What is a Soul?

A sculpture of a human head made with wire mesh

I’ve always found it interesting that Aristotle believed plants have souls. It’s difficult for me to imagine that there is some part of a plant that is immaterial. On the other hand, if plants don’t have souls, what is it that makes them grow and flower and express such beautiful complexity?

I believe the being of God pervades all parts of existence. This considered, I can see how God animates the world, including everything that grows and everything that breathes. God is an omnipresent, all-powerful, living being, who is in control of all activity in existence. This explains why we see change occurring constantly in all God has created.

But did God create souls? And if so, what are they?

Philosophers talk about the attributes of the soul being things like reason, character, feeling, memory, consciousness, perception, thinking, etc. I can appreciate all of these things are immaterial aspects of human beings, but I find it hard to accept that they have substance. However, the conventional view of the soul is that it is something that lives on after death, aside from the material body. What is the nature of this entity that lives on, that is not physical, but still has a range of attributes of which our minds can conceive?

In my paper entitled The Human Soul in Plato and Christianity I explore the question of the existence of souls in depth. The paper is available as a free PDF download from this blog, on the Essays page.

You are welcome to share thoughts and resources relating to this discussion of the existence of souls in the comments below. Thank you.

10 Comments on “What is a Soul?

  1. I believe the soul is that very thing that makes us ALIVE, it is fueled by the very power that is within every atom of every molecule of all existence. Hard to fathom I know, but that’s only because the world is oblivious to the reality of the living God, his reason for creating us and the virtual power he wheels in his hands that permeates the entire universe of molecular and spiritual matter. Will definitely indulge in your paper when I have more time. God bless.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Biblically speaking, the soul is the “essence” of who we actually are. At the death of our bodies, which perish, our souls go on, either to Heaven or Hell. Our souls are God’s creation, that which separates us from and elevates us above all other created and living things. This is what makes human beings unique in all of God’s creation. Thanks for posting, Steven.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “I believe the being of God pervades all parts of existence..” Wow love it! Thanks for sharing bro.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I find it interesting that the Psalmist tells his soul to magnify the Lord. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.” Ps 42:5 (ESV) It is as if he was separate from his soul and had to tell it what to do. Our mind is strong; it often will lead our body into making unwise choices; ie overeating. His temporary temple was telling his eternal person to rise up and rejoice. Or is the “soul” that he is referring to in this verse his thoughts? And is it his spirit that will live into eternity? Or are they one and the same? All interesting concepts. It will be worth reading your paper.

    Liked by 1 person

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