Alchemical Masonry Aug 11, 2008 4:51:04 GMT
Post by astraia on Aug 11, 2008 4:51:04 GMT
Do you have a specific definition of the soul against which to test the Neoplatonic view?
Depends which end you want me to start! I'm not sure what you mean by "test" - but if you mean against reality - well that's a long long debate because of course we can't truly and honestly "prove" the correctness of any theory as such when it comes to eschatological debate!
If you mean "test" as in "compare" then well right now I'm simply using it as a backdrop to the intellectual and philosophical mindset of Renaissance esotericism so I'm not worrying about whether it's "true" or not (can't claim truth for anything in this branch of academia :-[, all we can do is accept that this is what people believed and then try to see their work through their eyes. That's what I mean by saying "studying something on its own terms").
If you mean my own personal take, it comes in answer to your next point:
In some traditions there are several souls. How do we know if the concepts have any validity in the metaphysical reality?
I'd say not exactly several souls, but several 'levels' or 'aspects' of the soul (in Western traditions starting with Aristotle and continuing in Theosophy and Anthroposophy - I'm not overly familiar with Eastern traditions).
Regardless of that - as I say - we can't actually "know" the validity of any of them. My sense is that in a way, they are all valid inasmuch as they function as mental or spiritual aides for our intellectual and spiritual understanding of "what-is-soul" for whatever spiritual purpose we seek that understanding.
So it doesn't matter if theory X is right for me and theory Y is right for you - so long as we have a common point of reference - which is the concept of soul - and so long as it serves our purpose.
I daresay many of us, and many initiates in the past, each have a very deep and personal sense of what the soul is and how it works. For some it's an intuitive leap, for others a sense of function and mathematical hierarchy works better - Aristotle went so far as to look at it in terms of being part of a physiological function. Whether or not he was right doesn't matter - he influenced generations of thinkers from a number of disciplines for the best part of 2000 years - which means that for some he was right - and those seeking to prove him wrong developed theories of their own with an equal measure of influence. If that served its purpose then who's to say what is real or not.
IMHO Perhaps that "inner sense of knowing" (gnosis) I'm sure many here will recognise is the greatest test of truth there really is within our human faculties - and it is that "knowing" as opposed to dusty dry "2+2=4 knowing that makes all the difference.
Personally (and with absolutely no offence meant towards those who may hold a different view) the view of soul among other elements of doctrine upheld by the mainstream Christian Church has never worked for me (despite being raised in a more or less Christian household). I searched until I found an explanation that did work. People close to me who are devout Christians find all the answers they need within Christian doctrine - and I respect that - I cannot walk their path and they cannot walk mine. So I guess in the end "metaphysical reality" is only real insofar as it is real to each one of us on a subjective level - despite the bloodshed that has surrounded theological debate for centuries :-[
It's the blind men and the elephant anecdote again methinks.....