Thursday, April 30, 2015
The Immortal Souls of Animals
I found it interesting that in the readings for this week, many of the scholars whose work we are studying seemed mostly concerned with whether or not animals possessed reason, but did not seem to think that animals possessed immortal souls in the same way that humans do. In fact, it didn't seem as though they had even given the idea much consideration. It is understandable that in the Western world scholars of that time period would not consider the possibility of animals having souls and an afterlife due to the pervading influence of Christianity (and the creation story in Genesis), and much of Eastern thought pertaining to nature is also heavily influenced by human-centric spiritual beliefs. After doing some research on the internet I came across an umbrella term, "Animism", which refers to a broad spectrum of spiritual beliefs that share the common factor of attributing a soul to things that aren't human; this includes animals, plants, and natural phenomena. Some notable examples of animistic spiritual beliefs are the ancient traditional beliefs of Japanese Shinto, many Native American traditions, and the New Age movement. A short article that more accurately summarizes animism in general can be found here.