Enduring Concern And Its Historical Conceptions Term Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Term Paper Paper: #85204314 Related Topics: Mind Body Connection, Materialism, Metaphysics, Philosophers
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … Conceptions of an Enduring Issue

Relationship between Body and Mind/Soul - Aristotle and Descartes

Aristotle modeled hylomorphism as a fusion of form and matter or soul and body as two elements of one solid being. Aristotle viewed the body's form to be the soul and the soul's matter to be the body. Descartes' dualism separates matter and mind (also soul) and recognizes that the two constitute a person. The two philosophies both subscribed to the view that the mind or soul was located centrally in a person. Aristotle believed that the soul resided in the heart while Descartes believed that the mind was located in the brain. The mind and soul were seen to be interacting with the rest of the body, albeit not clearly in Descartes' case. Aristotle's theory advanced a deep connection between the two and it is probable that he considered the faculty of the soul called receptive intellect immortal. He however, considered the activator of soul and mind as mortal. Descartes, on the other hand, viewed the mind or soul as immortal (Metzger, 2014).

Both theorists held the view that there is only one soul and that it operated from one specific organ of the body. Aristotle believed that the heart was this organ. In his writings on memory, Aristotle, for instance, concluded that located in the heart was the center of the nutritive as well as the sensitive soul. This means that for Aristotle, such functions as consciousness, pleasure, pain, perception, emotions, thinking or reasoning and initiation of locomotion were based in the heart. Descartes, on the other hand, placed the soul in the pineal gland - he believed the pineal gland was located in a cavity present inside the brain. Closely examining the works of these two theorists indicates that both believed the soul and body to be united and not that the soul was localized in one organ (Tracy,1928).

Despite the similarities we have already noted in Aristotle's and Desecrates' psychology, Desecrates definition of the soul was very different from Aristotle's. Aristotle's definition of the soul was that the soul is " the actuality of a natural body furnished with organs." This would mean that the soul operates in a pillar organ such as the heart. Descartes thinks that while the soul and the body may be joined together, it can not be inferred that the soul only exists in one organ while excluding other organs since the soul and body is one and can not be divided ( Tracy, 1986).

Descartes believed that the mind is made up of a nonphysical essence - a supernatural essence - while the body is made up of a physical essence - a natural essence. Descartes put forth the idea that the mind functions non-physically through thought processes while the body functioned physically. Bodily functions involved reproduction, walking, digestion among others. To understand the body you need to study natural phenomena while to understand the mind a study of the supernatural is required. The body's functions depend on physical forces while the mind does not depend on any physical force to function. Its workings are self initiated. This is to mean that Descartes viewed the body like a machine, relying upon external influences to work, while the mind as independent due to its supernatural nature, relying on nothing but itself to function. In other words, the mind is self -causing and so can choose to perform any action it deems necessary. As an entity that is supernatural, the Philosophy of Descartes implies that we can not scientifically study the mind since scientists rely heavily on the principle of determinism (Ricker, n.d.).

Though an inner/outer contrast is absent as per Aristotle, the soul isn't just a spectator inside, a spectator that is only aware of its own states and perceptions without any interactions with the physical world. Such notions as the privacy of experience and the incorrigibility of the mental are therefore lacking in the theory presented by Aristotle. The soul does not exist independently. The body and the soul are linked. The body's form is the soul - the soul is not just another substance present inside another substance (the body). The soul is the part that is the capacity and is thus not separable. According to Aristotle, the soul is just pure thought, lacking in personality, and is thus can be separated from the body. The soul has not much to do with individuality. You can not argue that one soul is more important than another human's soul since all humans are of one form (Cohen, 2008).

The two theories presented by Aristotle and Descartes have limitations. If we were to argue that the soul and body are one in unison, how would we explain the soul's ability to transcend past the physical into the supernatural and be able to conceive that which is universal and non- material? How would the soul then be able to live after


Nurture - Locke and Kant

A British physician and philosopher, John Locke, provided a framework to approach philosophical problems based on empiricism. Locke is viewed as the conventional advocate of this approach based on empiricism (Chaffee, 2011). John Locke, just as many philosophers of the era of enlightenment, did not subscribe to most of the traditional ways of thinking like the church's authority and privilege due to noble birth. He strongly believed that any person's destiny was determined by choices as well as education and not by their birth. Locke argued that a child was born with their mind as a blank slate upon which knowledge and values that were predominant in the society were to be written. These values were determined by the enlightened members of the society and thus the child had little option in choosing which values to adopt. Locke, however, wasn't consistent as he also believed that some differences were present in children at birth. This is not consistent with his 'blank slate' proposition. As far as psychology is concerned, Locke can be considered an associationist. He was of the belief that to develop an idea that was complex, you needed to make a series of easy and simple mental associations. These simple associations would be the foundation of understanding other complex ideas. You can therefore not understand a complex matter if you have no related associations to make of the matter. Locke was of the belief that teaching children required starting with simple concepts and then building on those simple concepts progressively by introducing more complex ideas. There is no way around the fact that repetition is what helps students learn what they need to learn (Fleming, 2008).

In contrast, Kant, a German philosopher, is revered for his work on speculative and moral reason as well as his theories that touched on the nature of human judgment. Kant was an influencer of different schools of thought in the 19th and 20th centuries, contributing a fresh view on epistemology - the awareness of the nature of knowledge - by critiquing the associated traditional conventions and ideas as well as the metaphysics concept. Kant sought to solve most of the mysteries then prevailing like what role morality or duty played upon an individual, what the difference between knowledge and faith is, the limitations of knowledge and faith as well as what difference existed between the known and the unknown. His philosophies helped lay aside the conflict between science and religion and brought to an end an intellectualism that had for a long time been one sided. Empiricists were predominantly of the view that understanding was pegged on ones experience and not much understanding could be achieved without experience. Rationalists, on the other hand, were of the opinion that one could achieve understanding without having experience. Kant theorized that the two views were not correct and that the hard positions on the two view points was a hindrance to understanding epistemology. Empiricists are proponents of the view that human knowledge can be initiated by sensations. The concept of tabula rosa was put forth by John Locke who was the most recognizable Empiricist. The concept advanced the idea of the mind being a blank slate upon which writings based on societal experiences would be made. Experiences, the Empiricists believed, were what taught a human being about his environment and helped shape his character and values. Experiences helped give him an identity and helped him understand relationships. Kant held a different opinion. He opined that the concept of blank slate put forth by the Empiricists could not explain some preconceived paradigms and also that other components could have only been drawn from the mind and nowhere else. Rationalists challenged the knowledge theory by saying that through logic and derivations,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Chaffee (2011).The philosopher's way: thinking critically about profound ideas. Retrieved from http://www.pearsonhighered.com/showcase/chaffee3e/assets/chaffee_ch3.pdf

Cohen, S.M. (2008). Aristotle on the Soul. Retrieved from http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/433/PsycheDisplay.pdf

Eltagouri, M. (2009). Immanuel Kant: Last Influential Philosopher of the Theory of Knowledge of the Enlightenment Era. Retrieved from http://condino-gruppsaplitcompclass.wikispaces.com/Immanuel+Kant

Fleming, J.S. (2008). The Nature of Human Nature: Philosophical Perspectives on Human Development. Retrieved from http://swppr.org/Textbook/Ch%203%20Philosophy.pdf
Metzger, P.L. (2014). Aristotle, Descartes and Materialism: On the Soul and Body. Retrieved from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uncommongodcommongood/2014/10/aristotle-descartes-and-materialism-on-the-soul-and-body/
Ricker, n.d. The mind body problem. Retrieved from http://sccpsy101.com/home/chapter-2/section-13/
Tracy, T. (1986). Two Views of Soul: Aristotle and Descartes, Illinois Classical Studies, 11, 247-264. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/23064082?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21104550223911

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