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Marja's informative comment from the previous thread is also relevant here:

"I'm currently reading Claude Lecouteux's 'Witches, werewolves and fairies, shapeshifters and astral doubles in the middle ages'. His claim is that before Christianity people of Europe generally believed that humans had three spirits or souls, one of which was something like a tutelary spirit, or later the guardian angel, one which could travel outside of the body and was what people saw when they saw something like a werewolf (although a wolf was only one of the animal forms this soul could take) and which would sometimes manifest without the owner's conscious will but which shamans and some other people could use at will, and the third soul which was bound to the bones and existed after death as long as the bones lasted. And that these pagan beliefs lasted well into medieval times, and in some forms and areas even later, even though Christian clergy did their best to eradicate them, mostly by usually interpreting what before was thought to be one or other of the souls of some human as either angels or demons - most often demons."

I think the distinction between 1. spirit 2. soul and 3. personality is a good and important one. Unfortunately, having made the distinction, things seemed to get confused again by lumping spirit and soul and maybe some aspects of personality back into the generic term "soul" as "binary soul doctrine".

I do not think the soul has three, two or any number of parts or divisions. It is a singular thing.

A rough analogy would be a serving of bourbon (my favorite hard drink). In bourbon there is alcohol. That is the spirit (in fact there is a connection in why they call it "spritits"). It is the same spirit that is in rum, vodka, beer, wine, etc. It is the raw essence of the thing and all things alcoholic and, ultimately, what gives them "life".

Then there is the soul. This is what makes bourbon, bourbon and vodka, vodka. It has to do with adding character to the spirit; the processes and raw components, how it was aged, how long it was aged. The process of making bourbon involves at least 51% corn, aging in charred oak barrels, minimal 80 proof, etc. These processes leave an imprint on the spirit.

You cannot have bourbon without the spirit.

The there is the personality. This would be analogous to how how the bourbon is served. Could be a mint julip, could be a bourbon and coke, could be a manhattan........

You can't have personality without first the spirit and then the soul.

Note, however, that the chain of dependency does not operate in reverse. You can have soul without the personality (i.e. you could drink straight bourbon without the rocks). You could forego the bourbon and drink straight spirit (though this would be too strong and would not only be harmful, but also would not have an enjoyable flavor and, therein, lies another aspect of the analogy).

Maybe another way of looking at this is that the soul is the "personality" or first layer of individualized division adopted by spirit in the other dimensions and personality is an expression in the physical realm and cultural/social melieu of the soul.

The goal of most eastern practices, such as buddhism, is to return to spirit; first by erasing the crudest impurities,personality , and then by working off the more subtle flavorings, soul.

"....the spirit (nagi), the soul (nagapi), and the totem animal (the source of power)"

BTW, The totem animal here is another way of talking about the personality. They are equivalent. It is a nature based people's way of understanding and expressing the same sort of thing we do today with phrases like "type A personality", "free spirit", introvert, etc, etc

I think we need to distinguish between theories of the soul and theories of human psychology. I'm not sure that the quoted material is all in reference to the former. If an ancient people had a theory of the mind having multiple parts, then *automatically* that becomes a kind of theory of the soul, since they all believed in life after death. But that is a little different than proposing a specific theory of a multipart soul. So i think the claim that this was something close to "world religion" is unfounded. That would be like saying that the belief in spirits and life after death was a world religion.

Not to beat a dead horse that had two souls, but I think seeing the soul/spirit as the form/total information content of the animal skirts the issue of the number of souls or psychological parts nicely.

I actually don't believe in the pure unity of the soul, or that it has a particular number of parts. I think it's pretty clear from psychology and our own introspection that we have a lot going on in our minds. Take as a simple example the case of suddenly discovering that a song has been playing in the background of your mind. Or that you've been tensing a muscle out of worry.

Buddhism tends to focus on this disunity and has a bunch of terms relating to it, such as anatta (non-self), sankhara-dukkha (the pain of being composite being), and so on. If I understand correctly, most Buddhist sects do not believe in an immortal soul but instead in multiple "seeds" that inform the new mind after reincarnation.

Freud gave us the id, ego, and super ego. There are modern schools of psychology that focus a great deal on parts of the personality.

Yet, there is also an undeniable unity to us. I find it amazing that we wake up and think of ourselves as the same people every day. Despite things like Alzheimer's that destroy the personality (at least on the surface), we can experience severe brain trauma like concussions and still be the same people we always were. Memory is not easily erased. Personalities do not easily change.

So the mind is exceedingly complex. I think it's a fool's errand to try to think of it as some pure Cartesian substance floating inside the body, or, for that matter, two distinct pieces.

Cheers,

Matt

The soul is the pure conscious awareness.

The spirit is the soul clothed in a spirit body.

The personality is the pattern of behavior and manner of thinking imprinted on the spirit by a lifetime incarnated on earth.

By the way, I neglected to say, Great post! It led me to look up and ponder a few things before I began my blathering. :)


Michael, when you say prior to 1200BC, humans were not reflectively meta-conscious, I think that is a mistake: shouldnt it be 12000BC?

1200BC humans were most certainly reflectively meta-conscious! this is the great era of the Trojan Wars, and the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, the Hittite empire in the Near East etc!

The various peoples of this age may take issue with someone telling them that they are not reflectively meta-conscious!


PS Also, you can read many ancient texts, including Ancient egyptian 'novels', and of course the great Epic of Gilgamesh, that clearly demonstrate human beings operating just as they do now.

We recognise ourselves in these texts, showing us how human nature is timeless - that is what is so wonderful about these ancient texts - they show us how like us these people were.

Trying to argue that ancient people had some kind of lower order consciousness is just a load of crock. Just what you would expect in a psychology thesis. He is obviously a psychologist, not a historian!

I don't think a people with lower order consciousness could throw up the Great Pyramid (3500BC) and indeed the greatness of Ancient Egyptian civilisation on its own, which lies well before 1200BC, is testament itself to the level of their 'consiousness'.

offtopic http://www.re-quest.net/entertainment/movies-and-tv/tv/john-edward this guy shows john edward is a con-man not a medium at all.

Douglas, I'm simply quoting Wiki's description of Jaynes's book, not expressing my own opinion. And yes, Jaynes did hold that self-reflective consciousness originated around 1200 BC. He cites many ancient texts, including the Iliad and Hesiod's Works and Days, in support of this view. Do I agree with him? Probably not, but his book is still worth reading because he was a brilliant and provocative writer.

It may or may not be the case that self-reflective consciousness is necessary to build the pyramids. Is self-reflective consciousness necessary to build an anthill or a beehive? Jaynes argues that consciousness in this special sense is not necessary for a variety of complex tasks, including driving a car and solving math problems. As he puts it rather starkly, consciousness "is not necessary for thinking." Of course he means self-reflective consciousness.

I'm not sure it is true that the characters in the most ancient texts are just like us. In the Iliad, as Jaynes points out, characters are described as experiencing direct interventions by the gods - for instance when Achilles is about to challenge one of the other chieftains, and suddenly a god comes down from heaven to stop him. It's as if the voice of prudent wisdom was externalized and objectified as the direct communication of a god. Was this only a literary device, a poetic trope? Maybe. Or maybe it was a description of how people's minds really worked in that era.

As I say, I'm not sold on Jaynes's theory, but it can't be so easily dismissed. For more, see this post from the earlier iteration of this blog:

http://authormichaelprescott.blogspot.com/2005/03/julian-jaynes.html

I read Jayne's book back in college (i.e., a long time ago). It's a *very* interesting read. In a good way.

I think, however, he proposed too big a leap in evolution over too short a time. IIRC, he also proposed that this change happened all over the world at once, which doesn't seem very realistic.

ok, I was a bit harsh, i read a bit more about his theory and he did his research and worked using a multi-diciplinary approach.

It seems his theory is controversial however, evolutionary biologists are not too keen - Richard Dawkins think his theory is 'probably tosh', although he is 'hedging his bets'.

it's a nice idea actually but i don't think it happened - there isnt a lot of evidence to back it up really. Just because there is no literature in an obviously self-reflective manner prior to 1200bc, that is no real sign that people didnt reflect - it's more likely to do with the fact that the field of 'literature' had not sufficiantly advanced at that time. Most written material from that time was for record keeping.

The epic of gilgamesh is an exception of course, and also blows the non-reflective theory out of the water, unless you argue that the reflective material was added later, as Jaynes does, but that to me does smack of a certain desperation in twisting the evidence to fit the theory.

Remember also that only a *tiny fraction* of ancient written material has survived to the present age, so trying to base a whole theory on the available material is sketchy at best, especially something this outrageous!

There is the old saying that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and i think that applies here.

in these lower worlds man always separates everything to understand it better.i think we re all souo,..one our ego is responsible for our sepatateness.thomas victory

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