“Threefold Need to Revive the Classical Discourse on Soul”
by Hasan Askari
a) Theological Need
The materialists are right in refusing to believe in God, for neither the physical eye nor practical reason can bear witness to a metaphysical absolute. The knower of metaphysical reality should be a metaphysical being oneself. Therefore, as it has been said already, “Whoever knows his soul, knows his Lord.” As for interreligious dialogue, it is only on the basis of the unity of the human soul that we can confidently hold dialogue between various languages (religions) of that one very same soul.
b) Philosophical Need
The philosophical need for discourse on the soul is for both cosmological and epistemological reasons. If our knowledge is based only on sense perception and empirical reason, it will always remain subjective. The truth as objective reality will always elude us. But soul is both an objective and a subjective reality. The proof of this is our facing each other as we meet when we are both subject and object for each other. This miracle is possible because of our one common soul. When what we are and what we seek, as Plotinus used to say, are a unity, then our philosophies and religions are not in vain. Then there is a kinship between the knower and what he seeks to know. Soul, being diverse, is a seeker, and Soul, being one, is the sought after. Having thus known herself, she yearns for the one who is the source and lord of her one being. All our spirituality is that yearning of the soul.
c) Psychological Need
Modern psychology requires the rediscovery of the classical discourse on soul in order to transcend the dichotomy of the conscious and the unconscious sectors of the psyche, on one hand, and of the psyche and matter, on the other. The Neo-platonic discourse is coming back and will reflourish in the 21st century to provide the foundation for a unified theory of physical and metaphysical reality.
Only by knowledge of the soul can we know the immortality of our essence, by which we are filled with courage to confront and conquer oppression and injustice – by which our life is both within and beyond bodily limits and by which we are both individuals and universals, residents of both this world and hereafter.
The soul is one multiple being, fully one with herself and also many, possessing in her unity the vision of the supreme one. Unless we postulate such a principle we cannot rise above the divisions of our body, belief and ego, to a spiritual and non-discursive reality. Neither friendship nor love could be possible nor the universal validity of our mystical experiences.
Plotinus on Soul http://www.historyofphilosophy.net/plotinus-soul – History of Philosophy
BBC Radio 4 – “In Our Time”
The Ontological Argument http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mwx64