Plato- A dualist View
Plato suggests that the soul is distinct from the body. The soul is immortal whereas the body is mortal. At the end of life the soul is set free from the body. Plato writes that a human person is a soul ‘imprisoned’ in a body. For Plato the goal of the soul is the world of Forms, which can only be seen indirectly in the physical world.
Plato argues that real knowledge of the forms comes from the soul. He suggests that when we learn, what we are actually doing is recalling back to mind the knowledge about the Forms that the soul had before it was incarnated in the body.
Plato’s view of the body is rather negative, as the body distracts the soul from seeking knowledge of the world of Forms.
Plato’s description of the soul
Plato describes the soul as ‘simple’ and ‘without parts’. This means that the soul cannot be divided up or split into different sections. However, when Plato talks about the soul in the body he describes it as ‘complex’. By this, Plato means that there are different aspects of the soul. When Plato talks about the complexity of the soul, it is still ‘simple’ and ‘without parts’. Plato identified three important aspects of the soul when it is incarnate.
The evidence for the different aspects of the soul comes from conflict between the aspects of the soul. Anthony Kenny gives a helpful example to explain this idea: think of a young child (who has not reached the age of reason) throwing a tantrum. Kenny suggests that this illustrates Plato’s lack of harmony in the soul. The child throwing a tantrum shows that spirit and desire are not being directed by reason.
Plato argues that harmony of the soul is a virtue. One way to understand this is to think of what it means to be healthy- health is concerned with all parts of your mind and body working as they should do, together. If you lack health it means some part or other of your mind or body us not functioning