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Body and Soul

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Andrew Midgley

on 9 October 2017

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Transcript of Body and Soul

Body and Soul
The immortality of the soul
1] Every quality comes into being from its opposite - heat from cold, light from dark, etc. Therefore, life comes from death.
2] Our souls, being immortal, have knowledge from before they joined the body (
What your soul looks like
Plato described the soul as a tripartite unit of reason, spirit, and desire (or reason, appetite, and emotion).

He used an illustration of a charioteer driving two horses ...
What does your soul look like, part 2
The Myth of Er
Er said that after he had died, he had journeyed past judges who rewarded and punished souls who had died. Good souls went up to be rewarded; bad souls were punished with pain equal to ten times the pain they had inflicted while in the body. Some had been so bad that they could never be released from underground punishment.

Souls then got to choose for themselves a new body - either animal or human - for their next life on earth.
The Myth of Er
Sometimes people who had been rewarded chose new lives of great power, but they couldn't handle it because they didn't consider what they might have to do to gain that power.

Sometimes those who had been punished chose more wisely the next time.

But many went from luxury to misery, life after life. Only the
benefited from the cycle, understanding the importance of choosing a new life of peace and justice each time.
What does your soul look like, part 4:
The Myth of Er
A soldier called Er died on the battlefield.
Or did he?
Ten days later, after the battle, there were no signs of Er's body decaying. On the twelfth day, just as he was about to be burned, he came back to life and told people about the afterlife ...
Body and Soul
Plato and Aristotle
Philosophers of soul, mind, and body
, Plato argues that the soul lives on after death. It does not have to suffer the demands of the body, and is free to fully contemplate the
Form of the Good
. A soul must keep on living after the body has died, because it is the soul that gives a body life. If a soul
life, it is obvious that it must always
life, so Plato argues for the
immortality of the soul
are two basic drives that motivate human beings.
holds the reins, and makes sure that appetite and emotion work together in a rational direction.
If our
got the better of us, we might say or do something inappropriate.
If our
got the better of us, we might over-indulge in greedy or lustful pursuits.
People who let
guide them become
To what extent do you agree with Plato's beliefs about the three-part soul?
Aristotle is interested in the soul as a
. He wants to know, for example, how you can tell that a newborn baby is the same thing as the toddler, child, and adult that bears its name.

He decided that while the physical body was in a constant state of change, the substance of the person remains the same. He called this substance
The Psyche
From this word 'psyche', we get our modern word 'psychology'. However, while modern psychologists think about consciousness, neurochemistry, and cognitive development, Aristotle's focus was the
features that distinguished the essence of living things
Aristotle believes that living things are differentiated from non-living things by their capabilities, which are given to them by their
. Thus, the soul is
fundamentally connected with bodily function
. In relating this to his four causes, Aristotle says that
the soul is the form of the body
- that is, the soul is
what makes the body recognisable
Different kinds of soul
Plants have a '
' soul
- this helps them gain nourishment for themselves and reproduce, but they cannot reason or plan.
Animals have '
' souls
- they react, experience, and can sense pleasure and pain.
Human souls
, and
distinguish between



's 'soul' would be in its
capacity to chop
. Remove this, and it is really nothing. An
's 'soul' would be in its
capacity to see
- without this it would be as useless as a statue's eyes, and thus not really worthy of the name.
Another example ...
The shape stamped into the wax is inseparable from the matter of the wax. So also the soul is inseparable from the body.
Likewise, 'capacity to chop' cannot have an existence apart from the axe, and 'capacity to see' cannot have an existence apart from the eye.
Overall, Aristotle's views are almost
, but are probably better defined as
. He does not believe that body and soul can survive without each other, so
life after death is unlikely
. However, he does wonder whether or not
might survive the body.
He concludes:
'To attain any assured knowledge of the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world.'
One distinction that we must try to make is between body, soul, and
Some philosophers say that
the mind is a non-physical part of a person which does the thinking and feeling, while the body does the doing.

Others say that
the mind is not a separate 'part' of a person. It is the activity of physical matter - the brain - not a distinct thing as the dualists would believe.
philosophers believe that we are our body and nothing more. Our bodies are not the 'physical part' of us, because there are
no other parts

For other philosophers, the body is a kind of vehicle for the soul or the 'self'.
Substance Dualism
This is what we call the idea that mind and body are
two separate substances
that both exist.

is something that has various
(e.g. a book has the properties of being hard, cuboid-shaped, and legible).

A mind, by this reasoning, would be a substance with the properties of generating thoughts, intentions, and emotions.
One property not possessed by the mind is
. This, though, is possessed by the body.
Fans of substance dualism include Pythagoras, Plato, and Socrates.
What Plato didn't say ...
What does your soul look like, part 3
For Plato, body and soul are very different: the body is physical, the soul is not; the body is mortal, the soul is not.

Plato did not write about how an immortal soul might become attached to a physical body.
Rene Descartes set out to demonstrate that there is a distinction between the mind and the body.
(Note the difficulty of distinguishing between 'mind' and 'soul'!)

Descartes' method is known as '
hyperbolic doubt
'. 'Hyperbolic' simply means 'extreme' or 'exaggerated'.
Hyperbolic Doubt
What, then, can be trusted?

Sense experience
: No, because there are times when our senses deceive us.
: No, because our reasoning could turn out to be wrong, or God could be deceiving us. Or we could be being deceived by an evil demon!
Descartes did not necessarily believe in such a being, but he was making the point that
we cannot be 100% sure about anything
The Cogito
Descartes' conclusion was that there was one thing he could not possibly doubt, and that was that he was
able to doubt things

This led him to be equally certain that he was able to think, in order to ask these
So he concluded, 'I think, therefore I am' or in Latin, '
cogito ergo sum
So Descartes knew that he had a mind, because he could think. However, he could not have the same certainty that he had a body.
The mind has something distinctive that means it cannot be doubted. Descartes concluded that the
body was a physical substance
, and the
mind a spiritual substance
. The question was:
how are the two connected?
Descartes believed that the
pineal gland
- an organ in the brain - was the seat of the soul.
New Terms
Property dualism
= there is only one kind of material, but there are two kinds of property: physical and mental
Emergent materialism
= as physical things become more complex, new properties (such as 'mind') emerge from them
Reductive materialism
= any event we perceive as coming from the mind is physically generated
Gilbert Ryle
In his book 'The Concept of Mind' (1949), Ryle argued that talk of a 'self' or a 'soul' existing beyond the physical body is a
language mistake
akin to believing that a 'team spirit' has a substance.
He mocked Descartes' ideas, suggesting that the invisibility of the mind made it a kind of '
ghost in the machine
Dawkins and the 'Selfish Gene'
'There is no spirit-driven life force ... Life is just bytes and bytes and bytes of digital information.'
Richard Dawkins argues that our bodies are
carriers of souls

carriers of genetic materials whose only need is to reproduce
. We humans are '
survival machines
' - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.
Both Dawkins and another famous atheist,
Bertrand Russell
, argue that there is
no sound basis for believing in the immortality of the soul
. People who do hold these beliefs do so simply because they
lack the courage
to tell themselves the truth. Their fear is their own mortality, so
they wish for a part of them to be immortal
Anthony Flew and the Cheshire Cat
Anthony Flew referred to Lewis Carroll's story '
Alice in Wonderland
' to argue that a
soul without a body was as non-sensical as a grin without a cat
. A
is not a substance, he said.
Problems with Dualism
Descartes does not prove that the mind is a substance - he only

When our bodies are damaged,
we don't only sense physical pain
, but are caused mental distress too.

Substance dualism cannot explain how mental thoughts can cause
physical responses

The '
problem of other minds
'. If the mind has no intrinsic connection to the body, how can we accurately know others' minds or mental states?

Flew and the Cheshire Cat
(see next slide)
Problems with Materialism
linguistic distinction
exists between 'John' and 'John's body'. Why?

If the two substances are identical, they should have the
same properties

Materialism cannot explain the
existence of logic
, or the
coherence and strength of emotions
, since they are assumed to be chemical reactions within the body's matter.

Without belief in a soul,
morality is
simply about taste
, and
has no special dignity
, or

final purpose
Soul as metaphor?
Maybe all our talk about 'soul' is a figurative way of trying to talk about what it means to be

But would this have implications for our understanding of e.g. the
sanctity of life
Central Question:
Do we have souls?
As part of your revision, you should map out the responses to this question of each thinker we have studied.
Full transcript