367. Does a spirit identify with matter upon uniting with a body?
“Matter is merely the envelope of the spirit, like clothing on the body. When uniting with a body, a spirit retains the attributes of its spiritual nature.”
368. Does a spirit fully exercise its faculties after its union with a body?
“This depends on the organs that serve as their instruments. Their exercise is weakened by the rudimentary nature of matter.”
a) Is the material envelope an obstacle to the free exercise of a spirit’s faculties, as an opaque glass is an obstacle to the free emission of light?
“Yes, it is a particularly opaque obstacle.”
We can also compare the action exercised upon a spirit by the rudimentary matter of its body to muddy water hampering the motion of objects swimming in it.
369. Is the free exercise of a spirit’s faculties secondary to the development of its physical organs during incarnation?
“Those organs serve as the soul’s channels for manifesting its faculties. By default, this manifestation is secondary to the degree of development and perfection of those organs, as the perfection of manual work depends on the quality of the tool used.”
370. Can we draw a correlation between the development of the cerebral organs and the moral and intellectual faculties from the infuence of the physical organs?
“Do not mistake cause and effect. A spirit always possesses faculties that belong to it, but the organs do not provide the faculties. The faculties spur the development of the organs.”
a) According to this view, the diversity of each person’s abilities depends solely on the state of the spirit. Is this correct? “Solely is not accurate. The qualities of an incarnated spirit determine those abilities. However, an allowance must be made for the infuence of matter, which to some degree hampers everyone when they exercise their intrinsic, spiritual faculties.”
When it incarnates, a spirit already has certain characteristic predispositions. If we contend the existence of a special organ in the brain for each of these, the development of the cerebral organs is an effect, and not a cause. If each of these faculties were a result of physical organs, humans would be mere machines, with no free will and no responsibility for their actions. If such were the case, we would be forced to admit that the greatest geniuses, thinkers, poets and artists were merely lucky to be given these certain special organs. Had it not been for chance, they would not have been geniuses, and the most ignorant individuals might have been a Newton, Virgil, or Raphael, as long as they had received certain organs. This theory is even more absurd if we apply it to the explanation of moral qualities.
According to this system, if Saint Vincent de Paul had been gifted by nature with a different specifc organ, he could have been a crook, and the greatest crook would only lack a certain brain structure in order to be someone like Saint Vincent de Paul. On the other hand, when we accept that our special organs, assuming their existence, are an effect developed by the exercise of the corresponding faculties rather than a cause, as in the development of muscles by movement, we can formulate a more rationally sound theory. Let us make a trivial comparison, albeit a truthful one. When we say that a person is addicted to alcohol based on facial signs, do the signs make them an alcoholic, or does drunkenness created the signs? We can assert that our organs receive the impression of our faculties.