Analysis Of Clarence Darrow's The Myth Of The Soul

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In response to the long-standing philosophical question of immorality, many philosophers have posited the soul criterion, which asserts the soul constitutes personal identity and survives physical death. In The Myth of the Soul, Clarence Darrow rejects the existence of the soul in his case against the notion of immortality and an afterlife. His primary argument against the soul criterion is that no good explanation exists for how a soul enters a body, or when its beginning might occur. (Darrow 43) After first explicating Darrow 's view, I will present what I believe is its greatest shortcoming, an inconsistent use of the term soul, and argue that this weakness impacts the overall strength of his argument. Darrow insists that, if existing, the soul, which he explains is often thought of as synonymous with identity, consciousness or memory, would have to appear sometime during a person 's conception. Conception begins with one cell which, when fertilized by another cell, will divide and multiply and eventually lead to a person 's birth. (42) We cannot reasonably say, claims Darrow, that the original cell has a soul. This…show more content…
If the soul cannot possibly begin when a person does, when and where else could the event take place? However, Darrow 's argument is impaired by his incongruous application of the term soul. He mentions that the soul is popularly equated with identity, consciousness and memory, but fails to specify whether it is this notion or another that he uses. (42) Presuming, for the sake of moving forward, that it is this definition he himself adopts, it seems directly in conflict with his belief that the soul would exist outside of the physical body. (43) Darrow 's argument lacks a clear explication of his concept of the soul and, furthermore, it presents a confusing, contradictory account of the soul 's nature and
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