Personal Identity: Platonic Dualism

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  • Created by: Ebony
  • Created on: 10-06-10 10:19


"Platonic Dualism" is the product of Plato's thinking about the forms and his doctrine of metatheses (opposites). He reasoned that everything in the universe had a direct opposite, such as;

- Light and Dark - Good and Bad - Light and Heavy

From this it follows that even a material universe has an opposite. Namely, a metaphysical universe. Since the material universe is composed of physical things, the metaphysical universe must be composed of ideas, such as the universal idea of a cat. This is the reason why there can be so many species of cat, yet each individual cat in the world is still a cat. Plato would say that each species participates in the idea of a perfect form of a cat (found in the Platonic "metaphysical" heaven. This functions in a sort of blueprint-esque way; there is one- and only one- perfect form of a cat, and many copies of this idea.

There are also forms of abstract ideas, for example, there is a form of justice, and truth. So every just or true act or judgement is just or true because it participates in the ideal form of justice or truth.

The overarching form is the Form of the Good. Because this form defines the supreme quality of goodness in all things- a good knife, a good tree, a good castle and so on. The form of the good is the closest that Plato gets to a concept of a God.

Now that you have grasped this, we can begin the application to a person. The perfect idea for a person lies within the soul- the counterpart for the body and brain. The soul is pre-existent, immortal in its…


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