‘Plato Shows That Belief In The Soul Can Be Justified.’ Discuss.

1586 words - 6 pages

Charlie Gilhooley'Plato shows that belief in the soul can be justified.' Discuss.During this essay I am going to outline Plato's arguments for his belief in the soul, then put forward a number of criticisms against these arguments. Finally, I will conclude with why I believe Plato doesn't provide sufficient evidence for belief in the soul and how the materialistic view, as held by Richard Dawkins, and supported by the development of neuroscience (the study of the nervous system) provides evidence as to why Plato fails to justify belief in the soul.The 'spiritual or immaterial part of a man, held to survive death' is the official definition of 'soul,' as found in the dictionary.Plato believed that each person has a soul, which lives on after the body dies and wanted to demonstrate that this belief is reasonable and can be justified through logical argument. His dialogue Phaedo is mainly concerned with these arguments; Cebes, the person who is in dialogue with Socrates, suggests that perhaps the soul just disappears, like smoke, into nothingness when the body dies, and he asks for some kind of persuasive argument to justify Socrates' belief in the immortality of the soul: 'The soul of man is immortal and imperishable.'Plato's first argument depends on the idea that every quality comes into existence from its own opposite. It relies on the existence of its opposite, or it would not exist at all. Plato argued that it followed that death must come from life, and life from death: people who are dead are just people who were in the past alive but then experience the change we call dying, and people who are alive are just people who were among the dead but then experienced the change we call being born. Plato's argument supports the idea of reincarnation, since if something is dead its opposite is being alive and vice versa. Plato strongly believed that there were two separate realms that we have access to, the physical world and the world of Forms. He came to the same conclusion when debating the topic of the soul, taking the view that the soul is distinct form the body. Here Plato takes the dualist approach, the view that human person consists of two distinct elements: the mind/soul and the body. The mind/soul is immaterial whereas the body is physical. Thus the soul has the ability to know the truth and understand Forms, through reason. On the other hand, the body is physical and can only obtain knowledge through the physical experience. Plato stated that 'knowledge is the food of the soul' and believed that knowledge was gained through sense experience is inferior to the knowledge that can be gained through reason, due to the fact that our senses can be mistaken. As the body is clearer a physical matter, it is in constant change and thus cannot truly be the object of true knowledge and cannot be the source of such knowledge.However, for Plato, the soul is capable of certain knowledge. Therefore Plato concluded that this must mean that the soul is...

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