|A "soul theorist", according to Thomas Edison (1910), is someone who speculates on "will", immortality, and or morality, via science.|
In 2005, American science writer Mary Roach, as outlined in her Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, during her interviews of various scientists and research on the topic of what modern science has to say about death, introduced the term "soul theorist" to classify thinkers, such as Rene Descartes, Duncan MacDougall, Gerard Nahum, etc., who have theorized about the nature of the soul and or posited or conducted experiments aimed at detecting the soul.
The dissolution of tenability of “soul” as working theory began to fall apart with: Ernst Haeckel (1895), Thomas Edison (1910), Werner Heisenberg (1952), and George Lundberg (1964) who cogently surmised that the ancient concept of the soul would eventually be supplanted by purely physical concepts.
The following is a list of thermodynamicists and or scientists known to have been soul theorists, i.e. speculated on, theorized about, or to have given commentary or opinion on the existence or not of the soul in a modern physical science sense:
|c.2600BC||via Ra theology (Anunian theology), the early dynastic Egyptians, apexed, likely in the mind of polymath Imhotep, were the originators of the concept of the soul, called the "ba", a supposed entity, quantified by the 42 negative confessions, that had a certain mass, and which was weighted on the scale of Maat, against the feather of truth, to determine its moral value. All modern-day soul views are based on, originated from, or derivatives of this model via its reincorporation into the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Baha'ism, Mandaeism) and Brahmaic religions (Hindism, Buddism, Sikhism, Jainsim), which accounts for 72% of religious beliefs of the modern world.|
|500BC||ythagoras believed in the transmigration of souls and therefore, via reason of logic, was a vegetarian, and did not want to eat the body of an animal (compare: Newton in Senegal) that might be the abode of a dead friend. (Ѻ)|
|400BC||Adjacent image (Ѻ) depicts, supposedly, a Hippocrates view: “the soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.”|
|380BC||In his Symposium, via the voice of Aristophanes, he introduces soul mate or split soul theory origins of humans.|
|c.310BC||Believed a fetus in early gestation has the soul of a vegetable, then of an animal, and only later became "animated" with a human soul by "ensoulment", which occurred 40 days after conception for male fetuses and 90 days after conception for female fetuses, the stage at which, it was held, movement is first ‘felt’ within the womb and pregnancy was certain. (Ѻ) Considered the soul to be part of the natural world and measurable by science (Ѻ).|
|55BC||Used the words "animus" and "anima" that he associated with mind and soul and, being an advocate of atomic theory, believed these were types of "soul atoms", or "tiny bodies, round and quick to roll" located in the breast, had a special "swerve" that allowed for free will and choice.  In his Third Book, he explains the nature of the soul, and to show that it perishes along with the body; some of which is summarized by John Masson (1884) as follows: (Ѻ)|
“The soul is material, for without touch how can it direct and act on the body? It is closely united to the body; just as it is hard to separate the odor from a lump of frankincense without destroying it, so it is impossible to part soul and body without destroying both. The soul does not live ‘in a den of its own’,' but is spread all over the body. It ‘grows along with the body, together with its members, within the very blood.’ The atoms forming it are vastly different from those composing flesh and bone. They are ‘exceedingly small, smooth and round’; how much Epicurus thinks to be implied in such special fineness of atomic composition, we have seen already. The soul-atoms are also fewer and at far greater intervals than those of the body. The bulk of the soul is exceedingly small compared with that of the body.”
|7.||Avicenna (Ibn Sina)|
|c.1010||View: the soul is an “incorporeal substance” that acts “through the body”. (Ѻ)|
|1022||His The Ring of of the Dove, employs some type of Plato split soul logic intermixed with ideas on magnetism, e.g. “The lover’s soul is ever-seeking for the other, striving after it, searching it out, yearning to encounter it again, drawing it to itself it might be as a magnet draws the iron.”|
|c.1235||Conducted soul experiments.|
|c.1590||In his personal copy of Greek atomic theory philosopher Lucretius' circa 75BC On the Nature of Things, marked the many passages in the poem that seemed to him ‘against religion’, namely against religio-teachings such as creation ex nihilo, divine province, judgment after death. “Fear of death is the cause of all our vices”, is one margin note. In a number of places, he kept making reading note comments about how the soul is corporeal (see: soul theorist), as the book was arguing: |
“The soul is bodily” (296)
These personal reading notes, made by Montaigne, are said to suggest a fascination with the most radical conclusions to be drawn from Lucretian materialism.
|c.1630||View: “Whatever the power be that creates such an animal out of an egg, that it is either the soul, or part of the soul, or something having a soul, or something existing previous to, and more excellent than the soul, operating with intelligence and foresight.”|
|9.||Rene Descartes |
See: Descartes on the soul
|1640||In his "Passions of the Soul", famously asserted: “my view is that this gland [pineal gland] is the principal seat of the soul, and the place in which all our thoughts are formed. The reason I believe this is that I cannot find any part of the brain, except this, which is not double. Since we see only one thing with two eyes, and hear only one voice with two ears, and in short have never more than one thought at a time, it must necessarily be the case that the impressions which enter by the two eyes or by the two ears, and so on, unite with each other in some part of the body before being considered by the soul. Now it is impossible to find any such place in the whole head except this gland; moreover it is situated in the most suitable possible place for this purpose, in the middle of all the concavities; and it is supported and surrounded by the little branches of the carotid arteries which bring the spirits into the brain.” |
|c.1640||Quote [following Lucretius]: “If you can conceive the whole of the soul to be gathered into one mass, it would occupy a mere point almost, or the very tiniest space.” (Ѻ) Synthesized a mixture of Aristotle’s view and Epicurus’ view to postulate that the aim of the soul is to achieve tranquility and freedom from troubles and fears. (Ѻ)|
|1769|| In his Philosophical Palingénésie (Regeneration Philosophy), Volume 1 (pg. 50), the noted great chain of being theorist, stated something along the lines of the following:|
“If someone ever demonstrated that the soul is material, they should not be alarmed; should we not admire the power which gave the material the ability to think?”
This statement is the opening quote to Joseph Priestley’s 1777 soul treatise (see below).
|1777||Published Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit: the History of the Philosophical Doctrine Concerning the Origin of the Soul, and the Nature of Matter; with its Influence on Christianity, Especially with Reflection to the Doctrine of the Pre-existence of Christ, wherein, supposedly, he espoused a materialist philosophy, which entailed denial of free will and the soul (specifically: he denied the materialism of the soul, while simultaneously claiming its existence, in some way), and argued that there is no mind-body duality.|
|c.1780||Wrote that the human soul "resides in a place of a smallness impossible to describe"; in another instance he stated: "If I am asked where the seat of the soul is in the body, I begin to suspect something crooked in the question." |
|1795||In his On the Organ of the Soul, dedicated to German philosopher Immanuel Kant, he argued that the soul is not found in the anatomical structure of the brain, e.g. in the pineal gland as Rene Descartes (1640) had surmised, but rather in the liquid of the brain, which he called acqua venticulorum cerebri, and that this was a type of animated fluid.|
See: Goethe on the soul
|1809||Concluded that the "moral symbols" of nature are found not particularly in the brain, but in the symbols of physical chemistry; in his Elective Affinities, explained some of these views, e.g. by using Plato's split soul theory (i.e. soul mate theory) in respect to people viewed as human chemicals.|
See: Napoleon on the soul
|1817/20||In 1817, began to query various physicians about having ever seen the "soul" during their dissections of the brain. As Napoleon commented in April of 1817 during a conversation with Gourgaud who at the time was praising the Celestial Mechanics of Laplace: |
“I often asked Laplace what he thought of God. He owned he was an atheist. Many crimes have been committed in the name of religion. The oldest religion is the worship of the sun [Ra theology]. Where is the soul of an infant? I cannot remember what I was before I was born; and what will become of my soul after my death? As to my body, it will become carrots or turnips. I have no dread of death. In the army I have seen many men suddenly perish who were talking with me.”
The subject of the nature of the soul was a question that plagued Napoleon up until his last days. In fact, in 1820, a year before his death, Napoleon was experimenting with seeds and plants of melon, spinach, sorrel, asparagus, salad, artichokes, cucumber, radishes, and endives, to figure out or rather gain insight into the search for the origin of life and nature of the soul. During these investigations, Napoleon entered into a dialog with his personal physician Francois Antommarchi as to the whereabouts of the soul, during which time he commented again on his retrospect conversation with Laplace on God:
‘You do not believe it, you doctors are above such weakness. Tell me, you who know so well the human body, who have probed into all its ramifications, have you ever come across the soul under your scalpel? Where is it? In which organ?’ 'I hesitated to respond,' says Antommarchi.
|17.||Ludwig Colding (1843)?|
|18.||Hermann Helmholtz (c.1850)?|
|19.||Peter Tait (1875)|
|20.||Balfour Stewart||1875||Discussed "mental forces" and the soul in his book The Conservation of Energy.|
|c.1880||In a Sep speech, delivered at the start of the Faculties of Rennes, after discussing Rene Descartes, he regrets the division, i.e. two cultures split, that has developed between science and philosophy, and states the following:|
“They cut the man into two parts, soul and body, the philosopher took one, and another naturalist, they both have worked, studied on their behalf have lost sight and we find ourselves today in the presence of a duality, convenient perhaps, but unwise, in that it overlooked the man to deal with only two elements that constitute it. But in doing so we run the risk of being wrong. If one wanted to know the chemical properties of water [H2O], seek it in those of oxygen [O2] and hydrogen [H2]? No, because he knows that there is little relationship between the characteristics of a substance and those of simple bodies which enter into its composition.
In these penetrating comments, we see Massieu digging into some of the very same comments that exist in modern times, when confronted with the logic of the person viewed as the human molecule, and the question of what to do with incongruous concepts, such as soul, life, free will, choice, etc., that have never been applied to chemicals in their reactions.
|23.||Robert Thurston||1894||Quote: “we are gradually progressing towards the establishment of a law of persistence of all existence, whether of matter, of force and energy, or of organic vitality, and perhaps even to its extension until it includes intellectual and soul life.” |
|c.1895||Posited that if the soul exists it must be of a physical form, i.e. some kind of gas, and that using the correct technologies, i.e. low temperature thermodynamics (e.g. James Dewar), one should be able to liquefy the soul of a person and thus create a type of ‘soul snow’. Supposedly, because this had never been done, in Haeckel’s argument, the soul does not exist.|
|1901||postulated that “if personal identity (and consciousness and all the attributes of mind and personality) continue to exist after the death of a body, it must exist as a space occupying body”; later that year found an experimentally determined value of 3/4th of an ounce (or 21 grams) as the mass of the “soul substance” leaving the body of a person at the point of death.|
|1906||In his his Ingersoll lecture (Ѻ) on "Individuality and Immortality", on what a physicist and chemist has to say on the question of the mortality and or immortality of the individual from the point of view of energetics; for example:|
“If a chemist or physicist of to-day is asked about his ideas on immortality, his first feeling will be that of some astonishment. He meets with no question in his work which is connected with this one, and his reply may usually be classified under one of two heads. He may remember the religious impressions which have clung to him since his youth, kept alive by him or nearly forgotten, as the case may be, and he will then explain that such questions are in no way connected with his science; for the objects treated by his science are non-living matter. This is immediately evident in physics, and while there exists an organic chemistry, he will explain that any matter which is called organic in his sense is decidedly dead before it can become the object of his investigation. It is only the inanimate part of the world which concerns him scientifically, and any ideas he may hold about the question of immortality are his private opinions and quite independent of his science. Or he may dismiss his interlocutor still more shortly by saying from his standpoint of matter-and-motion: Soul is a function of living matter only. The moment life ceases in an organized body the value of this function becomes zero, and there is no further question about immortality.”
See: Edison on the soul
|1910||Edison: “Soul? Soul? What do you mean by soul? The brain? There is no more reason to believe that any human brain will be immortal than there is to think that one of my phonographic cylinders—mere records of sounds which have been impressed upon them—will be immortal.”|
Edison: “No one thinks of claiming immortality for the cylinders or the phonograph. Then why claim it for the brain mechanism or the power that drives it? Because we do not know what this power is, shall we call it immortal? As we call electricity immortal because we do not know what it is. The brain, like the phonographic cylinder, is a mere record, not of sounds alone, but of other things which have been impressed upon it by the mysterious power which actuates it. Perhaps it would be better to call a recording office, where records are made and stored. But no matter what you call it, it is a mere machine, and even the most enthusiastic soul theorist will concede that machines are not immortal.”
Edison: “After death the force, or power, we call ‘will’ undoubtedly endures; but it endures in this world, not in the next. And so with the thing we call life, or the soul—mere speculative terms for a material thing which, under given conditions, drives this way or that. It too endures in this world, not the other.”
|29.||Harry Laverne Twining|
|1915||In his The Physical Theory of the Soul (Ѻ), described various experiments, which he had conducted, to determine if mice had measurable souls which left when they died, the first firstly on scales using cyanide and in another experiment a sealed glass jar, through death via asphyxiation. (Ѻ)|
|30.||James Hyslop (1918)?|
|31.||Frederick Soddy (1919)?|
|32.||Albert Mathews (c .1920)|
See: Einstein on the soul
|1921||From 1921 to 1953, in various correspondences, began to express his views on the topic of the soul.|
|34.||Edwin Slosson (1925)?|
|c.1932||Right: definition of the soul taught to Odilie Watson—the 1953 illustrator (Ѻ) of DNA as it appears in Nature—as child, the term “living being” was heard as “living bean”, which she remained puzzled about, but remained silent on, until her later discussions with her husband Francis Crick, who cites this in the opening chapter of his 1995 The Astonishing Hypothesis. |
|35.||Pierre Teilhard (1934)?|
See: Heisenberg on the soul
|1952||In 1952, in his Heisenberg-Pauli dialogue, with Wolfgang Pauli, stated his views on how the theory of the soul awaits a new electromagnetic field based moral compass, to guide humanity in future endeavors, the way magnetic compasses guide ships; but was a theory lacking presently, in short.|
|37.||Mehdi Bazargan (1954)?|
|1964||Quote: “Semantic confusion has resulted in a most mischievous separation of fields of knowledge into the ‘natural’ and ‘physical’ on one hand as against the ‘social’ and ‘cultural’ (mental, non-material, spiritual) on the other. As a consequence, it has been assumed that the methods of studying the former field are not applicable to the latter. The generally admitted lag in the progress of the ‘social’ as contrasted with the ‘physical’ sciences has been a further result. The history of science consists largely of the account of the gradual expansion of the realms of the ‘natural’ and the ‘physical’ at the expense of the ‘mental’ and the ‘spiritual’. One by one ‘spiritual’ phenomena have become ‘physical’. The evolution of the concept of the ‘soul’ is especially relevant, because its final stage of transition or translation by way of the ‘mind’ into purely ‘physical’ concepts is still under way.”|
|39.||Person (add)||1978||On 31 Jul 1978 the world’s first in vitro child was born (see: atheism timeline), created from an embryo created outside the human body; this ushered in the so-called: “embryo morality debate”; depicted adjacent, of a demon riding a spermatoza, with an "original sin" chain (see: soul mate), is a humorous image (Ѻ) of the scanning electron microscope conception of the mechanism of “ensoulment”:|
|40.||Donald Gilbert Carpenter||1980||Building on McDougall’s work, suggested (1984) that the energy required for a ghost to function is around 60 joules; proposed (1998), based on sheep data, that the soul is quantized in units of 20 to 30 joules, a unit he proposed to call the “mac”, in honor of Douglas MacDougall; his 1998 ebook Physically Weighting the Soul, reports on his dog’s soul weighing experiments, according to which he finds that a dog’s soul weighs less than 1.8 grams. |
|41.||Louis Vincent (1988)|
|42.||Plinio Prioreschi (1990)|
|43.||Ronald Pearson (1990)?|
|44.||Frank Tipler (1994)|
|45.||Angela Tilby (1995)|
|46.||Migene Wippler (1997)|
|1998||Began to promulgate, in various scientific circles, a 25-page presentation entitled “A Proposal for Testing the Energetics of Consciousness and its Physical Foundation”, a cessation thermodynamics proposal to conduct a consciousness-weighing project to quantify the energy-information of consciousness (the “weight of the soul”), at the point of death using a negative entropy theory, and estimated that the electromagnetic field soul detection device would cost approximately $100,000; defined the soul or rather 'residual energy/information' after the complete dissolution of an organism after death as:|
“Soul is the (obligatory) negative entropy (i.e., energy/weight equivalent) that is necessary to allow for the nonequilibrium meta-stable physical 'quasi-steady-state' of a living/conscious biological system.”A diagram of Nahum's electromagnetic field soul detection device is shown adjacent.
|48.||Amit Goswami||2001||In his Physics of the Soul: the Quantum Book of Living, Dying, Reincarnation, and Immortality, he discusses entropy.|
|51.||2004|| In his Finding a Replacement for the Soul: Mind and Meaning in Literature and Philosophy (Ѻ), building on the literary and philosophical challenges presented James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, asserts that, via the mechanism of literature, we have “we produce nonsense and imagine it as sense”; quote: (Ѻ)|
“In making such a claim: ‘the soul does not exist’; ‘ether does not exist’, I am circumscribing legitimate concepts and claims.”
|52.||Len Fisher||2004||As a child, after being told by his Sunday school teachers that his soul was deep inside of him, he shined a flashlight down his throat while looking in a mirror to see if he could get a glimpse of his soul, which he imagined was rather like a Gummi baby; authored the 2004 Weighing the Soul: the Evolution of Scientific Beliefs (2004) and the A Perfect Swarm (2009).|
|2009||Argued that he is not a molecule, and that people are not molecules in general, per the logic that he has a soul, which is under the operation or auspices of god, not measurable by science.|
|58.||Sukhraj Dhillon||2010||His book Soul and Reincarnation: What Happens to the Soul at the Time of Death?, has sections on energy science and the soul (Ѻ).|
|2011||In his article/blog “Soulless Bag of Chemicals”, opened to the following: |
“On my better days I regard my wife and daughter as ‘soulless bags of chemicals.’ To be fair though, I think the same of myself and all other forms of life. Souls are supernatural things beyond perception or measure, worthy only of suspended belief pending some real evidence or the giving up of the tenets of science. Chemicals we are…despite the clever animation of flesh and musings of mind brought about by the electricity of life. So why do we think more of ourselves? How are we so offended by these facts?”
Bell then followed this up with a YouTube vlog (Ѻ), still shown adjacent , about how his use of the controversial phrase about how he thought of his wife and his daughter as “soulless bags of chemicals”, which he said he heard somewhere, borrowed it, and liked it, but that it sparked a heated reaction and “got under the skin” of many people, no pun intended.
|2014||Quote: “There's no soul; that’s garbage”; response to query by Libb Thims on a “What is the Soul Comprised of?” poll [N=36]; this answer, to note, was also picked as most-liked answer by vote.  |
● Do atoms have souls?
1. Roach, Mary. (2005). Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (soul theorist, pg. 97; Gerry Nahum, pgs. 97-106, 290, 297). W.W. Norton & Co.
2. (a) Descartes Rene. (1640). "The Passions of the Soul" (pdf); excerpted from "Philosophy of the Mind", Chalmers, D. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.; 2002.
(b) Pineal gland – Wikipedia.
3. Thurston, Robert Henry (1878). A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine (Ch. 7: "The Philosophy of the Steam Engine: Energetics and Thermo-Dynamics). D. Appleton and Company.
4. Scott, George P. (1985). Atoms of the Living Flame: an Odyssey into Ethics and the Physical Chemistry of Free Will (pg. 41). University Press of America.
5. Sherrington, Charles. (1940). Man on His Nature (pgs. 253, 258). CUP Archive.
6. (a) Carpenter, Donald G. (1980). “The Physics of Haunting”, Analog C 10:44-53.
(b) Carpenter, Donald G. (1984). “Weighing the Soul at Death: Some Methodological and Theoretical Considerations”, Theta: Journal of Psychical Research, 12:14-16.
(c) Carpenter, Donald G. (1998). Physically Weighting the Soul. Ebook. 1stbooks.com.
(d) Hollander, Lewis E. (2001). “Unexplained Weight Gain Transients at the Moment of Death” (Ѻ), Journal of Scientific Exploration, 15(4):495-500.
(e) Roach, Mary. (2005). “A Soul’s Weight: What happens when a man (or a mouse, or a leach) dies on a Scale?”, Lost Magazine, Dec. No. 1.
7. (a) Bell, Kurt. (2011). “Soulless Bag of Chemicals” (Ѻ), LylesBrother, Sep 02.
(b) Bell, Kurt. (2011). “Soulless Bag of Chemicals: Secular Thinking - LylesBrother” (Ѻ), YouTube: LylesBrother, Sep 02.
8. Thims, Libb. (2014). “What is the Soul Comprised Of?” (Poll 1) [N=36] / Pick the best answer (Poll 2) [N=16], Sep 28.
9. Crick, Francis (1990). What Mad Pursuit: a Personal View of Scientific Discovery (church, pg. 10). Basic Books, 2008.