The Essence of the Soul

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What is it that makes you, you?

One of my favourite films is Total Recall. A brilliant idea of giving someone new memories and they just go ahead and live the life of that new person, (until they recall the old one of course).

Or the prequel to The Battlestar Galactica: ‘Caprica’. An excellent series where a young girls soul is recreated from every bit of information that she knew and was known about her, and then basically transferred to the body of a robot.

So is that all it takes? Are we just the sum of a set of memories?

In fact, of course, we all know instinctively that even with new memories we are still ‘us’. I would still be ‘me’. So there must be something else – a central program or ‘life essence’ that separates me from you.

It is this life essence that is the basis of religions; thoughts of the after-life and hopes for eternal life.

Can it exist outside the body? Could it be transferred to another body?

Whether religious or not, I feel pretty safe in suggesting that we all know that ‘we’ are not our bodies.

If I lose an arm I am still ‘me’. If I lose both arms and both legs I am still ‘me’. So where do I have to stop? At the brain? But is not that just a blob of cells. It is not me, is it?

As a tool to investigate the different concepts of ‘what makes me, me’, We could consider the idea of an old man somehow transferring to a young body, (a dream of many men and women).

In the first part he may attempt to live as himself in this new body. So here we have someone with memories of a life going back to, say, the Second World War, trying to live his old life in a young body. Of course no one will actually believe that this is the case. They recognise 家庭輔導 the physical body of someone else and will not be persuaded that he can possibly be who he says he is.

Although he looks young, in the beginning he will act old. Here we can understand that our memories and our habits of a lifetime of choices and experiences will determine our behaviour. Our ‘mindset’ determines how we act right down to even how fast we walk and whether or not to attempt anything that may be physically demanding.

Let us now say that he meets two women. One who is in her thirties and one in her sixties.

Being an old man in a young body will create great problems for both cases. The young woman will see the young body and maybe warm to the wisdom and compassion of the older man inside. Of course he will feel like she could be his granddaughter.

The old man inside will see the older woman in a different light to other young men. We gain a different outlook when we get older and begin to see the real person rather than the one projected by the physical body. So he may see her as elegant, classy and majestic; rather than notice the wrinkles and sagging body.

Unfortunately, however old he thinks he is, society will only measure the relationship by the age of his body.

It is fine for a forty year old man to have a relationship with a thirty five year old woman. It is judged that he can provide equally in the relationship. Of course if they believed he was seventy years old then they may consider him to be just after the sex – and her just after his money.

The older woman is perhaps very happy to have the young man as a friend but when his ‘inside old man’ wants a relationship then it will be her turn to consider that he is after her money. Most people would ask why else would a young man go for an older woman.

If, like our man, your life essence is somehow in another body then there are other problems.

You may have had a career in computers but no one will believe your qualifications if it looks as though it happened before you were born! You will also have just as much difficulty attempting to be the person you are now ‘possessing’. What qualification did they have? Could you pass yourself off pretending you had the same experience?

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