The Soul, Mind & the Body

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  • Soul, Mind & the Body
    • Plato and the Soul
      • This is a dualist  position. Nothing material is permanent. Plato sought certainty, and since it is not found in this constantly changing earth, it must be in another realm.
      • Influenced by Pythagoras, Plato argues that the soul (psyche) and the body are different.
      • The soul, Plato decided, is an immortal  substance. It cannot be destroyed because it is simple and was not created.
      • In the Phaedo, Plato writes about Socrates death: "the soul is the very likeness of the divine….the body is the very likeness of the human.”
      • The soul is a perfect form trapped in a human body which is a temporary shell. refer to the chariot allegory in ‘Phaedrus‘.
    • Gilbert Ryle
      • Ryle fully rejects substance dualism, he used the term ‘ghost in the machine’ to describe Descartes’ theory, which says that we are the pilot of the body.
      • Descartes has assumed that things must either be physical or mental, not both.
      • The error in Descartes is that an action cannot be a whole body and   mind thing, and Ryle’s problem is with the separation of the two.
    • Aristotle and the Soul
      • For Aristotle, we are people because our bodies are animated by the soul, the soul is the formal cause.
      • Otherwise, humans are just matter. He believed the soul dies when the body dies and the person dies too.
      • the soul does not travel to another world.
      • Aristotle was a materialist: soul is not reducible to physics and chemistry, and matter needs the soul to be complete.
    • Dualism vs Monism
      • Dualism is a normal belief, but the problem with dualism is how the purely  physical body can be influenced or directed by a spiritual soul, when the two are so different.
      • There must be a link, the same way the mind feels the pain of the damage done to the body. when the body moves, the instructions go through the mind.
      • Monism is the idea of ‘I am a body’, but with this there is no capacity for things like creativity,  imagination  and  philosophical ideas because they go beyond the needs of a physical being and have no biological function. materialism is a possible version of this.
    • Descartes
      • Descartes’ theory is the most extreme person of the idea that the two are completely different substances.
      • He ignores Aristotle’s work. he asks first if there is knowledge so certain that no one can  doubt it.
      • He notes how senses can be wrong, then wonders if everything is an illusion.
      • He concludes that the only certain knowledge is ‘dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum’ = “i doubt, therefore i think, therefore i am” called the Cogito.
      • He conceives the body as mechanical, with muscles like ropes and cables.
    • John Hick
      • For Hick, like Aquinas, our souls are not 'us.'
      • He argues that death should be feared, because as a Christian, only God can bestow eternal life.
  • He believes in ‘soft materialism’ we are our bodies, but they have a spiritual  dimension and to be a person is to be a thinking  material being.


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