Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle offer highly contrasting definitions of the soul with Plato’s being very similar to the current, excepted idea of a soul is whilst Aristotle’s concept is something that isn’t thought of when considering the soul by the majority. Plato’s soul links in with the Judaeo-Christian belief on the soul as he suggests that it is eternal and a separate entity entirely from the body that lives on after the bodies’ death.It is used by Christians to tell of how we are judged after death whilst its main importance to Plato’s theories is that it describes a way in which the world of appearances and the world of forms are linked together and how these perfect concepts are viewed by us. Like those that follow the excepted views on the body on souls given by the previously mentioned religions, Plato was a dualist meaning that he believes that the soul is independent of the body and also that it hold the true essence of the person within.This means that the essence of people have been among the forms which could suggest why humans can recognise goodness and beauty when the world doesn’t hold them in their perfect form for us to view. Aristotle on the other hand tells that the body and soul are interdependent, part of a single unity, and rather than the soul being immortal it will in fact die with the body as unlike Plato’s suggestion of the body and soul being separate Aristotle conveys them to be aspects of the same thing so without the body the soul cannot live on.

He describes the body as matter and the soul as form. The soul is the function and organisation of the body; it is like the life force of a living being. The soul gives the opportunity to change potentiality into actuality; if the body is not actualised then it is considered dead and would just be unformed matter. Aristotle considered reason the highest form of rationality and as the soul controls all the bodies’ functions, he placed humans at the top of the hierarchy of souls as we hold the capability/potential for reasoning.

I am most in agreement with Aristotle than Plato as these levels between plants, animals and humans are visible and there is little difference between the matter in which animals and humans are made from which would suggest a difference further than the body and its matter the soul and form which Aristotle suggests fits into this situation solving the problem and whilst I don’t believe it to be true I can see more truth behind this theory than the idea which Plato presents to us.An eternal soul would have to live outside of the universe which is limited by time and space which makes linking the concepts of the body and soul, the world of appearances and forms and a time bound universe and an eternal space harder to conceive of and therefore truly consider. There would have to be a limited link as a constant one is made impossible by the universe not sharing in the eternality, this raises the question of how can two things be intimately linked when one shall continue for eternity whilst the other will cease to exist. The logical and conceivable concepts of Aristotle’s views allow me to accept them as reasonable.


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