The essay is for The Human Soul an integral part of a human being even though it is not a tangible entity one can feel

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The Human Soul

The soul is an integral part of a human being even though it is not a tangible entity one can feel. The debate about the human soul has attracted a lot of critical attentions from scholars, theologians and philosophers alike ranging from Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Aquinas etc. The description of the soul stems from different angles both the religious and philosophical and which in one way or another ascribe the soul different meaning according to their understandings.  However, some descriptions remain true about the human soul.  This paper distinctively captures the truest meanings of the human soul which includes the essence of a human being, the cognitive part of humans, the enabler of human abilities, the moral compass of the body , the bane of emotions the  and the immortal  “other” of the human body. 

The soul, according to many beliefs, is the essence of a human being without which humans are nothing but an empty chaff. Socrates has also subscribed to this idea as he states : “What is it that, when present in a body, makes it living? — A soul.” (qtd.in Lorenz). Aristotle also defines it as a substantial form of an animal and the “essential whatness of a body.”( 14) To illustrate the importance of the soul in a human body using a bottle of beer.  The bottle serves as the container while the beer itself is the content or the substance. When the content is emptied, the bottle becomes nothing but a useless empty container.  Same also applies to the human body. The body is just a container that houses the human soul without which it is nothing but a mere body. That is why death is ascribed to the metaphor of the soul living the body and man becomes a mere corpse incapable of performing any meaningful act. St. Augustine  Confessions refers to the soul as the life of the body which he says is better than the body(book 2.Vi.12). Similarly, the creation story according to Christianity also embodies this kind of understanding. According to this account, the Christian God did not just form man with dust just to leave him to be inanimate. Rather, he breathed life into him and this breath gave him the soul which is the essence of this being he created without which man is lifeless. Hendrik Lorenz has seen this relation as he states thus“In any case, once a person's soul has departed for good, the person is dead. The presence of soul therefore distinguishes a living human body from a corpse .”Lorenz Hendrik, Aristotle has substantiated this claim as he notes that “ the soul is the actuality of a body.”(14) .

Furthermore, the soul is the cognitive part of the human being that differentiates it from other animals. These cognitive parts of the human being include memory,intelligence,thought language  etc., are all functions of the soul in the empty body. Hence,  Augustine in Confessions points this function as he prays thus: “Therefore, O Lord my God, you who gave life to the infant, and a body which, as we see, you have furnished with senses, shaped with limbs, beautified with form, and endowed with all vital energies for its well-being and health.”( 1. VI.12)  A dead body can no longer have the mental capabilities to function well without these senses and vital energies mentioned by Augustine. In the Phaedo,  Plato points out that the soul is characterized by cognitive and intellectual features, something that reasons and something that regulates the body(qtd.in Lonrez). Plato in THE Republic also  brought forth the tripartite of the soul which includes reason, spirit and appetite and all of this are related to human brain and mind where the signals are sent to the brain.  

Similarly, the soul is the enabler of the human abilities, it is what prompts the body and spurs human to actions and that is why one human being can be distinguished from another through the quality of their soul which reflects through the qualities they possess and display. Thus, one soul can be said to have a courageous soul and the other cowardly as the case maybe. The Greek also has this notion of the soul as Lorenz asserts that Greek sees the soul as importantly connected with boldness and courage, especially in battle.  Courageous people are said, for instance in Herodotus and Thucydides, to have enduring or strong souls.

Furthermore, the soul is also seen as the moral compass of the human body..  It is the soul that controls the moral virtues and humanizes beings. That is why when someone murders another, the word “soulless” is also ascribed to them whereas a beautiful soul is also the attached to humans with exceptional humane qualities that treat their fellow human beings in a very special way.  The human soul is what makes the conscience of a human being which points out the moral laxities of humans. Humans are encouraged to do good because goodness nourishes the soul. Hence, Augustine regrets the decadence he has fallen into which has ravaged his soul. He laments thus: “I wish now to review in memory my past wickedness and the carnal corruptions of my soul.” (2.I.1). Augustine believes that the carnal corruption of his soul could ruin him if he continues and that is why according to the Christian world view, people are encouraged to be morally upright in their endevours so that even if they die, their soul will not be damaged.  “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? (Mark 8:36 ) This is used to warn people against moral decadence that is capable of killing the soul and causing one to go to the Christian hell which in this belief is the eternal damnation for morally decadent people. The Greek also had this notion as Hendrik Lorenz notes in the Fifth century “the soul comes to be thought of as the source or bearer of moral qualities such as, for instance, temperance and justice.”

Equally, the soul is also that which makes us feel and have emotions. Lorenz calls it the “bane of emotions” where some feelings like love and hate, joy and sadness are all associated with the soul. Hence, hardened people that don’t feel or cry are referred to as soulless. Little wonder, terrorists and serial killers are seen as people whom their souls have left their bodies because some human beings maybe alive but without souls not necessarily because they are morally decadent but because life has dealt with them in so many ways that they can no longer feel hurt or cry.Hendrik Lorenz asserts that the ways  of “acting and being acted on is attributed to the soul.” Thus by the end of the fifth century in the Greek culture where the ability to feel pleasure and satisfaction from food and sex is attributed to the soul  and so many other feelings of misery. Oedipus for instance is sad in Tyrannus as he laments the misery of his city and its inhabitants (qtd.in Lorenz).

In addition, the soul can also be seen as the immortal “other” of the human body. The soul is a separate entity from the body and which when the body dies, it doesn’t die too.  Aristotle has seen the debate of whether the soul and body are meaningless as he states that it is like asking “ whether the wax and the shape given to it by the stamp are one.”( 14 ) The complexities surrounding the existence of the human being and what it means to be human makes it impossible to believe that death is the be-all and end-all of humans.  That is why many people believe in the afterlife. Socrates is also of this school of thought as he agrees that the soul is immortal(qtd.in Lorenz) not For humans to just die off and cease to exist is not understandable considering that they are the most complex entity in the universe. Surely, something has to distingush them from other lilving organisms. Hence, the belief in the afterlife where the immortal soul comes to replace the body.  Aquinas “maintains that the soul is capable of existing apart from the living body after the death of the body, because the soul is incorruptible McInerny &O'Callaghan). Hendrik Lorenz notes that the Greek Notion of Soul can be seen in The Homeric poems, “it is what at the time of death departs from the person's limbs and travels to the underworld, where it has a more or less pitiful afterlife as a shade or image of the deceased person.” Plato ends the debate by asserting that the the most important difference between the body and the soul is that  the former is “perishable whereas the latter is “perceptible” and the soul is “intelligible and exempt from destruction.”(qtd.in Lorenz).

The human soul is an important part of the human body without which life is meaningless. It is the bane of existence and what distinguishes humans from the non-humans in the universe.  Therefore, the soul can be said to be essence of a human being, the cognitive part of humans, the moral compass of the body , the enabler of human abilities and the immortal  “other” of the human body.

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