My second argument against souls is that soul-theory thinks of the self as a simple, abiding, spiritual entity that constitutes our personal identity. This is the theory of the self as a Cartesian Ego. I opposed to this theory a version of what is normally called the “Bundle” theory of the self, which is traced back to Hume, but which also has roots in Buddhism. On this theory, personal identity is not constituted by a spiritual essence or entity, but is a nexus of heterogeneous experiences and traits.
My third objection to souls begins with the simple and undeniable observation, backed by enormous empirical research, that non-human animals have minds, that is, they are capable of quite sophisticated acts of cognition and intelligence and display many of the emotions that we do. Soul-theory holds that we think, feel, etc. with our souls. So, do animals have souls? If we say “no,” then we admit that the brain is sufficient for the mental life of non-human animals. At what level of cognition or consciousness, then, are brains no longer sufficient and why? How do we give a principled, non-arbitrary answer here? If brains can do that much, then why not more?
...the historical context needs to be considered. For Homer, the soul is that animating or vitalizing principle that accounts by its departure at death for the transformation of an active hero into a motionless corpse. Seemingly, Hector's body is still there after he has been slain by Achilles, but obviously something essential has departed. You can then follow the development of thinking about the soul to the explicit dualism of the Pythagoreans and Plato, to Aristotle's complex treatment in De Anima. The upshot is that my remarks about what is "obvious" were not historically sensitive. Indeed, many things we now think of as obvious were not at all to ancient people, who were not thereby simply being obtuse. For instance, hard as it is imagine today, until early modern times fossils were not recognized as the records of living things. So you are quite right that my remarks were ahistorical and your remarks are a needed corrective. One really does need to be aware of the cultural and historical context before making pronouncements about obviousness!
The problem with the Greek understanding is that they assume an estrangement between body and soul They saw the soul as using the body like a vehicle, like a man sailing a ship or using a tent, but the Hebrews understood a more unified relationship. The more apt image here would be marrow in the bone rather than a man in a tent, as the Hebraic author illustrates. The upshot being that a more unified view would see the soul less as a smaller self inside the body but as a more organic part of the whole person thus sharing more activity with the brain. Consciousness as soul (or spirit) fits here. It would allow us to see the soul as consciousness not as a ghost in the machine, and it would leave something for life after death,