May 25, Jason Stanley, Language in Context:
The following is another essay I wrote back in Plato — BC provides several arguments for his claim that the soul is immortal, and for various reasons none of these are convincing. Their fundamental flaw is that the existence of a kind of soul to which the arguments apply is presupposed.
Most of the arguments are found in his Socratic dialogue Phaedo of which the Recollection Argument is also found in the Meno, but I do not cover that version here and a further important one is found in the last book of The Republic another Socratic dialogue.
I will evaluate each argument in order, but first it will be useful to make some clarifications. By immortality we mean that the soul, an immaterial entity distinct from the body, will survive separation from the body at death and is indestructible.
But what does Plato mean by soul?
The Cyclical Argument takes the following form: All things come to be from their opposite and because the opposite of life is death, life must therefore come from death.
Plato says this must be the case or else everything would end up dead.
- In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes states “I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in as far as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other hand, I possess a distinct idea of body, in as far as it is only an extended and unthinking thing”. . IB monstermanfilm.com» Extended essayEvery student wiring an Extended Essay is provided with a supervisor whose role is clearly laid out in the timeline shown below. The supervisor must have a good East Hartford Public Schools: 50 Excellent Extended EssayExtended Essay. 50 Excellent Extended Essays. Click on any link below to view an example of an outstanding extended monstermanfilm.com Essay . This is an excellent book for someone with a minimal background in philosophy. The essays are informative and thorough without falling into the usual trap of monstermanfilm.coms: 5.
Thus, the souls of the dead must exist prior to their reincarnation. If life arises out of such non-life rather than death, a pre-existent soul is not needed and life will eventually revert to non-life a specific kind of non-life called death.
The assumption Plato makes that if life did not come from death everything would end up dead is a strange one, because this conflicts with his own views about philosophical wisdom disrupting the cycle of life and death, should not everyone end up a philosopher?
The belief in innate knowledge was successfully critiqued by John Locke in the 17th Century. Secondly, there are a great many people who are ignorant of the propositions purported to be innate, and some will go their whole life without ever thinking about these topics.
If people truly knew them innately then surely they would be aware of them from birth, and they would not need to be awakened by the use of reason. The Affinity Argument is more subtle, it says that the soul, by contrast to the body, is invisible, immaterial and indivisible and because of this, Plato reasons, it is likely to be indissoluble and deathless.
It is raised that the Recollection Argument has an insufficient conclusion, only proving —at best— the prior existence of the soul rather than its immortality an objection that applies equally to the Cyclical Argument and there is no reason why this cycle must continue forever and not end at the destruction of the soul at some point.
The first premise is: Bad things associated with the soul include: Vice is the specific bad thing associated with the soul, but because it never directly results in the death of a particular soul, the soul must be immortal.
We do, however, have good reason to think that it contains at least one false premise and some presupposition, such that the argument is certainly not sound. Firstly, there seems to be an awkward presupposition, namely that everything has only one bad thing, especially when we are told that vice is the specific bad thing associated with the soul.
Why should this be? Wood provides us with a counter-example, because it can be destroyed by both rot and fire.
The argument also assumes that something cannot be destroyed by something connected with it being destroyed i. The fatal flaw, however, is one that affects the Phaedo arguments also: Unless this can be proved there is no reason why that which Plato calls the soul should not be identical in some way with the body and therefore susceptible to destruction along with it, and Plato nowhere even attempts to prove the existence of the soul as he conceives of it.
A popular contemporary theory is that of Richard Dawkins. His physicalist theory is based on genetics and sees the person, including the mind, as a construct based on replicating genetic information.
Metaphysical monists such as the Ancient Greek Eleatic school argued for immortality owing to our indestructible reality during the period of time at which we do exist, which when viewed from the perspective of eternity means that we always exist.
These thoughts were more clearly exemplified in the views of the 17th century philosopher Spinoza and by Einstein in defence of the B-Theory [Tenseless Theory] of time.
Of course it follows that if no point in time is any more real than any other, everything that exists at each point in time will remain in existence there.
Although Plato was not a monist he could have made use of similar ideas.
While Plato was probably sincere in his arguments, he would have realised that if they had failed, his theory of the forms would necessitate a kind of immortality. By identifying myself with eternal truths I know myself, that self at least, is immortal.
Overall, although the Republic Argument is the strongest due to its validity and correct conclusion, it is not at all plausible. Superficially, it appears contrived and it is ultimately insufficient, as are all of the arguments, because of the presupposed existence of the soul. The Republic Argument is certainly the most plausible argument when we believe in the soul, and as such it would have been apt to hold the most weight in the West until the existence of an immaterial soul began to be questioned on a wide scale.
The Cyclical and Recollection arguments, although stronger, are fundamentally flawed due their irrelevant conclusions.Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews is an electronic, peer-reviewed journal that publishes timely reviews of scholarly philosophy books.
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