Do atoms have souls?

Have Atoms Souls?
A 1910 article “Have Atoms Souls?” by Paul Carus, which compares Goethe’s speculatively discussed talk of an entelechy-monad initial point animation theory of the soul, compared to German-born American editor J. Barandum’s circa 1910 article “Excursion Into the Infinitely Small”, who thinks the problem of the soul also can be solved in the area of the atom or molecule. [2]
In questions, “do atoms have souls?” is a semi-involved query as to whether Egyptian soul (or soul weight) theory has any physical basis in Greek atomic theory (or periodic table), standard model physics, and or the physicochemical sciences, in general; the query is akin to asking, e.g. Otto Weininger (1903), if atoms are moral?, in semi-modern layspeak.

In circa 400BC, the atomic theory school of the Greeks had some type of atom-based theory of the soul; the details of this theory, however, are in need of summary.

In 1696, German polymath Gottfried Leibniz began to employ the term “monad”, a type of soul-infused atom concept, which he conceived as a solution to Cartesian dualism, the mind-body problem, and difficulties over the concepts of origin of forms, entelechies or souls. [1]

In 1813, Goethe, following the passing of Christoph Wieland, and up until 1830, began discussing, in passing conversation, some of his tentative views on the speculative nature of the concept of the “soul” (see: Goethe on the soul) using a mixture of Aristotle's "entelechy" and Gottfried Leibniz's "monad", admixture with talk of "initial points" and "animation of the whole", as synonyms for a term he couldn't put his finger on. [2]

In 1907, German-born American philosopher Johannes Barandun, in his “Excursion Into the Infinitely Small”, outlined views similar to "Goethe's monadology of the soul", as Paul Carus refers to things, wherein he outlines a modification of Ernst Haeckel's "animate atoms" theory and Wilhelm Wundt's "animated will-centers" theory. [5]

In 1924, American physiologist Albert Mathews, in his General Cytology, chapter “Chemistry and Psychism”, cited by Edwin Slosson (1925), gives a discussion on the life, death (see: dead atoms), and the ‘souls’ of atoms, in terms of energy, light, and ether, as follows: [3]

“It is perfectly correct, therefore, from this point of view to speak of living and dead hydrogen atoms. We can even go farther with the simile if we wish and say that when the living high reactive form of the atom passes to the dead, unreactive form, the soul of the atom escapes at the moment of death, for a ray of light leaves the dying atom an travels onward in space, until perhaps it encounters and is absorbed by some other dead hydrogen atom, which it again raises to life by thus giving it a soul. What is this soul? It is a minute portion of the luminiferous ether; of time and space; of eternity and infinity.

For us it is oxygen which thus summons the dead from the tomb; which vitalizes the dead molecules and atoms. The energy is stored in certain of the atoms of the molecules of the protoplasm in the form of widened orbits of rotation of the electrons. It is this which gives them the power of reacting and of passing back to the dead. When such electrons fall back to more stable configuration, the atom and molecule reverts to the dead and inert form such as we keep in bottles. It is the oxygen, then, which vitalizes all animals; but it is from the sun that the vital, radiant energy has come. It is in fact the luminiferous ether which has made they thing alive, for the ether is the great storehouse of energy; it is itself nothing else than space and time; energy and time. Energy is but ether divided by time. Quantity of energy is quantity of ether per second. So all goes back to the either; infinity and eternity. From it is derived our energy and life.”

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In 2000, American physicist Jerome Elbert published Are Souls Real?, wherein goes from Greek atomic theory up through modern times to question the existence of the reality of the "soul" in light of modern science. [4]

In 2015, American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims polled a selection of random Americans on the question “do atoms have souls?”, founding that 77% believe they don't, 14% didn’t know, and 9% believe they do. [6]

The real nature of the query do atoms have a soul is equivalent to asking if current moral theory can be extended down the great chain of being to the chemical realm or conversely if our current moral theory is in need of reformulation, e.g. via the extrapolate up methodology.

See also
● Is the hydrogen atom alive? | Are atoms alive?

1. Monadology – Wikipedia.
2. (a) Carus, Paul. (1907). “Goethe’s Soul-Conception”, The Open Court, 21:745-51.
(b) Barandum, J. (1910). “Excursion Into the Infinitely Small”, The Open Court, 24:114-18.
(c) Carus, Paul. (1910). “Have Atoms Souls?” (pdf), The Open Court, 24:119-22.
3. (a) Mathews, Albert P. (1924). “Chemistry and Psychism”, in: General Cytology (pgs. 25-28, 92), Edmund V. Cowdry, ed. University of Chicago Press.
(b) Slosson, Edwin E. (1925). Sermons of a Chemist (pgs. 11-12). Harcourt, Brace, and Co.
(c) Blavatsky, Helene P. (1937). The Laws of Healing: Physical and Metaphysical (pg. 27). Kessinger.
4. Elbert, Jerome W. (2000). Are Souls Real? (atoms, 47+ pgs) Prometheus Books.
5. Barandum, J. (1910). “Excursion Into the Infinitely Small”, The Open Court, 24:114-18.
6. Thims, Libb. (2015). “Sample polling of random Chicagoans” [N=22], Mar 8.

External links
Do atoms have souls? (2006) – Yahoo Answers.

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