Intuitively and almost universally man acknowledges an essential difference between living and nonliving things. The intrinsic force, or principle of movement, by which certain things are living is commonly called the soul (see Aristotle, Anim. 413a 20–21). The human soul, essentially different from other souls, is that internal principle by which man lives, perceives, and thinks (Anim. 414a 12–13). All cultures and civilizations have been convinced that man is not a purely material being; rather, they recognize that man possesses within himself some element that is relatively independent of the body, giving life and power to the body. The nature of this principle was not always clearly understood. Often it was compared or identified with air, wind, breath, or spirit. Some
considered the soul to be a single simple principle; others distinguished between the soul, the principle of bodily life, and the intellectual powers by which man thinks (see faculties of the soul). The origin of the human soul has often been explained by myths, by superstitious belief, by natural causes, or by religion. Consideration of its survival and ultimate destiny have given rise to many beliefs.
The human soul is considered here under five titles:(1) Oriental and Greek conceptions; (2) patristic and medieval writers; (3) modern and contemporary thought; (4) philosophical analysis; and (5) theology.
1. Oriental and Greek Conceptions
Long before the earliest philosophers discussed the human soul in philosophical language, ancient peoples of the East spoke of the soul in the language of myth and primitive religion. While philosophical analysis was the greatest contribution of the Greeks, the non-philosophical and mythical approach of ancient religions cannot be neglected.
Nonphilosophical thought. In Chinese tradition a distinction is made between the lower, sensitive soul that disappears at death and the hun, or rational principle, that survives the grave and is the object of ancestor worship. The ancient Egyptians spoke of at least two souls: the ka, or breath, the "double" of man, born with him but surviving death and remaining close to the tomb, and the ba, or spiritual part, which alone proceeded to the region of the dead to be judged by Osiris. The Greek epics of Homer represented the soul as the breath of life, something airy, or ethereal, so that when Achilles saw the spirit of Patroclos, he was able to recognize him but unable to embrace him (Iliad 23:99–104).
In India the religious philosophical treatises of Brahmanism, the Upanishads (c. 650–500 b.c.), present the first extensive account of the origin, nature, and destiny of the human soul. According to this account, which is essentially monistic, brahman, the original source, generated the world and individual souls that enter bodies and are caught up in the world of maya, i.e., illusion and suffering. Birth is considered a misfortune, since the body is the prison of the soul. Salvation requires withdrawal from the body, even in this life, through knowledge of the All, the Absolute, in everything, and through an asceticism that strips off individuality and particular existence. If one has achieved this salvation, death brings extinction to him as an individual and a return to the Absolute; for one not purified by knowledge and asceticism, death brings a transmigration to another body and further suffering. In Brahmanism, the soul not only existed before the body, but it is somehow an emanation from Brahman, individualized and implanted in the world of phenomena. When purged and purified, the soul loses its individuality and merges once more with the Absolute. In a more pessimistic vein, buddhism denied even substantiality to the individual soul, reducing it to a mere chain of sensations.
What was implied in Brahmanism became explicit in the cosmogony of orphism among the Greeks. As a religious reform movement, about which authorities are not agreed, Orphism seems to have adapted older legends to account for the origin of man. According to one account, the evil Titans, sons of Earth, who had been gods before Zeus, killed and devoured the infant Dionysos; in punishment Zeus hurled a thunderbolt upon them to burn them up. From their ashes came forth the human race, in whom the divine, good element derived from Dionysos is mingled with the earthy, evil element derived from the Titans. The soul of man was thus considered a remnant of a god, but his body was a child of earth. Nevertheless the human soul, which apparently was considered to be an individual, could not return to the divine realm until it had sloughed off, in a series of transmigrations, all taint of what Plato later called "the old Titanic nature" (Laws 3:701C). Orphism, Pythagoreanism, the κάθαρμοι, or purifications of empedocles, the catharsis of Plato—all sought to provide a means of deliverance from the "wheel of births." (see pythagoras and pythagore ans; mystery religions, greco-oriental.)
Greek philosophers. Not without reason has it been said that Orphism introduced into Greek philosophical thought the notion of soul as something divine, a quasiincorporeal, immortal substance that existed before the body and sojourns a while on earth in the prison of the body. Not all Greek philosophers, however, were impressed by this mystery religion, and not all were inclined to accept its teachings on the soul. Instead, many philosophers tried to study human nature in terms of natural causes and events.
Early philosophers. The pre-Socratic philosophers generally considered man within the larger framework of φύσις, the basic principle, or source, of all growth and movement. As a result, they tended to define the soul as something that causes movement and to identify it with whatever element they considered primarily responsible for movement in the universe: fire, water, air, or ether. Since no one suggested that it was made out of earth (Aristotle, Anim. 405b 8–10), pre-Socratic philosophers, it would seem, attributed a tenuous, non-bodily character to the soul. This does not imply that any of the pre-Socratics attained to a concept of the spirituality of the soul. In all their descriptions, they spoke of the soul as something material. Anaximenes (fl. 542 b.c.) described the soul as having an air-like nature that guides and controls the living being. anaxagoras did not escape an implicit materialism, even though he introduced the notion of mind both for the universe and for man. Materialism is more evident in heraclitus, for whom the soul was fire, and in democritus, who considered it to be made of the finest atoms.
Plato. It was not until socrates and plato that Greek thought rose to the notion of immateriality. Even when Plato employed mythology to describe creation, he considered the human soul an incorporeal substance, made from the same elements as the world soul, akin to the gods and yet part of the world of change and becoming (Tim. 41). Being composed, the soul has within itself the roots of conflict—implied in the myth of the charioteer and the two winged horses (Phaedrus 246A–248D). If the earthy part of the soul triumphs over the divine, the soul falls from happiness to union with the body, which is its prison rather than its natural abode. Since the body is composed of "the turbulent and opposing mob of elements," man is the seat of constant inner conflict, from which he must be delivered by the catharsis of philosophy. To explain the sources of this inner conflict Plato suggested that man has three souls or one soul having three parts: rational, irascible, and appetitive (Tim. 69D–72B; Phaedo 80B; Rep. 4.444B). Harmony is attained only when the rational part, the "man within man," is able to attain mastery over the lower forces. The dependence of Plato's doctrine on Orphism is a matter of conjecture, although there is a striking resemblance between the two.
Aristotle. In his early writings aristotle accepted the myth of the soul as a divine sojourner on earth; the lost Eudemus apparently dwelt at length on this theme. But as Aristotle grew to intellectual maturity he abandoned this outright dualism of body and soul. At first he adopted a theory of close collaboration between the two without considering them elements of one unique reality. Finally in the De anima, he described the soul as an entelechy, or form, "inseparable from its body, or at any rate, certain parts of it are" (Anim. 413a 4–5). But even when Aristotle proposed his doctrine of the substantial unity of body and soul, he wondered whether mind (νο[symbol omitted]ς), the power of thinking, may not be "a widely different kind of soul, differing as what is eternal from what is perishable" (413b 25–26). He stated that "it alone is capable of existence separated from all other powers" (413b 26–27). However, in later chapters he suggested a distinction between νο[symbol omitted]ς that is the power of becoming all things through knowledge and νο[symbol omitted]ς that is active, "separable, impassible, unmixed" (430a 14–19). Aristotle's obscure explanation of the precise relation between the active and passive intellects occasioned many divergent and contradictory explanations of his doctrines [see W.D. Ross, Aristotle (New York 1959) 128–151].
Later Philosophers. Aristotle's doctrine in the De anima seems to have been unknown to the Epicureans and Stoics, both of whom, despite vast differences, had a materialistic concept of the soul. For epicurus, the soul is composed of Democritus's atoms that disperse after death. The Stoics considered it a particle of the divine fire, or Logos, without deciding whether it survives this life or not (see stoicism). Platonic dualism of soul and body was revived in the 1st century b.c. by the Stoic Poseidonius of Apameia (d. c. 51 b.c.) and by the Platonist Antiochus of Ascalon (d. c. 68 b.c.). Both considered the soul to be preexistent and immortal, and Poseidonius regarded it as distinct from the corporeal spirit that confers sentient and appetitive life. In the early Christian era, Middle Platonism helped to shape the Christian concept of a spiritual soul. plotinus and neoplatonism, representing the last philosophical movement among the Greeks, saw the soul not as entelechy (Enneads 4:7:8, against Aristotle's doctrine), but as an emanation from Soul, ψυχή, the third divine hypostasis. Though it was forced to descend to the body by way of punishment, or, as other passages suggest, came voluntarily to put order and beauty into matter, the human soul is never quite separated from Soul or wholly immersed in matter (Enn. 4:3:12–13). Its union with the body is natural and necessary, although it does not form with the body a new reality (Enn. 4:3:19). Plotinus went so far as to say that man is the soul; everything else is merely accidental (Enn. 4:7:1; 4:4:18).
Arabian falasifa. Significant developments in Aristotelianism took place among the Muslim philosophers, the falasifa, when they tried to solve the ancient problem of the two intellects. From Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. a.d. 198–211) they borrowed an interpretation that identified the active intellect with God, who accordingly caused the material, or possible, intellect of man to pass from potentiality to the actuality of knowledge possessed. Since Arabian philosophers professed a Neoplatonic kind of Aristotelianism, they were inclined to identify the agent intellect with the last of the intelligences, or intellectual emanations from the One. From this tenth intelligence, according to avicenna, emanates the human soul, which is essentially intelligent, immaterial, indestructible, and immortal. Although the soul came into existence with the body, it has a life and operation of its own so that union with the body is not of the essence of the soul but rather a temporary situation. Avicenna explained knowledge as the infusion of intelligible forms by the separated agent intellect. Sense knowledge, for him, merely disposes the human intellect to receive such forms.
The problem implicit in Avicenna became acute when averroËs undertook to comment on the De anima of Aristotle. The human soul, according to Averroës, is a substance brought into being by human generation, and it perishes at death. Man possesses by nature only a material, passive, intellect, sometimes called vis aestimativa, or particular reason. For Averroës, the spiritual faculty of knowing and the agent intellect are both separated from individual men and are common to all men (see intellect, unity of). Since knowledge is achieved only by a kind of union, continuation, or conjunction of the individual with the separated intellects, the human soul is not essentially an intellectual one (anima intellectiva ), but only a corruptible actuality of matter. This doctrine of Averroës, a matter of great concern in scholasticism after 1260, was one of the principal tenets of Latin averroism.
See Also: greek philosophy; arabian philosophy.
Bibliography: i. c. brady, A History of Ancient Philosophy (Milwaukee 1959). j. owens, A History of Ancient Western Philosophy (New York 1959). c. tresmontant, La Métaphysique du christianisme et la naissance de la philosophie chrétienne (Paris 1961). l. petit, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 1.1:1006–16 (Paris 1950). c. mazzantini, Enciclopedia filosofica 1:222–226.
[i. c. brady]
2. Patristic and Medieval Writers
The Christian concept of a spiritual soul created by God and infused into the body at conception to make man a living whole is the fruit of a long development in Christian philosophy. Only with Origen in the East and St. Augustine in the West was the soul established as a spiritual substance and a philosophical concept formed of its nature. Even then, no adequate theory of the relationship between soul and body was achieved before the development of scholasticism.
Greek Fathers. The early Fathers were not directly concerned with the nature of the human soul, although they could not avoid treating this question at least implicitly when discussing the soul's immortality (see immor tality, 1. history of problem).
Athenagoras. The apologist Athenagoras (c. 177), who called himself "a Christian philosopher of Athens," perhaps attained more clarity than others in his "On the Resurrection of the Dead." There he taught that God made man both to reveal His own goodness and wisdom and for man's sake. Since such reasons are permanent, there is no reason for man's total annihilation. Yet since man's nature is composed of an immortal soul and a body, neither of which is intended by God to exist apart, these elements will be reunited at the resurrection (ch. 12–15). Here one finds a clear emphasis on the Christian view of man as a unit, a living whole, even if the immortal soul is the more important element.
Irenaeus. In somewhat the same spirit St. irenaeus attacked the notion of preexistence and transmigration, arguing that God confers on each individual body its proper soul, to which it will be rejoined in the resurrection. In this, Irenaeus was an early witness to the Christian dislike for the Platonic notion of immortality, which implied that the soul was in some sense divine. The parable of Dives and Lazarus (Lk 16:19–31) induced Irenaeus to conclude that the departed soul preserves the same form or character as the body to which it was united and retains the figure of the man so that it is recognizable, as Dives recognized Lazarus (Adversus haereses 2:34). That this implied, for him, a certain materiality in the soul is confirmed by his earlier remark that souls are adapted to bodies and so possess the form of the body (ibid. 2:19). Such materiality, however, is not necessarily corporeality, since Irenaeus sharply distinguishes between body and soul; souls are immortal and incorporeal in comparison to bodies, which are subject to death (ibid. 5:7). If at times Irenaeus seems to distinguish in man body, soul, and spirit, this should not be understood as implying a real difference between the psyche and nous, soul and intellect, for these are identical in being (2:29). Rather it refers to the union of soul and Spirit that produces the perfect man, the spiritual man made to the likeness of God (5:6; cf. J. Quasten, Patrology 1:308–310).
Clement. The first of the Fathers explicitly to borrow from the Greek tradition on the soul was clement of al exandria. For him, philosophy can be judiciously used by the Christian as an aid to wisdom and the defense of the faith; whatever any school rightly teaches can be used by the Christian gnostic (Strom. 1:7, 1:13; Patrologia Latina 8:732D, 756B). What little Clement had to say on the nature of the soul, usually within the framework of Genesis, ch. 1 and 2, betrays such eclecticism. At times he was inclined to adopt the Platonic teaching of the tripartite soul, or posit a composition in man of body, soul, and spirit (Paedag. 3:1, Patrologia Graeca 8:556A; Strom. 3:9, Patrologia Graeca 8:1166C). Yet he seems to have preferred a Stoic analysis whereby the soul is said to have ten parts: the five senses, the power of speech, the generative faculty, a corporeal spirit, another spirit that is the ruling power (hegemonikon ) of the soul, and lastly the Holy Spirit, who comes to those who have the faith (Strom. 6:16, Patrologia Graeca 9:360A). By "corporeal spirit" Clement evidently meant the vegetative-sentient soul (ibid. and 7:12, 509A). The ruling power, identified as the mind (nous), is not generated but introduced from without by God (6:16; 5:14). The lower elements are subordinate to such "ruling power," through which man is said to be alive (6:16), which bestows on him his true dignity, and in which is found the image of God (6:16; 6:9). Do these two spirits form one soul? Clement did not say. On the one hand, he considered man as made up simply of body and soul (ibid. 4:26, Patrologia Graeca 8:1373 A, C). Yet, since the "corporeal spirit" can rebel with the flesh against the soul (Gal 5:17), it is hardly identical with the latter, which is "subtle and simple, and can even be called incorporeal" (Strom. 6:6, Patrologia Graeca 9:273C). In such a doctrine Clement mingled elements from both Scripture and Greek thought, but he did not succeed in obtaining a clear concept of soul as one spiritual substance possessed of many powers. Instead, he seemed to favor a kind of trichotomy in man of body, soul (as principle of sentient life), and spirit or mind.
Origen. Only with origen, Clement's most famous pupil, did the soul emerge as a spiritual rational substance identified with spirit or mind. Since it was within the same context of "flesh rebelling against the spirit" (Gal 5:17) that Origen considered the question of two souls or soul and spirit in man, he likely had Clement's doctrine before him (De principiis 3:4, Patrologia Graeca 11:319–325). Is there, he asked (323C), another soul in man, an anima carnis, besides the heavenly and rational soul? Advancing arguments for both sides, he modestly let the reader decide (325C). Yet he himself evidently thought there was but one soul, a conclusion bolstered by his earlier interpretation of soul and spirit (2:10:7, 239). The latter is either the Holy Spirit or the "better part of the soul," that made to the image and likeness of God but not separate from the substance of the soul, or even the spirit or angel assigned to man as guardian. The "Discussion with Heraclides," discovered only in 1941, corroborates the identity of soul and spirit, since Origen here proposes that "spirit" is really a part of man (J. Quasten, Patrology, 2:62–64). This one soul in man is a rational substance (De prin. 2:6:3–5, Patrologia Graeca 11:211D, 213C), a simple intellectual nature that "needs no bodily place or physical magnitude, color, or aught else that is proper to body or matter," and grows only in "intelligible magnitude" as it increases in knowledge (1:1:6, 125A–126C). "Let those who think the mind and soul is a body tell me, if this were so, how it could receive and understand reasonings which are often difficult and subtle, and contemplate and know things invisible and incorporeal" (1:1:7, 126C). Such intellectual knowledge, in marked contrast to sense knowledge (127B), forces one to conclude that mind or soul is superior to all corporeal nature. Lastly, to claim that mind is corporeal is to offer insult to God, since the mind is the intellectual image of God and has thereby a certain affinity to Him who is wholly spiritual and intellectual in nature (128A) and is the source of every intellectual being (125A; cf. Exhortatio ad martyrum 47, Patrologia Graeca 11:629B).
Such a position, established by arguments valid in their own right, marked a decided advance that was maintained by Origen's successors. Unfortunately, in his own thought it was intimately bound up with a theory on the origin of the soul that exceeded the limits of orthodoxy. For Origen, all rational creatures were created at once, in the beginning, pure, equal, and alike; since they were without body or matter, and invisible and intelligible by nature, they could rightly be called intelligences. But because they were creatures, they were mutable and equally capable of good and evil; and when God put them to the test, all fell in some degree, except the soul of Christ. The result was the diversity and hierarchy of rational creatures: angels, souls, and demons. The human soul was thus originally a nous, a purely spiritual being, which became a soul (psyche) "because it waxed cold [psychesthai ] from the fervor of just things" (De prin. 2:8:3, Patrologia Graeca 11:223B). The proximate cause of such diversity was to be found in the type of body each nous received as chastisement and remedy for the fall [ibid. 2:9, Patrologia Graeca 11:225–233; for details, see J. Daniélou, Origen (New York 1955) 209–219, and C. Tresmontant, 395–518].
Gregory of Nyssa. This theory did not go unchallenged by such anti-Origenists as Peter of Alexandria and Methodius of Olympus. Yet the orthodox elements of Origen's thought lived on in the two Christian psychologists of the 4th century: St. gregory of nyssa and Nemesius of Emesa. Both made considerable use of Greek psychological writings, though always with the critical eye of a Christian. Gregory was much more the theologian, while Nemesius was primarily the philosopher in his approach. In the first complete definition of soul to be found, it would seem, in a Christian writer, Gregory saw soul not only as the life-giving principle but also as identical with mind: "Soul is a produced, living, rational substance, which imparts of itself to an organic body capable of sensation the power of life and sensation, as long as the nature capable of such things exists" (Macrinia, or De anima et resurrectione, Patrologia Graeca 46:29B). The Pauline distinction of body, soul, and spirit is primarily a moral one (De hominis opificio 8, Patrologia Graeca 44:145), and there is no question in man of two or three souls welded together: "the true and perfect soul is one in nature, intellectual and immaterial, and endowed with powers it imparts to the material body" (ibid. 14, 176B). Such is the remarkable union of this spirit with matter that all the lower powers serve the higher (8–10), from which they receive life; while the intellect itself is dependent on the senses for communication with the outer world (10, 14). The question of the origin of the soul was much discussed, Gregory said, in the churches of his day (ibid. 28, 229B), an echo of the Origenist controversies. That soul was created before the body he labeled fantastic and absurd, a fable borrowed from Greek philosophy. That soul is made after the body he held as contrary to manifest experience. Therefore both come into existence together, though Gregory was at a loss to explain how. He was content to believe that somehow the power of God intervenes to change the sperm into a most wondrous living thing (Catechesis 33, Patrologia Graeca 45:84D; cf. 11, 44A and Macrinia, Patrologia Graeca 46:120CD, 121A, 125A).
Nemesius. The first Christian to write a full summa on the nature of man (which scholastics knew under the name of Gregory), nemesius of emesa began by examining the all-important question: what do we mean by soul? Is it identical with mind, or does mind come to soul? (De natura hominis 1, Patrologia Graeca 40:504A). The answers of Plotinus, Aristotle, and Plato he rejected as insufficient. Plotinus would make mind and soul two distinct entities; Aristotle posits a double nous, one coming from without; while Plato identifies nous and man, defining the latter as "a soul using a body." What Nemesius considered the soul to be is evident only indirectly, through his long survey and criticism (2, 556–589) of ancient opinions, including a devastating attack on Aristotle (560–569). He concluded that the soul is an incorporeal substance, subsistent in itself, not dependent on something else for its being, yet intended for union with the body (589AB, 592A). Bolder than his predecessors, Nemesius undertook to answer "the difficult question" how soul and body are joined (3, 592–608). Of all solutions offered, that of Ammonius Saccas (593B), as expressed by Porphyry, seemed to him best: "It cannot be denied [quoting Porphyry] that some substance can be assumed as complement to another substance and so become part of a being that, while remaining in its own nature, it both completes the other substance and becomes one with it and yet keeps its own identity. Moreover, without suffering any change itself, it may by its presence transform those things in which it is into means of its own activity" (604A). To illustrate such a union Nemesius found an apt analogy in the union of the Word of God and man in the Incarnation (601A). Much of what he said in succeeding chapters on the body, the outer and inner senses, the lower powers of the soul, and the passions, is an agglomerate from many sources: Aristotle, the Stoics, Galen, etc. This, with the lengthy analysis of the will, dependent in part on Aristotle's Ethics, is a new and important contribution to the Christian philosophy of man.
Other Influences. Since Maximus Confessor and St. John Damascene did little more than summarize earlier writers, Nemesius marked the climax of Greek patristic thought on the soul. The resulting doctrine of the soul as a substance made for union with the body, yet subsistent in itself, rational, incorporeal, simple, and immortal, was far different from the teaching of the early Greek philosophers. Plato and Aristotle seem to have had little direct influence in the formation of such a concept; when their doctrine was adduced, it was usually subject to criticism. Neoplatonism received less attention than one might expect. It is more probable that Middle Platonism, which flourished in the first Christian centuries, furnished Clement, Origen, and later writers with key ideas. At the same time, the Fathers were concerned with establishing a concept in accord with the Christian doctrine of immortality as well as of the Incarnation. Frequently, it seems they read Scripture with Greek minds, interpreting certain Semitic expressions in terms of their own backgrounds.
Latin Fathers. Africa, not Rome, provided the first Latin writers in the Church. Of those who wrote on the soul, the most important include Tertullian, Arnobius, Lactantius, Augustine, and a few later thinkers.
Tertullian. A lawyer and apologist, not too apt a philosopher, tertullian undertook in his De anima to summon up every human opinion on the soul [ch. 58; ed. J.H. Waszink (Amsterdam 1947) 80], using "God's letters" to test its worth (ch. 2). His documentation is poor, since much of his information is derived from Soranus the Stoic (ch. 6). Stoicism led him into one famous error, that the soul though a spirit is at the same time a body (ch. 5); this, he thought, was the only explanation of Dives and Lazarus (ch. 7). From it proceeds his tradu cianism: that Adam's soul alone was created by God, while all other souls come into being by the act of generation (ch. 23–27, 36). Despite such errors, Tertullian's position was often solidly Christian, e.g., his approach to the body and its functions (De resurrectione carnis 4–6), the close union of body and soul (ibid. 7–10, 15–16), and the identification of soul and mind (De anima 12–13). He was the first Latin to see the powers not as parts of the soul but as vires et efficaciae, evidently a translation of the Greek energiae (ibid. 14). The influence of his De anima was extremely slight, perhaps because it was too polemical.
Arnobius. Of less importance was arnobius, whose "Case against the Pagans" (Adversus nationes ) is of interest only for its attack on the immortality of the soul, a doctrine that turned the soul into a god (2:14–15). In his view, men are merely animate beings not greatly different from beasts, and for the most part do not act according to reason (16–17); this fickleness would show that the soul is not made by God (36, 45).
Lactantius. In contrast, lactantius dwelt on the real differences between man and beast as revealing God's special providence (Div. institut. 7:4; De opificio Dei 2–4). He rejected Tertullian's traducianism, since spirit cannot beget spirit (De opif. 17–19); for him, souls are produced by God at the time of conception.
Augustine. St. augustine is the first of the Latin Fathers to have a clear concept of soul as a spiritual substance intimately united to the body. His doctrine, which became standard in the West until the late 12th century, owed much (including some shortcomings) to Neoplatonism, yet was much more strikingly Christian in approach and content. His thought begins with man created by God as a whole, a rational substance composed of body and soul (Trin. 15:7:11; Serm. 150:4). How these are united is beyond the comprehension of man (Civ. 21:10), but the union is natural and not penal (ibid. 13:16; Epist. 164:7), substantial and not accidental (Civ. 13.24). The soul is the active principle, the body the passive, in the living whole that is man (ibid. 22, 24), since the body subsists through the soul and receives form and life from it (ibid. 13.2; Immort. anim. 15–16), while soul is so merged with body that it does not lose its identity (Epist. 166:2). All this is possible only because the soul is a completely immaterial substance, res spiritualis, res incorporea, and close to the substance of God (In psalm. 145:4). The incorporeality of the soul, Augustine wrote to St. Jerome (Epist. 166:2), is something difficult to prove to those who are slow of wit—as is evident from his controversies over the question—but it is something of which he was wholly convinced. In proof he offered especially man's intellectual knowledge of the immaterial (Quant. anim. 13–14, 27–28), as well as self-consciousness (Gen. ad litt. 7:19–21). Later, between 467 and 472, his position was defended and reinforced by Claudianus Mamertus (De statu animae ) against Faustus, Bishop of Riez, who ascribed a corporeal nature to both souls and angels [on this problem, see P. Glorieux, Autour de la spiritualité des anges (Tournai 1959)].
While Augustine was sure of the incorporeality of the soul, he was unable to reach a definitive position on its origin. Adam's soul was created directly by God (Gen. ad litt. 7:28); but as to the origin of all others, he confessed his inability to choose between opposing opinions (Retract. 1:1:3; C. Iulian. op. imperf. 2:178). Traducianism he regarded as a perverse theory that destroys the spiritual character of the soul (Epist. 190:4); creation of individual souls at conception seemed preferable, yet it hardly explained the transmission of original sin (Epist. 166:8). Could all souls have been created at once and then either be sent by God in due time to be united to bodies or come of their own accord? This is possible, yet it does not provide a solid reason for union with the body (Epist. 166:3). At most, Augustine was sure that God is the creator and maker of every soul, and that the soul is not an emanation from the divine substance but a creature made to God's image.
Later Thinkers. Augustine was not alone in such difficulties. St. gregory the great considered the question of the origin of soul difficult and beyond human comprehension (Epist. 52, Patrologia Latina 77:990A). St. anselm of canterbury regretted on his deathbed (1109) that he had not been able to elucidate the question (Patrologia Latina 158: 115B). On the other hand, St. Leo the Great (447), reproving the "fable" of preexistence, stated plainly that the Catholic faith constantly and truly teaches that the souls of men do not exist before they are breathed into their bodies, being placed there by God alone, who is the creator of souls and bodies (Epist. 15.10, Patrologia Latina 54:685A). Among the scholastics, following Peter Lombard (Sent. 2:18:7), St. Jerome was considered the patristic authority for creationism, since he said that God daily fashions souls and does not cease to be the creator (Patrologia Latina 23:372; on this problem, see Tresmontant, La Métaphysique du christianisme et la naissance de la philosophie chrétienne, 577–612).
Scholastics. Very little originality was shown in all the treatises on the soul that fill the early Middle Ages. Cassiodorus, Licinianus, Alcuin, Rabanus Maurus, Hincmar of Reims, and Ratramnus of Corbie were content to repeat Augustine and sometimes one another, even when they engaged in fresh controversies on soul and body. An exception was John Scotus Erigena, who translated Gregory of Nyssa's De hominis opificio and introduced certain of its themes into his De divisione naturae.
Twelfth-century Mystics. The renaissance of the 12th century saw a whole new approach to the soul from the viewpoint of mysticism. Psychology became a prelude to the ascent to God. Such an approach had been that of St. Augustine, who in his search for God had proceeded from the external world to the inner world of the soul, and ascended through it to God (Conf. 7:17; 10:6–8). His dialectic became the inspiration for hugh of saint-victor: "To mount upward to God is to enter into oneself; and not merely so to enter but in an ineffable way to transcend self within" (De vanitate mundi 2, Patrologia Latina 176:715B). The Cistercian school, after St. Bernard, was a more striking example of this trend. Almost every one of its writers composed a treatise in some form or other "On the Soul" as the key to, and formulation of, his mysticism [see J. M. Déchanet, Guillaume de Saint-Thierry, Oeuvres choisies (Paris 1944) 51]. What sets many of these treatises apart from previous works was the fusion of the Latin tradition of Augustine with the theology of the Greek Fathers, especially Gregory of Nyssa and Pseudo-Dionysius, as well as the incorporation after 1140 of medical and psychological material from newly translated Greek and Arabic sources. William of Saint-Thierry is an example of the former, since his treatise De natura corporis et animae (Patrologia Latina 180:695–726) is largely and literally Gregory's work supplemented by Cassiodorus, Claudianus Mamertus, and a few pieces of Augustine (see Déchanet, 71–). Later writers of the school, St. Aelred of Rievaulx, Isaac of Stella, Alcher of Clairvaux (the supposed author of De spiritu et anima ), and William of Conches, who was not a Cistercian, were much preoccupied with classifying the powers of the soul and discussing the organs of the body and the ventricles of the brain. Their work, especially Isaac's Epistola de anima and the anonymous De spiritu et anima (which incorporates much of the former) influenced some scholastics of the 13th century. The question of the identity of soul and powers, for example, stems from their writings (cf. Lottin, 1:483–502). Again, Isaac's theory that the union of soul and body is effected through the medium of the imagination was accepted by some and rejected by others, including St. Augustine [see Epist., Patrologia Latina 194:1881D; De spiritu et anima 14, Patrologia Latina 40:790; and P. Michaud-Quantin, "La classification des puissances de l'âme au XIIe siècle," Revue du moyen âge latin 5 (1949) 15–34].
Greek and Arabian Influence. The foregoing writers belong to what is sometimes called pre-scholasticism, the period uninfluenced by the new philosophical literature, Greek and Arabian, that began to appear in the West after 1150 (see Van Steenberghen). The advent of aristotle, avicenna, and later averroËs, and the appearance of the De anima of dominic gundisalvi, or perhaps more likely of Ibn David, produced a whole new approach to psychological problems. Faced for the first time with a purely philosophical definition of the soul free from ethical or mystical aspects, and a metaphysical and not merely psychological theory of the relation of soul and body, the schoolmen were forced to reexamine their Christian traditions and decide whether or not they would and could accept the hylomorphism of Aristotle.
Those who came to grips with the problem early in the 13th century (e.g., john blund, philip the chan cellor, and john of la rochelle) usually took Avicenna as their guide in interpreting Aristotle's definition, since with Roger Bacon they considered him "the principal imitator of Aristotle and next to him the leader and prince of philosophy." For Avicenna, the soul is both a spiritual substance and the perfection of the body. But, in an all-important distinction, he differentiated between the essence of the soul and its role in the body: "The term 'soul' is not given this spiritual being because of its substance but by reason of its relation to the body, just as in defining a workman we must include his trade, but we do not do so in defining 'man"' [Anim. 1:1 (Venice 1508) fol. 1c]. On this basis some scholastics, St. Albert the Great among them, claimed that the spiritual soul could be considered the perfection of the body without being a form in the strict sense, since a form is always immersed in matter and has no existence of its own. Out of this viewpoint grew the theory, in Odo Rigaldus and St. Bonaventure and his school, of the colligantia naturalis, the natural bond, between body and soul. Soul is united as "perfection" to the body as "that which is perfectible"; but both are considered complete substances existing and acting independently of each other. To explain how the soul is capable of subsisting in itself, the school adopted the theory of a composition of spiritual matter and form proposed by avicebron. The body, on the other hand, is constituted as body by some form or forms that precede the union with the soul and perdure in that union. Notwithstanding their individual substantiality, soul and body are made for mutual union. There is a natural bond between them from which there results a natural union, but not that proposed by Aristotle. At most, Aristotelian hylomorphism was a help in understanding that union; the doctrine itself was rejected because it seemed to contradict the Christian teaching of the soul as a spiritual substance.
Thomas Aquinas. All such theories St. thomas aquinas rejected as useless obstructions to the true approach to the problem. For him, to speak of spiritual matter was to contravene the obvious and established meaning of matter. To posit a plurality of forms in the human body or in any body was to weaken, if not destroy, the metaphysics of actuality and potentiality, of matter and form, and to abandon the principles of true philosophy. To distinguish with Avicenna between soul as spirit and soul as form or perfection was to reduce its union with the body to one of "contact of power" and to make man "a being by accident" (C. gent. 2.57). Instead, St. Thomas undertook to show that Aristotle's doctrine on soul as form and its hylomorphic union with the body was the only adequate interpretation fitting the facts of experience: "If anyone does not wish to say that the intellectual soul is the form of the body, let him find a theory whereby the act of understanding is the action of this man, for everyone knows by experience that he understands" (Summa theologiae 1a, 76:1).
Yet, to establish this, Thomas had to meet a more formidable adversary than the semi-Aristotelian scholastics; he had to oppose and refute Averroës, the Commentator of Aristotle, and the group in the Paris faculty of arts who chose to follow the mighty Muslim. For Averroës every form is completely immersed in matter and is thus purely and simply material. From this it follows that no immaterial intellectual substance can be the form of a body. While man possesses a soul that is a material perishable form, the intellect is not part of that soul but is somehow a separate unique substance. The burden lay on St. Thomas to prove against such a position (advanced in the name of Aristotle) that the soul and intellect are one, that this intellectual soul can be and is the form of the body and yet transcends the body in its intellectual power, and that this is the only true interpretation one can give to Aristotle's doctrine (see Pegis, "St. Thomas and the Unity of Man," 153–173).
In answering both extremes St. Thomas refused to see the problem as psychological or spiritual, as perhaps other scholastics were inclined to do, but regarded it, with Averroës, as primarily and fundamentally metaphysical. The solution, whether of the question of spiritual matter and form, of the plurality of forms, or of the union of soul and body, was so intrinsically bound up with his metaphysical doctrine that it provoked opposition on this ground in many quarters. In the last quarter of the 13th century the scholastic world was full of controversies that arose out of refusal to accept Aquinas's position. Among the theologians of Paris there was open and outspoken criticism of his teaching on the unicity of form in man. Among the 219 propositions condemned at Paris in 1277 some touched it indirectly, while among the 30 proscribed shortly after at Oxford it was mentioned very specifically. The controversy continued into the 14th century, as is evident in Duns Scotus's doctrine of the form of corporeity. Yet throughout, Aristotle's definition was accepted; the differences arose over particular metaphysical interpretations.
Peter John Olivi. Connected with this is the peculiar theory of peter john olivi on the constitution of the soul itself. In the human body, he held, there are other forms (e.g., vegetative and sensitive) besides the soul; yet with the latter such forms make up but one complete form [Quaest. in 2 sent. 50 (Quaracchi 1924) 35]. From this he concluded that the intellective part of the soul is not as such the form of the body, since otherwise it could not be intellectual, free, immortal, and separable (ibid. 51,111); yet at the same time it is the form through the sensitive part (59, 539). In the Council of Vienne (1311) many of Olivi's positions were attacked; yet the decree Fidei Catholicae fundamentum, defining that the intellective or rational soul per se et essentialiter is the form of the body (Denz 900), apparently did not concern his doctrine, though William of Alnwick seems to have interpreted it to be so [Greg 30 (1949) 268; cf. C. Partee, "Peter John Olivi," Franc Studies 20 (1960) 241–253].
Finally, the discussion over the relation of the soul to its powers, which had its rise in the mid-13th century, gathered momentum after the time of St. Thomas and henry of ghent, especially among the disciples of Duns Scotus (see Piana). Interest in the 14th century, however, shifted from the soul itself to questions of man's knowledge of it and of knowledge in general.
See Also: augustinianism; forms, unicity and plurality of; scotism; thomism.
Bibliography: c. mazzantini, Enciclopedia filosofica 1:222–239. j. bainvel, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique,1.1:977–1006 (Paris 1950). É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages, (New York 1955). f. c. copleston, History of Philosophy v.1–2 (Westminster, Md. 1950). a. c. pegis, "St. Thomas and the Unity of Man," Progress in Philosophy, ed. j. a. mcwilliams (Milwaukee 1955) 153–173; St. Thomas and the Problem of the Soul in the Thirteenth Century (Toronto 1934). o. lottin, Psychologie et morale aux XII e et XIII e siècles, 6 v. in 8 (Louvain 1942–60). thomas aquinas, "Commentary," Aristotle, De anima, in the Version of William of Moerbeke, tr. k. foster and s. humphries (New Haven 1951). a. fremantle, ed., A Treasury of Early Christianity (New York 1953). f. van steenberghen, Aristotle in the West, tr. l. johnston (Louvain 1955). c. tresmontant, La Métaphysique du christianisme et la naissance de la philosophie chrétienne (Paris 1961). c. piana, "La controversia della distinzione fra anima e potenze ai primordi della scuola scotista," Miscellanea del Centro di Studi Medievali (Milan 1956) 65–168.
[i. c. brady]
3. Modern and Contemporary Thought
Although the word soul continued to be widely used until the 19th century, the scholastic view of it as the principle of existence, of life, and of all levels of activity, as that which constitutes the individual man as one corporeal human existent, had already been lost before the origin of modern philosophy with Descartes. This part of the article therefore begins with doctrines concerning the soul that are typical of the Renaissance, continues with notions that were prevalent in the modern period, and concludes with a survey of the status of the concept of soul in contemporary philosophy.
Renaissance thought. Because of their nearness to the Averroist struggle over the unity of the intellect, Renaissance philosophers were concerned more with personal immortality and free will than with the substantiality of the soul. Thus M. ficino, a Platonist, defended personal immortality. In his five degrees of being, related successively as cause and effect, the soul is the third or middle essence and the "fountain of motion." The higher soul comprises the power of contemplation (mind), shared with God and the angels, and reason, unique to man. The soul, with two tendencies, one toward the body and related to sense, the other toward God and associated with the rational soul, is free to oppose or be misled by the senses. Because of reason, man is unable to attain final perfection on earth. That the general ontological principle (no natural desire can be in vain) be not contradicted, the human soul must know and enjoy God in afterlife. The natural inclination of the body also will be satisfied when the soul possesses its own body made everlasting, a natural condition in which the soul finds eternal rest.
P. Pomponazzi, heir to Averroist and Italian aristo telianism, tried to make the soul a material inhabitant of an orderly universe. To be consistent with revelation, which states that the soul is immortal, the intellective soul must be entirely separate; if it is, it cannot be a form or else the union is of two independent elements. If the soul is the form of the body, it gives the body being as well as operation and is an immersed form. The human soul is thus essentially mortal and relatively immortal. The Aristotelian form or soul is here viewed univocally, not analogically. The act of existence of the soul is different from that of man the composite. The soul is a bodily function generated by the parents, not by special creation, and is incapable of operating or existing without the body. Later Pomponazzi declared that, philosophically speaking, the soul is mortal, and, lacking simplicity and spirituality, is exactly like any material form; only by faith can it be seen as immortal.
B. Telesio, while recognizing in the bodies of men and animals a spirit or pneuma—an emanation of the warm element passed through the body by the nerves—felt that man could not be totally analyzed in biological terms. In his view, there must be present in man a forma superaddita, an immortal soul that informs body and spirit and is capable of union with God. This divine soul understands, but only those things the natural spirit presents to it.
G. Bruno, lacking a concept of analogy, was unable to distinguish between subsistence and aseity (aseitas ). Particular finite substances are only modes of the unique divine substance. Every existent is animated by the world soul, an infinite continuum in one sense, and yet, in another sense, discontinuous and infinitely divisible. The human soul is an individual soaring to the utmost spiritual development congruent with its own nature, imbued with the divine spirit, whereby the whole infinity of discrete and independent souls is fused into a unity transcending their discrete separateness. While immortality of a kind is thus guaranteed for the intellectual principle in man, man's individuality is lost, since union through love is comparable to the identification of a substance with its attributes.
Modern period. With the growth of the scientific attitude and the sterility of scholastic philosophy in the 17th century, scholastic terms were no longer used with their medieval connotations. This prepared for a variety of explanations consonant with rationalist, empiricist, and idealist philosophical positions.
Cartesianism. The Cogito of R. descartes split man into two separate substances: one a thinking substance, the other, the body, an extended substance that is mechanical in nature and operation and thus like the rest of the material world. J. kepler and G. galilei had banished animation from inorganic nature, but the Cartesians went one step further and conceived the entire organic realm as subject to mechanical laws. Those who supported animism did so to support religious dogmas, particularly belief in an afterlife. The soul was regarded as a thinking substance, but the vitalizing, vegetative, and sensory functions implicit in the Thomistic concept were denied to it. Vitalism proposed a life principle in no way linked to the thinking, willing soul, the ground of all individual consciousness as described by Descartes. The soul, to him, located in the pineal gland, is an immaterial unextended being interacting with the body through the medium of the brain and nervous system only. The separation of the conceptions of vitalizing principle and thinking principle thus became complete.
Descartes's bold assertion that animal and bodily behavior are mechanical hastened the view of man's behavior as a mechanical response to stimuli and laid the grounds for the theoretical justification of conditioning therapies. The two aspects of the soul—that of thinker (res cogitans ) and of thought (res cogitata ) further complicated the mind-body problem. A. geulincx and N. malebranche attempted a solution with their doctrine of occasionalism, which held that a change in either soul or body was the occasion for God to bring about a corresponding change in the other.
Leibniz and Spinoza. G. W. leibniz refused to admit intercausal relation. Man is composed of a superior monad (the soul) and an aggregate of inferior monads (the body). Both are so constructed that they register alike in their experiences but independently of each other, much as two clocks run together in preestablished harmony. The term soul applies to those created monads whose perception is more distinct than that of simple substances. Rational soul or mind, which distinguishes man from mere animals, gives reason and raises man to a knowledge of himself and of God. For Leibniz, thinking is the proper activity of the human soul. Ultimately, thinking becomes its only activity—with no causal relation to the body. While souls act according to final causes (thus implying the presence of a dynamism in the soul), bodies act according to the laws of efficient causality. The two realms of causality are in harmony, not in contact, with each other.
For B. spinoza, mind and body are but two reflections of one clock seen at different angles. Thought, soul, or mind, and extension are but two of many attributes of one Real Substance, God. The soul is one with the cosmos; the mind, an activity of the Divine Mind.
Empiricism. J. locke, too, rejected the soul as a substantial form. The conception of an immaterial soul, for him, involved no more obscurity than that of material substance. Soul is as unknown as is substance, but the notion of "spiritual substance" seemed to him more reasonable, probable, and in harmony with religious belief.
The ambiguous connotations of the soul as both subject of thinking and object of thought persisted for a century. G. berkeley was convinced of the reality of the spirit, mind, or soul as a perceiving active being—not one's ideas, but something distinct from ideas in which ideas exist or whereby they are perceived. Spirit is that which thinks, wills, and perceives. The soul always thinks. Such an active uncompounded substance cannot be dissolved by natural forces; therefore, Berkeley concluded, the soul of man is naturally immortal.
D. hume denied the substantiality of spirit. In place of the word soul he used the term self, that to which impressions and ideas are supposed to have a reference. Through habit man merely ascribes constancy and identity to a bundle of perceptions (called self) in much the same way as he ascribes a causal relationship to a mere sequence of events. If substance is defined as something that may exist in itself; and, if man has no idea of substance, only of perceptions; and if perceptions do not appear to need support, then the question as to whether perceptions inhere in a material or spiritual substance is meaningless. So, too, is the question of the relation of the soul to the body.
J. O. de La Mettrie brought to its ultimate conclusion this examination of the metaphysical concept of soul and the effort to verify it empirically by calling soul "an empty symbol of which one has no conception and which a sound mind would use only to indicate that which thinks in man."
Kantianism. I. kant faced the ambiguity implicit in the connotation of soul as both thought and thinker. He claimed that reason regulates ideas, validly, but that reason may constitute ideas, invalidly. The ultimate synthetic principles of reason are soul, world, and God. Attempts to prove the soul's immateriality, spirituality, immortality, personality, and its animation of a body amount to paralogisms or formal errors in reasoning. " I as thinking am an object of the internal sense, called a soul." That which is object of the external senses is called body. In pure reason, one confuses the logical subject with the real substrate when trying to prove the substantiality of the soul. The soul as an unconditioned real unity of all phenomena of the inner sense can neither be proved nor refuted, but it can be a valuable heuristic principle for investigating the interconnections of the psychical life. The object of psychology is the determinable self or thought; of philosophy, the determining self or thinker. Only for practical or moral purposes are the freedom and immortality of man to be believed. They can never be known. Man can believe that the soul is immortal because ethical consciousness demands the highest good that is beyond the order of nature. Philosophically, it is not clear how Kant's noumenal ego or self is related to the scholastic term soul.
The role of reason as regulator of phenomenal experiences changed imperceptibly, however, into the view that the mind constitutes knowledge. The Kantian school continued to propagate in crude form the doctrine that neither the object in itself nor the subject in itself is knowable but only the world of consciousness. The object gives the manifold of the material; the subject imposes the synthetic unity of the form. Soul, like all forms, is a logical construct imposed by the subject on a series of phenomena to preserve the unity of man. That the intrinsic unity of man may be due to the soul as a formal metaphysical principle is simply not present in Kantian thought.
Reactions to Idealism. In reaction to post-Kantian idealism, J. F. Herbart developed the theory of the "reals" (Realen ) that reciprocally disturb each other in order to be preserved. These self-preservations are the means by which the unknown "real" of the human soul maintains itself against disturbance by other "reals." As a simple substance, the soul is naturally unknowable; psychology, as a science, studies only its selfpreservations, for these constitute the soul. The soul merely furnishes the indifferent stage for the coexistence of the ideas. The psychical life or life of the soul is one of reciprocal tension of ideas.
A. schopenhauer, still keeping Kant's doctrine of the noumenal and the phenomenal, held that the thing-in-itself is the will. In men and animals, the will appears as motivation determined through ideas; in instinctive and vegetative life, it appears as susceptibility to stimulation, and in the rest of the nonconscious world, as mechanical processes. For Schopenhauer, the absolute is world-will.
The result of this line of thought was that human soul was no longer considered as it is in itself but rather as it can be investigated in its activities. maine de biran, J.G. fichte, and Schopenhauer located the essential nature of man in the will—although they did not explicitly identify soul with will itself.
Hegelianism. The dialectical method of Fichte and G. W. F. hegel challenged the immortality of the soul. In their systems of perpetual becoming and of passing from one form to another, the finite personality could scarcely be a substance in itself, and thus the strongest argument for immortality was undermined.
Hegel presented his philosophy of spirit in three parts, the first two dealing with finite spirit or soul and the last with Absolute Spirit. In anthropology, the soul is merely a sensing and feeling spirit, enjoying self-feeling but not reflective self-consciousness. It is embodied; the body is merely the external aspect of the soul. After this study of an undifferentiated subjective spirit, Hegel investigated the phenomenology of consciousness wherein the subjective spirit is confronted first by the other, external to it, and then by itself in reflective self-consciousness. Ultimately it rises to universal self-consciousness wherein other selves are recognized as both one with itself and yet distinct.
Contemporary philosophy. Granted the difficulty of drawing a dividing line between modern and contemporary thought regarding the soul, the principal movements within contemporary philosophy may be discussed under the headings of phenomenology, Marxism, neopositivism, American philosophy, and existentialism.
Phenomenology. M. scheler opposed Kant's ideas on the noumenal ego and maintained that the ego is merely another object of knowledge. E. husserl, on the other hand, extended Descartes's doubt to the absolute certainty of mind as thinking substance. By transcendental reflection, he bracketed the existence of the world and his thoughts and thus reached the transcendental ego, the source from which all objective phenomena derive their meaning. In Husserl's transcendental reflection, man looks at himself as the thought. Man is thus still split into the psycho-physical "I," the "I" of lived immanent events, and the transcendental ego. The sharp distinction between mind and soul persists in Husserl's thought; the principle that gives rise to man's rational and volitional life is still considered as quite apart from psychical effects.
M. merleau-ponty viewed man as the unfolding of the body-subject. The relation between the body and the soul, for him, is one in which the first constituted layer of meaning, the body, serves as the starting point for the higher "given" of meaning, the soul. The body is below the conscious subject. It is another subject, preconscious and impersonal, and does not derive its subjective character from a principle other than itself. It is a self-transcending movement. The natural "I" understands the world before and better than the conscious "I." The "Ibody" is neither pure matter, pure spirit, nor a merger of the two. The concepts soul and body are relative. Fixed existence and human self-movement are two aspects of the soul reality, the body-subject.
Marxism. K. marx described a profound self-alienation in the socioeconomic sphere, for he regarded man only as matter. To N. lenin, mind or consciousness was an epiphenomenon. In the Marxist-Leninist view, consciousness is a product of the brain and the soul as a spiritual substance is not even considered. (see material ism, dialectical and historical.)
Neopositivism. Neopositivists and logical positivists continue the emphasis on verifiability raised by the empiricists. B. russell claims that mental events are more real to him than matter, which is not immediately given but must be established by deduction and construction. At the same time he denies the existence of a substantial soul because, as he maintains, mental phenomena are totally dependent on physiological phenomena. Neopositivists, in general, hold that intersubjective verification is possible only of empirical experience, only of the body and its movements. The concept of soul, not open to intersubjective verification, is meaningless. Statements in classical philosophy, such as, "The soul is immortal, free, and a substance," express feelings but assert nothing.
American Philosophy. For W. james, the soul or pure ego and the will are outside the realm of empirical psychology. They can neither be affirmed nor denied by psychology, although the notions of soul and will may help in systematizing philosophical thought. J. Dewey, influenced by the theory of evolution, regarded the mind merely as an adaptive function of the body. While A. N. whitehead affirmed the existence of spirit, he could regard it as substance no more than he could regard the body as substance. Both are events. Consciousness is a function, the bipolar event seen from within. The immortality of the soul can be maintained only on the evidence of something like religious experience.
Existentialism. In reaction to scientism, to extreme dualism, and to idealism, H. bergson, the existentialists, and the personalists sought to restore either the spiritual aspect of man, or his unity, or his presence in the world, or all three. They, too, avoided the word soul and substituted for it such terms as besouled body, body-subject, incarnated consciousness, and person. Discussion here is limited to the forms of existentialism proposed by Jaspers, Marcel, Sartre, and Heidegger.
Karl jaspers holds that there are four spheres of reality in the world: matter, life, the soul as inner experience, and spirit, the rational soul of traditional philosophy. None can be subsumed under a single unifying principle. Mythical language calls it the soul, whereas philosophical terminology calls it "existence," a being that stands out against the totality of the world's being.
Gabriel marcel starts with man's presence in the world. To be a man is not only to "have" a body but to "be" a bodily incarnate being. In fact, men's souls are made or unmade by the quality of response to being and bodily trials.
J. P. sartre denies that man has a nature or fixed essence. He is a useless passion for whom there is no potentiality. The questions of God and the soul are problems for metaphysics since one questions about the soul only in relation to particular things. If the study of apparential presence in consciousness is identified with ontology, the principle of causality is excluded from both the real and the intentional order. This ontology is not required to infer an immaterial principle of life or soul. Sartre's denial of essences is ambiguous, however, for it is not clear whether he refers to the metaphysical or to moral aspects of man when he states that man's free choices constitute his essence.
Martin heidegger possibly substitutes the notion of spirit for that of soul. He deplores the reinterpretation of spirit as intelligence or mere cleverness. The spirit, to him, is the sustaining, dominating principle in which all true power and beauty of the body, all courage, authenticity, and creativity are grounded. Upon the power or impotence of the spirit depends the rise and fall of these qualities and activities of man. "Spirit is a fundamental knowing resolve toward the essence of being." Where spirit prevails, this being becomes ever more so, for the spirit is the mobilization of the powers of being. Spirit, moreover, is not world reason.
Summary. nominalism and the rise of empirical and mathematical science gradually emptied the concept of soul of its original meaning as substantial form of living beings. With the confusion of the metaphysical and empirical levels of knowledge and the transfer of the scientific criteria of validation to metaphysics, the concept of soul as substance, knowable by man, was challenged by Locke and Hume and ultimately by Kant. The subject-object split in man's knowledge, begun by Descartes and accentuated by Kant, led to idealism and materialism.
In reaction, philosophers became less concerned with probing the nature of man's unity of body and spirit (i.e., the essence of man). Rather they sought a view of man as incarnated consciousness, besouled body, and body-subject whose existence is quite different from the being of all other reality, since only man can stand out (ex-sistere ) against the world by acts of responsible decision. The consequent disuse of the term soul is not so much a rejection of the concept of a dynamic organizing principle of unity in man as it is a rejection of a concept of man as split in two—a view that is apt to occur when man is described as a union of body and soul. The shift in attention is thus from the essence of man to his existing—his mode of being in the world. That man is spiritual may be implied by many of the existentialists when they attribute to man a form of existence different from other existents. Related notions, such as freedom and spirituality (but not immortality), seem to be implicit in the thinking of Marcel, E. Mounier, Heidegger, Jaspers, M. Buber, perhaps even of Merleau-Ponty. Yet the term soul itself seems to be ignored by contemporary philosophers and to be used primarily in theological and moral circles.
See Also: personalism; self, the; spirit; spiritualism; subjectivity.
Bibliography: f. c. copleston, History of Philosophy, (Westminster, Md. 1963). r. eisler, Wörterbuch der phiosophischen Begriffe, 3 v. (4th ed. Berlin 1927–30) 3:1–22. j. d. collins, A History of Modern European Philosophy (Milwaukee 1954). s. strasser, The Soul in Metaphysical and Empirical Psychology (Pittsburgh 1957). w. ellis, The Idea of the Soul in Western Philosophy and Science (New York 1940). e. cassirer, The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy, tr. m. domandi (New York 1964). e. cassirer et el., eds., The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago 1948). p. o. kristeller, Renaissance Thought (New York 1961). b. snell, The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought, tr. t. g. rosenmeyer (Cambridge, Mass. 1953). h. spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement, 2 v. (The Hague 1960). r. c. kwant, The Phenomenological Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty (Pittsburgh 1963). w. a. m. luijpen, Existential Phenomenology (Pittsburgh 1960).
4. Philosophical Analysis
One cannot ask about the nature of the human soul without having first asked and answered the question about its existence. Moreover, the question about its existence cannot be meaningfully pursued unless one has first assigned a meaning to "human soul." This is simply an application of the Aristotelian-Thomist doctrine that the question quid est (which asks for a definition, i.e., a statement of a thing's nature) is not properly asked unless one has answered the question an est (which asks whether there is such a thing); and that the question an est cannot be pursued unless one has answered the question quid est quod dicitur (which asks for a meaning for the word or expression used to designate the thing to be investigated, i.e., a quid nominis ).
Existence. If one agrees that "human soul" will be taken to mean "source of thought activity," and gives a careful account of the meaning of "thought activity," he is in a position to ask: Are there human souls? It is then easy to see that the question: Are there human souls? is answered by answering the question: Are there things that think? Of the two direct methods available for answering the latter question—that of sense observation and that of introspection—introspection can serve here as the primary, though not exclusive, method. One confronts a thinking being in the awareness of his own thought activity; that is, introspection makes man aware of his own existence as a thinking being. Further, by noticing that language is used to communicate thoughts, man comes to recognize that thinking beings other than himself exist. Sense observation plays a primary role in this recognition. (Direct method is used here by way of opposition to indirect method; in the latter—in addition to sense observation or introspection—there is also a reasoning process, as, e.g., in proofs for God's existence. In the direct method, one has an immediate cognitive contact, either in sense observation or in introspection, with the thing in question, so that reasoning is not required as a mediating activity; all one needs is a quid nominis. )
Nature. Apropos of the nature of the human soul, it is important to consider the following points: (1) the human soul is man's substantial form; nonetheless (2) it is to some extent completely immaterial, i.e., it is a subsistent form, or a spirit; but (3) it is not complete as to species; (4) though it is essentially and quantitatively simple, it is dynamically composed; (5) some of its powers require habits for their perfection; and (6) even though it is to some extent completely immaterial, it is even to that extent, though from a different viewpoint, dependent on the human body. These points are considered in order.
Substantial Form. The human soul, like any sort of soul, is the first actuality of a natural organized body, and as first actuality it is a substantial form (see soul; entele chy). It is thus not a substance, but only part of a substance.
Immaterial. To say that the human soul is completely immaterial is to say both that matter is not a part of what it is and that it is independent of matter for its existence. This becomes clear when one considers that a thing can be said to be immaterial if it is such that matter is not a part of what it is, even though such a thing may be dependent on matter for its existence; e.g., substantial forms, or the accidental form of quantity. A thing is completely material only if it depends on matter for its existence and has matter as part of what it is—a definition that is verified of composed substance. Substantial forms, therefore, can be said to be material, since they depend on matter for existence, and immaterial as well, since matter is not a part of what they are. But the completely immaterial neither has matter as part of what it is nor depends on matter for its existence.
The claim that the human soul is completely immaterial can be established as follows. In the realm of physical changes, both substantial and accidental, the forms received are individual forms, because what receives them is individual matter. An individual form is a form that is one, countably one, among several of a type. A type, considered as such, e.g., manness, is neither one (countably one) nor more than one. Man can be one or many only if found in something divisible in such a way that its actually being divided yields a countable or numerical plurality; in the physical universe this is clearly three-dimensional extendedness. It is because the matter of the physical universe is three-dimensionally extended that it can be divided into diverse parts, each of which can be counted as one (this is what is meant by "individual matter"), and into each of which, subjected to an appropriate natural process, a form of some type can be introduced.
It is to be noticed that wherever matter is found, it is found as three-dimensionally quantified; moreover, it is circumscribed to being just so much (i.e., actually divided into diverse parts) as is found in what one calls an individual thing. If matter were not quantified and actually divided into diverse parts, the forms of things in the physical universe could not be numerically multiplied (see individuation).
Thus, in the realm of physical changes, whether substantial or accidental, the forms received are individual forms, because the recipient is individual matter. The same thing is to be noticed in the realm of sensitive activity. The sensible form received into the sense is received into a bodily organ, such as the eye, an organ that is three-dimensionally quantified and circumscribed to being just so much; this is why the form received is an individual form. Thus, one can see that, universally speaking, if the recipient of a form is individual matter, the form received is an individual form. So that, if man can discover in an examination of the contents of his knowing experiences a form that is not an individual form, it will follow that there is in him a power that is not the power of some bodily organ.
It is not difficult to discover such a form, for the human soul performs the activity of understanding. To understand is to receive the forms (essences) of things absolutely, i.e., as separated from, as abstracted from, individuality. For example, to understand "man" is to have grasped this: something composed of flesh and bones and soul—understood absolutely or with no qualifications. Existing men are individual men; each man is something composed of this flesh and these bones and this soul. It is the presence in the existing individual of quantified matter circumscribed to being just so much that accounts for its being an individual. But one's understanding, i.e., his intellectual knowledge, of that to which he attaches the word "man" is simply this: something composed of flesh and bones and soul; and the qualifiers "this" and "these" are not included.
Even though each human soul is an individual soul, it cannot have matter as part of what it is. For it is clear that whatever is received into something must be received according to the mode (capacity) of the recipient. Since the human soul, in knowing what things are, receives the forms (essences) of things absolutely, i.e., since its mode of reception in intellectual knowledge is absolute, the human soul likewise must be an absolute form.
If the human soul were composed of matter and form, it would follow that the forms of things received in knowledge would be received into it as individuals, as is the case in sensation and in physical change generally. The same thing would follow if the intellectual soul were held to operate through some bodily organ, e.g., the brain, in the way in which the power of sight operates through the bodily organ that is the eye. The bodily matter of the organ would individualize the form received. Thus, the human soul is totally free of matter; not only does it not have matter as part of what it is, but it neither exists nor operates with a dependence on matter (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 1a, 75.5).
The complete immateriality of the human soul must be properly understood. It is a complete immateriality that is at the same time partial. The human soul is the form (substantial form) of the human body; and as the form of a living body, it is the source of vegetative and sensitive activities, which take place with a dependence on the matter of the human body. Thus, the human soul has activities, hence powers or parts, that are material, in the sense of dependent on matter. In some of its powers or parts, therefore, the human soul is dependent on the body. In its intellectual part, it is independent of the body. This is what is meant by describing the complete immateriality of the human soul as a partial one.
The above has shown that the human soul is a subsistent form or a spirit, i.e., that it operates and exists independently of matter as of a subject. Now, matter is the proper subject for substantial form; there is no subject but matter in which such a form can exist (see matter and form). Thus, if the existence of the human soul is independent of matter as of a subject, it exists in the way proper to a substance; it is subsistent. But it is subsistent only partially, i.e., to the extent that it has an intellectual power or part.
Incomplete in Species. Though the human soul is a subsistent form, it is a subsistent form that is also a substantial form. From this it is clear that the human soul, though complete as an existent, is nonetheless not complete as to species. Only the composite of human body and human soul, the man, is complete as to species.
Essentially Simple, but Dynamically Composed. Although the human soul is essentially simple (i.e., not composed of matter and form), and hence quantitatively simple (i.e., not composed of quantitative parts), it is nonetheless said to be dynamically composed. That is, it has a multiplicity of parts or powers, ordered to a multiplicity of life activities; it has as many powers as it has diverse sorts of activity. These are often called power parts or dynamic parts; and thus the soul is sometimes said to be dynamically composed, i.e., to have dynamic parts (see faculties of the soul).
Although the soul is dynamically composed, there is but one soul in each one man, which is clear from the fact that soul is a substantial form. If a living thing had a plurality of souls, each taken as the source of a diverse sort of activity—e.g., if man had a vegetative soul as source of nourishing, growing, and reproducing, and also a sensitive soul as source of seeing, hearing, etc., and lastly an intellectual soul as source of thought activity—it would follow that a man would be simultaneously more than one thing. For a substantial form is what constitutes a thing a being.
Powers and Habits. Some of the powers of the human soul can be made to operate more easily, more perfectly, and more efficiently by means of habits. Habits are acquired qualities (as opposed to powers, which are innate) that dispose these powers to easier and more efficient operation (see habit). Knowledge is such a quality of the intellect; virtue, of the will and of the sense appetites—e.g., temperance is a virtue of the concupiscible appetite. Not all powers can be perfected by habits, nor are all of them in need of such perfecting, e.g., the powers of nourishing and growing. Nonetheless, some aspects of these powers are so perfectible, e.g., one can acquire the habit of proper and deep breathing. Generally speaking, man's rational powers, and any of man's lower powers, to the extent that they come under the domination of the rational powers, are so perfectible.
Dependent on Body. It is important to understand that, although the human soul is completely immaterial in its intellectual part, it is nonetheless, and qua intellectual, dependent on the body, in particular on the brain and on the organs of the external senses. This dependence is twofold: originative and concomitant.
Man is born with an intellect that is as a blank tablet; it is a power or capacity to know, but it possesses no knowledge. Man's first intellectual knowledge is about things in the sense-perceivable world. His intellect forms its ideas about things in the real world with a dependence on his senses. Man's intellectual knowledge thus originates in his sense experience of the real world; nevertheless the intellect itself, by its own power and not by that of any sense, produces its ideas; for an idea is an absolute form. This is what is meant by the originative dependence of the intellect on the bodily organs of sensation.
But even after the intellect is in possession of some knowledge, it remains dependent on a bodily organ, viz, the brain; for the brain is the bodily organ of the imagi nation, which produces and stores the sensible forms of things originally perceived by the external senses. These stored forms are called images or phantasms. Like the sensible species that are individualized by the bodily matter of the organs of the external senses, the phantasm is individualized by the bodily matter of the brain. By means of phantasms man is in cognitive contact with things not here and now being perceived by external sense. Thus, by means of phantasms, the intellect is provided an object to think about. The intellect carries on its thought activities, therefore, with a dependence on accompanying or concomitant brain-produced phantasms. To be sure, the intellect thinks by its own power, for to think is to entertain an absolute form; but the phantasm provides the object about which it thinks. Ordinarily the concomitant phantasm is visual, or auditory, or olfactory, etc., i.e., a reproduction of the external sensation (s) from which the idea was originally abstracted. For example, a visual phantasm of the body of a man ordinarily accompanies one's thinking about what a man is. Often, however, especially in highly abstract thinking, the concomitant phantasm is a phantasm, usually visual or auditory, of the word, expression, or symbol attached to the concept. For example, a visual or auditory phantasm of the word "essence" often accompanies one's thinking about what it is to be an essence; or, visual phantasms of the symbols for "is equal to" (=), "is greater than" (>), "is less than" (<), etc., often accompany one's mathematical thinking. This is what is meant by the concomitant dependence of the intellect on the body.
Other views. Although materialistic views of the nature of man—views denying the existence of the human soul—have the obvious advantage of simplicity and of not having to consider the problem of the soul-body relationship, they nonetheless do not take into account, among other things, the fact that knowledge of absolute forms is an indisputable element of man's knowing experience. The very formulation of such a denial is itself an instance of knowledge of absolute forms.
Platonic views of man's nature—views that identify man with his soul and claim that soul's relationship to body is accidental and simply that of a tenant to his room or that of a prisoner to his cell—also have the advantage of simplicity. However, they have no adequate way of accounting for things such as: (1) the effects that conditions or states of the body have on the soul's thinking and willing, e.g., the effects of brain damage in impairing thought activity or causing its total cessation, or the role of bodily conditions and states in the phenomena of split personality, hysteria, and amnesia; (2) the introspectively experienced unity of a man as the single source of the activities attributed to his body as well as of those attributed to his soul. Idealistic views of man's nature—views that deny the existence of matter and maintain that all bodies exist only as thoughts in some mind—are subject to the same inadequacies.
Other views of man's nature, such as interactionism, epiphenomenalism, the dual-aspect theory, parallelism, occasionalism, and preestablished harmony, are attempts to come to grips, but without success, with the great problems emerging from treating the human body and the human soul as two different things (see soul-body relationship). In the Aristotelian-Thomist account, the soul is not one thing and the body another. Neither is a thing at all. The man is the thing, the one thing, with a soul related to the body as the body's first actuality.
See Also: form; man, 2; spirit.
Bibliography: c. mazzantini, Enciclopedia filosofica 1:222–239. r. eisler, Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe 3:1–30 (4th ed. Berlin 1927–30). f. hartmann, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 4:287–291 (3rd ed. Tübingen 1957–63). j. e. royce, Man and His Nature (New York 1961). r.j. connele, "The 'Intus Apparens' and the Immateriality of the Intellect," The New Scholasticism 32 (1958) 151–186.
There is no unanimous Christian teaching on every point concerning the human soul. We seem to live in an era in a very long evolution of the anthropological dogma, i.e., of the believing understanding of the mystery of man in his body and soul. As a result of controversy and the development of Biblical anthropology, there is a growing tendency to consider man in his unity and personality and to interpret him from the historicosalvational and Christological point of view (Christ the ideal of man; see H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer 301, 554, 900, etc.). This is being done in a manner as free as possible of any preconceived philosophical mentality (e.g., Orphic or Platonic understanding of the human soul), the projection of which upon the revealed data could oversimplify, impair, or destroy rather than save and elucidate to the faithful the mystery of man in the totality of his being. Besides, today in theology the accent lies correctly on the eternal life of the whole man after resurrection in Christ, rather than on the salvation of the immortal soul, because it is the whole man in his totality who is saved by the merciful God [note the definition of the Assumption of Mary "to the glory of heaven both in body and soul" (ibid. 3903)]. As a result, the distinction between the superior and inferior, more and less noble, or precious, part, in man (ibid.815) is vanishing, because theologians realize that man is an image, partner, child, mystery, etc. of God in the totality of his being rather than in his soul only.
Soul and Body. This article considers the soul first according to the teaching of the solemn magisterium and then according to that of the ordinary magisterium.
Solemn Magisterium. Interpreting officially the witness of the Scriptures and tradition concerning the human soul, the teaching authority of the Church solemnly affirms that the Triune God is the creator of the human creature "constituted, as it were, alike of the spirit and the body" (Lateran Council IV in 1215: ibid. 800; cf. Vatican Council I: ibid. 3002); "that man has one rational and intellectual soul" (Council of Constantinople IV in 870: ibid. 657; there the doctrine of the two souls in man was condemned as heretical); "that the rational or intellective soul is the form of the human body in itself and essentially" (Council of Vienne in 1312 against Peter John Olivi: ibid. 902, cf. 900, 1440); and that the human soul is "immortal and multiple according to the multitude of bodies into which it is infused, multiplied, and to be multiplied …" (Lateran Council V in 1513 against some humanistic Aristotelians who renewed the Averroistic monopsychism: ibid. 1440). These decisions of the ecumenical councils tried to save the true unity of man and simultaneously to point out his metaphysical constitution and not the historico-salvational, biological, or (experimental) psychological dimensions in which man must be considered primarily as a psychosomatic whole. Besides, the councils did not recognize officially the Thomistic doctrine of the unicity of the substantial form or Aristotelian hylomorphism, but, in the language most convenient at that time, only tried to defend the mystery of man in the plurality of his dimensions and the unity of his being. The definition of the soul's personal immortality (ibid. 1440) leaves open the question whether it is naturally immortal because of its spiritual quality, or supernaturally because of a special gift of God (however it is stated that Christ makes men participators in His immortality: ibid. 413).
Ordinary Magisterium. Man is so substantially one, according to the ordinary teaching authority of the Church, that his unity (which is not accidental) has ontological priority before the real and irreducible plurality of his being. He is one in origin (see creationism; tra ducianism), being, and final destiny (Enchiridion symbolorum 502, 2828, 3005, 3221–22, 3224). Therefore each consideration of a part or one aspect of man implies repercussions concerning all parts and aspects. Any division of man is always inadequate, because as a microcosm (ibid. 3771) he must be considered as a whole. However, since there is an essential difference between matter and spirit (ibid. 3891; cf. 3022–24), there is a real plurality of realities in man which are irreducible to each other. Thus the spiritual soul is not an emanation or a part of man's matter or body (ibid. 3022, 3220–21, 3896), and it is equally true that the matter cannot be deduced from or reduced to the finite human spiritual soul. Both need a special creative act of God in order to exist, because they are ontologically different (ibid. 360, 3896). Thus man possesses the vital (ibid. 2833) and constitutive principle of his being, i.e., one spiritual, simple, and substantial soul (ibid. 791, 801, 900, 1440), which despite the substantial unity of being in man, is in its being and meaning essentially different and independent of matter (ibid. 1007, 3002, 3022, 3220–24, 3896), and immortal (ibid. 1440). Since the soul is spiritual in itself, man is not composed of three different realities, i.e., body, soul, and spirit, but is a substantial unity in body and spiritual soul only (as opposed to all sorts of trichotomy: ibid. 301, 502, 657, 900, 902, 1440–41, 2828). The approval by the ordinary magisterium of the Thomistic theses concerning the human soul (ibid. 3613–22) must be understood as a favorable reception of them as one of the best illustrations of the mystery of man.
See Also: man, articles on; resurrection of the dead, 2; soul, human; immortality; soul, human, origin of; soul-body relationship.
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