The in favor of the philosophical life. It


The
soul is the principle of life, feeling, thought,
and action in humans.  In some
religions it is believed that when the person dies although their body is no
longer alive, their spirit or soul moves on to another world.  The soul in religion is needed for
reincarnation which is evident in Hinduism and Buddhism where when we die our
souls come back to take over the body of any living matter.  Souls are not only evident in religion but
are also evident in philosophy.  Three
philosophers that have written on this topic are Plato, Pythagoras and
Aristotle. 

Plato
has written on this topic through his book Phaedo
which is also known as On the Soul.  In
the Phaedo, the book talks about Plato’s middle
period. The book contains a discussion of the Theory of Forms, the four
arguments for the immortality of the soul, and strong arguments in favor of the
philosophical life. It also contains Plato’s story of Socrates’ final moments
before he was forced to drink hemlock and contains his theory of the fate of
the soul after death.  The Phaedo
makes constant connections with
Pre-Socratic theories of the world and the soul, in which are closely related
to those of Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Heraclitus.  In the Phaedo it talks about Socrates’ last moments on Earth in which
Socrates says that any true philosopher should be looking forward to the
afterlife because that is when your soul can be freed from your body which is
the purpose of philosophical living. 
Socrates believed the key to living a happy life was to do good for
others and not exploit others for personal gain.  He believed that the main goal in life was
death because the separation of the soul from the human body was the Socrates’ goal;
since Socrates said the soul is immortal unlike the body, he believed the soul
will be able to survive death.  Socrates
also gave three reasons as to why the soul is immortal.  He stated them as “The
Cyclical Argument”, “The Argument from Recollection”, and “The Affinity
Argument”.  In The Cyclical Argument he uses
an old theory that states whatever was once living will return to the dead and
whatever is dead will return back to the living to help him explain his
Cyclical Argument.  There are 5 points to
his argument and he starts it off by stating that “all things come to be from their opposite states”.  An example of this would be that for a boy to
grow taller or larger he first must have been shorter or smaller.  His second point is “between every pair of
opposite states there are two opposite processes”.  An example of this would be that between taller
and shorter we would have the processes of growing and shrinking.  His third point was “if the two opposite
processes did not balance each other out, everything would eventually be in the
same state”.  An example of this would be
if growing did not even out shrinking, everything would keep shrinking and
shrinking.  His fourth point was “since
“being alive” and “being dead” are opposite states, and “dying” and
“coming-to-life” are the two opposite processes between these states,
coming-to-life must balance out dying”.  In
which he concluded with the final point “everything that dies must come back to
life again”.  In his Argument from Recollection he states the
six points which are “things in the world which appear to be equal in
measurement are in fact deficient in the equality they possess”, “they are not
the same as true equality, that is, “the Equal itself””, “when we see the
deficiency of the examples of equality, it helps us to think of, or
“recollect,” the Equal itself”, “in order to do this, we must have had some
prior knowledge of the Equal itself”, “since this knowledge does not come from
sense-perception, we must have acquired it before we acquired sense-perception,
that is, before we were born”, and therefore he concludes that “our souls must have
existed before we were born”.  In
his Affinity Argument he states that “there are
two kinds of existences: (a) the visible world that we perceive with our
senses, which is human, mortal, composite, unintelligible, and always changing,
and (b) the invisible world of Forms that we can access solely with our minds,
which is divine, deathless, intelligible, non-composite, and always the same”,
“the soul is more like world (b), whereas the body is more like world (a)”,
“therefore, supposing it has been freed of bodily influence through
philosophical training, the soul is most likely to make its way to world (b)
when the body dies.  If, however, the
soul is polluted by bodily influence, it likely will stay bound to world (a)
upon death”.

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Pythagoras has also written on this topic
with his teachings of metempsychosis. 
Metempsychosis is the teaching that when the body dies the soul is
transmigrated into a new body of either the same or a different species.  Metempsychosis is similar to reincarnation
but is different in the way that there is good or bad that decides where your
soul will end up whether you end up back in a human body if you do well or into
an animal’s body if you do badly.  Pythagoras
believed that the soul of man would never be able to achieve peace if man
consumes the bodies of others.  He also
said to avoid beans as it could have been the reincarnated soul of a
human.  Pythagoras believed that the soul
was also immortal and that at death it transmigrated into a new animated body
and after a certain period of time the same procedure will take place once
again.  Pythagoras forbids the
consumption of meats which made him one of the earliest vegetarians. He was
vegetarian because he believed that if the animal or meat they were eating was
slaughtered inhumanely or something terrible had happened to the animal they would
be consuming that evil.  

Aristotle has also written on this topic.  Aristotle believed that any living matter was
considered a substance.  He wrote that
the body is matter and the soul is form. 
Aristotle thought that the soul or psyche is the center of the body which allows the body to
function.  Soul or psyche was the word the
Greeks used to describe the life giver, the force behind every living being.  To Aristotle he believed that the soul
controlled living beings’ movement, perception and reproduction. 
Aristotle believed reason was the highest form
of rationality something can have which is why he believed in a hierarchy of
living things.  Rationality is the
ability to reason or logic.  He
believed that “plants only have a vegetative soul;
animals are above plants because they have appetites, humans are above animals
because it has the power of reason”.  Aristotle
considered the soul to be the Form of the body.  “Aristotle tries to
explain his understanding of the distinction between the body and the soul
using the analogy of an axe.  If an axe
were a living thing then its body would be made of wood and metal. However, its
soul would be the thing which made it an axe i.e. its capacity to chop. If it
lost its ability to chop it would cease to be an axe – it would simply be wood
and metal.  Another illustration he uses is the eye. If the eye were an
animal, sight would have to be its soul. When the eye no longer sees then it is
an eye in name only.  Likewise, a dead animal is only an animal in name only – it
has the same body but it has lost its soul.  What is important
for Aristotle is the end purpose of something – an axe chops, an eye sees, an
animal is animated…etc” (http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/aristotle_body_soul.htm).  For Aristotle, the
body and soul are not two separate elements but is one thing. The body and the
soul are not, as Plato would have it, two distinct entities, but are different
parts or aspects of the same thing. 
Aristotle does not believe that the soul is
immortal because the soul to Aristotle is only simply the Form of the body, and
without the body the soul cannot exist.

 

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