Author Topic: Theory of the Soul  (Read 13419 times)

Chelagoras The Boulder

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Theory of the Soul
« on: July 08, 2015, 09:06:28 am »
Right, so i've had this idea banging around in my head for a bit, been wanting to let it out and see what other people think of it.

So in psychology, a problem you often have in doing research is trying to test things objectively when what you're talking about is inherently nonphysical. You can either refuse to deal with anything "inside the black box" which is to say cognition, emotions, subconscious processes, etc, like the behaviorists do, or you can choose to set up your experiments using Operational definitions, meaning that the abstract idea you are trying to study should have a strictly defined meaning for the purposes of the experiment and therefore have a way to observe and measure the subject within the experiment. So that got me thinking, what would be a an operational definition for the soul? After listening to Nigel talk about the mind as an emergent property of the neurological processes of the brain, that got me thinking, what if what we often refer to as the soul is  a similar thing?

so first i guess i should clarify what i feel the difference is between the soul and the mind example i gave above. The Mind, being an emergent process of the brain, would be a product of our awareness of a self, so even an animal that is aware of itself as an individual could be said to have a mind, yet these animals wouldn't be said to have a soul in the same way that humans have souls, tho some philosophers argue that different forms of life have vegetative souls or animal souls yadda yadda yadda. So then, my argument is that the soul is something far more abstract than the mind, yet is important for how we perceive and interact with others. Simply put the soul is our "story". It's the "Meta" that tends to build up around any kind of game you get invested in for very long, kind of like how in Team Fortress, even though the classes are meant to be as well balanced against each other as they can possibly be, there are also various factors that pull players to choose certain clases over other, some classes to be more popular over others, and the community tends to attach subjective meanings to the different classes and the people who play them (pyros are unskilled noobs, snipers and spies are douchebags, etc). So when we talk about a soul in culture what we are talking about is our story, and when we talk about selling our soul or saving a soul, or this youtube video hurts my soul, what we are talking about is a change in what we perceive in these three elements: what we perceive/give meaning to about ourselves (I am a good person), what other people perceive/give meaning to about us (No, you're a piece of shit, Dave), and the interplay between those two elements; what we perceive/give meaning to about what others perceive/give meaning to about us (Hey fuck you, did i ask for your opinion, you bunch of wankers?) Applied to the animal examples i mentioned above, this could mean that the difference between a human soul and an animal's might be a lack of one of these components. Your dog for example, might be aware of itself, might be aware of whether or not you think hes a good boy who wants a treat, but might stop there and consider whether there's more to its existence than that.

So yea, just this recurring thought i keep having , thought i'd air it out and let you guys look at it. I have the vaguest sense that Shintoism has some belief like this, though I've never really done much reading on Shintoism, so if there is an influence its probably subconscious thru i dunno, Inuyasha or something. Tell me what ya think, it's late and i'm going to bed for now.
"It isn't who you know, it's who you know, if you know what I mean.  And I think you do."

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2015, 03:32:08 pm »
This kind of delves into the arena of psychology which most frequently makes me regret wasting my time on the degree, which is the self-indulgent wankery of "what separates us from the animals".

My answer is:
1. if you were a biologist you wouldn't ask this question, and
2. this is the reason the other scientists can't take psychology seriously.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Reginald Ret

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2015, 07:45:33 pm »
I read soul and I think Cartesian dualism.
PROTIP: Cartesian dualism is a false dichotomy.
I don't know if your post is more nuanced than that because I am too tired to read heavy stuff like that today.
So I may be completely off base. I have no reason to post this other than I like saying Cartesian dualism. it gives me a happy.
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Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2015, 08:32:43 pm »
If you are going to redefine soul to mean, roughly, "that which represents the self as imagined through narrative", or "story", then it is a subset of memory, which is a function of mind, which is an emergent property of nervous system. So at that point, you have essentially just defined soul as a subset of mind; one which already has a name, ie. memory.

One of the biggest problems psychology has, IMO, is the tendency to fractionalize into philosophical camps that all use their own jargon and charts and are named for their own gurus, the people who initially wrote the book that spawned the school of thought that their followers subscribe to. This tendency seems to be seated pretty deeply in the discipline, to such an extent that students seem to strive to spawn their own schools of thought in order to prove that they're good enough thinkers, that they've arrived. To have a system named after you; that's the hallmark of being a big name in psychology.

Unfortunately, it's mostly smoke and mirrors that prevents anyone from making any kind of coherent, unified sense out of all the apparently competing theories about human behavior and human mind. If everyone has their own fucking jargon, you can't tell when they're describing the same thing from different perspectives. It's bullshit. This is the reason chemistry has IUPAC, and even biologists are starting to pull their heads out of their asses and name things in ways that are useful and descriptive rather than arbitrary and ego-stroking. Scientists need to all speak the same language and be on the same page for science to be done.

So if you want to write about the sense of self that we call soul, its biological origins and how we relate to it socially and linguistically, that is great, but don't get yourself dug into a place where you're shrouding existing concepts in a veil of redefined terminology and special reference.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Demolition Squid

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2015, 10:32:35 pm »
One of the biggest problems psychology has, IMO, is the tendency to fractionalize into philosophical camps that all use their own jargon and charts and are named for their own gurus, the people who initially wrote the book that spawned the school of thought that their followers subscribe to. This tendency seems to be seated pretty deeply in the discipline, to such an extent that students seem to strive to spawn their own schools of thought in order to prove that they're good enough thinkers, that they've arrived. To have a system named after you; that's the hallmark of being a big name in psychology.

Interestingly, I felt the same way about Power Studies in politics.

You've got about a dozen major thinkers who all work from their own definition of what power 'is', and to teach it the lecturer basically had to lay out what each individual theory meant.

I once got very excited when I realized that you could talk about all these different areas of 'Power' by using words like 'Influence' and 'Coercion' and 'Force' instead of just insisting on using 'Power' every time, and then combine all the theories to apply to their actual context instead of pretending they were all mutually exclusive because they were camping on the same word. My lecturer basically told me 'you aren't as smart as the people who came up with these definitions, drop it'. Which... yeah. In retrospect, that guy was kind of a dick.
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zarathustrasbastardson

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2015, 12:28:09 am »
Soul speaks less and says moor
chaos is truth
radiate better

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2015, 02:18:03 am »
One of the biggest problems psychology has, IMO, is the tendency to fractionalize into philosophical camps that all use their own jargon and charts and are named for their own gurus, the people who initially wrote the book that spawned the school of thought that their followers subscribe to. This tendency seems to be seated pretty deeply in the discipline, to such an extent that students seem to strive to spawn their own schools of thought in order to prove that they're good enough thinkers, that they've arrived. To have a system named after you; that's the hallmark of being a big name in psychology.

Interestingly, I felt the same way about Power Studies in politics.

You've got about a dozen major thinkers who all work from their own definition of what power 'is', and to teach it the lecturer basically had to lay out what each individual theory meant.

I once got very excited when I realized that you could talk about all these different areas of 'Power' by using words like 'Influence' and 'Coercion' and 'Force' instead of just insisting on using 'Power' every time, and then combine all the theories to apply to their actual context instead of pretending they were all mutually exclusive because they were camping on the same word. My lecturer basically told me 'you aren't as smart as the people who came up with these definitions, drop it'. Which... yeah. In retrospect, that guy was kind of a dick.

A dick and perhaps not so bright himself, because if anything he should have encouraged you to pursue that line of analysis and write a paper that could unite the work from the thinkers you were studying.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Chelagoras The Boulder

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2015, 03:55:23 am »
Yknow, the funny bit is i think this bit of philosophical ruminating was actually born more as a response to people who says things like, "What can your blasted SCIENCE tell us about the human soul, HUH? ANSWER ME THAT, SCIENCEMAN!!!"

I would like to lead them into an argument like the OP and say "basically this." and watch the wind leave their sails a little.

So if nothing else, this could be used as a pseudoscientific attempt to shut up idiots. You're welcome.
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Chelagoras The Boulder

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2015, 05:37:39 am »
Also, i've been listening to a fair amount of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, so yea, there's bit of them in this idea, also.
"It isn't who you know, it's who you know, if you know what I mean.  And I think you do."

Chelagoras The Boulder

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2015, 07:50:34 am »
If you are going to redefine soul to mean, roughly, "that which represents the self as imagined through narrative", or "story", then it is a subset of memory, which is a function of mind, which is an emergent property of nervous system. So at that point, you have essentially just defined soul as a subset of mind; one which already has a name, ie. memory.

well not exactly memory, at least not as it exists within the memory of one person. Stories tend to endure from generation to generation, and so what makes a soul "immortal" isnt some sort of divine essence so much as the collective memory of a person within a culture. like i said, way more abstract than one person's mind and biology. if anything, its an emergent property of many peoples minds intersecting with an individual's.

I gotta stop writing these so late a t night.
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ataposamerica

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2015, 03:07:33 pm »
New to this forum.

Hello, and nice to meet everyone.

As a subset of mind, labeled as memory (learning).  We can no longer infer that we are different from the animals.  A dog can be trained, A cat can...do what a cat does...NVM cats don't have souls.

By this definition, if it can be taught something then it does have a soul/memory, then the absence without this ability. 
Atapos

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2015, 04:46:43 pm »
If you are going to redefine soul to mean, roughly, "that which represents the self as imagined through narrative", or "story", then it is a subset of memory, which is a function of mind, which is an emergent property of nervous system. So at that point, you have essentially just defined soul as a subset of mind; one which already has a name, ie. memory.

well not exactly memory, at least not as it exists within the memory of one person. Stories tend to endure from generation to generation, and so what makes a soul "immortal" isnt some sort of divine essence so much as the collective memory of a person within a culture. like i said, way more abstract than one person's mind and biology. if anything, its an emergent property of many peoples minds intersecting with an individual's.

I gotta stop writing these so late a t night.

So, when you refer to "soul", you are talking about the anthropological definition of "culture"?

https://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/courses/122/module1/culture.html
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2015, 04:48:48 pm »
Or are you talking about stories ABOUT an individual person? Are you talking about mythology?

The thing is, I think there are already words for what you are describing, and I am not sure I see any particular value in making up a new way of talking about it. That's generally just called "obfuscation".
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2015, 07:11:58 pm »
I choose to believe in a soul, because I choose to believe in an afterlife.  I choose to believe in an afterlife, because I refuse to acknowledge a belief system in which something as cool as me disappears forever.

There's no science in that, of course, just a few 55 gallon drums of ego.

Of course, the effect is the same.  If it's your "soul" that gets stained by committing bad acts, or your brain which grows accustomed to them is - to a non-neurologist - irrelevant.  Same as the idea that my love for my wife is just a big pile of oxtossin burbling about in my brain.  The oxytossin thing makes more sense intellectually, because love waxes and wanes over time.

But, again, the end result is the same.  I am all for neurological research into behavior.  But I'm not going to stop thinking of my feelings for Jenn as "love" in favor of "bog-standard brain chemistry".
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Re: Theory of the Soul
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2015, 07:58:57 pm »
I choose to believe in a soul, because I choose to believe in an afterlife.  I choose to believe in an afterlife, because I refuse to acknowledge a belief system in which something as cool as me disappears forever.

There's no science in that, of course, just a few 55 gallon drums of ego.

Of course, the effect is the same.  If it's your "soul" that gets stained by committing bad acts, or your brain which grows accustomed to them is - to a non-neurologist - irrelevant.  Same as the idea that my love for my wife is just a big pile of oxtossin burbling about in my brain.  The oxytossin thing makes more sense intellectually, because love waxes and wanes over time.

But, again, the end result is the same.  I am all for neurological research into behavior.  But I'm not going to stop thinking of my feelings for Jenn as "love" in favor of "bog-standard brain chemistry".

I feel like that's a slightly different argument; we already have a vocabulary for "love" that pretty much everyone agrees on, even if not everyone agrees on the mechanism that causes it. If we want to study love or write poetry or songs or a philosophical dissertation about love, we can do that, and we can all be understood, because for the most part we all agree on the phenomenon and the language we use to describe it.

What Chelagoras seems to be attempting, if I understand him correctly, is to take a word that is a bit like love except which has a more abstract and nebulous meaning, and define it to mean something it is not generally taken to mean.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”