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Outline Plato’s Arguments For The Distinct Existence Of The Soul.

1235 words - 5 pages

Plato's arguments for the distinct existence of the soul are presented best in the Phaedo where Plato voices his opinions through a recital of Socrates "˜death bed' philosophies to present the case that the soul is immortal.The link between the argument for the immortal soul and the dualist view of the soul is rudimentary; without belief in one the other cannot be justified, as any other type of soul could not survive the bodies death.The first argument Plato presents can be labelled the argument from opposites. Socrates starts the argument by stating that "all things which come to be and which have an opposite must necessarily come to be from their opposite and nowhere else" or more simply put as opposites are generated by their opposites. He furthers the argument by logically applying it concluding that life must generate death. In this line of arguing then it is fair to say, as Socrates does, that if the soul dies it must at some point resurrect and therein starts the cycle of an immortal soul. This has relevance to the view of the soul as distinct in that within this model the soul continues to cycle independently of the body.The second argument commonly marked as the argument from recollection, moves to suggest that the soul must have pre-existed ourselves because we carry knowledge which does not originate from experienced learning but rather from recollection i.e. a previous knowledge gained of ideas. This is an allusion to Plato's theory of forms, which suggests that we all recognise concepts such as equality because we all have knowledge of absolute equality or as Plato called it "the perfect form of equality". Returning to the Phaedo Socrates sums up the argument from recollection like this. Firstly knowledge [of equality] cannot be based on bodily sensations, as it is recognised by all; bodily sensations begin at birth hence knowledge [of equality] must precede birth. From this line the conclusion follows that learning is recollection and that the soul must pre-exist embodiment in order to give us this knowledge. In respect to the notion of a distinct soul this argument applies in two ways. The first is the notion that the soul has to be distinct and immortal in order to gather its knowledge from other lifetimes of experience and live to tell the tale, as it were. The second is the notion that the soul has to be distinct as this is the way it has the capability to enter the body and give us our knowledge.For the final argument Socrates turns to a more traditional response to the problem of immortality and develops an argument based on a traditional philosophy; that only what is complex can dissolve or "scatter". He draws a simile between the soul and an idea to suggest that just as ideas are simple so is the soul. Socrates has reached the conclusion that the soul is non-composite and that as non-composite things do not change i.e. our idea of the form equality does not vary, neither does the soul and it is therefore labelled as...

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