Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Old Souls Talk About Souls

If you remember from my last blog post, I am looking into the concept of spirits and souls. I was exploring the difference in the two terms, whether or not they exist, and theories of how they affect life (and afterlife). I found this lovely reference website that has allowed me to look into different theories. The soul is a very old concept, so in order to gain a deeper understanding of it I have to research ancient philosophers like Plato and Socrates.

One theory is known as the Phaedo’s Theory of the Soul. In around fifth century Greek culture, it was not a popular belief to view the soul as an immortal thing. People viewed it as more of a substance that could be dispersed or disintegrated like smoke once a person died. Plato had a different view, which he inscribed in the Phaedo. The Phaedo is a dialogue written by Plato. It is important to note that Plato was influenced by Socrates, his teacher, so his dialogues detail Socrates. Also, Cebes was a disciple of Socrates. This website details three argument presented about the immortality of the soul.

The Cyclical Argument: Essentially Socrates states that opposites (ex. small and large) balance each other. He states that being dead and being alive are opposites. In order to balance out these opposites, coming to life must balance out dying. Therefore, the soul must come back to life after death. There are difficulties with this theory, mainly about the how small and large are comparative words while dead and alive are contraries. People question whether his argument can be applied to these two different terms.

The Argument From Recollection: Cebes states that the soul’s immortality is supported by Socrates theory of Recollection. It says that our soul must exist before we are born because it is possible to answer questions that we did not appear to know the answer to, if you use the proper methods.

The Affinity Argument: In this argument, it is stated that there are two types of existences: the visible world that we perceive, and the invisible world of Forms that we can only access with our minds. The body belongs to the visible world, whereas the soul belongs to the invisible world.

There are other theories of the soul, most of which adapted or inspired from these original theories that I have talked about. For the purpose of this post I will not go into detail about the other theories, but you can read about them in the links provided.

I feel that I have a pretty good understanding of different views of the soul after research and discussion. I think I have answered most of my original questions, but this may be leading me towards different topics altogether, like consciousness, the paranormal, or religions (as some of my classmates have been studying). With so many different theories on the soul, I still wonder how these beliefs affect our daily lives. How does it affect my life? I will hopefully explore this during my “Phil’s Day Off” adventure, where I will search out an opportunity to grow a deeper understanding of this topic.


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