Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hereafter Again

If talk of the survival after death of a non-material body leaves you, like me, in a state of complete incomprehension, or desperately seeking convincing evidence, then it may be that the dualistic view of human beings made up of two parts, the body, and the mind or soul, may help us still to make sense of our Christian belief.

One problem is with that word 'part'. Unless my soul is me, and not just a part of me, as one philosopher put it, the news of the immortality of my soul would be of no more concern to me than the news that my appendix would be preserved eternally in a bottle.

My own view of what human beings are, and what a person is, rules out the notion that I am essentially an inner thinking substance that could conceivably have an existence quite independent of the physical world we share or the other persons we share it with. I can't begin to imagine how life without its public aspect of relationships, shared language, meanings, and experiences, would be a human life, with the capacity for what we call introspection, in the first place. Giving meaning to words is itself a public rather than a private matter.

What then of reincarnation? And, before you reply, 'I don't want to come back as a tin of milk', I will say - more later.

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