Sunday, 13 March 2016

Bodies And Souls

The Biblical concept of a human being was of an animated body, returning to dust at death.

The Platonic concept was of a reincarnating soul that achieved perfection only in disembodied pure thought.

The Aristotelian concept was that the soul was the form of the body.

Christianity synthesized the Biblical and Platonic concepts. Christians expect a hereafter for the soul immediately after death but also await the resurrection of the body.

If a soul is:

(a) to have new sensory experiences and
(b) to communicate with other conscious beings -

- between the death and resurrection of its body, then it needs at least the appearance of a body inhabiting a shared environment. So is Dante's and Niven & Pournelle's Inferno a mere appearance?

Poul Anderson provides a physical Hell by having inert matter animated by parapsychic forces. See here.

Addendum, 14 Mar '16: CS Lewis suggests in Letters To Malcolm that a realistic appearance of the body is the resurrection of the body. However, I do not share Lewis' Platonic mind-body dualism. I think that being became conscious. Reality is one.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    As you know, I believe the soul (what Aristotle and his Scholastic successors called the "form" of the body) survives the physical death of the body. What I've thought is that these spirits communicate with one another by telepathy. And that they "mentally" project to themselves and others how they most characteristically appeared during their Earthly lives.


  2. Sean,
    I am about to add an addendum to this post.
    A chair is a form imposed on wooden matter. When the chair is destroyed, the matter continues to exist but loses its form. The form does not continue.