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Article
What We Talk About When We Talk About the Soul
The Chronicle of Higher Education (2010)
  • Stephen T Asma, Columbia College Chicago
Abstract

The author discusses the popularity among college students of the concept of the soul, and attempts to place it in its proper context. He dispenses with orthodox theological arguments and New Age arguments as scientifically untenable. He takes a so-called Wittgensteinian approach, noting soul's linguistic significance. He analyzes expressions which use the concept of soul and concludes that they are qualitatively different from testable factual expressions. He notes that soul talk is about hopes and aspirations, inspiration, or feelings deeper than friendship. He assigns it meaning outside of scientific concepts. He likens expressions of soul to creative and ethical acts, sees soul language as going beyond scientific description, and cautions against trying to justify it metaphysically.

Keywords
  • spirit,
  • soul,
  • mind and body,
  • theology,
  • new age movement
Publication Date
May 7, 2010
Citation Information
Stephen T Asma. "What We Talk About When We Talk About the Soul" The Chronicle of Higher Education Vol. 56 Iss. 34 (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen_asma/14/