I was posting on another discussion about what souls are since it was mentioned the difference between Angel and Spike and how the souls were placed in them. My question is really what is a soul? I always thought that a soul was a motivational tool that caused a person to try to be better in hopes to have a better afterlife. Buffy and Angel shows, seemed to think it was more of a conscience. I have been struggling since I started watching that show with what they seemed to really believe a soul was. They repeated over and over again despite Spike's behavior that he had no ability to love and be good because he had no soul. Isn't a soul something that carries on after you die and brings you to either heaven or hell? If that's the case, how does having a soul or not having a soul determine really how good you are? Spike was good because he fell in love with someone who was good. His actions were determined by whether or not Buffy would approve and it would make her life better. This is his motivation and I think that even with a soul, he didn't seek heaven or hell but instead sought to make Buffy's life better. This is also why I don't like to think of Angel Season 5 as being canon for Spike because he wasn't being himself. He was instead guilt driven into being someone who went against what I thought was his reason for his actions.
Angel on the other hand was all about redemption. He seemed to work towards heaven or some better afterlife which in his eyes was to be human again. If the soul really makes you be good, how was it possible that rapists and murderers exist and even if you forget that for a moment, how was it possible for Angel to feel no remorse when he closed the door on the lawyers or when he turned away leaving someone to deal with their own fate.
I guess I just don't understand really how the show was using the word soul and who we as the audience was supposed to view Spike. I personally loved Spike with or without a soul because I loved what he stood for: The good guy that always finished last. He spent his whole time that we viewed him and even in the flashbacks motivated by the desire to be loved and to care for those he loved. He fought for those he loved, doing whatever was in his power to make sure they were happy and healthy. It started with bringing Dru to Sunnydale to preform the ritual, and continued through helping the Scoobies and saving their lives, helping GIles when he was a demon and had no where else to turn, and saving Buffy time and time again as well as Dawn just because he cared. I saw his actions as selfless and remarkable. After the soul, Spike was haunted and tormented. Part of that I'm sure was the First but another part of that just served to tell him he wasn't good enough for anything even life. If a soul is meant to tell you right and wrong, why would it make you feel so guilty for your past and make you want to dust yourself? Wouldn't it somehow make you feel good about the good you were doing and make you feel bad when you messed up rather than just make you dwell in the past and feel defeated?
Angel I struggled with because his actions seemed more self motivated. He longed for shanshu and wanted to be human and everything he did was about that. It started with protecting Buffy to earn humanity, to running an evil law firm again to earn humanity. He was willing to risk his friends and what I would continue family with the hopes of getting his humanity. I loved Angel but for a different reason, I loved in the show Angel, what others brought out in him. Cordy brought out a child like innocence and determination in him. She also brought out strength. I fell in love with them together the moment he had rescued her leaping down holding her in his arms and I fell even more in love and was determined to watch the show to the end when he had hurt Cordy and he bought her that new outfit and she bounced up and down immediately forgiving him and he was so excited he bounced along with her. At that moment, I fell in love with the Angel show and Angel all over again. But if the soul was really what was supposed to be motivating Angel, they messed up because I think the constant hand of others guiding him to help the helpless, to save the day, to protect others, and reminding him of what his purpose was, was what made Angel good not some soul that was shoved up into him. His soul didn't seem to tell him what was right and wrong, only served to give him guilt and grieve which he eventually was able to ignore.
So I guess my question if anyone reads this is, what do you think a soul is?