I only believe in "soul" as an adjective.

“How much of my brain is willfully my own? How much is not a rubber stamp of what I have read and heard and lived? Sure, I make a sort of synthesis of what I come across, but that is all that differentiates me from another person?”

–Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Choosing Pancakes and I, along with some of our other friends, were having a conversation last week sometime which briefly touched upon the concept of the self as body v. the self as something like a soul. She seemed quite surprised by the fact that I don’t believe in somethings-like-souls. And I think that very little of that disbelief is due to the fact that I associate the term “soul” with religious indoctrination, or religiosity at the very least. 

I just don’t see where something-like-a-soul comes in. To the best of my knowledge, everything that I am and have been and will be results from combinations of nature and nurture–that’s genetics and the biological aspects of my body and mind that I don’t necessarily understand on one hand and ecological processes, the spaces and places and sociocultural situations I’ve found myself in throughout my lifetime on the other. I have nothing to convince me that some other person with the same biology and who has been through the exact same set of everyday lived experiences as I have been through wouldn’t come out to be me (though I suppose I have nothing to convince me that this hypothetical person would be me either). 

What am I, really, essentially? I am thoughts in a brain in a body in a particular social location in a world. I am memories. I am hopes and dreams and decisions and emotions. I am a mind. If a critical difference lies between the term “mind” and the term “brain,” then perhaps there-in lies the “soul,” but I don’t know that I buy that. I could fathom calling something the “soul” that is actually the sum of one’s lived experiences that have come to shape who and what they are, because that’s the only thing I can say is essentially me, but I feel like that’s not what my friends were talking about. The better terms for what I’m talking about, I suppose, are the “self” in the social-psychological sense, or the “self-concept” or “identity” in a sociological sense. I am me by a series of happy and unhappy accidents. I could have been anyone. Anyone could have been me. That negates the idea of a soul, in my mind.  


About alaiyo0685

I'm a kind of quirky, pretty stubborn, way too opinionated, twenty-something, intellectual, introspective, queer, Black, female, in a polyamorous relationship, and this is where I try to figure out my life.

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