Soul, mind and body

  • Created by: Millys200
  • Created on: 25-05-21 20:06

Plato’s Soul

Plato is a dualist and believes the body and soul are two separate entities.

Soul has the capacity to leave the body and return to the world of Forms after death.

Life and death come from each other in an endless chain were souls are reborn.

Tripartite view of the soul- made of 3 parts- reason, appetite and emotion (example = 2 horses pulling the chariot, reason= charioteer, guiding and directing the horses of= appetite and emotion)

In Meno, an uneducated person (slave boy) can still work out answers to logic problems as their souls must have encountered ideas before birth in the world of forms.

In the Myth of Er, Plato describes the immortality and rebirth of souls.

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Plato’s soul 2

The body is part of the empirical world and like all objects is subject to change; hence it cannot be a reliable guide to the truth. The body allows us to gain opinions via our sense. The soul, however can enable us to have knowledge.

Our bodies are constantly distracting us from our real purpose: philosophical thought. The soul is the opposite and cannot be divided. It is unchanging and is capable of knowledge. Plato describes the soul as being imprisoned in the body.

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Aristotle’s soul

Disagreed with Plato.

Thought the soul was a substance meaning 'essence' or 'real thing'

Souls give a living thing its essence and the capabilities of living things constitute their souls- not distinct from body.

The soul gives bodily matter its form efficiency and telos.

Analogy of the stamp- shape made when soft wax is pressed with stamp, the shape is inseparable from the wax, as the soul is inseparable from the body.

Axe and eye example- if the body were an axe, the soul would be its ability to chop. If the body was an eye, the soul would be its ability to see.

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Aristotle’s soul 2

Hierachy of being

all living things possess a soul. Plants only have the vegetative element, animals in addition to this have the appetitive element (movement and desire) and Human souls also have the ability to reason.

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Substance Dualism

Mind and body= two separate things 

Body= material and has properties of extension

mind/soul= immaterial and has properties of thought and emotion

Descartes= substance dualist view through a process of hyperbolic scepticism. Certain he has a mind, not a body "i think therefore i am'= body and mind not the same as body is uncertain

thought mind and body must be attached to each other= perhaps through the pineal gland

Substance dualism allows for death= soul/mind could live after death of the body if they are separable

The fact there is a difference between the mind/soul and the body (one can be prove, one can be doubted) enables Descartes to argue that the existence of the mind is logically independent of the body. For something to be identical with something else, it would have to share all its properties. The fact there is a difference between mind and body reveals that there are two things not one. This logical principle is known as Leibniz Law

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Gilbert Ryle- mind is not a distinct part of the body= an aspect of the way the body behaves (example= 'team spirit' = aspect of the way the cricket team behaves)

No 'ghost in the machine'= There is no non-physical 'soul' in the matter of the body

category mistake= thinking of the min and body as distinct- uni example- assumes uni is something extra 

there is nothing extra- just human behaviour which can be analysed by science 

Richard Dawkins- Humans= material & survival machines

rejects that we need to think of a supernatural soul if we are explaining what it means to be human

calls platonic ideas of a supernatural soul 'soul one' and Aristotlelian ideas of the soul as the essence of a material being 'soul two'

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Criticisms of dualist approaches

Our experience does not support it as we feel ourselves to be a unity rather than two separate substances

dualist approaches can't explain how mind & body work together (example= feeling afraid doesnt make a person's heart race)

distinction between mental and phsyical properties is not always clear cut

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Criticisms of materialist approaches

We may use language that suggests we feel ourselves to be more than just a physical body

materialism can't explain how a chemical reaction causes consciousness and mental events

swinburne & ward-losing belief in the soul= damaging effect on ethics

-Behaviourism is an oversimplification of the human mind and motivations, it isn't sufficient for complex human activities.
-It is also based on animal research.
-Materialism claims that it has the full support of science, but there are a very large number of unexplained questions to do with human consciousness, that undermine this view.
-Materialism cannot account for the richness and complexity of the human consciousness and subconsciousness.

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Scholars for dualism

Swinburne- there are fundamental truths that can't be explained in purely physical terms

Ward- without belief in the soul, morality becomes a personal choice. Without a soul, humanity lacks a sense of final purpose

HH Price- agree with Swinburne, He argued for the possibility that our mind may survive the death of our body and exist in a mental world.

-Near Death Experiences (Raymond Moody)- many people have used the idea of near death experiences and out of body experiences as proof that another world exists.

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Scholars for materialism/ against dualism

Dawkins- immortality of the soul has no sound basis, we are just survival machines 

Flew- dualism is nonsensical, describing the mind/soul as a substance is a misuse of the term

Ryle- 'self/soul' is a mistake in the way we use language. It isn't a seperate part. The idea of a separate part doesnt fit with modern psychology 

Hume- being aware of our thinking doesn't establish that thinking is a nature separate from the physical 

Hick- we are our bodies, but those bodies have a spritual dimension. No separate substances (weak materalism)

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Plato’s arguments for dualism

1. Innate knowledge- uneducated slave boy comes up with phythagoras theorem. Suggests the soul pre-exists the body. Not convincing as questions are leading and requires an acceptance of the existence of the Forms

2. The linguistic argument- distinction between how we speak of ourselves. We say 'I am happy' in terms of our mental states, we say 'I have a body' in the same way that we might say 'I have a house'. This suggests we are not our bodies. could be reading too much into our language. Feels as if langauge has 'gone on holiday'- Wittgenstein

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Descartes’ argument for substance dualism

1. Divisibility- the body is divisible- it can be separated into parts. The mind is indivisible, it is impossible to split the conscious into different parts. However modern psychologists would disagree as when people suffer from multiple personality disorder they do seem to genuinely experience a split in consciousness

2. Doubt- the Cogito shows it is not possible to doubt the thinking/consciousnes. 'Masked man fallacy'- it may be possible to doubt that my father is the masked robber and impossible to doubt that he is married to my mother. That doesnt mean both aren't true. 

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Evaluating materialism- the case against the soul

1. Neuroscience- our states of consciousness are affected by brain chemistry e.g. depression which can be treated with medication that changes the chemistry of the brain. Dawkins believes eventually we will be able to identify all mental processes and have a complete understanding of concioussness 

2. The problem of interaction- how can non-physical mind and a physical body interact. It is like asking how can a ghost ride a bicycle. If the idea of wanting coffee is a non-physical thing how can it lead to physical actions of going and making a coffee

3. Category error- Ryle- uni example

4. Simplicity- Materialists argue that consciousness being explained by physical and material events in the brain is the simplest explanation. Ockham's Razor- the philosophical principle that you should take the simplest explanation. Dualism suggests there are two aspects of us and that one of these is beyond our ability to empirically investigate. Materialism suggest we are one substance that can be empirically examined

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