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Do animals have a soul?

Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
This is my first thread in D&D.

Someone asked this question in H&A, and looking at some of the responses, I would be interested to hear what most of you guys had to say about this.

Assuming that humans do have a soul, do animals have a soul?

Most of what I've read from western religious thought would say, no, animals do not have a soul. Most eastern religions, however, would say that animals do have a soul, if we are assuming that human beings do. Hinduism and Buddhism both teach that animals are human souls trapped in animal bodies, being punished for their bad deeds on Earth. Because of this, Buddhism, and to a lesser extent, Hinduism, believe in being extremely kind to animals. Taoism, though never really mentioning a human soul, would seem to suggest that animals are really not that much different from humans. I do not know anything about what the Koran or other Muslim literature would have to say about this.

I believe that if human beings have a soul, then animals do also. I think the idea that animals do not have a soul is only a reflection of how human centered Western thought is. Animals are really not that different than us. We feel the same emotions (relatively debatable) and for the most part, do the same things. If a monkey were smart enough, he could live in a house like yours and eat and sleep like you do. If someone showed him how to use a television, I'm sure he would watch it. It has also been shown that some apes can understand the idea of sacrificing something now for a reward later, so I'm sure the idea of "Do this job you don't like now, and I will give you money/food later" isn't that far out of the realm of monkey thought.

What then, do we believe separates us from the animals and gives us a soul? Art? Music? Literature? What about people who don't partake in any sort of art, do they not have a soul?

If animals do not have a soul, what do they have? Anything? Are their brains and thoughts simply a series of calculations and instincts? Why then, do we believe we are any different?

I'd like to not have any debate about whether or not humans have a soul (though this is debatable). For now, lets just assume that we do.

Chop Logic on
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Posts

  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    In order to answer, I'd need to know what defines a soul for humans. Or is that the debate? I can't really start with the acceptance of humans having one without quantifying it's qualities.

    kildy on
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited March 2009
    Yes, but only if they're not delicious.

    Aroduc on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I don't see why they wouldn't. As far as we can tell sentience (which I will assume is the outward manifestation of having a soul simply so I don't have to consider whether rocks have them) is a continuum, not binary. If that's the case, why assume that a chimp which possesses self-reflection and rational thought doesn't have the same amount of divine grace as a human being? Or at least some.

    Of course, where this gets tricky is when you have a book saying "No, because God didn't endow them with one" versus a book that says "Totally, because god endowed every living thing with one". "Soul" is an inherently religious term, which means that in the end you're pitting one absolute truth against another absolute truth.

    durandal4532 on
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  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Assuming humans have a flurtiglarfit, do animals have a flurtiglarfit?

    Premier kakos on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2009
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    I'd like to not have any debate about whether or not humans have a soul (though this is debatable). For now, lets just assume that we do.

    That's a pretty terrible assumption.

    Which isn't to say it's wrong, just that it's terrible to assume it's correct.

    But okay, let's assume that to be true. Do animals have souls? Sure. Why? I dunno, I just assume they do.

    ElJeffe on
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  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited March 2009
    Assuming humans have a flurtiglarfit, do animals have a flurtiglarfit?

    I'll thank you to not be discussing our flurtiglarfits in public, if you could stand to not be so crass.

    Aroduc on
  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    This is like going to a creationist, fundamentalist Christian board and trying to discuss the merits of gradual vs. punctuated equilibrium evolution.

    RandomEngy on
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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    I'd like to not have any debate about whether or not humans have a soul (though this is debatable). For now, lets just assume that we do.

    You're going to have to define what a soul is in order for this to be in any way a useful statement.

    Alternatively: Sure, why not?

    japan on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2009
    Define "soul".

    ViolentChemistry on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    This is like going to a creationist, fundamentalist Christian board and trying to discuss the merits of gradual vs. punctuated equilibrium evolution.
    Yeah I mean, that's the thing. I care so little. And it's not like I've studied the theological argumentation on the topic. I just equate it with sentience and assume yeah, to varying degrees. I'm sure Aquinas has some detailed treatise on it, but hell if I know it.

    durandal4532 on
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  • LiveWireLiveWire Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    You pet the animals, they pet you back.

    LiveWire on
  • FyreWulffFyreWulff YouRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Depends.

    If you define soul as.. your conscience that you have as you live, then yes.

    Example: Imagine we can copy/clone you instantly. Doing so preserves all memories, injuries, etc. So we come along and clone you. Now there is two of you, and technically if we kill the original, "you" still exist (since the clone is an exact copy and will act the same exact way and have the same memories and so on), but from your (the original) perspective, you die and cease to exist.

    So whatever that is, I would define as a soul.

    And I don't see how it would be any different for a dog, cat, insect or plant.

    tl;dr yes animals have souls

    however if you define 'soul' as some mystic gobbledygook from a book then whatever

    FyreWulff on
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Define "soul".

    Also define the difference between humans and animals, because to me animal means the animal kingdom which includes everything: single celled organisms, insects, mammals and so on....humans are mammals and part of the animal kingdom.

    As far as I'm concerned animals don't have souls, and humans are animals.

    Dman on
  • WotanAnubisWotanAnubis Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    Define "soul".

    Also define the difference between humans and animals, because to me animal means the animal kingdom which includes everything: single celled organisms, insects, plants, mammals and so on....humans are mammals and part of the animal kingdom.
    Plants aren't part of the animal kingdom. Plants are part of the... erm... plant kingdom.

    Not entirely sure about single celled organisms. I know that not all of them are part of the animal kingdom, but I suppose some might be. I'm not quite knowledgeable enough about biology to be able to say for sure, I fear.

    WotanAnubis on
  • TL DRTL DR Not at all confident in his reflexive opinions of thingsRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Animals have exactly as much of a soul as a human does. Which is to say none at all, because there is no such thing as a soul.

    TL DR on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    Define "soul".

    Also define the difference between humans and animals, because to me animal means the animal kingdom which includes everything: single celled organisms, insects, plants, mammals and so on....humans are mammals and part of the animal kingdom.
    Plants aren't part of the animal kingdom. Plants are part of the... erm... plant kingdom.

    Not entirely sure about single celled organisms. I know that not all of them are part of the animal kingdom, but I suppose some might be. I'm not quite knowledgeable about biology, I fear.

    The point is that humans are animals. Which I guess ends the thread because humans are assumed to have souls.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Well, I will say in the traditional definition, the "soul" is the differentiating quality between man and animal. So, by definition, no, animals do not have souls.

    If you start to say they do, then that whole religious non-sense about how humans being somehow "different" than animals just flies straight out the window.

    EDIT: I feel I should point out a slight tangent. Animals, traditionally, don't have a soul and humans do. Humans do all sorts of fucked up shit that is fairly uncommon in nature, like premeditated murder, war, exploitation, etc. It seems like a soul is a pretty bad thing to have.

    Premier kakos on
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    Define "soul".

    Also define the difference between humans and animals, because to me animal means the animal kingdom which includes everything: single celled organisms, insects, plants, mammals and so on....humans are mammals and part of the animal kingdom.
    Plants aren't part of the animal kingdom. Plants are part of the... erm... plant kingdom.

    Not entirely sure about single celled organisms. I know that not all of them are part of the animal kingdom, but I suppose some might be. I'm not quite knowledgeable enough about biology to be able to say for sure, I fear.

    All animals are multicelled by current taxonomy.


    Well, I will say in the traditional definition, the "soul" is the differentiating quality between man and animal. So, by definition, no, animals do not have souls.

    If you start to say they do, then that whole religious non-sense about how humans being somehow "different" than animals just flies straight out the window.

    Unless you want to use one of the definitions from even older traditions, then even rocks and trees can have souls.

    redx on
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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    Define "soul".

    Also define the difference between humans and animals, because to me animal means the animal kingdom which includes everything: single celled organisms, insects, plants, mammals and so on....humans are mammals and part of the animal kingdom.
    Plants aren't part of the animal kingdom. Plants are part of the... erm... plant kingdom.

    Not entirely sure about single celled organisms. I know that not all of them are part of the animal kingdom, but I suppose some might be. I'm not quite knowledgeable enough about biology to be able to say for sure, I fear.

    Bacteria are a seperate kingdom

    as are single celled organisms with a nucleus

    then there's fungi

    animals

    plants

    nexuscrawler on
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    Define "soul".

    Also define the difference between humans and animals, because to me animal means the animal kingdom which includes everything: single celled organisms, insects, plants, mammals and so on....humans are mammals and part of the animal kingdom.
    Plants aren't part of the animal kingdom. Plants are part of the... erm... plant kingdom.

    Not entirely sure about single celled organisms. I know that not all of them are part of the animal kingdom, but I suppose some might be. I'm not quite knowledgeable enough about biology to be able to say for sure, I fear.

    You're correct, i posted in haste and have edited it, but my point remains valid since humans are animals.

    Dman on
  • Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.

    Chop Logic on
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Or we could just lock it. This thread is going nowhere good quick.

    Premier kakos on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2009
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.

    It's your thread. What do you want to discuss?

    ElJeffe on
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  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    Example: Imagine we can copy/clone you instantly. Doing so preserves all memories, injuries, etc. So we come along and clone you. Now there is two of you, and technically if we kill the original, "you" still exist (since the clone is an exact copy and will act the same exact way and have the same memories and so on), but from your (the original) perspective, you die and cease to exist.

    I'm not sure if this makes sense and/or is true.

    MrMister on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.

    If you can't define what it is, how do you debate if it exists or not? Or if X entity has it?

    See also: "God".

    japan on
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.

    You do realize switching to discussing souls in humans doesn't do anything to resolve the issue of there being no single acceptable and useful definition of a soul?

    redx on
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  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.


    Unfortunately, we're going to need to have a clear definition (or at least several alternative definitions) of "soul" in order to discuss whether it exists in humans or other animals.

    So, what do you mean by "soul"? Do you mean something that has your memories and personality that goes to Heaven when you die? Do you mean a sense of mental continuity (i.e., when I wake up in the morning, I'm pretty sure "I" am the same "me" that went to bed the night before)? Do you mean the quality of sapience? The quality of sentience?


    EDIT - :) Three posts in a row all made pretty much the exact same point. Go us!

    Brian888 on
  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2009
    MrMister wrote: »
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    Example: Imagine we can copy/clone you instantly. Doing so preserves all memories, injuries, etc. So we come along and clone you. Now there is two of you, and technically if we kill the original, "you" still exist (since the clone is an exact copy and will act the same exact way and have the same memories and so on), but from your (the original) perspective, you die and cease to exist.

    I'm not sure if this makes sense and/or is true.


    You most certainly die and cease to exist. You and your clone are not the same person. You do not live on within your clone.

    Obs on
  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    No.

    HamHamJ on
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  • ZekZek Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I don't believe in the existence of a soul. I do think animals have consciousness in exactly the same way humans do, just on a lower intellectual level.

    Zek on
  • LiveWireLiveWire Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The size of your soul is proportional to how intelligent you are. Plants and protists are all thusly souless. Your pet dog is fairly smart so its got an okay sized soul, but not people-size. Retarded people have a smaller soul and thats why its okay for the president to make fun of them.

    LiveWire on
  • VariableVariable Mouth Congress Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think animals have souls but humans do not.

    Variable on
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  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Zek wrote: »
    I do think animals have consciousness in exactly the same way humans do, just on a lower intellectual level.


    I'm not so sure about this. Do hive-insects "think" the same way we do, just more stupidly?

    Brian888 on
  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Souls are proven impossible. But, if people had souls, animals would have them too. Any living being would.

    Stormwatcher on
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  • DashuiDashui Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    redx wrote: »
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.

    You do realize switching to discussing souls in humans doesn't do anything to resolve the issue of there being no single acceptable and useful definition of a soul?

    I don't know, Wikipedia seemed to have an alright definition.

    In many religions and parts of philosophy, the soul is the immaterial part of a person. It is usually thought to consist of one's thoughts and personality, and can be synonymous with the spirit, mind or self. In theology, the soul is often believed to live on after the person’s death, and some religions posit that God creates souls. In some cultures, non-human living things, and sometimes inanimate objects are said to have souls, a belief known as animism.

    Online dictionaries also have a number of definitions.

    1. the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
    2. the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul.


    And I think the whole point of arguing whether there definitely is or isn't a soul or higher power is stupid and pointless, because no one has the answers and no one may ever have the answers. I'm fine with discussing beliefs, but I just hate when people think they know the definite answer to these questions. It's quite arrogant. So I hope we won't have anyone come out and start preaching truths.

    Dashui on
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  • WotanAnubisWotanAnubis Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    So... the soul is usually thought of as something that somehow defines "you" without being part of your brain functions. Something that allows "you" to go on after you die and leave your brain behind.

    However, the simple act of passing out kind of establishes that no, there is no "you" when the brain takes a break.

    So I'm pretty sure humans don't have a soul. And if they do, Heaven is really very boring.

    WotanAnubis on
  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    When animals die, the place that they go to is MU.

    Cantido on
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  • ZekZek Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Brian888 wrote: »
    Zek wrote: »
    I do think animals have consciousness in exactly the same way humans do, just on a lower intellectual level.

    I'm not so sure about this. Do hive-insects "think" the same way we do, just more stupidly?

    I don't know about insects, they might just be acting subconsciously. But either way having consciousness doesn't mean animals think the same way as humans, I think there's something in the way our brains are wired that leads to our constant technological development besides simply being intelligent enough to do it.

    Zek on
  • DashuiDashui Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Cantido wrote: »
    When animals die, the place that they go to is MU.

    No, no, no! That's all wrong! When we die, we return to the Flying Spaghetti Monster only to be resurrected as one of His noodles.

    Dashui on
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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dashui wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Okay so, do we want to change this into a debate about whether or not humans have souls? I doubt there is a definition of "soul" everyone would agree on.

    You do realize switching to discussing souls in humans doesn't do anything to resolve the issue of there being no single acceptable and useful definition of a soul?

    I don't know, Wikipedia seemed to have an alright definition.

    In many religions and parts of philosophy, the soul is the immaterial part of a person. It is usually thought to consist of one's thoughts and personality, and can be synonymous with the spirit, mind or self. In theology, the soul is often believed to live on after the person’s death, and some religions posit that God creates souls. In some cultures, non-human living things, and sometimes inanimate objects are said to have souls, a belief known as animism.

    You see all those and's and or's? If humans, or animals, have a soul or not depends on if you are spirit, mind or self. It depends on if it exists after a person's death or if you are positing that it is created by god, or is even the very nature of god itself. Which culture are you talking about.

    it is not a singular definition nor is it a useful one for this debate. There are lots of online dictionaries with a panoply of definitions. That does not help your point.

    If a soul is just a mind, no one here is going to say it does not exist(for certain values of existence). Spirit and the afterlife, there would be more debate. The semantics aren't a red herring, they are the foundation of any argument.

    redx on
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