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Author Topic: Do Plants Have Souls?  (Read 2420 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: February 06, 2011, 07:50:21 PM »

I mentioned in the other thread a quote of St. Maximos the Confessor about plants having souls...

"The soul has three powers: first, the power of nourishment and growth; second, that of imagination and instinct; third, that of intelligence and intellect. Plants share only in the first of these powers, animals share in the first and second only, and men share in all three." - St Maximos the Confessor (quoted in: Joanne Stefanatos, Animals and Man: A State of Blessedness, [Light and Life Publishing Company, 1992], p. 51; originally in: The Philokalia, Vol. 2, p. 88)

The only other person I remember mentioning this concept was Met. Kallistos:

"Secondly there is the soul, the life-force that vivifies and animates the body, causing it to be not just a lump of matter, but something that grows and moves, that feels and perceives. Animals also possess a soul, and so perhaps do plants. But in man's case the soul is endowed with consciousness; it is a rational soul, possessing the capacity for abstract thought, and the ability to advance a discursive argument from premises to a conclusion. These powers are present in animals, if at all, only to a very limited degree." - Met. Kallistos (Father Kallistos Ware), The Orthodox Way, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1986), p. 60

Any thoughts on this? Anyone know of other patristic quotes, or a longer discussion of the topic?
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2011, 07:57:28 PM »

Yes. Soul = life.

In English we get all mixed up with the words life, spirit, soul, etc.

No soul = death.

All life is ensouled.
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2011, 07:59:32 PM »

I tend to dissagree and think animals and plants have no soul. Mainly because I see the Soul as an image of God and man is in the image of God rational and thinking. If animals have souls and therefore exist in the next life I assume, what is the point? The animal cannot glorify God, it can be an example of God's creation I suppose and glorify God in that manner, but not like man can.

Perhaps this is an unorthodox view, in which case I am open to correction.
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2011, 08:04:04 PM »

I tend to dissagree and think animals and plants have no soul. Mainly because I see the Soul as an image of God and man is in the image of God rational and thinking. If animals have souls and therefore exist in the next life I assume, what is the point? The animal cannot glorify God, it can be an example of God's creation I suppose and glorify God in that manner, but not like man can.

Perhaps this is an unorthodox view, in which case I am open to correction.

It's OK Orthodoxy often suffers from a Platonism.

The souls of plants and animals are simply different.

Look up the etymology of "animal" in Latin.

And to think that creation does not glorify God, I think is also mistaken. Unlike us, they never had a choice.

I have to say that every time this subject has come up in every thing I have read and listened to about Orthodoxy, the answer has univocally yes, all life is ensouled.

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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2011, 08:23:12 PM »

I have to say that every time this subject has come up in every thing I have read and listened to about Orthodoxy, the answer has univocally yes, all life is ensouled.

Do you have any thoughts about Met. Kallistos being careful with his words, saying that plants only "perhaps" have a soul? Is it perhaps that it's too foreign a concept for some, and he didn't want to let the idea out there hanging?
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 08:28:19 PM »

That's quite a remarkable quote by St. Maximus.  It seems to point to a certain evolution of the soul in three major stages.
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2011, 10:23:36 PM »

I tend to dissagree and think animals and plants have no soul. Mainly because I see the Soul as an image of God and man is in the image of God rational and thinking. If animals have souls and therefore exist in the next life I assume, what is the point? The animal cannot glorify God, it can be an example of God's creation I suppose and glorify God in that manner, but not like man can.

Perhaps this is an unorthodox view, in which case I am open to correction.

Man's body is created also in the image and likeness of God, so no need to deprive anminals and plants of souls.  They do not, however, have spirits. Or rather are not spirits, as man is.
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 10:30:02 AM »

The dichotomy/trichotomy is always interesting, from a patristic sort of view.

Some Fathers take the dichtomist view, man is composed of body/soul, and is ensouled with the highest levels of a soul. This seems to be what St. Maximus is saying above.

Some take the trichomist view, man is composed of body/soul/spirit. I'm actually having trouble thinking of a Church Father that advocates this (it's early here!) but it is also a popular division.

The ditchotomist would say plants and animals have souls, just in a lower form than man. Trichotomists would say that plants and animals have bodies and souls, but lack the spirit. This may lead us to say that it is the spirit (or the highest part of the soul, for dichotomists) which makes us human and therefore in the image of God. This is not an Orthodox understanding. Humanity is an intregrated whole. This is why there must be a bodily resurrection of the dead, as death is an unnatural state. souls/spirits of embodied beings are not meant to be separated therefrom.

To a wholly human, wholly alive, is to have a physical body, for God counseled within Himself to "make man in our image" prior to the creation of the body, and did not state after its creation that it should also be endowed with His image through the reception of a spirit. A whole being is all of these parts (two or three, depending on your perspective) and all of it mysteriously carries the image of the Divine. And, if we truly believe God to be uncircumscribable, ineffable, etc. then we must say humanity is as well, if it is made in the image of that uncircumscribable, ineffable God.

Vladimir Lossky masterfully tackles this in Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. I believe he also speaks about it in The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. I don't have access to my copies now to quote from them, and surely have done a poor job of representing it above. I encourage everyone to read at least one of these books.
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2011, 11:09:29 AM »

From my understanding of this, Orthodoxy teaches that man is body and soul. The spirit is not a separate piece of man. The spirit of man is the higher aspect of the soul with which we commune with God. Through the fall, our spirit was subjected and in some way ruled by the "lower" or "animal" aspect of the soul. It is our job to purify ourselves and submit our soul to our spirits. So I would agree that animals and plants have a soul. Just not the higher/noetic aspect of the soul that we have.
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2011, 01:48:50 PM »

Wow. Thanks for sharing that quote from St. Maximos. He seems to be providing that the pattern that Aquinas followed. Thank you for sharing. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2011, 02:38:42 PM »

From my understanding of this, Orthodoxy teaches that man is body and soul. The spirit is not a separate piece of man. The spirit of man is the higher aspect of the soul with which we commune with God. Through the fall, our spirit was subjected and in some way ruled by the "lower" or "animal" aspect of the soul. It is our job to purify ourselves and submit our soul to our spirits. So I would agree that animals and plants have a soul. Just not the higher/noetic aspect of the soul that we have.

No soul, no life. The separation of the soul from the body, if you want to speak in these terms, means you're dead.
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2011, 04:57:08 PM »

I have to say that every time this subject has come up in every thing I have read and listened to about Orthodoxy, the answer has univocally yes, all life is ensouled.

Do you have any thoughts about Met. Kallistos being careful with his words, saying that plants only "perhaps" have a soul? Is it perhaps that it's too foreign a concept for some, and he didn't want to let the idea out there hanging?

I knew that this didn't seem correct, as I have read and listened to much of what Met. Kallistos Ware has written or said which is made available to the public, so did a quick search in my materials:

Quote
The Soul – The soul is created by God simultaneously with the body. It is a “creature” and is therefore
not immortal by nature but by divine grace. The soul is “the life-force that vivifies and animates the body,
causing it to be not just a lump of matter, but something that grows and moves that feels and perceives.”
The soul moves and activates each member of the body according to St. Gregory of Sinai. As God
governs the world, so the soul governs the body. The soul is not enclosed by the body, but rather occupies
and fills the entire body. The body is the “vehicle” of the soul. The soul can simply mean “life” as it
exists in every creature (including animals and plants)
: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd
gives his life (psyche) for the sheep.” (JN. 10:11) The soul can also refer to the spiritual aspect of our
existence: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able
to destroy both soul and body in hell” (MATT. 10:28) “A man is a soul, he is a human being, he is
someone …” (C. Yannaras). A soul is truly alive – “a living being” (GEN. 2:7) – when it is filled with the
Holy Spirit. The human person is a psychosomatic unity of body and soul. A person is whole only when
the soul and body are united.

From Glossary of Terms for Orthodox Christian Anthropology and the Spiritual Life

http://www.christthesavioroca.org/files/Orthodox-Anthropology.pdf
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 04:59:41 PM »

The above is poorly attributed and put together for general edification for a parish by a lay person. If I come across more definitely statements as I go along, I will add them to this thread.
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2011, 05:47:26 PM »

The dichotomy/trichotomy is always interesting, from a patristic sort of view.

Some Fathers take the dichtomist view, man is composed of body/soul, and is ensouled with the highest levels of a soul. This seems to be what St. Maximus is saying above.

Some take the trichomist view, man is composed of body/soul/spirit. I'm actually having trouble thinking of a Church Father that advocates this (it's early here!) but it is also a popular division.

The ditchotomist would say plants and animals have souls, just in a lower form than man. Trichotomists would say that plants and animals have bodies and souls, but lack the spirit. This may lead us to say that it is the spirit (or the highest part of the soul, for dichotomists) which makes us human and therefore in the image of God. This is not an Orthodox understanding. Humanity is an intregrated whole. This is why there must be a bodily resurrection of the dead, as death is an unnatural state. souls/spirits of embodied beings are not meant to be separated therefrom.

To a wholly human, wholly alive, is to have a physical body, for God counseled within Himself to "make man in our image" prior to the creation of the body, and did not state after its creation that it should also be endowed with His image through the reception of a spirit. A whole being is all of these parts (two or three, depending on your perspective) and all of it mysteriously carries the image of the Divine. And, if we truly believe God to be uncircumscribable, ineffable, etc. then we must say humanity is as well, if it is made in the image of that uncircumscribable, ineffable God.

Vladimir Lossky masterfully tackles this in Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. I believe he also speaks about it in The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. I don't have access to my copies now to quote from them, and surely have done a poor job of representing it above. I encourage everyone to read at least one of these books.

I never saw the "trichomist" and "dichomist" views against each other, but rather saying the same thing with different emphases.  The "dichomist" view is a "trichomist" view "summarized."  For instance, when one says man is body and rational soul, that's assuming that the body is made up of flesh and soul on its own, not necessarily an evolved form of animal soul into a rational soul.  In other words, we have both animal and rational souls.

When someone uses the dichotomy view of humanity, one says man is made up of animal nature and angelic nature.  Well, what does that mean?  Well, we say angels are purely rational souls.  We say animals are flesh and souls.  Therefore, really there's also a trichotomy there.

To say that the rational soul is simply a higher form of animal soul is something I personally never heard of before.  If that's the case, what are angels?  Are there lower form of souls and higher form of souls in the angelic realm as well?
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 05:53:18 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I tend to dissagree and think animals and plants have no soul. Mainly because I see the Soul as an image of God and man is in the image of God rational and thinking. If animals have souls and therefore exist in the next life I assume, what is the point? The animal cannot glorify God, it can be an example of God's creation I suppose and glorify God in that manner, but not like man can.



This is a perfect moment to reflect on the sincere piety of Saint Francis of Assisi, who did not discriminate in his Godly love for all of God's creation, human or otherwise, as ALL are of the Will of God. The Saint was absolutely sincere in this sermon to the birds despite how bewildered it made his companions along the road that day..

Quote
       My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple rainment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God


 God does not create anything which is meaningless or has now point, and further all of God's Creation glorifies God not just  in that it is a testimony of His creative acts, but that is is alive, and God alone is the Source of life.  We should not be so naive as to assume that our own prayers are somehow more heard or valid than those of other living things.  Further, we have a lot to turn about faith and patience from plants, who live in the firmness of faith out of necessity, having no other choice but to stay and hope for the good sunshine, the good rains, and the good Grace of God they being rooted in one place.  

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2011, 06:20:46 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I tend to dissagree and think animals and plants have no soul. Mainly because I see the Soul as an image of God and man is in the image of God rational and thinking. If animals have souls and therefore exist in the next life I assume, what is the point? The animal cannot glorify God, it can be an example of God's creation I suppose and glorify God in that manner, but not like man can.



This is a perfect moment to reflect on the sincere piety of Saint Francis of Assisi, who did not discriminate in his Godly love for all of God's creation, human or otherwise, as ALL are of the Will of God. The Saint was absolutely sincere in this sermon to the birds despite how bewildered it made his companions along the road that day..

Quote
       My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple rainment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God


 God does not create anything which is meaningless or has now point, and further all of God's Creation glorifies God not just  in that it is a testimony of His creative acts, but that is is alive, and God alone is the Source of life.  We should not be so naive as to assume that our own prayers are somehow more heard or valid than those of other living things.  Further, we have a lot to turn about faith and patience from plants, who live in the firmness of faith out of necessity, having no other choice but to stay and hope for the good sunshine, the good rains, and the good Grace of God they being rooted in one place.  

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Beautiful stuff. Fr. Thomas Hopko quaintly makes remakes are various birds feeding outside his office during his podcasts and how they glorify God.
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2011, 10:28:28 AM »

The dichotomy/trichotomy is always interesting, from a patristic sort of view.

Some Fathers take the dichtomist view, man is composed of body/soul, and is ensouled with the highest levels of a soul. This seems to be what St. Maximus is saying above.

Some take the trichomist view, man is composed of body/soul/spirit. I'm actually having trouble thinking of a Church Father that advocates this (it's early here!) but it is also a popular division.

The ditchotomist would say plants and animals have souls, just in a lower form than man. Trichotomists would say that plants and animals have bodies and souls, but lack the spirit. This may lead us to say that it is the spirit (or the highest part of the soul, for dichotomists) which makes us human and therefore in the image of God. This is not an Orthodox understanding. Humanity is an intregrated whole. This is why there must be a bodily resurrection of the dead, as death is an unnatural state. souls/spirits of embodied beings are not meant to be separated therefrom.

To a wholly human, wholly alive, is to have a physical body, for God counseled within Himself to "make man in our image" prior to the creation of the body, and did not state after its creation that it should also be endowed with His image through the reception of a spirit. A whole being is all of these parts (two or three, depending on your perspective) and all of it mysteriously carries the image of the Divine. And, if we truly believe God to be uncircumscribable, ineffable, etc. then we must say humanity is as well, if it is made in the image of that uncircumscribable, ineffable God.

Vladimir Lossky masterfully tackles this in Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. I believe he also speaks about it in The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. I don't have access to my copies now to quote from them, and surely have done a poor job of representing it above. I encourage everyone to read at least one of these books.

I never saw the "trichomist" and "dichomist" views against each other, but rather saying the same thing with different emphases.  The "dichomist" view is a "trichomist" view "summarized."  For instance, when one says man is body and rational soul, that's assuming that the body is made up of flesh and soul on its own, not necessarily an evolved form of animal soul into a rational soul.  In other words, we have both animal and rational souls.

When someone uses the dichotomy view of humanity, one says man is made up of animal nature and angelic nature.  Well, what does that mean?  Well, we say angels are purely rational souls.  We say animals are flesh and souls.  Therefore, really there's also a trichotomy there.

To say that the rational soul is simply a higher form of animal soul is something I personally never heard of before.  If that's the case, what are angels?  Are there lower form of souls and higher form of souls in the angelic realm as well?

That's an interesting way to look at it, Mina. I don't really have an answer for you. Tongue Great insight!
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2011, 07:18:09 PM »

@HabteSelassie

Don't get me wrong, I think we are to respect animals, we are not to be needlessly cruel to them at all, nor diminish their place in the world, after all God put them on earth to primarily serve us. I just have a hard time accepting that there are different sorts of souls/spirits within the animals and humans.

@ialmisry

What is the distinction between soul and spirit if I might ask?

@orthonorm

Well I did submit that animals can glorify God in that God created them and in that way by just being they glorify God's power to create.
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2011, 07:21:27 PM »

@HabteSelassie

Don't get me wrong, I think we are to respect animals, we are not to be needlessly cruel to them at all, nor diminish their place in the world, after all God put them on earth to primarily serve us. I just have a hard time accepting that there are different sorts of souls/spirits within the animals and humans.

@ialmisry

What is the distinction between soul and spirit if I might ask?

@orthonorm

Well I did submit that animals can glorify God in that God created them and in that way by just being they glorify God's power to create.
Can I add a question? In Eastern Orthodoxy, is a Spirit a particular kind of soul? A rational soul?
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2011, 07:31:36 PM »

Can I add a question? In Eastern Orthodoxy, is a Spirit a particular kind of soul? A rational soul?

Fwiw, to again quote Met. Kallistos...

Quote
Thirdly, there is the spirit, the 'breath' from God (see Gen. 2:7), which the animals lack. It is important to distinguish 'Spirit,' with an initial capital, from 'spirit' with a small s. The created spirit of man is not to be identified with the uncreated or Holy Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity; yet the two are intimately connected, for it is through his spirit that man apprehends God and enters into communion with him. With the soul (psyche) man engages in scientific of philosophical inquiry, analysing the data of his sense-experience by means of the discursive reason. With his spirit (pneuma), which is sometimes termed nous or spiritual intellect, he understands eternal truth about God or about the logoi or inner essences of created things, not through deductive reasoning, but by direct apprehension of spiritual perception--by a kind of intuition that St. Isaac the Syrian calls 'simple cognition'. The spirit or spiritual intellect is thus distinct from man's reasoning powers and his aesthetic emotions, and superior to them both.

Because man has a rational soul and a spiritual intellect, he possesses the power of self-detemrination and of moral freedom, that is to say, the sense of good and evil, and the ability to choose between them. Where the animals act by instinct, man is capable of making a free and conscious decision. Sometimes the Fathers adopt not a tripartite but a twofold scheme, describing man simply as a unity of body and soul; in that case they treat the spirit or intellect as the highest aspect of the soul. But the threefold scheme of body, soul, and spirit is more precise and more illuminating, particularly in our own age when the soul and the spirit are often confused, and when most people are not even aware that they possess a spiritual intellect. - Met. Kallistos (Father Kallistos Ware), The Orthodox Way, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1986), pp. 61-62
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