Untitled Essay Research Paper The question of

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Untitled Essay, Research Paper The question of the reality of the soul and its distinction from the body is among the most important problems of philosophy, for with it is bound up the doctrine of a future life. The soul may be defined as the ultimate internal principle by which we think, feel, and will, and by which our bodies are animated. The term "mind" usually denotes this principle as the subject of our conscious states, while "soul" denotes the source of our vegetative activities as well. If there is life after death, the agent of our vital activities must be capable of an existence separate from the body. The belief in an active principle in some sense distinct from the body is inference from the observed facts of life. The lowest savages arrive at

the concept of the soul almost without reflection, certainly without any severe mental effort. The mysteries of birth and death, the lapse of conscious life during sleep, even the most common operations of imagination and memory, which abstract a man from his bodily presence even while awake; all such facts suggest the existence of something besides the visible organism. An existence not entirely defined by the material and to a large extent independent of it, leading a life of its own. In the psychology of the savage, the soul is often represented as actually migrating to and fro during dreams and trances, and after death haunting the neighborhood of its body. Nearly always it is figured as something extremely volatile, a perfume or a breath. In Greece, the heartland of our

ancient philosophers, the first essays of philosophy took a positive and somewhat materialistic direction, inherited from the pre-philosophic age, from Homer and the early Greek religion. In Homer, while the distinction of soul and body is recognized, the soul is hardly conceived as possessing a substantial existence of its own. Severed from the body, it is a mere shadow, incapable of energetic life. Other philosophers described the soul’s nature in terms of substance. Anaximander gives it an aeriform constitution, Heraclitus describes it as a fire. The fundamental thought is the same. The soul is the nourishing agent which imparts heat, life, sense, and intelligence to all things in their several degrees and kinds. The Pythagoreans taught that the soul is a harmony, its

essence consisting in those perfect mathematical ratios which are the law of the universe and the music of the heavenly spheres. All these early theories were cosmological rather than psychological in character. Theology, physics, and mental science were not as yet distinguished. In the "Timaeus" (p. 30), one of Plato’s writings, we find an account derived from Pythagorean sources of the origin of the soul. First the world-soul is created according to the laws of mathematical symmetry and musical harmony. It is composed of two elements, one an element of "sameness", corresponding to the universal and intelligible order of truth, and the other an element of distinction or "otherness", corresponding to the world of sensible and particular existences.

The individual human soul is constructed on the same plan. The Stoics taught that all existence is material, and described the soul as "a breath pervading the body". They also called it Divine, a particle of God; it was composed of the most refined and ethereal matter. They denied absolute immortality; relative immortality, ending with the universal conflagration and destruction of all things, some of them admitted in the case of the wise man. Yet many others, such as Panaetius and Posidonius, denied even this, arguing that, as "the soul began with the body, so it must end with it". With Socrates came a revolution in all manners of thought. As, perhaps, the most influential of philosophers, and also one of the best known, it is truly unfortunate he left the