What happened to the soul?

Iain McGilchrist talked to this theme at the RSA on Monday. Very much worth listening too!

Some Twitter highlights I made, if you want a quick digest:

Soul has a meaning because of instances in language when mind or heart or brain won’t do. It’s something bigger or deeper.


We don’t have words for certain spiritual or soulful music. We need a word that’s hard to define or we miss it.


Soul is more process than thing. Hence imagery of fire or spark. A latent function that needs nurturing. And suffering too?


Soul is resonant area. A disposition towards life. A way of knowing knowledge itself.


To understand soul need to put ourselves in the disposition to understand it. It won’t just show up.


Shouldn’t try to enoble soul by splitting from body. Instincts make substance of the soul. See soul in the eyes. So soul is not dualistic notion. The body is the best image of the soul, Wittgenstein remarked


Spirituality is often about not knowing because if you know too much, you miss it. Like time or beauty in that.


Soul is not going way of god of the gaps. Will always need appropriate modes of thought for different objects of thought


Soul is not ghost in the machine. Body is not machine. Plus soul & body may be aspects of one. Duality not same as dualism


McGilchrist on afterlife: perhaps we are like waves in water, or a part that’s part of a whole. Our cognition is too small.


How to approach soul? Through depth, sublime, love, experience, the oblique, awareness of the ground of being.

Finally, for those engaged in ‘Iain McGilchrist’ studies, the talk was of note to me too because Iain quoted Platonic sources positively and without qualification (unlike in The Master and His Emissary, where to put it too crudely Plato is one of the ‘bad guys’.) Afterwards, Iain did say he’s changed his mind on Plato…

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