27 November 2005

The Soul: An Update!

In the WSJ recently (I forget the date and lost the clipping) an article in their Friday journal religion section discussing the soul, and the evolution of that concept over time. As an atypical atheist who nevertheless does believe in the soul, this piqued my interest. One book they mentioned was The Beauty of the Infinite by David B Hart, Eastern Orthodox theologian. The reviews on Amazon are sparse but uniformly positive.

The subject brings to mind one thesis of Thomas Aquinas: Building on the Aristotelian concept that "the immortal soul is the form of the body", he defines the vegetative, sensitive, and rational souls. I'll be honest, I don't personally believe those are differences of type so much as degree; and I agree more with the Averroists that the sou can inform the body but probably can (even must) exist separately from it.

The article also brings up Gregory of Nyssa (4th Century), who said the soul is a living mirror in which all things shine; and Maximus the Confessor (7th Century): the soul is the boundary between material and spirtual reality. I'm not familiar with their work and need to look into it.

cf. Descartes.