The Existance Of The Soul Essay

1704 words - 7 pages

The existence of the soul has perplexed man for ages. Islamic philosopher Avicenna believed that he had proved the existence of the soul with his flying man thought experiment. He claims that the soul is a separate part of the human body that we don’t access. He claims that the flying man lacks knowledge of anything due to his predicament and through this can find the soul. This lack of knowledge makes it impossible for the flying man to actually create an understanding of his own existence and is reliant upon the soul. But the soul proposes an understanding that existence that is either through the body or inconsistent with Avicenna’s own explanation of modern existence. To truly understand the soul man must have full access to all possible knowledge and will inevitably realize that their conscience is immaterial.
The Flying man thought experiment proceeds as follows. An individual is freshly created in a void . Despite being just created this individual has full access to their cognitive abilities. In this void the person is unable actively use their sensory perceptions. They cannot feel, see, hear, smell, or taste the air in void or any part of their body. In other words the individual is completely isolated from everything external. Avicenna then believes that the despite having no contact with the outside that an individual can reassure themselves of their own existence. He states that if we were to think about it that we would be able to accept that we still exist since we can still have an immaterial part of the body. This is the soul. The soul is connected to the body, though not physically since it has no physical form, and has the role of allowing the body to perceive the world through the senses. Thus the flying man is able to reassure himself of his own existence do to the soul. So he is aware of his self without knowledge of the body Avicenna believes the self is not a body but a soul.
Avicenna makes is that you can have knowledge without sensory perception. Since the flying man has just been created, has no previous knowledge, and has no sensory perceptions this knowledge must be created without them. But knowledge must be created out of something. Knowledge can be described as particulars and universals. Particulars based upon a distinct piece of information and its qualities while universals are the combinations of these particulars that form a constant on a certain topic. For example a particular horse can be seen while the universal of horseness is based upon the collective qualities held by horses. Both of these pieces of knowledge are based upon some sort of interaction with a something. The flying man lacks these interactions or memories of these interactions. The flying man then has no knowledge or the ability to gain more.
Without knowledge individuals cannot express themselves. Expression comes from our ability to use and understand language. Language is a taught skill since we do know of it as newborns. Without...

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