Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Next Blog - #39 -Your opinion on souls

I figured that since we discussed what a soul is today - and couldn't come to am agreement on what it is - I thought this would be a good place to ask you what your opinion on what a soul is. 

Share your opinions on what you think a soul is and explain why. 

200 words minimum.  Due Thursday, January 6 before class. 


"The soul has its principal seat in the small gland located in the middle of the brain." - Rene Descartes -- The Passions of the Soul, 1649

Definition of a soul mate from Aristophanes as found in Plato's Symposium:

To quote the American Heritage Dictionary, a soul is: " 1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity;  

2. The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.

3. The central or integral part; the vital core;
4. A person's emotional or moral nature." 
Typing "What is a soul?" into Yahoo, I got images of the car, Kia Soul, and the anime comic, Soul Eater.  Google provided much more diverse images including images associated with love and soul music.  It also included pictures of people who appear to be soulful or great souls (I can only guess). 
Here's a trailer (available on Netflix -it's PG-13) for a movie called Cold Souls
COLD SOULS: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Emily Watson, Dina Korzun

Also, the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer, wrote a book called The Host, about aliens taking over the Earth and invading our bodies, kinda like body snatchers, to make us more peaceful.  When they take us over, they engage our memories too. 


  1. The soul is something that everyone is very curious about, but not all people can really explain what a soul is, or what a soul means. In American culture, the word soul has been thrown around for many different things to describe a certain style of music, food, or even a bond two people can share. But, even though the word soul is there, it is just a word that is attached to the thing. The dictionary definition of soul is the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life. To explain what that definition means in normal everyday terms, a soul is yourself, the way you act and interact with others, causing your life to be what it is. I personally do agree with that definition, and I think it is pretty spot on. The soul is something that explains and exemplifies a person’s complete aura. If you see a weak individual who has no self confidence, their soul would tend to be a weak soul, and that persons soul shows through how the person physically lives. The soul is many ways is confidence as well, or in modern terms, an individual’s swagger. No two people can ever have the same soul, a person’s soul can have common characteristics of another’s soul, but a soul cannot ever been a duplicate, everyone is individually different. If you look at the soul mate topic, a soul mate is two different people that do not have similar souls, but characteristics of both individuals souls mesh to make a whole. The soul mates souls in many ways are similar to two jigsaw pieces; they connect and complete the picture. Having a soul is what makes a person that person, without a soul, you cannot be anything.

    Jake Stein
    3rd Hour

  2. I feel that the soul is not a material thing. Even though I think that the makeup of one's soul is based on their thoughts and feelings within the mind, I believe that these special ideas and emotions do not take up space in the same way that normal thoughts do. For this reason, I do not buy into the findings of the Douglas Macdougall experiments. After a person dies their soul does not leave them but lives on within them. Therefore when you die your soul does not get reincarnated. Instead it, in a way, goes to heaven without leaving you. This could be compared to the way that your mind leaves you and goes to another place during a dream. The function of the soul is to determine the way that a person will act in moral situations. In other words, while our minds determine what we do, our souls dictate the nature of our actions whether good our bad. Throughout history there have been those that are considered to have evil souls and those that are said to have good souls. Those with evil souls, Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini for example, are simply those who did more bad than good in their lives as mandated by the nature of their souls. Conversely, those who are considered good, such as Ghandi, King Solomon, and Mother Theresa, did more for the greater good in their lives than they did to hurt the world.

  3. I want to believe and say there is a soul. I find the whole concept very interesting, but my personal logic tells me there isn’t one. I couldn’t say for sure though, because there is no proof for or against it I find reasonable. The study we were talking about in class was not done on enough people for me to be satisfied with it especially as they all had the same disease, TB.

    I do enjoy discussing the topic and I love using it in poetry and things like that. I am fine with referring to your personality and conscious as a soul. I call it that frequently, but I am not so sure if there is a physical or spiritual soul that leaves the body and all that.

    Soul mates are something I do not believe in. I do think it is important to find a life partner and I do believe in love. I just don’t think you’re stuck with one and that there is one single person you need to find to make you happy. There is people who lose their spouse in accidents and things like that who find someone a few years later and love them and marry them. I also think if you have been with a person for a while they are that much better suited for you then another person because you have shared experiences and have grown a bit together, and that’s important. There are a lot of people out there who will like similar things as you, not that you could happily be with 10% of the population, but maybe like .25% which really is a heck of a lot of people.

    Like I really agree with this song:

    Natalie Douma, hour 3

  4. I believe that souls are apart of your body that stays with you for the rest of your life, until you die and it leaves you. This part would probably contain a personality trait or a symbol that most people do not have. For example, if I were to have the soul of Ray Charles, maybe I would have different eyesight than everyone else or become more interested in my senses other than sight. Maybe your soul is your personality that comes from your genes and your societal upbringing. I do not exactly know, but it’s what I believe.
    In the definitions, it says that the soul is separate from the body. I don’t believe that because if it is in your body, it should be apart of you. It was interesting with the class topic today about the experiment this guy performed but you can’t always trust a scale. It could be some other factors of why 21 grams are leaving these bodies once they die. I don’t believe it is the soul.
    Honestly, I think I have the soul of the Pocahontas because there are some things about myself that I do not see in my family or friends at all. For example, I feel like nature is my home. I also like to think that I go “wherever the wind takes me.” I know it sounds really crazy, but I can see myself relating to her a lot.

    -Maya Campbell

  5. A soul is what makes us humans individuals. It is what contains our emotions and instinct. Furthermore, a person's soul is immortal. Because of this, when a human dies, what is essentially them lives on. Some doubt the existence of people's souls. However, although nobody has ever seen a soul, nobody has ever seen a thought; yet none doubt their existence. Likewise, a soul is something beyond the physical world. Still, if one's soul is immortal, where did it come from? Is it as old as the universe itself? Perhaps the soul was created at birth; two souls make another. Or maybe Gd created them when he created Earth? Also, if souls are immutable, what happens to them when we die? There are many answers to this question, but they cannot all possibly be true; maybe people who believe in reincarnation are reincarnated, and the same happens with heaven and hell, atheism, etc. Some people even believe that one's soul is only in "this realm" (Earth) to learn a single lesson, and after one learns that lesson he or she moves on to the next. Personally, I haven't a clue what will happen to me when I die, I only know that I have an immutable soul that will live on long after my body is dust.

    -Ben Robinson

  6. I think that a soul involves everything that determines who we are and what makes us human; consciousness, thoughts and personality all have origins from the soul. I don't believe that it deals with fate, but it plays in to how you deal with everything that comes at you in life. I think it help explains why everyone has a different point of view, and even why no one can seem to agree on a definition of the soul. A lot of the connotations tied to the soul deal with religion, but I don't think they have a close tie. I don't see how anyone cannot have a soul, regardless of what religion you are. When you look at life and see just how different we are from any other creatures on the planet, and that were even capable of deep thought and consideration of something like a soul, just proves how real it is. There aren't really a ton of concrete ideas that distinctly divide us from any other animal. But in a way, that makes you think, do animals have souls? Maybe our ties run deeper than we think.

    Alice Turner

  7. Allison Smart
    3rd Hr

    A soul is our mind, thoughts, emotions, and any feelings that make us human. Its basically what makes us individuals. We have our body which is unique compared to everyone else but we also have our own personality, our soul. Your soul is not a physical thing so it doesn’t have a weight or isn’t part of your physical body. I don’t think that the study that Douglas MacDougall did were correct. There could be numerous reasons why the body loses 21 grams when it dies, not from a soul leaving that person. I think that our soul lives within us until we die, then it goes to heaven to live eternally. So I do not believe in reincarnation since our soul has gone to heaven. Now concerning soul mates, I think that yes there may be two people that are meant to be together. Im not so sure that it is their souls that are “looking” for each other like you said in class but they could be meant to be together. The soul is a very complex thing that everyone has to interpret for them selves. There is no one definition for a soul so everyone needs to figure out what they want to consider it to be.

  8. Trying to define a soul is a difficult task. It means different things to different people, but generally a soul is a living creature’s personality, emotions, consciousness, thoughts, and actions. However, these simplistic terms can’t do the definition justice: one must come in contact with a person’s entire being to have an idea of what their soul is like. In my definition, note that I didn’t specify people, but creatures. I believe animals have souls as well. For example, if one of my family members is sad, my dog will come lay next to them or whimper. This shows that she understands our emotions and reacts to them accordingly. Another example is how elephants display sadness when another elephant in their herd dies. Although animals cannot express their emotions verbally, it is arguable that they display emotions through their behavior.
    Personally, I was blown away by the experiment preformed by Duncan McDougall with the tuberculosis patients and the apparent evidence that the soul has weight. However, I am very skeptical of this conclusion and insist that there must be a scientific explanation.
    To be perfectly honest, I think the soul shouldn’t have to be defined at all. It’s a concept that you understand perfectly in your head, but it’s impossible to thoroughly define it verbally.

    Gretchen Geist;; 3rd Hour

  9. I have many doubts about the concept that humans have souls, however, I am not ready to dismiss the idea as a possibility. On one hand there is no evidence that humans do have souls but on the other hand there is also no evidence that proves that we do no. One thing that I am sure of is that if people do have some sort of soul it is defiantly not part of our anatomy. It is not an actual thing that can be seen or weighed and does not take up any space. If it exists, it exists only within our own minds as a compilation of all the things that make us unique not only from other animals but from all other people as well. The human anatomy is basically the same for all healthy people however we are all so different in our thoughts and actions so it is easy to see why many people believe in this idea of a human soul. I also think it is important to argue that all of the things that people claim to be part of a person’s souls such as personality traits can be simply explained through careful examination of the brain.

    Andrew Gordner

  10. The soul is something that doesn’t have material significance, rather just intertwined in our mind (brain), thoughts, and feelings. I personally don’t believe that we have a “soul”; due to we have already discovered everything in the body. Additionally, there is no specific organ or object in our body that excretes such characteristics. For that specific reason, I do not believe that any of Douglas MacDougall experiments could be true. His findings show that 21 grams were lost immediately after the death of a Tb victim. I personally believe that the soul was not lost from the body, instead some things were evaporated from the patient (which would explain the slight difference in weight). More on that note, when you die your soul doesn’t leave your body of become reincarnated. Alternatively, it leaves your body (leaving it’s mass) and floats around in our atmosphere as orbs.
    When it comes to the question on whether there is such a thing as a “soul mate”, I believe it is possible, but in the society that we live in, it’s almost impossible to find. In our society, sometimes people just marry for physical wants and empowerment, not for the actual meaning of being in love. This is often the case in Iran, where they have temporary marriages, which could last hours or up to years. I don’t believe that is a “soul mate”, rather just a person to help fulfill tasks. In conclusion, I believe it is possible for a “soul mate” but they might be half way around the world, so I wouldn’t worry about finding them.

    Dylan Reiners-Hour 3rd

  11. Well, let me start off with my ideas on the physical body and reincarnation. First let me establish that energy cannot be created or destroyed; the atoms on this earth are the same ones that were here when the dinosaurs were around. When their bodies died they decomposed into soil; eventually the nutrients from that soil became something new. So the dinosaur isn’t really gone. It’s just taken on a different form. Our human bodies are the same way. We’re all made from the past. The atoms in me were once part of something else that was part of something else that was part of something else. Life and death is a constant and amazing recycle of the same building blocks. Makes you wonder, what were you before your atoms became human atoms? What atoms are you going to leave behind for the next cycle? Healthy ones?

    I personally do not believe in a heaven or a hell. I do not think there is some big guy sitting up on a throne calling all the shots. I believe once our time is up, it’s up. I believe that the part of us we call our soul will eventually go back to whatever great force or great “good” that it came from. I believe the soul is the bond between that force and the earthly body we have. Our soul leaves this force, joins with the body at birth (or at conception, or maybe even before. Who knows?) , lives the life, then returns. Yet another cycle.

    The union and the time shared between the body and our small part of the greater force out there is my definition of the soul. I believe that we as individuals leave our own unique imprints on both these cycles. If we eat healthy food and live healthy, whole lives, I believe we will leave a good imprint on the earthly body cycle. I believe that if we are happy and “holy” (I personally believe “holy” is derived from “wholly”: as in complete and well) we will leave a good imprint on that greater force. So really, what I’m trying to say is that we should live our lives to the fullest, the most wholly, and the happiest we can; and leave our very best for the next cycle.

    So call me a tree hugger, but when I die, throw my body in the compost pile and get the cycle movin’!

    Dustin Oakwood. 3rd Hour

  12. The problem I find with souls, like god, is that there’s just not enough proof to say that there is or isn’t a soul. Although there are snippets of so called proof here or there that there is a soul, it generally neutralizes out with proof that there isn’t. This creates the debate of whether or not there actually is a soul. I personally believe that there isn’t a soul because I’m afraid of what happens after death in the sense of do we move on, or do are body just decompose, and how is determined as to what happens. If it’s determined by our acts of good verse our acts of evil, then who decides what is and what isn’t good and how do they decide on what is or isn’t good? Also if a soul going to “heaven” or “hell” is based on a tally system (although that’s a way more simplistic idea), how can I see where I’m at, because like me and every other human being I defiantly don’t want to end up in “hell” or a place worse. Therefore, I have to believe that there isn’t a soul, or an essence of our personality and consciousness, all because I don’t believe in a place for it to go after death, because souls are generally associated with death.

    Jared Monchnik
    3rd hour

  13. A soul is neither physical or spiritual. It's like art, art is so special because it connects us all in a way we can understand, every human being. The idea of a soul connects all people in the world. Art is art. A soul is a soul. It also takes belief. In the aspect of religion, religion is the most powerful idea in the world. It's something no one can ever take from you. That in the worst of times you can always make sense of things. It brings perspective. Relgion branched out is vicious nonetheless. But at its root it will always bee the powerful concept. Something that holds every human being together. The power to believe. But relgion is a package deal, along with that comes belief in a higher power. Is the soul a higher power? If we believe in a soul we believe we have a destination beyond the real world. By believing in that the fine line between fantasy and reality is lost. That's where the soul lies. In an abstract area of truth and lies, what we find in people. It's all relative to who are you and what you find. To say a soul exists one would have to assume such an entity as god exists. And that leaves us no where. We're left asking such questions like what happened to 90s television? Things were so pure back then. Now the heart of life is gone. A soul is such a powerful concept and carries so much weight that it takes so much to fully understand what it represents.

    Evan Fried
    forwarded by Bean

  14. A soul is a theory created by man to explain where human emotions, personalities, etc. come from. It is easy to believe because of the types of things a soul can be referred to. I personally think that a soul does not carry any space or weight. It is merely what we label our emotions, personalities, and consciousness as. It's not something that's literally there, only something that resides in our consciousness. Therefore I don't believe that a soul actually exists. Although -just like god- I can see why people believe that a soul exists because for some it could possibly give them a reason to live morally so that there soul goes to heaven.

    Josh Cecile
    3rd Hour

  15. I have mixed opinions about souls. I feel like they are real but at the same time they are not. There is really no proof that souls exists they have conducted experiments but they don’t make any sense really. In a way in my mind they do exist, because I think that the conscious thought and emotions are a part of the soul. If people did not have a soul they would not have a sense of right and wrong or do anything good. I do not think that the soul has a weight, because it is not a material thing like the heart. The heart actually is physical thing and has weight but the soul is nothing material. I feel like the soul makes up a person spiritually. The soul is also more of a religious thing; I think that more people that are religious will believe more in the soul rather than someone who is not religious. I also think that the soul may not exist only because there is no proof that there is a soul. I feel like if I had a life changing experience regarding god or something religious than I would be more confident about whether or not there is or is not a soul. Those are my opinions about the souls.

    mariam sharaf hour 3

  16. I always thought of souls as a continuation of yourself after death. A soul would retain your thoughts, memories, and conscience after death and preserve them so that you could live eternally in either heaven or hell. Before our discussions in class I never really thought about a soul taking up space or weighing anything. I kind of thought it would be a invisible gas of sorts that would transcend into heaven or hell based upon your moral decisions and how you followed the Ten Commandments in your previous life. It just doesn’t seem right that McDougall found that souls weigh 21 g. I believe that souls exist in our bodies but not in a tangible way. If a soul really does weigh 21g then it has to be taking up space somewhere in our body, so where does it reside in our bodies while we are living? Why has no one ever seen a soul during surgery when the body is opened? Those are the two questions that I need to have answered to make me believe that a soul is an actual object and part of the body rather than just an intangible belief that gives us hope in death and guides are decisions throughout life.

    Austin Slawinski, 3rd

  17. To me a soul is something intangible. We can't see it, we can't hear it, we can't taste it, we can't smell it, but in a way we are able to feel it. We can't physically grasp a soul with our hands, but I feel as though inside ourselves we can just tell that it's there. Imagine someone leaning over your shoulder and even though you're not looking at them, and they're not touching you, you just know they're there? It’s a sensation like that.
    When I think of a soul I invasion this thin layer of energy right under ones skin. I know most people see a soul as being something that’s hidden deep within the core of the body, but I don't see it that way. The reason why I see it how I do is because I think a soul works as some sort of barrier between the outside world and your inner self. A soul is to our thoughts, as skin is to our organs. We can’t always tell what’s going on inside but our outer layer can give us some hints. For instance, if you're thoughts are dark and gloomy, then your soul becomes tainted with those qualities and then those qualities are reflected through your personality and emotions.
    I find the soul a hard thing to express to others, the best I can do is just tell people that the soul is what gives you soul. Without a soul we would all be emotionless robots, all uniform in a sense that no one would seek individuality. The word unique would seem unethical, or almost impossible. Having personalities and emotions are what set people apart and also what brings certain people together.
    The soul is a difficult concept to explain, but I believe that we all have souls and I believe that a soul is what gives us character and a sense of distinctiveness.

    3rd hour
    Natalie Hords

  18. Most people think that everyone has a soul (I think.) A lot of people think that we are given a soul when we are born and that our soul continues on to another path once we die. Whether it be heaven or hell or some other sort of afterlife. They also think that a person’s soul is what makes them unique and different from other people. They think our souls are our mind and body. In my opinion, we don’t really have a soul. Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, it makes it difficult to believe in a soul. I believe that what everyone has that differs us from one another is our conscious, not our soul. I believe the idea of a soul is there to serve a purpose to those who believe in an afterlife. Then there is the idea of a soul mate. (Not sure it this has to do with your soul but I might as well add it in.) I don’t believe that there is a specific person out there for you that you are destine to be with. There maybe someone that is perfect for you and can make you happy, but I don’t believe that you can ever meet up with a “soul mate.” This is also because I believe in freewill.
    -Alex Grigorian

  19. There are people that believe people have a soul and then there are some people who think that we do not have a soul. In class we talked about whether or not a soul occupies space, and if a soul has weight or not. In these two cases I do not believe that a soul occupies any physical space. To me I think that your soul is made up of your thoughts, and actions. In some ways you could make an argument that those two things can take up some type of space. You could think this way for whether or not your soul has weight. Another question that we were debating in class was if it mattered if we had a soul. To me I don’t think it matters if we have a soul or not. I think with or without a soul we will be able to make our own decisions and make our own actions. To me a soul is made up of thoughts and actions, but it really has no need.

    Matt Trogu

  20. When we went into our little groups to try and decide what we thought a soul was we came up with the unique Idea that our souls are located in our brains and that we may have already discovered them we just named it something else. We are said to only use a portion of our brainpower to begin with so what if the other portion was where our soul was located? I understand that this could be riddled with problems and people that could disprove it but I really loved the idea of it and the potential that it had. I personally think that we do all have souls and our souls make us who we are. They consist of our personalities, wants, preferences, and desires. Another reason why we thought the soul could be located in the brain is because when a person is brain dead they lose all of those things. I don’t have an answer for the loss of weight when a person dies. The only thing I could think of was oxygen escaping the lungs but that doesn’t seem like nearly enough weight to what they say you lose. It could also be the spiritual part of your soul moving on to whatever afterlife you believe in.

    Ryan St. John


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