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Q: Metaphysics 101 ( Answered,   7 Comments )
Subject: Metaphysics 101
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: toughquestions-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 15 Oct 2004 18:00 PDT
Expires: 14 Nov 2004 17:00 PST
Question ID: 415513
How can one scientifically prove the existence of a soul within a living person?
Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
Answered By: hedgie-ga on 08 Nov 2004 09:22 PST
I believe that question can be answered within the guideline for low-priced
questions - basically you get a link or two - not an essay: 

1) soul is a term used in common language - there is no definition 
in any of the sciences. Therefore, there cannot be a proof, or even a 
discussion which would be 'scientific'.

2) There are two school in philosophy : monism and dualism.
   Currently, monism (and in particular materialims) prevails.
 Best recent description of the issue and scientific (materialistic)
view can be found in

Those are reviews. I recommend you borrow the book. It has section on
religion, however, it explains evrything in terms of today's physics
(meaning, no concept like soul was found useful so far).

If you want a view based on possible future physics, look at

Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: aeh5a2-ga on 15 Oct 2004 18:13 PDT
$2.00!!! You are stupid.  How can one scientifically prove there is a
soul!!! For two dollars!!!  Great and I'll add a $1.50 to prove that
there is a god.  And another $1.00 if you can prove what the meaning
of life is.  Common buddy Lets be realistic.
Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: toughquestions-ga on 15 Oct 2004 19:59 PDT
How much should I ask? $1,000,000?  I guess I can't afford the answer
then!  I believe there must be a purely scientific approach based on
observations, knowledge and a few basic assumptions.

Example of assumptions:
1. Souls are non-physical entities that cannot be observed directly
but that interacts with the universe using an unknown universal law.

2. The conditions required for this law to be potent are present
within the human nerve system.

3. Since the nerve system can amplify low-energy electrical signals
into macroscopical actions, the assumption is made that the souls
interact with the body using the smallest possible amount of energy
required to perform these actions.

This is just an example of a starting point for research... Maybe
these three assumptions are completely false but they are certainly
reasonable.  The third assumption is a little bit more restrictive and
motivated by my intuition.  But this is OK since it's only an
assumption; it defines a space of investigation.

If Robert tells his friend in the middle of a philosophical
conversation "I feel that I exist, that I have a soul", he is moving
his lips and his tongue, which is a macroscopical action.  There is no
point of talking about souls is they have no way to interact with this
universe.  Therefore if souls exist, it's fair to say that Robert's
statement is more likely to be influenced by his soul than the less
transcendent "I'll be late for dinner, honey!"

Remark that we don't need to find the "unknown universal law" in point
1.  We don't need to know what is the structure of a black hole if we
can observe the way it interacts with its surrounding.

It may sound impossible or crazy but I believe it should be easier
than building a base on Mars.  This approach coupled with knowledge in
biology and physics could eventually lead to an actual experiment on a
living subject.

Nothing is out of reach.  I believe my question is relevant and $2.00
is all I can afford!
Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: timespacette-ga on 15 Oct 2004 20:17 PDT
Apparently the soul has some sort of mass and weighs around 21 grams,
this according to the Sean Penn movie called "21 Grams" . . . . also
it's been explored on the Urban Myths website as being true . . .


I don't know about "being realistic" . . . can you put a price on this
sort of thing? Two dollars is the minimum for GA and I think that's
just peachy.

Could be yer a little caught up in yer rational mind.  Here's a book
worth exploring: The Inner Journey Home; Soul's Realization of the
Unity of Reality . . . . by A.H.Almaas
Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: skermit-ga on 16 Oct 2004 01:18 PDT
I'm not sure a question like this can even be answered as stated no
matter what the price on it is. A "scientific" proof would have to
take into some sort of direct observation or indirect observation,
neither of which may be possible in detecting the "soul" as defined in
the dictionary.

If you're looking for an argument or throught experiment to wage a 
philisophical debate on the existence of a soul that would be another
question altogether, one which would be easier to answer. But I do
somewhat agree with the first commenter's opinion of the pricing of
the question, although I would never state it as rudely or bluntly.
Here's a link to the pricing guide for Google Answers.

Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 16 Oct 2004 15:32 PDT
aeh5a2-ga, you may have a point, but can't you express your view
without being rude and insulting?  This is a research service, not a
discussion e-list or public bulletin board.  As a long-time user, I am
accustomed to a civil tone on this site and don't care for the recent
change to a noisy, contentious, caviling and competitive style among

Besides, this questioner may think you are a researcher, making the
whole research organization look bad even though they simply do not
address customers that way.  So far the only responder who is actually
a GA researcher is skermit.

Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: fp-ga on 17 Oct 2004 04:20 PDT
Just to avoid a possible misunderstanding. 

"Status:   True" 
on the webpage (as mentioned by timespacette-ga)
refers to the question if "a physician once placed dying patients upon
a scale in order to measure the weight of the human soul".

"True" does not refer to the question if indeed the soul does weigh 21 grams.

On the contrary, according to

"What to make of all this? MacDougall's results were flawed because
the methodology used to harvest them was suspect, the sample size far
too small, and the ability to measure changes in weight imprecise. For
this reason, credence should not be given to the idea his experiments
proved something, let alone that they measured the weight of the soul
as 21 grams. His postulations on this topic are a curiousity, but
nothing more."
Subject: Re: Metaphysics 101
From: pforcelli-ga on 20 Oct 2004 18:52 PDT
Its a dicey question, I'm going to throw in my bias. No.  The idea of
a soul is contrary to the philisophical materialism that is necessary
for good science.  Simply put, if it isn't physical it isn't there.
(of course, we always have to keep our minds open).

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