Life's Great Mysteries: Marth on Souls


While I choose not to believe in the existence of the soul, I can't say I haven't found it an interesting concept to ponder in my free time. Since this is potentially a touchy subject, I will start by saying that similarly to my time travel post, this is just my personal idea that may be right or wrong. I really don't know. It's simply what I have rationalized in my own head. I'm throwing out a theory, so if I see something like "You're a bastard for insulting the beliefs of others", I'll be very upset because that's very much not what I'm doing.

So what's the plan? First, let me state that I believe that the existence of the soul is impossible to confirm or deny because the very concept of the soul requires that there is no physical evidence of its existence. I believe that the soul is meant to immune to the influences of the physical world, and thus the physical world shouldn't be able to detect it. It acts as an anchor in a world where memories can be lost, bodies can become comatose, and personalities can change with the passing of time. Essentially, the soul remains constant through all of this. With that said, the rest of the plan is to explain this definition a bit and then I'll go into the implications of this.

While there are varying interpretations of the word "soul", I would say that there are a few common aspects. First, it is immortal. When a soul is "created", it cannot be destroyed and it will never decay. Second, a soul is intangible. As I mentioned before, it would follow that there is no physical evidence of its existence and that no force that we can perceive should be able to manipulate it. And third, the soul acts as a form of identity...as in each person is tied to a single soul. Note that this is saying that we are unique in life, but not necessarily in death (an example being reincarnation).

Those three properties may seem to be exclusive, but I would say that they all stem from the idea of allowing our existence to continue indefinitely. Why do humans have a concept of a soul? I believe that the soul exists as a sense of security or comfort...an assurance that a person's identity will last forever (hence the immortal bit). Why is a soul intangible? Because while our minds and bodies can be altered by our environments, something intangible cannot (I'll explain this in a second). This creates the sense that in a world where minds and bodies are subjected the harsh forces of the environment, part of our identity remains constant. A clear way to say "this is who I am."

Please note that I'm not saying that a soul and an identity are interchangeable. Let's take the example of numbers. A number, being intangible, can't be manipulated in any way through tangible means. We can combine them to create new numbers, but within those new numbers, the number remains (if I add 1 and 2, 1 is technically still a piece of 3). We can change the identity of a number, for example calling the number 1 "four" or something like that. Does this make 1 any different than what it was when we called it "one"? No, it doesn't. That's basically how a soul works. It is constant, and therefore humans choose to link their identity to it.

What does this all mean? Let's look at Kokoro Connect and the idea of "soul swapping." Normally I would try to say something like "they call it soul swapping, but they're actually swapping _", but I really can't with this show. The only way I can rationalize it is to say that their souls move to the new body, overriding the conscious mind of the new body. They don't retain the memories of the new body, so they must be suppressed somehow. Also, they do retain some aspects of the subconscious of the new body (demonstrated with Yui's androphobia), which rules out the possibility of simply switching brains. This does bring up some implications of connecting souls with the conscious mind, but that isn't really my concern (because I'm trying to stay as general as possible).

Well, in the case of Kokoro Connect where the soul is being shifted around, this kind of soul allows the identity to remain constant. If Taichi and Iori swap, then whichever body contains Taichi's soul isĀ Taichi and whichever body contains Iori's soul is Iori. This sort of distinction isn't quite as clear in science. If we look at Aoki and Yui's swap, what is the identity of Yui's body? Aoki is technically the one in control, but it's demonstrated that Yui's mind still has some level of influence. There's no part of Aoki's brain transmitting androphobia, so it must be some remaining "piece" of Yui's brain.

With two "half-brains", which one could we use for identity? Say we copied Aoki's memories on to Yui's brain. Would we have then "created" a "new" Aoki that just looks like Yui? You could argue that Aoki's memories generate identity, but then you could ask if amnesia creates a new person. Can you see how that can be a bit tricky? But I'll leave the identity stuff up to the philosophers. It isn't really my point. I'm just saying that this is the reason the soul exists.

So since that may have been confusing, let me make this clear. What you have just read is 1) what I think a soul is, 2) why I think the concept exists, and 3) why I believe it's pointless to argue for or against its existence.



  • feal87

    July 26, 2012, 4:20 p.m.

    Its since the ancient ages that humans try to find a way to explain everything, Gods and the soul concept are examples of it. You find something that you can't explain nor understand, you're scared so you try to invent someone to blame or something that will make you feel better until you actually understand what's going on.

    Sounds sad though...:|

    Reply

    marthaurion

    July 26, 2012, 4:24 p.m.

    Well, I was trying not to say it like that >.> Plus, I was trying to explain the rationale behind the ideas as opposed to some other idea

    Reply

    feal87

    July 26, 2012, 4:26 p.m.

    Ahahah, I'm your "voice" my friend.

    Yeah, I understand your point and just wanted to give my idea on the topic at hand. :)

    Reply

    marthaurion

    July 26, 2012, 4:27 p.m.

    ...I find that frightening

    Reply

  • asdfghjkl

    July 26, 2012, 8:35 p.m.

    soul huh?well in my opinion soul is not immortal when something is created or born they will eventually meet their end and disappear.

    and well if they do exist what happen to them after it leave our body?

    as for changing maybe the aoki is the one in control but he picks up some of yui trait such as fear hobby and stuff?

    Reply

    marthaurion

    July 26, 2012, 8:50 p.m.

    well, if a soul is created, then the question becomes "by whom?" and if a soul disappears, the question is "why?"

    If a soul were to exist, then theoretically it would just sit around after the body dies. It's not a mind, so it shouldn't be able to think or do anything.

    Yeah, but the problem is identity. Is this Aoki or is it Yui? Or is it both? Is it even possible for it to be both?

    Reply

    asdfghjkl

    July 26, 2012, 9:42 p.m.

    well in my opinion there is almost nothing that last for eternity. whether it be god or soul everything will die and disappear someday.

    true i guess but if it exist and hold your identity by any chance it can hold more than your identity for example your mind as well?

    i'm pretty much sure it is aoki since it is some kind of identity i guess if you stay in a body long enough your identity would change?

    Reply

    marthaurion

    July 26, 2012, 9:54 p.m.

    well, the mortality of humans is programmed into them from birth in their DNA, so if the soul isn't eternal, there is something ticking down or something that destroys it

    then it becomes a problem...if the soul actually holds your mind, then what is your mind? why does brain damage affect a piece of your soul?

    then you would have to define the point where that happens. That's why I don't go into it...it's a lot of technical stuff that's really based on your opinion

    Reply

    asdfghjkl

    July 26, 2012, 10:19 p.m.

    so wait if soul is eternal does it have infinite energy?

    not sure i was thinking maybe it record your mind and when you die your soul continue living with your identity and your mind and consciousness maybe?

    never change soul sorry...

    Reply

    marthaurion

    July 26, 2012, 10:38 p.m.

    well, I use the example of numbers. They don't rely on any form of energy...they're just there. And they'll always be there.

    like I said...everything starts to get confusing and crazy...

    Reply

    asdfghjkl

    July 26, 2012, 10:47 p.m.

    i see so something that doesn't need energy huh...

    well i was thinking if they are real someone should extract someone soul and create infinite energy...

    Reply

    marthaurion

    July 26, 2012, 10:49 p.m.

    well, if I'm right about the soul, then there is no such device...the soul should be unreachable to humans

    Reply

    Matonster

    June 9, 2013, 3:05 p.m.

    Unless you want to transplant the brain (keep in mind that nervous system are most likely incompatible) the will never be.

    Reply

  • Matonster

    June 7, 2013, 8:38 p.m.

    personally, i don't believe souls exist or that such a thing would be dynamic. i simply believe that everything that defines a person is stored in the brain (Yes like a hard drive). every single occurrence has an effect on the person you are today, from the pounding of your mother's heart when you were in the womb to the moment you close your eyes for the last time. the fact that a bug walked on your leg 10 years ago theoretically has just as much value as the fact that your brother died last month. of course, the latter would leave more "scarring". all that we define as a soul (or spirit or whatever you might call a form of human perception) is simply stored and used constantly by the brain. the brain is known to protect itself if something happened before (or another appropriate reaction).

    Reply

    marthaurion

    June 8, 2013, 7:19 a.m.

    yeah, I pretty much think like that too, but that does raise some interesting philosophical questions, right? Like what happens if we get amnesia? Did our past self die? I know that amnesiacs retain a part of their memory (they can remember how to do habitual things), so is that enough to say they're the same person?

    Reply

    Matonster

    June 8, 2013, 9:40 a.m.

    Well that would depend on the fact that our brain cells actually died, if they didn't we would just hide the past from our conscious mind but still use it in our subconscious mind (which would still make us the same person). if on the other hand they were destroyed, it would depend on the amount and what part of our memory was destroyed (which would make us a different person but with the same treats as the previous person). if you can still do habitual things, most likely the first method is applied.

    Reply

    marthaurion

    June 8, 2013, 9:57 a.m.

    well, not necessarily...a lot of our habits are stored in a different portion of the brain, so it's possible to lose long-term memory without damage a lot of other forms of memory

    Reply

    Matonster

    June 9, 2013, 1:57 p.m.

    ow, but either way memory loss would still be caused by one of the 2. it's either hidden or destroyed (and the latter is unlikely without further brain damage)

    Reply

    marthaurion

    June 9, 2013, 2:05 p.m.

    well, the point I was making is that there are different forms of memory and they're stored in different locations. So for example, the part that stores your long-term memory can be completely destroyed, so that you could never form long-term memories and all existing ones disappear. You'd be able to remember someone for like 5 minutes or maybe like a day. Does that mean you keep resetting? Or are you still you?

    Reply

    Matonster

    June 9, 2013, 2:53 p.m.

    the brain protects itself (from overheating). thats where long term memory comes into place. the memories inside the long term memory are blurry and unclear, often manipulated and twisted by our own mind (narcissism). however short term memory is clear and easy to explain and understand. if you compare information in a memory to a film, short term memory is like and MKV file (it has everything, you can remember smells, tastes, feelings, thoughts, sights, and sounds)with 1080p quality. long term memory is different, it's like an MP4 (compressed, incomplete and every layer is pressed together) with 360p quality. now, if you compare short term memory to ram and long term to you hard drive, it starts to make sense. short term memories are large and heavy on your system but it's fast and always reachable. i don't know about you, but my system only has 4GB of ram and my hard drive is 200x bigger. i'm guessing you get the idea. kill the hard drive and you only have ram (also very funny, ram empties when the power is cut)

    Reply

    marthaurion

    June 9, 2013, 3:17 p.m.

    well, that sounds like you're saying that a person is also defined by their hardware. Since ram is stateless, it's always completely fresh whenever a computer is turned on. It sounds like you're saying the computer is still the same computer because the hardware still remains...even if the ram state is constantly changing (as our mind would). If our hard drive fails, we lose all account settings and such...so doesn't that mean we've become a different person?

    Reply

    Matonster

    June 10, 2013, 2:13 a.m.

    that's not actually what i'm trying to say, but the answer to that is: is the memory lost (hidden) or destroyed. actually i believe that everything defines a person, so if even one memory is gone or altered you would be a different person. and yet you would still have the same name and the same body.

    Reply

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