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There is a beautiful saying by C.S.Lewis: ‘You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.’ It’s one of my favourite quotes. Ever since the Sam-doesn’t-have-a-soul theory came up, I kept hearing these words in my head.

I couldn’t just let it go, because to my mind the whole concept of a soulless Sam and the logic within Supernatural appeared defective to me. So I dug into my library (and the mind of a professor known to me who was kind enough to answer some questions on a late Saturday night) and tried to find an answer that would satisfy my thirst for truth in terms of adequate storytelling. 

My personal concern and point of dispute was the fact that we’ve seen Sam display various emotions, though it was argued throughout the fandom that he was supposed to not feel anything at all. However, he was angry, annoyed, curious, fascinated, satisfied, etc.

Empathy was not one of the traits to be found in his face and demeanour, but there was a lot going on. If the creators of Supernatural actually are determined to show Sam bereft of all emotion, I am not convinced.

Sam’s face was not a blank canvas. 

If they really want to show a Sam devoid of all emotion and capability to feel, the scripts are not communicating it properly. There is a hole in the logic of the whole concept…

This was somehow an adventure for me. If you like, follow me to see what I found out and whether I had to revise or completely reverse my opinion.

Okay, now, what is the Soul?

The expression soul owns such a manifold collection of possible meanings and ideals, depending on where you turn to look – there are religious, philosophical, spiritual or psychological connotations, whereas in contemporary usage a soul is meant to be the entirety of all emotional, spiritual and mental processes in a human being. According to this, you could also equate the soul to what is described as the psyche.

Furthermore, the soul might be applied to a religious/spiritual/philosophical standard meaning: an individual’s life and his consistent identity through all time, often combined with the notion that the soul is independent from its existence in the body and thereby from death, being immortal, an incorporeal core of a living being.

From the late Middle Ages on, formulaic phrases like ‘with body and soul’ became popular (dividing the body from the soul), as well as the expression ‘beautiful soul’ rooted in the antique nobilitas cordis (‘noble heart’) or old French gentil cuer (like in the French medieval courtly love song by Solage: Tres gentil cuer amoureux, attraians, frans et courtois, jolis et plains de joie, a vous servir du tout mon temps emploie.(Very noble heart, loving, attractive, generous and courteous, beautiful and full of joy to service you above all do I use my time.)

During the age of Enlightenment the ideal of the beautiful soul was not only regarded with a religious eye but denoted a sensitive and virtuous disposition. The German poet, philosopher and historian Friedrich Schiller described it in his essay ‘Über Anmut und Würde’ (‘On Grace and Dignity’) as the perfect harmony of sensuality and morality.

England’s politician and philosopher the 3rd Earl of Shaftsbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, also advocated the principle of harmony and balance, describing man in his Inquiry concerning Virtue or Merit as individual in possession of a complex of desires, cravings, affections, more or less perfectly controlled by the central reason, being in appropriate balance in a moral man.

And, moreover, man is a social being, thereby a part of a greater concord being able and compelled to contribute to the happiness of the whole, in need of adjusting his own activities in a manner they won’t clash with his surroundings - thus being thought of as a moral being. According to Shaftsbury, both the altruist and the egoist are imperfect. A perfect human will adjust both impulses harmonically.

What an idea.

The Greek word psyche (life, spirit) derives from the verb ‘to blow’, referring to the vital breath (the enlivening source to living beings, also using the same word, psyche, to describe being alive or, well, souled). Similar to that appears the Hebrew nephesh, denoting ‘life, vital breath’, describing the popular belief (in many cultures) that breath is the seat of vitality and life force (to be found, among others, in Indian prana tradition or the Chinese chi)

Many old, indigenous religions describe various criteria defining the soul and thereby giving it various elements:

The Vital Soul regulates body functions, possibly attached to a specific organ or part of the body. Some cultures thought the soul to be located in the head (e.g. the Celts, one plausible reason why they liked to decapitate their dead enemies: apart from the wish to retain and control the power of the dead -  to prevent them from being reborn as they believed that man was reborn after spending a certain amount of time in the afterlife), heart (e.g. Maya), bones, eyes (early Polynesian cultures), blood (e.g. ancient Babylon).

The existence of this soul ends with the body’s life.

The Free Soul is presumed to be a soul capable of leaving the body in ecstasy or during sleep (on which the concept of astral projection is based) and giving up the body it resides in upon the death of the host body. Being immortal it enables the continuity of a person.

It can move on to a netherworld or stay in this world, becoming a ghost sometimes (e.g. Neolithic beliefs). Some traditions teach that this soul, being a soul of reincarnation, too, can move on to another body.

To not expand this article to an essay of novel proportions, I will explain the concept of the soul in only some of ancient or contemporary religions and philosophy and focus only on the most significant elements, here.

Please forgive me for not going into further details or marking components as noteworthy according to my personal view and to what I need for this article. I don’t mean any disrespect by any of this. I am, as you may know by now, have you read any of my previous meta-articles, supporting the respectful and peaceful co-existence of all religions and beliefs (a personal ideal of mine that, sadly, probably will never find fulfilment in my lifetime).

The Antique World

Homer’s Iliad

According to Homer, the psyche (the old greek usage for what we would call the soul) is divided from the body upon the moment of death and moves on to the netherworld as a shadowy image of the person. A dead person’s soul seems to be so real that Achilles tries to embrace the soul of his dead companion Patroclos who appears and speaks to him (the Iliad 23). Homer describes the ‘bodyless’ soul as being capable of showing emotions and active thinking.

Homer also describes the source of all human drives as the thymos, and this is regarded to be just as important as the psyche to life. He doesn’t claim that the thymos enters the netherworld, but shows it as destructible. During a person’s life the thymos will be enriched or depleted by life events. Furthermore, in contrast to the psyche which is presumed to be a cold breeze, the thymos burns hot, being located in the chest, the diaphragm. There is no distinct location to the psyche to be found in Homer’s works.

The psyche, however, in only mentioned in life threatening situations. Achilles speaks of endangering his psyche during battle (Iliad, 9). Scientists agree that is the intellect that is meant here, while all emotions take place in the thymos.

Philosophical evolvement after Homer - Plato

In later ancient literature of the Greeks, both ideas (the psyche and the thymos) are somewhat combined to one soul, appearing more and more in moral contexts. To be ‘souled’ means not only to be alive, but also to be a being of conscience, furthermore describing the soul as an immortal entity.

According to Plato, learning is an activity of the soul. Without a soul a person would not be capable of learning. This also concerns the ability of remembering knowledge already acquired and events experienced. Combined with what the soul acquires during her body-bound life is the knowledge the soul brought from a ‘higher place’.

The soul has the ability of realizing and understanding notions of justice, beauty or simply the good. Its nature commands the soul to direct its attention to these ideas. It is, however, exposed to factors in life that might nurture or damage it. The afflictions causing harm to the soul are injustice, according to Plato, and action based on ignorance or nescience that works against a person’s own nature.

The soul being composed of three parts – the logos (mind, reason), the thymos (emotion, spirituality, the masculine) and the eros (desire, appetitive, the feminine).

Based on this hypothesis he also explains the innate inner conflicts of a human being with the thought of the soul actually consisting of three parts: the logistikón (corresponding to reason, located in the brain), the epithymetikón (corresponding to drive, passion, love, located in the abdomen) and the thymoeides (corresponding to courage, located in the chest). In his writings, Plato used this distinction to also describe the nature of politics and a republic.

A just society can’t exist without man living in accordance to his soul. All the soul’s various functions, as described above, are supposed to have their own desires, emotionality and rational abilities which makes a soul an inconsistent, non-uniform matter. But – in Plato’s system of thought – they establish a form of unity by being immortal.


Christianity

With the New Testament written in Greek, the term psyche has been used to describe the soul, being rather ambiguous and complex, over the various translations the descriptions have altered, influenced also by development of language.

In Revelations we find souls of people that were slaughtered, calling out (Rev 6), so it can be assumed that during the outline of the New Testament there existed an idea that souls are capable of acting and possess cognitive ability even after their bodies have been destroyed.

During the age of the founding fathers of the church (approx. 2nd century AD) philosophers were very much at odds, some in favour of Plato, others arguing that the soul holds the exact same form as its body, agreeing however that it was incorporeal.
 
During the late Middle Ages Meister Eckhart argued that the active intellect was ‘something inside the soul’ (aliquid in anima), able to recognize God.

The Bible uses, mostly, the Hebrew description of nephesh (or ruach, meaning wind) and the Greek psyche.

Genesis 2:7 says ‘and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.’ This theme is also taken up in the New Testament, for instance in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians ‘the first man Adam was made a living soul’.

Characteristics of a soul breathed into a being are, among others, various emotions such as distress, yearning, affection, love, grief, delight.

Today, the majority of Christians believe that the soul is distinct, albeit connected, from the body. Its nature is described in terms of morality, philosophy, spirituality. It is taught that Jesus Christ secured salvation for all souls by his sacrifice (though the rituals within various branches of Christianity may differ).

Some Christians believe that the non-penitent person (and his soul) who does not trust in Jesus Christ as the Saviour and Lord will go to hell and suffer everlasting separation from God – that being considered as the most unbearable agony (the punishment Lucifer himself suffered). Believers are allowed eternal life in heaven and companionship with God.  The judgement of that will take place at the day of the last judgement.

Protestant beliefs tend to state that the soul at the moment of death becomes present with the Lord, without spending any time in between.

Islam

Early Arabic poetry describes the self as naf. The Koran also uses this word to denote a person (also God), but describes with it the human soul, too, including any mental functions, in particular unwelcome desires emanating from the soul that have to be tamed.

We also find the word ruh, meaning originally breath or wind, in religious context the breath of life given to Adam by God. The soul can also leave the body during sleep and return. It is written that angels take the soul during sleep (though not described exactly where), but not disconnecting it from the body.

The naf is supposed to consist of three stages: the inciting naf (the lower self, base instincts) (the primitive stage in which the naf provokes us to commit evil with ‘seven heads’ that need to be defeated: greed, false pride, envy, lust, backbiting, stinginess, malice), the self-accusing naf (the stage in which the conscience is awakened and makes one ask for forgiveness), the naf at peace (the ideal stage, the soul in tranquillity).

Theosophy

Theosophy is a religious philosophical and mysticism movement established in the late nineteenth century and regards the soul as the field of our psychological activity – emotions, memory, desires, thinking, etc. It is not understood as the highest dimension but rather a middle one.

Higher than the soul is the spirit which is considered to be the real self, the source of everything we call good – happiness, wisdom, love, harmony, compassion.

According to theosophical ideas the spirit is eternal and incorruptible, while the soul is not. Because it is caught in between the spiritual and material realms it is the battleground where the battle of good and evil is fought.

The Fate of Sam?

Theory one:

According to what I found with Plato and Islamic teachings I’d say that Sam brought the part of him back to this life that is responsible for action.

Without his soul, Sam would not have been able to learn during his year of being back which he obviously has. He also still possesses the ability to remember knowledge and events before his stint in hell – one more indication (in accordance with Plato) that Sam is not entirely soulless.

What he brought with him is the logistikón that part of the soul that corresponds with intellect and reason while the other two parts, denoting passion/love and courage are left in the pit. There is no love for his closest family (in that case: Dean) in him, no empathy, no care, only the intellectual idea of it not filled with the compassion usually found in him, and he lacks the courage (but not fear) to be honest or to look closer for answers – or deal with the time in hell (and my hypothesis here is: he remembers everything. It drives me sick, alas, imagining, that the compassionate part of Sam is still in Lucifer’s cage, having been in agony for a year now).

You could also say, the vital soul is still active, here.

Or, according to Islamic teaching, Sam’s soul might have been thrown back to the stage of the inciting Naf, the primitive stage with the ugly heads of greed, false pride, envy, lust, backbiting, stinginess, malice.

Now, I haven’t detected backbiting or false pride in Sam so far, but he has been lustful (having a hooker over at least once (that we know of)), he has been malicious with allowing Dean to get turned into a vampire for secret intelligence reasons, and, well, he has been proud of being such a good hunter which seemed to have given him some kind of peace of mind.

Sticking to what he felt he was good at - hunting, deceiving, relying on his skills learned in more logical times – helped him survive.

He might not have the instincts Dean hoped would still be there, but his drive to survive is very much developed. And, if we look at theosophical theories, we might also assume that there is a battle going on in Sam’s soul at the moment, a battle between good and evil, endangering him of becoming corrupted.

Theory two:

By the end of last season, Sam fought a terrible battle within himself (eventually coming to the decision to sacrifice himself for the greater good) and was imprisoned in Lucifer’s cage.

The fact of being ridden by Lucifer alone must have been traumatic for him. And at this point I dread what we might learn of Sam’s time in hell. If we look at Homer’s idea of the soul and his postulation of the thymos being enhanced or worn-out by life events, we can assume that Sam’s soul entered the netherworld already wounded, if not washed-out to the point of destruction.

Plato developed this even further and claimed that deeds working against a person’s character, yet based on nescience would harm the soul. One of such actions Sam fell victim to was his pact with Ruby. He – ignorantly – believed to be doing the right thing and therefore was working with her, deceiving the people closest to him, against his nature.

So, I’d say, Sam went to hell with a soul not intact anymore. Perhaps it fell apart (if that is possible), was misguided down there, or torn into its various elements. And the Sam who returned to life is not a shell utterly vacant.

He feels that he is empty (as the Alpha Vamp confirmed, too). He feels various emotions but is detached from the deep and warm ones, which makes perfect sense if we keep in mind that Lucifer once stated that he was cold – the intimate contact with the ultimately flawed, cold angel might leave every soul in a state of ice.

This is also a protection against the unquestionably horrific memories that might haunt him. He explained that he doesn’t sleep. At all.

Theory three:

Well, perhaps he will have found a way to dream in an awake state (though I can’t imagine how, actually), as any human being deprived of the ability to dream would become insane sooner or later. It is a means of torture within some regimes on this planet – not allowing prisoners to dream (not to be mistaken for the Charcot-Wilbrand-Syndrome which is a neurological disorder and characterized by the brain’s inability to make sense of visual stimuli and thereby loss of the ability to revisualize images).

That he doesn’t need any sleep at all makes me presume that he, indeed, isn’t entirely human.

A human being not sleeping would show significant effects very soon: for instance the carbohydrate metabolism would derail thereby cause the blood glucose level to rise, the production of thyroid hormones would be disturbed, along with rising concentration of stress hormone cortisol. The person would be highly irritable, nauseous, not able to concentrate, later hallucinating. Eventually, a person would die.

No one, no human being, that is, would survive a year (!) without sleep. And he would certainly not be able to focus in a manner Sam does.

I do hope the producers and writers will keep the story on a logical path according to what science teaches today. They have been quite free in their interpretations of biblical images, and I agree with that kind of creative license.

But I am highly critical when it comes to scientific topics or, well, storylines completely outside of logic.

Well, sadly, at this moment I still hold on to my protest I voiced in the beginning here. To my mind, the way the story is told does not add up to the supposed idea of Sam being utterly bereft of emotions. I wonder what kind of explanation we will be given. And I am curious.

Thank you.

SOON TO FOLLOW: AN ESSAY ON HELL
 

Comments  

elle2
# elle2 2010-11-08 21:28
Hi, Jas,

Wow, uh, wow...another excellent academic outing from you...whew.

I too am concerned with what they are trying to do with the whole, Sam has no soul thing, and fear that it may 'collapse under its own weight' if dragged on too long. I must be careful to clarify that as of now I do not believe it has 'dragged on' but rather the build up has been appropriate and now we're there, at that moment when the reveal organically is revealed. Good. Now, go get it back and don't take too long doing it. If he gets his soul back in the next three or four episodes or five or six that's great but please do not make it the whole season's quest (although that is a very real probablility)

Seeing that there are multiple storylines in play and that Sam's soul does not necessarily have to be the be-all or end-all to Crowley's influence on their actions I'm hopeful that that will be relieved soon. Then we can get along with what are Samuel's motivations (for as we know, Family Matters (and Family Remains) so it's a very real possibility that what is important to Samuel will similarly be important to Sam and Dean.

As for the whole emotions and Sam that we've seen up to now, I'm more and more convinced that Sam is completely acting those emotions rather than experiencing them. Sam knows that he needs to show humor and surprise and contrition thus he conjures the facial expression required for the moment, sometimes he does it believably (as in the teasing in The Third Man about Dean racing him in the Impala) and other times it's purely that he knows he has to look and sound a certain way, such as his "I'm sorry, I get it, I won't do it again" that we saw in Family Matters.

I actually am of the mind that he does not feel anything but merely gives the impression that he does, and for that major props go out to Jared for his ability to switch in a second. That moment in Live Free or Twi-Hard when he moves from fascination at the vampire turning Dean to rushing forward and 'scaring' the vampire off to me is purely acting on Sam's part for he must sound and look the part of scared Sam for Dean's safety and tough as nails hunter getting rid of the vampire because Dean is conscious and will be able to see him and his reactions, thus Sam does what is expected, but it's action.

Long and rambly to be sure and time will tell how this plays out. I'm very interested (and invested emotionally :roll:: ) in where we are going and how we get there.
9Tiptoes
# 9Tiptoes 2010-11-08 21:34
Couldn't you have posted all this before I wrote my big What's Wrong W/ Sam fic? All the research I did and you already had it locked away in that giant melon of yours. :D

one actual dictionary definition gives soulless as: lacking sensitivity or the capacity for deep feelings. so I went and still go w/ the idea that he has feelings available, they're just not the real heavy ones that we've come to see from him.

He still has a sense of family and as far as the winchesters are concerned, that's mostly about feelings not just genetics.
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-11-08 21:51
Going to have to start calling you La Professor!:-) Wow and just wow!

Thanks ever so much for referencing Lewis! It always makes me happy to see his name. That said, I don't recognize the quote! Which work of his did you pull that from?

"It drives me sick, alas, imagining, that the compassionate part of Sam is still in Lucifer’s cage, having been in agony for a year now"---me to. :cry:: :cry:: If he really is down there, I'm wanting the writers to pull him back with no memory of his imprisonment! Have mercy!

You've certainly floated some interesting ideas. I'm facinated! But done speculating (watch me make myself a hypocrite) the writers have yet to follow my logic by proving they have better logic.

Thanks for the article Jas!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-09 03:23
Elle2, 9Tiptoes and Yvonne, my sincere thanks for your comments!

Elle2, I also hope, as you noticed, that this season’s quest will not be the search for Sam’s soul. We’ve had variations of that in prior seasons (saving of Sam, saving of Dean, etc).

You have an interesting theory that Sam is acting the emotions rather than experiencing them – but I have to disagree. In some scenes he did exactly that, but in others there was a genuine element of surprise, shock, fear and the like in his face, well, that’s how I perceived it.

As for the emotional investment – right there with you. I care so much about these bloody guys… damn, damn show…

9Tiptoes, my apologies….
:-)

Where can I find that story of yours? Might an interesting read!

Yvonne, too much praise, but thank you for it (see? Getting better by the minute, hehe).

I don’t really remember where I took the quote from. I have a little book where I collect lines from books I read, and I had Lewis’s quote right there (but have not put in where I took it from, should start doing that!). I could be from ‘Mere Christianity’ , ‘the Problem of Pain’ or from his letters. So sorry for not being of greater help here.

I wish I could stop speculating… Any recipe how to do it?

Thanks so much again, cheers, Jas
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-11-09 05:35
Your research and ideas whet my appetite, milady. Bravo, btw, and thank you so much!

I can't believe either that Sam is completely w/o Soul. Remember his expression, in The Third Man, when Cas mentioned that Rafael and his gang might be planning to free Luci again? There was that look of terror on Sam's face. In Family Matters, when Dean prevented him from killing Grandpa, there was that resentment on his face. In the 2nd episode, with that hooker, his voice broke a little when he thanked the lady for wanting to see him again (but during her off hours)--I read that as vulnerability, a wishing to appear hard (:oops:-)to other people.

How about the the idea that Sam is not soulless, but its essence is just 'damped down' by whomever brought him topside? What if it's GOd who did this? I still can't believe that Crowley can just snatch souls in Heaven or Hell whenever he wanted, King of Hell or not. Allowed to, yes, by Someone higher than him--for a divine purpose, hopefully. (Remember the new S6 posters--"All evil will see the light"?)

A Sam with a 'damped-down' soul will not be read by Cas or any of the Alphas or various gods in the SPN universe. Read as inhuman, Sam's an unknown factor in the coming troubles. If he is 'possessed', 'overshadowed', manipulated by God, perhaps Sam will be used to help others in redeeming anyone evil who's wishing to change?

I don't want to write anymore. Am getting confused, depressed, yet excited with S6. Hope I was at least coherent in this post. (I miss the brothers' camaraderie sorely.)
Julie
# Julie 2010-11-09 08:21
Dear Jas ,
I think this article has been bubbling around in you for a few weeks now and I know you have been troubled by the events of Season 6 and to some extent the way they have been written and portrayed. I hope this has helped you a little to find some clarity.
There is a LOT of information here and I will need definitely more than a couple of read throughs to process it all, How scary that you now have a tame professor suplimenting the boundless library.
They way in which Sam is being written to me is not someone with no feelings or emotions but with emotions and feelings he cannot process having, as I have said before, no moral compass with which to deal with them.
I think this was the only way this could be portrayed as to have a character totally emotionless would be like have someone in an almost walking vegatative state and especially in a show with basically 2 main characters this could not have worked.
I guess it is especailly troubling for all of us who are so invested in these two to see Sam, who we know to be so , despite undoubted anger issues, gentle, caring and compassionate so changed, doing things we know he , if normal, would never do. I too do not want to imagine what the `real` Sam is going through and hope, I fear in vain ( we know these writers far too well) that when he does return he will have little memory of this time. I know no chance!
This is again an excellent piece with so much research and information I now feel almost `Gumbyish- `My Brain Hurts`.
I have also now decided to change my mantra it is no longer `It`s not Sam ` it is now `We will get him back` `cos we will!
bookdal
# bookdal 2010-11-09 08:55
Awesome post, Jas. I am particularly persuaded by your Plato angle. So he is without psyche, would you say?

What do you think of this though? Perhaps Sam is the embodiment of Cartesian rationalism? I am drawn back to that scientific smirk in "LFoTH" and how the constant rhetoric has been that he thinks, he experiences, but he doesn't feel. He is an "I" without the impact of his first person consciousness. And Dean, on the other hand, is all I, all affect....Not sure, but thought I'd throw that out there.

I'm curious - how do you see SN defining the soul? It's a question I've become obsessed with about this narrative....
Karen
# Karen 2010-11-09 09:01
Hi Jasminka
I have to admit I’ve been very confused by this storyline. I couldn’t understand how someone that can’t feel emotions can still express so many.
I would agree that in some cases Sam is faking it, but some scenes his expressions are so immediate, that there is no time for him to even think what feelings he should be portraying.
I am amazed to learn on how many interpretations of what being soulless has. From what I can make out of all this, it looks to me that the writers have taken bits and pieces of various religious, spiritual and philosophical text to create there own version of soulless-ness.
I still don’t understand how they are fitting that Sam has gone a year without sleep, with him still having a pulse and body heat. If he is partly inhuman, wouldn’t Cass of seen that when he did his “Cavity search”.
I’m afraid I’m much like Dean with this kind of topic, I need this to be explained to me like I was five.
I’m just going to have to wait to see what the writers come up with and more than likely I will accept what they bring as creative licensing.
Thank-you so much for this article Jas, it has helped me get a better understanding of the Soul or lack there of.
9Tiptoes
# 9Tiptoes 2010-11-09 09:10
Jas, My take is on Fanfiction.net under my same name.
I'm with you...there's definately emotion there. but sometimes it seems for as a result of his own self-interest rather than compasion or deep feelings for others. Like maybe the logic overrides his feelings and concerns for everyone else around him.
I can't wait to see where they take this.
Jessica
# Jessica 2010-11-09 09:18
Very interesting article. I find, especially in the SPN universe, a soulless Sam hard to take. The show itself made it obvious in Swap Meat, that the soul is who you are. Every other time Sam and Dean have died their bodies remained on Earth while their souls went to Heaven or hell, of course with the exception that Sam's body went to hell in Swan Song.

I think that's the reason why there were a lot of theories floating around that hell just simply spit Sam's body back out, that the physical being could not exist in hell - only the soul.

In many ways Soulless Sam is a hard concept to understand or swallow just like movies, books, and TV shows about time travel. It's something that's very hard for our minds to wrap around.

It may be possible that Sam sometimes displays certain emotions because they're muscle memory more than anything else. He definitely doesn't seem to feel anything too deeply, but I think he at least has the ability to appear that he has emotions sometimes whether it be that he still has them, but not as deep or sometimes he can remember how he should act in a certain situation, or his body involuntarily remembers certain responses to outside forces. (We do know for sure though that he definitely knows how to fake emotions.)

I, like you, really hope the writers portray Sam's soullessness in a way that at least makes a little bit of logical sense.
Suze
# Suze 2010-11-09 10:44
Ummm ... To be honest, I think they just don't spend as much time mithering about every eyebrow twitch as we do so they haven't really thought it through ...
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-09 14:16
FMJemena, Julie, bookdal, Karen, 9Tiptoes, Jessica, Suze. dear ladies, thank you so much for commenting!

FMJemena, I am honoured to have stimulated your appetite! You mention some interesting thoughts, dear. There are, indeed, some defects in the logic system of the show at present – or it appears to be thus. It may well be that the creators keep confusing us with a passion. Or – my least favourite part – they have not thought it out, not completely?

To my mind it’s not consistent with the prior storylines that only a massive force of angels could free Dean from hell or the power Lucifer had to muster up to rise and now Crowley walks in and takes a soul? I am curious how they’re going to explain that. Perhaps they’ll come up with a factinating theory!

Don’t worry about not being coherent – this show does provoke our minds and hearts, and we react passionately . by the way: I have been known to stammer a lot after watching an episode…

Julie, sweetie, you’re so right, it’s been bubbling in my head for quite a while. And, yes, focusing and writing always calms me down (looks like Sam and I do share some DNA, eh?). I am with you that portraying a character utterly devoid of emotions would not work, but I am still a bit at odds with the intentions of the show right now. But I think soon I will understand it better with the episode to come.

I wonder if his moral compass is really that ruined. With that compass out of bounds, would he be able to find the impala in the dark at all?

Linda, thank you. I think I’d say he is without the thymos, actually, the part ruling emotions and spirituality, but from a more poetic angle, I like the idea of his soul being thrown back to a more primitive state, as described by the inciting Naf.

Is Sam the embodiment of Cartesian rationalism? Hm…hard to say. If memory serves, Décartes postulated that the mind was separate from the body and that the perception of the world was a source of illusion and knowledge could be achieved by reason only. Is Sam with soul because he thinks? Cogito ergo mihi animum est? I think, therefore I own a soul?
A most interesting metaphysical question, yet one I am not smart enough to answer. Since both, Plato and Décartes, advocate the mind-body dichotomy, I assume the writers of Supernatural have taken quite a lot from there – and from other ideas we don’t know of yet…

I have no clear idea as of yet how Supernatural's concept of a soul looks like. Well, we know that a soul is vulnerable (hence the torture in Hell) like a corporeal being, and perhaps in this universe a soul becomes another kind of body in the afterlife. We know that it lives on after death and can be transported by angels/demons. When it goes missing, allegedly, a body is still alive?
I reckon, this show has taken various bits from all kinds of religions and myths to establish its concept of a soul. I think we will know more once Sam's is back.

Karen, my thoughts exactly. The confusion was all mine, too. I imagine the writers have truly mixed up their own concept of a soul with tidbits from here and there, to make it different from our ‘tourist’ versions of the Bible and mythology.
About the Sam-going-witho ut-sleep, well, they’re going to have to give us a good explanation, as if he is supposed to be human, it would be all wrong from a medical point of view, oh dear…! I am so very curious…

9Tiptoes, thank you for the info, I will read it as soon as I find time!

Jessica, true, a soulless Sam is hard to take, since we’ve grown so fond of him being the compassionate, sweet man that he is.
Let’s keep hoping the writers won’t let us down or take us for fools.

Suze, thanks for clearing that up! That’s the answer! Of course!!!

Thank you ever so much, Jas
Suze
# Suze 2010-11-09 15:45
Sorry Jas, it was such a terrific essay, But I do think you're beating your intelect against a big gristly chunk of lazy scripting ( although I'm very keen on the bondage angle because I'm a bit sad ... Mmmm ... ) If the boy has no feelings why continue to hunt? He's risking himself for an abstract concept of good and evil? Doesn't sound very amoral to me ...
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-09 15:49
You're so right, Suze... I like beating my melon against windmills, though.
Now the strangest images spring to mind... a melon in shackles? Uh-Oh...
:-)
alysha
# alysha 2010-11-09 17:22
I think Sam can show emotion, not actually feel it. It’s not genuine. It’s acted. For example, Sam thinks: “Dean will get angry about this. If I make sad puppy eyes, he will give in and not be so angry.” That’s all intellect, no actual emotion.

I agree with CS Lewis. Our souls are eternal; we just occupy bodies for awhile. Supernatural has somewhat demonstrated this with the fact that demons are twisted souls that occupy bodies. Angels need vessels and when Dean’s body had basically died his soul was running around in 2.01.

From “Death Takes a Holiday” Supernatural set up the concept of a free soul, but by doing this they also stated that Sam’s powers originated in his body.

I think Sam’s soul was damaged, but I think it is also missing. But makes him really Sam still should be his soul. If Supernatural chooses to see it that way remains to be seen.
Suze
# Suze 2010-11-09 17:53
Bloody hell, girl, now we're perving on constrained soft fruit ... This is so wrong! :lol:

Can't cope with all this depravity, I'm off to bed.

Sweet dreams, you lot. ;-)
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-11-09 23:36
Of Shackled Melons and Stammering after an SPN Episode:

;-) oh yeah, esp. after this one. I think we can all agree that the boys looked extremely hot.
Mardem Jr.
# Mardem Jr. 2010-11-10 00:21
Everytime I read something relating Sam, the very first thing that comes to my mind is an interview with Sera on which she said this season would deal with 'what exactly Sam is'. I'm afraid we'll never get Sam back.

A brilliant article (as always) and very thought-provoki ng. Like you, I always waver between 'faking emotion' and 'genuine emotion'. I seriously don't know what to think, I'll have to let the writers handle it. I'm a math guy, so these discussions always leave me with headaches :D

My take on Sam not being able to sleep is because he is not human, according to what Veritas stated, although I have a hard time grasping the concept of soullessness being connected to sleeplessness. Perhaps Sam is not only without a soul, but he is now another kind of 'creature' (created from overdose of demon blood?). Now my brain is back at that interview :|
Mardem Jr.
# Mardem Jr. 2010-11-10 01:10
Sorry for another post, it's past 3am here so...


Another thing that leads me to believe that Sam is now some other kind of creature is the speech of the Alpha Vamp. It included Sam on the creatures that would end up in purgatory, and I don't believe that it's because of his soullessness. Monsters must have souls (or what else would continue to exist after one's death?), so if Sam died right now, his soul would remain wherever it is. But if he retrieved his soul, then died, he would go to purgatory because he's now inhuman (I don't believe that a soul makes you human, it is your capacity of rational and moral thought - which comes from your brain - together with opposable thumbs :D that makes you one instead). 
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-10 05:02
Alysha, Suze, FMJemena, Mardem Jr – thanks for raising your voices and/or joining in again…

Alysha, I am sorry, but I have to disagree – while I concur in your opinion that Sam fakes emotion (which he does quite often here), I also think that there have been glimpses where he was genuinely terrified, annoyed, irritated, and the like. That’s why I can’t believe that there are no emotions at all in that handsome shell.

I do hope we’ll get Sam back the way we got to know him. The compassionate, sweet man inside and out. It would certainly be hard to take if that man was gone forever.

Suze and FMJemena, uh-oh, what have I done (*swoons dramatically*)? Well, well, yes, I can’t deny it – the guys looked very hot in this episode… (*reaches for smelling salts*)

Mardem Jr. by all means, post away. I know the jeopardies of sleepless nights in Europe (I assume you are here because of the time difference? Always confuse that… you might also sleep on a beautiful island in the Caribbean?)

I haven’t read that interview with Sera, and now I’m officially freaked. To my ears this sounds almost as if the Sam we grew fond of and got to know over several years now was a fake? Uh-oh…

I touched on the demon blood in another article, as I think, like you, that the blood probably changed him. We have been told that to consume that amount of demon blood would change him forever. But I never assumed that it might be a change in his soul.
According to your train of thought it changed him physically... but that could leave his soul intact... and the soul is not intact, obviously. But perhaps a change in body also changes the spirit?

And that change in all likelihood takes a while, since Sam was still Sam after being ridden by Lucifer and before throwing himself down the abyss…

This could drive a woman crazy, actually. But thank you for this thought! I will chew on it a bit more (love when my brain is provoked!) and weave it in in the essay on Hell I am currently writing (which takes a bit of research, too, so it might take a while)…

Thank you! Blessed be, Jas
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-10 15:47
Hey, Californian Leslie, happy to 'hear' you squeeling in delight!

These questions you pose here are so interesting. I can't imagine Sam not being redeemed by what he did... well, it is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but then many good people would head straight to hell, right?

To my mind, it's the intention that makes a deed evil. Like Shakespeare said: 'Nothing is good or evil, yet thinking makes it so.' How very true. Sam did not intend to do anything evil, but he did (just as Dean did not intend to break the first seal, but - unbeknownst to him - he did, we never considered him to be evil. Why then Sam?).

Every day I try to help people embrace their 'dark side', if you like, those facets of themselves they consider imperfect, flawed, bad. It's a lifelong struggle, I guess, that need a lot of courage.

I hope I'll be able to say something grounded in history/myth and the like in regard to purgatory and the monsters in my upcoming essay on Hell (which will take a bit, so I ask you to be kindly patient). It certainly is mindboggling...

As for Castiel - somehow I don't trust him, not entirely. With a Civil War going on upstairs, he might have an agenda of his own...

thanks so much for commenting! and - Friday is almost here, don't fret!
Take care, Jas
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2010-11-10 16:27
Oh, boy. This is going to drive me nuts trying to think this out & rationalize it somehow. I agree, Jas, about the not sleeping thing having such a powerfully negative effect on the body. Medically it would not be possible for Sam's body to still function. We know that Dean doesn't sleep much, but he does still sleep at least a few hours a night. I guess we'll just have to wait & see how Sera & Co. explain it. I do hope that they have thought it through & have come up with something.
And yes, I want our Sammy back!! Please don't let it take the whole season to get his soul back, & let getting his soul back make him the whole Sammy again. Whatever he is now, I want the whole Sam back.
As for the current soulless situation, I'm going with... I don't know! Let's see how the next episodes play out.
Great article, Jas!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-10 17:02
Thank you so much, Dawn! I am truly curious, too, how the writers will explain the no-sleep issue. I hope they'll stick to medical and scientific facts.

I am with you on the I-want-Sammy-ba ck front... We will have him, again... I can't lose that hope!

Love, Jas
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-11-12 18:14
Hey Jas, what a wonderful article! Thanks for writing this, looks like a lot of work.
Don't have an opinion about this, don't get to think much about our show with so much going on in my life right now, but it has been bothering me, this new Sam. Don't like him. Soul or no soul, if soul then what part of soul, if no soul then who/what the hell is Sam? My brain hurts. Kudos to your research, Jas.
Good night, and have a great weekend!
Lara
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-14 13:49
Leora and Freebird, thank you for your comments.

Leora, I find that idea of the perfect animal that Sam is quite scary. Perhaps the storyline will go there - what happens if Sam indeed becomes a vessel for some Alpha? Oh, dear... :o

Lara, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! I hope whatever goes on in your life now will pass without leaving you in pain of whatever kind. True, it's hard to like this Sam.
Zelim Ti sve najbolje i mnogo snage! :-), Jas