Think Catholic

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Evidence for the Soul

Is there evidence for the soul? If such a thing existed, we would expect to see it wouldn’t we? If not with the eye at least with some particular scientific instrument, right? But alas, its absence from visible inquiry is itself the key and will be our focus in this brief defense of the soul.

Particular things

Let us take for our point of departure, in this inquiry, our experience of the material world. Have you ever noticed that everything we can touch with our hands or sense with our eyes is a particular kind of thing; that it takes up a particular place in the world, with its own respective shape and size. 

For example, no one has ever seen or touched food in general or spoken to men or women in general. Instead, we eat particular kinds of food and speak to certain individual people. Yet, and this a big ‘yet,’ we do know and speak about generalities. We do speak about food in general or conceptually, as well as mankind in general.

In General

Indeed, our language is chalk-full of concepts, ideas, generalities; such as justice or peace or love. No one has ever seen justice in general or the concept of love. We have only seen concrete examples of them.

And herein lies the evidence for the soul. For someone to know justice, it must in some way be in him, for him to contemplate it. If we say something like, ‘well, of course, justice is the effect of firing neurons within the brain,’ then we have to admit that some combination of particular things have given rise to something in general, which is as impossible as saying that a group of motionless things have given rise to motion.

In both cases, we would have an effect which is not to be found in its proximate cause. To put it bluntly, we would have an effect which came out of nothing, but from nothing – absolutely nothing comes.

Hence, these generalities must not only exist in man for him to contemplate them, but they must also exist in him in a general way. Now, since whatever is material, as we have said, is also a particular material thing, then it follows that whatever is not particular also cannot be material, it must be non-material or immaterial.


Therefore, we must admit that to know generalities or concepts which are in themselves immaterial (such as justice, love, and peace) there must be, in fact, something immaterial about me, or part of me, that is able to ‘hold’ or ‘work with’ them. This immaterial faculty or part of us, which is necessary for conceptual thought, is what is meant when we talk about the soul.

Therefore, the soul exists.

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