some of my thoughts and notes

The Soul of Things

Some people believe that not only every human, and every animal, but also every thing has its own soul. I feel a bit unsure about this claim and rather tend to think that we humans tend to animate things by infusing our consciousness into them. For example, everything we make only exists because human consciousness created it. And in another sense, everything we are aware of becomes part of our consciousness. Whether it exists outside of our awareness we can never really know. But some things still puzzle me and challenge my way of thinking.

My girlfriend for example believes that our car, a 42-year-old Citroen CX Break, has a soul, and therefore regularly “talks” with it. She hugs it when we come back to it and asks it questions.

I tend to think that while it has been created by highly imaginative engineers, it is still “just” a complex arrangement of metal, plastic, rubber and glass that serves a very convenient function.

And of course the overall actions it performs, the state it is in and how it develops is fully dependent on how we integrate it into our consciousness. If we hate it rather than love it, we will take actions that make it deteriorate rather than survive longer.

But yesterday gave yet another example of the car seemingly having a will of its own. We had been driving it all the way from Porto through Germany, with a stop in Bratislava and all the way up to Sweden with no problems. I only had to refill engine oil and diesel at a few occasions.

But then in Sweden, around twenty minutes after continuing our journey towards the north, we saw more and more other old cars, some of them even much older than the CX, and eventually passed a campground that was full of veteran cars. I felt a slight urge to stop and take a look but decided to continue. Only 1.5 kilometres later, the red STOP light on the dashboard lit up, in accord with the oil temperature warning light. So I stopped and turned off the engine to take a look at it. As the light had indicated it was burning hot, and the radiator was still cold. After waiting a few minutes I realized that the cooling fluid had run low and the cooling circuit had drawn air and was therefore not circulating through the radiator anymore.

I ended up refilling all our drinking water into the cooling circuit and after allowing the engine to cool down decided to go back to the campground to refill our drinking water. Back at the campground with the oldtimer festival, everything was fine. We watched some seriously old and cool cars and soon continued our journey to Norway.

But what is this? Should I believe that the car has a soul and follows its own will or should I rather believe that this was a rare coincidence of the kind that happens from time to time? I think the latter is more realistic, but the former is much more satisfying.

My conclusion is that both views have their value.