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    Diving Into Immortality

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    Plato once stated that thinking is “the talking of the soul with itself.’ As a great philosopher, Plato has intrigued the minds of many people through his view on the soul as a living thing. He believes that the soul is immortal and lives on forever throughout each life. Although there are many ideas about this topic, the main focus is discussed in Phaedo where he brings about various different arguments in support of this immortality.

    Like Plato, I believe that even when the physical bodies pass on, there is still a living soul roaming or preparing for its next journey. While there are many philosophical views that look into this argument, there are other views such as religion and neuroscience that are crucial to getting a grasp on this concept and its reality. To begin, we can look at the basis of this argument through the reading of Phaedo, where Plato presents four main arguments in support of the immortality of the soul.

    These arguments exist so we can look beyond death and our physical bodies. Even when the physical body perishes, we still find life in the soul. The first argument is the concept of opposites, which gives us the idea that everything stems from its opposite form. This includes things such as something big coming from something smaller, and something such as death coming from something of life. When using this argument, we can look at life and death of the soul each coming from one another. Something “dead” must come from something living. Since our bodies are considered mortal then our souls are considered “immortal.” They will never truly pass on as the body does, because it is wrapped in an endless cycle. Next, is the argument of recollection, which gives us an idea that our learning is just an act of recollecting things that we previously knew.

    True knowledge is inherent when we are born, so there must have been previous experience prior to coming into the physical world. This backs up the argument that the soul’s life must have existed prior and beyond the life of our physical bodies. If we did not have anything to exist prior to our physical being within the world, then where would this knowledge come from? It must come from the soul. Following this argument, we can look at the argument of affinity, which divides the immortal and the invisible being, as well as the material and visible beings of the world around us. Plato discusses how things that are material can be destroyed and have an end to them, as things invisible and immortal cannot be destroyed.

    Although our bodies can be destroyed, our soul can live on. I believe that the strongest argument for the immortality of the soul consists of the final argument of “forms.” Plato argues that forms are the cause of everything within the world and are the closest we will ever get to reality. The soul is what we have to obtain true knowledge of the world and it will always bring life with it (Rouse). After looking at the main arguments from Phaedo, we can create a backbone in our belief in the immortality of the soul. While we can look at the soul and its life, we must also think about what it does within our bodies. This is where the introductory quote comes into play.

    The idea of conscious thought being formed by the soul is backed up by scientist Robert Penrose. As we are here on earth, the soul performs the function of helping us to become capable of thinking. Where there is a thought, there is also existence of life. Thinking consists of being conscious of the world around us. If the soul lives on after our physical death, so must consciousness. Scientist Robert Penrose gives us an idea of consciousness and the soul living on together through the use of quantum mechanics. He believes that even if a person “temporarily” dies, quantum information such as consciousness is released form the microtubules (stored at a sub-atomic level) into the universe. He states that “if they are not revived, and they die, it is possible that this quantum information can exist outside of the body and perhaps as a soul” (Martin, 2016).

    Along with his belief, other researchers agree with the idea that the physical universe is just our perception. This idea falls in line with the belief of the soul acting as our conscience. After death, consists of a life beyond the natural world where the spiritual quantum field continues to exist. These researchers and scientists back up this argument through the explanation of different things. They stated that feelings, emotions, will, and consciousness are spiritual things. These spiritual beings have no direct contact with forces of the natural world and they cannot be changed or perishable. I feel that there is strength in this argument in terms of going beyond philosophy.

    Typically, we see views of scientists that completely disdain the idea of the soul as a thing at all, let alone a living thing. Ideas are spread about the impossibility of a soul existing at all, due to the lack of proof. By looking at the physical view of the soul in terms of science, we can make connections to Plato. Like Plato’s theory of recollection, our consciousness allows us to hold knowledge of events prior to the physical world. Without consciousness, there is no knowledge, so it is evident that the soul must be present in our mental function as well. To support the scientific aspect of this argument, we can look at an analysis of the mind and its function through neuroscience.

    In a study by Sunil Pandya, we can look at the brain, mind, and the soul. Neuroscientists believe that if we “accept the existence of the soul and its localization in the brain, we most focus on the brainstem” (Pandya, 2011). The brainstem is connected to basic life needs such as thinking, breathing, swallowing. This area of the brain helps to maintain the function of these processes. The basic functions of life can connect to previous arguments of philosophy AND quantum mechanics, when it comes to looking at consciousness. It is safe to say that there is a relationship between science and philosophy, in terms of having a soul, due to its basic functions for life.

    The important thing to look at here is that these basic but crucial functions help sustain LIFE, and without them it is easy to physically die. Therefore, the presence of the soul must equate to life and living things. Following neuroscience, there is one philosopher in particular that gives us insight into the possible location of the soul. Rene Descartes talked about the differences in the body and the soul as beings. He believed in the phrase “I think therefore I exist.” With this saying, he believes that we must have a soul or something encompassing our minds and consciousness.

    It must be something such as the soul, since the body holds uncertainty in its existence and being. He presents the mind and the body as two distinct substances, where the mind is involved with cognition and the body is an extended/corporeal substance. To tie in neuroscience, Descartes stated that “if the soul interfaces with anywhere in the body, it must be in the brain (pineal gland)” (Emmanuel and Goold, 2002). The pineal gland lies in the very middle of the brain, but it also lies deep. This creates a pathway for the soul to encompass the brain. While he had incorporated neuroscience into philosophy, he also added some religious aspects to his view of the soul.

    He believed that our existence holds a very important factor and that factor consists of the presence of God. God’s presence allowed us to be created and built, while giving us the mindset of the spirits abilities and our objective reality (Emmanuel and Goold, 2002). Before discussing views of the immortality of the soul through a religious perspective, it is important to respect all cultures/practices. With that being said, we will look at various different perspectives before we look at Christianity. This is because Christianity is the main focus from many of the philosophers that we have discussed. We can begin by looking at the history of the idea of the soul living on after death, through an article by Stephen Elliott. It is a shared teaching that “the religious world believes that the soul lives on in some form and will live forever though heaven or hell” (Elliott, 2013).

    This idea is dispersed through Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and many more practices of religion, which pushes support towards our general argument. In Egypt, individuals looked at the cycle of nature and the heavens, as well as the different seasons that are a representation of life. They looked at patterns of life within these realms, such as growth and death, and then applied it to human life. They believed in a divine king that took the place of the stars after dying a physical death on earth.

    These individuals in Ancient Israel believed that the soul was immortal and “in return for a life of moderation and intellectual development, the soul went upward to receive its rewards” (Elliott, 2013). Like the Egyptians, the Greeks believed in the divine creator. The creator of both Adam and Eve, who would die if they were to disobey the lord. They were made of physical elements from the earth and would return back to the dust of the earth if they had disobeyed. The important thing to note is the idea of reconciliation with God. If Adam and Eve asked for forgiveness, their souls would be able to ascend into heaven. I feel that this story shows how the soul never truly dies or stops existing.

    Even when the physical body dies, there is still an opportunity for the soul to live on. This brings us to the immortality of the soul within the perspective of Christianity. In the New Testament of the bible, the word “soul” can be translated into the Greek word “life.” To discuss the immortal soul, we can look at the accounts from the apostles. In Psalms 16:10, David claims that the soul is the holy one that would not be left in the grave, but would rise again. To follow that, the apostle Paul described death as “sleep” in 1 Corinthians, and displayed the truth that the soul could become immortal through the acceptance of Christ. Paul stated that “only God and his son possess immortality and that eternal life is a gift from God” (Petty, 1999).

    I think it is especially interesting to see these personal accounts from those who walked with Christ himself through Jesus, because they are believed to be speaking from the interactions of the holy spirit. Finally, the most important aspect of Christianity is through the words of Jesus himself. In the gospel of John, Jesus proclaims that “everyone who sees the son and believes in him may have everlasting life.” Though the bible is interpreting life without Christ as nothing and death as a “long sleep,” it shows how the soul can rise again. Overall, different perspectives can give us a view of how diverse this argument can be. When thinking about the immortality of the soul, we have found support through different factors of philosophy, neuroscience, and religion.

    We have supported this argument through Plato’s four arguments and through Descartes belief of each person being a thinking thing. With these two arguments, we see how different forms of our existence carry some sort of life through consciousness. Following that, Robert Penrose was able to justify life through the soul, by looking at quantum mechanics. He explained how consciousness coincides with the idea of the soul and creates existence outside of the physical world. Neuroscientists backed this idea up through looking at the location of conscious thought and how that location serves basic life functions that we need to survive.

    Finally, we can look at religion and how the bible brings up various accounts of life everlasting. By looking at each of these perspectives through a different lense, it is clear that there is strong support for the immortality of the soul.

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    Diving Into Immortality. (2023, Feb 09). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/diving-into-immortality/

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