“The LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen!
Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.'”
A Stone I died
by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
A stone I died and rose again a plant;
A plant I died and rose an animal;
I died an animal and was born a man.
Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?
�Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.�
Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (2010)
“I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”
Albert Einstein,”The World As I See It” (1949)
OVERVIEW: Approximately six million Jewish people died in the Holocaust, but the total number of people who died in the Holocaust (including Jewish people and Jehovah’s Witnesses, disabled people, gays, resistance, Roma, and others who opposed the Third Reich in any way) is approximately 11 million (“11 Facts About the Holocaust”). We’re going to think about these people who died–whether death silenced them forever, or if they have eternal lives, a “soul”–via the Socratic Method.
What is the Socratic Method, and how does it differ from the Scientific Method?
The Scientific Method is a way of thinking about entities that we can perceive through current technology, mathematics, and/or the five senses:sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell. We use this method of thinking to think about � well, you, this class, Black Holes in the Universe–anything with a physical body that we can detect via current technology, mathematics and/or the senses.
Unlike the Scientific Method, the Socratic Method is a way of thinking about entities–like the soul–that we cannot perceive through current technology, mathematics, or the five senses; it’s for entities we can only perceive via the mind.
1. Read my argument below in support of the soul’s existence–in Steps 1-5 of the Socratic Method.
2. Then, in a minimum of 1,000 words (4 pages) try to support or undermine my argument for the soul’s existence. Post your work by 11:59 PM on Friday during Week 3.
3. Respond to four peers’ postings by 11:59 PM on Friday during Week 4. Do NOT begin responding to peer evaluations on Friday–begin responding at the beginning of the week, so you can engage in a discussion. Write a minimum of 125 words (a half-page) in each of your responses, for a total of 500 words.
4. If someone responds to your posting, respond.
NOTE: You MUST participate in this discussion as it progresses; any work or peer evaluations not completed in appropriate weeks will NOT receive points.
THE SOCRATIC METHOD
1. Wonder: Pose a question.
One of the things that always puzzles me is how my body is so perfectly formed in a lot of ways: it heals itself, forming a scab over a wound, without my conscious bidding. It also becomes ill (the flu, leukemia) and even grows old without my conscious bidding. Who controls my body: me or something else?
I exist independently from my body, because I cannot control it and did not create it, to my conscious knowledge; I am a “soul” (for lack of a better word). My body is a vessel carrying ME, a “soul.”
3. Testing/Elenchus: ME is not my body and vice versa; ME and my body are separate entities existing together until my body expires?
A. I have no conscious control over many of the functions in my body: healing (a scab forming over a wound), sickness (the flu or leukemia), and aging.
B. I have a very limited use of my body; it does not do what I want it to do many times. I do not understand completely how the body works, or have conscious complete control over it–nor do scientists (people who follow Socrates’ method of thinking for entities that can be perceived with the five senses, math and technology).
C. I do NOT see my face–ever!–except in reflections. When I do not look at my face in reflections, I feel disconnected from it, as if my face is a big window that I am looking out of. My body feels like some kind of apparatus that I am operating, especially because I am dependent on reflections to see not only my face, but also other parts of my body, and to feel connected to these parts–as if they relate to ME.
D. By altering the brain through injury or in some other way, ME can change: personality, abilities. Does that mean that ME (the soul) is my body; there is no separation of ME (the soul) and my body; we are one and the same: a body? Is this a good argument? No, I don’t think it undermines points A-C above.
Analogy: Can the brain be like a house that may contain ME, and its state and ability to function affects me, just as a house affects ME? For example, if I live in a rundown abode in a scary, violent neighborhood, I think my personality will be affected, become dark, depressed, scared–or defiant and violent like my neighborhood? Or sad? Or � any number of things? The situation of the house will affect ME. A house in a beautiful, wooded area will have a similar affect on ME; maybe make me view life as bright and happy, and the world as full of possibilities � ?
E. Are people who are born with Down Syndrome or some other condition mentally impaired–are their ME’s mentally impaired? Or are their ME’s affected by the situation of the body, the brain? Reasoning from C above, I conclude that their ME’s are not mentally impaired, but are subject to the situation of the brain, which affects the mental functioning of their ME’s.
4. Accept the hypothesis as provisionally true:
As far as I can discern, I am a ME, existing apart from the body. For lack of a better word, I am a “soul” existing in an envelope of flesh and bone, a body.
5. Act accordingly:
I am composed of two parts, a body and a ME that exists apart from the body. I have a soul.