Many religions and spiritual paths believe in the
soul. In the teachings
of Tao of Heaven, soul is also the "True Self" which is the only real thing
and every other things are impermanence. The "False Self" is our body which
will die one day but the soul lives forever and it is eternal. I was a Christian
for 15 years from 1977 to 1993 until a miracle happened. For 15 years, my
faith was true until now, as I see God is the same. We are all children of God
and he does not differentiate between colors, rich or poor. Only human makes
it different and called themselves Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim....but
before the founders, there was no religion and yet human still returns to
Heaven. An article from the web about the Soul.
TA Chew - Home page
(Greek psyche; Latin anima; French ame; German Seele).
The question of the reality of the soul and its
distinction from the body is
among the most important problems of philosophy, for with it is bound up
the doctrine of a future life. Various theories as to the nature of the soul
have claimed to be reconcilable with the tenet of immortality, but it is a
sure instinct that leads us to suspect every attack on the substantiality
or spirituality of the soul as an assault on the belief in existence after death.
The soul may be defined as the ultimate internal principle by which we think,
feel, and will, and by which our bodies are animated. The term "mind" usually
denotes this principle as the subject of our conscious states, while "soul"
denotes the source of our vegetative activities as well. That our vital
activities proceed from a principle capable of subsisting in itself, is the thesis
of the substantiality of the soul: that this principle is not itself composite,
extended, corporeal, or essentially and intrinsically dependent on the body,
is the doctrine of spirituality. If there be a life after death, clearly the agent
or subject of our vital activities must be capable of an existence separate from
the body. The belief in an animating principle in some sense distinct from the
body is an almost inevitable inference from the observed facts of life. Even
uncivilized peoples arrive at the concept of the soul almost without reflection,
certainly without any severe mental effort. The mysteries of birth and death,
the lapse of conscious life during sleep and in swooning, even the commonest
operations of imagination and memory, which abstract a man from his bodily
presence even while awake-all such facts invincibly suggest the existence of
something besides the visible organism, internal to it, but to a large extent
independent of it, and leading a life of its own. In the rude psychology of
the primitive nations, the soul is often represented as actually migrating to
and fro during dreams and trances, and after death haunting the neighbourhood
of its body. Nearly always it is figured as something extremely volatile, a perfume
or a breath. Often, as among the Fijians, it is represented as a miniature replica
of the body, so small as to be invisible. The Samoans have a name for the soul
which means "that which comes and goes". Many peoples, such as the Dyaks
and Sumatrans, bind various parts of the body with cords during sickness to
prevent the escape of the soul. In short, all the evidence goes to show that
Dualism, however uncritical and inconsistent, is the instinctive creed of
"primitive man" (see ANIMISM).
THE SOUL IN ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Early literature bears the same stamp of
Dualism. In the
"Rig-Veda" and other
liturgical books of India, we find frequent references to the coming and going
of manas (mind or soul). Indian philosophy, whether Brahminic or Buddhistic,
with its various systems of metempsychosis, accentuated the distinction of
soul and body, making the bodily life a mere transitory episode in the existence
of the soul. They all taught the doctrine of limited immortality, ending either
with the periodic world-destruction (Brahminism) or with attainment of Nirvana
(Buddhism). The doctrine of a world-soul in a highly abstract form is met with
as early as the eighth century before Christ, when we find it described as "the
unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker, the unknown knower,
the Eternal in which space is woven and which is woven in it."
on the other hand, the first essays of
philosophy took a
somewhat materialistic direction, inherited from the pre-philosophic age, from
Homer and the early Greek religion. In Homer, while the distinction of soul and
body is recognized, the soul is hardly conceived as possessing a substantial existence
of its own. Severed from the body, it is a mere shadow, incapable of energetic life.
The philosophers did something to correct such views. The earliest school was that
of the Hylozoists; these conceived the soul as a kind of cosmic force, and attributed
animation to the whole of nature. Any natural force might be designated psyche: thus
Thales uses this term for the attractive force of the magnet, and similar language is
quoted even from Anaxagoras and Democritus. With this we may compare the
"mind-stuff" theory and Pan-psychism of certain modern scientists. Other philosophers
again described the soul's nature in terms of substance. Anaximander gives it an
aeriform constitution, Heraclitus describes it as a fire. The fundamental thought is
the same. The cosmic ether or fire is the subtlest of the elements, the nourishing
flame which imparts heat, life, sense, and intelligence to all things in their several
degrees and kinds. The Pythagoreans taught that the soul is a harmony, its essence
consisting in those perfect mathematical ratios which are the law of the universe and
the music of the heavenly spheres. With this doctrine was combined, according to
Cicero, the belief in a universal world-spirit, from which all particular souls are derived.
All these early theories were
Theology, physics, and mental science were not as yet distinguished. It is only with
the rise of dialectic and the growing recognition of the problem of knowledge that a
genuinely psychological theory became possible. In Plato the two standpoints, the
cosmological and the epistemological, are found combined. Thus in the "Timaeus"
(p. 30) we find an account derived from Pythagorean sources of the origin of the
soul. First the world-soul is created according to the laws of mathematical symmetry
and musical concord. It is composed of two elements, one an element of "sameness"
(tauton), corresponding to the universal and intelligible order of truth, and the other
an element of distinction or "otherness" (thateron), corresponding to the world of
sensible and particular existences. The individual human soul is constructed on the
same plan. Sometimes, as in the "Phaedrus", Plato teaches the doctrine of plurality
of souls (cf. the well-known allegory of the charioteer and the two steeds in that dialogue).
The rational soul was located in the head, the passionate or spirited soul in the breast,
the appetitive soul in the abdomen. In the "Republic", instead of the triple soul, we
find the doctrine of three elements within the complex unity of the single soul. The
question of immortality was a principal subject of Plato's speculations. His account
of the origin of the soul in the "Timaeus" leads him to deny the intrinsic immortality
even of the world-soul, and to admit only an immortality conditional on the good
pleasure of God. In the "Phaedo" the chief argument for the immortality of the
soul is based on the nature of intellectual knowledge interpreted on the theory
of reminiscence; this of course implies the pre-existence of the soul, and perhaps
in strict logic its eternal pre-existence. There is also an argument from the soul's
necessary participation in the idea of life, which, it is argued, makes the idea of
its extinction impossible. These various lines of argument are nowhere harmonized
in Plato (see IMMORTALITY). The Platonic doctrine tended to an extreme
Transcendentalism. Soul and body are distinct orders of reality, and bodily
existence involves a kind of violence to the higher part of our composite nature.
The body is the "prison", the "tomb", or even, as some later Platonists
expressed it, the "hell" of the soul. In Aristotle this error is avoided. His
definition of the soul as "the first entelechy of a physical organized body
potentially possessing life" emphasizes the closeness of the union of soul
and body. The difficulty in his theory is to determine what degree of
distinctness or separateness from the matter of the body is to be
conceded to the human soul. He fully recognizes the spiritual element
in thought and describes the "active intellect" (nous poetikos) as
"separate and impassible", but the precise relation of this active
intellect to the individual mind is a hopelessly obscure question in
Aristotle's psychology. (See INTELLECT; MIND.)
taught that all
material, and described the soul
as a breath pervading the body. They also called it Divine, a particle of God
(apospasma tou theu) -- it was composed of the most refined and ethereal
matter. Eight distinct parts of the soul were recognized by them:
- the ruling reason (to hegemonikon)
- the five senses;
- the procreative powers.
conflagration and destruction of all things, some of them (e.g. Cleanthes and Chrysippus)
admitted in the case of the wise man; others, such as Panaetius and Posidonius, denied
even this, arguing that, as the soul began with the body, so it must end with it.
accepted the Atomist
theory of Leucippus and Democritus. Soul
consists of the finest grained atoms in the universe, finer even than those of
wind and heat which they resemble: hence the exquisite fluency of the soul's
movements in thought and sensation. The soul-atoms themselves, however,
could not exercise their functions if they were not kept together by the body.
It is this which gives shape and consistency to the group. If this is destroyed,
the atoms escape and life is dissolved; if it is injured, part of the soul is lost,
but enough may be left to maintain life. The Lucretian version of Epicureanism
distinguishes between animus and anima: the latter only is soul in the biological
sense, the former is the higher, directing principle (to hegemonikon) in the Stoic
terminology, whose seat is the heart, the centre of the cognitive and emotional life.
THE SOUL IN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
philosophy made no
further progress in the
doctrine of the soul in
the age immediately preceding the Christian era. None of the existing theories had
found general acceptance, and in the literature of the period an eclectic spirit
nearly akin to Scepticism predominated. Of the strife and fusion of systems at
this time the works of Cicero are the best example. On the question of the soul
he is by turns Platonic and Pythagorean, while he confesses that the Stoic and
Epicurean systems have each an attraction for him. Such was the state of the
question in the West at the dawn of Christianity. In Jewish circles a like
uncertainty prevailed. The Sadducees were Materialists, denying immortality
and all spiritual existence. The Pharisees maintained these doctrines, adding
belief in pre-existence and transmigration. The psychology of the Rabbins is
founded on the Sacred Books, particularly the account of the creation of man
in Genesis. Three terms are used for the soul: nephesh, nuah, and neshamah;
the first was taken to refer to the animal and vegetative nature, the second to
the ethical principle, the third to the purely spiritual intelligence. At all events,
it is evident that the Old Testament throughout either asserts or implies the
distinct reality of the soul. An important contribution to later Jewish thought
was the infusion of Platonism into it by Philo of Alexandria. He taught the
immediately Divine origin of the soul, its pre-existence and transmigration;
he contrasts the pneuma, or spiritual essence, with the soul proper, the
source of vital phenomena, whose seat is the blood; finally he revived the
old Platonic Dualism, attributing the origin of sin and evil to the union of spirit
It was Christianity
that, after many centuries of struggle, applied the final criticisms
to the various psychologies of antiquity, and brought their scattered elements of
truth to full focus. The tendency of Christ's teaching was to centre all interest in
the spiritual side of man's nature; the salvation or loss of the soul is the great
issue of existence. The Gospel language is popular, not technical. Psyche and
pneuma are used indifferently either for the principle of natural life or for spirit
in the strict sense. Body and soul are recognized as a dualism and their values
contrasted: "Fear ye not them that kill the body . . . but rather fear him that
can destroy both soul and body in hell."
In St. Paul we
find a more technical phraseology employed with great consistency.
Psyche is now appropriated to the purely natural life; pneuma to the life of
supernatural religion, the principle of which is the Holy Spirit, dwelling and
operating in the heart. The opposition of flesh and spirit is accentuated afresh
(Romans 1:18, etc.). This Pauline system, presented to a world already
prepossessed in favour of a quasi-Platonic Dualism, occasioned one of the
earliest widespread forms of error among Christian writers -- the doctrine
of the Trichotomy. According to this, man, perfect man (teleios) consists
of three parts: body, soul, spirit (soma, psyche, pneuma). Body and soul
come by natural generation; spirit is given to the regenerate Christian alone.
Thus, the "newness of life", of which St. Paul speaks, was conceived by some
as a superadded entity, a kind of oversoul sublimating the "natural man" into
a higher species. This doctrine was variously distorted in the different Gnostic
systems. The Gnostics divided man into three classes:
- pneumatici or spiritual,
- psychici or animal,
- choici or earthy.
of Achemoth, and were destined to return in time whence they had sprung -- namely, into
the pleroma. Even in this life they are exempted from the possibility of a fall from their high
calling; they therefore stand in no need of good works, and have nothing to fear from the
contaminations of the world and the flesh. This class consists of course of the Gnostics
themselves. The psychici are in a lower position: they have capacities for spiritual life
which they must cultivate by good works. They stand in a middle place, and may either
rise to the spiritual or sink to the hylic level. In this category stands the Christian Church
at large. Lastly, the earthy souls are a mere material emanation, destined to perish: the matter
of which they are composed being incapable of salvation (me gar einai ten hylen dektiken
soterias). This class contains the multitudes of the merely natural man.
Two features claim attention in this the earliest essay towards a
anthropology within the Christian Church:
- an extreme spirituality is attributed to "the perfect";
- immortality is conditional for the second class of souls, not an intrinsic attribute of all souls.
elements which were observed to exist in all souls, and that it was only by an afterthought
that they were employed, according to the respective predominance of these elements in
different cases, to represent supposed real classes of men. The doctrine of the four
temperaments and the Stoic ideal of the Wise Man afford a parallel for the personification
of abstract qualities. The true genius of Christianity, expressed by the Fathers of the early
centuries, rejected Gnosticism. The ascription to a creature of an absolutely spiritual nature,
and the claim to endless existence asserted as a strictly de jure privilege in the case of the
"perfect", seemed to them an encroachment on the incommunicable attributes of God. The
theory of Emanation too was seen to be a derogation from the dignity of the Divine nature
For this reason, St. Justin, supposing that the doctrine of natural immortality logically implies
eternal existence, rejects it, making this attribute (like Plato in the "Timaeus") dependent on
the free will of God; at the same time he plainly asserts the de facto immortality of every
human soul. The doctrine of conservation, as the necessary complement of creation, was
not yet elaborated. Even in Scholastic philosophy, which asserts natural immortality, the
abstract possibility of annihilation through an act of God's absolute power is also admitted.
Similarly, Tatian denies the simplicity of the soul, claiming that absolute simplicity belongs to
God alone. All other beings, he held, are composed of matter and spirit. Here again it would
be rash to urge a charge of Materialism. Many of these writers failed to distinguish between
corporeity in strict essence and corporeity as a necessary or natural concomitant. Thus the
soul may itself be incorporeal and yet require a body as a condition of its existence. In this
sense St. Irenĉus attributes a certain "corporeal character" to the soul; he represents it as
possessing the form of its body, as water possesses the form of its containing vessel. At the
same time, he teaches fairly explicitly the incorporeal nature of the soul. He also sometimes
uses what seems to be the language of the Trichotomists, as when he says that in the
Resurrection men shall have each their own body, soul, and spirit. But such an interpretation
is impossible in view of his whole position in regard to the Gnostic controversy.
The dubious language of these writers can only be understood in relation
system they were opposing. By assigning a literal divinity to a certain small
aristocracy of souls, Gnosticism set aside the doctrine of Creation and the
whole Christian idea of God's relation to man. On the other side, by its extreme
dualism of matter and spirit, and its denial to matter (i.e. the flesh) of all capacity
for spiritual influences, it involved the rejection of cardinal doctrines like the
Resurrection of the Body and even of the Incarnation itself in any proper sense.
The orthodox teacher had to emphasize:
- the soul's distinction from God and subjection to Him;
- its affinities with matter.
distinction from matter, were apt to be obscured in comparison. It was only afterwards and
very gradually, with the development of the doctrine of grace, with the fuller recognition of the
supernatural order as such, and the realization of the Person and Office of the Holy Spirit,
that the various errors connected with the pneuma ceased to be a stumbling-block to
Christian psychology. Indeed, similar errors have accompanied almost every subsequent
form of heterodox Illuminism and Mysticism.
Anima" has been called the first
psychology proper. The author aims to show the failure of all philosophies to
elucidate the nature of the soul, and argues eloquently that Christ alone can
teach mankind the truth on such subjects. His own doctrine, however, is simply
the refined Materialism of the Stoics, supported by arguments from medicine and
physiology and by ingenious interpretations of Scripture, in which the unavoidable
materialism of language is made to establish a metaphysical Materialism. Tertullian
is the founder of the theory of Traducianism, which derives the rational soul ex traduce,
i.e. by procreation from the soul of the parent. For Tertullian this was a necessary
consequence of Materialism. Later writers found in the doctrine a convenient
explanation of the transmission of original sin. St. Jerome says that in his day
it was the common theory in the West. Theologians have long abandoned it,
however, in favour of Creationism, as it seems to compromise the spirituality
of the soul. Origen taught the pre-existence of the soul. Terrestrial life is a
punishment and a remedy for prenatal sin. "Soul" is properly degraded spirit:
flesh is a condition of alienation and bondage (cf. Comment. ad Romans 1:18).
Spirit, however, finite spirit, can exist only in a body, albeit of a glorious and
which through St.
Augustine contributed so much to spiritual
philosophy, belongs to this period. Like Gnosticism, it uses emanations. The
primeval and eternal One begets by emanation nous (intelligence); and from
nous in turn springs psyche (soul), which is the image of nous, but distinct
from it. Matter is a still later emanation. Soul has relations to both ends of
the scale of reality, and its perfection lies in turning towards the Divine Unity
from which it came. In everything, the neo-Platonist recognized the absolute
primacy of the soul with respect to the body. Thus, the mind is always active,
even in sense -- perception -- it is only the body that is passively affected by
external stimuli. Similarly Plotinus prefers to say that the body is in the soul
rather than vice versa: and he seems to have been the first to conceive the
peculiar manner of the soul's location as an undivided and universal presence
pervading the organism (tota in toto et tota in singulis partibus). It is impossible
to give more than a very brief notice of the psychology of St. Augustine. His
contributions to every branch of the science were immense; the senses, the
emotions, imagination, memory, the will, and the intellect -- he explored them
all, and there is scarcely any subsequent development of importance that he
did not forestall. He is the founder of the introspective method. Noverim Te,
noverim me was an intellectual no less than a devotional aspiration with him.
The following are perhaps the chief points for our present purpose:
- he opposes body and soul on the ground of the irreducible distinction of thought and extension (cf. DESCARTES). St. Augustine, however, lays more stress on the volitional activities than did the French Idealists.
- As against the Manichĉans he always asserts the worth and dignity of the body. Like Aristotle he makes the soul the final cause of the body. As God is the Good or Summum Bonum of the soul, so is the soul the good of the body.
- The origin of the soul is perhaps beyond our ken. He never definitely decided between Traducianism and Creationism.
- As regards spirituality, he is everywhere most explicit, but it is interesting as an indication of the futile subtleties current at the time to find him warning a friend against the controversy on the corporeality of the soul, seeing that the term "corpus" was used in so many different senses. "Corpus, non caro" is his own description of the angelic body.
psychology prior to
revival was affected by
Augustinianism, and mystical influences derived from the works of pseudo-Dionysius.
This fusion produced sometimes, notably in Scotus Eriugena, a pantheistic theory of
the soul. All individual existence is but the development of the Divine life, in which all
things are destined to be resumed. The Arabian commentators, Averroes and Avicenna,
had interpreted Aristotle's psychology in a pantheistic sense. St. Thomas, with the
rest of the Schoolmen, amends this portion of the Aristotelean tradition, accepting
the rest with no important modifications. St. Thomas's doctrine is briefly as follows:
- the rational soul, which is one with the sensitive and vegetative principle, is the form of the body. This was defined as of faith by the Council of Vienne of 1311;
- the soul is a substance, but an incomplete substance, i.e. it has a natural aptitude and exigency for existence in the body, in conjunction with which it makes up the substantial unity of human nature;
- though connaturally related to the body, it is itself absolutely simple, i.e. of an unextended and spiritual nature. It is not wholly immersed in matter, its higher operations being intrinsically independent of the organism;
- the rational soul is produced by special creation at the moment when the organism is sufficiently developed to receive it. In the first stage of embryonic development, the vital principle has merely vegetative powers; then a sensitive soul comes into being, educed from the evolving potencies of the organism -- later yet, this is replaced by the perfect rational soul, which is essentially immaterial and so postulates a special creative act. Many modern theologians have abandoned this last point of St. Thomas's teaching, and maintain that a fully rational soul is infused into the embryo at the first moment of its existence.
THE SOUL IN MODERN THOUGHT
Modern speculations respecting the soul have taken two
Materialism. Agnosticism need not be reckoned as a third and distinct answer to the
problem, since, as a matter of fact, all actual agnosticisms have an easily recognized
bias towards one or other of the two solutions aforesaid. Both Idealism and Materialism
in present-day philosophy merge into Monism, which is probably the most influential
system outside the Catholic Church.
conceived the soul as essentially thinking (i.e.
body as essentially extended substance. The two are thus simply disparate realities,
with no vital connection between them. This is significantly marked by his theory of
the soul's location in the body. Unlike the Scholastics he confines it to a single point --
the pineal gland -- from which it is supposed to control the various organs and muscles
through the medium of the "animal spirits", a kind of fluid circulating through the body.
Thus, to say the least, the soul's biological functions are made very remote and indirect,
and were in fact later on reduced almost to a nullity: the lower life was violently severed
from the higher, and regarded as a simple mechanism. In the Cartesian theory animals
are mere automata. It is only by the Divine assistance that action between soul and
body is possible. The Occasionalists went further, denying all interaction whatever,
and making the correspondence of the two sets of facts a pure result of the action
of God. The Leibnizian theory of Pre-established Harmony similarly refuses to admit
any inter-causal relation. The superior monad (soul) and the aggregate of inferior
monads which go to make up the body are like two clocks constructed with perfect
art so as always to agree. They register alike, but independently: they are still two
clocks, not one. This awkward Dualism was entirely got rid of by Spinoza. For him
there is but one, infinite substance, of which thought and extension are only
attributes. Thought comprehends extension, and by that very fact shows that
it is at root one with that which it comprehends. The alleged irreducible distinction
is transcended: soul and body are neither of them substances, but each is a
property of the one substance. Each in its sphere is the counterpart of the other.
This is the meaning of the definition, "Soul is the Idea of Body". Soul is the
counterpart within the sphere of the attribute of thought of that particular
mode of the attribute of extension which we call the body. Such was the
fate of Cartesianism.
Idealism had a
different course. Berkeley had begun by denying the
existence of material substance, which he reduced merely to a series of
impressions in the sentient mind. Mind is the only substance. Hume finished
the argument by dissolving mind itself into its phenomena, a loose collection
of "impressions and ideas". The Sensist school (Condillac etc.) and the
Associationists (Hartley, the Mills, and Bain) continued in similar fashion
to regard the mind as constituted by its phenomena or "states", and the
growth of modern positive psychology has tended to encourage this attitude.
But to rest in Phenomenalism as a theory is impossible, as its ablest
advocates themselves have seen. Thus J.S. Mill, while describing the mind
as merely "a series [i.e. of conscious phenomena] aware of itself as a series",
is forced to admit that such a conception involves an unresolved paradox.
Again, W. James's assertion that "the passing thought is itself the Thinker",
which "appropriates" all past thoughts in the "stream of consciousness",
simply blinks the question. For surely there is something which in its turn
"appropriates" the passing thought itself and the entire stream of past and
future thoughts as well, viz. the self-conscious, self-asserting "I" the substantial
ultimate of our mental life. To be in this sense "monarch of all it surveys" in
introspective observation and reflective self-consciousness, to appropriate
without itself being appropriated by anything else, to be the genuine owner
of a certain limited section of reality (the stream of consciousness), this is to
be a free and sovereign (though finite) personality, a self-conscious, spiritual
substance in the language of Catholic metaphysics.
The foregoing discussion partly anticipates our criticism of
father of modern Materialism is Hobbes, who accepted the theory of Epicurus,
and reduced all spirits either to phantoms of the imagination or to matter in a
highly rarefied state. This theory need not detain us here. Later Materialism
has three main sources:
taught men to regard matter, not as inert and
but as instinct with force. Why should not life and consciousness be among its
unexplored potencies? (Priestley, Tyndall, etc.) Tyndall himself provides the
answer admitting that the chasm that separates psychical facts from material
phenomena is "intellectually impassable". Writers, therefore, who make thought a
mere "secretion of the brain" or a "phosphorescence" of its substance
Vogt, Moleschott) may be simply ignored. In reply to the more serious
Materialism, spiritualist philosophers need only re-assert the admissions of the Materialists
themselves, that there is an impassable chasm between the two classes of facts.
- Psychophysics, it is alleged, shows the most minute dependence of
upon brain-states. The two orders of facts are therefore perfectly continuous, and,
though they may be superficially different yet they must be after all radically one.
Mental phenomena may be styled an epiphenomenon or byproduct of material force
(Huxley). The answer is the same as before. There is no analogy for an epiphenomenon
being separated by an "impassable chasm" from the causal series to which it belongs.
The term is, in fact, a mere verbal subterfuge. The only sound principle in such arguments
is the principle that essential or "impassable" distinctions in the effect can be explained
only by similar distinctions in the cause. This is the principle on which Dualism as we
have explained it, rests. Merely to find relations, however close, between mental and
physiological facts does not advance us an inch towards transcending this Dualism.
It only enriches and fills out our concept of it. The mutual compenetration of soul and
body in their activities is just what Catholic philosophy (anticipating positive science)
had taught for centuries. Man is two and one, a divisible but a vital unity.
- Evolutionism endeavours to explain the origin of the
soul from merely material
forces. Spirit is not the basis and principle; rather it is the ultimate efflorescence
of the Cosmos. If we ask then "what was the original basis out of which spirit
and all things arose?" we are told it was the Unknowable (Spencer). This system
must be treated as Materialistic Monism. The answer to it is that, as the outcome
of the Unknowable has a spiritual character, the Unknowable itself (assuming its reality)
must be spiritual.
As regards monistic
systems generally, it belongs rather to
them. We take our stand on the consciousness of individual personality, which
consciousness is a distinct deliverance of our very highest faculties, growing more
and more explicit with the strengthening of our moral and intellectual being. This
consciousness is emphatic, as against the figments of a fallaciously abstract
reason, in asserting the self-subsistence (and at the same time the finitude)
of our being, i.e. it declares that we are independent inasmuch as we are truly
persons or selves, not mere attributes or adjectives, while at the same time,
by exhibiting our manifold limitations, it directs us to a higher Cause on which
our being depends.
Such is the Catholic
doctrine on the
and origin of the soul. It is the only system consistent with Christian faith, and,
we may add, morals, for both Materialism and Monism logically cut away the
foundations of these. The foregoing historical sketch will have served also to
show another advantage it possesses -- namely, that it is by far the most
comprehensive, and at the same time discriminating, syntheseis of whatever
is best in rival systems. It recognizes the physical conditions of the soul's
activity with the Materialist, and its spiritual aspect with the Idealist, while
with the Monist it insists on the vital unity of human life. It enshrines the
principles of ancient speculation, and is ready to receive and assimilate the
fruits of modern research.