Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Immortality of the Soul

Many people believe in the immortality of the soul as a part of their faith, but relatively few know the argument that supports the belief. Perhaps that is because it has two parts as follows:

The Immateriality of the Soul
1. As a thing acts, so it is.
2. The soul/mind acts to form abstract immaterial concepts.
Therefore, the soul is immaterial.

The Immortality of the Soul
1. Only what is composed of material parts can break down and cease to exist.
2. The soul is immaterial or spiritual and not composed of material parts.
Therefore, the soul is immortal and cannot breakdown or cease to exist.

If you do not believe that you have a soul, or if you think that your soul dies when your body dies, I would be interested in hearing why you believe what you do?


  1. The argument presented here is an adaptation of the classical argument found in a number of sources. (e.g. : Plato, The Republic (352D - 354A). Phaedo (100B - 105E).
    Aristotle, De Anima (429a - 430a). Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 75, aa. 2 - 6.

  2. Greetings,

    Can you please provide the proofs for the major of the first argument and the minor of the second argument? Thanks in advance.

  3. Hi Mashsha\'i,

    The major premise of the first argument - "As a thing acts, so it is" - is an adaptation of the principle "agere sequitur esse" - "action follows being".

    The principle is self-evident in that action is being and being is itself an act.

    Furthermore, the way a thing acts necessarily reflects the manner in which it exists. We (humans) can not see the inner most being of anything. We know what a thing is by the way in which it acts. If this principle were not true, we would not know anything.

    If the soul/mind can form immaterial concepts like "cause", "effect", "time", "truth", and "goodness", (and it does) then the mind must be immaterial. So the minor premise of the second argument is proven.

    The brain which is composed of material parts, can only act in a material way. That is it connects one part with another such that neurons fire, sensations are produced, and physical actions follow. The brain cannot produce abstract immaterial concepts. That is something only the mind can do.

  4. For anyone who would like to read more on this subject, a fine post and an interesting comment thread can be found here -

  5. With humble and contrite heart I have to admit: I didn't know that.