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Are We Bodies or Souls?


Revised edition

Richard Swinburne

02 February 2023

ISBN: 9780198874959

208 pages

In Stock

Price: £9.99

What makes us human? Richard Swinburne presents new philosophical arguments, supported by modern neuroscience, for the view that we are immaterial souls sustained in existence by our brains.


What makes us human? Richard Swinburne presents new philosophical arguments, supported by modern neuroscience, for the view that we are immaterial souls sustained in existence by our brains.

  • A powerful new account of what is it to be human, from one of the world's leading philosophers
  • A controversial rejection of materialism, arguing that we are not just material beings
  • Explains how belief in the human soul is compatible with modern science
  • Accessible to all readers - no knowledge of philosophy or science assumed

New to this edition

  • Revised by the author to clarify the argument and provide new examples

About the Author(s)

Richard Swinburne, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion, University of Oxford

Richard Swinburne was Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford from 1985 until 2002. Since then he has continued to lecture in many different countries. His published works include a trilogy on the philosophy of theism, the central title being The Existence of God, Second Edition (Oxford 2004), a tetralology of books on the meaning and justification of central Christian doctrines, and Mind, Brain, and Free Will (Oxford 2013). He is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Table of Contents

    2:Physicalism and Property Dualism
    3:Theories of Personal Identity
    4:Descartes's Argument for the Soul
    5:We know who we are
    6:Souls and bodies interact
    7:Could science explain souls?
    8:Guide to Further Reading


"Review from previous edition Richard Swinburne is a dualist of long standing, in the tradition of Descartes, and in this book he offers a comprehensive exposition and defense of the position, which makes its philosophical motivation clear. Even those who are not persuaded can be grateful to Swinburne for explaining the distinctive appeal of this significant view . . . If Swinburne is right, we know who we are. If he is wrong, his arguments show that our natural sense of ourselves includes a large dose of stubborn illusion." - Thomas Nagel, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Are We Bodies or Souls? is a remarkable book. This comparatively brief volume restates and re-argues the main contentions of earlier writings, including two earlier books, as well as some conclusions that are new in this volume. It does this in a way that Swinburne rightly considers more widely accessible than his earlier work on the topic." - William Hasker, Roczniki Filozoficze

"[A] lucid and powerfully argued defense of substance dualism. " - John Cottingham, Roczniki Filozoficze

"Whether or not the argument is persuasive, Are We Bodies or Souls? is excellent. It deepens the debate for professional philosophers, and carefully introduces a wide audience to a big question, a big answer, and a big argument. It is especially useful for courses in metaphysics and philosophy of mind." - Tyron Goldschmidt, Religious Studies

"One of the very best defenses of Cartesian substance dualism currently on offer. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about how such a view might be defended today. " - Jeremy W. Skrzypek, Roczniki Filozoficze

"One can only admire the erudition, philosophical acumen, and fair-mindedness with which he defends his position. Swinburne is in that class of thinkers from whom one always learns much, even when one ends up having to disagree. " - Edward Feser, First Things

"I strongly recommend this book to any readers who are interested in the philosophical theme of substance dualism and all those who are familiar with his earlier books on this theme ... Swinburne takes care to evaluate Descartes and his thought in detail by identifying and bringing to light what he considers the errors manifested in his thought." - Naveen George o.f.m, ESSSAT News & Reviews

"An illuminating book." - Paradigm Explorer

"[Swinburne's] greatest achievement has been to put substance dualism back in play as an option in the philosophy of mind." - Howard Robinson, Roczniki Filozoficze

"An interesting and challenging read. For those who are seriously interested in philosophy of mind, this book deserves a spot in their library. . . . Are We Bodies or Souls? is a work of pure philosophy of the highest caliber. " - Apologetics 315

"Swinburne is seriously analytical in his treatment of rival theories and the evidence for them ... Swinburne's argument is clear, assured, and unapologetic" - Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee, former Bishop of Lincoln, Church Times

"It is worth the careful attention it demands." - Church of England Newspaper