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The Soul

This is from another part of my life entirely, nothing to do with finance. The Insitute of Art and Ideas asked me if I would help publisize it. Since they invite me each year I thought it was the least I could do. Anyway, just in case any of you might be interested.

It is a panel discussion from last year’s Hay-on-Wye philosophy ferstival in which the evolutionary thinker Nick Humpheys and the philospher Galen Strawson and I debated if the word “Soul” might still have some use in a secular world?



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31 Responses to The Soul

  1. johnm33 February 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi David I’m getting page not found with that link, tried thrice.

  2. desmond February 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Golem I saw the discussion and wondered if the word conscience is regarded as non secular because it was not mentioned.?

    • Golem XIV February 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

      Hello Desmond,

      As far as I know the word ‘conscience’ isn’t seen as either particularly secular nor religious.

      Interesting that non of us mentioned it.

  3. John Souter February 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Consciousness is your awareness of existence: your soul is what you do with it. The first and second laws of thermodynamics explain why you are capable of having a conscience and nurture can explain its dynamics, your soul is the difference between existence and life and as such indefinable..

  4. Buck Turgidson February 10, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    300 years ago the Turgidson family lived about 13 miles from Hey-on Wye, the family then moved to Pennsylvania, it is believed that they failed to pack their souls for their journey.. so it’s possible the soul still may remain in the vicinity of this lecture.

    I’m sure comments that I have posted in the past on this blog support this theory.

  5. Roger February 10, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    I’m reading Phaedo at the moment having just read Meno and Socrates’ Metaphysics.
    When Moanin by Charles Mingus finishes, I’ll be having gander at the discussion , Ideal for Sunday Morning, as is Moanin oif course.


    Soul music.

    I have been writing a song called revoiltion based on this old tune, I might get around to recording my version this week.


    You the Revolution.

    We’re on a Rocky Road
    Wake up N’ take a look
    What you see, you lost something.
    Well Don’t worry, Cos its comin.

    Say Revolution, Be revolution.
    Your revolution, Solidarity.

    Got what you got the hardway
    Take it back start today
    don’t be idle don’t be quiet
    make a stand people Riot.!

    Say Revolution, Be revolution
    Your Revolution, Solidarity

    Learned to speak and have a voice
    live life good and earn the choice
    somehow see the I and Thou
    gotta reach each other somehow.

    Revolution, Be Revolution
    your revolution Solidarity

    Well grab a hold the rope, Solidaity
    Come on make a stand, Solidarity
    I´m talkin bout a Revolution
    say Revolution , Be Revoluion
    Revolution, Be revolution

    • Roger February 10, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      It was Aristotle on Metaphysics which I was reading the other day not Socrates, of Course Phaedo as a representation of Socrates on his views on Soul is pretty Urgent,given that the hemlock beckons. On Metaphysics the pythagorean idea of knowledge or learning as recollection is quite strong here, as is Socrates view as demonstrated in Meno when answering the question of can Virtue be taught. Perhaps the better question is can virtue be permanently forgotten or foresaken?

    • Diogenis February 11, 2013 at 1:17 am #

      Wonderfull.thanks a lot!

  6. Roger February 10, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I read this last week on Ego and Self, Self here in the idea of prime-evil virtuous centre rather than your Johnny come lately definition of self, David

    I found it pretty profound. It hadn’t occurred to me that EGO was a societal construct and not from within. The idea of Two centers the Ego being the one that plays up to its given role is quite powerful.



  7. David Sheegog February 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    I started having problems with this discussion when Humphrey made a false analogy: ‘is the queen an illusion’. Utter nonsense, infact Humphrey contributes nothing interesting to this discussion, as Strawson gently pointed out to him. I would refer anyone interested in discussion of ‘the soul’ to Reg Morrison’s wonderful book, “The Spirit in the Gene”, or, from his blog:
    TRADITIONAL BET: ‘Humans are unique’
    Most humans bet that they are fundamentally distinct from all
    other animals because they believe that they exist on two separate
    planes, one physical and the other spiritual. This dual existence
    then bestows the ability to choose their behaviour on a moral
    basis. Of the 20 to 100 million species that inhabit this planet no
    others are thought to possess this ‘duality’. *
    The bet has two forms:
    1. Most humans bet that their spirituality is a unique attribute
    bestowed on them by an unseen supernatural intelligence. This asset
    automatically involves the responsibility to comply with moral
    rules that help to minimise the possibility of misfortune, supernatural
    displeasure, and possibly, eternal damnation during an ‘afterlife’.
    Meticulous compliance with these rules is believed to bring
    great rewards in this ‘afterlife’.
    2. In similar fashion many scientists believe that modern humans
    have achieved a unique duality of existence, but via a process of
    selective evolution. They believe that by about 40,000 years ago
    the rational cortex of their evolutionary ancestors had grown so
    large and efficient that it was able to take on a life of its own and
    assume behavioural control on a semi-continuous basis. This
    bestowed on them a uniquely rational ‘consciousness’ that allowed
    them to overrule at will, their ‘baser’ animal instincts.
    The two anthropocentric propositions outlined above contribute
    to the general perception that humans are the ‘highest’, most
    ‘advanced’ form of Earthly life, either by divine appointment or via
    ‘evolutionary progress’. Either way, humans are duty-bound to take
    responsible control of the natural world and are entitled to utilise
    whatever natural assets and resources they think might benefit
    them. Consequently, they believe that humans are not bound by
    the evolutionary rules that govern all other species; and being a
    ‘special case’ they are exempt from most of evolution’s penalties.
    *Odds against this bet: at least 20 million to 1

    The idea that “this idea just came to me” is false modesty, David, or else trying to find external source for your own consciousness. Strawson tried to help you with that toward the end. I agree that we have a poverty of language talking about these subjects, and I expect the expansion of the language will come from brain science.

  8. David Sheegog February 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Sorry, Morrison’s blog address: http://regmorrison.edublogs.org/

  9. Golem XIV February 11, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Hello David Sheegog,

    And welcome. Thanks for your comment.

    When you suggest I am trying to find an extenrnal source for my consciousness, I think you touch upon something important.

    I am in teh sense of external to the “Me” who speaks but not external to the physical processes of my brain and body.

    The view I am exploring is based upon evolutionary considerations. I see no good reason for thinking the creatures who were evolved from always had the kind of self-aware self that we have. Other creatures that we think are conscious, like mammals, we do not consider to have self-reflective selves. As I said I don’t think there are any dogs lamenting that they are cats trapped in a dog’s body.

    If we look for signs of when the self-aware part of our minds came about the dawn of reperesentational art would seem like a good bet. So around 35K yrs ago. If you are willing to accepot the argument so far, then I think it opens an intirguing line of inquirey.

    Those creature prior to 35K, or if you wish to go back to the first appearance of Sapiens, then just prior to them at 100K – those earlier creatures we know had very large brains -as large as ours – with which they displayed virtually all the other mental abilities we have. They had fire, made tools, hunted coopertively.

    The mian difference seems to be thast they had no self-aware, self-concerned and critical ‘self’. Or at least left no traces of such, whereas later creatures did leave such traces. Which in turn suggests to me that our brains are not the same as, not identicle with our sense of ‘self’. That construct is a letter develeopment which rides on top of everything else. EVerything lese taht makes us human was already there, already integrated into a fully capable creature.

    On the grounds that evolution tends not to throw things away then all those abilities and the mental structures which thought them are still within us. They pre-date the ‘self’ and are different from it. That ‘other’ creature and teh mind it had, I would say are very likely to be still within us. Still thinking. BUT those thoughts are not part of, done by or ‘visible’ to the ‘self’. Those thoughts can and do make up part of what our brains ‘think’ and do influence the moods, desire and thoughts ‘we’ eventually feel are ‘ours’. But I think they are very often the thoughts that ‘come’ to us. They form a starta opf our thoughts which ‘we’ teh self have litle control over, littel knowledge of and cannot report upon. They are happening in our brains but are neither done by us, not controlled, odered, willed nor open to scrutiny by, the ‘self’.

    I think the mistake we often make when thinkig about our ‘selves’ and our brains is to think that ‘we’ the self, is what our brain are for. I don’t think our brains are ‘for’ us any more that we could say they evolved ‘for’ us. The brain did not evolve as a contruct for, as machinery to produce or underpin the self. It evolved long before the self. If anything I think the self came into being asa free-rider jupon the rest of the mind. I think the self is only one of the things your brain does and and is is not a very large part of what it does.

    I think a great deal of the thinking that goes on in our minds are not done by the self at all. I do not think the thinking is done by mental machinery which undrerpins the self either. I think much of the thinking which goes on in our heads is done by agencies running in our minds which are not properly us at all.

    Anyway, I won’t go on.

    • David Sheegog February 12, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

      David, I think I get your drift, but allow me to ‘channel’ Strawson for a moment. When you say “they had no self-aware, self-concerned and critical ‘self’.” referring to pre-35k sapiens, I think you miss a very important point, fairly well researched and accepted, that humans developed capacity for spech about 100 thousand years ago due to a mutation that appeared in a single woman, who scientists refer to as the mitochondrial Eve. When you speak of “fire, tools and cooperative hunting” you omit the facility for speech, which seems to me to be more essential to developing a sense of the so-called ‘self’ than anything that came later – or before. I imagine that Strawson would call that change in the human brain an ‘enabling mutation’ or ‘enabling chemistry’.

      When you use the phrase “pre-date the ‘self’ “, I have to object. Perhaps I’m quibbling here, but I’m including not just your definition of ‘self’ as conscious awareness, but also “all those abilities and the mental structures… still within us”, all that chemistry BELOW conscious awarenss. It seems more likely to me that all animals have a sense of self, perhaps different from ours, but not one that I would judge to be inferior, but adapted to their evolutionary niche. A wise old agronomist once told me that he knew of a few species of trees that were ‘smarter’ that some his family. My point here is that we may adhere to that old notion of ‘duality’ when we need not. Certainly ‘self’ is a construct of human language. Is it separable from mind, brain, body, consciousness – all words – perhaps not unlike the words of other animal species in their communications with each other, only ours are more developed? Inter species communication is also well documented in plants – pheromone chemistry, I believe.

      Your third to last paragraph is a pretty good summary/definition of the subconscious/unconscious, but I object to part of the last sentence: “They are happening in our brains but are neither done by us, not controlled, odered, willed nor open to scrutiny by, the ‘self’” – for my part I would include everything in the third to last paragraph, and especially “controlled, odered, willed ” as being integral to, and inseparable from, ‘self’. I suspect you may be one of those geniuses who cannot imagine that everything in your realization comes from only your brain chemistry. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year, and believe me, I know how advanced your brain is – reluctant genius, indeed.

      As I start reading your second to last paragraph I think you’re rejecting duality, only to realize in the last paragraph when you say, “agencies running in our minds which are not properly us at all.” you mean to cling to some notion of duality.

      Aw, well…

  10. desmond February 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    hi again Golem and all please forgive me if its not appropriate here but it takes fewer words to get the point over….
    ………. I have a steam of consciousness radio
    where endless different channels are on the go
    and have been since I first began to listen.

    they tell me lots of things in many ways
    then speak to me of certainty and thoughts believed
    investing in themselves authority
    but most noticeably never ever stop.

    so I am disinterested now since this is not me
    but some other part of something else
    where I do not want to be.

    After spending most of my life endeavoring to discover what’s called ‘my true self’ I can say its not to be found in thoughts. The brain must be the most fabulous material creation known to man. It is possible that it is a tool or a gift we have received with which can find contentment.. I sincerely hope so because all of us are trying in our different ways so hard.

    • Golem XIV February 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      I suspect behind the words we chose to use, we might find a great deal to agree upon.

      That flow of thoughts is a clue is it not, to what we have inside our head with us?

  11. desmond February 11, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    that ‘flow of thoughts’ is a good clue. It sort of starts happening when we are not content. i find its not what we are because we feel. Thought is not feeling but we say how are you feeling. We do say what do you think but the you that does the thinking is taken to be the one that feels. This is something of how I’m finding it anyway. I do accept other perspectives but mine is rooted in how I feel.

  12. backwardsevolution February 12, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    Thought this was interesting regarding the myth that we only use 10% of our brains:

    “Studies of brain damage: If 90% of the brain is normally unused, then damage to these areas should not impair performance. Instead, there is almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities. Even slight damage to small areas of the brain can have profound effects.

    Brain scans have shown that no matter what we’re doing, our brains are always active. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but unless we have brain damage, there is no one part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.

    Evolution: The brain is enormously costly to the rest of the body, in terms of oxygen and nutrient consumption. It can require up to 20% of the body’s energy—more than any other organ—despite making up only 2% of the human body by weight. If 90% of it were unnecessary, there would be a large survival advantage to humans with smaller, more efficient brains. If this were true, the process of natural selection would have eliminated the inefficient brains. It is also highly unlikely that a brain with so much redundant matter would have evolved in the first place.”

  13. backwardsevolution February 12, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”

    We reject our own thoughts because “they are our own”. I believe we’re a lot brighter than we think and that we’re taking in a lot more than we realize.

  14. backwardsevolution February 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    I think everyone is born with a soul, but some are more developed than others, i.e. a wise old soul. At the far end of the spectrum (psychopathic types), I believe they have a soul, but it is undeveloped, unrealized. When their motive is “something for nothing,” they have completely lost touch with their souls. They do not feel.

    That’s the exaggerated far end, but then there’s everybody else in between. To me, soul means something deep, not shallow, and IMO you don’t get depth without feeling. And I’d argue that you don’t get feeling without silence and introspection (know thyself). Once you see all the good AND bad in yourself (yes, bad), and you see you’re not perfect, then you start to have compassion for your fellow man, some wisdom, humility. A lot of the feeling we think we have is really quite self-centered.

    This process creates quite a struggle (as you confront the real reasons you chose what you did in life), and it is in this struggle that our souls develop. This can be a painful process.

    Those brilliant thoughts we get (and I’ve even had them), thoughts pertaining to subjects we have had no prior training in, could it be that this is where we should have been all along? Have we been so indoctrinated and molded that we have lost track of who we are, what we came here to do? Could it be that these thoughts are tugging at us, trying to get us back on track? Do we end up being a product of our parents’ and society’s wishes and lose ourselves in the process? How much of a soul could ever be developed out of dependence?

    Are too many of us afraid to know who we really are (we just visit the first two rooms)? If so, then could we be cheating ourselves out of our best side? Do we stay too long at the bottom of Maslow’s heirarchy?

    A soul can’t be bought. That’s evident by all of the money in the world today, and yet a lack of “soul”. If people chased the development of their souls instead of money, what a world we would have!

    Just some thoughts.

    • StevieFinn February 12, 2013 at 10:57 pm #


      I would agree with you in all of the above, but in particular when you refer to psychopaths & sociopaths, they do seem to be creatures of overriding self whose souls perhaps were not allowed to develop. If children are born with a soul, might it be like a sapling that needs sustenance in order to grow. Psychopaths in particular often come from an early environment that would be the opposite of the above. They seem to grow up into beings who reflect their own particular method that they experienced in the process of being deprived of soulfood. Extreme abuse, sexual & or physical can have certain results, although people do often come out of this, very fragile but with it seems an intact soul, perhaps whatever the horrible circumstance, the main player that affects the child is living in an emotional desert, a moral void, with no input that plays a different tune.

      I would imagine that all of the above in whichever variation cannot help but influence the development of the self through childhood, leading to the people we are aware of who are to all intents & purpose are emotionally barren & I think desperately trying to fill an empty void with power, status & the tokens of so called success. Having not experienced love or empathy they have no real concept of these, other than what they can find in a dictionary. These people are perhaps an example of what can happen if the soul is neglected.

      Kids can display a sense of wonder, something we tend to lose with age, puberty is perhaps when the self really starts to dominate our consciousness & we become more & more dependant on that part of us for survival. We gradually throw away what once appeared magical & I think start to run our souls batteries flat. We top it up now & again with the arts which for some people turns into an escape from their otherwise often grey lives. This escapism increasingly dumbed down to the point where it becomes nothing more than a kind of sedative – Cheap, simplistic, endless variations on a theme aimed at the lowest common denominator. We appear to be leaving the soul to languish in the dark.

      Assuming the fact that thoughts can come uninvited from the soul, I would think that this must also be true of inspiration. Creative people especially appear to have a knack at this. Some people act like vessels into which all sorts of goodies can be collected, to my mind musicians in particular. All my life music has brought me joy & I do not know why, it speaks into my depths with it’s own language, to a dog it is just more noise. I do not think it has any real worth to my rational mind, it must speak to another part of me, the same as Rembrandt does, or being in the courtyard at the British museum. I can analyse these things in terms of how the way their creation is pleasing, but not how they create in me feelings I can only define as joy.

      I had an experience once in which although the circumstances were pleasant, they were not really that much out of the ordinary. I had taken my three year old daughter to a garden centre. On the way out she noticed some sheep in a field. She was saddened because the sheep disappeared over the brow of a hillside. I took her into the field & we stood together looking over a valley. As I stood holding her hand I was suddenly engulfed in what I can only describe as a few moments of indefinable joy. It has only happened once, a moment of perfection & I have no real idea where it came from, hopefully from within.

      I think we have souls & that they are capable of more than we can imagine as has been shown by perhaps other parts of the brain under the influence of LSD. Unfortunately as is obvious from Huxley’s writings on the subject, the experience at best can only work as a holiday & in order to survive we cannot live there. Perhaps it is the same with the soul & we need to form a balance with Johnny come lately in order to become fully rounded human beings, unfortunately those who are all front room are trying to take that chance away from us.

      I read not so long ago that someone said that perhaps the universe needed to create us in order for us to be witnesses to it’s glory. The soul therefore could be a gift we must use in order to be able to feel that childish sense of wonder that we need, in order to fully appreciate her, as she gradually removes the veils of her majesty. After all would she exist without someone to see her doing her wonderful dance.

      • Gemma March 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

        Childish wonder! Ah, what a relief from all the plodding thoughts. What is it that a child can teach us about the world we live in? What was it about the loss of that sheep that upset your daughter so – and its finding that was so amazing? Few of us have that intensity of experience in our day and age – the question is why.

        I wrote a piece for my own blog a while ago looking at why an African tribe cannot count beyond three. The problem is subtle, it is in the context of this discussion, revealing. The issue for the African is that everything they see is unique, they cannot see five goats, because they do not associate such disparate animals as having any commonality. To the modern farmer, they have already been sold on the futures market and have little more meaning than chilled cutlets.

        Discovering that vitality is to discover your own ability to see the infinity that surrounds us.

        • steviefinn March 8, 2013 at 1:13 am #


          Since writing about the incident with Sarah & therefore haven given it more thought, I think that somehow I managed to tune in to what she was feeling, as was expressed so vividly by her childish words & the expression on her face. Perhaps it was a deep empathy from that part of me that stores my own feeling of awe & sense of wonder I once possessed as a child.

          For me the intensity of those few moments has never since been repeated, but I occasionally get a breath of it through those I love & the arts, in particular music, some films, certain works of art & the odd book.

          You mention looking at something solely from the point of view of it’s value to the observer as a piece of meat or a commodity, a thing whose worth is only calculated as a unit of currency. I would suggest that you have hit on one reason for the evil in this world, in as much as, in order to be efficient, this process tends to return more profit to those bereft of empathy or even sympathy.

          I think the Godlike state of the market for it’s worshippers is the cumulation of this behaviour & it’s influence is increasingly putting a price on everything. Traditional religions for all their faults at least attributed value to what separates us from cogs. Now status, power & wealth seem to be the only measure that counts.

          As for infinity, I feel it holds a secret that we are not qualified to see, or at least I am not. After a long time of thought on the subject I worked my way to a precipice of which I only glimpsed the edge of, & then knew out of fear that I could go no further – A mystery like the soul & the cosmos, that our baby steps may never solve.

          We have to enforce a value on our humanity to those who would count us in cattle trucks if we are rated as of no value & surplus to requirements.

          Here’s one of my mysteries for you Gemma – Why should I feel such a powerful feeling of empathy engendered by a collection of two dimensional portraits for a man who died in 1669.


          • Gemma March 8, 2013 at 9:12 am #

            Hi Stevie. There is a lot about art on my website – and like you there are artists who can evoke a real empathy. One such is Tom Thomson who was exhibited in Groningen last year – his work is truly stunning. The point of what he did was to force the viewer into engaging with the painting. Either that or – like most of his harsh academic critics, lambasted his crude style vehemently.

            You see the difference between an academic and your daughter is that your daughter felt the loss of that sheep. An academic would merely observe that the object was no longer visible. An academic might propose various theories as to why this occurred, few of them would concur with the facts – that is however what academics do and seem to manage just fine in spite of reality. Because your daughter is right and they are wrong. (The Rijksmuseum re-opens in May, for the Rembrandts).

            When she is older, take your daughter to see Tom Thomson in Ottawa. You won’t regret it. His paintings have a vividness that even now in my memory from last October run goosebumps up my spine. As with all good art, you can’t photograph it properly.

            You say “I once possessed as a child” – now I have worked hard and have regained much of what I lost in between. The violets and the bee I posted on Facebook recently was one such experience of total absorbtion and enjoyment. Yet many people walk past such things – even tread on them. Because if you look carefully, a violet is a window into the truest of infinities. That flower is rather special. Because there is and never will be another quite like it.

            Never, ever, ever.

            Even those cutlets are unique – it is us that has assumed that it is the same. I doubt if one in a million purchasers wonders if that piece of meat will ever have another exactly like it. We have become inured to sameness, and this is the essential mistake in mathematics. It assumes you can count things, when the reality is that you can’t.

            I wrote about infinities on my blog, how our ability to imagine number is actually very small. Most cannot imagine ten things in their head – let alone twenty or the amount in their bank account. It is this very lack of imagination that leads people to be able to count, imagine fantasies like Gödel’s or Graham’s number – worse that people like Russel and Whitehead take 250+ pages to arrive at 1+1=2. The reality you are trying to find is that there are never two things exactly the same. When you count you are always making an assumption, and it is this that Gödel exploited – neither Russel nor Whitehead came through that experience unharmed. They imagined their reasoning watertight – which in a very real way it was, for Gödel numbers are pretty big even in mathematical terms.

            PS Does Douglass still need an editor? I can spare some time if he does. he can leave a comment on my blog if he wants to.

  15. Redracam February 14, 2013 at 3:38 am #

    My intuition tells me that the soul is the subconscious representation of our bonding and relation to the group and that it may serve the purpose of ensuring the good / survival / betterment of the group; it promotes cooperation, helping and sharng. In this case the soul would be archaic, instinctive, predate the notion of self and would probably be shared by animals. If this is true the soul would be the motor for very simple and unadulterated feelings, thoughts and spontaneous behaviours : young children will intuitively understand equity and justice when sharing out birthday cake or sweets.
    I think our souls can be in good or poor health and that we may lose our souls. A healthy soul will bias our behaviour and may even whisper a hint and help us resolve to the group; a weak soul will be silent. Spirituality is listening to the soul.
    The self undermines the soul by justifying the putting of ones own wishes / needs before those of the group when these are in conflict. In this way – if care isn’t taken – the soul can be justified out of existence and lost temporarily or forever. For example, the torturer’s de facto rationalization of his atrocities as a means of quieting his conscience : “These people are black, not part of my group, are terrorists …”. Sociopaths have damaged souls.
    I would like to believe in a collective subconsciousness of souls where bonding is shared between people without any sensory communication but my personal experience has provided no evidence. Observations of different groups of monkeys living on distant islands, with no possible contact, where one group miraculously acquires new techniques and behaviours just after the other group has discovered them, give hope; people sensing a loved one has deceased without any reasonable cause for having that impression imply that some kind of extra-sensory exchange exists.
    For these reasons I firmly believe that neo-liberal economists, financiers and bankers have argued and explained their poison to themselves until their souls have withered away to nothingness and if God ever shows up they will be cast down into Tartarus and unbonded from the rest of humanity forever.
    OK now I’m ranting …

  16. Phil (Mcr) February 14, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    I’ve posted in Sovereignty – Betrayals and lies, Martin Wolf’s article about fiat money supporting public spending not just private.

  17. steviefinn February 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I found this earlier today – sums it up for me :

    The Universal Spiritual Quest
    It seems for whatever reason that man has spiritual needs. Greater needs for some, less for others. Religions sprang up, rooted in myth and superstition because they met some of these spiritual needs and for a time, as well, some needs for community, law and a comprehensible world view. Jean-Paul Sartre, I think in exasperation with this long inexplicable need, said that society has a God-shaped hole in it. I think he could have extended that hole to being in humankind’s head and heart as well.
    Rituals, tradition, codified beliefs and social and behavioral norms—along with ostracism as a punishment for failing to conform—all served to institutionalize religion in society. Religion has often held a position of strength some times equal to, sometimes superior to, the governance of the group, tribe, or community. Religion has done, and still does, a lot for, as well as to, mankind, but this thesis would be a tangent not germane to the present discussion.
    Giving credit where it is due, religion has enabled its believers to achieve surprising accomplishments arising supposedly from inspiration attributable to something in the realm of the adherents’ spiritual beliefs. Even if the believer is factually wrong in every respect, they often seem buoyed up in spirit based upon their beliefs in the face of hardship or sorrow or even the daily world.
    The challenge for the secular human spirit is to find and enjoy the spiritual effectiveness and fulfillment of the religious and their religion without any of the negative corollaries. (Being closed to new or different thinking, having to reject reason and accept beliefs on faith, etc.)
    What would be the objective for such secular spiritual seekers?
    To create an environment or a milieu in which one is “bathed” in his or her chosen icons or evokers of feeling, mood, thought, vision… all that one can incorporate or bring together that he or she sees as supportive or important to their spiritual identity. Such items might be photos, posters, audio/video recordings, writings, or other objects that might help a person get “in state” for pursuing their spiritual identity—growth—fulfillment. (I remember some of the things that did it for me. The long limestone staircase in the woods at Glen Helen and how the sun looked and felt filtering through the verdant forest. But there was also Desiderata, the poem by Max Ehrmann.)
    Freedom from dogma and preconceived notions is the beneficial offset when we are not locked into a particular religion. (The response to the question of religion: “I’m spiritual, but not religious.) The opportunity for personal spiritual self-discovery is somewhat stifled in mainstream Christianity. It’s as if the “word from our sponsor” (religion) is of overwhelming importance while the “TV program” (the content of our lives) is treated as if it’s insignificant. (Granted that progressive Christianity has made great strides in this area.)
    Still, you’re just not allowed to “color outside the lines” in most traditional religions. They might ask of us, “What would you hope to discover?” Ourselves. In explanation of the religions’ points of view, religions take a long time to grow, they have very deep roots. In many cases, the strength of tradition allows the religions to retain their skeletal structure. The question is, are the changes skin deep or just so much cosmetic makeup.
    Possibly, man, without something like religion, is man confused. Effective living may require that we have something, maybe anything, in the ‘little black box’ in the corner of our being where religion can often be found. Religion may or may not be hard-wired into us, but it may have proved to be a valuable software program to us and our culture and community.
    This doesn’t mean that some non-religious belief system can’t be substituted to hold that place, it can: Our wishes for ennobling the human spirit, love of humanity, the multiplicity of meanings we give to life. We can bring those to our spiritual locus, that private place of self within.
    In this context, spiritual, for us, means whatever shines within us—that essence within us which responds to the greater human spirit and to the ennoblement of both. And so, this is a secular spirit. I call it “spiritual,” in spite of that baggage because it is that same “spot” in most of humanity where human evolution has chosen to “bless” us with a predisposition toward belief, religion, and spirituality [as sense, a feeling, a human goal]. So, I’m suggesting we mesh the same interlocking components that the religions do, a spiritually supportive milieu (people, thoughts, icons) and the quest of spiritual self-discovery (self-definition, hopes, dreams, inspiration). The two aspects can interlock and feed each other. What else is needed? You may wish to seek those with whom to share. Aren’t you already doing that?
    It is part and parcel of the world’s religions that they are survivors. They have evolved along with man, his culture, and civilization. The religions are strong, they have the supportive strength of their adherents. They would not easily be dislodged or supplanted. I strongly suggest than no such goal be adopted.
    I would suggest, rather, that a future spire be cultivated to bud from common ground. Short of proselytizing, we, too, should reach over the belief divide to our most similar counterparts and offer common cause in our hopes and dreams and good works projects, all the while remaining in touch with our own spiritual center so that we may not be knocked off-center by believers of something else.


    • steviefinn March 5, 2013 at 12:51 am #

      I got permission to post this opportunity that might help someone out with a few readies, its from the site linked above :

      ‘ I’m also looking for a partime blog master/manager who can keep up with blog development & maybe edit/proof writing, possibly even promoting books (the blog abilities are the only firm requirement). Pass it on.’

      ‘Yes, blog development, mechanics, imagination, insight and general expertise is what’s needed. And if that could be in the form a person with a history in the Agnostic, freethought, humanist, atheist community so the possibilities of both thrusts could be wedded in one, that would be great.
      I would expect to pay for that help. Other than the occasional special or creative projects, it’s probably only an hour here or there. Though I’d like to do some expansion of the blog, set the new book cover in when it’s ready, etc.’

      Quoted from US author Douglass Falknor who writes the blog.

  18. John Souter February 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    The soul is sanity and sanity brings contentment and contentment is just another word for saying a content is meant and as a result brings a sense of earned peace and achievement.

    This applies to all levels work provided the drivers are vocational and standards are measured by excellence rather than elitism.

    Unfortunately our world is run by price rather than value while its money-form rarely brings contentment and, even more frightening, by a combination of design, propaganda and the nurture of greed it’s not meant to. Give a man £5 -£10 -£15 million and he struggles with two paranoias – the first is to add to it; or at least hold onto it, the second is for him far more worrying, which is not to loose it.

    No society can flourish in a generic sense of contentment if price rules and the psychopaths feed the tills of their paranoia. Which is where we are now; and where, if the present trend of the surviving financiers are allowed to sigh into their troughs and pat themselves on the back for having made it by fooling us once on the uptake, fooling us again on the shakedown, then leaving us in intensive care with no oxygen and no credit to buy any. It’s then we will learn that quasi contentment is really only apathy.

  19. Fugger March 7, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    The soul is impossible to discuss because we can only use words. The soul is a slippery thing. Trying to get a mental purchase on it is akin to wrestling gas. The soul resides in a twilight realm beyond all our contrived blather. You don’t think about it, you experience it. That’s why they named a type of music after it.

    …or maybe not. Who knows?

    Enjoyable discussion nonetheless. I’m mainly with you on this. Liked your point about using imagery instead of words.

  20. Gemma March 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Sorry to be late for the party. I would like to contribute the following:

    Let us have a look at what consciousness is. In the most essential of terms, it is the point at which we are aware of our being alive. We have an awareness of having been alive since we have memories, and there is the likelyhood of more of the same in the future. Many of us spend much of our time imagining what the future will look like, daydreaming as it were. There are few of us who really live in the present.

    I want to ask everyone here to become more aware of the way in which we live. Are you comfortable when you go to work? A friend of mine went to work yesterday morning and since it was something he does every morning, had no memory of having actually driven there. All he knew was that he had arrived. Just how conscious do you need to be to drive??

    As to illusions – anything that goes on inside your head can be broadly described as cognitive. There is no essential difference between imagining, thinking, memories and just about anything else that goes on up there. So how is it that we imagine, remember our memories and try to think out a problem we are faced with? What differentiates these essentially similar things? Why are the images of your memories different from your imaginings of the future? The only difference is your ability to imagine the future. You could imagine the smell of the dinner cooking were you prompted – would you do so voluntarily? It’s much the same with thinking – you can think what you wish, if only you could.

    A science of the soul? That depends on what you think of as science. If you want proofs, forget it, for proofs you need evidence – and that is a trap in its own right. There can not be repeatable evidence for the soul. If you want a science of the soul, you need a science that is as fickle and is as vaporous as the soul itself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a science, it only means you need a form of thinking that is subtle enough to accept the issues that the very question of the soul provokes.

    One last thought: our brain weighs around three pounds, 1500g. So how is it that our sensation of our heads is that they weigh around an ounce? There is something going on here.

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