Re: [asa] Corcoran article on the soul (a Christian materialist perspective)

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Thu Sep 24 2009 - 18:52:26 EDT

Heya Murray,

Let me be clear. If Corcoran wants to make the case for the resurrection and
Christianity being true even on a monistic view of human souls, more power
to him - though it's worth realizing there's more monism in play than
physicalism. I certainly have no objection to stressing the role of
resurrection (indeed, that comes part and parcel with thomistic views - "I"
require a body to exist. What exists sans body is not me, but a "part" of
me.) Frankly, I'd have no immediate argument with all manner of views,
certainly not with presenting such. Even someone with the views of, say,
Frank Tipler can be interesting to ponder by my measure.

But I think that if he wanted to make the case for that sort of physicalist
viewpoint, he should have done exactly that. Not compare his view to a
sloppy, butchered generic 'soul' - as if Descartes and Aquinas, etc, had
pretty much the same metaphysics, rather than drastically different views
about both soul AND matter. If there's not enough space to do it justice,
set it aside.

(That said, it's not as if physicalism/materialism is the best option on the
table. It has serious, potentially self-refuting, problems of its own,
particularly on the subject of mind, and even in some aspects of science.
But I have no problem with the case being made for it from a Christian

On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 6:28 PM, Murray Hogg <>wrote:

> Hi Schwarzwald,
> As sort of an aside - I'm always tremendously bemused by contemporary
> thinkers who argue that we ought to accept such-and-such revision of
> Christian doctrine on the basis that it will invoke greater impetus to
> social concern. One suspects less emphasis on theology and more on church
> history is in order...
> As for the rest, I'd cut Corcoran a little slack if only for the reason
> that Christianity Today isn't really the place to make the sort of nuanced
> arguments that Corcoran's position requires. Presumably he could give a more
> developed articulation of his position given space to do so in an
> appropriate forum.
> Anyhoo, my basic point was simply to show that there are different ways of
> articulating the mind/body issue and its theological implications and that
> an assumption of monism/materialism needn't lead us to reject the central
> tenets of the faith.
> As respects the post-mortem continuity of the soul - I think there are some
> really interesting issues lurking which I don't have time to enter into now.
> I will, however, have to get around to articulating them when I get the
> time.
> Blessings,
> Murray
> Schwarzwald wrote:
>> Heya Murray,
>> At a glance, I have to admit I'm not impressed with Corcoran's article. He
>> seems to treat emergent dualism, thomism, and cartesian dualism (not a
>> complete list by a longshot) as all basically saying the same thing on the
>> grounds that they all make reference to a soul. To say that's an
>> oversimplification would be an understatement - it's flat out false. He then
>> spends the rest of the article responding entirely to a crude Cartesian
>> conception using some pretty weak reasoning, ultimately shored up by an
>> appeal that we'll all take social work and charity more seriously if we take
>> on his view of persons. (Christians didn't take such things seriously
>> before?)
>> That said, I agree that emphasis on bodily resurrection is tremendously
>> important.
>> On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 6:20 PM, Murray Hogg <<mailto:
>>>> wrote:
>> The following article by Calvin College professor, Kevin Corcoran,
>> has been kicking around my archives for a while - I just stumbled
>> across it by accident when looking for something else.
>> It brings an interesting perspective to bear on the issues discussed
>> in the mind/soul/body thread;
>> Blessings,
>> Murray
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Received on Thu Sep 24 18:53:06 2009

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