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Soul talk and positivistic failure mode

May 8th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Soul talk

No self-respecting professor of philosophy wants to discuss the soul in class. It reeks of old-time theology, or, worse, New Age quantum treacle. The soul has been a dead end in philosophy ever since the positivists unmasked its empty referential center. Scientific philosophy has shown us that there’s no there there.

This article, in the Chronicle of Higher Education no less, is a revealing snapshot of the way that scientism has overtaken philosophy and destroyed it.
If anyone wants to argue against the ‘soul’, that is one thing, but to speak as a philosopher with such overconfidence, and to a class of students, is shocking, and a reminder that scientism is killing off the universities.
I have many problems with ‘soul’ philosophies, but, all in all, the issue of soul won’t go away, and hasn’t been touched even by postivists and, laugh all you want here, their ‘scientific philosophy’.
Has this professor never read Kant?

The best way to see the danger of negating soul is to read a philosopher like Schopenhauer who had little patience with religious soul verbiage but who reinvented ‘soul’ beliefs all over again in his manner of discussing transcendental idealism, in the wake of Kant: if out categories of perception are the source of the space-time matrix then it follows that some part of the mind stands beyond space and time. Even if this Kantian, and then Schopenhauerian, logic is flawed, it should remind us that ‘soul’ beliefs are their own worst enemy and veil the reality, which is that they can revive in the twinkling of an eye, most prodigiously via the unwitting efforts of great philosophers.
Schopenhauer on death
But the issue here in a Kantian vein is not arguing for the existence of soul so much as realizing that the noumenal aspect of mind is lost to the students of empiricist dogma. We cannot prove anything about soul, one way or the other.

This article goes off on the tangents of junk talk on ‘soul’. But that is pointless.
And it also shows the way, visible in the depiction of his students, that soul beliefs in all their confusion are naturally endemic and a normal aspect of human evolutionary psychology. They cannot and should not be excised. Instead one can try to rescue them from confusion.

Tags: Kant · Philosophy · Schopenhauer

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bob // May 9, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Soul talk is mostly garbage, and Schopenhauer didn’t look like he believed in soul???

  • 2 nemo // May 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    That’s true about Schopenhauer, perhaps, but we are not talking, in his terms, of soul at all: but of the noumenal roots of mind that pace the categories of perception projects the space-time matrix (right word, go see the movie, The Matrix).
    The term ‘soul’ is played out perhaps, but the basic issue remains.

  • 3 nemo // May 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Current thought can’t distinguish ideas of soul from the many differentiations that seem to be the reality. Fantasies about the soul are legion. But the ‘bardo’ state depicted in Buddhism suggests that the ‘psyche’ as we know it does not survive death, but that a deeper aspect of the ‘person’ does emerge as the psyche is stripped away.

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