A Brief History of a Soul is the story of a lively debate whose arguments, vocabulary, and even subject have evolved over millennia. In this historical narrative cum apologia, Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro champion “substance dualism,” a philosophical position that asserts the ontologically distinct reality of matter and soul (or body and mind in post-Cartesian terms). They largely succeed in their efforts to be “fair and balanced” (4) and succeed in presenting a sophisticated and nuanced yet readable account of the controversy in its philosophical and, to some extent, theological and scientific dimensions. As entailed by the “Brief ” caveat, they maintain a disciplined focus on a relatively few major players in this saga of the soul.

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Copyright © 2012, Cambridge University Press. This article first appeared in Church History 81:3 (2012), 656-58.

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