Monday, March 25, 2013

The Soul

The Soul
For sometime now many academicians and thinkers have perceived the tripartite perception of the human soul a school of thought whose body of evidence and supportive arguments is both unconvincing and inconclusive. Nevertheless, the existence or absence of a human soul is a topic that has been debated on severally by scholars, more so in the philosophical arenas. The soul, referred to as psuche in Greek, has attracted the interest of many academicians with each coming up with their own theoretical models and ideologies to try and disambiguate it. The contemporary descriptions and meanings associated with the concept of the soul have undergone certain transformations from those that existed in ancient philosophy. The ancient Greeks perceived the soul as that which left the human body at death through their legs and went into an underworld; in the underworld the, soul, which is but a shadow of the human would lead amore comfortable and admirable life.
Plato’s philosophy of human nature-Application to case of lit Commander Data
As depicted by Plato (70-80) the issues about what happened after a person’s death and whether or not there existed an afterlife were clouded with a lot of ambiguity in the early centuries. Despite the fact that Socrates believes in the existence of the soul and its survival long after the human body is dead, Plato (70a) clearly illustrates Cebes asserting that a majority of the people in Greece at the time did not believe in the existence of the soul; as a matter of fact, many believed that the soul died with the body. In Plato (70a, 77b and 80d) the soul is described as a tangible or material component that is both destructible and dissolvable. In Plato (70b and 76c) the soul is depicted as being immortal and able to function logically and portray possession of wisdom and knowledge long after it has departed from the dead body.
 Plato (78b-80b) in its descriptions of the soul brings up the two different components that are found in life; the tangible and physically destructible components which are made up of various segments as well as the intangible ones that can only be perceived in thought. These cannot be touched or exposed to a process of destruction due to their intangible nature. According to Plato, therefore, while the body is tangible and destructible, the soul is intangible and cannot be destroyed. Plato (79b and79c) there are also certain similarities between the soul and other divine forms; they are both invisible and they both play a leadership or governance role. While the divine forms in ancient Greece were believed to be in charge of the universe, Plato was convinced that the soul governs the body.
Lietenant Data, in the movie Star Trek, despite his being built in a manner to imply that he should be a clone of the humans, does not depict many of the characteristics that are expected of the body and soul sections of the humans as described by Plato (78b-80b). As a matter of fact, lieutenant data is unaffected by the illnesses that affect normal human beings; in addition to this, he cannot even dream. This implies that his is not really a body, as a human is.
The soul described by Plato is therefore an intelligent and wise being that is able to function with rationality. In Plato (94b) it is even implied that the levels of intelligence and cognitive prowess vary from one soul to the other. A soul guides the body in its longings, conduct as well as the making of effectual decisions; it also gives animation and life to the body. Despite the several plausible presuppositions, this theory by Plato fails to describe satisfactorily the relationship or distinction between the soul and the mind. Plato’s tripartite soul is believed to be spirited, appetitive and logical.
Rene Descartes described the concept of mankind as well as other organisms created by divine principles; these creatures were perceived as possessing both a body and soul. In his descriptions of the body, Descartes (2008: 107-115) depicts it as earthen machines intended to act like humans do. The activities of human beings are thus painted as being the result of an interrelationship between the human spirit and body. In his descriptions of the body as a mechanical form, the pineal gland is allowed invaluable importance especially in a human being’s capacity of imagination, consciousness, locomotion and recollection. His perceptions of this gland have however been proved erroneous by existence scientific and anatomical evidence. The assertion that the pinneus gland is located at the ventricle’s centre has already been ascertained as erroneous.
Decartes (107) denies any possible ties between the body and mind. While the body is comprehended through its mechanical functioning as well as its form, locomotion and extension, the mind is perceived as being an independent component with the capacity to engage in the rational activities of thought and self resolve. Decartes (112) admits confusion in regards to whether the mind and body are indeed distinct. In the elucidation of the body and soul, Decartes (351) asserts that the body on its own has no power of locomotion and that it is the soul that acts as the wind which propels the mechanic form; nevertheless, Decartes later on states that nutrition, feeling and locomotion are features of the body while the cognitive functions are the soul’s domain. Rather than be a body Decartes (353) describes himself as a thinking being; he perceives the soul as being very ambiguous and prefers describing the mind instead. He concludes by asserting that all that which can not rationally and with evidence be attributed to the human body should be attributed to the soul and vice versa; since there is no proof of the body being involved in logical reflections, though is therefore under the domain of the soul. Moreover, Decartes (355) perceives the soul as being joined to the body. While the body can be divided into parts, the soul is indivisible; despite the fact that the soul is related to the body and it functions via it Decartes (351-356) asserts that there are some body parts in which the soul is more active than others, with the most instrumental being the innermost part of the human brain. Due to the fact that he does not have a brain like humans do, Lieutenant Data cognitive functions are stored in a chip. It is here that his recall and knowledge is stored (In the movie Star Trek).
Allan Turing who lived from 1912-1954 was an individual who contributed a lot to the comparison between computer machinery and intelligence. This study was very interrelated to the debate about the body, mind and soul. It is in the within the first half of the twentieth century that Turing discovered the ability of electronic components to increase the capacity of storage as well as the rapidity of rational functions needed for mathematical purposes. The mannerisms of Turing and his computer technology were then related to the brain and its functions; Turing was persuaded beyond doubt that his computers could be enhanced in such a manner that they could perform all the operations performed by the human brain. In such manner Turing was skeptical, even mocking the concept of the soul; by insisting that computer machines could be structured to perform logical and intelligence functions similar to those of the human brain, he was bent on the mechanization of the human self will.
In the movie Star Trek, Lieutenant Commander Data is portrayed as having very impressive computational skills. Bearing in mind that Data is just but a creation of Doctor Noonien Soong, the assertion by Turing about creating machines that have the ability to perform the operations of the brain as well as depict as much intelligence as possible is given much credence.
Nancy Murphy is a philosopher who is very much interested in the comparison between philosophical and Christian doctrines. Murphy (2) asserts that the humans can either be analyzed using the physicalism or dualism schools of thought; physicalism implies that they are made up of only one part, which is the body She continues to assert that the major difference between the soul and the mind is the fact that, in recent days, the soul has been attached with a lot of spiritual connotations. The third perspective is trichotomism which is derived from the Biblical assertion that humans are made up of a spirit, soul and body.
The analysis of Lieutenant Data using the trichotomism theory allows one to understand the reason why Data experiences grave difficulties in his attempts to comprehend the mannerisms and conduct of human beings. Despite the fact that he was built and given a body, the body is mechanically programmed. This means that, especially in the early years of his existence, he is devoid of any sentiments and feelings. The peculiarity of human beings in manner, speech and thought patterns is also difficult for him to grasp since he lacks a spirit and soul; he operates on electronic data fed to him.
Me, Do I have a soul, Application to Commander
I believe that I do have a soul. In my perspective I incline greatly towards the school of thought of trichotomism which presupposes that the human person is composed of the soul, spirit and body. In such a line of thought, the soul is similar to the mind as described by ancient and present philosophers. The body is then mechanical as described by Descartes (351); nevertheless, the power or force that drives this machine called the body is the spirit. During death, the body decomposes and as a result of the spirit being imperishable, it departs from the body. One might then ask what I believe to be the role of the soul; the soul is the cognitive capacity of the spirit. This means that the spirit and soul are intermeshed and one does not exist without the other.

Work Cited
Eliezer J. Sternberg: ‘Are you a machine? The Brain, The Mind, And What It Means To Be
Human’ Humanity Books (2007)
Plato: ‘Phaedo’ Translated by Benjamin Jewott Forgotten Books, (2008) Pages (70a, 77b and
80d) (79b and79c)
Rene Decartes: ‘Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and
Replies’ Translated by Michael Moriarty Oxford University Press (2008) Pages (107-115) (351-356)
The Measure of a Man (Star Trek: The Next Generation) 35th Episode