The Human Soul: Essays in Honor of Nalin Ranasinghe

Predrag Cicovacki (Ed.)

by Christian Göbel (Assumption University), Ruben Apressyan (The Institute of Philosophy in Moscow, Russia), Rebecca Bratten Weiss , John D. Caputo (Syracuse University), Alexandra Cook (University of Hong Kong), Roger Corriveau (Assumption University), Roger Crisp (University of Oxford), Wayne Cristaudo (Charles Darwin University), Percy Mark (The International Albert Schweitzer Association), Rick Werner (Hamilton College), Chris Megone (University of Leeds), Vitomir Mitevski (University of Skopje, North Macedonia), Alicja Pietras (University Of Silesia In Katowice, Poland), Jameliah Inga Shorter-Bourhanou (College of the Holy Cross), Jure Simoniti (University Of Ljubljana, Slovenia), Michael J. Thate (Princeton University), Miran Božovič (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

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When I was asked to review “The Human Soul”, I hesitantly agreed. I was newly retired, and I didn’t really want to read a philosophical tome paying tribute to Nalin Ranasinghe, someone I didn’t know about. But I knew the editor of the collection of essays written in honor of him, and so I agreed to read and review the book. I’m glad I did.
“The Human Soul” opens a dimension of philosophy that is widely neglected in contemporary American thought even though the essays follow very much the most honorable aspects of the philosophical traditions of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The essays written in honor of Nalin Ranasinghe would make an excellent introduction to philosophy for a freshmen honors seminar. They challenge common approaches to philosophy and offer various understandings of the soul, even to those who, like myself, have often been skeptical that souls exist. These challenges are uplifting, informative, and insightful in personal, social, and political contexts.
Three or four essays, in particular, grabbed my attention and provided new insights into Plato and Aristotle. Another essay opened my mind to areas I’d never considered before, where I can apply my work in ethics and nonviolence. And taken together, all the essays paint such a colorful and expansive portrait of Nalin Ranasinghe that, upon completing the book, I liked this man I never met and felt as though I knew him.
I enjoyed reading the book, and I am grateful for a number of new insights it provided me. As I read the book, I kept thinking that this is the sort of introduction to philosophy that advanced new students should be offered. It’s different from anything else out there, and even though it’s not intended as an introductory text, at least as far as I know, some professors and students might find it very valuable as such.

Barry L. Gan
Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Nonviolence
St. Bonaventure University

This collection of essays is dedicated to a recently deceased philosopher and humanist, Nalin Ranasinghe. His central philosophical and humanistic preoccupation was with the human soul. Not surprisingly, his greatest inspiration was Socrates’ credo “Care for your soul,” and the title of his first book was 'The Soul of Socrates'. In this and his later writings, Ranasinghe expressed his growing concern over the idea that the human soul has been hijacked due to the way our civilization has developed: the highest and noblest aspirations of our civilization have been replaced by our obsession with money, pleasure, and power. We now live in a time where we do not know who we are, nor who the people around us are.

Despite all of the technical gadgets connecting us virtually, this is the age of disconnect and loneliness, as well as of the degradations of humanity. Ranasinghe insisted that the two keys for recovery are the self-knowledge of the soul and a continuous dialogue with others. We need to relearn how to relate to ourselves and others as unique individuals, not as objects for the satisfaction of our needs.

Following his ideas, the twenty essays presented here are divided into two parts: “the soul in reflection” and “the soul in dialogue.” The contributors come from various countries around the globe and work in different disciplines, and their chapters aim to revive our interest in the soul and the obscured core of our humanity. This book will appeal to undergraduate and graduate students of philosophy; however, the essays are written in a non-technical language, also making them accessible to the general audience.

A Chronology of Nalin Ranasinghe

Foreword: To Nalin, My Dazzling Friend
Gwenda-lin Grewal
The New School for Social Research

Introduction: To Bet on the Soul
Predrag Cicovacki
College of the Holy Cross

Part I: The Soul in Dialogue

Chapter 1 Lanya’s Search for Soul
Percy Mark
The International Albert Schweitzer Association

Chapter 2 Heart to Heart: The Self-Transcending Soul’s Desire for the Transcendent
Roger Corriveau
Assumption University

Chapter 3 The Soul of Heloise
Predrag Cicovacki
College of the Holy Cross

Chapter 4 Got Soul: Black Women and Intellectualism
Jameliah Inga Shorter-Bourhanou
College of the Holy Cross

Chapter 5 The Soul and Ecology
Rebecca Bratten Weiss
Independent Scholar

Chapter 6 Rousseau’s Divine Botany and the Soul
Alexandra Cook
University of Hong Kong

Chapter 7 Diderot on Inconstancy in the Soul
Miran Božovič
University of Ljubljana

Chapter 8 Dialogue in Love as a Constitutive Act of Human Spirit
Alicja Pietras
University of Silesia in Katowice

Part II: The Soul in Reflection

Chapter 9 Why Do We Tell Stories in Philosophy? A Circumstantial Proof of the Existence of the Soul
Jure Simoniti
University of Ljubljana

Chapter 10 The Soul of Socrates
Roger Crisp
University of Oxford

Chapter 11 Care for the Soul in Plato
Vitomir Mitevski
University of Skopje

Chapter 12 Soul, Self, and Immortality
Chris Megone
University of Leeds

Chapter 13 Morality, Personality, the Human Soul
Ruben Apressyan
The Institute of Philosophy in Moscow

Chapter 14 Strategic Sergeants or Soul-Beings? On Military Virtues and the Moral Education of Soldiers
Christian Göbel
Assumption University

Chapter 15 How to Outrun the History Train: Meaning in a Soulless World
Rick Werner
Hamilton College

Chapter 16 Ad Astra? Progress, the Soul, and a New Ethical Imperative for the Second Space Age
Michael J. Thate
Princeton University

Chapter 17 Cyber-Souls: The State of the Soul in the Posthuman Condition
John D. Caputo
Syracuse University

Chapter 18 Against Abstract Identities: Becoming a Soul in an Increasingly Soulless World
Wayne Cristaudo
Charles Darwin University

Appendix: Nalin Ranasinghe’s Last Written Essay What about the Laestrygonians? The Odyssey’s Dialectic of Disaster, Deceit, and Discovery



Predrag Cicovacki has taught philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts, USA) since 1991, where he also served as Director of Peace and Conflict Studies and as Editor-in-Chief of 'Diotima: A Philosophical Review'. Cicovacki is the author of twelve books and the editor of eight. In 2012-13, Cicovacki was a Senior Nehru-Fulbright fellow in India. Over one hundred and fifteen of Cicovacki’s articles and essays are published in, or translated into, English, Serbian, Russian, German, Spanish, Slovenian, Chinese, and Japanese.

soul, philosophy, wisdom, Socrates, Plato

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Human Soul: Essays in Honor of Nalin Ranasinghe





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

October 2021