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Gregorianum 2019 Fasc. 1

Online only

05 - AMARAL LUIS F. - ON BODY-SOUL DUALITY: HOW ADVANCES IN NEUROSCIENCE ... - pp. 93-114

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LUÍS F. AMARAL, S.I.
On Body-Soul Duality: How advances in Neuroscience
can bring new insights to Anthropological Reflection
ABSTRACT
The human being has often been described as «a composite of body and soul».
«Body» and «soul» have sometimes been seen as distinct realities, almost as if belonging
to different worlds, or realms: the body to a so-called «material» world; and the soul
to a world understood as «incorporeal» (a «mental» world, or a «world of ideas»).
In a recent speech, Pope Francis noted that advances in neuroscience may bring new
perspectives to Christian anthropology, possibly even calling into question the understanding
of «fundamental realities», such as «the soul, self-awareness and freedom».
Somehow analogous, perhaps, to what happened with the Copernican revolution,
which resulted in a deepening of Christian reflection itself (the «heavens», where God
«inhabited», could no longer be understood in a geographical way), maybe a process
of a certain demythologization of the mental can eventually result in a deepening of
our anthropological reflection.
Without having to call into question any of the foundations of Christian faith or
of human dignity, no longer seeing the «soul» as a reality belonging to some other
«realm» (beyond our space-time world) may eventually lead to a more integrated
understanding of the human being, as well as to a deeper appreciation of life, and of
the concrete world in which we live.
Keywords: Body, Soul, Dualism, Neuroscience, Theological Anthropology,
Nonreductive Physicalism

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LUÍS F. AMARAL, S.I.
On Body-Soul Duality: How advances in Neuroscience
can bring new insights to Anthropological Reflection
ABSTRACT
The human being has often been described as «a composite of body and soul».
«Body» and «soul» have sometimes been seen as distinct realities, almost as if belonging
to different worlds, or realms: the body to a so-called «material» world; and the soul
to a world understood as «incorporeal» (a «mental» world, or a «world of ideas»).
In a recent speech, Pope Francis noted that advances in neuroscience may bring new
perspectives to Christian anthropology, possibly even calling into question the understanding
of «fundamental realities», such as «the soul, self-awareness and freedom».
Somehow analogous, perhaps, to what happened with the Copernican revolution,
which resulted in a deepening of Christian reflection itself (the «heavens», where God
«inhabited», could no longer be understood in a geographical way), maybe a process
of a certain demythologization of the mental can eventually result in a deepening of
our anthropological reflection.
Without having to call into question any of the foundations of Christian faith or
of human dignity, no longer seeing the «soul» as a reality belonging to some other
«realm» (beyond our space-time world) may eventually lead to a more integrated
understanding of the human being, as well as to a deeper appreciation of life, and of
the concrete world in which we live.
Keywords: Body, Soul, Dualism, Neuroscience, Theological Anthropology,
Nonreductive Physicalism

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