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Immortality of the Soul

Subject Religion

Key-Topics morality, soul

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xiv ] The idea that some kind of spiritual component survives the death of the body is common to most of the world's religions. Few exclude a belief in a non-material aspect of the person surviving death, though the form varies considerably: some believe in rebirth, some in a chronologically linear perpetuation of spiritual identity, some in continuity with ancestors, or a link with one's descendants. In primal religions, as in the ancient Near East and Homeric Greece, that which goes on is seen as a shadowy survival, rather than a continuing person. Later Greek philosophy gives the soul more significance, and in different ways the traditions of Plato and Aristotle influenced subsequent Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought, with the Platonic stressing the superiority of soul over body and the Aristotelian their mutual interdependence. Each of the Abrahamic traditions taught that the soul was immortal, but that its independent existence was a temporary stage before the R esurrectio of the total person. In H induism the A tman is held to exist as an unchanging and undying entity passing from life to life, unaffected by the essentially unreal vicissitudes of the body. This Hindu concept was rejected by the Buddha in his doctrine of A natta , often translated as ‘no-self’, but it may be only partially correct to say that the Buddha rejected the soul, for he also denied extinction ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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