Okay, so I did this write-up on the soul. It sucks and is way too simplistic, but here it is. I’m not going to get into why I wrote it or for whom, but I wrote it, so here it is:
So I have been assigned to write about the soul. Very well, but this topic is quite complex. Much of what I am about to say has been heavily influenced by Plato, specifically Republic, a dialogue I read in my first year of high school that deeply influenced me. I may also reference other dialogues throughout.
The first task if one is going to talk about the soul is to prove that it exists. My argument for this mostly comes from Alcibiades I. When one looks at a person, one sees their body, so it is easy to assume that a person consists solely of a body. A Humean empirical approach would make this conclusion and never be moved to posit anything besides the body. I am not, however, a Humean empiricist, and will reason that an individual is more than simply his body. My reasoning for this is that an individual can think about his body, and effectively uses it. A distinction must be made between something that is used and that which does the using. Just as a coffee pot cannot use itself, a body cannot use itself. Therefore, there must exist something that is not the body which effectively uses the body. This entity I term the soul.
Now one must examine the characteristics of this supposed soul. This portion of what I am saying has been influenced, as stated, by Republic. The main question I am asking here is about unity. Is the soul unified, or is it a collective? The idea of a unified soul is common to most major religions, after all, and most people in the world will tell you that yes, the soul is indivisible. Nevertheless, I disagree. A unity must not be self-contradictory, or else it is not a unity. We experience the souls of others through their bodies. We are our own soul. Can we observe a unity in the soul? I would argue that we cannot. In human life, we often want two things that are mutually exclusive at the same time, or have other conflicting impulses. Therefore, we must conclude that most major religions ar wrong when they posit a unified soul.
A non-unified soul cannot really be termed “a soul.” Rather, we must think of it as multiple souls, which do within themselves possess unity. According to Plato, these souls are a trinity, comprised of the appetitive, the emotional, and the rational. Plato believed that in a just and happy human, the rational portion is dominant, though people in whom other parts were dominant could be useful to society. I have minor problems with the idea of these three souls as enumerated by Plato. Specifically, I think that what he sees as the rational soul is actually something very different. Plato was a rationalist, but I am not. There is a tendency to try and force whatever is positive into one’s own camp. He recognized that there was a part of the individual that consistently makes the right decisions, and, since he was a rationalist, he assumed that this part must be reason. I disagree. Instead, I would argue that this part is, in fact, divine; the portion of every person that connects to the whole of the universe.