Allegory of the cave.
Plato describes a gathering of poeple who have lived chained to a wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch the shadows projected on the wall from things passing infront of the fire behind them, and they begin to name these shadows. The shadows are as close to reality as the prisoners can get. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, for he can percieve the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.
Plato was an athenian philosopher, originally a student of Socrates. He founded the first 'academy' where subjects were taught in a lively discussion not in the way they are taught now. He believed in the immortality of the soul and that you could not be taught such qualities like virtue but they must be known in the soul. His major work, the Republic, he states that the soul lives on even after the person has die, and may go on to be another person or animal and that this process will go on until the soul has lived a perfect life and is purified so it can go on to a higher exsistence. He also belived there was a realm of exsistence beyond the purely physcial or material, he was not a materialistc person.
Plato was born around 428bc and is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers ever. He focused on values rather then physical science. When Sparta took over Athens the Thirty Tyrants reigned for only 8 months but Plato was no freind of them but also no friend of Athenian Democracy when it was restored because they executed his teacher, Socrates for his views. He then becam disenchanted with all the exsisting political regimes. He felt that the only salvation of politics should require genuine philosophers.
Immortality: The idea that part of us is eternal; it is immortality.
Dualism: Belief that we have a body and soul.
Phenomena: What we experience in this world with our body, particularly our sense.
Concepts/Ideas/Forms: The realities that exsist in the 'world of Forms', which is not what our soul experiences, not our body. The 'phenomena' that our body experiences is like a shadow of these Forms which are the only true reality.
Form of Good: According to Plato forms are arranged in a hierachy. The most important, Form of the Good. It gives all other forms their value. It is similar to the idea of God.
Empirical: Using your senses.
A priori knowledge: Gained from logial reasoning and independence of sense experience.
A posteriori: Reasoning from known facts and empirical data.
Potentiality is when something contains the ingredients to become something else. Actuality is when the object fulifils its telos and becomes something else. A argument concerned with the purpose, or ultimate goal, of something is called a teleologial argument. Aristotle, trying to understand the purpose of life. He wanted to discover the essence of an object. Unlike Plato (his teacher) he tried to first, explain the world around him using his senses and experiences. Aristotle did not consider the ideal Forms to understand the physical world, he considered the senses an the experiences object to understand its telos in the world. Four causes:
Material cause - what material is the object made of. The Efficent cause - How was it made? (could be a person but also anything that causes an object in some way). The Formal cause - What are the characteristics like? The Final cause - What is it for?
If we can understand, most importantly, the purpose of something then it is worthy of our attention. The telos of an object is crucial to what is actually is. It is important to note that it can be extremely difficult to understand what the purpose of some things are e.g. Cancer. Aristotle said that when the purpose of an object is fully realised then perfection is reached. If the object has achieved its purpose it has achieved goodness an everything has a purpose even if we dont understand it.
Aristotles Prime Mover.
The series must start with something, since nothing can come from nothing. Everthing in exsistence is moving, changing, growing, living, dying and so on. Something must be the cause of all this activit. Aristotle called the being that causes this activity THE PRIME MOVER.
There must be a mover which moves them without being moved, eternal and a substance and actual. A power which gets everything moving that cannot be moved is permanent, lasts forever, tangiable substance and totally real. When Aristotle looked at nature and how it continuously changes he felt there must be a explanation for these changes. Everything must have a Final Cause, a telos for its exsistence. Whenever there is a chain of events there must be a ultimate cause. THE PRIME MOVER IS THE FINAL CAUSE.
The Prime Mover has to be oustide of seperate from the things it puts into motion for e.g. for dominos to tumble something or someone seperate and more powerful than the dominos must set them in motion. For Aristoltle the Prime Mover has to be spiritual and intelligent.
God and the Prime Mover.
There are obvious similarities between the idea of the Prime Mover and the idea of God. Aristotles God has eternal, never changing and does not depend on anything else for exsistence because he is never changing he/it cannot be made of material things as they are constantly changing. God is immaterial and so can only undertake intellectual and spiritual activities. God/Prime Mover must be good, things which change are bad. Change means impermenance. Although the Prime Mover cannot be moved things are attracted to it. Aristotle thought that God was perfect therfore cannot think of anything but his perfect self. If God was to consider things that are imperfect then he must then be imperfect. God can only know God. God must totally be outside of our world and outside of time and space, know nothing about it, no plan for it and does not intervene.
Soul, mind and body.
What makes a human being? Am i body? If i talk of "my body" "my hair" "my face" the grammar leads me to believe i have possesion of other aspects of me. Therefore i must be the sum total of a number of elements that make up who i am. On the otherhand should a person lose a limb or indeed gain exssesive weight the subtraction or addition to ones body does not add or takeaway from the person they are.
Am i consciousness? Can i be me if my awarness/consciousness changes over time. For example i know i was a child but i am not today. So am i the same person or not. The only connection between me and the body version of me is that we both exsisted within this body.
The mind-body question. On one hand what makes me, me is a combination of mind and body. Surely i cannot exsist as body alone, neither can i exsist as body alone. Therefore i must be both. Cultures at all stages of history have had a belief that the death of a physical body is not the death of the soul. Alternatively a matieralist view of what makes a person would suggest that there is nothing spiritual and nothing eternal. "i" am flesh and bone and nothing else.
The human body consists of the physical stuff of which human beings are made. People agree that we all have bodies, but there is even a difference of opinion about the nature of the body n relation to what it means to be human.
For materialist philosophers, we are simply our bodies and nothing more; our bodies are not 'the physical part' of us, because there are no other parts. But for others, the body might be understood as a kind of vehicle which the 'self' or 'soul' inhabits for a while but which in some way ess real than the self.
The view that the mind and body are seperate substances, which both exist. Philosophers make a distinction between the substances and properties. A substance is a subject which has various properties; for example, my mug is a substance, and it has the properties of being patterned, breakable and nonporous. Substance dualists hold the view that the mind is a substance, and that thoughts, intentions, feelings, and emotions are properties of the mind. The body is also a substance in the same sense of being a subject which has properties. It has the property which philosophers call 'extension', which means that it takes up space and has measurements.
The body = physical = extension. Extension: takes up physical space. Mind = mental capability = no space taken up. According to substance dualism, these two distinct substances are attached to each other and form the human being.