From Soul to Self and Back Again

Volume 26
Spring 1998
From Soul to Self and Back Again

This article surfaces issues relevant to the concepts of soul and self. It attends to the current focus on self, which some would see as a contemporary substitute for what used to be described as soul. It looks to some of the historical understanding of soul as given in Scripture and some philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Descartes) and shows a shift in focus from soul to self stemming from the time of Descartes. While some forms of body-soul dualism are appropriately rejected (Plato, Descartes), not all forms of dualism are problematic. An attempt is made to differentiate understandings of soul and self based on implied perspectives that are often unspecified and therefore confused. Finally, a brief overview of some of the psychoanalytic conceptualizations of self are given, conceptualizations that focus on subjectivity or imply a need for something superordinate to contain the functions or representations given. It is suggested that while focus on self or subjectivity is needed and helpful, focus on soul is needed to give theoretical foundations for psychology and psychotherapy.

Dr. N.S. Duvall
6 - 15
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