Soul and Spirit - Is there a difference?
#1
Is there a difference between the "soul" and the "spirit" ? I am in sort of a little debate with someone (a priest, no less :-[) who says that traditionally the Church has not looked favorably on the "soul" and "spirit" being distinct parts of the human person. But I think there's a distinction to be made. Of course, I am absolutely open to correction.

First, look at what the old Baltimore Catechism says:

Q. 133. What is man?
A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

Q. 136. Is this likeness in the body or in the soul?
A. This likeness is chiefly in the soul.

Q. 137. How is the soul like to God?
A. The soul is like to God because it is a spirit that will never die, and has understanding and free will.

Q. 139. Has a spirit any other quality?
A. A spirit is also indivisible; that is, it can not be divided into parts, as we divide material things.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, the catechism uses the words "spirit" and "soul" interchangeably, but my understanding as I grew older was that the "soul" and "spirit" were not exactly the same. They were connected, but separable (Hebrews 4:12).

My understanding is that the "soul" of man is the whole being: body, mind, and spirit. It includes the emotions, intellect, and will. The "soul" is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are.

Quote: "And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).

homo in animam viventem

Now, we know that every living thing has a soul, including plants and animals. No, they don’t have a human soul, immortal and made in God’s image, but a material soul. The soul is the animating principle so there cannot be life without it. But animals and plants do not have “spirits.” While humans do.

Could we say then that humans have spiritual souls? Or a soul that contains a spirit? Or that man’s "soul" is the union of body and spirit? Would that be theologically correct?

- Lisa
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#2
Man is essentially a body-soul composite. Nowhere in Church doctrine do we find man as being tri-part (body, soul, spirit). It certainly smacks of 'new-ageiness'.

Spirits come of 'two kinds'; the rational soul (that humans have), and the angelic nature. Some thoughts:

1) Not all souls are spirits, in the case of vegetative or animal souls. Such souls cannot subsist of themselves, but only exist insofar as they animate a body. Once the body is no longer suitably disposed for such animation, the soul ceases to exist. Thus it's material - it exists if and only if there is a suitably disposed body.

2) Human souls are unique in that the soul has the special characteristic of not only informing matter (making a body human as opposed to a lifeless corpse), but being spiritual also (since they can subsist without essential dependence on matter, i.e.: after death).

3) Angelic spirits however are not simply dis-embodied souls. They do not exist to inform matter, that is not the natural function of an angel. They still have a spiritual nature, but of a different kind to the human soul. In fact, it is in a certain sense unnatural for the human soul to be existing in a state where it is not informing the body. That's not a complete humanity. Whereas for the Angel, it is perfectly natural given they solely are simply spiritual beings.

Also, check this out what I came across a while back http://www.cts.org.au/2000/soulsandspirits.htm
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#3
Thank you for that explanation and also for the link. It makes things clearer.

Quote: The human soul is that which gives life to a man. The human soul is both a soul and a spirit, but it is not two things - it is one spiritual soul.

Ah, so it is right to say that the soul and spirit are NOT the same concept outside of human nature, but only in MAN are the soul and spirit amalgamated. So man possesses a soul-spirit, that is the essence of his being, his soul. Correct?

I see where I erred now. I am going to have to tell the priest. I also understand what you are saying about it being "unnatural for the human soul to be existing in a state where it is not informing the body. That's not a complete humanity." Yes, that's why there is a final resurrection. The soul and body are naturally wed. Without the soul, the body crumbles. Without the body, the soul cannot express itself the way God created it to.

Thank you again very much for your input.

- Lisa
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#4
(08-26-2009, 01:45 AM)Lagrange Wrote: Man is essentially a body-soul composite. Nowhere in Church doctrine do we find man as being tri-part (body, soul, spirit). It certainly smacks of 'new-ageiness'.

Actually, that isn't quite true.  It isn't "New Age" but "Old Age" - trichotomism was taught by Plato, the Manichaeans, etc.  However, the Church considers this heresy.  From Ott:

Quote:The 8th General Council of Constantinople (869-870) rejected the doctrine of the two souls, and laid down the Catholic dogma that man possesses only one single spiritual soul: unam animam rationabilem et intellectualem habere hominem. D 338. The spiritual soul is the principle of the spiritual mental life, and at the same time, the principle of the corporeal (vegetative and sensitive) life. D 1655•

According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, man is composed of two essential component parts, and will again be resolved into two parts. Gn. 2, 7: "And the Lord God formed man out of the slime of the earth, and breathed in his face the breath of life (spiraculum vitae=life principle, soul), and man became a living souL" Pro. 12, 7: "Think of thy Creator ... , before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the Spirit of God who sent it." C£ Mt. 10,28; I Cor. 5, 3; 7,34•

The Fathers defend dichotomism notably against the Christologically false teaching of Apo!linaris of Laodicea founded on trichotomism. The locution "Spirit and Soul" serves on occasion as a designation of the higher and the lower soul-life, without involving the distinction between two principles. In Holy Writ the distinction between spirit and soul arises sometimes through the parallelism of Hebraic poetry, for example, Luke I, 46, et seq.


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#5
"Soul" is Germanic, and "Spirit" is Latin.

They mean the same thing.
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#6
(08-26-2009, 02:46 AM)QuisUtDeus Wrote:
(08-26-2009, 01:45 AM)Lagrange Wrote: Man is essentially a body-soul composite. Nowhere in Church doctrine do we find man as being tri-part (body, soul, spirit). It certainly smacks of 'new-ageiness'.

Actually, that isn't quite true.  It isn't "New Age" but "Old Age" - trichotomism was taught by Plato, the Manichaeans, etc.  However, the Church considers this heresy.  From Ott:

Quote:The 8th General Council of Constantinople (869-870) rejected the doctrine of the two souls, and laid down the Catholic dogma that man possesses only one single spiritual soul: unam animam rationabilem et intellectualem habere hominem. D 338. The spiritual soul is the principle of the spiritual mental life, and at the same time, the principle of the corporeal (vegetative and sensitive) life. D 1655•

According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, man is composed of two essential component parts, and will again be resolved into two parts. Gn. 2, 7: "And the Lord God formed man out of the slime of the earth, and breathed in his face the breath of life (spiraculum vitae=life principle, soul), and man became a living souL" Pro. 12, 7: "Think of thy Creator ... , before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the Spirit of God who sent it." C£ Mt. 10,28; I Cor. 5, 3; 7,34•

The Fathers defend dichotomism notably against the Christologically false teaching of Apo!linaris of Laodicea founded on trichotomism. The locution "Spirit and Soul" serves on occasion as a designation of the higher and the lower soul-life, without involving the distinction between two principles. In Holy Writ the distinction between spirit and soul arises sometimes through the parallelism of Hebraic poetry, for example, Luke I, 46, et seq.

Thanks for the correction. I suppose I tend to lump as 'new-age' even the re-appearance of certain 'old-age' heresies.
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#7
(08-26-2009, 02:48 AM)Rosarium Wrote: "Soul" is Germanic, and "Spirit" is Latin.

They mean the same thing.

I think you're referring to "spirit" and "ghost".

Spirit comes from the Latin, Ghost from the German.  These two words generally have the same meaning. Spirit and soul do not.
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#8
(08-26-2009, 07:34 AM)timjp77 Wrote: I think you're referring to "spirit" and "ghost".

Spirit comes from the Latin, Ghost from the German.  These two words generally have the same meaning. Spirit and soul do not.

Yes, I was thinking of that, although soul is Germanic in origin.

In this case, I think soul and spirit are being used for the same thing.
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#9
(08-26-2009, 02:46 AM)QuisUtDeus Wrote:
(08-26-2009, 01:45 AM)Lagrange Wrote: Man is essentially a body-soul composite. Nowhere in Church doctrine do we find man as being tri-part (body, soul, spirit). It certainly smacks of 'new-ageiness'.

Actually, that isn't quite true.  It isn't "New Age" but "Old Age" - trichotomism was taught by Plato, the Manichaeans, etc.  However, the Church considers this heresy.  From Ott:

Quote:The 8th General Council of Constantinople (869-870) rejected the doctrine of the two souls, and laid down the Catholic dogma that man possesses only one single spiritual soul: unam animam rationabilem et intellectualem habere hominem. D 338. The spiritual soul is the principle of the spiritual mental life, and at the same time, the principle of the corporeal (vegetative and sensitive) life. D 1655•

According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, man is composed of two essential component parts, and will again be resolved into two parts. Gn. 2, 7: "And the Lord God formed man out of the slime of the earth, and breathed in his face the breath of life (spiraculum vitae=life principle, soul), and man became a living souL" Pro. 12, 7: "Think of thy Creator ... , before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the Spirit of God who sent it." C£ Mt. 10,28; I Cor. 5, 3; 7,34•

The Fathers defend dichotomism notably against the Christologically false teaching of Apo!linaris of Laodicea founded on trichotomism. The locution "Spirit and Soul" serves on occasion as a designation of the higher and the lower soul-life, without involving the distinction between two principles. In Holy Writ the distinction between spirit and soul arises sometimes through the parallelism of Hebraic poetry, for example, Luke I, 46, et seq.

Yes, the priest pointed out to me the same quote from Ott.
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#10
(08-26-2009, 12:54 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: Yes, the priest pointed out to me the same quote from Ott.

I'm thinking you and I are in the same boat.  Intellectually and philosophically, trichotomism makes more sense to me.  However, since the Church has for all practical purposes spoken on the matter, I accept dichotomism as the Truth even if it is not intellectually or philosophically clear to me.  I know it to be true because it is a teaching of the Church, not because it makes sense to me.  Hopefully, some day I'll "get it" and it won't take an act of will on my part to accept it  :laughing:  Until then, I realize the Church knows more than I and just accept that there is a flaw in my reasoning that I don't yet see.  Maybe that helps..?

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