Conceptions of the Soul Essay

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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).
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Soul is defined by Aristotle as "not separable from the body" (Aristotle, 413a), and "neither without body nor a kind of body, but belong[ing] to the body, and for this reason is present in the body" (Aristotle, 414a). Aristotle has a consistent integration of his investigations with the basic principles of his philosophical system. Aristotle begins "The Nature of the Soul" with an objective to define the soul (Aristotle, 412a). He then formulates an answer to that question using his ideas of substance, form, matter, actuality, and potentiality. The form/matter characteristic proves particularly useful to Aristotle, as it allows him to describe the living organism as an inseparable "complex" of soul (form) and body (matter) (Aristotle, 414a). Additionally, Aristotle also integrates his account of soul with his theory of the four causes in arguing that the soul is "the source of movement" (the efficient cause), "the end" (the final cause), and "the essence" (the formal cause) of the "whole living body" (Aristotle, 415b). The physical body is simply the material cause of the organism and thus, the soul is the "actuality" of "a natural body having life potentially within it" (Aristotle, 412a). Aristotle's conceptions of the soul are embodied in an introspective structure approached through scientific and empirical methods. Aristotle believed that "knowledge of the attributes contributes a great deal to the
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