The Nature of Souls; Their Thisness
Swinburne (Richard)
Source: The Evolution of the Soul, February 1997, Appendix D, pp. 333-344(12)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. It is a frequent criticism of substance dualism that dualists cannot say what souls are, or what makes the difference between one soul and another soul. My answer to the first concern is the simple one stated on p. 1551.
    • Souls are immaterial subjects of mental properties.
    • They have sensations and thoughts, desires and beliefs and perform intentional actions.
    • Souls are the essential parts of human beings, and
    • humans have sensations etc. and perform intentional actions in virtue of their souls doing so.
  2. But how can we distinguish one soul from another? In practice for embodied humans on Earth that is not too difficult. Your soul is the one uniquely connected to that body; and my soul is the one uniquely connected to this body. The connection, as I say on p. 1462, is a matter of my soul being able to cause this body to move as a basic action, and to be able to produce all other effects in the world only through moving this body; and of goings-on in this body causing its mental states, and other goings-on in the world affecting this soul only via affecting this body. But of course for a dualist these connections are contingent, and do not make the soul the soul it is. So what does? My answer is that the difference between souls is ultimate. They just differ solo numero.
  3. An immediate reaction to this suggestion is that it is irrational. Individuals can't just differ, they have to differ in respect of some property, if they are to be different. The trouble is that any objector has also got to admit solo numero difference — in bits of matter, or places, or times, or something else — or face a somewhat implausible consequence. Some individuals, that is, have thisness3, haecceitas, something which makes them different from other individuals of the same kind otherwise indistinguishable from them. I shall suggest that either material objects have thisness4, in which case there is nothing irrational in supposing that souls do — or they don't, and if souls don't either, an unwelcome consequence follows. In any case there is an independent argument for supposing that events have thisness5, in which case again it becomes not irrational to suppose that souls do too.
  4. I begin by analysing the notion of thisness6. An individual has thisness7 in the sense at which I am aiming if a very weak form of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles8 does not apply to it. The principle states that two individuals are the same if they have all the same properties; but takes different forms according to what is allowed to constitute a property. I distinguish (see p. 59) monadic properties, as those which pertain to individuals however they are related to other individuals, from relational properties. Philosophers may disagree about which properties are monadic, but plausibly the traditional primary qualities are monadic. So too plausibly are causal powers and liabilities. The power to exert such and such a force is a property possessed by an individual, whether or not it ever exerts it or whether there are any other actual individuals on which it can exert it. I understand by a general relational property a property of relation to some individual of a certain kind, i.e. one having certain monadic and general relational properties. General properties include both monadic properties and general relational properties. I understand by a particular relational property one which involves a relation to particular individuals. I understand by a particular individual one which is the individual it is not solely in virtue of its general properties; i.e. one which is not necessarily identical with any individual which has all the same general properties. Being ten foot away from a round steel ball or living in a big city are general relational properties. Living in London or standing to the left of John may be particular relational properties. Whether they are will depend on whether being London or being John is just a matter of being an individual with certain monadic and general relational properties; or whether there is more to it than that.
  5. I distinguish hard from soft properties, along the lines of the distinction between hard and soft facts in New Appendix_C10

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: See "Swinburne (Richard) - Body and Soul".

Footnote 2: As above.

Footnote 9: See "Swinburne (Richard) - The Evolution of the Soul: Introduction".

Footnote 10: See "Swinburne (Richard) - The Modal Argument for Substance Dualism".

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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