the earliest systematic concept of mind and body stems from the
philosophy of the Greek philosopher Plato (429-347 BC). Plato, like
Descartes, saw the mind as identical with the soul. However, unlike
Descartes, Plato argued that the soul both pre-existed and survived
the body, going through a continual process of reincarnation or
important concept to bear in mind when considering Plato's understanding
of the soul's relationship to the body is his "theory of forms".
According to this view, each thing that exists on earth - or even
as an object of language - has a corresponding "form"
or perfect idea. So, in the example used by Plato, a simple thing
such as a bed would be linked to the perfect idea of a bed that
exists independently (which all other beds share). The same thing
would also apply to such things as colours, moral values or types
of animal. For instance, the thing that all the different shades
of red have in common is that they all correspond in some way to
the form, or perfect idea, of "red".
Plato, the soul - or mind - obtained knowledge through recollection
of these forms. By doing this the soul was simply returning to the
state of knowledge which it had before birth. Because of this view,
Plato's arguments for dualism centre on the relationship between
reincarnation and the process of obtaining knowledge through acquaintance
with the forms.
presents 4 main arguments for dualism, which can all be found in
the dialogue Phaedo.
Coming to be and ceasing to be (The Cyclical Argument). This argument
relies on the notion that opposites rely upon one another and
in fact lead to one another. In terms of life and death, this
leads to the conclusion that, if life leads to death, then death
must also lead to life. So, the living come from - or are reincarnations
of - the dead, which then die and are born again (and so on).
Knowing is Remembering (The Recollection Argument). The second
argument is based on the idea that all knowledge is simply a form
of recollection. This is proven by showing that a young, untutored
boy, with no knowledge of maths or geometry, can be led to display
or "arrive at" knowledge which he did not know he possessed.
How, Plato argues, could he display such knowledge unless he were
The Indestructibility of the Soul (The Affinity Argument). The
third argument attempts to prove that the soul - although it may
arguably predate birth - also survives death. Since the body is
mortal, changing and made up of different parts, the soul - which
seems not to be composed of many parts - must therefore also be
immortal and unchanging.
The Argument from Opposites. Since death is the opposite of life,
and opposites are mutually exclusive, therefore when the body
dies, life must go on.