Saturday, May 27

Charlie Byrnes WW2 diary as a Wellington Bomber Pilot

You can purchase from Amazon this kindle publication of my fathers war diary as a pilot flying Wellington Bombers in WW2. Just go to Amazon in the book section and type in Charlie Byrnes. There is not so much on the pilots experience but more so an interesting adventure, firstly by boat to England and eventually to India. From filthy troop ships, ports of interest, singing engagements with the BBC and punctuated by the high fatality rate of comrades who he remembers as the fine young man he was proud to call his friends, it’s a kaleidoscope of adventure. Thanks to Nicla Byrnes for publishing this work and providing the artwork.

Wednesday, May 10

When goodness and good intentions may not be enough

 Nietzsche’s philosophy in his “Genealogy of Morals” confronts the reader with two important questions: - what value has morality and that of truth?

Truth for Nietzsche is a relative matter, dependent upon our interpretations- at first glance we might be inclined to say he is a postmodernist which however he isn’t. His idea of truth depends upon whichever interpretation prevails at a given time which is a function of power.  Page 45 - What Nietzsche Really Said - Solomon / Higgins.


On the question of what is good Nietzsche's critique of traditional morality centred on the typology of “master” and “slave” morality. By examining the etymology of the German words gut (“good”), schlecht (“bad”), and böse (“evil”), Nietzsche maintained that the distinction between good and bad was originally descriptive, that is, a non-moral reference to those who were privileged, the masters, as opposed to those who were base, the slaves. The good/evil contrast arose when slaves avenged themselves by converting attributes of mastery into vices. If the favoured, the “good,” were powerful, it was said that the meek would inherit the earth. Pride became sin. Charity, humility, and obedience replaced competition, pride, and autonomy. Crucial to the triumph of slave morality was its claim to being the only true morality.

Bernard  Magnus, Professor of Philosophy; Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, Magill (Ed) 'Masterpieces of world Philosophy' and notes added by G. Eraclides.  


Nietzsche's consistent use of militaristic metaphors also gives an impression of aggressiveness, but by all accounts he was a gentle polite soul. He believed one must “philosophise with a hammer” as was necessary to wage "war against morality".



Nietzsche foresaw, as the army of non-believers grew, nothing existed to fill the cohesive gap religion provided even though it was slave related. So that society must descend into nihilism- the absence of any defining values. Despite his pessimism, he foresaw an emergent higher valued golden culture could emerge from the ashes, spearheaded by his ‘man made’ supermen. 

But firstly one must tear down the old idols, ideas and errant slave related philosophies so that practically nothing is spared. His theme proposes we adopt the diversity in nature, to be free spirits, to rid ourselves of the slave mentality. For religion had become corrupted and decadent - humility was only exercised so one might be exalted, to support a loathing of the body, to engage in an unhealthy collective guilt and to exasperate suffering. Christ was the great free spirit, vainly speaking in parables attempting clarity to reject the idols and corrupt controlling institutions. He was the only true Christian but he was killed – so that what followed was a distortion - decadence and the corruption of ideals – the distorters such as St Paul and what followed. Nietzsche was against any form of utilitarianism, which is evident in today’s institutions, aimed at serving a common good. Rather, his heartfelt philosophy is inspired by the free spirits of the Homeric Greeks. They relied on instinctiveness and freedom, of inner lights and life affirmation to exemplify the joyful here and now. Aristocratic ideals not subject to the mediocrity of democratic governance. However the question arises as to how practical is it to rely on the noble spirit and instinctiveness?

By instinctiveness Nietzsche means to intuitively avoid becoming slaves within one ideology. He believed all religions were unable to provide the truth- for it is the responsibility of humanity to discern what is true and good. But he never pinpoints any system of governance or methodology other than the vision of the overman and his accompanying works.      

One did not have long to wait after his death for his prophecy to be realised, given the mass slaughter of the First World War. But the question is how much can be fairly attributed to his reasons?           

His vibrant and aggressive style was in marked contrast to his poor state of health.  He experienced the terrible brutality of war as a 25-year-old hospital attendant in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). Caring for traumatically affected or wounded soldiers he contracted diphtheria and dysentery.

The aftermath was pain and suffering became his constant companion. He suffered a complete mental breakdown in 1889 and never recovered to die in 1900.

However, his work was subsequently misinterpreted and corrupted by his sister Elizabeth in support of the Nazi party of which she was a member.

Upbringing and early influences  

Born in 1844 in the Prussian town of Rocked, in Germany, he was the son of a Lutheran pastor who died when Nietzsche was only 5. Moving to Naumburg his formative years were with his mother, sister and two maiden aunts.

Both Nietzsche grandfathers and his uncle were Lutheran ministers, as was his paternal grandfather, Friedrich August Ludwig Nietzsche (1756–1826) - a distinguished Protestant scholar. His primary education was at a boy’s school to progress to a private institution, at Pforta in Naumburg.

Later, he gained admittance to the prestigious boarding school, Schulpforta, which recognised his accomplishments in music and language, where he studied ancient Greek, Roman literature and composed poems and music. 

He was also influenced by Epicurus (341–270 BC) who talked about the need to learn about what satisfies fundamental needs, which mostly involves a radical upheaval to reprioritise one’s life.

“He who understands the limits of life knows how easy it is to procure enough to remove the pain of want and make the whole of life complete and perfect,” he wrote. Seize the day!

After graduation he enrolled in Bonn University (1864) as first in theology to later switch to philology. 

Inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer in 1865, Nietzsche was enthused to then study philosophy, and read all of his works and studied others such as Kant’s -anti- materialistic theories.

He switched to the University of Leipzig, to follow his favourite professor Friedrich Ritschl. The Professor was impressed by Nietzsche and published his essays in academic journals. Nietzsche was offered a Professorship in Greek Languages and Literature at the University of Basel in Switzerland. In the intervening time whilst in mandatory military service, he suffered a severe accident whilst attempting to leap-mount into the saddle of a horse. A serious chest injury meant he was placed on sick leave as his wound refused to heal.

Returning to Leipzig he met the composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883), and they developed a close friendship to visit him in Switzerland. There he also met Hermann Brockhaus (1806–1877), who was married to Wagner’s sister. Brockhaus was an authority on Sanskrit and the Zoroastrian religion, whose prophet was Zarathustra (Zoroaster). That association was to ignite his interest in the Zoroastrian religion and paved the way for his later works – ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra ‘(1882- 1885).

University Life at Basel

Nietzsche, aged only 24, took up a professorship at Basel despite the fact he was yet to complete his doctorate. He admired both Ricard Wagner and similarly continued to enthusiastically support Schopenhauer’s Philosophy. His first major published work, the ‘Birth of Tragedy’ in 1872brought high praise from Wagner, but harsh criticism from academia.    

Nietzsche examines the tension between the “Apollonian” and the “Dionysian” forces- the Greek GOD of light and reasons and the GOD of wine and music.

Nietzsche favoured Dionysus to be an uplifting alternative to religion, which he contends focus excessively on heaven. Nietzsche’s “Dionysian” energy, which he favours, dates back to the pre Socratic ancient Greek culture which he regards as a more creative and a far healthier force. He feels this dynamic element of Dionysian influence has lost ground to the “Apollonian” forces of light and reason. But the flowery language and inaccuracies did not sit well with authoritative Philologists who were fiercely critical to damage his reputation to the extent enrolments were curtailed to his courses. Much later on Nietzsche attempts self-criticism, noting the earlier work bore the fruits of his adolescence. He reverted to an “Apollonian” as a philosopher reliant on the forces of light and reason. Towards the end of his university tenure Nietzsche began to write Human, All-Too-Human (1878)—which turned out to be a pivotal moment which served to end his friendship with the anti-sematic Wagner following his attack on his artistry. For the remainder of his time Nietzsche was a highly respected figure at Basel, until his resignation in June, 1879, aged only 34, due to his deteriorating health. He suffered worsening migraine headaches, eyesight problems, depression and severe stomach complaints.   

Later major work and style 

After his early retirement Nietzsche published Human only to Human (1878-1880), The Dawn of Day ((1881) The Gay Science (1882), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1882- 1885), Beyond Good and Evil (1886) Genealogy of Morals (1887) and Twilight of the Idols (1889). Nietzsche style reverted to the use of aphorisms as a means to mount a critique of conventional philosophical wisdom and to write in such a manner to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Critiques of his work argue it is a never ending narrative of disjointed or disorganised aphorisms. But Scholars Solomon and Higgins (What Nietzsche really said – argue on pages 49- 50) state such a style ensures his work is more easily digestible- freed from the chains of metaphysical forms of thinking that Nietzsche despised. 

His poor physical health led him in his quest for spiritual health - in what he describes as a constant state of becoming which sustains him. Possibly this is why he sees no room for compassion. But the question arises is this a valid point to abandon the idea of compassion?    

A brief summary of most of his works is as follows:

Human only Too Human

Nietzsche's first lengthy contribution to literature, since as his previous works comprise only philological treatises. Nietzsche addresses his concerns of the ensuing crisis he sees for mankind.  

The Dawn of Day

The title might represent Nietzsche's work when he is no longer under the influence of Schopenhauer or Wagner. It is a critique of morality and suggests the need for a “revaluation of all values.” Nietzsche talks about the problems associated with Christianity and that it is power which principally underpins human behaviour.

Gay Science

A polemic against rationality as he favours the instinctive approach. That is in the sense of an intuitive style to embrace vitality, artistry and visions that take humanity out of its present state of enslavement. Nietzsche detests any authoritative set of values and champions the idea of the free spirit.

It is in ‘The Gay Science, that Nietzsche declares God is dead.

He is the first philosopher to talk about the death of GOD, which  means ( according to Nietzsche) that as people give up the idea of understanding GOD and that reading the bible will tell you what to do, religion will lose its grip on the culture. There are some people who will continue to believe but fewer into the future.   

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Plot Summary

Zarathustra descends from 10 years of solitude on the mountain prepared to teach humanity about the overman. At Motley Cow he explains the meaning of life – the overman (superman) is one who is free from all prejudicial concepts or moralities - who thereby creates his own values and a purposeful joyful life.

The people are bewildered and lose interest in the overman.

But the exception is the tightrope walker, who subsequently falls and dies. Zarathustra decides the only possibility is to try to convert the few individuals who are willing to stand out from the crowd. He explains to these few who come forward about the doctrine of eternal recurrence - all events will repeat themselves again and again eternally. None of the followers fully attain the position of the overman, although they grow in stature. But they all enjoy feasting and a joyful songful exchange with Zarathustra- to embrace the idea of eternal recurrence.

Nietzsche’s narrative reverts to a parable-like style, to describe the existential struggle and sacrifice undertaken by the overman.  The struggle is analogous to symbolically scaling mountains, whilst remaining hearty, full of laughter and gaiety- to exemplify the free spirit of the overman. This is his answer to the looming chaos facing the western culture as he sees it, but is it too vague a notion to really take hold? 

Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

This is ambitious work that tempts us to discern what is true and good. The crux of his analysis is to distinguish between truth as in scientific truth and value which he links to the will- by will we mean the faculty of the mind. He criticises philosophers who are reliant upon “self-consciousness, and “free will”. Rather, he takes us beyond the concepts of good and evil and introduces us to the notion of the will to power- a psychologically derived drive from which we experience through the senses to constitute one's overarching will.

In a nutshell Nietzsche proposes the concepts of good and evil are not the opposing forces as one might think of them. Rather, there is only the will to power that is the driving force to our existence and enables one to discern what is true and good. When we understand this factor it will allow us not to be judgmental but to aspire paradoxically to a higher morality.      

Twilight of the Idols, Philosophizing with a Hammer-1888

Nietzsche revisits prior criticisms of Socrates, Plato, Kant, Christianity and German culture. He contrasts their alleged cultural decadence to reaffirm his positivism to Thucydides and the Sophists. He invites his audience to test the idols of the past to allegorically tap on them- “sounds them out” so to speak to determine if they are hollow, just as a physician would use the percussion hammer.

 ‘Death Knell’ - On the morning of January 3, 1889, while in Turin, Nietzsche experienced a mental breakdown which left him an invalid for the rest of his life until his death in 1900.


Despite suffering terribly his prodigious work provides a testament to his own will and immense material to ponder, about which continues to be subject to countless interpretations.

Nietzsche’s hope is that as free spirits one can be unbounded by the shackles of dogmatism to embrace hardships in a constant state of becoming as part of that circle of eternal recurrence. 



“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”
Friedrich Nietzsche- Thus Spoke Zarathustra 

Thursday, May 4

More Soulful Reflections

The earliest formal accounts of the soul probably came from ancient Egypt and Babylonia but I want to begin with ancient Greece since there is a clear link to later monotheistic religions. 

Not only have that but Hindu philosophy has strong links to Greek Aristotelian metaphysics as they share a fundamental common theme embracing a divine and immortal mind or soul. 

Aristotle’s metaphysics is analogous to the ideas of the Upanishads which locates the inner self, whose spirituality was of great interest to Albert Schweitzer. 

For in Greek thinking both Plato and Aristotle believed in immortality but there was a distinction in relation to the soul. Plato's  idea was of a soul as indestructible part of the body versus Aristotle’s view it was the intellect and not the soul that survives death.

Greek thinking influenced monotheism for thousands of years with Aristotle’s metaphysics integral to both the Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions.  For instance, Aristotle ideas were incorporated into Islamic thinking, when his significant first ever formal works on metaphysics were translated into Latin. Islamic scholars were much more open then to new ideas before later retreating into more of fundamental stance. Christianity similarity adopted his ideas that were incorporated into the great religious philosopher of the 13ty Century, Thomas Aquinas. 

His religious philosophy was officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1907.

A similar position arose with the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, who eventually asserted the resurrection of the dead is a fundamental principle of Judaism 

The formulation of dogma was helpful to Jews pressured to defend their religion and needing to have ready replies to theological attacks on it. Maimonides formulated Thirteen Fundamental Principles of Jewish Faith, the last of which is belief that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it.

By the 13th century that view became accepted into Judaism, and as Maimonides included it among his Thirteen Principles


But it should be noted in the early periods there existed much more diversity than there is now in the Christian religion.

By way of example it wasn’t until the 6th century that the idea of reincarnation was considered heretical. 

This isn’t surprising given the eschatological expectations of a messiah that permeated Jewish thinking just prior to the unexpected execution of Christ.


That idea of messianic figure was rife at the time whose expectation was for the Jews to gain their freedom from the Roman yoke as was foretold in the latter OT texts and in particular to the book of Daniel.


According to Professor Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly in their publication “All Things Shining”, what began in Christianity under the influence of Pauline influences to combine Jewish mysticism with Greek rationality was a bad idea.

For the Greeks of Plato’s era, in the 5th century BC, human’s beings had one, single universal essence: at their best they were rational agents who, through disinterested philosophical argument, could discover objective, universal, timeless truths of nature and human ethical excellence. For the Hebrew it was the special covenant with GOD. The truth then was commitment to the covenant. To some degree this conflict of cultural ideas continued except for those devotees of Kierkegaard, who accepted his synthesis.      


In terms of the so-called eastern religions composed principally of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, Buddhism took its lead from Hinduism less the priestly connections with worship and associated rituals. It was to spread across SE Asia to be further morphed into different strands along the Silk Road as it incorporated aspects of Taoism in China. There is some debate as to whether Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy. Based on the idea that religion is defined as the worship of a God (rather than the rejection of worship) in that sense Buddhists is a philosophy.


But if you define religion as a belief which promises reality and involves the study of sacred texts I think it can be regarded as a religion. There are many different strands as for instance Tibetan Buddhism incorporated the idea of local Gods into its basic tenet.


The differences between Hinduism and Buddhism also relates to the idea of the negation of the self. In Hinduism, human soul, is believed to be connected to the Brahman. However, Buddhism in its enlightened state negates the idea of a self, believing its independence cannot be separated. However, what might be construed on the pathway to enlightenment is a duality. Therein we have the conventional sense of self that applies only until such a state of enlightenment is realized.

First Nations People 

Interestingly the Australian Aboriginal society, existing for possibly some 70,000 years in isolation pre colonisation held similar views to all of the world’s major religions and in particular in relation to the soul. 


They believed that the dreaming one is reincarnated to return in different existential forms to inhabit the land to which they are inextricably joined. So they believed the land owned them and so the idea of owning land was nonsense. Life was a continuous circle defined by predestined totems and the law which gave rise to kinship and the means of governance without the need for supreme rulers. 


Finally we can turn to our modern way of viewing the immortal soul which depends in turn on how we view the mind and consciousness. In respect of our mind dependent consciousness and what is deemed reality is a source of continuous debate. 

On the one hand we have the hard- nosed materialists who believe that the output of the brain and our consciousness can only be the product of the human brain. That view contrasts to the non- materialists who argue consciousness is a fundamental state in the universe to which we are all inexplicably linked.

Such questions will remain debating issues since no one can be absolutely sure what reality is. 


So that ultimately it boils down into what you believe and that’s where the ABC‘s recent research as in the Conversation talking about a survey into the soul in 2021 is of interest. The results suggest that, as a nation, we may not be as sceptical as we think we are.

The survey results showed that on an overall basis 69.7 percent of respondents said they either believed in or were open to the existence of the soul, with 14.7 percent unsure, 5.7 percent thinking it unlikely, and 9.9 percent saying they do not believe it exists.


But only 48 per cent of Australians say they believe in ghosts or the possibility they may exist, but 69 per cent say the same for the soul, according to new research.


What about young people 


Surprisingly, perhaps, it was the youngest age group — 18-26-year-olds — who expressed the most openness to the non-material: 49 per cent said they believe in the soul, and 48 per cent in life after death (in both cases, another 28 per cent were open to the possibility).


The percentage who said "I believe this does not exist" about any of the options never rose to double digits for this cohort (9 per cent for ghosts, only 4 per cent for life after death).

By contrast, the oldest age bracket (76+) were much more sceptical: a full 40 per cent said they do not believe in ghosts, and 28 per cent dismissed the possibility of life after death.

The gender disparities will be less surprising to some. Men were on average more than twice as likely as women to tick the "I believe this does not exist" box.


When it comes to the existence of God or a higher power, men and women said they believed or were open to it at almost the same rate. But for the rest, women were markedly more willing to profess belief: 50 per cent to 38 per cent for the soul, 38 per cent to 30 per cent for life after death, 34 per cent to 26 per cent for angels.


Soul-searching summing up. 

So that we can conclude the question of souls is still one that matters. It is, in effect, wrestling with the meaning of human life and what is it that makes us human — and whether each of us is more significant than the rocks or pebbles in the sea.


In my view it’s not so much the doctrines of the various religions that bind its followers, for there will be matters of interpretation, but rather that search for meaning that continues so that the division between the secular and sacred is rather blurred. Like adherents of Buddhism emphazising it’s a philosophy and not a religion by pointing out the tenets of their sacred texts and beliefs in the path to enlightenment. But mostly something that is considered sacred is connected to religion and if you change a definition of region not to mandate worship of a GOD but reality with sacred texts than it is a religion. 


So, Buddhism is a religion like any others which all have their philosophical underpinnings. Then there is far more commonality in religious thinking than we might think except for a few twists along its evolutionary journey. Talking to people who have converted from Christianity to Buddhism they believe Christ was a reincarnated Buddha. People will continue to adapt as will our beliefs, slowly over time.  


This is why the belief in souls persists, even in this apparently secular age.


Friday, April 21

In search of self and it's soul

This paper examines the article on the soul as per the link below as a good reference point to underpin discussions.

Everyday use of the word soul and excitable neurons.   

The soul is routinely used to describe our reaction to a musical song or a piece of art or any creation by saying it speaks to my soul.

To be more explicit we may also add it gives me shivers down my spine – our central nervous reaction of highly excited neurons. 

Then there's rare moments to feel the emotional impact taking in breathtaking scenes on walks or to observe beautiful gardens. 

Around the campfire at night when gazing into the flickering sparks or embers under a starry cosmos we may experience dreamlike comfort.

So that this is state of soulful human wonderment which draws us into thinking about non- material things. But that doesn’t translate of course into ideas of an immortal soul. 


Firstly let me summarize the author’s response, as I see it, which is to define the soul in terms of the various religious doctrines and to acknowledge the persuasive psychological needs those views offer.  

His conclusion is we are stuck with the idea of a soul while questioning the validity to hold such views.

Modern day use of the word “soul” has waned.

But given modern day advances in science the use of the word “soul” has been largely replaced by “’Consciousness” or the “mind”. Indeed 

the ancient texts use so many different terms for it such as breath or heart that its challenging to make any conclusions as to the extent it was talked about then. One must accept there will be many incorrect  translations.  

Rather it is preferable to use consciousness/ mind which has undergone a minor renaissance in modern day terms which in turn has invoked renewed interest in the ancient platonic ideas. 

The author rather obviously follows a bottom up materialist’s view, amongst a plethora of current views. In a nutshell the brain and its output is all there is.

But unanswered questions arise as to why and how such consciousness arises – that’s the hard problem about consciousness talked about by Mind Philosopher David Chalmers. He argues that consciousness is a fundamental property ontologically autonomous of any known (or even possible) physical properties.

Chalmers is a dualist but remains agnostic to the idea of a soul ……….. So, as a scientist, I just can’t go there yet

Then we have the quantum level of consciousness which in a nutshell means the universe is consciousness.

Other theories are the soul/mind advocates who suggest that all things have a degree of consciousness; birds, plants, even molecules.

Finally one might conclude it’s more a matter of mysticism that involves a leap of faith to become a believer.   

From my perspective, belief in a soul comes back to how we feel about our experiences? – are they in the context of a psyche/spiritual experience or does one firmly stay in the materialist camp?    

Faith and rational thinking underpinning the belief in the immortal soul

In that respect it might be interesting to talk about what specific ideas were held by the philosophers. My aim goes beyond the author's ideas to provide additional information that underpin such beliefs.     

In ancient Greece it was believed the realization of the good life – a virtuous one, was for the soul as a substance to gain ascendancy over the body. The idea that permeated society was it was imperative to teach the virtuous way of life to the youth. Hence knowledge inherent in the soul needed to be strengthened.  

That memory of virtuous knowledge was believed to have been mostly forgotten during the trauma of birth. However, we know, merely understanding ethics or the virtues doesn’t mean folk will actually follow that example in life.


The birth of Consciousness as a moral persuader  

Socrates, responding to charges of impiety and corruption if Athenian youth, held that his conscience provided the ethical guiding light.   

Hence we have the idea for most people that it remains a clear guide in relation to how we feel about our ideas of justice or whether or not decisions made were based on a fair and ethical basis. But having a conscious does no translate into an immortal soul. 

However. Socrates was convinced that, in addition to our physical bodies, each person possesses an immortal soul that survives beyond the death of the body. But he was also concerned that the so-called “logos” lives on in terms of his wisdom after our death. Logos is the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, giving it form and meaning.

But such ideas were of interest to St Paul who merged Greek rationalism with Hebrew mysticism which is less emphatic as to the nature of the soul.  

Experiences and feelings underpin ideas of the soul   

There is a wealth of information in the Biblical stories which leaps of faith, occasioned by miraculous occurrences. They are of course just stories that introduce the idea of irony and aim to make sense of the word then. 

But in the end the Jewish religion boils down to a belief we are more than our bodies and that a dimension of consciousness, soul, survives death eternally. The fact that it is more clearly defined in Christian versus Jewish doctrines is an interesting fact that doesn’t detract from the overall consensus by either that the soul survives death.   

That sums it up for the Abrahamic religions of the world- Judaism, Islam and Christianity who share many of the OT stories which try to make sense of the world when they were closer to everyday existential challenges than we are today. Abraham for instance started out believing in many GODs before settling on just the one which became the catalyst for the three religions today, no doubt influenced by the events of that time and the feelings that arose as a consequence.  

Hence I think the evolutionary effect in biology points to particular feelings one has more so than an actual fear of death.

Fear of death arose as a consequence of materialism more as a modern day phenomena presented as an underlying quest for immortality. But that’s not to say there was fear of GODS and various forms of sacrifice (including human )offered in early periods. Add to that religion used for political purposes to gain power and brainwash youth to become terrorist suicide bombers.  

The duality concept – body and soul


The idea of this duality of a separate soul to the body was talked about in the meditations of St Augustine (354 - 430) and further complemented much later on by Thomas Aquinas, but with a twist. He is regarded as the father of religious philosophy by the Catholic Church. 

Aquinas invigorated the philosophy of Aristotle which had been abandoned during the so-called dark ages but taken up by a more enlightened Islam before retreating to fundamentalism. 

Aquinas believed the question relating to the immortal soul within the body to be an insoluble nonsensical philosophical question. He turned the question around by arguing it was the body that was the nature of the soul and not the soul for the body. Therein that part of the body as represented by its intellectual soul is an incorruptible form.

Further philosophical views.


The idea of substance talked about by Spinoza was to captivate Einstein who saw the energized source and immortal soul as a natural corollary as to how energy passes front one state to another in accord with the laws of the universe. 

Descartes also thought the body and soul are interacting entities with different attributes. 

Immanuel Kant, as a scientist, took a different route maintaining the categorical imperatives, which gave us our ethical views must come from GOD otherwise where else could they rationally arise.  According to Kant there is a moral necessity to believe in an immortal soul as it underpins enriching cognitive experiences that give impetus to obtaining the greater good and to guard against scepticism.

Kierkegaard on the other hand, regarded as the father of the existential movement, begins his synthesis in support of the immortal soul with a series of rhetorical questions. The crux of his existential philosophy begins with the inescapable idea of a self which is spiritual in nature and which invites a leap of faith to ensure meaning to existence. His synthesis is of body and soul suggesting eternal things connected to the soul combined with everyday necessities must be lived in a balanced manner. 

First Nations Views

Turning to the Australian Aboriginal society in search of their ideas on a soul we find the idea of the land and existence as all form one circular cosmic soul which is introduced continually via the dreaming. 

The land and all there is as a result of the creator spirits who seeded authority to humans once sufficient knowledge was acquired to tend and nourish Mother Earth. 

This is achieved by predestined laws dependent on what side of the Moëty one is born to be either hunter/gatherers or conservationists charged with ecological responsibility.

The responsibilities are defined by totems that vary between nations with one chosen by the elders who demonstrates a charisma in respect to one of the totems. The totems designate what animals and landmarks can only be hunted in different areas are the responsibilities within nations.  


As the author notes, the idea of an immortal soul as part of the human psyche is going to stay with us. But the idea of a soul as integral to our psycho /spiritual existence has undergone a minor renaissance in academia in more recent times. For we are more than just flesh and bones.  


·        Are such matters best left alone as mysteries? 

·        What do we think about the initial article on souls?

·        Is it preferable to talk about mind and consciousness and what do we think about the possibilities that make up the human psyche?  

·        What do we think of the idea.., if death can be the end of me as a finite individual mind, it does not mean it will be the end of me altogether. It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter ……,it seems to me quite probable that (my mind) will lose its limitations and be merged with an infinite mind ………?

·        Does the article provide any food for thought or quantifiable existential challenges to a belief in the soul /afterlife?

·        Do you agree with the idea of being stuck with a soul or do you have an alternative view as per below:  

·        Could personal patterns of thoughts as in souls live on just as the works of those before us in their writings live on afresh in each generation and transfer in intergenerational memory?

·        What do we think about the idea that death is the ripened fruit into a new form as proposed by Heidegger?

·        Can consciousness be ultimately from a primordial source that remains a mystery?

·        Having rid ourselves of the illusion of time, can that free us from the fear of death as Einstein nonchalantly dismisses its relevance as his letter to his friend?

·        How would you describe a human being in relation to their soul   assuming you believe in the existence of an immortal soul? E.g. are we spiritual beings with a soul residing in a physical body?

·        What message do you think the author aims to convey?