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grimacebingers's avatar

Is there a difference between Human Spirit and the Soul?

Asked by grimacebingers (46 points ) October 5th, 2008

There are countless stories of the human spirit, where someone or people overcome great odds, or handle extremely emotional pains…thus a testament of the human spirit; our resolve to press on (or sometimes to give up)??. But what of the Soul? Is there a difference?

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33 Answers

willbrawn's avatar

In my faith there is the spirit and the soul. The soul refers to the spirit and body together. In most faiths thought they mean the same thing.

Harp's avatar

I understand “soul” to be used in a personal sense, as encapsulating the identity of a particular person.

“Human spirit”, on the other hand, seems to refer to more universal human capacities.

I guess you could say that human spirit is those qualities of mind that are uniquely human, whereas the soul is what makes each human unique. I don’t subscribe to this view, by the way, but I believe this is the commom usage

seVen's avatar

What is the difference between the spirit and the soul? The word spirit refers only to the immaterial facet of man. Mankind has a spirit, but we are not a spirit. However, in Scripture only believers, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are said to be “spiritually alive” (1 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews 4:12; James 2:26). Unbelievers are “spiritually dead” (Ephesians 2:1–5; Colossians 2:13). In Paul’s writing the “spirit” was pivotal to the spiritual life of the believer (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1; 15:45; Ephesians 1:3; 5:19; Colossians 1:9; 3:16). The spirit is the element in man which gives him the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word spirit is used, it refers to the immaterial part of man including his soul.

The word soul refers not only to the immaterial part of man but the also material part. Unlike man having a “spirit,” man is a soul. In its most basic sense, the word soul means “life.” However, the Bible moves beyond “life” and into many areas. One of those areas is to man’s eagerness to sin (Luke 12:26). Man is naturally evil, and his soul is tainted as a result. The life principle is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18; Jeremiah 15:2). The “soul,” as with the “spirit,” is the center of many spiritual and emotional experiences (Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). Whenever the word soul is used, it can refer to the whole person, alive or after death.

The “soul” and the “spirit” are similar in the manner in which they are used in the spiritual life of the believer. They are different in their reference. The “soul” is man’s horizontal view with the world. The “spirit” is man’s vertical view with God. It is important to understand that both refer to the immaterial part of man, but only the “spirit” refers to man’s walk with God. The “soul” refers to man’s walk in the world, both material and immaterial.

Harp's avatar

@seVen
It’s fine to use material copied from other sources, but bad form not to credit them.

beccalynnx's avatar

simply put, i don’t really think there is a difference between the two.

fireside's avatar

I’ve never really thought about the difference before, but I would agree with Harp that the human spirit seems to be more of a quality or attribute of a large group while the human soul seems to be more of an individual entity.

thegodfather's avatar

Big, big question here. Aquinas would say that the soul is the mind. Kant, Hegel, Hume, Kirkegaard, Descartes, and lots of other renowned thinkers have all tried to make sense of this question you ask. And, wow, the combined gamut of world religions would prove some wildly different answers to this question. You’re probably best to assume that finding a difference between the human spirit and the soul would require a lot more study than what we feeble minds can offer you on Fluther.

Nevertheless, I’ll at least comment on what I think has been useful for me in my life. I know this is anecdotal, so I guess it can only be received as such, so I make no existential arguments with this. But I believe that man does have a spirit that endures after death, and only when the spirit and the body are united in form is there a constituted soul. Hence, a belief in resurrection follows, afterlife, etc. This belief has helped me cope with death and feel a hope to reunite with loved ones, as well as a confidence in my own life experience as being part of a greater lived experience in the eternities. I also prize the fact that I live with a physical body that is part of my soul, and I cope better with changing and conflicting attitudes about the human body in society (for instance, the social pressures that a person must be attractive or of a certain build, etc.).

Seeing my body as an eternal part of my identity helps me dismiss what others would try to categorize in me and I think as a result I have more self-confidence and self-respect. I’m also more confident in prohibiting others from inflicting harm on me or others because, to be violent to another’s body is more serious, it’s to be violent to their soul. And the well-being of one’s mind, body, and spirit seem to hit home for me with this concept of the human soul; I at least desire more for the complete well-being of myself and others because what would otherwise be considered only temporal is now also much more enduing and important in the grand scheme of things.

pathfinder's avatar

.The spirit can be like wind and it is still live.The spirit can be immortal.Spirit stay in any sort of live.Witch mean spirit can guide the enviroment if it is strong enough.The soul can be lost any time than will be left an emptyness.

eponymoushipster's avatar

The “soul” is the individual. Various Bible translations use “soul” and “person” interchangeably. For example: referring to Noah and his family, the Bible says “8 souls were saved through the waters”.

The “spirit”, on the other hand, is the life force of a person. It returns to God upon death. Think of an electrical device plugged into the wall. When you unplug the device, it ceases to function. Whatsmore, the electrical force doesn’t continue on as a radio, it simply is a force.

PVBMISFIT's avatar

Spirit is kinda like your attitude and faith in something

soul is your eternal person that goes to judgement when your mortal body dies. your sould never dies but your spirit may.

in example my school spirit is dead but my sould i alive and well

TheFonz_is's avatar

human spirit is what makes you get up and fight to the death, to laugh at adversity.. your soul is what will make you feel bad if you dont..

Carol's avatar

Spirit is when you feel high on life.
Soul is what you need to be able to dance.

Garebo's avatar

Human Spirit is the expression of collective conscious will; and, human soul is beyond consciousness, its universal and never destroyed.

Zen's avatar

This is human spirit,and this is Soul

CMaz's avatar

Spirit = Positive attitude
Soul = After life

Hobosnake's avatar

Soul is more religiously oriented and is necessarily distinct from the body, whereas spirit is more a part of the conscious mind, and, like @ChazMaz says, it’s more of a sort of driving force.

That’s my concept of them, anyways, though if you used spirit in some contexts, it could easily be taken to mean soul.

justme1's avatar

I dont think there is much difference between the two

Cruiser's avatar

The human spirit is the human desire to interact with fellow humans and a direct reflection of past experience of these interactions with other people.

The soul is that personal spirit unique to that individual. This is one of those deep thought questions that simple drive by answers do not suffice!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I consider everything to do with my conciousness as being one unit. Beyond that is for theologians and metaphysicists, not my fields, mon…

Rarebear's avatar

Considering that I don’t believe that there is a human soul, that we are animals like any other animals, I think the difference is considerable.

Nullo's avatar

The way I see it, you are a soul (or perhaps, you are a soul), and you-the-soul have a body and a spirit.
I understand “spirit” to equate -more or less – to the heart, but it’s getting late and that tends to make my original thoughts more… original.

liminal's avatar

@seVen Some interpret things differently.

starshine's avatar

Hebrews 4:12 talks about the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit. your soul is like the mental idea of your heart, it is a never ending part of you, the part that really counts. “black like my soul” is a kind of statement that the person is rather dark inside.
Matthew 6 talks about light and/or darkness in the soul.
The spirit can be a person’s demeanor or the way their character. “She has such a kind spirit”
Spirit can also mean a presence “and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Spirit and soul are different things, but they have similar connotations.

Rarebear's avatar

Personally, I don’t believe in a human soul. I do believe in human spirit. So I suppose there is a great deal of difference in my mind.

jazmina88's avatar

The soul is your essence, your footprint. The spirit is what drives your soul.

jazmina88's avatar

there is a different between a spirit, which is similar to a soul and the human spirit, which is that driving life energy.

TheOnlyException's avatar

Spirit is your energy, your thirst for life and knowledge and the next breath you take.
A soul is you. It is who you are and how you love, live, eat, sleep, drink, fuck, die.

Draconess25's avatar

Your spirit is your life energy; not what keeps you alive, but it’s the energy that makes your life worthwhile. Your soul is your being, who you are.

If your spirit leaves the body, it will stay animate, & retain awareness. But it will be dull, lifeless. Your spirit can be regained, but you probably won’t have the will to try.

If your soul leaves the body (out of body experience, etc.), the body will be motionless; practically a comatose state. The spirit will keep it from dying until a soul (your own or another’s) takes its place inside the body.

If you lose both the body dies.

Frenchfry's avatar

I thought they are the same. Just different ways of say it.

ragingloli's avatar

Neither term has a proper definition. They may or may not be the same, depending on your preference.

Joybird's avatar

Last time I checked just about any Thesaurus you use will have these two words as synonyms along with words such as essence, psyche, and substance. We can wax poetic or theotic all we want but I’m going to place my money on the Thesaurus on this one folks. Besides I’m still working on why everytime I refer to the tree I’m hugging as having a spirit most of the Christians around me get glassy eyed or tell me I’m worshipping the devil. I’m laughing here now.
Here’s some food for thought. It is my understanding that Einstein was working on a postulate for spirit before he died. His theory was that what we refer to as spirit is that which runs through all that we know as matter. In terms of quatum physics it’s the stuff between that isn’t even quark. He summized that this would be consistent with what every mystic of every spiritual orientation has always spoken of intuitively. That spirit is a body of knowledge gleemed from it’s moving through all things for all of what we label as time (we off course we know is relative). If that theory is truth than y’all don’t need to press on further with the semantics here…the point will be moot.

JCinmeGal220's avatar

I have studied for many years to find the difference between soul and spirit. Having studied the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” and “soul”, I would agree that spirit has to do very much with the “attitude” of the heart, while soul has more to do with the “thoughts” of the heart (see Hebrews 4:12). Because our thoughts and attitudes are so closely connected, it would seem they are the same, but the Bible makes a distinction. The Bible also says that only the Holy Spirit using the Word of God can can distinguish between them. Only with “the sword of the Spirit” are we able to discern the difference.

The New Testament refers often to people having “a spirit of” this or “a spirit of” that, meaning an attitude of the heart. Paul also speaks of being “in spirit” as a way of describing his connection to those who share in this same spirit (or Spirit). The Holy Spirit (a person) joins us in spirit.

It is He (the Spirit of Christ) who is joined with our spirit when we become a believer in Jesus as our Savior and Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17) and in this way we are joined with God. The Spirit of God ( a unique person – not a power or force) makes us alive (Romans 8:10) when He comes to dwell in us. Before we were “born again” or “born of the Spirit”, we were dead spiritually (that is, in our spirit) because we were not connected to God, but now that we are joined with Christ (by His Spirit), we are made alive “in the spirit”, just as He was made alive “in the spirit” when God (the Father) raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:30). Now, we are united with Him “in spirit” (in the spiritual realm), and on the Last Day will be united with Him “in body” (in the physical realm).

So, you see the spirit has to do with the spiritual realm. It’s like a separate universe that exists along side of our own. We do not see it, but it exists and influences and controls our own. There is another spiritual realm (or kingdom) that exists as well. It is the spiritual realm of darkness. It is full of lies and deceit. But when we come to the Truth (John 14:6), “we are rescued from the dominion of darkness” and brought into the kingdom of light (Col 1:12–13). Jesus said, true worshipers are those who worship “in spirit” and “in truth” (John 4:23–24). God Himself is “spirit”.

The “soul”, it is true, has more to do with the person (some would say the whole person). Where as “spirit” refers more to the manner in which something is done and is descriptive, “soul” has more to do with the very essence of who a person is, the “self”, or one’s physical life force. The Greek word for soul is “psyche”, from which we get our word “psychology”. It has more to do the entity which controls and directs the physical body, although it does relate to the spiritual realm as well (see Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46–50; Ps. 42:1). The “soul” can be “laid down” sacrificially for others (John 10:17, 15:13; 1 John 3:16). Very often the Bible refers to the soul being “in anguish” or “downcast” (Ps. 42:5), but it can also express positive emotions. But notice it is thoughts that determine emotions, but notice also that it is the will (or attitude of the heart) that determines thought! Paul often calls upon Christians to adopt an attitude that is positive and focuses on what God has done, rather than focusing on what is going on around us. It is not that we do not care about the world around us, but only that we must “focus our thoughts” or “fix our eyes” (2 Cor. 4:18, Hebrews 12:2) on the truth (Jesus) in order to keep from getting “sucked down” the drain of life (see Parable of the Seed Sower – Matthew 13:22 – “the cares of this life” can choke the life out of us).

The Bible refers to the heart as being the center of ones being. I know, in our modern western world, we think of the brain (or the mind) as the most important human function. But Hebrews 4:12 reminds us it is both “the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” that control what man does. Therefore, it is the “thoughts and attitudes of the heart” that should concern us if we want to change the world. Amen?

fredTOG's avatar

The human body is nothing but a set of chemical reactions. The chemical reactions powering a human life are no different from the reactions powering the life of a bacterium, a mosquito, a mouse, a dog or a chimp. When a human being dies, the chemical reactions stop. There is no “soul” mixed in with the chemicals, just like there is no soul in a bacterium, a mosquito, a mouse, a dog or a chimp. Why would there be an afterlife for the chemicals that make up a human body?

The whole notion of your “soul” is completely imaginary. The concept of a “soul” has been invented by religion because many people have trouble facing their own mortality. It makes people feel better, but the concept is a complete fabrication.

It is when you think about the chemical reactions powering your life and your brain that you realize how completely imaginary your “soul” truly is. And at that point, everything about religion comes unraveled.

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