Chapter 2

The human soul's spirituality

Actually, the solution, which I have hinted at several times already in past chapters, is that the human soul is a spirit, but is a spirit which has an energy-"dimension"--but in such a way that this does not make it immaterial.

The argument is analogous to that for the immateriality of the animal's soul. First, the human soul must be spiritual, because one of its properties is spiritual, and this is a greater act than an immaterial soul can perform, because an immaterial soul cannot perform a spiritual act unless the act also has an energy-"dimension." Secondly, however, the human soul must have an energy-"dimension" or (a) it could not change, and (b) there could not be many different human beings.

The reason for this second point is that a body is different from another body of the same type based, not on the parts it is made of, and not on the form of the unifying energy (which is the same in both cases), but on the quantity of the unifying energy's form. Hence, if there are two bodies that are both human but different as human, then they are different in their humanity, which is another way of saying that the human soul (the humanity of the body) is different in each case. But to say one form of activity is different from another case of the same form of activity is exactly what "is limited quantitatively" means.

Hence, the human soul has an energy-"dimension." But how does this make it different from an immaterial soul?

The answer--and it seems to me the only answer, if what we have said so far in this book has any truth to it, is that the human soul doesn't need its energy-"dimension" because it can act without it.

Conclusion 1: The human soul is a spirit that by its nature "reduplicates" itself as a form of energy, but need not do this in order to exist.

Clearly, the human soul naturally has an energy-"dimension" as one of its "reduplications" of itself, or it would not be able to organize a body (which implies a certain degree of interaction of the parts), it would not be able to turn itself, as consciousness, on and off, and it would not be able to change as consciousness: in other words, it would not be anything like the human spirit as we find it. Further, the energy-"dimension" is not something the human soul freely chooses to have (or, of course, we would recognize that adopting a body was a free act, since choices are conscious), but belongs to the essence of the human soul as such.

But this says something interesting. First of all, it says that our soul is not free not to organize a body--which is another way of saying that it is not consistent with our soul's nature (though spiritual) to do something that would "get it loose" from the body. In other words, as we recognize spontaneously, it is immoral to kill oneself. If our souls were Platonic or Cartesian "ghosts in a machine," then there would be no intrinsic reason for our not being able to slit our throats to free the soul from its prison in the body. But if it belongs to the very essence of the soul to have this energy-"dimension" to itself, then it is a violation of the soul itself break it out of its "prison." The prison is then no prison, but a natural limitation.

In the second place, this is the only instance I know of where what is essential is not necessary. If the soul can act without its energy-"dimension," then it can exist without it; because, as we saw in Chapter 9 of Section 4 of the first part 1.4.9, to exist is to act, and, as we saw in Chapter 4 of Section 2 of the second part 2.2.4, any property is simply a manifestation of the existence and is not different from it. This would argue to the conclusion that, it is possible, at least in principle, for the human soul to exist without its energy-"dimension."

But obviously, such an existence would be profoundly unnatural for the human soul, since it would be deprived of acts (the ones involving energy) which it is its nature to perform. But the nature, as we also saw in Chapter 4 of Section 2 of the second part 2.2.4, is the thing itself (or the essence, if you will) insofar as it can act. Hence, if it is "the nature" of the soul to perform these acts, this says that the essence of the soul is such that it is capable of performing these acts. So the essence of the soul is that it act with forms of energy; which means that quantity is in its essence. Therefore, what belongs to the essence of the soul is not necessary to its existence, since as spiritual, it in principle could exist without quantity at all (and not merely without this or that one).

At any rate, at this point I think I think I can say that my view, however bizarre in itself,(1) solves the problem of "the union of the soul and the body." It isn't that the spiritual soul is connected to a body, because the "bodiliness" is in the spiritual soul itself. That is, insofar as the spiritual soul is a soul, it is the energy uniting the parts of the body into a functioning whole; so you might say that the (quantitative) interaction of the parts of the body is "also" spiritual, and the only thing wrong with this formulation is that it seems to be implying an ability to this interaction which is infinitely beyond it as energy.

This, by the way, is what I consider to be wrong with Aristotle's definition of a human being as zoön logisticon: a "rational animal" (or perhaps better, a "thinking animal"). It says that we are basically the same as horses and cockroaches, except for the fact that we can think. The emphasis is misplaced here; we are not first and foremost animals which happen also to be able to think (or have spiritual souls); we are first and foremost spirits, which also are forms of energy. We are distinguished from angels in that we are embodied by nature, not from horses in that our nature is spiritual.

Conclusion 2: The more proper way to define the human being is as an "embodied spirit" rather than a "rational animal."

Obviously, if the human spirit "reduplicates itself" as a form of energy, there is no problem in its being able to change and to turn its spiritual "dimensions" on and off by simply acting purely as energy, as when we sleep. As we saw in the preceding section, the spiritual acts don't have any faculty as such, but use the conscious "dimension" of some other faculty as their pseudo-faculty. This is perfectly possible if one and the same basic act (the soul) is both spiritual and energy; and it seems to me that, however you twist and turn, it is not possible on any other assumption.



1. A theory is not to be evaluated on how "strange" it is, but how well it solves the problem in question and with how few assumptions not in evidence. Thus, Einstein's weird theories of gravitation are better than Newton's, because they explain more on fewer assumptions. Why they are for that reason more likely to be true will have to wait until we discuss the foundations of science.