Philosophy Few Individuals Are Able to Truly Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:


Few individuals are able to truly impact society and even fewer make contributions so significant that they remain as (if not more) pertinent throughout the years as when their contribution first originated. Plato and Sigmund Freud are two such individuals. Both Plato's theory of the soul and Freud's concept of the self share common structural features. However, there are some important differences both in the internal functioning of their models and in the implications their respective theories have for establishing a good society.

This paper analyzes and examines Plato's theory of the soul and Freud's concept of the self. In Part II, Plato's theory of the soul is discussed. Part III outlines Freud's concept of the self. Lastly, this paper concludes with recommendations for integrating both Plato's and Freud's theories in order to establish a good society.


Plato contended that all true knowledge is recollection. According to Plato, all individuals possess innate knowledge that tells us about the things we experience in our world. Plato believed that individuals acquired this knowledge when the soul resided in the invisible realm, the realm of The Forms and The Good. Under Plato's theory of The Forms, everything in the natural world is representative of the ideal of that form. For example, a table is representative of the ideal form Table.

The form is the perfect ideal on which the physical table is modeled. These forms do not exist in the natural world, as they are perfect, and there is nothing perfect in the natural world. Rather the forms exist in the invisible realm, the realm of The Good. When the soul resided in the invisible realm, it experienced these perfect forms and retained that knowledge. However, when the soul is born into the natural world, it forgets that knowledge. In this world, the soul has no experience of perfection, and, therefore, cannot remember the forms. Yet, when the soul is confronted with something resembling the forms, it recollects what it once knew. While we call this learning, Plato believed it is actually recollection. For example, when we see two sticks that are the same length, we say that they are equal. Yet, there is nothing in the natural world that shows us true equality.

Therefore, we must have had knowledge of the idea of equality before we entered this world. When we see the two sticks of the same length, it triggers the recollection of the idea of equality. Hence, Plato argues that our soul, before it entered this world, had knowledge of the form of equality when it was a part of the invisible realm. Upon entering this world, this knowledge was forgotten and must be recollected. Thus, all knowledge of the forms, such as equality, justice, etc. is recollected.

However, in proving that what we call learning is actually recollection, Plato also proved that the soul is immortal. While there is no example of true perfection in our world, we may imagine the concept of perfection. If we have not experienced this idea in our world, where could it have originated? We must have experienced it at some point if the idea is within us. Thus, Plato argued that the soul must have existed outside of the natural world.

In order for this to be so, it must be immortal, living before it came into this world. It only stands to reason, Plato contended, that it must continue to exist after it leaves this world. How else would it have been in existence before it came into this world? Plato believed that it was a rational assumption that our soul must continue to exist even after our death.

Whether Plato believed that the soul migrates from one lifetime to another, one body to another, some would say is unclear. However, the idea of recollection leans heavily on the assumption that the soul is residing within the invisible realm before it comes into existence in the physical realm. If the soul migrates from one body to another at one person's death and another's birth, then we would still have no explanation for the soul's knowledge of the forms. For would not the previous life have been spent in the natural world, just as this life is? As has already been noted, there is nothing perfect in this world and thus there is no way of discerning the true forms.

Thus, if the soul resided in this physical world in its previous life, where would it have gained knowledge of the forms? Arguably Plato's intention was that the soul resides within the invisible realm until its birth into the natural world. It is while it resides within this realm and experiences the perfection of the forms and The Good, that it gains true knowledge. This true knowledge is remembered when the soul experiences, within the natural world, something resembling the ideal forms.

It follows, therefore, that when the soul leaves the body at death, it must return to the invisible realm, the realm of the Forms and The Good. Plato argued that this was the desire of every soul, to regain knowledge of the perfect realm and to be reunited with The Good. In arguing his theory of recollection, Plato proved that there is no true learning in this world; there is merely recollection of the knowledge the soul had previous to this life. Plato also proved that the soul is immortal, in that it must have existed before this life in order to have knowledge of the forms. Finally, Plato showed that the soul does not permanently reside within one body and die when that body dies. It must exist separate from that body and continue to exist after that body's death.


There are three main components in Freud's concept of the self. According to Freud, these three ingredients are the Id, Ego, and Superego. It is the combination of these three elements that shape an individual's personality and decisions in life. The id operates on a pleasure principle and seeks immediate gratification. When a person is born, he/she demands something like eating, drinking, sleeping, and sexual pleasure in his/her lifetime. This is something that a person feels he/she must have. While this is not a necessity, it is what the person thinks is a necessity and will do anything to get.

If a person wants something really bad, they will go to any measure to get or achieve the goal that they had been reaching for. For example, if a person wants to get a million dollars before they die, they will go to any measure to do this before they die. That is, if the mind is totally controlled by the id. An individual will go to measures such as stealing the money, even if the person with the money is looking right at them. This is how far the id will go to get what it wants.

If the id does not get what it wants, it will create a memory of what the source of the "want" comes from. For example, if an infant is hungry, he/she will remember the source of the food, such as, the jar of food or the bottle of milk. This is a wish-fulfillment act that will temporarily satisfy the urge to get his food. This still does not change the amount of want for the food. Over time, as the child grows, the id will fade out while the other two tendencies, ego and super-ego, come into perspective more.

The ego is the part that suppresses the id from its sudden urges. Instead of wanting the certain thing right then, the ego waits for the right time and place for the urge to take place. The id sometimes makes a picture of the want, while the ego actually makes a plan for a successful achievement. If a thirsty five-year-old wants water, then the thirsty five-year-old now not only identifies water as the satisfaction of his urge, but also forms a plan to obtain water, perhaps by finding a drinking fountain.

While the ego is still helping the id, it borrows some of its psychic energy in an effort to control the urge until it is feasibly satisfied. Although the ego suppresses the id, it is the superego that makes you realize right from wrong. If a person has the chance to steal something, even if not watched, the person will not take the possession because of the superego, that is, if it is functioning properly. It is the fear of punishment that comes in as a factor when making the choice of stealing or not. If the person makes the right choice, the mind experiences pride and self-satisfaction.

There are two parts of the superego, the conscience and ego ideal. The conscience is what tells you what is right and wrong. It inhabits the id in pursuit of morally right goals that sometimes are not even pleasurable. The ego ideal…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Philosophy Few Individuals Are Able To Truly" (2002, October 23) Retrieved December 6, 2016, from

"Philosophy Few Individuals Are Able To Truly" 23 October 2002. Web.6 December. 2016. <>

"Philosophy Few Individuals Are Able To Truly", 23 October 2002, Accessed.6 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Philosophy of Mind When Thinking

    However, when looking more closely at the specific philosophy suggested by Socrates, a more specific view appears to suggest itself. Socrates appears to favor the view that true knowledge is only possible once the soul separates itself from the body. For Socrates, the sense, i.e. touch, hearing, sight, taste, and smell only distract what he refers to as the "soul" from truly experiencing the nature of the external world. According

  • Philosophy the Value of Philosophy The Subject

    Philosophy The Value of Philosophy: The subject of philosophy concerns itself with understanding of the self, humanity and the universe in an attempt to arrive at or define a "unified, coherent, systematic world view." (Para 4, p. 35) Such broad definitions of philosophy often lead to a viewpoint that philosophy is of interest only to the world of academia, characterized as it is by debate and the lack of consensus. While it

  • Philosophy of Nursing Personal Statement

    Caring nurses must also be non-judgmental. They cannot allow their personal beliefs or biases influence the quality of care that they give to their patients. They should not treat a mob boss any differently than they would treat a nun. Everyone should be seen as an individual that has needs that the nurse has to meet. People of different religions, cultural backgrounds or lifestyles all deserve to be given the

  • Educational Philosophy and the Nature

    Here the emphasis is on complete neutrality, the child being exposed to all different ways of thinking and believing (Cahn, p. 421). In the end the child will make his own choice as to what is best. Such complete freedom; however, rests upon a notion that children might indeed make incorrect choices; ones that are base don incomplete knowledge of the real world. The need to make rational choice

  • Evolving Educational Philosophy Evolving Philosophy

    Despite the catastrophic job market, at least current students can use the present-day crisis as a teachable moment. No matter how bad things may be, the university must strive to create positive educational debates and experiences. It is not the responsibility of the university to provide answers to student's questions of morality and identity. But a university has a responsibility not to stifle debate; rather it must enable students to

  • Philosophy the Murder Cannabalism of Bernd

    Question 5: Since the events of September 11th, terrorism has been a crucial concern for Americans specifically, and the global society in general. As Wilkins (2005) notes, although it is generally agreed to be justifiable to commit violence in the act of self-defense against aggressors, many of the victims of terrorism are innocent of any crime, and that the question of "collective guilt" must come into play when determining the justification for

  • Western Civilization From Prehistory to the Renaissance

    Western Civilization From Prehistory to the Renaissance Early Civilizations What do historians mean by "pre-history?" What was life like for early humans during these years? There are many things that we as citizens of the modern world take for granted. First among these is probably the enormous amount of recorded information that we have at our fingertips. Everything from our purchases, to our places of employment, to the times and places of our births

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved