Dialogue on the Soul (Part 3)


This is a dialogue in which four friends discuss arguments for and against the existence of a soul. At the start, two believe in a soul and two oppose the idea of the soul. To make it a bit clearer who supports which statement, I will (very) briefly discuss the characters.The two characters that do believe in the existence of the soul are Milo and Alden. Milo is a young man, a bit hot headed at times. Alden is the oldest of the group, he is a few years older than Milo.Lyra and Zeno are the two opposing the existence of the soul. Lyra is the only girl in the company, and carefully thinks through everything she says. Zeno has not really thought about the subject before this conversation and is quite straightforward when he says something.This dialogue is not meant to take one side or another in the conversation. It is up to the reader to decide which arguments (s)he finds more compelling and make the judgement call him/herself. It is not meant to lecture the reader; it is meant to make the reader think. The dialogue will be uploaded in multiple parts, with an undetermined amount of time between them (I still have to write the rest of the scenes).
I have written the names of Milo and Alden in italics to show that they are on the “Soul Side” of the dialogue. Lyra and Zeno are also written both without italics to show they are also on the same “side”.

Milo: Alden and Lyra, your argument about consciousness got me thinking. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we would all agree when I say that thoughts are not physical, am I right?

[Everyone nods]

Milo: Then Zeno and Lyra, let me present this new argument to you. Our bodies are made up of chemicals, and chemicals only according to you. Our body of course includes our brains, and you believe that the brain is solely responsible for our thinking. So as I state now, our brains are only chemicals. Chemicals can’t think. If we add up the premises, the logical conclusion would be for us to assume that we cannot think — but of course, we do. So in order for us to explain thinking, we must impose the idea of the soul.

Zeno: Ah, but Milo, we run into the same wall as we did earlier — you also can’t explain how the soul would be able to think, just like you say that we can’t explain how the body is able to think.

Milo: But at least we do not have the problem of how something immaterial can come from something that is material — because the soul produces immaterial (non-physical) thoughts, and it is itself also non-physical.

Zeno: Hmmm… It does make sense if you say it like that, indeed.

Lyra: It does make sense on first glance, but your argument is logically fallacious, there is an enormous logical error here Milo!

Milo: Would you care to elaborate?

Lyra: Of course. Let me ask you some questions. What you are saying is: Our bodies are made up of chemicals alone, chemicals cannot think. Therefore our bodies cannot think and we should believe in the soul. Am I understanding you correct?

Milo: Certainly.

Lyra: Now I ask you this. You would agree that my body is made up of atoms?

Milo: I would.

Lyra: And are the atoms that make up my body visible to the naked eye?

Milo: They are not.

Lyra: Using the logic that you have used in your previous argument it would entail that my body would be invisible to the naked eye, because it is made up of atoms, which are invisible to the naked eye. Your premises are all true, but your conclusion is fallacious because you infer that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. In other words, a characteristic of the whole cannot be deduced from characteristics of a part of that whole.

Alden: Very interesting how this came down to thoughts and the body. I have some views of my own on this topic as well, as I said in my own previous argument but I would like to show that our thoughts are indeed separate from our bodies. Let us do a thought experiment shall we? It is morning and you wake up with the rising of the sun. You get out of bed and walk to the bathroom to brush your teeth. When you look into the mirror, you see that you are not there — or at least your body is not. You look down to affirm that indeed, your body does not exist anymore. You are just your mind.

Now, this proves that the mind is separate of the body. Why? You say that the mind is just another way of talking about the body, but try to tell this story about something else. Take the chair I am sitting on. It is not possible to tell a story in which the chair does not exist but the chair does exist. But we can tell the story about the body not existing and the mind existing. Therefore the are two separate things.

Imagine a table without it’s legs. Imagine a water molecule, H2O, without its oxygen part. We can imagine these things as separate because they are separate. Just as the mind and the body.

Lyra: Then answer me this question. We are aware that in the morning, we can clearly see the Morning Star and that in the evening, we can clearly see the Evening Star. Do you agree?

Alden: I agree with both of the statements, yes.

Lyra: And can we easily the existence of the Morning Star without the existence of the Evening Star, or the other way around?

Alden: Most definitely.

Lyra: And even easier to imagine is the existence of both stars without the existence of a planet in our solar system, say Venus?

Alden: Yes.

Lyra: By your standards we have now shown that all three of these, the Morning Star, the Evening Star and Venus are all separate. So what if I tell you now that the Morning and Evening star are both the same star, and are actually not a star at all — but the planet Venus. So we can’t show that the mind is separate from the body with your thought experiment, because what looks to us as two different things, can actually be one and the same.

To be continued.


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