Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Knock-Down Argument against the Soul

I came across the following compelling argument from Keith Campbell while reading contemporary material for my dissertation. The following is a quotation from Hoffman and Rosencrantz, "The divine attributes," p. 43:

"Atoms, and material things generally, are individuated and counted by their positions. Non-spatial spirits cannot, of course, be individuated and counted in this way. But then, in what way can they be individuated and counted? If there really is no difference between one spirit and two spirits of exactly similar history and contents, then spirits are a very suspect sort of thing indeed."

To be fair, he did write a whole book about the subject, this is just one quote.


Burl said...

More importantly, how many spirits can sit on the head of a pin?

Michael Sullivan said...


Didn't you know? That question has been definitively answered in our permanent post "Angels on Pinheads":

Woppodie said...

Could not identity be a basic property of a spirit, able to be known as plainly as length is for us? Therefore two such identical spirits would be an impossibility.

Smiter the Archdeacon said...

Does he, elsewhere in this book (with which I am not at all familiar), fill in the gaping holes he leaves in this paragraph? Or does he suggest that this argument, by itself, has some convincing quality?

Lee Faber said...

Woppodie, I think this bloke has more serious problems; after all, if place is the principle of individuation, just walking across the room will make me numerically distinct; there could be no diachronic continuity.

smiter, let's hope.

James said...

Give us more! Give us more!