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Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. Anatole France
Intuition rebels: we seem to want to believe that there’s some essence of ourselves: something that would not go across with all those molecules, something that a religious person might want to call a soul.
It’s so hard to shake off the religious way of death. We are programmed to believe in something like a soul.
Religion still dominates our thinking about death. Richard Dawkins, Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life II, Channel 4 2012
The Catholic Church has no problem with evolution. They do have a problem with the separation of humanity from all other species. And so the official view of the Catholic Church now is that we did indeed evolve, we are indeed cousins of apes and monkeys etc. but that at some point in our evolution God injected the soul, and did not inject the soul into any other species. Professor Richard Dawkins, BBC Radio Ulster
Whatever satisfies the soul is truth. Walt Whitman
Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck. George Carlin
It is my own firm belief that the strength of the soul grows in proportion as you subdue the flesh. Mahatma Gandhi
Now, quiet soul, depart when heaven please. William Shakespeare, I Henry VI III v 69
A wretched soul, bruised with adversity
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry.
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much or more we should ourselves complain. William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors II i 34-37
Now my soul’s palace is become a prison. William Shakespeare, Richard Duke of York II i 74, Richard to Edward
Mount, mount, my soul; thy seat is up on high,
Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die. ibid. V v 111-112, Richard, dying at hand of Exton
I do not set my life at a pin’s fee;
And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself. William Shakespeare, Hamlet I iv 65-67
Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul. ibid. III iv 142
I have unclasped
To thee the book even of my secret soul. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night I iv 13-14, Orsino
Well, God’s above all, and there be souls must be saved, and there be souls must not be saved. William Shakespeare, Othello II iii 95-97
If he say so, may his pernicious soul
Rot half a grain a day. He lies to th’ heart. ibid. V ii 162-163
When we shall meet at count
This look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven,
And fiends will snatch at it. ibid. V ii 280-282, Othello
Go with me, like good angels, to my end;
And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,
And lift my soul to heaven. William Shakespeare, Henry VIII II i 75
Life itself is but a shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living: all things fall under this name. The sun itself is but the dark simulacrum, and light but the shadow of God. Lew Brown
Tell me not, in mournful numbers
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm to Life, 1838
The stars are the souls of dead poets. Vincent van Gogh
If the sight of blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has the power to move you, if the simplest things of Nature have a message that you understand, rejoice – for your soul is alive. Vincent van Gogh
There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no-one ever warms himself at it, and passers-by see only a wisp of smoke. Vincent van Gogh
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night. Sarah Williams, Twilight Hours: A Legacy of Verse
As I thought of these things, I drew aside the curtains and looked out into the darkness, and it seemed to my troubled fancy that all those little points of light filling the sky were the furnaces of innumerable divine alchemists, who labour continually, turning lead into gold, weariness into ecstasy, bodies into souls, the darkness into God; and at their perfect labour my mortality grew heavy, and I cried out, as so many dreamers and men of letters in our age have cried, for the birth of that elaborate spiritual beauty which could alone uplift souls weighted with so many dreams. W B Yeats, Rosa Alchemica
Call the world if you please, The vale of soul-making. John Keats
I believe that man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. William Faulkner Nobel prize acceptance speech 1950
It is only to the individual that a soul is given. Albert Einstein, Science and Religion, 1939
Some years ago, there was a lovely philosopher of science and journalist in Italy named Giulio Giorello, and he did an interview with me. And I don’t know if he wrote it or not, but the headline in Corriere della Sera when it was published was ‘Sì, abbiamo un’anima. Ma è fatta di tanti piccoli robot’ – ‘Yes, we have a soul, but it’s made of lots of tiny robots’. And I thought, exactly. That’s the view. Yes, we have a soul, but in what sense? In the sense that our brains, unlike the brains even of dogs and cats and chimpanzees and dolphins, our brains have functional structures that give our brains powers that no other brains have – powers of look-ahead, primarily. We can understand our position in the world, we can see the future, we can understand where we came from. We know that we’re here. No buffalo knows it’s a buffalo, but we jolly well know that we’re members of Homo sapiens, and it’s the knowledge that we have and the can-do, our capacity to think ahead and to reflect and to evaluate and to evaluate our evaluations, and evaluate the grounds for our evaluations.
It’s this expandable capacity to represent reasons that we have that gives us a soul. But what’s it made of? It’s made of neurons. It’s made of lots of tiny robots. And we can actually explain the structure and operation of that kind of soul, whereas an eternal, immortal, immaterial soul is just a metaphysical rug under which you sweep your embarrassment for not having any explanation. Daniel C Dennett
I think it only undermines a crutch that they don’t need. And that’s the crutch of an absolute immortal soul: that’s an idea that a lot of people think is very important. And what it does of course is it replaces it with the idea of a material, mortal soul. Yeah, we have souls. But they are made of neurons, and the little neurons individually neurons are just blind little bio-robots – they don’t know, they don’t care, they are just doing their jobs. Daniel C Dennett
A good book is the purest essence of the human soul. Thomas Carlyle