The Pre-Existence Of The Soul -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:80 (Oct 1863)
Article: The Pre-Existence Of The Soul
Author: Anonymous


The Pre-Existence Of The Soul1

I. Historical VIew Of The Theory Of The Soul’s Pre-Existence

1. Theory Of Pythagoras

According to this philosopher, the body is the substance which is determined, and the soul is the principle which determines the body. The soul is more than mere number or measure; it has an individuality, different from that of the body, and is implanted within the body. Before its union with the corporeal substance, it had a troubled, dreamy life; after its separation from this substance, it will continue to live, and will wander through other bodies, in its process of purification. The human soul is an emanation

from the world-soul, and its confinement in the body is a punishment for its previous transgression.

2. Theory Of Plato

The notion of the soul’s pre-existence stands in intimate connection with Plato’s doctrine of “ideas,” and it illustrates his theory of the immanence of these ideas in the rational soul. It is well known that he drew a distinction between such thoughts as have for their object the empirical, sensuous, constantly changing, perishable, and such as have for their object the unchangeable, permanent, indivisible, divine. The former class of thoughts are the phantasies, and are the result of sensuous impression; the latter are the product of the reason, and are immanent in the soul, although they are first called out into consciousness by the sensuous impressions. They are the forms under which we must apprehend and reduce to oneness the object which, as presented by the senses, appears to be many and various. They are not substances nor powers, but yet they have an objective reality, so far forth as they represent the essential, the permanent, the divine, in empirical objects. These ideas are in the divine mind, as well as in the human. They are the unchangeable laws of his working. He has made the world according to them. The world, therefore, is a material realization of the divine ideas. Every nature bears in itself a divine idea, which is developed by means of the sensuous, empirical element. The world is an image of God, and there is a divine element in every object of sense. The sensuous is changing, but the idea is permanent.

Now as the ideas of a man are not of empirical origin, but precede the sensuous perception, Plato was forced to inquire: Whence came they? He was not familiar with the theory that they arise from the laws which regulate the acting of the soul; therefore he said: The soul brought these ideas with it from a previous life into the present one. In that ideal world in which the soul existed before its temporal develop...

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