Why We Need to Resurrect Our Souls

Illustrations_to_Robert_Blair's_The_Grave_,_object_9_The_Soul_Hovering_over_the_BodyMark Edmundson at The Chronicle Review:

Maybe we are best off without ideals. Perhaps there can be something bleakly noble in affirming ourselves as fundamentally Darwinian creatures who live to sustain our existences with as little pain and as much pleasure as possible. But is that all there is to life? The question of the great states of being, self and soul, is in danger of dropping off the map of human inquiry. In its place there opens up an expanse of mere existence based on desire, without hope, fullness, or ultimate meaning. We can do better.

Critics have often identified Western culture as a culture of the image. We live, it’s been said, in a culture of simulation. But simulation of what?

Popular culture (as adored now by the elite as it is by the general populace) simulates soul. An enormous, complex, and stunning technological force, which might be used to feed the world or to rid it of disease, is instead devoted to entertainment — to delivering experiences that fabricate states of soul. These fabrications testify to both our fear of soul states — they are ways of holding dangerous ideals at arm’s length — and our hunger for ideals. They mean and have meant too much. We cannot quite let them go.

more here.