The Evolution of the Soul

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Men have evolved from animals, and animals from inanimate matter, but what has evolved is qualitatively different from the inanimate matter from which it began. Although these mental states in part cause, and are caused by, brain states, they are distinct from them. Richard Swinburne argues that we can only make sense of this interaction by supposing that mental states are states of a soul, a mental substance in interaction with the body. Although both have a rich mental life, human souls, unlike animal souls, are capable of logical thought, have moral beliefs, have free will, and have an internal structure so that their beliefs and desires are formed largely by other beliefs and desires inherent in the soul.

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Part I The Mental Life. The Evidence of Personal Identity. The Origin and Life of the Soul. The light bulb still exists if the power is off, but it does not function. Great discussion on Jaegwon Kim and supervenience. Lots of tantalizing suggestions for future constructions. Swinburne holds to neo-Darwinian evolution. Perhaps, but few people, whether non-Christian or Christian, will buy that. Further, given Swinburne's above agreement with Huxley, it's not clear how evolution works with the idea of a moral soul.


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I reject Swinburne's rejection of near-death experiences for the same reason I reject his "soul-sleep. Jul 20, Adam rated it really liked it Shelves: Taking advantage of such diverse fields as psychology and quantum mechanics, the book covers the nature of the mental l "The theme of the book is the nature and source of the differences between the inanimate objects which alone existed on the Earth at its formation, and the animals and men which have subsequently evolved.

Taking advantage of such diverse fields as psychology and quantum mechanics, the book covers the nature of the mental life, the origin and development of souls, differences between human and animal souls, and the possibility of life after death. The later chapters get pretty technical, but two of my favorite parts are very accessible: These chapters provide an excellent framework for any discussion of the philosophy of mind. Overall, the book is excellent. But there is one aspect that begs for further development. To be clear, I think this "deficiency" is relatively minor; it doesn't undercut Swinburne's position, but it leaves room for refinement or modification.

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The Evolution of the Soul | Richard Swinburne | | Oxford University Press Canada

Swinburne says a lot about what a soul does , but relatively little about what a soul is. This has the effect of reducing the soul to its functions, which amounts to identifying the soul with consciousness. In turn, that raises the question of whether the soul continues to exist when it's not functioning Does the soul exist while you're asleep? Swinburne thinks so, but his account of how this works verges on arbitrariness and he admits as much.

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Swinburne repeatedly emphasizes the radical differences between the physical and the mental, but he seems to imply that mentality "evolved" in a way much like biological evolution, though he never expands on this. Ultimately, "The Evolution of the Soul" deserves its standing as a premier work in the philosophy of mind. It has much to offer anyone interested in the subject, whatever their prior convictions. The Revised Edition includes seven new appendices covering a range of related topics and Appendix D touches on some of my aforementioned concerns, though not all.

Sep 19, Jeffrey Backlin rated it liked it Shelves: Swineburne begins a "brief" treaty on the nature of humanity, arguing that man is not a monism either mental, or physical but is a duality of both the mind and the brain. Arguing that the mind needs the brain to function, but one ought not confuse functionality with existence, he moves through three phases in his work. The first is to identify the nature of the rich mental life that we all experience delving through five areas of the mental life and concluding with some useful psychological im Swineburne begins a "brief" treaty on the nature of humanity, arguing that man is not a monism either mental, or physical but is a duality of both the mind and the brain.

The first is to identify the nature of the rich mental life that we all experience delving through five areas of the mental life and concluding with some useful psychological imports of belief and desire. Second, he briefly discusses the nature of hte soul.


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Lastly, he discusses some concluding thoughts. Aug 24, Rachael rated it really liked it. This is a philosophical account about the mental life, arguments for why mental properties are not brain states, and the structure of the soul bearer of consciousness.

The Evolution of the Soul

If you are interested in a thoroughly reasoned out argument for why we are more than a collection of cells this is a worthwhile read. Sep 14, Matt rated it really liked it Shelves: Very good book overall, although I personally think Swinburne would have been well served to spend a little more time on fewer issues instead of glancing at many.

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