Einstein on the soul

Albert Einstein (on soul)
Albert Einstein (1921): commentary on the concept of "soul".
In geniuses on, Einstein on the soul refers to stated and or published opinions by German-born American physicist Albert Einstein on the question of the existence of the soul.

In 1921, Einstein received a letter from a woman in Vienna imploring him to tell her if he had formed an opinion as to whether the soul exists and with it personal, individual development after death; on 5 Feb 1921, Einstein answered the following: [1]

“The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called theosophy and spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion. Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of soul without a body seems to me empty and devoid of meaning.”

In 1929, Einstein stated the following about his views on the question of god and soul:

“We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul (‘Beseeltheit’) as it reveals itself in man and animal. It is a different question whether belief in a personal God should be contested. Freud endorsed this view in his latest publication. I myself would never engage in such a task. For such a belief seems to me preferable to the lack of any transcendental outlook of life, and I wonder whether one can ever successfully render to the majority of mankind a more sublime means in order to satisfy its metaphysical needs.”
— Albert Einstein (1929), “Letter to Eduard Busching” (Oct 29); after Büsching sent Einstein a copy of his book Es gibt keinen Gott [There Is no God] [2]

In circa 1930, Einstein said the following about the soul:

“Your question [about God] is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things.”
— Albert Einstein (1930), interview with George Viereck [3]

On 17 Jul 1953, in a response letter to a female Baptist pastor who queried him in regards to his views on soul, God, and everlasting life, Einstein replied: [1]

“I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.”

(add discussion)

The following are related quotes:

“I cannot—nor would I want to—conceive of an individual that survives his physical death. Let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egotism, cherish such thoughts.”
— Albert Einstein (1931), “The World As I See It” [4]

See also
Geniuses on the soulEinstein on free will
● Einstein on god
Einstein on love
Einstein on purpose
Einstein on religion

1. Einstein, Albert. (1981). Albert Einstein: the Human Side. Princeton University Press.
2. (a) Einstein, Albert. (1929). “Letter to Eduard Busching”, Oct 29; after Büsching sent Einstein a copy of his book Es gibt keinen Gott [There Is no God] (Ѻ)
(b) Jammer, Max. (1999). Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (pg. 51). Publisher.
3. Viereck, George S. (1930). Glimpses of the Great (pgs. 372-73) (Ѻ). Duckworth.
4. (a) Einstein, Albert. (1931). “The World As I See It”, in: Albert Einstein (editor: Jim Green) (pgs. 24-27; quote, pg. 27). Ocean Press, 2003.
(b) Mitchell, Deborah. (2014). Growing Up Godless: a Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Without Religion (foreword: Dale McGowan) (vi). Sterling Publishing.

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