“Being” is a very strange word. I suppose it would be called “an abstract processual noun”. English speakers, in any event, tend to treat “being” as a determinate form or species — something definite and fixed, as having boundaries, and consider “being” even the antithesis of “becoming”. We speak, perhaps, of the many “beings” or even the Supreme Being.
“Being”, used in that sense of “thingness”, as it were, is a hypostatization, or the “fallacy of misplaced concreteness”, or a reification in the negative sense. It is not a thing, but a dynamic, a process in much the same sense as playing, sleeping, driving, eating and so on. And in that sense “being” and “impermanence” are practically synonymous terms. But we have abstracted “being” from its meaning as identical with a mode of existence to something that “has” a mode of existence. But that isn’t what the word means.
The Migrations of the Soul, II
Animism, vitalism, spiritualism, and mentalism (or psychism) — let’s continue with this theme and pattern as being “four ages” and as being the migrations of “the soul” through the fourfold human form.
And in no way should these be thought of as “progressions”, but more as “articulations”. While it is indeed “evolutionary”, it’s a mistake to think of that evolution as a progression following a linear trajectory and timeline. Evolution here means simply an “unfolding”.
The Migrations of the Soul
What we call “soul” has a very interesting history. I don’t know if anyone has written a history of the soul as it has been represented in human history, apart from Jean Gebser in some respects, but it would make for some very interesting reading. Bruno Snell took a crack at it in his excellent book The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought (which is available online), but Snell was more interested in the evolution (ie, “unfolding”) of “mind” (or mental-rational consciousness structure) moreso than the soul. The “discovery of the mind”, or the mental-rational, is only part of the history of the migrations of the “soul” through the human form.
What I mean by “soul” we may take to mean “the life essence”, or the energetic principle, or “the creative force” as expressed in and through the human form that has become self-aware to a certain degree, and imperfectly so as the case may be, and which imperfection is the cause of human restlessness and sense of lack. Or, as William Blake put it, “More! More! is the cry of the mistaken soul; less than All cannot satisfy Man.”