Trans Humanism & Traditional Religion Un Embodied or Disembodied Personality Discussion

Option #1

Why is the geographical location of heaven supposed to be an important issue in the Soul Narrative? Why is that issue such a tough one?

Option #2

This is something that has come up before: Do Trans-Humanism and Traditional Religion agree on the possibility of an un-embodied or disembodied personality? If so, why?

Option #3

What hurdles would purported evidence for a previous life, or lives, or for an After-Life have leap to be compelling?

This is the note left by my professor, this is my last essay left! If you need the file I can totally find it and send it – Pangaea

“In Session 6, we turn from Cave’s “Resurrection” narrative to his “Soul” narrative. These may not be entirely independent matters, as you will discover. Indeed Cave himself reports some Philosophers and Theologians – he cites St. Augustine on this matter – seeing them as profoundly related – doctrinally at least. Perhaps.

What distinguishes the Soul narrative is the contention that a person is essentially non-physical, a non-physical object of some particular sort. Although ‘soul’ is the favored designator for Cave, one hears others, such as ‘mind’, or “spirit”, more recently “self”. Of course, as you can imagine, the immediate problem is that the adjective ‘non-physical’ is entirely negative i.e. it only alleges the absence of some familiar features: mass, color, density – those sorts of characteristics. What positive features such a thing might have would be then the object of investigation, and in particular, whether there could be any positive features sufficient to allow the soul, or mind, or spirit to be a person in any meaningful sense. You saw that issue arise last week with respect to the resurrection narrative; it’s back with souls, and, we’re told, with a vengeance.

The discussion of the Soul Narrative will take us through two sessions, to the end of the term. During Session 6 the Reading will be Cave’s chapter “Beatrice’s Smile” in which he sketches the historical role of the idea of the Soul, especially with respect to Western Christianity. Cave’s big interest in this chapter is what is supposed to give rise to the idea of the Soul, and what the cultural consequences of that idea have been.

Besides that, there are three readings drawn from the Edwards anthology. Because of the problem of the availability of the book, which I mentioned to you last week, you will find versions of those essays posted in the Module for this week. In general, it’s better to have the book, but the copies will at least have the body of the essays, and will be missing only editorial comments and references. Those things are important, but you do what you can in an emergency.

As always you will find Reading and Discussion questions to help guide you through the Cave chapter, as well as the more technical readings from the Edwards anthology.

The Beloff, Hospers, and Broad essays are concerned with two big issues: 1. The evidence for souls and 2. The intelligibility of “disembodied experience”.

Those issues would ordinarily come at you stacked. If the whole idea of the Soul is supposed to be unintelligible, as some of the essays would have it, then clearly the idea is immediately off the table and no evidence could stand in its favor. If that were true then whatever evidence was around – whatever phenomena anyone may have encountered – would have to be explained in some other way than by reference to souls, or minds, or selves, or disembodied experience. On the other hand if the idea of an immaterial “self” is at least a possibility, then one might reasonably ask what sorts of arguments might stand in favor of their reality, and we might even ask what sorts of empirical evidence would be enough. Or, if not enough, then almost enough. Or, if not almost enough, then at least suggestive, and so on.

One very interesting feature of the Soul narrative is how nicely it resonates with at least some of the ideas of Post-Humanism, or Trans-Humanism. Although that connection has been discussed a little, people still have some trouble seeing it. Perhaps that trouble tracks back to the fact that talk of souls is so strongly associated with religion, whereas Trans-Humanism trumpets itself as hard-nosed science. Still, St. Paul imagined ‘glorified’ bodies in the After-Life, as you know, bodies healed of the bodily corruptions incidental to the Fall. And Trans-Humanists just offer technology as a way of achieving the same thing, or very much the same thing.”

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