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The Etymological Soul

For those who don’t know, Etymology is the study of words, their meanings, and their roots. I’m going to attempt to use it to define the soul. The earliest English version of the word “soul” shows up as early as the 8th century. Its roots are similar to the Germanic, Norse, and Lithuanian words of similar meaning. The oldest form of “The Soul” that I can find is in Greek, and goes back to Plato’s philosophy, and the word Psyche.

  • ψυχή (psūkhē), or Psyche as we would say it, is the Greek word for soul, translating to breath, or to cool/to blow.
    • Psyche in the English sense is the mind and personality of someone.
  • Hebrew has the word Nephesh, referring to aspects of human life, but is most commonly referring to “life” or the “vital breath”
    • However, the English translations of Nephesh encompass “soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion” (wikipedia)
  • Psyche (the Greek variant) was later translated to Anima in Latin
    • Latin’s Anima translates (similarly to Greek and Hebrew) as “a current of air, wind, air, breath, the vital principle, life, soul”
      • Anima became the etymological root for several words including: (wikipedia)
        • Animal – “Of or relating to animals”, “Raw, base, unhindered by social codes”, and “Pertaining to the spirit or soul; relating to sensation or innervation“.
        • Animatus (Animate) – “to fill with breath, quicken, encourage, animate”
        • Animus – “the mind: the rational soul in man, intellect, consciousness, will, intention, courage, spirit, sensibility, feeling, passion, pride, vehemence, wrath, etc., the breath, life, soul”
          • English Animus has 2 definitions worth noting.
            • The basic impulses and instincts which govern one’s actions;
            • and A feeling of enmity, animosity or ill will.

After looking it over and comparing a few examples, while noting the common points, the oldest form of the soul seems to be Breath, the Air, the Mind, and Personality. However, I’d like to take it a step further. Later versions, the Hebrew, and English, and Latin derivations all seem to suggest something else. The soul isn’t just the self, but emotion. The idea of Animus (Latin and English) could be more spot on, but there is conflict.

Animus in Latin means the Rational part of man, but later becomes basic impulses and instincts in English, similar to Animal (Latin). However, if we were to consider the Rational side of man as a survival instinct related to preserving oneself in situations (versus doing what they want), then we can understand the idea of soul as being basic instinct and emotion, raw and without hindrance. Another way to explain it might be with the Taoist concept of wu wei (a simplified understanding)

Wu wei (Chinese: 無爲; a variant and derivatives: traditional Chinese: 無為; simplified Chinese: 无为;English, lit. non-doing) is an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing. In the Tao te Ching, Laozi explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. As the planets revolve around the sun, they “do” this revolving, but without “doing” it. As trees grow, they simply grow without trying to grow. Thus knowing how and when to act is not knowledge in the sense that one would think, “now I should do this,” but rather just doing it, doing the natural thing. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Laozi, the attainment of this natural way of behaving. (wikipedia)

With that in mind, I would say that etymologically, the soul is not what makes us who we are, but is actually the most primal form of human life, uncontrolled except by the desire for survival which we cultivate with societies. To risk my point and branch out, it could then be inferred that our passions are directed by the way society has forms around us, and thus we see people studying music, art, medicine, literature, culture, etc., as a means of survival, directing those passions to find a better place in the world around us. We are social creatures, because with those we find the idea appealing that we can band together. Friends can make us stronger, or at least out number the other guy.

However, we consider this innate desire for survival to be another instinct, and thus it makes it as wild as any emotion. What does that mean for my definition of the soul? It means it needs to be redefined of course. My new definition is that the soul is only the primal form of human life, acting and reacting with regards to our survival.


I Will Never Finish Your Book

you will never make sense even to yourself

you will never make sense even to yourself

Notes on ‘The One and the Multiple: a priori conditions of any possible ontology’

  • Parmenides
    • Q: ‘what  presents itself is essentially multiple; what presents itself is essentially one
    • Leibniz: ‘What is not a being is not a being
    • Problem: if being is one then what is not one (multiple) is not
      • Unacceptable conclusion: obviously what is presented to the senses is a multiple (I see trees and dogs and dirt and semen and shit and they all appear distinct; the confusion is in that all these things taken together ‘seem’ to be part of ‘one’ thing (i.e. ‘the world’))
        • In thought, we analyze particulars: things part of the multiple
    • For Badiou, presentation is multiple, and to accept ‘oneness’ as a conclusion here is to eradicate presentation which would then give us no access to being (how do we access being without the presentation of sense experience?)
    • ‘on the other hand…’ if we grant presentation (what a thing to grant!) then the multiple necessarily is (‘presentation’ as a technical term needs elaboration)
    • One as operation
      • ‘there is no one, only the count-as-one
      • ‘one’ is a number (1); ‘one’ is not a presentation
        • ‘being’ is what presents itself
        • Situation = any presented multiplicity
          • What is ‘taking-place’ in a situation is the multiplicity
          • Structure = (general definition) when the ‘count-as-one’ operates on a situation
            • Thus, structure allows numbers to occur within the situation
            • To Badiou, every situation is structured (this remains to be seen)
            • Argument: (1) structure instantiates the count-as-one; (2) ‘being’ is the multiple; (3) ‘being’ is prior to structures (as they are not-yet); (C) the multiple is anterior to the one
              • Question: how does the ‘count-as-one’ occur from an unstructured, indeterminate (that of ‘being)? Answer: ‘one’ is an operator, a subject  uses the concept of ‘one’ and operates on the multiplicity in her picking out of a particular multiple, thus starts the ‘count’ and the structuring
                • Question: how does structure occur from the ‘count’? Answer: once we begin to count, we’ve begun to put things in an order (at first, simply, in a list of items).  Structure emerges when we further organize this list by criteria (categories, types, disciplines, subjects, object, etc.) thus the ‘counts’ instantiation of structure
                • We retroactively perceive the multiple because we know that the ‘count’ is a result of something
                  • Result: the domain of the operation is not ‘one’ (in the sense of ‘the world’, or some ‘thing’), it is ‘multiple’ (operators work on the multiple) and it never generates in any presented structure a ‘one’.  Why? Because in presentation what is not one is necessarily multiple
                  • In other words – when we start to ponder on the world, we immediately notice particulars and as part of our investigation, we attempt an organization of them in a veridical way. In noticing a particular, we’ve begun to ‘count’, and numbers appear (consider trying to make sense of your hand). When the count-as-one starts, we supposedly have indicated a ‘one’, or X, and we say of that ‘one’/X, “that is ‘one’/an (X)”.  Notice however, that we have predicated this ‘one’ with ‘that is-’ or ‘this is-”.  Now, notice how we were only able to recognize this after the fact (indicated by the “notice… that…”).  That we can only demonstrate this retrospectively indicates the ‘blindness’ of the ‘count-as-one’ or, rather, logico-mathematical investigation, towards what it is emerges from and how it was inaugurated.  It also indicates that of the ‘count’ there is no prior ‘oneness’ that makes the concept ‘one’ a referent to something essential (by virtue of the count-as-one bringing one to the scene not in ‘being’ but afterwards, in an operation).  Remember now, that the ‘count’ operates on (any) presentation and that presentation is structured in this way; also, what is not ‘one’ is necessarily ‘multiple’.  Therefore, presentation and its structure (a structure can notice several ‘ones’) are multiple.
  • Two different ‘multiple’
    • (1) ‘pure’ presentation or ‘that-predicate-multiple’ (in its being apprehended as such retrospectively) – ‘the multiplicity of inertia’ (we’ll have to unpack ‘inertia’)
    • (2) multiple as ‘several-ones’ counted by the action of the structure (that action being the ‘count-as-one’) or composition which is that of number and structures’ effect – ‘the multiplicity of composition’
    • Technical terminology:
      • (1) = ‘inconsistent multiplicity’
      • (2) = ‘consistent multiplicity’
      • Situation = structured multiplicity (there are only ever situations)
        • Relative to (1) and (2); How?
        • “(the count-as-one)structure is both what obliges us to consider, via retroaction, that presentation is a multiple (inconsistent) and what authorizes us, via anticipation, to compose the terms of the presentation as units of a multiple (consistent)”
          • Obligation and authorization: bare minimum of a law
    • The Law of the Multiple = (is not) one
      • How one is-not – is it an operator (see above) and therefore, not a-thing
      • How one “is” – it “is” in the sense of it being a law: the law of the multiple
        • In one’s ‘not-being-there’ (in its being an operator), it is the law of any structured presentation in that it is the bare minimum for any structure/axiom/law/etc. – (note: the idea of ‘void’ and the ‘void set’ that clarifies its operating despite ‘not-being-there’)
        • Discourse on being qua being (Ontology)
          • (1) there is nothing apart from situations
          • (2) Ontology is a situation
          • (3) a situation is a presentation
          • (4) ‘being’ is included in what any presentation presents
          • (C1) ‘being qua being’ cannot be presented
          • (5) if (2) then it must admit a mode of the count-as-one, a structure (see above)
          • (6) if the one is not then being is not one
          • (C2) if (6) then being is subtracted from the count (i.e. is not operated on by the count-as-one)
          • (7) if (C2) then being is heterogeneous to the opposition of the one and the multiple
          • (C3) if (7) then, there is not structure to being
            • Question, if a situations are structured, then is it not the case that (2) is incorrect? Either this or, (2) and not(1)
            • Refutation of ‘Ontology is not a situation’
              • If ontology is not a situation then being is impossible to signified within a structured multiple
                •  …this is why I never finished your book…
        • fcuk logic, titzz