Defending Materialism


Defending Materialism Essay, Research Paper

Defending Materialism

Dualism means the complete separation of the mental world and the physical world. In philosophy, it is the theory that the world is explicable only as a world composed of two distinct and mutually exclusive factors: the mind and the body. Socrates and Plato are called dualists because they think that mind and body are separate and distinct substances. Mind is conscious and non-spatial and body is spatial but not conscious. While separate, the two supposedly interact. Socrates argues that the mind and body are separable and the soul is immortal. It is through the mouth of Socrates that Plato presents his argument for dualism. The argument contains three parts. First, the harmony analogy is inconsistent with the recollection argument. Next, the harmony analogy entails that all souls are equally virtuous. Lastly, the harmony analogy cannot account for the fact that the soul can resist the body s temptations and can control the body s behavior.

Materialism, on the other hand, is a way that people consider the relations between mind and matter to be inseparable. We are physical beings and our mental reactions are just by-products of a material process; the human being is not, nor has, a non-material aspect, but is a purely physical entity. Materialists believe that the human soul cannot exist because the soul is something mental and when the body dies, the brain fails to survive as well and our concept of soul no longer exists. I believe that materialism can be defended and Socrates three objections can be disproved using Simmias argument of harmony.

Simmias harmony analogy uses harmony, lyre, and strings to defend materialism. Simmias replies to Socrates, a harmony is something invisible, without body, beautiful and divine in the attuned lyre, whereas the lyre and itself and its strings are physical, bodily, composite, earthly and akin to what is mortal. Then if someone breaks the lyre, cuts or breaks the strings and then insists, using the same argument as you, that the harmony must still exist and is not destroyed because it would be impossible for the lyre and strings, which are mortal, to exist when the strings are broken, and for the harmony, which is akin and of the same nature as the divine and immortal, to be destroyed before that which is mortal; he would say that the harmony itself still must exist and the wood and the strings must rot before the harmony can suffer If then the soul is a kind of harmony or attunement, clearly, when our body is relaxed or stretched without due measure by diseases and other evils, the soul must immediately be destroyed, even if it be most divine, as are the other harmonies found in music and all the works of artists, and the remains of each body last for a long time until they rot or are burned (Plato 36, 37). This analogy shows the soul as being mortal, as the wood and strings rot away and are destroyed, so does the soul.

Socrates states that harmony analogy is inconsistent with the recollection argument. According to Socrates, we must at some previous time have learned what we now recollect. Socrates believes that this is possible only if our soul existed somewhere before it took on this human shape. So according to this theory, the soul is likely to be something immortal. This argument sounds stable, but Simmias harmony analogy clearly disproves this, as harmony cannot occur without the lyre and strings, thus proving that there had to be a lyre and strings in order to create harmony.

The harmony analogy entails that all souls are equally virtuous can be disproved by the outcasts in the world. If each soul were equally virtuous, there would not be people like Hitler (mentioned in lecture) or Jeffrey Dahmer in the world. It is impossible for every soul to be harmonized, because they would all act alike and have the same values. To each his own harmony, for no one person is exact.

Socrates final objection is the harmony analogy cannot account for the fact that the soul can resist the body s temptations and can control the body s behavior. Socrates believes that the soul directs the body, as harmony does not direct the lyre. From a materialist s point of view, the body and soul work together, rather than Socrates belief that the soul takes over the body. When a human being gets sick, he or she will obviously not act the same as usual. The body has much control over how we act and what we do. The soul and body are in sync with each other.

The nature of being is a philosophy debate that will continue as long as there are people to think about it. It is up to the individual to determine whether the mind and body are two distinct factors and the soul is immortal, or if the soul is inseparable from the body and a purely physical entity. Both arguments have stability, yet it is easy to see that what Socrates says can be disproved through the analogy of Simmias.

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