A2 Philosophy of Religion Entire Course Notes


Philosophy Notes Typed Up (for purpose of revision)

Life After Death and Personal Identity

Key Words:

Dualism – The belief that a person has two distinct elements: a mind/soul and a physical body

Monadic – An indivisible, impenetrable unit of substance which cannot be broken down (i.e. the soul)

Disembodied Existence – The ability to exist without the need for a corporeal substance (a body)

Monism – The belief that humans are a single unity of body and mind – all physical – can be divided into materialism and idealism

Materialism – All the Universe is material and any emotions contained within are a product of this and nothing ‘other’ – can be divided into hard and soft materialism

Hard Materialism – No soul e.g. Dawkins – only the physical world and body exist

Soft Materialism – The body and soul are intertwined e.g. Aristotle

Idealism/Solipsism – Only minds really exist; bodies are an illusion (Descartes is accused of leading to this) – e.g. Berkeley: we are just ‘ideas in the mind of God’

Psyche – The soul/sum total of our humanity

Reductionism – Reducing humans to their simplest parts (e.g. DNA – supported by Dawkins)

Astral Body – A shadowy version of ourselves (physical) which could survive death – proposed by Flew

Akhira – The afterlife in Islam

Atman –The soul in Hinduism

Karma – A universal moral law – our actions have consequences

Maya – Illusion in Hinduism (what our world is)

Moksha – Enlightenment – union with Brahman (don’t have to be a believer to achieve this, just have to realise the world is maya)

Samsara – the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth which is only broken through achieving Moksha

Brahman – Ultimate reality

The Trimuti - The deities which keep the world in balance in Hinduism – Brahman is split between Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer)

Ahimsa – The principle of non-violence in Hinduism

Dharma – Our duty in Hinduism

Anatta – ‘No self’ in Buddhism (also known as ‘anatman’)

Anicca – The belief in Buddhism that everything is constantly changing, including conscious life – the principle of impermanence

Nirvana – Enlightenment in Buddhism – the realisation that the world and all its entanglements and desires are transitory illusions – a person’s energy is then released into nirvana – eternal and complete freedom from suffering (nothingness)



·         Plato believed in a tripartite soul (in three parts) – these parts are the appetitive part (our basic instincts), the spirited part (that which seeks the pursuit of truth) and the rational part (our reason and skill which balances the two).

·         These are also present in society – the workers are the appetitive part, the soldiers are the spirited part, and the philosophers are the rational part.

·         Represented by the charioteer analogy – the black horse leading down to earth is the appetitive part, the white horse leading to heaven is the spirited part, and


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