Sole Ensoulment – Not “I have a soul,” But “I am a soul.”

I believe we have a soul and would define it as the intensity of the impression we make on others during and after our lifetime. – Matthew Scillitani

The soul, is an “idea” that has an “object” as a “thing in itself,” which is the body, and since this last is an “object-thing,” it is possible to have an idea of it, “the soul.” – Christian Sorensen

Souls exist if you call our conscious selves our souls. If by “soul” you mean a magic ingredient, not information-based, that transforms an unconscious automaton into a feeling, experiencing being, then no, I don’t think souls exist. Our consciousness, our feeling that we exist in the world, is a property of how we process information. It’s not the result of a transcendent soul that rides unfeeling matter like a little sparkly cowboy or a golden thinking cap on a flesh-and-bone Roomba. – Rick Rosner/Richard Rosner/Rick G. Rosner

Mind is an advanced personal processor, responsible for the perception, reaction and adjustment in reality. We need mind to live our reality. I suppose we all know what is the condition of a body with a non-functioning mind. Reality is an objective and independent set of conditions, events, happenings, incidents, people, principles, facts. Our mind personalizes this objective information to a subjective representation in us. Mind function is influenced by factors, such as perceptual ability, reasoning, previous knowledge and experiences, psychological status and mental state. – Evangelos Georgiou Katsioulis/Ευάγγελος Γεωργίου Κατσιούλης

The simple definition of Cogito is enough to be certain that there is a spirit (or soul if you will). Unfortunately, this conclusion only works one-way: the absence of the Cogito does not necessarily mean that there is no spirit or soul. A small child or simple person is not able to say, “I think, therefore I am,” or something equivalent, and neither can an intelligent person when sufficiently distracted or otherwise impeded (e.g., drunk or asleep). So, the best definition for a spirit or soul would be “Cogito potential”, i.e., if somebody could in the future possibly speak the Cogito if taught, grown or no longer impeded. But of course, this is fluent to decide and not determinable at all. Above that, we can neither be sure if any spirit other than our own exists at all (as solipsism is a possibility), nor if our own spirit is infinite or finite, i.e., immortal or mortal. Or, most plausible to me, a finite extension of an infinite base. – Thomas Wolf

The soul, an enigmatic portion of the person considered some extramaterial substance or essence – ahem – essential to individual personality, or the entire nature of a being in existence, even simply the mind as the “the intensity of the impression we make on others during and after our lifetime,” “an ‘idea’ that has an ‘object’ as a ‘thing in itself,’” “an advanced personal processor,” “our conscious selves,” or “a finite extension of an infinite base.” Many extant definitions aside.

In media portrayals, we see the soul, sometimes, depart from the dead husk of a body, the corpse, of some protagonist, which, typically, travels upwards to heaven, presumably. Somehow, the soul emits photons for visual perception in this imaginary portrayal.

Yet, this does represent a primitive idea, though. Something seen throughout cultures. Some essence connected to the afterlife. Some afterlife represented as a final waystation for individuals in the mortal realm in the midst of a cosmic battle between good and evil, God and Satan.

A primitive idea representing a non-spherical Earth, a flat Earth, to “travel upwards.” In that, to move up, one must harbour some cultural or religious idea of a rapture-like state in which a flat Earth remains the middle of the world separated by a higher realm, heaven, and a lower realm, hell. Since no “up there” exists, as we live in a sphere floating in space, no higher realm exists in this original sense. It’s a defeated argument from that angle.

Think of the popularizations, demons come from the floor and drag sinners down to hell, not up. Angels have wings and ascend up to heaven or into the sky. People who die, for some self-sacrificial purpose, transcend into the sky as an incorporeal, though viewable spirit.

In this imagery, the surface of the Earth represents some form of junction between the deep innards of the Earth, as hell, and the beyond-the-sky domain of God, the choir of angels, and the deceased’s souls collected for eternal communion with the divine.

Often, it’s portrayed as the individual in their best state, their best clothes, not naked, though as a transparent outline of the original person. These are common notions in the majority of the Western world who harbour some Christian or Islamic beliefs about heaven and hell.

To point this out isn’t to become a literalist or a fundamentalist, it’s to point out the fact of the matter. People in advanced industrial economies benefitting from the progression in complexity of technology and scientific comprehension of the world harbour, or hold to, fundamentalist and literalist visions of the world based on their ‘holy’ scripture.

That which comes from the messengers of God to inform the world about the revelations of the theity. In this sense, the rhetorical flourishes retort with the notion of the critics of religious fundamentalism as themselves fundamentalist, literalist, inerrantist.

It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Those individuals who reject the ideas of the religious fundamentalisms point to the issues of fundamentalism, literalism, and inerrantism, qua fundamentalism, literalism, and inerrantism.

To confuse critique with oppositional imbibing of the same ratiocinative orientation is incorrect, individuals who reject them and then point them out may harbour such sentiments in other domains. However, the opposition to the fundamentalisms provides the basis for critique.

The popular misconception of “imbibing” provides some protection against more open critiques, updates, to the view of the world. In this sense, also, theology failed. These ideas of the individual soul connect to wider theological perspectives on reality.

Those marked as justifications of the assertions of religious texts. Also, not unreasonable for the time, in this manner, the public and in petto phraseology of the times, ideological leanings, religious contexts, and political constraints to kings and priests naturally lead to particular worldviews, weltanschauung.

To now, the public statement of the beliefs becomes lesser while the private harbouring of the ideas seems greater. It shows in the survey data of the general populations of some of the advanced industrial economies and the beliefs in the paranormal, the supernatural, the unnecessary metaphysical.

In a manner of speaking, as with the passing of the magician and skeptic James “The Amazing” Randi who permitted an extensive interview with me, magical thinking becomes the norm rather than not, while the base comes in the fear of death. Fear drives disassociation.

A disconnection from the self and the world. In this sense, it builds on some of the commentary of Dr. Sam Vaknin on dissociative disorders and personality disorders. Also, it motivates a need to justify the incredible.

That which probably can’t be, seems far beyond reasonable consideration, while garnering extensive support because of the overwhelming general fear of death, mutually experienced as a social species, and, thus, interpersonally supported.

In the cases of the standard repertoire of religions, some fear of the thanatian forces undergirding existence for biological creatures in which death becomes an inevitable byproduct of life with death as a consequence of life and life as an antithesis to the stagnation of death.

This idea of the soul comes from a litany of religious traditions, transcendentalist concepts, of reality. Those perspectives proposing a transcendent source of existence. In this sense, the idea comes later. Although, the argument becomes an argument for a transcendental object or subject, or both.

The transcendental entity, or being itself, or the source of being in this transcendent existence, more or less, amounts to an assertion. The assumption of this becomes the basis for the derivations of existence therefrom, where the transcendent being exhibits a property aseity or self-existence.

The issue comes from the assumption or the assertion of the being itself and then the property of this being as self-existence. Its aseity as the base for all other things with each existent with property seity. Those which can’t exist or continue to exist, except from the generative capacities of the aseitous being.

Also, the perpetuity of derivative existences coming from the transcendent being itself. If granting of the premise, following this, everything from the material framework of reality in the natural world to the immaterial essences intertwined, weaved together, and connected to the individual beings in reality dependent on the generative capacities of the transcendent object itself for their existence.

Those essences entitled the “soul.” Originally, this probably comes in the Western tradition from Aristotle with the theory of forms and then the original or final form as the transcendent object. Modern theologians, who appear to work in a dead discipline, make the similar claim.

God exists. God has property aseity. God exists and self-exists. God is a non-contingent, non-dependent, self-existing, being, and the source of being itself, whether the ethical and the moral in The Good or the divine breathe or image represented in each human being’s soul.

The soul connects the human being to God, or, more strongly, God to the human being. The immaterial substance or essence, the core, of the human being connecting the mortal to the immortal, the mundane to the divine, the material to the immaterial, the natural to the supernatural.

With the deleterious effects of thermodynamics and ageing processes through time on, for example, a human being’s body, the soul remains intact on the premise of living a good, moral, life, reflective of the source of The Good, God Himself.

However, in the cases of morally reprehensible acts, carried out over time, without compunction or regret, without an attempt at doing or serving penance, the unrighteous will face the wrath of the divine, of God, on their bodies, their lives, and their souls, as their souls became corrupted in the thinking and acting out of ethically terrible deeds.

In this perspective of reality, with a number of assumptions, the soul simply means the divine breathe or the image of God in each contingent being. The soul as the immaterial divine essence of a human being, for instance.

The issue comes from a number of levels. For example, without an explanation for causal chains in earlier physics or physical bases for theorizing about reality, everything is contingent upon every other thing. A causal chain as an analogy becomes a decent basis for thinking, then.

At some point, the time of the universe can be run back to such an extent so as to come to some original point of time. This can lead to a problem of infinite regress or an ad infinitum to the moments before other moments or the moments making other moments contingent upon everything in them. A deterministic reality based on Laws of Nature, not principles.

Those Laws of Nature, officially, as divine decrees from He on High as the Creator of all. The solution, by definition and not by fact, becomes: “It’s God. God is self-existent. Or, something is self-existent. Therefore, it is a god. In fact, it’s my God.” Clearly, you see the issue.

Individuals merely defined without a true explanation. How is God self-existent? Why is this your God? God becomes the sand to fill all cracks in the reasoning process, which, by definition, is irrational.

In common philosophical parlance, this becomes the basis for the counter claim of this not explaining anything, and, in fact, pluralizing a singular problem because it adds another, theological, layering of trouble to the original line of questioning.

In some framings, it’s called The God of the Gaps. A god, as an ill-defined term, regardless, gets some definition, and then the definition is used to fill the gap. “God,” as a term, even as an idea, simply and purely is ill-defined, amorphous. Those gaps in scientific knowledge get filled with theological concepts, e.g., God, Intelligent Design, and the like, to purport an explanatory gap.

This God of the Gaps form of argument leaves the original scientific problem present while adding another problem with the theological ‘filler’ unexplained in some sense, too. It’s a shameful form of ignorance masquerading as deep wisdom and knowledge.

As Noam Chomsky noted years ago in the Khaleej Times, “…Intelligent Design is creationism — the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis — in a thin guise, or simply vacuous, about as interesting as ‘I don’t understand,’ as has always been true in the sciences before understanding is reached.”

The fact of the use of the term “God” or the idea of a god doesn’t explain much. Take, real explanations, with rigour, those found more often in the sciences. They use the senses, empiricism, reason, predictions, falsifying claims, experimenting, double-blind trials, hypotheses, peer review, and mathematical modelling, even computer simulations.

Modern science has rigour. Modern theology does not because modern theology, truly, is “old theology,” because it’s based on authority, dogma, and poor philosophy – stagnation; whereas, science is based on doubt and questioning within well-defined rigorous limits to come to some reasonable theoretical foundations about reality – keeping what works and jettisoning what doesn’t.

Theology will not change, as it always has done; science will evolve, as it always has done. Theology only made adaptations to its fundamental non-answers based on the poundings and hammerings of science, generally speaking. Science provides superior explanations without the need for a god, not an explicit rejection of a god.

Yet, a god becomes unnecessary to explain that which was previously explained via a god. Some approximations about what is happening rather than what we think might be the case, based on ancient literature, a sense of hope, a belief in the hereafter, and in the benevolent providence of the Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos.

Hope isn’t an explanation. A filling in the gaps by definition doesn’t help either. A soul in common verbiage and understandings seems to have much the same orientation too. God is the universe and everything outside the universe as some aseitous being generating and maintaining creation as long as He deems fit.

Human beings exist in God as pieces of God and, therefore, represent the instantiation of the Creator and Maintainer in all moments of existence. Those images of the divine are the atemporal, metaphysical stamp of the one and only true God, properly defined, in each and every human being, commonly called a soul.

It can be corrupted; although, the soul can be brought to reparative status with God; however, the soul will continue to exist. Unless, at some limit, God ‘deletes’ or removes the soul from existence itself. This is talk, idle chit-chat, assumptions, assertions, so barely arguments.

To not explain anything and attempt to contain everything via a series of definitions, it’s the lowest formulation, the worst form of thinking, because it’s not thinking in the least, while raised in the minds of believers, and proposed by its expounders, as the highest form of thinking.

That which commonly passes for high philosophy, while truly being either doggerel or dross, and more accurately going by the rather low and disgraced, at this point, title of “Theology.” The idea of a magical substance, the soul, fits into these forms of arguments.

It’s not really dealing with that which is; it’s as if a massive failure to have an accurate reality test, psychologically speaking. It’s dealing, as its origins start in cults, religions, and New Age groups, more with that which one wants to be true.

It’s simply a hope of more life, as reflexive positivity to cover the fear or cowering from death, reified into a transcendent object, the soul, in the material subject, the flesh and bone and blood of the body, and further asserted as objective and transcendentally sourced in a non-local, inhuman generator, entitled “God.”

Even in the metaphysics of the soul, the supermaterial philosophizing about the soul, one cannot attribute the purportedly best attribute of a human being, a soul, to a human being, but only to a divine subject-object, a transcendent being.

In a manner of speaking, in more direct terms, it’s a subtle form of transcendental self-hatred leading to a morality of not facing the facts of reality, i.e., inheriting cowardice, while abhorring the beauty of the body and life, inasmuch as can be found, as debauched, disgusting, rotten, and corrupted from sin, or inherently ugly, leading to a public and interpersonal pseudonymous persona or a false self presented as the real self, as a fundamentally anti-social act writ community for anti-sociality. All bound together with fantasy (and phantasy) as the foundation stone of reality, as an ontology.

Theology and religion simply don’t work on veracious terms or on empirical ones, Q.E.D., and can harm mental wellness, as well, and so on subjective psychological terms, too. Everyone, given the pervasiveness, the ubiquity, of the belief systems and the attribution of the quality of truth to them, in most societies by most people, can attest to this, whether skeptical or not.

The non-factual claims or non-empirical claims about the Devil, angels, demons, ghosts, psychic powers, and the like. The fact is most people believe in some form of them. The reality is none of them exist, except in the minds of human beings reinforced by social customs, bolstered by theological reasoning, and driven by fear of the unknown, including death and claims of an afterlife. It is make-believe reified, where its metanarrative, by definition, in “make-believe reified” equates to psychosis.

A non-explanation masquerading as an explanation by mere ‘argument’ by definition, confusion in word games, and reflective of both an individual anguish and a terror of cessation of life exhibiting more a philosophy of ignorance, a psychology of self-loathing, an epistemology of assertions, an ontology of fantasy (and phantasy), a logic of irrationality, an ethic of cowardice, an aesthetic of ugliness, a social philosophy of antisociality, and a metaphysics of nothing claimed as a metaphysics of everything, culminating in a general philosophy or a worldview of psychosis.

Similarly, the vast majority, as a qualitative extrapolation from history, from survey data on nations now, and the orientations of most in the faiths with beliefs in reincarnation or in an afterlife, as an assertion, believe in that which does not exist, in most likelihoods, and, based on the facts of reality, simply cannot exist.

This leaves ideas of the soul down to fewer options and held by far fewer people of the global population. A body without a brain does not work. Therefore, a body needs a brain to work. Same for individual psychology.

At the same time, brains come with bodies. It’s a packaged deal. Our consciousness is embodied while a result of the processes of the central organ in the skull, the brain, operating through time.

Without the central organ, no consciousness or functional body, therefore, the cessation of the body becomes the stoppage of the brain, and vice versa. As well, the material structure produces, generates, everything about you considered as you.

There’s an inescapable empirical fact of embodied consciousness and materially-bound consciousness. More generally, this could be formulated as naturally-bound consciousness and embodied minds.

Time is necessary. Existence is necessary. A body is necessary, while the brain is central; a brain is necessary, while the body is peripheral. Some central processing unit, organ in biological terms, producing an apparent, potentially illusory, unicity of existential reality, experience.

The total processes of which remain a mystery, while its correlates appear much better known with imaging technology than at any time in the history of humanity with the increasing rounding out of the perspective of the naturally-bound and embodied nature of consciousness.

With consciousness as a technical, non-mystical, armature constructing rich, deeply layered, and interconnected networks of information processing, a sense of something real, so richly endowed in individual, subjective, experience as to feel real and seamless.

While, at bottom, given its natural construction and evolution through selective natural forces over a significant amount of time, it’s a natural universe generating a natural object. An object deemed “living.”

A natural, living object as a sub-system in a universe capable of mathematical modelling. In that, mathematics describes the universe or can provide an explanatory shorthand for existence itself.  In this, the system becomes explainable by mathematical functions and operators.

Subsequently, any natural system within the natural world becomes explainable, in principle, in mathematical functions and operators. It’s unavoidable in principle with the barriers coming into the practice.

In this, the brain becomes a mathematical function through time, a dynamic natural object, generating consciousness while endowed with some subjective experiential properties due to embedment in a body for embodied natural consciousness as merely something mathematical, algorithmic.

When speaking of reality, one must speak in the terms of empiricism, of science more generally and precisely, to come to evidenced or substantiated positions, in general, about the real world, the natural world, for which evidence exists, rather than the supernatural world, for which no evidence exists and areas of its possible existence continue to erode, decline, and fall away into nothingness.

The soul, in this sense, must be both a natural and a mathematical byproduct of the natural workings of the natural world, of evolution, and an evolved, embodied organ similar to or identical with the brain.

The soul becomes embodied, information processing as a reflection of a material framework, the brain. In fact, it comes directly from the brain, naturally not supernaturally. Traditions can proclaim atop the apogee of the mountains, “I have a soul.”

While, truly, with the facts before us, the overwhelming evidence and reasoning points to the accuracy of the title, “I am a soul.” A soul as a natural consequence of an evolved brain and body, as in the mind and some more. The “some more” as the total makeup of the human being.

An embedded consciousness in reality evolved without a particular directionality from without, meaning in a cosmic scale, while with the deep biological and geological time carving and crafting, honing, the psychology of organisms, including us, animals.

Teleology fails, cosmically, geologically, and biologically. Individually, operators make purpose, so bottom-up not top-down. Purposes for themselves. If social, then collectively as well, as in a weave of purpose. The cosmos, geology, and biology, honed without intent.

Only minutiae of the cosmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere given some minor, parochial purposes relevant to its evolved or constructed, internal, agency or operators.

Teleology only works psychologically, only partially at that. Not everyone develops proper purpose to fit this definition of purpose or design for their lives and their collectives. In short, outside of delusion, teleology is a failed hypothesis cosmically, geologically, and biologically, and marginally successful psychologically.

The brain through time as the mind, the body connected to the brain and vice versa, and the various relations with others’ minds, brains, and bodies, and the environments in which they happen to find themselves at some cross-section of time in an era of evolutionary time.

None of this requires extranatural sources, supernatural claims or origins, or a complete explanation of the proverbial ‘black box.’ So, individually, we can take some of the claims from some bright people before:

  • the intensity of the impression we make on others during and after our lifetime
  • an “idea” that has an “object” as a “thing in itself”
  • an advanced personal processor
  • our conscious selves
  • a finite extension of an infinite base

A soul as an impression on others during and after our lifetime would fit into this definition in terms of interactions and temporal impressions on others’ minds, brains, and bodies, and the environment.

A soul as an idea with an object as something in and of itself. In this sense, a seitous being, distinct entity, emergent as a property, while contained in reality. This fits snugly too, in an introspective sense.

The advanced personal processor simply meets the mind as the brain processing through time. “Our conscious selves” becomes a soul in the centralization of an agentic arena for processing of select or filtered information.

A finite extension of an infinite base may be the one tilting more into metaphysics than others. While, at the same time, it can be considered entirely naturalistically in a Descartian sense. In this manner, a “finite extension,” a cogito or cogito potential, that knows it exists and knows that it knows.

The “infinite” may not be true infinity, not by necessity, and may, in fact, represent an apparent infinity, while being an incomprehensible amount of existence to the capabilities of the finite extension, to the capacities of the cogito or the cogito potential, while, as a fact of the matter, existent as a profoundly large finite, hence “apparent infinity.”

In any case, one does not make the “soul” an extranatural occurrence, but, rather, a natural evolved happening and, indeed, an unavoidable, inevitable consequence of existence, temporality, and agency, themselves.

In that, the soul does not become an object in the sense of saying, “I have a soul,” but, instead, becomes a subject united with reality and separate in the sense of a cogito, a finite extension, a conscious self, an advanced personal processor called the mind, the seitous being as a thing in itself, and the impressions on others during and after our time in existence.

The soul as the subject in the dynamic object universe, while previously as an object with cogito potential or the capacity to differentiate in a sufficient manner to become a subject, a soul, in reality at large; where, in turn, a sole ensoulment evolves in an individual organism’s life in the manner of evolution via natural selection evolves over time.

The complete, comprehensive makeup of the individual as the soul. Once more, theology becomes a failed endeavour, useless, pitifully inadequate now. Furthermore, even sophisticated and smart individuals with a moral backbone, including Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, the noosphere becomes nothing new and not pervasive, so as to fail to acquire the title of a “sphere” and the “reason” (noo-) becomes merely an individuated trait found in some organisms, not even all organisms, within a species because of the cogito potential in most without cogito actualized in them.

Children die early. Adults get blows to the head. Diseases of the mind break individual wills and senses of reality. Thermodynamics breaks down environments important for individual and collective survival. Existence is not perfectly ordered because existence statistically exists.

By this comprehensive nature of an operator in existence as the definition of the soul, any and every damage to inter-relations with other operators, or damage to the environment relative to the order of the environment, the operator, and other non-agentic beings, or damage to the body or the brain of the operator, amount to deleterious effects upon the soul, as such, as parts and relations of the soul of the individual, itself. A naturalistic, informational, relational structure centred on the base armature known to agency, the human brain.

Therefore, theology fails. Even subtle theology, it fails too. The Fr. Teilhard de Chardin notion of a noosphere and an Omega Point fails to account more accurately with the basic reality of unguided biological evolution while without basis asserting a progression towards an endpoint, an Omega Point, interpreted through the frame of the most favourable mythology to him, Christ as the Son of God or Son of Man or God made flesh, as the coming to union with Christ of the reason-sphere, the noosphere atop the biosphere.

In this, no world soul, no global or universal soul, no magical essence, no supernaturalism, no divine breathe, no instantaneous insertion of the soul at conception, no Imago Dei (as souls come to evolve and do not become implanted/created while remain natural and informational structures), nothing but that which is; both self-evidently so, and over sufficient time, evidently so, as in given by the evidence.

In terms of conveying a meaningful statement, in the modern comprehension of the mind with updated meanings of a “soul” in the more comprehensive definition, we cannot objectify the soul, as this would objectify ourselves, saying, “I have a soul.”

Our only meaningful statement comes from ownership as subjects in the universe with bodies, brains, relations, and environments, as operators, in saying, “I am a soul.” A technical, natural existence which, statistically speaking, overwhelmingly can’t not be.

To own this, we differentiate internal to existence from objects to subjects with subjectivity in reality, where reality is “an objective and independent set of conditions, events, happenings, incidents, people, principles, facts.”

Thus, I do not have a soul. I am a soul. To others stipulating the latter, in turn, we can state, “We have souls.” In fact, the former inverted, “I have a soul,” becomes an impossible statement because the act of the statement, in some sense, implies, to be a soul itself rather than having one, as in to assert an act of independent existence, subjective existence, in reality.

Therefore, a soul exists because I exist. Souls exist because we exist, i.e., “I am a soul.”

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Assistant Editor, News Intervention, Human Rights Activist. Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He focuses on North America for News Intervention. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. You can contact Scott via email.

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