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Post Re: ex-christian.net
DWill wrote:
Then we have that tricky issue, discussed by geo and others, of what we mean, even approximately, when we say "God." Whether or not there may be a God becomes a matter about which less certainty or uncertainty is available, as we get to concepts much less like the Bible God and more like some diffuse spiritual presence that doesn't minister to individuals . . .

Yes! The word “God” means different things to different people. And yet no one wants to acknowledge the etymological diffuseness of the word. And so we talk past one another, shooting at targets the other can’t see.

The words “mind” and “soul” are similarly fuzzy, I think. Mary Midgely, the late philosopher (in her book, WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY FOR?) talks about this problem, saying we need not fear words like “mind” and “soul” and that there are nine and sixty ways to look at a problem and all of them are right. Richard Dawkins and Mary Midgley each take a dim view of Cartesian dualism, though for very different reasons. Midgley argues that finding common ground between disparate viewpoints is where philosophy can help.

But if there's no such thing as a soul, how would we discuss this Shakespearean sonnet?

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
[Why feed'st] these rebel powers that thee array?
Why dost thou pine within, and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And, Death once dead, there's no more dying then.


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DWill, Lawrence
Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:25 pm
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Post Re: ex-christian.net
So, if it does seem to us that there is no immortal soul, that whatever we mean by "soul" comes to us by virtue of our living flesh, is there still a valid use of the word, or are we sort of mooching off religion when we use the word?

I'm not comfortable using the word, for fear of being misunderstood. I can see why it seems natural to use "soul," though. Each one of the 7-plus billion of us is unique, even genetically identical twins. That unique aspect is what we might be thinking about and calling "soul."



Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:33 am
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