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We use the term “soul” to communicate to each other the essence of our conscious and deliberate contention that there is more to our existence than our “physical” being, our participation in (and submission to) the “laws of physics” – that is, the parts of us that we experiences with our senses and which can be “measured” (by which we mean calibrated on scales communicable to each other – length, depth, odor recognition, sound vibration frequency, temperature, etc.) This “other” part of our existence, which we conveniently call our “soul,” begins with our self-consciousness, the fact of our recognizing that “I think, therefore I am.” (As one pundit says, “I think I think. Therefore I think I am.”) When we combine our self-consciousness with our conception of “infinity” (if we can measure things, we can conceive of the immeasurable), we conclude (a very human thing to do) that there is an essence of our existence that precedes and supersedes our temporal, physical existence (which we know terminates or at least dissipates.) The myriad questions and inquiries about the origin, purpose, or function of this “soul” is the subject of the human activity called “religion,” the ordering of human behavior around a system of “beliefs.” But no interpretation of those inquiries in any way dissolves the “knowledge” that there is such a thing as a “soul,” the essential part of human existence beyond mere physical existence.
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