November 11th, 2004

breaking bad

Soul man

Some discussion here about whether the little people of Flores had souls or not. I don't see why the question is any more pressing for them than for any other sub-genus of homo, but it seems to have brought the subject to people's minds.

I think the idea of the 'soul' is a bit dangerous. In Buddhism, and in non-religious moral systems, the important consideration is the ability to suffer. If a creature (or even a robot) can suffer, then we have to consider that suffering in our moral choices. If it can't suffer then how it is treated is of secondary importance to a living suffering human. But to believers, a soul is independent of the ability to suffer, and moral obligation is to souls only. So something which can not feel or think can have a soul (a blastocyst say) while something that can feel and think has no soul (a chimpanzee).
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