what is the soul and where is its seat?

Again we shall go to the ancients, as reported by Montaigne, for ideas.

He tells us first what the soul was said to be

We start by denialists; Crates and Dicearchus were of opinion that there was no soul at all.

Plato that it was a substance moving of itself

Thales a nature without repose

Aedepiades an exercising of the senses

Hesiod and Anaximander a thing composed of earth and water

Parmenides of earth and fire

Empedocles of blood

Posidonius, Cleanthes and Galen that it was heat or a hot complexion

Hippocrates a spirit diffused all over the body

Varro that it was an air received at the mouth, heated in the lungs, moistened in the heart and diffused throughout the whole body

Zeno the quintessence of the four elements

Heraclides Ponticus that it was the light

Zenocrates and the Egyptians a mobile number

The Chaldeans a virtue without any determinate form

Aristotle that which causes the body to move

and now where it’s seat is

Hippocrates and Hierophilus place it in the ventricle of the brain

Democritus and Aristotle throughout the whole body

Epicurus in the stomach

The Stoics about and within the heart

Erasistratus adjoining the membrane of the epicranium

Empedocles in the blood

Galen thought every part of the body had its soul

Strato has placed it betwixt the eyebrows

Chrysippus about the heart

And yours truly asks, who among these ancients is telling us the true idea of the soul and its seat? How do you know?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

66 thoughts on “what is the soul and where is its seat?

  1. Ain't No Shrinking Violet says:

    You missed the modern gurus who talk with authority of the seat of the soul. Gary Zukav is a spiritualist, but he’s not bound by conventional religion…because he’s made up his own! The man appeared on Oprah and is a millionaire for creating his workshops and writing his books, which make all sorts of claims that can’t be proven about the seat of the soul. Maybe I should come up with a theory about where the soul sits? Nah…cuz I’d say it’s in our asses, which no one would like.



    • makagutu says:

      He wrote a book and people are reading it! What da fuck is wrong with people?
      I was going through the comments, and I saw this

      Rather than a soul in a body, become a body in the soul. Reach for your soul.”

      I don’t think any of the ancients could achieve this level of duplicity

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ain't No Shrinking Violet says:

        You’d better take a workshop Mak, you need further education. Its obviously not “duplicity”…it’s…well…it’s the color of money! See for yourself: http://seatofthesoul.com/


        • makagutu says:

          This ———>We assist people across the world in creating meaning and purpose, creativity and health, joy and love. We call this authentic power – the alignment of the personality with the soul.
          is a con game. It says in every word in that sentence


          • Ain't No Shrinking Violet says:

            Well, you’re just one of those irritating skeptics who relies on critical thinking too much. Tons of people agree with Gary, and can’t prove him *wrong*. So he must be right!

            Geez Mak, you’re such a buzzkill. 😉 My kind of buzzkill. ❤


            • makagutu says:

              Always remember I am the nice kid on the blog.
              And though unrelated to what soul is or where it is, you are strong woman. The stories you share of your struggles and your victories inspire and I wish you well


              • Ain't No Shrinking Violet says:

                Thank you for the compliments.

                So you are the Nice One? Is this sort of like Arch saying he’s the Good One? Because I’m making templates to spray that on his tombstone after he dies…I could make one for you too.


                • makagutu says:

                  I saw a headstone Arch had posted, it went something like- I told you I was sick. Now that and here lies an atheist all dressed and nowhere to go are great epitaphs.
                  Yes, the A twins are the good ones. I am the nice one

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. john zande says:

    I love this series! Interesting to see that Hippocrates firmly believed in the soul.

    The Templeton Foundation has so far spent $1.5 billion and 25 years funding research trying to find evidence for the soul. Personally, I could think of better ways to spend that money, but it’s private money, and in the spirit of exploring all avenues, I think what they are doing is great.


  3. Hariod Brawn says:

    On what is required for a soul to exist:

    “Not only is a new physics required, but a dramatically new physics. Within Quantum Field Theory, there cannot be a new collection of ‘spirit particles’ and ‘spirit forces’ that interact with our regular atoms, because we would have detected them in existing experiments.”

    – Sean M. Carroll, Research Professor in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.


  4. Cara says:

    According to Wikipedia, many religions define the SOUL as the immortal essence of a person or living thing. The Roman Catholics, of course, believe that only PEOPLE, and not animals, have a soul. Having been raised Roman Catholic, I know for a fact that most Catholics secretly believe that only Roman Catholics, and not those who ascribe to any other faiths, have a soul. But anyway, what exactly is a soul. I know, I know, “the immortal essence” of a person or living thing, but what the hell is that?

    I mean, you can’t SEE your soul, can you? You can’t feel it? You wouldn’t step on the bathroom scale, see that you’ve lost weight, and say, “I’m four lbs lighter, I’ve lost my soul”, would you? Well, maybe if you live out in Los Angeles you might, but those of us who live in reality don’t behave that way. No, for the most part we don’t notice our own soul. It makes no sound nor movement, so what is there to notice.

    And yet even though we never notice our own soul, we seem to spend an undue amount of time noticing OTHER PEOPLE’s souls. For example, someone mentioned earlier today that I HAVE NO SOUL, all based on the fact that I’d lie to and manipulate others to get what I want in life. And..I would lie to and manipulate others to get what I want in life. I’ve seen me do it before. Is a willingness to lie to and manipulate others for my own personal gain what it means to be without a soul? If it is than OK, I’m without a soul.

    But I wasn’t always. Well, I don’t believe I was always without a soul. Like I said, we hardly ever notice our own soul. So how then can I set out to prove I once had something that no one notices? Well, if I had a soul, I think I accidentally sold it. You know souls can be sold, right? Oh yes, see the Devil (the guy with the pointy ears, the pitchfork, cloven hooves like a goat, and the tail) wants to buy people’s souls. What does he offer them in return, you ask. Why he offers to build you a condo in hell, so you have a place to spend eternity. Only he doesn’t TELL YOU THAT UP FRONT. No, he pretends to offer you something you actually want. And after you get whatever it is you actually want, he gets your soul. And there are no returns and no exchanges. It is a done deal.
    The devil came to buy my soul when I was ten years old. Only he didn’t come as his true form, no, he never does. He’s a shape shifting bastard. He came in the guise of my grandfather, who called me into the bedroom and took my virginity. But that’s not how I sold my soul. No no. The day after my grandfather took my virginity, he called me into the bedroom again, only I refused, not wanting him to use me again. Devil that he was, he said that was just fine, and without batting an eye, he took my two younger sisters into the bedroom in my stead.

    I couldn’t let him take their virginity like he’d taken mine. So I went into the bedroom and I told the devil my grandfather to let them alone, that if he let them alone, he could use me as he pleased. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I sold my soul. And while I absolutely meant to keep my sisters safe from what had already been done to me, I still say I “accidentally” sold my soul because, having been only ten at the time, there was a great deal I didn’t know about what happens when one sells one’s soul.

    For example, I didn’t know that it’s the done deal it is when you sell your soul. Up until that point, there had been do overs in pretty much everything else I’d done…I did poorly at a game of hopscotch, I immediately called a do over. But selling one’s soul is apparently no playground game. There are no do overs to be had. So no matter how I tried to get back what I had given, it was gone, gone away.

    I also didn’t know what you actually get in return for your soul when you sell it. I thought I was getting my younger sisters away from having to be in that bedroom, and I did that, they both still had underpants on when I hustled them out of there, and I believe they were intact. But I didn’t know the part about the devil getting my soul…like the sneaky snake of a used car salesman who buries the shitty part of the deal in print so fine you couldn’t read it with a goddamn binoculars, well, you see where I’m going with this one.

    The last thing I didn’t know, and absolutely didn’t expect, is what one becomes when one sells one’s soul. See, when you sell your soul, it’s just gone. And you don’t get anything new to replace it. You don’t automatically die when your soul is gone…Well, your BODY doesn’t expire, I mean, I AM sitting here and writing this, aren’t I? But you’re not completely alive anymore, either. You no longer know from joy, and you absolutely don’t take pleasure in anything. You find yourself able to do cold, ugly things to unsuspecting people who don’t deserve it FOR NO REAL REASON. You don’t become the devil himself, how can you when he’s still in place, but you do become his minion. Your job being to lie, cheat, and generally screw over as many people as you can. The more people you lie, cheat, and screw over, the bigger your condo in hell when you finally arrive. So yeah, I accidentally sold my soul.


    • Ain't No Shrinking Violet says:

      I don’t believe in a soul, Cara, and I certainly don’t believe you sold yours to the devil. Your grandfather used common tactics pedophiles have been using for eons to gain and groom victims…as a child you weren’t able to decipher or fight back against this manipulation (no child can). Now you are an adult, and the cognitive tricks you used to survive as a child aren’t serving you well anymore. This is as common as nails in people who have been abused, and it can be unlearned and changed.

      You aren’t the devil’s minion, you are suffering the psychological consequences of child ABUSE. Please seek out some therapy for yourself, and begin the path to healing.


    • shelldigger says:

      If ever there was a noble reason to sell a soul, it would fall immeasurably short of yours.

      I would gladly lend you mine, I have little use for it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      That is such a sad thing to read. Lucky for you, there are no souls. What grandfather does that to their grandchildren?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I bought two souls and three free wills today and a Thrift store for 12.98. Great deal. Also, my soul is currently seated on my toilet as it ate some bad sushi last night and, well, you know. We really need to stop worrying about the invisible and the unprovable and focus on the here and now and how to make that better, for us, and for future generations. My “soul” is the function of my brain. When that goes, and many would argue mine already has, I go. There’s nothing else. So, why not do good while I’m here? Arguing over souls and where they are, etc, is like arguing over which hamster is spinning the wheel the right way. It’s a waste of energy. $Amen$ If you see Allah, btw, tell him to return my damn bike. I LENT it to him. I didn’t GIVE it to him. The bastard.


  6. Sonel says:

    Will we ever know Mak? Good question. 😀

    However, this is what some do believe.

    Me, I don’t care. Maybe because I don’t believe. 😀


  7. shelldigger says:

    Thats easy Mak, Soul is a form of music. It’s seat is known as Motown.

    That is what you were talking about…right?

    I find it interesting that many generations after those early thinkers and philosophers gave it a go, that we are no closer to nailing down the soul today, as we were then. As in all things pseudo, it remains a slippery, uncatchable, ill defined nothing.

    You just gotta have faith! Or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ruth says:

    The soul is hot air. It resides in the backside of your jeans.

    Or it’s 70’s music. It’s on a train. The Soullllll Trainnnnn.


  9. Haha. Sweet. Personally, I don’t think we have a soul and if we did, I’m not sure what its function would be. Great post as always. 🙂


  10. I’ve had some Christians tell me that the brain is the “radio” for the soul, it’s what transmits the soul into the body.


  11. Arkenaten says:

    The last time a pair of religious do-gooders tried to discuss god and my immortal soul I told them to ,”Stick it in your ear.” so I guess this would be a good place to look.
    If only I could remember who were those religious nutters?


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