Body, soul and spirit



After having dedicated time to my page about faith and science

I came to the conclusion that I have to understand better what the Soul and Spirit are and how it is described in sacred texts and by psychologists and philosophers.



definitions of soul

soul (ψυχή psūchê)

Merriam-Webster defines Soul as following:

  • the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life
  • the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe
  • a person’s total self
  • the moral and emotional nature of human beings

Encyclopædia Britannica writes that the soul is
“the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being, that which confers individuality and humanity, often considered to be synonymous with the mind or the self. In theology, the soul is further defined as that part of the individual which partakes of divinity and often is considered to survive the death of the body.” ( Read more about cultural and historical views in )

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

writes that Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus has “the most carefully worked out theories of soul in ancient philosophy.”

“the word ‘soul’ undergoes quite remarkable semantic expansion in sixth and fifth century (ed. BC) usage. By the end of the fifth century ( — the time of Socrates’ death — soul is standardly thought and spoken of, for instance, as the distinguishing mark of living things, as something that is the subject of emotional states and that is responsible for planning and practical thinking, and also as the bearer of such virtues as courage and justice.” (read more in )



James Hillman

Psychologist James Hillman’s archetypal psychology is an attempt to restore the concept of the soul, which Hillman viewed as the “self-sustaining and imagining substrate” upon which consciousness rests. Hillman described the soul as that “which makes meaning possible, [deepens] events into experiences, is communicated in love, and has a religious concern”, as well as “a special relation with death”.[116] (Source: Wiki )



  • The Epicureans considered the soul to be made up of atoms like the rest of the body.
  • For the Platonists, the soul was an immaterial and incorporeal substance, akin to the gods yet part of the world of change and becoming.
  • Aristotle’s conception of the soul was obscure, though he did state that it was a form inseparable from the body.
  • Source:  )

Encyclopædia Britannica (EB) and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) have pages about these philosophers and some  information about their  view about the soul (some info in wiki are also added):

  • Agostino Nifo
    wrote a “treatise on the Immortality of the Soul Against Pomponazzi”) as a refutation of Pomponazzi’s view that the human soul is essentially a material organism dissolving at death. “
  • Aristotle E.B.
    His dialogue Eudemus, for example, reflects the Platonic view of the soul as imprisoned in the body and as capable of a happier life only when the body has been left behind”
  • Aristotle SEP)
  • Avicenna and Ibn al-Nafis wiki
    They both made a distinction between the soul and the spirit
    Ibn al-Nafis rejected this idea and instead argued that the soul “is related to the entirety and not to one or a few organs

    Avicenna defined the soul as nothing other than “what a human indicates by saying “I“.[111]
  • Cassiodorus
  • wrote “De anima, which is mainly concerned with the nature of the soul and life after death”)
  • St. Augustine
    “did some soul-searching”
  • Descartes Wiki
    “Res extensa and res cogitans are mutually exclusive and this makes it possible to conceptualize the complete intellectual independence from the body.
  • Epicurus SEP
  • Stoic SEP
    soul, which accounts for the reception and use of impressions (or representations) (phantasiai) and impulse (hormê: that which generates animal movement) or, to use alternative terminology, cognition and desire. “
  • Francis M. Cornford Wiki
    quotes Pindar by saying that the soul sleeps while the limbs are active, but when one is sleeping, the soul is active and reveals “an award of joy or sorrow drawing near” in dreams.[97]
  • Immanuel Kant
    “identified the soul as the “I” in the strictest sense, and argued that the existence of inner experience can neither be proved nor disproved. We cannot prove a priori the immateriality of the soul, but rather only so much: tll properties and actions of the soul cannot be recognized from materiality.”
  • Isaac Of Stellaadvances the tripartite division of the soul, viz., rational, appetitive, and emotional functions”
  • Marsilio Ficino
    (wrote writings the Theologia Platonica 1482, actually a philosophical study of the soul”
  • Moses Mendelssohn
    Jewish philosopher, wrote 1767 ‘Phädon, oder über die Unsterblichkeit der Seele’ where he “defended the immortality of the soul against the materialism prevalent in his day; his title reflects his respect for Plato’sPhaedo.”
  • Nemesius Of Emesasubmits that the soul must be an incorporeal, intellectual entity, subsistent in itself, immortal, and yet designed to be one with the body.”
  • Plato EB
  • wrote that “good life requires not just a certain kind of knowledge (as Socrates had suggested) but also habituation to healthy emotional responses and therefore harmony between the three parts of the soul” that is “according to Plato, reason, spirit, and appetite
  • Plato SEP
  • Thomas Aquinas Wiki)
    “since the knower becomes what he knows, the soul is definitely not corporeal”

(Click on the links above to know more about the philosophers and their view about the soul.)


Philosophical traditions

Daoism or Taoism

emphasises living in harmony with the Dao. s a Chinese word signifying “way”, “path”, “route”, “road” or sometimes more loosely “doctrine”, “principle” or “holistic beliefs”.
Tao or Dao is the natural order of the universe whose character one’s human intuition must discern in order to realize the potential for individual wisdom.

According to Chinese traditions, every person has two types of soul called hun and po (魂 and 魄), which are respectively yang and yin. Taoism believes in ten souls, (Source: Wiki )

Within this ancient soul dualism tradition, every living human has both a hun spiritual, ethereal, yang soul which leaves the body after death, and also a po corporeal, substantive, yin soul which remains with the corpse of the deceased. (Source: Wiki )

( Source: Wiki )


Some Confucian traditions contrast a spiritual soul with a corporeal soul.[53]

Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means inner self or soul.[54][55][56] 

The six orthodox schools of Hinduism believe that there is Ātman (self, essence) in every being.[59]



I decided to copy short parts from wiki about soul here:


Animism teaches that even non-biological entities (such as rivers and mountains) possess souls. [5]


Buddhism does not deny the existence of “immaterial” entities, and it (at least traditionally) distinguishes bodily states from mental states.[15]


Bible-studies about Spirit


Bible texts

Here are a few Bible texts that talk about Spirit:

Paul says in Romans 8:10::”But when Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because you have been justified;”

John 4:24 says: “God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.”

Philippians 3:3 says “We are the true people of the circumcision since we worship by the Spirit of God and make Christ Jesus our only boast, not relying on physical qualifications,

When we die our spirit continues to exist according to Psalm 31:5

that says “to your hands I commit my spirit, by you have I been redeemed. God of truth,”


A Christian presentation

I started my search looking at this video with Dr. Wayne Grudem

This video gave me this introduction:

There are three different views about the Human being:

  1. Monism
    that we are made up of one part.
    A view frequently used in the secular world.
  2. Dichotomy
    that we are made up of two parts: body and soul or spirit.
    The spirit is not a separate part of man.
    Soul and spirit are different words for the immaterial part of humans.
  3. Trichotomy
    that we are made up of three parts: body, soul and, if you are a Christian, the Spirit.
  4. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:1 says “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
  5. There are many verses where the Bible uses Soul and Spirit interchangeably

The youtube video has a good introduction. It reads:

Religious or not, most people believe they have some form of a soul. Whether they believe in a concept like “the human spirit,” or they believe part of them will live on when their body expires, these beliegs about body, spirit, and soul all come from somewhere. You might be surprised to learn that much of what people believe about the soul or spirit doesn’t come from the Bible. The Bible doesn’t neatly define the concepts of spirit and soul for us. In order to interpret what information it does give, we must piece together all the clues it gives us. In his online systematic theology course, Dr. Wayne Grudem has done just that to reveal how the Bible answers the questions “What is the soul? and “What is the spirit?”

The linked site gives more valuable information about the issue. Among others we read:
“According to many trichotomists, man’s soul includes:

  • his intellect,
  • his emotions,
  • and his will. “

About the spirit the text continues with “A person’s spirit, however, is a higher faculty that only comes alive when a person becomes a Christian” The author support this with 

  1. Romans 8:10:
  2. John 4:24
  3. Philippians 3:3


most notably Hinduism and Jainism) hold that all living things from the smallest bacterium to the largest of mammals are the souls themselves (Atman, jiva)


Kalbo Inuit groups believe that a person has more than one type of soul. One is associated with respiration, the other can accompany the body as a shadow. Soul concepts of different Inuit groups are diverse; they are not alike.[14] (Source: Wiki )



Quran texts

About dead, the same is said in the Quran 6/60 but using the word “Soul” (that appears 16 time(s) in 15 verse(s) in the Quran)

Quran 6/60 says And it is He who takes your souls by night and knows what you have committed by day.  Then He revives you therein that a specified term may be fulfilled. Then to Him will be your return; then He will inform you about what you used to do.”

As you see, the soul is taken care of by God temporarily when you sleep and when you die, forever (?).

The word “Spirit”  in Arabic, is called Ruh, almost like the Hebrew   wə·rū·aḥ“. see wə·rū·aḥ in Genesis 1:2)

“Ruh” appears 17 time(s) in 16 verse(s) in the Quran.

For the Angel Gabriel the name ruh-ul-Qudus is often used. Jesus was supported with ruh-ul-Qudus.

Quran 17/85  says about Ruh And (ed. if) they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the Ruh. Say, “The Ruh is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.”

Note that uses the English translation “Soul” of “Ruh” instead of Spirit probably to emphasize that Gods is one, not two or three.


most notably Hinduism and Jainism) hold that all living things from the smallest bacterium to the largest of mammals are the souls themselves (Atman, jiva)

In Jainism, jiva is the immortal essence or soul of a living organism (human, animal, fish or plant etc.) that survives physical death.[61]

In Jainism, every living being, from plant or bacterium to human, has a soul and the concept forms the very basis of Jainism. According to Jainism, there is no beginning or end to the existence of soul. It is eternal in nature and changes its form until it attains liberation.

The soul (Jīva) is basically categorized in one of two ways based on its present state.[citation needed]

  1. Liberated Souls – These are souls that have attained liberation (moksha) and never become part of the life cycle again.
  2. Non-Liberated Souls – The souls of any living being which are stuck in the life cycle of 4 forms; Manushya Gati (Human Being), Tiryanch Gati (Any other living being), Dev Gati (Heaven) and Narak Gati (Hell).


The Hebrew terms נפש nefesh (literally “living being”), רוח ruach (literally “wind”), נשמה neshamah (literally “breath”), חיה chayah (literally “life”) and יחידה yechidah (literally “singularity”) are used to describe the soul or spirit.[71]

In Judaism the soul was believed to be given by God to Adam as mentioned in Genesis,

Islam: The Quran, the holy book of Islam, distinguishes between the immortal Rūḥ (translated as spirit, consciousness, pneuma or “soul”) and the mortal Nafs (translated as self, ego, psyche or “soul”).[67][68] 


The belief in soul dualism found throughout most Austronesian shamanistic traditions. The reconstructed Proto-Austronesian word for the “body soul” is *nawa (“breath”, “life”, or “vital spirit”). It is located somewhere in the abdominal cavity, often in the liver or the heart (Proto-Austronesian *qaCay).[76][77]

The “free soul” is located in the head. Its names are usually derived from Proto-Austronesian *qaNiCu (“ghost”, “spirit [of the dead]”), which also apply to other non-human nature spirits. The “free soul” is also referred to in names that literally mean “twin” or “double”, from Proto-Austronesian *duSa (“two”).[78][79] A virtuous person is said to be one whose souls are in harmony with each other, while an evil person is one whose souls are in conflict.[80]

The “free soul” is said to leave the body and journey to the spirit world during sleep, trance-like states, delirium, insanity, and death.


Sikhism considers the soul (atma) to be part of God (Waheguru).


Three dimensions of you

He gets rather exalted when he talks about the Spirit and therefore difficult to follow.

I am working on an image on in Google drive /d/1SDeijdNssy540owY6pJpDeBZiXG2PdawqCG7_Yg-n88/edit?usp=sharing

As the soul and Spirit whatever they are, are living in our body and probably in our brain, it is time for some Neuroscience and Neurotheology. I will dedicate to these issues in a separate page at





As the Soul resides in our brain I decided to take a look at what neuroscientists say about this.See

before that page, I wrote an article about neurotheology a while ago and about Pope Francis who accepted to make an MMR of his brain before and after some time of spirituality. 


Notebook of a pluralist

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