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Aristotle and Plato’s Concept of the Soul Essay

Most individuals are interested in knowing and understanding the various phenomena that exist among their midst. It could be as simple as looking for information as to why the sun rises and sets or it could involve very trivial matters that deal with things that is not seen by the naked eye. This is why the field of philosophy exists in order to investigate the ideas of truth, existence, knowledge, and other subjects by means of logic and reason (Kemerling).

In relation to this, many famous philosophers have their respective theories that tend to explain various matters. This could be exemplified by Aristotle and Plato’s ideas behind the existence of a soul. Aristotle wrote three books of De Anima wherein he elaborated a varying array of philosophical and scientific topics. In Book II, Chapter 1 of De Anima, Aristotle made a sketch or outline of the nature of the soul. He explained the concept of the soul by using a scientific perspective that uses elements of biology.

In relation to this, he also employed the idea of metaphysics that tackled everything such as substance, form, matter, potentiality, and actuality. Aristotle perceived that the soul is united with the living body. As such, the existence of the soul is also dependent upon the host. He deems that the soul is made simply for the purpose of development, which can only happen if it is connected with a body or some kind of container in the physical world. In this sense, the soul is assumed to exist as the form of the body.

The importance of the soul is greatly dependent upon the body or a type of entity that gives life to it. Since the soul designates life, Aristotle believed that it is also present in every living thing, including plants and animals. He also elaborated that different entities have various versions of the soul. The soul of a human being is unique from others because it has the ability to hold rational beliefs and use reason. It is regarded as the higher level of soul while the lowest ones are those that are found in plants and animals.

Moreover, Aristotle’s association of the soul to specific forms made the soul as the mover because it is the culmination of the various life forces (Davidson). On the other hand, Plato believes that the soul is made up of three basic energies, including reason, emotion, and appetite that are responsible in animating human beings. The energy of reason is regarded as having the greatest value, while emotion and most especially appetite are considered as the lower passions. Reason is responsible in governing the soul that controls the emotion and the appetite of an individual.

In relation to this, Plato deems that the soul is important in living a moral life. He explained that morality is the cause of happiness, which motivates an immoral person to behave righteously if he or she wants to be happy. Plato asserted that a happy person is a just person. Moreover, the psychic harmony of the soul is expressed in four cardinal virtues that are related to the three basic energies. In terms of reason, the just person has wisdom or prudence. In relation to emotion, the just person has the virtue of courage.

Lastly, when it comes to the energy of appetite, a just person has the value of temperance (“Plato theory of the Soul”). Aristotle and Plato’s respective theories of the soul have similarities in the sense that they both believe that the soul is responsible for the ability of human beings to think logically and rationally. Nevertheless, there are many differences in their concept of the soul. Since Aristotle employed the scientific topics in his theory, he perceived the soul as dependent upon the body. In relation to this, he also deemed that other living things have souls.

On the contrary, Plato merely focused on the existence of human beings’ soul. He explained his idea of the soul in the light of morality rather than biology. Furthermore, Plato argued that the soul is influenced by external force in order to move, while Aristotle asserted that the soul is the mover itself because it is an assortment of life forces. The varying theories of Aristotle and Plato with regards to the soul only show that philosophers have different perspective and understanding in the pursuit of understanding various matters of an individual’s existence.


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