Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(prop. רוּחִ, πνεῦμα , the rational spirit; but occasionally נֶפֶשׁ, ψυχή, the animal principle of life), that vital, immaterial, active substance, or principles in man whereby he perceives, remembers, reasons, and wills. The rational soul is simple, uncompounded, and immaterial, not composed of matter and form; for matter can never think and move of itself as the soul does. In the fourth volume of the Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester the reader will find a very valuable paper by Dr. Ferrier, proving, by evidence apparently complete, that every part of the brain has been injured without affecting the act of thought. It will be difficult for any man to peruse this without being convinced that the modern theory of the Materialists is shaken from its very foundation. (See MATERIALISM).
The soul is rather to be described as to its operation than to be defined as to its essence. Various, indeed, have been the opinions of philosophers concerning its substance. In the second book of his treatise Περὶ Ψυχῆς, Aristotle has given two definitions of it. In the first of these he calls it "the Entelechy (Ε᾿ντελέχεια ), or first form of an organized body which has potential life." The Epicureans thought it a subtle air, composed of atoms, or primitive corpuscles. The Stoics maintained it was a flame, or portion of heavenly light. The Cartesians make thinking the essence of the soul. Critics, a Sophist, regarded the blood as the seat and substratum of the soul. According to Plato, "The first or invisible element of the soul in man is the instrument of rational cognition, the other element is the organ of perception and representation. With this soul, having its seat in the head, are combined the courageous and the appetitive souls, the whole resembling the composite force of a driver and two steeds." Aristotle distinguished several forms of soul, viz. the rational, which is purely spiritual; and infused by the immediate inspiration of God; the appetitice, which was the source of desire and will — the motive of locomotion; the sensitive, which, being common to man and brutes, is supposed to be formed of the element, and is the cause of sensation and feeling and, lastly, the vegetative soul, or principle of growth and nutrition, as the first is of understanding, and the second of animal life.
Modern philosophy has made many attempts to define the soul, of which we give the following resume. "It is not I that thinks, but it thinks in me; and it is not I that am, but it is something in me" (Baggesen, Zeitschr. von Fichte, 34, 153). "Spirit is a substance, immediately immanent in thinking, or of which thinking is immediately the form of activity. Spirit is thinking substance, the soul is dynamically present in the entire organism" (Chalybais, ibid. 20, 69). "We are compelled to suppose that there must be a real essence as the substantial bearer of all psychical conditions. This essence is the soul. It must stand with other real essences in causal relation, in order to the generation in it of manifold internal conditions. In brief, the soul needs the body, the body needs the soul" (Cornelius, Zeitschr. fir exacte Philosophie, 4, 99-102). "In the organism formed of atoms, which are spiritual essences, one unfolds its spiritual force to the point of self- consciousness; this atom, which as gas form atom interpenetrates the entire organism and occupies space as a center, is the soul" (Drossbach, Harmonie der Ergebnisse d. Naturforschung, p. 101-129, 229). "The phenomena of body and soul hang together as internal and external phenomena of the same essence. This primary essence is, however, nothing more than the conjunction of phenomena themselves in the unitv of the general consciousness. The soul becomes aware only of its own proper phenomena, the body becomes aware only through that which appears of it to the soul itself. It is a common essence which appears externally as body, internally as soul" (Fechner, Physical. und philosoph. Atonzenlehre, 2d ed. p. 258, 259). "The soul is no more than nature; it is a phenomenon of the internal sense" (J.G. Fichte, Grundlage d. ges. Wissenschaftslehre, 1794, 1802). "The fact of self consciousness can only be explained on the supposition that the soul is a real essence, distinct from the organism, capable of reflection upon itself, that is, of consciousness. "Soul and body are diverse substances, but in the most intimate union and mutual interpenetration. It is the idea of its body." "Every soul acquires for itself an organic body.
The external material body is but the changing image of the internal process of soul and life" (I.H. Fichte, Zeitschr. 12, 246; 25, 176-178). "Spirit is but a higher potency, a mere continuation of development of the animal soul, and the animal soul itself is a mere exaltation of the vital force of the plant. These three principles are in man, in virtue of his self consciousness, comprehended in one and the same Ego" (Fischer, Metaphysik, p. 36-38; Sitz der Seele, p. 8, 16). "The soul is a substantial essence. The inmost essence, the Ego, is unattainable to our cognition" (Frohschammer, Athehaumn, 2, 116, 119). "The body is the same life as the soul, and yet they may be spoken of as lying asunder. A soul without body would be nothing living, and the converse is true. The soul posits and produces itself; it has a body in itself, not without which it composes one total and actual, and in which it is omnipresent" (Hegel, Wereke, 5, 16; 8, 22, 23; 15, 339; 18, 29, 93). "We have no cognition of what is strictly the essence of our soul. We cannot reach the Ego itself with our consciousness; we can only reach it in the constantly shifting modifications, as it thinks, feels, wills, especially as it possesses the power of representation." "The soul is a simple essence without parts, and without plurality in its quality, whose intellectual manifoldness is conditioned by a varied concurrence with other and yet real essences" (Herbart, Werke, 1, 193, etc.). "The Ego is an absolute unity, and, as it is no object of outward sense, is immaterial; and though it is present in space, and operates in it, occupies no space and has no special place in the body. The body is, rather, but the form of the soul; and birth, life; and death are but the diverse conditions of the soul. The conception of soul can only be reached by deductions" (Kant, Vorlesungen uber Metaphysik, p. 133-254; Werke, 7, 60-78). "The what of the soul, its nature, comes as little into view as does the essential nature of things in general; the essential nature of the soul in itself remains unknown to us before it comes into a situation within which alone its life unfolds itself.
The soul is also the focus into which flow together the movements of the bodily life that play hither and thither. The. soul neither arises from the body nor from nothing, but goes forth from the substance of the infinite with the same substantiality which pertains to all the actual in nature that has sprung from the same infinite source. Our personality is not composed of body and soul; rather does our true essence lie exclusively in the soul. The spirit is something higher than the soul. In the spirit is the unity of our being, our true Ego. The soul is but an element in its service. At death the soul passes away, the spirit ripens to a new existence" (Lotze, Mlikrokosmus; Sfreitschriften, 1, 138). "The soul, the consciousness a posteriori, is nothing but the individual being, so far as it is conscious, and can neither be, nor be thought of, apart from that individual being" (Schellwien, Seyn und Bewusstseyn, p. 117, 122). "The Ego which now apprehends itself as sentient or percipient, now as putting forth effort, willing, etc., knows itself at the same time as one and the same, the same abiding self. It is but an expression of this consciousness of unity when we speak of our own soul, and impute to it this or that predicate; that is, when we distinguish our own soul, with its manifold characteristics, from ourselves, and in this act implicitly contrast ourselves as unity with the mutation and manifoldness of our intellectual life" (Ulrici, Glauben und Wissen, p. 64-66; Zeitschr. von Fichte, 36, 232; Gott u. die Natur, p. 414-417).
Modern philosophers in Germany thus make a distinction between Ψυχή (Seele) and πνεῦμα (Geist), or spirit and soul; but they reverse the relative significance of these terms. Prof. G.H. Schubert says that the soul is the inferior part of our intellectual nature, while the spirit is that part of our nature which tends to the purely rational, the lofty and divine. The doctrine of the natural and the spiritual (q.v.) man, which we find in the writings of Paul, may, it has been thought, have formed the basis upon which this mental dualism has been founded. The plainest and most common distinction taken in the use of the words soul and mind is, that in speaking of the mind of man we refer more to the various powers which it possesses, or the various operations which it performs; and in speaking of the soul of man we refer rather to the nature and destiny of the human being. The following distinguishing features of spirit, mind, and soul have been given: "The first denotes the animating faculty, the breath of intelligence, the inspiring principle, the spring of energy, and the prompter of exertion; the second is the recording power, the preserver of impressions, the storer of deductions, the nurse of knowledge, and the parent of thought; the last is the disembodied, ethereal, self conscious being, concentrating in itself all the purest and most refined of human excellences, every generous affection, every benevolent disposition, every intellectual attainment, every ennobling virtue, and every exalting aspiration" (The Purpose of Existence [1850, 12mo], p. 79). Ψυχή, spirit, when considered separately signifies the principle of life; νοῦς, mind, the principle of intelligence. According to Plutarch, spirit is the cause and beginning of motion, and mind of order and harmony with respect to motion. Together they signify an intelligent soul. Thus we say the "immortality" of the soul, and the "powers" of the mind (Fleming, Vocabulary of Science, s.v.). (See MIND).
In the Holy Scriptures three principles are recognized (see especially 1 Thessalonians 5:23) as essential components of man — the soul (רוּחִ , πνεῦμα ), the spirit (נֶפֶשׁ, Ψυχή ), and the body (בָּשָׂר, σάρξ , or σῶμα ); but these are not accurately, much less scientifically, defined. The first and the last of these elements clearly correspond to the material or physical and the immaterial or spiritual parts of man's nature, i.e. the soul and the body, as ordinarily defined by modern philosophers and scientists; but the middle term, the "spirit," is hard to be distinguished. Yet in all earthly creatures, even in the lowest forms of animals, there is clearly observable a principle, inherent indeed in the body, and yet distinct from the rational faculty of man or the instinctive intelligence of brutes. This is usually styled "the animate principle," or briefly life. It is this which molds the whole physical organism, and for this end controls, and to a large degree overrides, mere chemical and inorganic laws, producing combinations and results impossible to unvitalized substance. This power or essence — for it has not yet been determined whether it be distinct from or a mere result of the combination of soul and body — has hitherto eluded the analysis of scientific and philosophical research, and it will probably remain an inscrutable secret; but it is a sufficiently separate element of human and animal nature to warrant the distinctive use of a special term for it by the Biblical writers (which is carefully observed by them in the original, although frequently obscured in the English version). Thus spirit (נֶפֶשׁ, ψυχή ) is never applied to God or to angelic beings, who are incorporeal; nor, on the other hand, is soul (רוּח, πνεῦμα ) ever used of beasts (except in Ecclesiastes 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:21, where it is evidently employed out of its proper sense for the sake of uniformity). Yet life (חִיָּה ) is ascribed equally to all these classes of existence, although those only who have bodies are endowed with the organic locomotive principle (Genesis 1:20; Genesis 2:7). (See PSYCHOLOGY).
On the general subject, see Baxter, On the Soul; Drew, Immateriality and Immortality of the Soul; Doddridge; Lectures, p. 92-97; Flavel, On the Soul; Locke, On the Understanding; oore, Immortality of the Soul; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philosophy. (See SPIRIT).
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Soul'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/soul.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27