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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This came up in a discussion between a friend and I. We were talking about cremation for some odd reason, and she brought up something I had never thought of before. She wanted to be cremated, but worried that when they burned her body her soul would feel pain. I responded by saying that souls, if they exist, are more likely to feel emotions rather than bodily conflicts. For example, if you stubbed your toe, your soul would not have a corresponding pain in its version of a toe. But say you were heartbroken, your soul would feel some sort of sadness or pain in its being.

What do you think? Feel free to argue or explain why souls don't exist, if you like. I'm all ears, seeing as I'm not entirely convinced that they do.
 

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SAY MY NAME
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Welcome to the forum. I'm another INFJ 5w4 with a love for all things Caribbean. :D

I am a gnostic, and our take on the matter is that the 'soul', as conceived of by mainstream religion, an eternal part of us; is actually the spirit - the soul is the mechanism by which the spirit is bound to the Demiurge's (the Satan who created the universe and masquerades as God) creation. The spirit does not belong to this inferior, material universe. It originates from elsewhere. The spirit is imprisoned within the soul and the body, and it yearns for liberation, so that it may destroy the material universe (in a fashion similar to how anti-matter annihilates matter) and take us all back home. Since the spirit does not belong in this universe, it necessarily means that it is not a creation of the Demiurge and therefore, is exempt from anything he, via his creation, can throw at it. The spirit can feel no pain or fear, be that emotionally, or physically; because it knows life is bullshit, that our petty human concerns are not real.

As long as you can be open minded enough to accept the premise that our existence is not a cosmic accident of insane, astronomically unlikely odds (I always laugh when scientists mock creationism - the alternative they pose, that the universe organically and randomly spawned beings as sophisticated as humans are, beings that are capable of asking why the universe exists, is equally as ridiculous as the idea that a benevolent and all powerful God created the universe in six days and then took a day off to smoke some weed or whatever); the gnostic explanation for existence is consistent with logic, it is consistent with the spiritual traditions of eastern religions, which more or less amount to explaining existence as we know it as an illusion; and finally it is consistent with maths, as espoused in Leibniz's Monadology. It is even consistent with the paradigms that scientists use to explain existence - microscopic analysis corroborates the existence of monads (or spirits), though I am personally unaware of exactly how and when this was proven.

This is more than can be said for physics, or mainstream religion (including eastern religions, which despite their deep wisdom, are compromised by their notions of retributive karma based on the actions taken in a previous life, and are also compromised by the idea of caste); which are the only two other explanations offered for why we're here and what we're meant to be doing, and both dismally fail. Leibniz's monads might not be flawless, yes, he likely got a couple of things wrong here and there; but give him a break, he wrote on this 300 years ago, based only on theoretical conceptions of the universe. He didn't have shit like a Hubble Space Telescope and all that to try to corroborate his findings, he worked purely with theory, and it should go without saying how monstrously difficult such a task would be - even though he's the smartest person ever, he's still going to get a few things wrong when faced against a problem of this magnitude. The difference is, that if you nit-pick and cherry-pick, you might be able to find a sentence or two of the Monadology that is incorrect or paradoxical. Open up a physics textbook or a 'holy text', on the other hand, and you'd be lucky to find a sentence or two that isn't incorrect, and that's the end of that, as far as I'm concerned. 99% accuracy is better than 1%, even if that 1% may be exactly what is missing from the 99%.

For what it's worth, here are a few excerpts from the Monadology. You can draw the links between the mathematical, metaphysical monad of Leibniz, to the spirit of gnostics.

1. The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts.

2. There must be simple substances because there are compound substances; for the compound is nothing else than a collection or aggregatum of simple substances.

3. Now, where there are no constituent parts there is possible neither extension, nor form, nor divisibility. These monads are the true atoms of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things.

4. Their dissolution, therefore, is not to be feared and there is no way conceivable by which a simple substance can perish through natural means.

5. For the same reason there is no way conceivable by which a simple substance might, through natural means, come into existence, since it can not be formed by composition.
 

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When people lie to themselves, I imagine they harm their self-image and consequently their souls in the sense that harm fragments or splits-off a part of you. The feeling is having to reject some part of what was once you and the experience of loss which is a form of psychic pain.
 

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Even if a soul were somehow connected to your central nervous system so it could feel physical pain, if you are dead that central nervous system isn't working, so no sensations of pain would be sent.
 

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I tend to think of the body as a simple tool for the body to navigate in the physical world we are surrounded by right here and now. I imagine the soul feels emotional pain, but emotions could then again only happen in your brain. Emotions are strange like that, because to me, emotions are internal and I have no need for external triggering or happenings to feel something, which is why my emotions are usually completely irrelevant to what is happening around me in the outside world. Emotions can also cause physical pain, I think. When I feel worried, I will start feeling physically sick. Emotions, the soul and what is the body and isn't is interesting because I imagine the soul simply being, existing, without a body. There is no specific place, not everywhere or nowhere - the soul just is, while the body needs a physical place and time to be, to exist, to naviagate in the here and now. I wonder if the soul feels or thinks at all. Is it only the brain, the mind, that feels and think? Or are emotions connected to, or come from, the soul itself?

To me, the soul is the awareness of existence. I am deep down inside of me aware of my own existence. I am aware. I am. I know I am. This awareness cannot be proved or showed to anyone else, but I know it myself. I feel it. It is a feeling, so where does feelings come from?
 

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Considering the body is dead when it's cremated, the soul would already be outside of it's former shell, so no it wouldn't feel any pain from the body burning because the soul isn't inside the body anymore.
 

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If I understand a soul to be the person as separate from the body, then, no, they wouldn't. Emotional pain, perhaps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
shark- Thanks for the welcome! To be honest, I've never met another 5w4 INFJ, and I've always wanted to... Maybe it's just my experience but the typing is fairly rare to find.
As for your gnostic beliefs, it's simply fascinating. Thanks for introducing it to me. If you don't mind me asking, how did you come to be one? I would think it's a more obscure belief system?
Everyone else, thanks for the replies! They're all very intriguing and I enjoyed reading all the different ideas out there.
 

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So far as I am aware, all knowledge of souls is hypothetical. There is no solid, verifiable reason to believe that they even exist, nor is there any clear consistent explanation of precisely what a soul would be. It's much simpler to attribute both emotions and pain to the physical body, and dispense with the unnecessary idea of the soul entirely. That being the case, a dead person wouldn't have any of the concerns of the living.
 
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