1. Religious History 1.1.
Variety of Terms and Views The word “soul” (cf. Ger.
Seele) embraces the meanings of many other words with a history of their own. These meanings differ not only in ancient cultures but also among themselves. They stand for various human experiences, of which we no longer know whether they were as numerous as the terms used—but do know that historically they represent basic realities of existence. A common feature of these realities is that they are regarded as essentially different from the materials of which we and nature and our world are composed. We may divide these basic realities as follows: First we have
ecstasy, in which we view ourselves substantially as outside ourselves. Then we have complementary
yearnings for immortality, which in substance involves something other than that which perishes in the grave and which carries with it a desire for a continuation of living contact with the deceased who are close to us. Third is the gift of
clairvoyance (Visions), which demands an organ enabling the eye to function in times and places beyond those to which the physical eye is restricted. Next is the belief in a substantialized
vital force, even in smaller spheres of existence than that represented by either a human being or an animal as a whole (Vitalism). Finally, we have the recognition that certain kinds of feeling give us a different reality, or a different kind of reality, from that supplied by ¶ thought, a reality that demands a special agent to feel it that is beyond mind, understanding, or reason. It has always been found right, th…