de animis et uestimentis

Let’s assume…

Although I cannot say for certain whether it is a universal belief that humans have spirits or souls which survive after death, it seems, when I think about the cultures of which I know, to be a very common belief. The soul may then be subject to several fates, depending on the belief system. In some, the soul may be dispatched to some paradise; or to some place where it is purged for a time before being admitted to paradise; or to some place where it is perpetually tormented for alleged transgressions on the physical plane. In others, the souls of heroes may be dispatched to a paradise that is set aside for them; or some souls may wait to be reincarnated, whether it is in human form or in some other form according to the merits of past lives. In many traditions, however, the soul does not go to some metaphysical destination, but remains on Earth for some reason as a ghost to haunt the living.

Ghosts are usually portrayed as being clothed. If this is based on observation of ghosts, then it allows us to conclude that the soul must extend beyond the body and form some sort of field around the clothes that we have on since these items being otherwise inanimate can have no soul of their own. The same principle inheres in Superman whose suit is manmade, but which is never damaged when people fire bullets at him. Like humans, his aura extends to the clothes he wears.

Neoplatonism offers a possible explanation of this phenomenon. Since human souls are part of the One, and it is believed that all things strive to return to their natural habitat, then we can conclude that human souls are linked, tenuously, to the Prime Mover, which is why the soul extends outside the body. The soul is anchored within us while we are alive, but when our bodies die, it attempts to return to the source from whence it came in the first place. If there was no One to attract the human spirit, the soul would remain inside the body while we are alive, and ghosts would be naked because there would be no aura to impart some virtue to inanimate things such as clothes. Indeed, there would be many more ghosts in the world if the soul had nowhere to go, but their general absence is further proof of the existence of a Prime Mover who acts like a spiritual vacuum cleaner.

But what if ghosts have been deliberately misportrayed because of human prurience? Thus artists have misled us for centuries because there is a ghastly truth: ghosts are actually naked because the soul imparts no special virtue to the clothes we wear. Instead, the spirit remains within the body, restricted within the confines of the flesh. We are not born clothed and there is no compelling reason why after death our souls should remained clothed unless it is to spare the living from the embarrassment of dealing with naked ghosts. Clothing is superfluous because the spirit is an incorporeal, senseless thing, being unaffected by heat or cold. As the philosopher-author Terry Pratchett noted in one of his innumerable books, since the soul is without feeling, the torments of Hell are without meaning; and thus the need for ghosts to be clothed is conclusively disproved.


2 thoughts on “de animis et uestimentis”

  1. I saw a ghostie and it was wearing clothes. maybe they’re psychic imprints and not souls. Because if they are souls it seems like a pretty crappy way of ‘living’. Like your space btw. bye

  2. I’m sure that since it knew you were there, it’d dressed for the occasion.
    Since I wrote that entry, I’ve learnt that in the Chinese tradition, ghosts tend to be less spirit and more solid, thus enabling them to give indigent scholar-gentlemen a good seeing to, although they only manifest themselves at night.
    Come back any time. :)

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