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Among ancient peoples, both the Egyptians and the Chinese conceived of a dual soul.
Despite widespread and longstanding belief in the existence of a soul, however, different religions and philosophers have developed a variety of theories as to its nature, its relationship to the body, and its origin and mortality.
The word ruach had at all times meant “wind” but later came to refer to the whole range of a person's emotional, intellectual, and volitional life. Both terms were widely used and conveyed a wide variety of meanings at different times, and both were often translated as “soul.” The notion of a resurrection of the dead has a more concrete evolution.
It seems to have originated during Judaism's Hellenistic period (4th century BC – 2nd century AD). According to their deserts, some would be granted “everlasting life,” others consigned to an existence of “shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. The idea that a person's future would be determined by conduct on earth was to have profound repercussions.
Plato and Socrates also accepted the immortality of the soul, while Aristotle considered only part of the soul, the noûs, or intellect, to have that quality.
Epicurus believed that both body and soul ended at death.
The Chinese distinguished between a lower, sensitive soul, which disappears with death, and a rational principle, the hun, which survives the grave and is the object of ancestor worship.
Immanuel Kant concluded that the soul was not demonstrable through reason, although the mind inevitably must reach the conclusion that the soul exists because such a conclusion was necessary for the development of ethics and religion.
The early Christian philosophers adopted the Greek concept of the soul's immortality and thought of the soul as being created by God and infused into the body at conception. The canonical writings of biblical Judaism record the relations between certain outstanding individuals and their god.
The events described are perceived as landmarks in the unfurling of a national destiny, designed and guided by that god.
There was only one life, they were told, yet their everyday experience challenged the view that it was on earth that Yahweh rewarded the pious and punished the wicked.
The Book of Job offered little solace: it was irrelevant that the good suffered and that the wicked prospered. The worship of God was an end in itself; it was what gave meaning to life.