Most folks who believe in souls think of a soul as the being who inhabits and animates a body. I agree with them, but I see souls as inhabiting and animating more than bodies. Anything understood to have an understandable purpose behind it, anything where answers to the question “why?” are more directly to the point than answers to “what?”, “how?” has a soul. When we try to understand something, we are trying to get at its animation.
I would argue that understanding itself implies soul, not only because souls do the understanding, but because souls are implied in the object of understanding, though in this case the object is another subject behind any objective knowledge. Objectivity is understood when it is understood in the context of a subject capable of comprehending that knowledge.
When we understand a loved one we become able to comprehend their words, gestures and actions, because our souls can animate our empathy and allow us to respond to what they mean by them.
But I would like to intentionally misapply homonyms to confuse categories, by suggesting that when we understand the subject of mathematics we become able to comprehend math problems, because our souls can animate mathematical thinking and move our thinking effectively.
No matter what it is that we objectively comprehend, we comprehend it only because we have subjectively — in the broadest sense — understood it first in a way that can animate our comprehension, and it is this alone that makes it meaningful.
Big problems happen when we try to comprehend what first needs understanding.
Kids will try to do this when they try to solve math problems purely procedurally without understanding the concepts. Adults will do this when they try to explain other people’s confusing behaviors before they’ve attempted to know them as people.
Even bigger problems happen when things that cannot be comprehended are dismissed as nonexistent before understanding has been attempted.
This is where we see cynical dismissal passing as insight. “Postmodernism” is confusing because the emperor wears no clothes — there is no sense to get. Souls cannot be scientifically proven to exist, or defined in a precise way a rigorous positivist can do anything with, so it is nonsense. Institutions are even more aggressive about eliminating what they cannot measure and operationalize than individuals, and a great number of individuals think by the logic of the institutions to which they belong.
And when we forget that understanding and comprehension are different and require different kinds of approaches and efforts, we lose the capacity to recognize much less navigate and surmount failures of understanding and we end up entrenching in mutual miscomprehension against enemies. Gaining understanding is hard enough when both parties in misunderstanding seek understanding and know what understanding involves.
But when one side of a conflict of understanding comprehends only comprehension, peaceful impasse is the best one can hope for.
If both sides comprehend only comprehension and become convinced they comprehend evil intent on the part of the other, both are 100% correct. In this case one should stop praying for peace and start praying for the shortest, least lethal war.
A soul is most a soul when lives as a soul among souls.
This is why I chose to live among souls. It is better.