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souls of Time

  soul of genealogy
gary e. davis
September 3, 2020
Getting genealogical about soul is to trace kindred conceptions (independent of the term ‘soul’) back into philosophy and anthropology. That’s more than what serves my purpose here, which is to briefly discuss lifeworld relatively.

But it’s important to recognize that kindred conceptions are as common as ethni-
cities are various, because the interest arises from being human, thus being potentially self reflective and conceptually articulative.

The Routledge Encuclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (2012) gives short, glossarial attention to the term, wholly relative to religious life (especially re: concerns about transcendence in the world—e.g., mystical—and “beyond”), noting that the term properly anymore belongs to Christian tradition, such that
“it may now be felt problematic to apply [the term] to other religious traditions.”

But the etymology—which, as specialty, is no less than anthropology of meaning!
—is commonly meant independent of religion, let alone Christianity. Of course,
if one brings a religious frame to meaning, so be it. But the history of psycho-
logical interest and literary interest doesn’t evince from religious life. Nor does intelligent life (which creates religious meaning) derive from the religion that it—It: human creativity—originates, appropriates, and evolves (including complex displacements of ultimate mystery to be resolved in later times; and meanwhile, explained as suits peoples’ living needs).

The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (2015) has a short article on soul: “…an entity”—love that—“…corresponding to the Greek psyche and Latin anima,” both of which are feminie figures, by the way. “Because only material things are subject to dissolution, Plato took the soul’s immateriality as grounds for its immortality.” Let us not dwell with the logic of “took,” which is in bed with posited, like: “I took that you would love me always.” “Aristotle ascribed souls to animals and plants,” ergo a basis for a conception of natural right that embraces all of flat Earth?

In early modernity, soul stands for an emancipatory interest of individuation in a world of subjection to nature and political power: “Descartes argued that… the soul’s immaterial nature made freedom possible.” But actually, Renaissance humanism (especially Erasmus in the north) proffered the freedom of human potential much earlier, not relative to soul, but relative to one’s human potential.

If one surrenders the dream of philosophy as science (queeny, as it were), which was coming into its own during early modernity, then philosophy becomes a mode of comparative literary studies, such that the history of humanism is more import-
ant than the diviners of God’s natural laws of thought surmised.

Encyclopedia Britannica gets nearer to that kind of point: Soul…the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being, that which confers individuality and human-
ity, often considered to be synonymous with the mind or self. In theology, the soul is further defined…” See, that’s implicitly appreciating the lexical reality of ‘soul’. The Britannica’s short article goes into historical overview which I’ll skip, except to note that the contexts are prehistoric, Egyptian, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Greek, Latin, Christian, and philosophical.

next—> ensouled worldliness (Inworldness) of a life



  Be fair. © 2020, gary e. davis