- Religion and Philosophy
Soul is mind
So. The mind from the duelist camp is the soul, or somehow part of it, and this is how we have free will.
Ok. First model: This one comes from a good friend of mine, and philosophical arch enemy, by the name of Jeremy Christian. (Yes … JC) His model is not the standard one, but it’s creative and interesting as an alternative to the boring traditional one in mainstream Christianity.
In this model the soul is created at conception. Meaning base matter (egg and sperm,) are naturally infused with a supernatural element and when put together create a soul along with the body. God gave us free will, which simply means his will does not control our actions; we have a mind of our own. Great.
The traditional models claim souls are placed in embryos by god at conception or shortly after; or another alternative is: souls preexist and hang around waiting for people to mate, and if it works it means the soul got in. Kind of creepy maybe?
Anyway, other models are variations of those themes.
But that begs the question: why are some souls evil? How do they get that way? Just by being exposed to the evil world? Or are they born that way?
If a person has a mental issue we usually find the answer in brain chemistry. Schizophrenia has been pinned down to too much dopamine. Tests show that when its lowered symptoms clear up. On the reverse, too little dopamine and subjects show symptoms of Parkinson’s. Give Parkinson’s patients dopamine and they start functioning again. Too much and, you guessed it: Schizophrenia.
When someone commits murder and we find out they have a mental illness, we say they are not responsible. Why? Because it was the disease, not the person. But what about the soul? If it is mind, why should a bit of dopamine force people to kill? The mind is in charge, right? So the body should do its bidding, not the other way around.
Jeremy says: Oh, but the mind/soul and body are intertwined. The soul is supernatural and can’t interact with the material world on it’s own, so it needs the body and brain to function here. If the brain is messed up the soul/supernatural mind can’t interact with the material world properly.
What about evil things done for greed or jealousy, or to cover up another crime? What’s responsible? The soul? Then the soul is evil? It supposedly has free will unless a disease of the brain takes over, or a demon possesses you.
So the nature of that soul makes it evil? Who made that soul? God? Then how is the soul to blame? Why would a perfect soul choose to be evil? Does it choose what it likes or dislikes? We don’t. We just like things or we don’t. Those likes and dislikes are part of us, not things we add just because we want to. We can alter them over time through learning and better understanding. But not just because we want to, unless there’s a darn good reason we have to. Stop drinking or in a couple months you’ll be dead.
But you like drinking so it’s hard. And your addiction makes you want it all the more. But you can’t drink if you’re dead, and you’ll die if you drink, so you better stop, like it or not. But will you? Some can and some can’t. Is that them or the booze, or the soul? Can a soul be a drunk?
If a soul is brought up with the brain, as in Jeremy's model, it’s created by nature, not directly by god. So it’s shaped along with the brain, what it learned, what it was taught, what it experienced and how it interpreted those experiences. It also has to deal with behavioral traits the body and brain inherited from the parent genes.
Behavior reflects our choices, but how are our choices free if many of them come from genetic traits? We don’t choose our traits, or consequently our likes and dislikes. Where is the supernatural mind in all this? What does it control? It would have to work with what it’s got. Being free of possession by god is fine; but it’s obviously influenced by nature.
So how would a soul make choices? That’s the rub, and the answer would be: it would have to have an independent way of making choices. It has to have limitations in the form of a structure or nature, or it would be disordered and not be able to exist at all. Order means limitations. Your water tap isn’t going to run ducks or walking sticks or anything but water if nothing or no one has altered the system. The tap itself will never spontaneously turn into a frog.
So soul and its choices would be influenced by that supernatural nature. Therefore not free of influence it may not even know about. Like real will. We don’t know what all went into every choice we make, and many we know have had many influences we do know about, like relationships, wives and husbands, teachers, parents, culture, etc. Personal history is a big one. And then there influences we can’t know about.
And how do we make the choice? We pick whatever feels right after having considered the options we think we had, not knowing about the ones we don’t know about and not worrying about them. Could you have made a different choice? Sure, but it didn’t feel right at the time. Why? Because of who we are. We don’t choose what feels right, it just does.
Yes you can talk about all the reasons you made the choice, but someone else faced with the same choice may have very different reasons for a different end choice. There are few ultimately correct choices for everyone. But you make your choice hoping and feeling that it’s the best for you, being who you are, which is all your experience and learned knowledge set against your physical/genetic/inherited predispositions, which together manifest as your personal will. No need for souls.
Where is the soul/mind in dreamless sleep or under anesthetic? Gone. Yet how can that be if it’s in charge? Shouldn’t we still be aware in some way if what is “I” is the soul? After all, it’s shut off from the material world like in death. Shouldn’t we all always be having super natural reality experiences all the time when that happens? But we don’t. We get what we expect from parts of brain being shut down.
I don’t know what the traditional view is on this if they have one, but Headly will tell you it’s because the brain and mind are still connected. And what? Making the soul go to sleep, or just sit back and be quiet, or it’s just so muddled up in the material world that it can’t think, or who knows?
Still, if we are the soul, wouldn’t we know?
So in the traditional models god creates the souls, hence they have a nature of some kind/ a structure that facilitates them being an individual something rather than a structureless nothing without the ability to think or do anything.
Hence that would mean a soul is dependent on its nature for its choices. And while free from being god’s Bourg mind making only the choices he wants, the soul is still not free to make willynilly choices based on nothing. It cannot be influence free due its supernatural nature, and the natural physical brain it has to deal with along with genetic predispositions/traits. Same for Headly’s model and more so due to it being created by natural procreation processes.
If a god creates them and their nature, it is responsible for evil souls. If they occur through nature, then they occur as the end result of all the influences it developed by, and since god created nature and we’ll assume the super natural, and souls; it’s all his fault. Not the soul’s. Right? Well perhaps not entirely, but the lion’s share of the blame goes to him for setting it up this way.
Any way you slice it this supernatural mind doesn’t cut it. They aren’t all created perfect, with no faults, perfect decision making skills, full insight of god and what he wants. And then they get confused and corrupted by the evil world which can then turn your brain/body/soul in to a murderer who loves killing for fun. If so, the evil world made him do it. Where’s the freedom? If a brain disease can mess souls around and make murderers of them, what control do they really have? None.
Now, it’s clear we all have will. We have to make choices, and our choices always have influences attached: The opinion of others, personal history, social pressures, etc, and what we like and dislike. In other words, our genetic predispositions and environmental conditioning pitted against each other in some cases and working in concert in others, as well as our needs. Those three factors shape our individual and unique personalities, and our unique dynamic will. Notice I didn’t say free.
Will is just a manifestation of overall conditioning. In other words, who you are, with or without a soul. There is no such thing as the perfect normal brain. All of them differ. But there are well balanced people who function well, and most of them share basic values concerning respect for all life, fair play, do no intentional harm, etc, and they are the ones most of us try to emulate in order to make this a better world for ourselves and ours, as well as everyone else. I say most of us do. Not all.
So murderers and rapists and child molesters can’t be allowed to run free to do it again. What we do with them varies. If sane, we punish. If insane, we treat them in a mental facility. But sane means able to make choices contrary to the one you made. Of your own volition. unduly influenced.
Yet every choice is packed with influences. We do what we ultimately want or think best at the time. But we don’t choose our wants or needs or desires. We just have them. So how much influence is unduly? A real or metaphoric gun to the head?
Short of that we make very personal choices. They may not all have outside coercion, but they all have inner influences and even coercion. Which makes sense. What else in the world would one base a choice on? Things you never learned about that just came to you from nowhere? Again, no structure/nature, no way to function.
Sure will is free from the will of gods and free from other people’s wills. I’d rather say distinct from rather than free from as those other minds and wills can and do influence us, so we’re not really free from them at all. We’re just free of telepathic mind control, as far as we know.
So, souls don’t give more freedom of choice then not having them. And to me the word free is meaningless attached to the word will. It translates to: free conditioning, which is an oxymoron. Let’s drop that word and just say will.
Souls and the supernatural can’t be proven to exist, as Jeremy says: because they are supernatural and not material and hence not measurable in a scientific sense.
Makes sense, if souls actually exist. But then we can’t know anything about them for the same reasons. Therefore rendering speculation about them meaningless, and incapable of adding any real factual knowledge to the world.
So what is the basis for a physical model of mind?
First let’s ask what consciousness is. I think we all agree it’s awareness at its root. Where does it come from? Information theory has a lot to say about this. My model begins pre-awareness. Atoms have auto responses that come from their nature. They are not inanimate objects, but rather dynamic systems that anything but inanimate.
So, for an atom to react, it must in some way “feel” for lack of a better word, the event. This isn’t consciousness or even awareness, just a precursor.
By the time we get to cells we start seeing rudimentary awareness. If they had none they would keep hitting their head on the same obstacle and never get to food, or feel the need for it.
Without feeling need in some way they can’t be met, and it is the feeling that makes it a need.
So as things get more complex, awareness grows. In humans it has grown to point of what we consider consciousness. Needs, isolation by imperfect senses, and memory create the feeling of individuality. We are individuals, obviously, it’s not an illusion, even though we’re constantly changing and not the same individual from year to year as every cell in our body has changed several times between childhood and old age . But without complex memory we wouldn’t have any continuity of self or personal history at all.
That which sets our consciousness apart is the development of complex language which is what deliberate thought is based on. The good thing about this model is, it can be and is being researched and tested.
It also answers the question: How did the animate come from the inanimate? There is no such thing as the inanimate. Atoms make up everything including us. They are dynamic and highly creative. Small changes make massive differences. 2 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom makes water. Hydrogen by itself in the presence of oxygen is explosive as hydrogen and oxygen clambering to join each other, because they are highly attracted to each other, producing water. All from specific combination of a few electrons, neutrons and protons. The basis of all we see.
The universe is made up of hydrogen, helium, oxygen and carbon, and 5 percent everything else. What are we made up of? Exactly the same, except helium, which doesn’t interact much with anything being a noble gas, and according to the British who named them noble, too upper crust to bother with the lower classes.
If we find that all the particles and chemicals etc are all following the laws of nature then clearly the soul, if there was one isn't doing anything. But if we found mind somehow breaks the natural laws, then there might be evidence of something added. Something not natural, perhaps. And then science could study that and tell us how souls work. But no evidence yet.
Life is amazing in the extreme. No need for souls or gods to make it so. Unless of course you want to live for ever. Good luck with that. No one gets out of here alive, no matter how you cut it. What happens after that? Who knows? Probably nothing. And I’m fine with that.
If anyone wakes up dead, please let us know.