The first of four ‘Tetley Talks’ on the theme of ‘What does it mean to be human?’
‘There’s no such thing as a soul. It’s just something they made up to scare kids, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson.’ Bart, The Simpsons
The concept of the soul is a problematic one today: pushed into obscurity by philosophic rejection of dualism and scientific understanding of our materiality. It is certainly difficult to accept any idea of an inner ‘something’ that constitutes our self-consciousness and sense of identity yet shows up on no X-ray. But it seems equally difficult to concede that our unique first-person perspective can be so easily reduced to bodily identity. What explains our desire to see the person in the self-portrait or picture, the subject as being somehow present in the object? Is the language of friendship and love just a fond metaphor for genetic selfishness? If we are only blood and brain, then what do we mean when we speak of heart and soul?