I’ve been thinking about the idea that all conditions being equal, if “my soul” were to be put into your body, or “you soul” were to be put into my body, will I do a better job being you, or will you do a better job being me?
Let’s consider this example. Student SMARTZY has an IQ of 140 but he doesn’t put too much effort on schoolwork, so he scored B in the final. Student STUPIGENCE, however, was much less intellectually gifted. With an IQ of merely 80, he had to put a lot of effort into study, and yet got only C in the final. Student SMARGIENCE has both 140 IQ and diligence. Spent the same amount of effort as student B, he easily scored an A+ in the final. Now here is my question: who should be praised the most, and the least?
If we simply look at the scores, we should praise SMARGIENCE most for scoring the highest, and criticize STUPIGENCE for scoring the lowest, with SMARTZY in between. However, we see that this isn’t fair because SMARTZY has higher IQ than STUPIGENCE, assuming that it means for the same amount of effort, SMARTZY scores better. We should, per our common sense, praise STUPIGENCE for the effort and criticize SMARTZY for not doing so, with SMARGIENCE in between. This way we make it right.
But in reality, we don’t know how much effort any of these student have spent. All we see are the results A+ B C, and we rank them this way.
Now think about the example above as an analogy. What if we are not judging students, but all the people we see and meet, and what if we are not judging test scores, but their level of success?
It is a fact that some people achieve success (in certain areas) easier than others. Note I am not talking about their success due to their family or financial situations; I am talking about their own personal success as who they are due to their own properties. For example, a more attractive person can become an actor or actress easier than a less attractive one, and with the same effort the former will probably achieve more success. I think we can all accept that some people are better at certain things because this is what they are, and you are what you are. More often than not, we learned to ignore it. Fine, all fine.
Now let’s come back to the notion of “switching souls” just for the sake of argument. Since human have consciousness, which is capable of experiencing oneself and making executive decisions, let’s say this is the “soul”. Everything else you can do, either physically or mentally (math, logic, art, creativity…) are not part of this “soul” because it is not part of your consciousness, it’s just what you are capable of doing and you cannot control whether you can do it or not for it’s been decided for you. That is why we call someone gifted because they are “given the ability to do something just as being given a gift”. Say you are the soul, the consciousness if you prefer that way, and therefore you are given a body, and a mind, and a personality, all of which you have no choice over. You will use these to do something in the world. Now the argument:
Say in an non-existing world where everyone has been given the exact same body, mind, and personality, now what determines their success?
Think about it, what makes all the differences if all conditions being the same?
My answer is: it is the amount of control they can exert over their body, mind, and personality. The more control the individual have, the better the end result is. Consciousness is like a “general”; body, mind, and personality are like an “army”. The better the “general”, the more powerful the “army”.
What if someone is the better “general”, but given a weaker “army”? What if someone is the worse “general”, but given a stronger “army”? How do we distinguish a good “general” from a bad one?
If we think about wars, a good general could win battles with a small army by using it smartly against a bad general with a large army. But there are times when the bad general has too large an army, so the good general has to lose. Do we praise the bad general for winning and criticize the good general for losing? No.
Do you see the analogy here? Should we praise a person for his or her success, or should we praise a person for trying to improve over oneself? Should we criticize a slower person for being a failure in something, or should we criticize a slicker person for not trying to succeed?
How can a soul make a difference?
Enough said. I consider myself a bad “general”, but I see that there are whole lot more people being even worse. This is sad.