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Forms and Substance Dualism - Essay Example

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If, conversely, dualism can be convincingly maintained, then our evidence obtained from studies of the brain would simply not suffice in gaining any form of insight into the human mind. Dualism is a logical necessity: sustained as a question that does not need to be answered as it can be fulfilled a priori, owing to the fact that humans have the ability to seek introspection regularly. (Almog, 129-34) Indeed, we experience the separation between our body and mind, which would support the notion that they are separate entities and empirical evidence is not required to prove such a concept. However, this does not mean that dualistic theory is foolproof: for example, can our experience be enough to prove such a concept Indeed, many philosophers are not in favor of dualistic ontology.
The first classical representation of dualism can be recognized in Plato's work; more specifically originating in The Phaedo. Interestingly, in dualism, 'mind' is contrasted with 'body', but in different historical periods, different aspects of the mind have been the center of attention. For example, in the classical period it was the intellect of the mind, which was considered to be the crux of what separated us from the physical. However, from Descartes onwards, the opposition to materialism came from our apparent 'consciousness' and experience of 'sensation'. The emphasis on intellect is certainly echoed in Plato's work: as he believed (as did many other Greeks) that the body was a prison for the intellectual soul. Indeed Plato believed that the true substances are not physical bodies, which are ephemeral, but the eternal Forms of which bodies are imperfect copies. He came up with the idea of a realm of "Forms" and said that intellect was immaterial, for it does not last you, therefore Forms are immaterial, and thus intellect must link to those that it apprehends. He then continued to say that such a link forced the soul to want to leave the body to enter a realm of Forms. In his later writings, The Republic, Plato furthered his ideas on Forms and the soul; he claimed that not only was the soul the true form but belonged to a higher status within reality than the body did, and that the soul was a separate, immortal substance. Plato's study of dualism in The Phaedo was indeed complex, and more a metaphysical study regarding the imprisoned soul. However, it can be seen, especially amongst his writings in The Republic, that Plato was clear on his belief that the body and soul were separate entities, forming the base for philosophical extensions in more recent times.
Continuing from Plato, St Thomas Aquinas extended earlier works on dualism in his endeavor to unite philosophy with proof of God. Aquinas agreed with the Aristotelian notion that when the soul entered the body it animated it and gave it life; calling it anima. Moreover according to Aquinas, the soul operates independently of the body and it cannot decay; for only things that can break into parts can decay, Thus, following Aquinas' argument, the soul is able to survive death. He also said that through ...Show more


Dualism is the belief that reality consists of two different, separate substances: that of the mental and that of the physical. "In philosophy of mind, the belief that the mental and physical are deeply different in kind: thus the mental is at least not identical with the physical." It directly opposes materialism, as dualism dictates that the mind is unidentifiable to the body, as opposed to stating that the mind and body exist as one…
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Forms and Substance Dualism
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