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Featured Article: Resurrection

Resurrection of the Flesh (1499-1502) Fresco by Luca Signorelli
Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
Resurrection is most commonly associated with the reuniting of the spirit and body of a person in that person's afterlife, or simply with the raising of a person from death back to life. What this means depends upon one's presuppositions about the nature of the human person, especially with regard to the existence of a soul or spirit counterpart to the physical body. The term can be found in the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, when they happily depict the final blessing of the faithful that are resurrected in the grace of God. It does play a particularly powerful role in Christianity, as the resurrection of Jesus is its core foundation. At the same time, these religions unavoidably talk also about the unfaithful resurrected for eternal curse.

What the nature of the resurrected body is may still be an issue. But, if the resurrection of the body is considered to restore some kind of psychosomatic unity of a human personality, it carries profoundly important implications. Recent philosophers of religion insightfully try to connect this restored psychosomatic unity with the continuation of a personal identity beyond death. Furthermore, this resurrection discussion seems to be increasingly exploring the possibility of spiritual growth and eventual salvation through the restored psychosomatic unity beyond death. For this purpose, some Christian thinkers make a controversial use of the notion of reincarnation from Eastern religions and ancient Greek philosophy as an alternative for resurrection, and others try to develop a new Christian position to say that bodily resurrection, and not reincarnation, can make personal spiritual growth after death possible.

Popular Article: The Ego and the Id

Freud Sofa.JPG
Sigmund Freud introduced what would later come to be called the "structural theory" of psychoanalysis in his 1923 book The Ego and the Id. The structural theory divides the mind into three agencies or "structures": the "id," the "ego," and the "superego." The unconscious id consists of our most primitive desires to satisfy our biological needs. The superego (also unconscious) contains our socially-induced conscience and counteracts the id with moral and ethical prohibitions. The largely conscious ego functions as mediator between the two.

While Freud's conception of the mind as having different aspects and different levels, conscious and unconscious, greatly advanced our understanding of human nature, certain aspects of his model have drawn severe criticism. In particular, his view of the id as primarily driven by sexual desire, and his rejection of spiritual aspects to human nature, led former students, such as Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, to separate from him and develop their own competing theories. Equally, Freud's oppositional view of individual desires (id) and society's needs (superego) has been criticized. Freud's model contains many insights that have led to numerous subsequent advances in psychology. Yet as it stands, it overlooks the spiritual aspect of mind and reifies a theory of psychological dysfunction--the human mind as an arena of conflict--what religions call a state of "fallenness" (Christianity) or "bondage" (Hinduism and Buddhism). The opposition of the id and the superego may be a reflection of a traditional Jewish psychology of fallen human beings, that within each person there is unending conflict between the "evil inclination" (yetzer ha-ra) and the "good inclination" (yetzer ha-tov). Thus it lacks a theory describing the harmonious functioning of all the mind's faculties in a healthy person.