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Rethinking Human Nature: A Christian Materialist Alternative to the Soul Paperback – June 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kevin J. Corcoran (PhD, Purdue University) is professor of philosophy at Calvin College, specializing in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. He is the author of many journal articles and the editor of Soul, Body, and Survival.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801027802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801027802
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,244,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Kevin Corcoran's work Rethinking Human Nature: A Christian Materialist Alternative to the Human Soul is 160 pages long and published by Baker Publishing Group. All references below will be from Corcoran's study.

Corcoran presents a "Christian materialist" alternative to commonly held beliefs about human nature and the soul. He refers to his position as the "constitution view" (CV). Unlike other types of physicalism, CV maintains that the human body is not identical with the human person. Yet bodies constitute persons like marble or wood constitute tables. Another example that Corcoran gives regarding the CV is dollar bills: paper constitutes dollar bills, but is not identical with them.

The word "identical" is used as a technical term in order to reference things being numerically identical with one another and not replicas. Clark Kent is numerically identical with Superman because the former and latter are one and the same object. Other examples include books which are numerically identical or a car that remains identical (the same object) through time. What allows us to make identity claims of an object (X)? What justifies the belief that a thing (X) maintains its numerical identity year after year or second after second? Corcoran discusses the subject of numerical identity as well as the role that persistence conditions play in the belief that X is numerically identical within a spatio-temporal context. He points out that the relevant persistence conditions for X depend on exactly what X is. For example, the persistence conditions of a human body are not the same as those for a banana.

Corcoran also distinguishes between a) substance dualism; b) compound dualism or hylomorphism and c) emergent dualism. He perceives logical deficiencies in each type of dualism.
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Corcoran is a materialist Christian. That means he doesn't believe we have a soul in the classic Christian view of soul. It doesn't mean we are merely animals either. I do love how it makes the resurrection of the body which Paul so emphasizes imperative. I don't know if his way is the only way to get there, nor is it his prime motivation for holding the view. An insightful read that will definitely leave you with questions about your assumptions.
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Interesting read. Although the author is convinced all traditional dualisms involving immortal and embodied souls are misguided, he posits the possibility of a postmortem *bodily* survival after death but before final resurrection I defy anyone to explain in 25 words or less (or make that 125 words or less). Let's just say, I wasn't convinced.
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It's okay. Not my favorite read, but not bad either.
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