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What's Eclipse Phase's take on the soul? Does such a thing exist in the game world? Are there in game debates about it (with factions opposing body switching and so on)?

(If someone dies then having a copy of his memories and personality traits in a new body is not necessarily equal to that exact person living on. It's easy to consider the new manifestation simply as a mental/emotinal/[physical] clone that has just started living. Accepting the new clone as the old person's direct continuation requires quite a solid philosophical stance, like considering the Universe a simulation in which a "physical person" is just an instance of a "meta-person object"... or something along these lines.)

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

It's ambiguous and that's intentional. There was a long debate thread on RPG.Net that the authors even commented on. I believe the authors stated the intent was to be ambiguous. It could be easily said that one of the themes of Eclipse Phase is exploring your humanity and determining what happens to a transhuman soul certainly right up that alley.

There are factions opposed to body-swapping/any "upgrades" to humanity including the Jovian Junta (who rule Jupiter). I can't remember specific factions but as a whole these folks are lumped into a category called "bio-conservatives".

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Thanks for pointing out that thread, it seems rather interesting and quite on topic. – OpaCitiZen Aug 27 '11 at 6:28
One of the most important take-aways from that thread: remember that most people didn't escape from the fall of Earth in their original bodies. Institutions and belief systems have had to adapt, however clumsily, to this basic fact of the new human existence. – Alex P Jan 31 '14 at 16:23

In a casual read as an utterly amateur student of theology, I came to the conclusion that Eclipse Phase postulates no important individual soul, as it allows duplication of the person.

Since the duplicate can function, but, theologically, the soul is a unique gift from God at conception, the ability to duplicate a person means either the soul isn't part of the person in a significant way, or there is no soul, or the soul can be duplicated with the rest of the personality, or can be shared by the multiple instances. In any of these cases, it isn't important, individual, and/or of exclusively divine origin.

It's not so far as to say "no soul," but it is far enough to deny the practical importance and/or individuality of a person's soul.

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The available information does seem to be consistent with all of the possibilities described by aramis (insignificant soul, no soul, duplicable soul, or sharable soul). However, duplication does not necessarily establish that any soul that does exist lacks practical importance or individuality. It could also mean that God provides new souls for new duplicates as reliably and routinely as he provides them for new births, in which case the duplicate still has whatever significant traits are soul-dependant, but to those holding that same soul equals same identity, this would mean that someone who has copied over, and the original died, is a different person from the original, while someone holding identity to be a function of personality and experiences would hold that they are a continuation of the same person, hence the in-game debates which the OP asked about and mirv120 gave examples of.

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Personally, I run Eclipse Phase as a hard science fiction. Therefore the soul as a mystical thing does not exist. However, I am taking a very similar approach to the Ghost In The Shell (the manga, the two Anime films and both seasons of Stand Alone Complex) universe concept of the ghost. Forks do not have the same ghost and thus lack something. But some (good) backups are indeed capable of cloning the ghost. It is something I leave intentionally vague so that players can explore the concept and come up with their own conclusions.

Now, psionics is interesting. You could rule that it is a concept of the body and not the ghost. So, were you infected you could cure yourself by moving body. Or you could rule that it is a corruption of the ghost so that any new body will exhibit it as well. Or it could be both depending on exactly which strain a character gets inflected with.

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You're ignoring alpha forks. -1. – GMJoe May 16 '13 at 11:12
@GMJoe: No, I do not. Alpha forks are just ghost forks. – Sardathrion May 16 '13 at 11:31
Wouldn't that contradict your point about forks not having the same ghost and therefore lacking something? – GMJoe May 16 '13 at 11:43
Not really because as soon as the two forks diverge, you get modifications in the ghost due to said divergence that makes them different. Thus ghost forking. – Sardathrion May 16 '13 at 12:10

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