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Is it possible to weigh the human soul ?


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

At the beginning of the 20th century a doctor in Massachusetts attempted to weigh patients as they died.

The idea that humans possess a soul and that this spiritual essence leaves the body upon death is something that has remained a major part of spiritual beliefs and practices for thousands of years.

Read More: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/news/288129/is-it-possible-to-weigh-the-human-soul

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References to MacDougall’s experiments continue to spring forth in pop culture every few years, from the Victorian era right up to today.
He was a time traveller too?
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Why should a soul weigh anything? It is a form of consciousness which, in itself, doesn't weigh anything. I read somewhere that these experiments have been done again recently, and again a small loss of weight was found at the time of death.

However, this is far more likely to be the result of a physiological change at death rather than a spiritual one.

One point to consider.When a body ceases breathing a small but measurable weight loss will result, from the absence of air in the body's lungs after the last breathe is expelled and no new air is taken in.

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IMO: I find it hard to believe a human soul has weight. Like Mr Walker wrote, and I subscribe to this conjecture as well, "It is a form of consciousness...".

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Its like asking what is a thought made of?

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Why should a soul weigh anything? It is a form of consciousness which, in itself, doesn't weigh anything. I read somewhere that these experiments have been done again recently, and again a small loss of weight was found at the time of death.

However, this is far more likely to be the result of a physiological change at death rather than a spiritual one.

One point to consider.When a body ceases breathing a small but measurable weight loss will result, from the absence of air in the body's lungs after the last breathe is expelled and no new air is taken in.

energy does not necessarily have mass, though all mass is energy. The reason is by arbitrary definition, though a definition that is extremely useful when doing physics.

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21 grams, huh! Interesting.

What an interesting thought and question.

Of course, I find myself wondering at two different things to look at here. Of course, that the 'soul', 'the consciousness' as such, is pretty much a non-material thing, if thinking about it in a black or white thought process. That is why I considering this interesting considering the weight of something that has nothing (that we are aware of) to weigh.

And also, many other situations occur after the body expires.

Then again, does air and such weigh anything, in which I can understand the answer to that question. I just wonder, if there is more to the soul, and how active it is, to probably have something in it to weigh it. Just some thought processes I'm having here.

(and does it put a whole new meaning to 'having the weight of the world on yours shoulders' :D:P )

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Those who can't take themselves lightly end up weighing more, perhaps their souls too.

Consciousness, intent and awareness do have impact, but I can't say for certain whether they weight or not. I think they may alter the scales at least, but I don't really have much of an idea whether they themselves weight or not.

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Those who can't take themselves lightly end up weighing more, perhaps their souls too.

Consciousness, intent and awareness do have impact, but I can't say for certain whether they weight or not. I think they may alter the scales at least, but I don't really have much of an idea whether they themselves weight or not.

Interesting. I wonder if an experiment should be done on the weight of the soul before and after personal hardships and wonderful experiences. Though, conducting that might be harder, because I would think one wouldn't have to think about the body after death, I would think that would matter in this. So, this experiment might be harder to do. But an interesting experiment I would think. ;)
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His experiments were discovered to be a lot less than scientific. The scales he used were not calibrated, he did not take many of the variables into consideration, he had an extremely small sample size, the exact moment of death was unknown, and so on. MacDougall experimented on six subjects. His first of six human subjects died and immediately lost three-fourths of an ounce, which is 21.3 grams. Of the other five; two results were discarded due to the scale not being adjusted in time as the patient died quickly. Two showed an immediate loss in weight followed by more weight loss as time went by and one showed an immediate loss in weight with no further change. One showed a loss followed by gain and subsequent loss again. MacDougall’s results were questionable at best and a public debate ensued with other professionals through the New York Times and other articles.

Read more information from my research on this story from my blog from 2011: http://www.paranexus.org/index.php?action=blog;bact=memberart;member=465;blogid=13;article=111;err=0;brr=0;comment=0;tag=0;where=Member_Article

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As I understand it, souls do not exist. So... no, that which does not exist simply cannot be weighed. At the same time, however, thoughts exist... but yet they can't be weighed.

These things are interesting to think about.

Edited by nuclearwessel
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energy does not necessarily have mass, though all mass is energy. The reason is by arbitrary definition, though a definition that is extremely useful when doing physics.

Thought; hence consciousness, and any soul we have, is an electro chemical process, not some mystical entity . it is dependent on, but not a physical/fixed part of, our brain It is similar to the sound/light produced by a television transmitter The brain, both produces the programme, and then transmits it. Does a television transmission have weight or mass as it transverses the airwaves? If not, why should a thought, or a consciousness, or a soul, have any weight /mass?

Mass possesses the potential to become energy. ( if i remember correctly from my high school physics) It is not in itself energy. Mass and energy are separate entities which can be exchanged so that the total 'mass/energy" remains the same, but they are not the same thing.

I am not sure how you think this concept might affect the possible weight of a human soul.

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As I understand it, souls do not exist. So... no, that which does not exist simply cannot be weighed. At the same time, however, thoughts exist... but yet they can't be weighed.

These things are interesting to think about.

All self aware sapient entities have souls, created by the neurological feed back within that awareness (which we sometimes call a conscience). ie a being which understands the nature of good and evil and can freely choose either, understanding the consequences of their actions, has a soul. However it is very arguable that this soul is as mortal as our bodies are In other words the soul is a real physical essence of an individual human being. it represents who we are it enables us to write poetry paint etc it allows us to feel intellectual emotions and to chose these emotions rather than simply respond to biological urges of lust, anger or fear. The soul grows from conception and is sometimes lost due to accident disease or infirmity/age WE shape the nature, strength, and weakness of our soul, by our responses and thoughts, once we become self aware; and we can grow a strong resilient positive soul or allow a weak dependent destructive soul to grow within us.

Despite its probable mortality, its existence is critical to what makes us human, and what shapes who we are as an individual being, and at the present time its existence in human beings separates us from all other known intelligences.

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I don't think "a lightness of being" has any physical impact on weight but it certainly has a psychophysical impact on mental and physical health. Good (constructive in potential) thoughts are the same weight as bad (destructive in potential) thoughts, but the consequences on us of the different types of thought are very different, in part because we KNOW they will be. WE know that thinking about cheating on a partner will shape many things and have adverse consequences, while thinking about your love and loyalty will establish different neural pathways, patterns, and physical behaviours. Because we know and understand consequence, even our thoughts create physical biofeedback back in our minds and bodies.

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As I understand it, souls do not exist. So... no, that which does not exist simply cannot be weighed. At the same time, however, thoughts exist... but yet they can't be weighed.

These things are interesting to think about.

Indeed, we have theories of the soul ( Platos Apology and Phaedo come to mind, Aristotle's De Anima offers his thoughts too), but no actual evidence; I just recently argued for this in Philosophy class. I do think that if there is an "actual soul" looking to the brain would be my starting place. You are correct it is interesting to ponder, none the less.

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Indeed, we have theories of the soul ( Platos Apology and Phaedo come to mind, Aristotle's De Anima offers his thoughts too), but no actual evidence; I just recently argued for this in Philosophy class. I do think that if there is an "actual soul" looking to the brain would be my starting place. You are correct it is interesting to ponder, none the less.

The word soul is a human label for a human construct. It depends which construct we are a talking about There is certainly only limited evidence for a soul which is immortal but the definition of soul as the essence of a human being which departs/disconnects form us a t death, and the nature of a soul, as defined in theology and even philosophy is such that it is QUITE demonstrably real.

When the bible talks about a man's soul it explains how our actions and thoughts impact on that soul. Hence even the biblical concept of a soul is self aware and existent in humans as they live. But this also aples to atheists concpets of the human soul although they might prefer to use words like the human spirit.

And we can all identify the existence of our soul if we consider this question of its existence. The construct defines the nature of human level self aware consciousness, incorporating things like conscience, guilt, pride in accomplishment, and the ability to formulate and hold abstract ideas of beauty, ugliness, love and hate, empathy, compassion etc.

When a great ape kills another great ape (or another primate very close to humans in every other aspect,) there will be no impact on the soul of that ape because it has no soul . The IMPACT created in the mind of one human being when they kill another human being illustrates the existence of something in humans which does not exist elsewhere. To me, THAT is the human soul.

The IMPACT of one human being when they fall totally in love with another human being also defines it. It is only BECAUSE we have a soul ( a certain level of self awareness and all the conscious knowledge which goes with it, like an understanding of the nature of death and its separation from the nature of life) that love and murder impact so differently on humans than on any other entity.

Edited by Mr Walker
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As I understand it, souls do not exist. So... no, that which does not exist simply cannot be weighed. At the same time, however, thoughts exist... but yet they can't be weighed.

These things are interesting to think about.

Why do you think souls don't exist? Is it semantics? I think of souls and spirits as the same thing. :)

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I believe spirits exist, I drink them.

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No, because there would be no human soul to weigh and no unit or instrument of measurement to weigh it....nor even any relationship between the two, for that matter. ;)

Edited by The Necromancer
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Even "human" soul is a misnomer. It presumes that the soul is something we "own"...like everything else, it's always "our body' or "our mind" or even "our soul"...what is this "our" that seems to want to assume ownership of all these things...and why assume that ownership at all?

The 'soul' isn't anything that can be tested for, because soul is the test...and the tester. It cannot be perceived because a relation must first exist between 'soul' and 'perception' or between 'soul and mind' or 'soul and body'. That is called 'dvaita'...'mithya'...or just simply 'the illusion of duality'.

When we realise that soul is all ...there is no distinction of our consciousness from it, but until our focus of awareness changes from an "I-perspective" to "not I perspective, people will always think of 'the body having a measurable soul".

Suffice to say...I am in a really nice and peaceful place right now. :)

Edited by The Necromancer
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Even "human" soul is a misnomer. It presumes that the soul is something we "own"...like everything else, it's always "our body' or "our mind" or even "our soul"...what is this "our" that seems to want to assume ownership of all these things...and why assume that ownership at all?

You don't understand the concept of properties do you?
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You don't understand the concept of properties do you?

Who is 'owning' that property?

I don't understand the concept of relative properties, let's just put it that way.

Edited by The Necromancer
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Who is 'owning' that property?

I don't understand the concept of relative properties, let's just put it that way.

So you don't posses a mind or body? How do you distinguish one mind from another? Edited by Rlyeh
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So you don't posses a mind or body? How do you distinguish one mind from another?

How can "I" possess a mind or body"? when there is no 'I', no 'mind', no 'body' and no 'possessing'?

In that case, any 'distinction' (there is none) becomes entirely 'self-evident'.

Edited by The Necromancer
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