Where in the human body is the soul located?

Wednesday 22nd July 2009
Submitted by Len Fisher
Sue Hiett, Leighton Buzzard

For those who believe in the soul, the question of its location has a perennial interest. The ancient Egyptians thought that it was found in the heart, and tomb pictures from around 2000BCE (before the common era) show the god Anubis weighing the soul-laden heart against the Feather of Truth. In 1515 Leonardo da Vinci was denounced as a sorcerer for attempting to find the soul by dissecting the brain, following the belief of the time that it existed in the centre of the head. Some believers claim that the soul is an insubstantial entity (derisively labelled by Cambridge philosopher Gilbert Ryle as 'the ghost in the machine'), but this begs the classic philosophical question how an insubstantial entity can ever affect a material body. American doctor Duncan MacDougall concluded from this that the soul, if it exists, must have weight, and in 1907 reported experiments where he measured the change in weight of dying tuberculosis patients. His answer, encapsulated in a later film title, was that the soul weighed 21g. Make of that what you will.

How much salt is in a human body?
previous qanda Article
Why do mosquito bites itch so much?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by...

It is not entirely clear why Saturn possesses rings. Astronomers have developed three theories of their formation. They could have formed from material left over from the formation of the planet...

All of it! Every neuron in the brain is continually active, even if firing only slowly. Neurons that stop responding die. Even so, many people seem to believe that we use only part of our brain....

Singing involves very precise muscle coordination of the diaphragm, larynx and mouth. Like all coordination skills, this precision depends largely on the strength of the neural pathways in the...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...