Author Topic: What is the soul  (Read 348 times)

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Offline yas

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What is the soul
« on: February 27, 2015, 05:15:01 PM »
My husband and I tend to get into theological debates and such but a little while ago, he told me that he believes in a collective soul. He asked me "Where is your soul?" And his thought is that if we cannot locate the soul that there must be a collective soul. The debate started because of abortion. I believe that every person, at the moment of conception--has a soul. He, on the other hand, must think that a person either develops a soul later or that we all, in a way, share a soul ("collective").

No matter what I say, I can never seem to make him budge from this "collective soul" theory he is on. Haha. I am wondering, what do the Orthodox think about the nature of the soul? Do we each have our own soul? Does it reside in us? Or are we a soul. (There's that quote: "You don't have a soul, you are a soul.")

I would love to hear what people think about this. And I suppose I never really gave it much thought and I wonder if the Orthodox think of the soul in a way that differs from me?

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 07:03:59 PM »
Where is he locating the collective soul?
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Offline homedad76

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2015, 07:30:39 PM »
The only collective soul I know about was a 90's American rock band.  Beyond that the Orthodox church believes that each individual has a soul which is created by God.  Here is a good summary I found http://www.assumptionaz.org/studies_in_orthodoxy/studies_orthodoxy/on_the_soul

In the end if somebody wants to believe something crazy like a collective soul you are not likely to convince them otherwise.  Especially when their logic shows a complete lack of understanding of the immaterial.
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Offline homedad76

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2015, 07:32:05 PM »
Where is he locating the collective soul?

March 7 they will be in Battle Creek, MI  ;D
"However hard I try, I find it impossible to construct anything greater than these three words, 'Love one another' —only to the end, and without exceptions: then all is justified and life is illumined, whereas otherwise it is an abomination and a burden."

—Mother Maria of Paris

Offline Gamliel

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2015, 07:32:41 PM »
Could your husband be thinking of something kind of like the logos of the universe?

Offline Alxandra

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2015, 07:43:04 PM »
A person will always have a soul, it is death that separates the soul from the body. Our souls are immortal because of God's love, but we as humans can choose eternal life with the Creator. The soul does not only dwell in the body, but is expressed by the body.

Overall we have a body, soul, and spirit (nous) which is the highest aspect of the soul.
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Offline wgw

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2015, 09:21:21 PM »
Alexandra is correct.  And the Orthodox do not believe in a collective soul, world soul or collective unconscious in the manner of Jung because we're not Pantheists or Gnostics.  We believe in the idea of the prosopon, or person, each with his own noetic faculty, uniquely created by God.  We are through the Eucharist united with God and each other but our souls are not dissolved into a collective where individuality is forfeit.
I am Oriental Orthodox but love the Eastern Orthodox, and the Byzantine liturgy.  I also love the Western liturgy.  I hope for the reconciliation of our churches.

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Offline LenInSebastopol

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2015, 10:34:51 AM »
Where is he locating the collective soul?

March 7 they will be in Battle Creek, MI  ;D

No, it's in April and for Missionaries!
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2015, 01:03:31 PM »
And his thought is that if we cannot locate the soul that there must be a collective soul.

That does pose a problem for the idea that the soul is an immaterial substance. But that's Descartes, not Christianity.

Even the angels are not immaterial in Descartes' sense of the word. Angels are located, and his immaterial things cannot be.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 01:12:46 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 01:10:20 PM »
Do we each have our own soul? Does it reside in us? Or are we a soul. (There's that quote: "You don't have a soul, you are a soul.")
Our souls are ours and we are characterized by them. However, St. Paul says:

“The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the soulish; then the spiritual."
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 01:10:44 PM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Orthonorm
if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

Πλούσιοι επτώχευσαν και επείνασαν
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Ουκ ελαττωθήσονται παντός αγαθού

Offline pasadi97

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2015, 07:24:59 AM »
Watch some videos from youtube with "near death experience". There it is clear everyone has a soul. 
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2015, 08:14:48 AM »
My husband and I tend to get into theological debates and such but a little while ago, he told me that he believes in a collective soul. He asked me "Where is your soul?" And his thought is that if we cannot locate the soul that there must be a collective soul. The debate started because of abortion. I believe that every person, at the moment of conception--has a soul. He, on the other hand, must think that a person either develops a soul later or that we all, in a way, share a soul ("collective").

No matter what I say, I can never seem to make him budge from this "collective soul" theory he is on. Haha. I am wondering, what do the Orthodox think about the nature of the soul? Do we each have our own soul? Does it reside in us? Or are we a soul. (There's that quote: "You don't have a soul, you are a soul.")

I would love to hear what people think about this. And I suppose I never really gave it much thought and I wonder if the Orthodox think of the soul in a way that differs from me?

Our soul is essentially that faculty that gives rise to our qualia, our volition, and our experience of God. It's not independent of our bodies, so in that sense it is located in the brain and produced by it, but there is also an aspect of it that goes beyond our bodies to connect with the noetic realm in which we have contact with God.

So, we all have our own soul in the same way that we all have our own body (I say "body" and not "brain" because an anaencephalic infant or a fetus is still a souled human. It just works in a way we don't understand as well). In Orthodoxy, to be absent the body is to be incomplete- hence the resurrection.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 08:17:40 AM by Volnutt »
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Offline yas

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2015, 01:16:14 PM »
Thank you all for your replies!

I am seriously confused by his "logic". Every time he explains it I just don't understand. His argument is that we can't identify where exactly our soul is...and therefore, in his mind...we are all the same soul? I have no idea! But when he told me this I got defensive and kind of disgusted about the concept for some reason--so I decided not to push the matter for the time being until I can figure out how to address the concept.

I suppose he thinks we are all connected (which makes sense but doesn't mean that we have the same soul. We all have the same creator). And his issue was when does a person "get" a soul. I argued that we are a soul. That it is a part of us. So that is when he asked where it is. And he thinks that when a person is conceived in the womb, there is a point where they obtain a soul...which makes no sense. I hope I am making sense because this subject is confusing enough for me to explain. Haha.

So I am on the right track. We all have our own souls. We also have bodies and a spirit. I still have no clue what he means. He reads a lot of philosophy and sits and thinks all the time so maybe he thought himself into this idea.


Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2015, 07:33:26 PM »
The seat of most of our decisions is not the rational capacity but the heart. Yes, we humans reason, yet a chain of logic has to start somewhere and end somewhere, in the end it is a tool of the heart. I am sure your husband, as all of us, has deep perhaps even unconscious inclinations that make this -- conclusion of his important to him. Best to live in peace, as St. Paul tells those in marriages between differently-believing spouses, sanctifying the home with your quiet personal testimony.
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline Luca

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2015, 10:36:01 PM »
I've been wondering about this subject as well. Although, not an Orthodox source, I've found some of the explanations on this site informative and mind-boggling:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12340-preexistence-of-the-soul


The concept of the soul as a separate component of one's person is a Greek and/or Persian concept which eventually penetrated Jewish thought.

I find the original Judaic concept of the the soul as being the breath of life much more holistic with the teaching that God did not intend for death to occur when he created man, and that the split between the body and soul is a tragic consequence of sin. Therefore, I would say the soul is more of a sleeve torn off the shirt, rather than the blueprint of the shirt. That is why, after the Last Judgement, the soul and the body will be reunited, and mankind will be recreated (?). It seems more reasonable to believe that the soul is not the complete person on it's own, nor is it a reflection of the person as they were in their mortal life given that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, not to the nebulous state the soul may find itself immediately after death.

Greek philosophical thought as well as modern expressions of the nature of the soul describe the soul as the real person (or the essence of the person), and the rest of the body is a husk. I personally hate this idea because it comes really close to crossing into the realm of modern psycho babble and maybe even being disproven by science (like someone gets clunked on the head and their entire personality changes). However, it seems like it is adopted later on in the Bible, so perhaps the Greeks and Persians had the correct view after all. IDK.

I realize my thinking may not yet be in line with Orthodoxy (and frankly my conversion has already taken more than a year, despite having regular meetings with my priest). However, I really like the old Judaic concept of the soul being a life force bestowed by God. It is not one's rationality, or thought, or personality. Those are physical traits determined by biochemical processes in the brain. The soul is much more.

Also, why do we think life begins at conception?

"The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4)

P.S. Also please tell your husband his Collective Soul idea is like a Runaway Train, Never Going Back, Wrong Way on a One Way Track.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2015, 10:56:02 PM »
I've been wondering about this subject as well. Although, not an Orthodox source, I've found some of the explanations on this site informative and mind-boggling:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12340-preexistence-of-the-soul


The concept of the soul as a separate component of one's person is a Greek and/or Persian concept which eventually penetrated Jewish thought.

I find the original Judaic concept of the the soul as being the breath of life much more holistic with the teaching that God did not intend for death to occur when he created man, and that the split between the body and soul is a tragic consequence of sin. Therefore, I would say the soul is more of a sleeve torn off the shirt, rather than the blueprint of the shirt. That is why, after the Last Judgement, the soul and the body will be reunited, and mankind will be recreated (?). It seems more reasonable to believe that the soul is not the complete person on it's own, nor is it a reflection of the person as they were in their mortal life given that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, not to the nebulous state the soul may find itself immediately after death.

Greek philosophical thought as well as modern expressions of the nature of the soul describe the soul as the real person (or the essence of the person), and the rest of the body is a husk. I personally hate this idea because it comes really close to crossing into the realm of modern psycho babble and maybe even being disproven by science (like someone gets clunked on the head and their entire personality changes). However, it seems like it is adopted later on in the Bible, so perhaps the Greeks and Persians had the correct view after all. IDK.

I realize my thinking may not yet be in line with Orthodoxy (and frankly my conversion has already taken more than a year, despite having regular meetings with my priest). However, I really like the old Judaic concept of the soul being a life force bestowed by God. It is not one's rationality, or thought, or personality. Those are physical traits determined by biochemical processes in the brain. The soul is much more.

Also, why do we think life begins at conception?

"The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4)

P.S. Also please tell your husband his Collective Soul idea is like a Runaway Train, Never Going Back, Wrong Way on a One Way Track.

The Greek for soul just meant an individual life. The Greek for spirit meant breath, and perhaps that is what you are thinking of,  but then the Hebrew word means just the same and you approve what you say was their concept. At any rate, I do not think it is accurate to attribute to Platonism what your post and some academics today do, this idea that the body is a disposable husk. Obviously Plato's teaching on immortality had to grapple with the evident fact of corrupting flesh. In addition, his teaching that the parts of man must be held in balance by the reason may seem to some to elevate and abstract the reason to a being of its own. But overall Greek thought on the nature of man was quite holistic, and it largely persisted into the Church.

The important thing is that we are a living soul and had our start in God who desires a relationship with us and to save us. The important thing is that Christ the Teacher, his Spirit, and his Church are eager and able to lead us into the truth about ourselves and eternity and God.
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline Luca

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Re: What is the soul
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2015, 09:57:15 AM »
Thanks, Porter, for the thoughtful response to my befuddled post. For most of my life, I've known only about a soul; then Orthodoxy came along and now I'm confronted with a thing called a "nous" AND a spirit. How strange. I guess my condemnation was mostly directed at my own pre-Orthodox thinking that a soul was like a translucent doppleganger of the person to whom it belonged.

I also just realized I quoted Soul Asylum instead of Collective Soul. However, in my defense, Soul Asylum sounds much more Orthodox than Collective Soul. So - All Apologies.