I've never thought deeply about what "heart" and "soul" really mean, but in the sense of touching, I feel "touch the heart" and "touch the soul" are interchangeable. In the below quote from this webpage, however, the two phrases are used distinctly in a different way.

Disney movies touch the heart but Studio Ghibli films touch the soul.

In the webpage, the writer greatly praises Studio Ghibli's films. In that sense, I feel like the degree of admiration implied by "touch the soul" is somewhat greater than that implied by "touch the heart". But it shouldn't be true because heart is heart, and soul is soul. It's not a matter of which is greater or not.

Could someone please rephrase the sentence to make it clear for me? It would be even more appreciative if you could also explain how the two are different from "touch the mind".

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    Touch the heart usually means to evoke an emotional response that is warm and perhaps a little sentimental. I'm not familiar with Ghibli films, but I take it that the writer thinks that the response they evoke is more lofty and spiritual. Aug 25, 2020 at 12:57
  • @Kate Thanks. That's what I thought at first. I still agree to the part "more spiritual" in your comment, but as for the "more lofty" part, I'm not sure because it sounds like Disney movies are less touching.
    – Takashi
    Aug 25, 2020 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


"Heart" and "soul" are similar, but slightly different concepts.

People's idea of the soul differ greatly, but it generally refers to the entire inner person - not our physical body, but everything that makes us who we are. Where people's ideas differ is generally what happens to this soul after death - but in life, it represents everything non-physical about a person - their thoughts, their feelings, their memories, everything "spiritual".

The figurative heart represents our feelings, and is generally separate from our mind which represents our logical thought processes. People sometimes speak about a conflict between our mind and heart - that is when the logical choice, weighing up pros and cons would lead us to one particular decision, but we have a strong "gut-feeling" that makes it difficult to go ahead with that action. Matters of love, family etc tend to be spoken of as "matters of the heart". So the figurative heart is part of our "soul".

Certain things appeal to our heart or our mind. Some things appeal to both. Other things are said to appeal to our more physical needs and desires. For example, a factual book might appeal to our mind and our desire for learning, whereas an emotional account of someone's life might touch our heart. Contrasting the heart and mind is quite common. In your example that contrasts the heart and soul, I think there might be a suggestion that touching the heart in isolation might be a little shallow. The comparison is the animated films of Disney and Ghibli. Saying that Disney films touch the heart, but implying that they do not touch the soul might be a suggestion that they are mawkish - deliberately sentimental in a shallow, manufactured way, perhaps? Saying that Ghibli films touch the soul seems to be a suggestion that they move people on a much deeper level.

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    Thanks Astralbee. Your explanation helps me understand the difference better. Based on your words So the figurative heart is part of our "soul", can I assume that the concept covered by "soul" is broader than that by "heart"? In that case, going back to my Disney and Studio Ghibli question, can I take it that Studio Ghibli's films affect us emotionally in a greater way compared to Disney movies?
    – Takashi
    Aug 25, 2020 at 23:16
  • @Takashi I've added some detail in response to this. Hope this answers your question more fully, please accept the answer if so.
    – Astralbee
    Aug 26, 2020 at 7:57
  • Thanks for the detailed explanation. I need a little more study to be fully knowledgeable about the difference among them, but without doubt I have at least some understanding now. All thanks to you.
    – Takashi
    Aug 26, 2020 at 10:21

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