• AcesHigh
    13
    Hello. I have an exam coming up and one of the questions is how do each of the philosophers above dualism differ from one another.

    I have most of it down, but I'm not sure.

    What I have so far is that Plato thought the union with the body is accidental (contingent) to the soul, and that the soul is the person. He posits a two-world ontology (World of Forms & World of Particulars). Essentially, soul and body are two separate things; soul being a part of the Forms and body being a part of the Particulars.

    Aristotle thought the union with the body is essential to the human soul, and the union of the soul and body is the person. Argued for a one-world ontology, Forms and Particulars reside in the same, and only, plane of existence. He posits hylomorphism; the soul is the form of the body, and the body is the matter of the soul.

    And then Descartes thought the union with the body is accidental to the soul (mind), and that the union of the mind and the body is the person. He believed the mind and body, while different substances, are tightly intertwined and interact with one another.

    Was Aristotle even a substance dualist? He thought the soul and body were of the same substance, so he couldn't be?

    Thank you.

  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.1k
    Was Aristotle even a substance dualist? He thought the soul and body were of the same substance, so he couldn't be?AcesHigh

    I think Aristotle had the soul, which is a type of form, as the substance of a living body, and matter as the substance of an inanimate body.
  • AcesHigh
    13


    Thank you for the reply. So he thought the substance to my body is my soul? Which clearly differs from Plato. And differs from Descartes as he thought the mind/body were two distinct substances simply intermingled (If I'm not misguided).
  • SomXtatisAccepted Answer
    15
    The soul is (for Aristotle, according to me) indeed the form of a living body, but this body is material and the form of a living body doesn't exist without the body at all. The substance is the thing that is, say a living being, and it is a composite of matter and form; for a form to actually exist, it needs matter, and for matter to exist, it needs to have some form. So no, Aristotle was not a substance dualist, though his substance is a composite of matter and form, with the latter actualizing the former so as to exist at all.

    As for Descartes and Plato, the way of being accidental to the body at least differ, since for Plato the body appears to affect the soul even after death (though obviously Plato never uses his own mouth to say this, I think, so who knows), but I don't think that's true of Descartes. If not that, then still Plato poses a theory (not sure where, sorry, it's been a while) of several souls existing in different parts of the body, with the rational soul being the highest type. Of course, one could just say that Plato is talking of different things than Descartes with the other souls apart from the rational, but he still uses the word soul of them (in the translation I read at least). Though I guess whatever was said in the lectures is the interpretation you carry to the exam, so maybe all this doesn't matter.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Re Aristotle, I wouldn't say that he was a substance dualist in the conventional, contemporary sense of that term. (And actually, I wouldn't say that it's clear that Plato was, either. I think it's a bit dubious attributing terms like this to people who predate the idea, unless there's really clear, explicit evidence of them saying more or less just the same thing, only not giving it the name in question).
  • AcesHigh
    13
    Thank you for the replies! I wonder if my prof knows that Aristotle isn't technically a substance dualist. I feel like if I put that on the exam he will take off marks.

    He didn't know Sartre said that man was in anguish and I had to go and buy a book to show him he actually said that lol.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Thank you for the replies! I wonder if my prof knows that Aristotle isn't technically a substance dualist. I feel like if I put that on the exam he will take off marks.AcesHigh

    I think it's important (for your grades), if your prof believes that Aristotle is a substance dualist, to respond on your exam first with a rephrasing of the explanation your prof or your textbook gave for this--if your prof, hopefully you took good notes (if not, this is an important reason to begin doing that).

    Depending on the prof's personality and the format of the exam (for example, are answers longer essays?), you could follow that up with your reasons why you disagree. In other words, start off with "On some views, Aristotle is a substance dualist by virtue of <blah blah blah where you're rephrasing your prof's or the textbook's comments--keep in mind that it's important to rephrase>." And then follow that up with, "However, I believe that ______" or "However, it seems to me that _______" and then you give your opposing views, but do so gently/with humility.
  • aletheist
    771
    ... and then you give your opposing views, but do so gently/with humility.Terrapin Station

    This is excellent advice ... for all of us participating in this forum, as well! 8-)
  • AcesHigh
    13


    Thank you! Very good advice. This prof, while a nice guy, is confusing. His PowerPoints look like he did them at 1am while drinking lol. And he doesn't seem to know what he wants from students at all. It looks like he just marks things based on his mood that day.

    Like I got a 98.80% in my philosophy of Sex & Love class (not trying to be arrogant I'm just super proud lol). I breezed through my Bioethics class. His class I'm getting an 85% and it's like I'm crawling through quick sand haha.

    Though he may respond well if I approach it as you suggested, maybe I can memorize a page in the textbook (if there is one for Aristotle's dualism) and reference it just to really drive the point home.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Re grading, sometimes it's just that a prof can be a hardass/be kind of stingy with grades, and sometimes it's because they have a strict bell curve adherence so that no matter what, only a small percentage of students in a class will get the highest marks.
  • AcesHigh
    13


    True. For one exam, which I got an 86 on, I went to talk to him about it. Some of the class got 10-25% on that exam, as most people just wrote down jot note answers.

    For one answer I asked him why he took off a mark, his reply was "it could always be better." He ended up giving me a full mark after rereading it. Then after proving Sartre actually said man was in anguish he bumped it up to a 90%.

    And he wrote a paper on Socrates, yet didn't know what aporia was? I don't know, he's a wild cat, and him and I are two very different people.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.1k
    The notion of "substance" is really not at all clear in Aristotle, and I'd say non-existent in Plato. In his logic, The Categories, I believe, Aristotle described a primary and secondary sense of "substance".

    Remember, Plato separated mind and body, and posited a third thing, passion or spirit, which acts as a intermediate between these two. You can find this in The Republic, he modeled his republic on this, with three corresponding classes of citizens. I don't believe Descartes has any such third aspect. This third aspect, which constitutes the relationship between mind and body is a useful defense against some modern criticism of dualism which insist that if mind and body are radically different there would be no possibility of interaction.
  • AcesHigh
    13

    Thank you!

    Well, that exam was a hot mess. The prof changed all of the questions he gave us. I forced my Plato dualism knowledge in though by tying it into epistemology ha.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Aristotle is arguably a substance pluralist. He thinks there are lots of different substances.
  • AcesHigh
    13

    Interesting. We didn't even get to write about Aristotle on the exam. It's good stuff to know though.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.1k
    Keep at it, philosophy is great fun, useful too. If you ever can't get to sleep at night (being anxious, stressed out, or just too high), pick up some Aristotle - problem solved!
  • miosim
    21
    Keep at it, philosophy is great fun, useful too. If you ever can't get to sleep at night (being anxious, stressed out, or just too high), pick up some Aristotle - problem solved!Metaphysician Undercover

    I am a layman trying to understand Aristotle's ideas about "whole and parts". By reading his original text I didn't feel like I am reading a great philosopher. Instead I feel like I am reading works of a proliferate demagogue and wondered if Goethe’s quote “When ideas fail, words come in very handy” is applicable to Aristotle’s metaphysics.
    Do I have this impression because I don't’ have a background in philosophy, or it is a bad translation or Aristotle was indeed a 'fool' wearing a mask of a philosopher?

    Below is a typical example of his writing:


    Book I

    "... When there are parts of a whole-the one that in which a thing is, the other the thing which is in
    it-the whole will be described as being in itself. For a thing is described in terms of its parts, as well
    as in terms of the thing as a whole, e.g. a man is said to be white because the visible surface of him
    is white, or to be scientific because his thinking faculty has been trained. The jar then will not be in
    itself and the wine will not be in itself. But the jar of wine will: for the contents and the container
    are both parts of the same whole.
    In this sense then, but not primarily, a thing can be in itself, namely, as 'white' is in body (for the
    visible surface is in body), and science is in the mind.
    It is from these, which are 'parts' (in the sense at least of being 'in' the man), that the man is
    called white, &c. But the jar and the wine in separation are not parts of a whole, though together
    they are. So when there are parts, a thing will be in itself, as 'white' is in man because it is in body,
    and in body because it resides in the visible surface. We cannot go further and say that it is in surface in virtue of something other than itself. (Yet it is not in itself: though these are in a way the
    same thing,) they differ in essence, each having a special nature and capacity, 'surface' and 'white'..."
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