Thursday, October 09, 2008

Soul and Spirit

In my book Gnostic Writings on the Soul I include a potted history of the concept of the soul and use the Exegesis on the Soul and the Hymn of the Pearl to examine the Gnostic view of the soul. One of the most important distinctions is between the soul and the spirit. The preface to Bennett's A Spiritual Psychology (p.9 in the 1974 version) contains a grerat summary of the difference between soul and spirit:-

"Man's noblest quality is the will to discover an imperishable Reality beyond the changes and chances of this mortal world. This quality is what I mean by "spiritual." Man's spirit is his will. This is what Thomas Aquinas taught and it is the secret of understanding our human nature. The soul is an artifact, the result of our life experience. It may be transient and it may be immortal, depending whether or not our will, that is, our spirit, has taken possession of it. Those who deny the will in man deny the spirit. Those who affirm the will, affirm the spirit--whether they realise it or not."

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