The history of the soul

crazymonkie
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The history of the soul

Don't worry, this isn't going to be some armchair philosophy session or anything like that.

I'm just posting this to ask if anyone out there knows of any books on the history of the soul in the West. Particularly, I'm interested in the medical/scientific attempts to find the 'seat' of the soul. I'm not sure if there even *are* books on the subject, but I have a hard time imagining that they wouldn't be available. So, any help would be appreciated.

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Thanks! I'm gonna check it

Thanks! I'm gonna check it out now.


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Robert Allan Monroe, the

Robert Allan Monroe, the sound engineer and inventor did a research which turned out to reveal a lot about the soul, afterlife, etc. His intriguing series "Far Journeys" are a highly recommended reading. My mother tried the technology behind his work on herself succesfully. (the purpose was to increase a conscious control over the brainwaves, which worked)

Then, Western esoteric tradition describes the concept of soul very closely, in a quite revolutionary way and compatibly with Monroe. Soul here is described as external, as a "great fiery vortex of energy", having the personality (body, emotions, mind) as it's somewhat detached temporary tool and vehicle for work with the solid-material world.
For that point of view, I recommend the books by Alice Bailey, Initiation Human and Solar should be the safest bet for a beginning. But this is an extensive, more specialized reading.

But what would interest you the most, I already wrote somewhere about the experiments of doctors at the medical university of Munchen, who weighed about 200 patients in the moment of death. There was always measured an exact weight loss, if I remember, 1/3000 of ounce, or something like that. I'd have to search for it again, and I won't have a time for that any soon. You could do it, find my first post about it here (with uncle Google's help) and find a name of a German doctor behind this and exact numbers and dates.
 

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BobSpence
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 Seriously, Luminon,

 Seriously, Luminon, nothing you listed there remotely constitutes evidence for an separate 'soul'.

The first one, about conscious influence on brainwaves is entirely consistent with science and is totally unremarkable.

The original experiment on this (EDIT: weighing the soul) in 1907 was limited in accuracy and got inconsistent results, estimating the now mythical 21 grams.

Couldn't find any reference to the other one you mentioned.

Nothing so far that is intrinsically mysterious or points to a 'soul'.

Sorry, if that's the best you can muster, it is safe to assume that there is no real evidence.

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BobSpence1 wrote:Nothing so

BobSpence1 wrote:

Nothing so far that is intrinsically mysterious or points to a 'soul'.

I'll make reference once again to our friend Shelly Kagan, who has his lecture series on academicearth.org (with the ominous title "Death&quotEye-wink. In it, he dismantles the concept of the soul philosophically.

Of course, philosophically is the only way one could ever take the idea of the soul seriously. Otherwise, it's pop-culture nonsense that has stuck around for thousands of years.

In fairness to Plato, it's not entirely his fault. In unfairness to Plato, it's pretty much his fault we still talk about it like it's a topic for grown-ups.

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Luminon,  Bob's got more of

Luminon,

 

Bob's got more of a handle on what I'm looking for here. If I were to hear about the 'studies' you listed, they would be in the 'been debunked' category, in all probability.

 

Will- thanks for the link and the heads up. I'll be checking out the lecture series in a moment.

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This page on snopes looks

This page on snopes looks good on the 'weighing the soul' thing.

Look up 'out of body experiences' for one of the other the main angles on trying to find evidence for a soul. 

Susan Blackmore has looked into those, and other related things, like Near Death Experiences. I understand she originally started from the point of view that OOBE's may be real in some sense, but ended up very skeptical.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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Not sure if this is what you

Not sure if this is what you are looking for ... here is a book I have read a few times and really enjoyed-

Brain and Belief: An exploration of the Human Soul

The book touches on how the idea of a soul began in prehistoric religions to the importance of the soul in western faith traditions.

Happy hunting and reading  Eye-wink

 

 

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That's definitely something

That's definitely something like I was looking for. Thanks.

Also, sorry if the first sentence of my reply, here, isn't making much sense. I'm working off of about 6 1/2 hours' sleep and must go home (still at work, *almost* done.)

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crazymonkie

crazymonkie wrote:

Luminon,

Bob's got more of a handle on what I'm looking for here. If I were to hear about the 'studies' you listed, they would be in the 'been debunked' category, in all probability.

The best documented example I mentioned is mr. Monroe, his technology is a working, patented thing for exploration of the deepest states of consciousness. Buddhistic monks have to train meditation for decades, before they can achieve what Monroe's CD can teach people's brain in less than two hours. You can never be well informed about the concept of the "soul leaving body" without knowing the work and publications of Robert Monroe. He was there even before Raymond A. Moody.
It is based on a scientific fact, that it is possible to determine the brainwaves artificially through a correct combination of sound frequencies. ( http://www.monroeinstitute.org/ )

Btw, I'll have to check out the links provided by Renee and Bob, they're interesting for me as well. (though I'll maybe sneer a little when reading them Smiling )

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Need I point out, however,

Need I point out, however, that Buddhists don't believe in a soul? Secondly- I was looking much more for a history of the soul, or maybe the history of the search for the soul. Will, Bob and Renee gave the best links. BTW- I'm now on part 3 of the Shelly Kagan lectures, and I really am enjoying them.

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crazymonkie wrote: I'm now

crazymonkie wrote:

 I'm now on part 3 of the Shelly Kagan lectures, and I really am enjoying them.

 

I too took advantage of will's link and am greatly enjoying Kagan's course.  I wish they listed all the source material that the class had to read (sometimes its mentioned but occaisionaly not).

 

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crazymonkie wrote:Need I

crazymonkie wrote:

Need I point out, however, that Buddhists don't believe in a soul? Secondly- I was looking much more for a history of the soul, or maybe the history of the search for the soul. Will, Bob and Renee gave the best links. BTW- I'm now on part 3 of the Shelly Kagan lectures, and I really am enjoying them.

They don't believe in a soul in the christian sense but some sects do believe in an afterlife per se, with that said they also believe in reincarnation.


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Yeah, they all do believe in

Yeah, they all do believe in some kind of afterlife, that's very true. Though when it comes to what happens after death, Buddhism's more about rebirth and less about reincarnation. The latter implies the existence of the 'atma', which Buddhists- well, most of them, anyway; Pure Land's kind of a weird halfway case- deny.

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crazymonkie wrote:Yeah, they

crazymonkie wrote:

Yeah, they all do believe in some kind of afterlife, that's very true. Though when it comes to what happens after death, Buddhism's more about rebirth and less about reincarnation. The latter implies the existence of the 'atma', which Buddhists- well, most of them, anyway; Pure Land's kind of a weird halfway case- deny.

Depends on which sect again, that's the issue with this I guess, some believe in an afterlife and/or reincarnation of sorts, and others don't believe in an afterlife or reincarnation at all.


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That pretty well sums it up.

That pretty well sums it up. Where, if they didn't talk about the Buddha, enlightenment, and rebirth, you'd easily think they weren't the same religion. Though in many ways they aren't, really.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


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FreeHugMachine

FreeHugMachine wrote:

crazymonkie wrote:

 I'm now on part 3 of the Shelly Kagan lectures, and I really am enjoying them.

 

I too took advantage of will's link and am greatly enjoying Kagan's course.  I wish they listed all the source material that the class had to read (sometimes its mentioned but occaisionaly not).

 

Cause Knowledge is Power!

here is the syllabus for this particular series  http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy/death/content/syllabus

You can also subscribe to the podcast  Eye-wink 

(Follow 'Related Resources' below course description)

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Thanks for the help!  I

Thanks for the help!  I hate being a lazy fuck sometimes.

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crazymonkie
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There are some really great

There are some really great essays in that syllabus (naturlich!) I've been meaning to read Montaigne since I learned about him a few months ago via Julia Briggs' seminal 'This Stageplay World.' If anyone's even remotely interested in Elizabethan/Jacobean English politics, religion, education, entertainment and so forth, I HIGHLY recommend it.

It's one of those 'academic books that doesn't read like an academic book.' And it's been out since '83 (probably in more or less continuous printings) so anyone can get it dirt cheap. I got my copy for $3, plus shipping (from Alibris, so.... yeah, small fortune in shipping- that's how they make their money.)

OrdinaryClay wrote:
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Bump (COZ I IS ATTENTION HO!)

Bump (COZ I IS ATTENTION HO!)


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FreeHugMachine

FreeHugMachine wrote:

crazymonkie wrote:

 I'm now on part 3 of the Shelly Kagan lectures, and I really am enjoying them.

I too took advantage of will's link and am greatly enjoying Kagan's course.  I wish they listed all the source material that the class had to read (sometimes its mentioned but occaisionaly not).

I'm glad you guys are into that series. You'll find anything and everything you'd need in an apologetics debate there (except , I think, George Smith's argument for strong atheism, which is probably my favourite) and it's done in a very entertaining way.

Unfortunately, Kagan is teaching a class, so there are parts where he's going slowly for the benefit of those taking notes. Fast-forward saves the day in that case.

As for reading material, on the pages where it's listed, that's the material you need for several lectures, like Plato's Phaedo (which is actually pronounced like "Fido", not "Fee-do" ). There's almost no need to read Phaedo. I mean, if you really want to, sure, but I could come up with a bunch of insane arguments for you to read if you really, really want.

I encourage you guys to stick with the lectures, though, even when you're fast-forwarding through parts for obvious reasons. The wind-down is really good.

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Yup. I'm on part 9 (or 10)

Yup. I'm on part 9 (or 10) now. There was an interesting point in... i think part 7?... where Shelly had a question from someone in the class about the comparison between being able to 'destroy' harmony (as an example of something non-physical that can be destroyed) and being able to destroy souls.

When it comes to fast-forwarding: His extreme detail is helpful to me, because I'm usually watching them at work, or reading something online at home.

I've also got a lot of old translations of the Dialogues, so I'm good for that. And I've got some more recent translations of selected Dialogues (the Benjamin Jowett translation of Ion, Protagoras, Phaedrus, Symposium and Apology- I'm working through Pahedrus right now), which were part of the syllabus in one of my classes- taught by a professor from Greece, fluent in classical Greek and Latin, so I trust these are good translations (another book we had, had some truly horrid translations.)

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