need to be understood under the divine command theory. If God by His nature is a locus of goodness and what ought to be, action against His will is again an action against the most fundamental order of things. And even if God can ultimately override all evil and make all manner of things well, it does not imply that the actions were not evil in the first place.

Correction: the infant-death objection is not a defeater for Strong Embodiment, but a problem of the same magnitude as the one saying that murder is equivalent to house destruction. So it is a defeater for the statement that Strong Embodiment advances the Soul Hypothesis.


Thanks. I will address the issues on which you requested clarification later today or tomorrow. I will also evaluate your proposed 1C3. I think we are making some progress here and perhaps something along the lines of your 1C2 or 1C3 or something along these lines will afford the beginning of a solution.


Unlike Jan, I don't agree with much of what you say.

You begin with a fundamentally false analogy. You imagine that the soul-body relation is something very loose and external like the relation between man and house. Phenomenologically, that is way off. This is not the way I experience my body, and this is not the way I experience through my body other bodies. Touching you with my hand is not like touching you with a stick. The same is true even if I am touching something inanimate such as a rock. 'Touch' in 'hand touches rock' has a different sense than it has in 'stick touches rock.' The latter touching is mere physical contact explcale in terms of physics. The latter involves awareness and thus the soul. As Matt pointed out, the soul pervades or suffuses or permeates the body. Thus any injury to my body is an injury to my soul. But, unless I am extremely attached to my shouse, its destruction will leave me unscathed.


Thanks for the input. I agree that the analogy between a body and a house defies common sense.

I also agree that hyleomorphic dualism is a simple and convincing way to point out where the analogy breaks and also refute the initial argument proposed by Peter. However, it is not obvious to me that HD plausibly entails immortality of the soul -- I spelled it out in one of my previous posts. And this issue is crucial, as this whole post is titled

“If there are immortal souls, would murder be a grave moral breach?“

This would need to be a topic of a separate discussion. What I think we are trying to do is suppose that the soul, and not the body-soul composite, is a primarily existing object. Thus, we need not address the issue of its immortality, for it can be supposed. Indeed, all the non-physical objects that can cease to exist seem to me to be closely linked to physical objects.

Let's now consider a fusion of the two radically different substances, matter and soul. In contrast with HD, it is not obvious to me that damage to the body is somehow damaging to the soul. As far as I know, it was not an opinion of Socrates, neither was it one of Plato. Unfortunately, I have not found another satisfactory example of the Embodiment phenomenon. Thus, I cannot test this proposition 'empirically'.

I do not espouse this Platonic view. I am merely trying to understand it, and its implications, better. If it turns out not to account for the otherwise obvious difference between a house and a body, it may provide a reason to reject the view.

Bill, Jan,

While I do not have the time today due to personal matters to expound upon the complex issues raised by Bill and you, I wish to note that the so-called "Embodiment Phenomenon" looms large currently in the interdisciplinary field know as Cognitive Science. A relatively new approach emerging in this area called "Situated Cognition" which challenges the reductive ideology that dominated the field of cognition and cognitive science during the last half century. While cognition is admittedly somewhat removed from the soul-hypothesis, the conceptual framework may be helpful.


I think you misunderstand me. I don't accept the hylomorphic position, and have argued against it. On the old blog, which is now off-line, this was a major bone of contention between me and Ed Feser. I'll post on this soon. I favor the Platonic-Augustinian-Cartesian view that I = my soul, not the A-T view that I am a composite consisting of soul and body. I don't understand how a soul, if it is a form, could be a subsistent form. I also don't understand how a form could be a subject of experience.

What I am saying, contra Peter, is that the soul-body relation is sui generis and cannot be understood in analogy to any physical relation, and a fortiori not in analogy to any logical or mathematical or mereological or set-theoretical relation. This makes it very difficult to understand since we naturally look for a physical or material model: the oyster in the shell, the prisoner in his cell, the pilot in the ship, the man in the house, etc. More later.


Yes, I remember you are critical of HD, though I did not yet frequent Maverick Philosopher when the discussions with E. Feser took place. I just do not understand how harming the body directly harms the soul in any other framework.

"What I am saying, contra Peter, is that the soul-body relation is sui generis and cannot be understood in analogy to any physical relation"

It seems to be so. At least I could not find a satisfactory analogy in any realm I looked at. I still maintain that under Platonic view it is at least not clear how damage to the body would cause direct damage to the soul. It is a stronger version of the causal interaction problem, for it implies that causal interaction is possible.

To illustrate the principle in question Matt and you propose the following view or metaphor. In your words

"soul pervades the body or as [Matt says] is "spread throughout" the body. Of course, this has to be understood in some appropriately spiritual or nonphysical way"

Understood literally, the view is similar to the one that you have rightly criticised. Namely, that soul stuff is a kind of material stuff, only spooky. The problem is not that immaterial objects cannot have spacial locations, for they certainly can. It is that irreducible objects cannot be extended in space. The suggestion to understand it in a spiritual way is not helpful to me, because I do not understand what 'spiritual location in space' can mean.

I certainly do not mean that under Platonic view it is impossible that damage to the body results in an immediate damage to the soul. One can conceive of primarily distinct substances that become so closely intertwined that one cannot in principle damage one without causing damage to the other. What I mean is that one needs to better understand how it is possible. I think neither the image I proposed above, nor the one espoused by you and Matt are satisfactory.

Arguments and Analogies: A reply to Bill

Every analogy relies on similarities among items that are otherwise admittedly different. If the mere fact that the items differ would have been grounds to undercut an analogy, then analogies would have never been an acceptable and useful form of reasoning. Since analogies are legitimate and useful tools of reasoning, this suggests that differences in and of themselves do not defeat an argument based upon an analogy. An analogical-argument typically relies upon a relevant similarity between two items in order to derive a conclusion regarding one item from something that is appropriately attributable to the other. For the purposes of the present reply I assume an implicit understanding of analogical-arguments along the above lines.

Bill has argued that my murder-argument relies upon a faulty analogy. I have a very general response to this charge: while the murder-argument indeed relies upon an analogy, the analogy upon which it relies is one employed by the soul-theorists themselves. Thus, I contend that if the soul-theorists are entitled to a certain analogy, then I am entitled to use the very same analogy in order to marshal an argument against this or that aspect of the soul-hypothesis. And conversely, if I am not entitled to use a certain analogy, then the soul-theorists are not entitled to it either. But, as I shall show, if the soul-theorists are not entitled to the relevant analogy, then there is an even more direct argument than the murder-argument I have given to the conclusion that according to soul-theorist murder is not a grave moral wrongdoing.

Consider the following:

(i) Murder is an *injury* to the soul;
(ii) Murder *harms* the soul*:
(iii) Murder *damages* the soul;
(iv) Murder has an *adverse effect* on the soul.

Unless the soul-theorist holds some of the propositions (i)-(iv) or some of their equivalents, he has absolutely no grounds for maintaining that murder is a grave moral wrongdoing or that it is even morally relevant. But, now, on the basis of what considerations does the soul-theorist maintains any of these propositions? How does the soul-theorist know any of the above propositions? What entitles the soul-theorist to even attribute the terms ‘injury’, ‘harm’, ‘damage’, ‘adverse effect’ to the soul?

The terms listed above apply first and foremost to the physical body. We talk about a fall or an object causing injury to some part of the body; similarly, we talk about such and such physical harm done to some part of the body or the manner some limb is damaged due to this or that incident. The soul-theorist use of any of these terms to apply to the soul is derived from an analogy of their use when applied to the body. If such analogies are excluded, then the soul-theorist cannot use these terms to apply to the soul.

A deed cannot be said to be a moral wrongdoing unless it causes some harm, injury, damage, or in some way it adversely affects someone in a manner that they would not have been adversely affected otherwise. Therefore, if the soul-theorist wishes to maintain that murder is a moral wrongdoing, he must demonstrate how it adversely affects the soul not just the body. Therefore, in order for the soul-theorist to maintain that murder is a moral wrongdoing he must use terms such as ‘injury’, ‘harm’, ‘damage’, etc., and when he so does, he uses them by analogy from the physical realm.

If the soul-theorist is not entitled to use such terms in order to establish the grounds for the moral wrongness of murder, then he has no grounds to maintain that murder is a moral wrongdoing because it adversely affects the soul. And if he cannot maintain that murder is a moral wrongdoing because it adversely affects the soul, then he has no grounds to maintain that murder is a moral wrongdoing.

Therefore, if the soul-theorist is entitled to use the said terms in order to maintain that murder is a moral wrongdoing and the legitimacy of such use is based on analogy with the physical realm, then I am entitled to use the same kind of analogy in order to state my murder-argument. So either the soul-theorist as well as I is entitled to use relevant analogies from the physical realm to state our respective positions or neither of us is entitled to such uses. If it is the later, then the soul-theorist cannot state the grounds on the basis of which he renders murder an immoral wrongdoing because it adversely affects the soul. If it is the former, then I am entitled to exploit the same analogies in order to state my murder-argument.

Three Metaphysical Principles,

In the present post I propose three metaphysical principles to be considered as part of the soul-hypothesis. I hope that they may assist in developing some version of embodiment+ that blocks the murder-argument. I will not here try to formulate such a version.

1) Let us assume that there are certain properties F, G, H, etc., (S is a particular soul) such that
(*) S obtains divine-life iff S features F, G, H, etc.

1.1) Now, (*) is a metaphysical principle so that we may not have full knowledge of the set of properties that constitute necessary and sufficient conditions for obtaining divine-life. However, I think that the theist’s soul-hypothesis requires that there should be such a set. (*) may be formulated conjunctively, so that all the properties are required, or distributively so that each of several proper sub-sets suffices, but at least one such sub-set is necessary. I am unclear at this point how exactly to formulate this provision.

1.2) It is important to emphasize that (*) states the ultimate conditions for qualification for divine life. (*) does not presuppose any particular metaphysical picture of how a soul acquires such properties or the nature of the journey it must take in order to arrive to this final stage.

2) Co-Individuation: another implicit assumption that is part of the soul-hypothesis is “co-individuation”: i.e., regardless of how the soul and the body are independently individuated, the embodiment of the soul results in a union of one and only one soul and one and only one body. Thus, co-individuation rules out a union of multiple souls in one body or the embodiment of one soul in multiple bodies. Co-individuation rules out the possibility that since the soul is embedded in multiple bodies, its maturation does not depend upon one embodiment.

3) Multiple-Stations Metaphysics (MSM): We cannot rule out the possibility of multiple stations toward divine life. We cannot even rule out the possibility that a given embodiment in this world is merely one phase of the soul preceded by previous ones and followed by still other stations (Jan anticipated this possibility in one of his recent posts). It could be that each such station is unique in the sense that it alone gives the soul the opportunity to achieve one or another of the properties F, G, H or it could be that there are redundancies; i.e., that there are several redundant stations such that if the soul does not get a fair chance to develop its target properties in one station (e.g., embodiment in this world), then it will be granted the opportunity in one of the redundant stations.

3.1) MSM, I believe, may contain the resources to block the infant-death objection. However, as I noted previously, one must be careful not to block the infant-death objection only to fall prey to the murder argument. The problem here is that the murder argument can be molded to mimic the conditions of an infant; i.e., murder coincides with a phase of maturation which did not produce decisive results with respect to the properties required for the next stage (which could be another station or the final station).

3.2) I am unsure whether the soul-making theodicy is compatible with MSM. It seems to be more in line with a Single-Station-Metaphysics (SSM), where the soul’s embedding in this life is the only station that prepares it for divine life. Since the soul-making theodicy portrays embodiment as a process of molding a bare soul (tabula rasa) into a mature soul, it presupposes (I think) that at the point of embedding the soul is pretty barren. Since SSM does not allow for redundancies, I think that the soul-making theory will have to make special provisions for the infant-death cases (and their variants). However, I do not rule out the possibility that some variant of the soul-making theodicy is compatible with MSM.

4) I think that MSM is the most suitable metaphysical picture that affords the best chance to formulate a version of embodiment+ along the lines proposed by Jan in his 1C2 or 1C3.


Thanks for your last two outstanding contributions. We should start new threads on both of these topics. I am busy today, so maybe tomorrow I can put up a post on analogy, and then follow it up with your latest suggestions.


Your last post gives new life to the discussion. Most of the problems have already been mentioned, but it is another thing to have them in one place and eloquently expressed. The principle that you call Multiple-Stations Metaphysics (MSM) is exactly what I had in mind when I proposed 1C2. It is not clear to me from your definition whether you agree with the following:

Non-Linearity (NL):The stations may not follow in a linear order. That is, for a given station E, both the sets of stations that can precede E and follow E might not contain one element only.

Whether an actual soul S in station E can have more than one station open to follow to is another question and I will tackle it later. NL property of MSM was crucial in the formulation of 1C2. I now consider 1C2 a failure as an argument against both the murder and infant-death objections. I will later venture to show why any argument of a similar type is at least problematic. As an aside, I find directed graphs very useful when thinking about MSM, NL and similar. An example follows.

Slightly generalising your 1), you claim that:

(*) There is a set of sets of properties T s.t. a soul S obtains divine-life iff S features one of the sets of properties from T.

In 1.2) you say that (*) does not presuppose a particular theory of the process of preparing the soul for divine life. I do not agree. Firstly, to really understand (*) we need to decide between the following two theories:

T1: Acquiring a desired set of properties ends the process of preparation and allows the soul to participate in divine life.

T2: There is a firm ending station of the process of preparation. To be allowed to participate in divine life the soul needs to posses the desired properties at the end of the process. In particular, it may be that the properties once acquired are lost.

This is what I needed clarified earlier in our discussion. This distinction does not challenge the form of (*). The following however does. Please consider the conditional statement:

(**): What matters when it comes to admittance to divine life is not only the set of properties the soul possesses, but also how, under what circumstances and in which station they were acquired.

I have an example in mind that illustrates NL, (**) and usefulness of graphs. The first station E is embodiment as we know it. There is a final station J for judgment (an example of T2 process). The stations possibly following E are J and SE for surrogate embodiment -- NL in play. For an actual soul there is however only one station it can follow to. The souls of people who were not given a chance to develop any qualities during E - dead infants for instance - follow to SE. Others follow to J. All from SE follow to J. Now, it may be that during SE it is much more difficult to develop the quality of bravery than during E. There are no physical dangers during SE for instance. Here is where (**) comes into play. The quality and degree of the virtue of bravery required from souls undergoing SE may be different than from those undergoing S. The graph would look like this:
Please note that the example is not meant to provide an answer to the murder and infant-death objections, but to illustrate general metaphysical principles.

Whether one accepts (*) or (**) depends on the theory of the process of preparation one holds. Under (**) the process is more like a test where not only the ultimate result counts, but also what one has done with the resources and opportunities one was given. In particular, (**) seems to place more emphasis on will, for the same level of dedication may give different results under different circumstances. This is connected with what you discuss in 3.2). For I do not think soul-making theodicy presupposes the soul to be barren in the beginning of the process. What does barren mean in this context? Without any qualities? It certainly is not consistent with what we observe, assuming embodiment is the first station. There exist people naturally mathematically gifted. Either this quality is in the soul, emergent from the properties of the body or both. I do not think the second option is reasonable. When one holds the view I presented above, this fact does not pose any problems. I do not think Single-Station-Metaphysics (SSM) can ever avoid the infant-death objection. What do you mean when you say:

"[Under SSM] the soul-making theory will have to make special provisions for the infant-death cases"?

Do you meant something similar to what I proposed in the example, turning SSM to MSM?

An attempt to apply this apparatus to the problems we are facing and a critique of a certain type of argument that I attempted before is to follow.


I think your proposals in this last post are excellent. We are making some progress. I am a bit concerned, however, about the constraints that need to be imposed upon the building of the metaphysics of souls: i.e., what are the appropriate constraints on such a project? If we are not clear about at least some of the constraints in advance, we will have a difficult time to evaluate whether any given proposal makes sense.

Re: the special provisions I had in mind had to do with whether under the described circumstances God may bypass the process and grant divine life outright. However, this question can be now postponed to a much later stage because MSM appears to be sufficiently rich to offer less ad-hoc solutions.

I started to think about a possible model where the mind is an emergent property or structure "grounded in the body" and the soul is embedded in the mind instead the body. This model enables the soul to contribute to the development of the mind (assuming that the soul brings with it specific qualities, which is a reasonable assumption). Moreover, since the mind and the soul are united, the development of the mind is ipso facto the development of the soul. Something along these lines allows quite a lot of empirical data from the cognitive sciences to be relevant to soul-making and at the same time avoid the difficulties about how an entity such as the soul is capable of being embodied. (Of course, it will raise new questions about how the soul is embedded in the mind, but I hope these are easier to deal with). The soul is embedded in the mind, is united with it, and it thereby utilizes the mind's grounding in the body to obtain whatever properties or functions it needs to utilize from the body. Thus, upon death, the soul persists existing containing everything that was loaded unto its union with the mind. Well, anyway, these were some of my recent speculations about the metaphysics of the soul. These ideas are still in a very preliminary stage, so they be somewhat raw.

I will need to review your last post carefully and it may take a few days. I will be somewhat preoccupied for a couple of days. So do not think I ignored the discussion. I will return to it in the earliest possible opportunity. I am looking forward to your next contribution.


I have had a very busy week too. Hopefully I will be able to post a substantial reply within a few days.

I find your idea of the soul being embedded in the mind very intriguing. Under a more standard view the mind is in a sense a byproduct of the interaction of the soul and the body. If shown to be viable, this model would indeed alleviate a few of our difficulties. In particular, it would be much clearer how damaging the body can cause direct damage to the soul. I very much look forward to a fuller exposition of the idea.

PS. Looking back, with my first comment I started calling you by the first name. I hope it was not disrespectful. It certainly was not meant to be. Jan is my first name, so at least the symmetry is not broken.


Everyone calls me 'peter'; I did not even notice. I hope we both get back to this thread soon.


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