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Conceptions of the Soul

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Plato (in Phaedo) and Aristotle (in De Anima) present two fundamentally different conceptions of the soul. Through an analysis of their frameworks and genre, and whether their methods are plausible, it can be concluded that Aristotle's formulation of the soul is more compelling than that of Plato.

According to Plato, the body and the soul are separate entities. The soul is capable of existing before life of the body and after death of the body and it is constant, unchanging and non-physical (invisible). The soul resembles what is divine, immortal, and always remaining true to itself. The body, however, resembles what is human, mortal, and destructible. The body is changing and never able to maintain its true identity (Plato, 80b). Due to this radical difference between body and soul, their relationship is can be described as antagonistic. In Phaedo, Plato says that body always hinders the soul from possessing truth and intelligence. Therefore if, by death, the soul can pursue divine and unchanging truth without being distracted by bodily desires, death is the real liberation or purification of soul from the body (Plato, 67c-e). This definition of the soul is embodied in a rational framework. In other words, Plato arrives at his conclusions through deductive reasoning and ideals. He believes that the body contributes to cognition only by the senses, only in which "seeing and hearing are neither precise nor clear" (Plato, 65b). Thus, senses are fallible and all true knowledge comes by way of reason and rationale. The other approach to obtaining knowledge of the soul, challenged by Aristotle in De Anima, holds that there is nothing in the intellect which is not learned from experience. He believes that the world can ...

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... his lecture genre his not appealing, it is very convincing. He states the facts in a concise and in an organization unparalleled by Plato. Aristotle does not drift far from his objective, and if he does, he reminds us to "return to where we left the argument" (Aristotle, 403b). To sum up, there are advantages and shortcomings of Plato's dialect and Aristotle's lecture genres.

In conclusion, Plato and Aristotle present two different conceptions of the soul. By examination of their formulations, and the structure and genre they used, Aristotle's perception of the soul is more convincing. I am more convinced by facts than I am ideals. But his views should not be thrown away, for Aristotle's focus upon the organism as a whole as the proper object of study is a successful approach to the question of the nature of and relationship between mind, body, and soul.
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