Plato's Philosophical Ideology of Soul Over Body

Topics: Soul, Plato, Human Pages: 6 (2584 words) Published: September 9, 2013
Being one of Socrates’ disciples, Plato adopted his philosophy and style of debate, and focused his studies toward the question of virtue and the formation of a noble character. According to Aristotle, Plato developed the foundations of his metaphysics and epistemology by studying the doctrines of Cratylus, and the work of Pythagoras and Parmenides. When Plato met Socrates, however, he had met his definitive teacher. Under the influence of Socrates’ philosophical ideology, Plato was trying to find a solution to the problem that although there is underlying stability in the world (sun comes up every morning), it is constantly changing (you never step into the same river twice). An old theory about this is problem is that we gain all knowledge from our senses empirically. But Plato disagreed with this and described that because the world is constantly changing, our senses cannot be trusted. So, he was actually advocating that we do not learn new things, we remember them or in other words, knowledge is intrinsic. Plato believed that the world is divided into two parts i.e. Reality and Appearance. So, since in reality, everything is in a state of instability, perceived knowledge is not true knowledge but is just a set of opinions, which are subjective to the speaker. However, since the World of Ideas is eternal and immutable, that is where knowledge lays i.e. the truth will never change there. Thus the World of Ideas becomes more real than the World of Appearance. Plato said that in the world, we have an idea of what beauty is – we have an innate knowledge of True Beauty or the Form of Beauty. In the world we have examples of imperfect, reflected beauty e.g. flowers yet we have never seen True Beauty. We are able to recognize or recollect the Form of Beauty in flowers. According to Plato, our souls must have known the Forms (e.g. Beauty, Justice, Tiger) before we were born, which means that they are immortal and so pre-exist and post-exist our bodies. Plato believed that when we call something a 'cat', we are referring to a particular quality or essence that it has. Plato claimed that in the world of Forms, there exists the Ideal Cat, created by God. The cats we see every day are poor reflections of the Ideal Cat, which are born and will die. However, the Ideal Cat is eternal and immutable. Plato believed that the Forms were interconnected and arranged in a hierarchy. The most important Form is the Form of the Good. All Forms are aspects of Goodness. E.g. Justice is an aspect of Goodness. Plato said that the Form of the Good is "the greatest thing we have to learn." Knowledge of the Good is an end in itself and gives meaning and purpose to life. In order to understand why Plato emphasized the importance of soul over body, we need to understand the ideology of Plato on soul over body. Plato time and again specifically refers to the solidarity between soul and body and he makes the soul a starting point of his account of body. It was out of question for Plato to consider putting soul and body at the same level pertaining the fact that soul is ‘an existent in movement’, it is subsumed within an orientation (of some sort) and has therefore and intrinsic and qualitative reality different from that of body. To further elaborate the supremacy soul enjoys over body, he mentions that soul is not bound to follow body always on the contrary it can go against it (e.g. feeling thirsty and yet not drinking water) and so can take over control. Plato puts the initiating and guiding function of soul in broader setting i.e. a final solution can never be derived from the material phenomena of visible nature; for that we have to find our point of departure within the spiritual sphere. Plato stresses repeatedly the priority which spiritual enjoys over the material. The soul is as different in kind from body as are, say, the process of reflective thought, artistic skill, moods and desires from length, breadth, energy and weight. He conceives...
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