Cover image for A brief guide to ideas
A brief guide to ideas
Raeper, William, 1959-
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Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan Pub. House, [2000]

Physical Description:
394 pages : charts ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.

Original edition published by Lion Publishing plc, Oxford, England.
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B72 .R34 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Philosophy -- dry and remote? Think again. It's as relevant as tonight's news, as immediate as the choices you make in a career. If you want to interact wisely with the world you live in, you need to understand the ideas that shape its commerce, launch its humanitarian efforts, trigger its wars, and profoundly impact the way you yourself approach God, life, and relationships. Postmodernism, Platonism, Humanism, Existentialism, Feminism, Rationalism, Fundamentalism, New Age . . . They're more than just terms. They're structures of thought you encounter constantly. This book gives you a fundamental grasp of what they are and how they influence your dealings with the world . . . and its dealings with you. You'll gain essential insights into over 40 of the world's major thinkers. Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Descartes, Kant, Locke, Marx, Nietsche, Freud, Wittgenstein . . . A Brief Guide to Ideas introduces to you these and many more of the great philosophers. You'll develop a working knowledge of numerous key ideas and movements. And you'll learn how philosophers and religions through the ages have grappled with critical questions that influence your life today.



Chapter 4 The Nature of the Soul Aristotle and Identity Who are you exactly? That might seem a strange question, but have you ever suddenly caught sight of yourself in a mirror and wondered for a second who it is you are looking at? You can see a familiar face but just for a second you wonder who or what it is that makes you yourself apart from your body. Once we start thinking about ourselves in this way all sorts of questions arise: * Who am I exactly? * How do I know who I am? * How can I know I'm the same person today as I was yesterday? * What is it in me that causes me to be alive? * Do I have a soul which survives my body after death? Plato and the person In Platonic thought a person is part of the physical world in that he or she has a body through which sense-impressions can be received. But at the same time he or she has an immaterial mind which is capable of knowing eternal truths beyond the world. There is also a directing force, the soul, which Plato pictures as a chariot rider, which is guiding and being guided by two horses, mind and body. The mind wants to travel into the heavenly realm of the ideas and to understand them; the body wants to be involved in worldly matters to do with the senses. The human soul is caught between these two opposing forces. The soul is trying to steer but is trapped in the prison of the body. Therefore, according to Plato, people have no real freedom if their lives are concentrated on physical requirements. However, your soul can free itself from this bondage and direct your life, both your physical circumstances and your intellectual pursuits. But it is only after bodily existence that the soul rises upward to the eternal world of Ideas. For Plato soul and body are two different things. The soul is immortal; it inhabits the body temporarily. Aristotle and the soul Aristotle's idea of the soul is very different from Plato's. In his account On the Soul, Aristotle gives a general account of what he believes a soul is. He follows the belief common to the Greeks that the soul is the principle of life: inquiry into the soul is enquiry into the different forms of life. The basic form of life is found in plants, which feed themselves, grow, decay and reproduce. So the basic form of soul consists in the ability to do these things; all forms of life manifest this. The word 'soul' then, simply describes how something is alive in the world. A 'soul' is not necessarily separate from the body or eternal. On the contrary, a 'soul' is what gives a body life. With animals there is the additional capacity for sense-perception, and in most of them the capacity for movement. For Aristotle oak trees and ostriches had psyche (or 'soul') as much as monkeys or men. The word 'soul' did not mean the same as 'mind'. Rather everything that lives has psyche, but human beings are at the top of creation. It is this hierarchical arrangement which makes it difficult to say that Aristotle had one single definition of the soul. A soul is what makes a body work. These souls are not bits of special spiritual stuff which have been placed inside the living body. They are sets of powers, capabilities and faculties. For Aristotle, to have a soul is like having a skill; it is not a part of you which functions independently from any other part. He wrote: 'One should not ask if the soul and the body are one, any more than one should ask it of the wax and the shape, or in general of the matter of anything and that of which it is the matter.' In Aristotle's thinking there is no problem about how soul and body can co-exist and work together. This idea of the soul makes any thought of personal survival after death impossible. Plato had said that souls pre-existed birth and continued after the death of those bodies which they inhabited. Aristotle disagreed with this. Just as skills cannot exist apart from skilled people, so a soul is not the kind of thing that can survive the person. How could my skills, my character or my temper survive me? A popular view at the time of Plato was that life begins when the soul enters the body. Aristotle argued that soul and body are inseparable: the soul cannot exist without a body any more than walking can happen without any legs. His works take the biological attitude towards life. The powers and principles of the soul are 'corporeal': to be alive ('animated') is to be a body with certain capacities. Aristotle takes the idea of the soul out of the eternal and places it in the here and now. He reduces soul to the essence or form of body. He is seen as having a 'materialist' view of humankind because he rejects the Platonic idea of a spiritual soul. Soul does not somehow come in from the outside. The only thing that comes in from the outside according to Aristotle is 'thought' and 'intellect'. For Aristotle, the soul and the mind are not the same thing. Excerpted from A Brief Guide to Ideas by William Raeper, Linda Edwards All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part 1 How and What Can We Know?Epistemology
1 Knowledge and Reason
Plato and the Ancient Greeks
2 Theories of Knowledge
Plato and Aristotle
3 Faith and Reason
Part 2 Who Am I?
The Question of Identity
4 The Nature of the Soul
Aristotle and Identity
5 Mind and Body Divided
RenT Descartes' Dualism
6 What Price the Soul?
Modern Debate on the Mind/Body Problem
Part 3 Does God Exist?
Philosophy of Religion
7 From Plato to Bertrand Russell
Arguments for the Existence of God
8 The Five Ways
Thomas Aquinas
9 The Argument from Religious Experience
The Bible and the Mystics
Part 4 Routes to Knowledge
Rationalism and Empiricism
10 Knowing through the Mind
RenT Descartes
11 Knowing through our Senses
John Locke and Bishop Berkeley
12 The Limits of Knowing
David Hume
Part 5 Why Do We Exist?
13 Faith: the Highest Way of Living
S°ren Kierkegaard
14 The Nature of Being
Martin Heidegger
15 Free to Choose
Jean-Paul Sartre
Part 6 All in the Mind?
16 God as Psychological Projection
Ludwig Feuerbach
17 The Unconscious Mind
Sigmund Freud
18 The Collective Unconscious
Carl Gustav Jung
Part 7 How Should Society Be Organized?
19 The Republic
20 The Ultimate Political Pragmatist
Niccolo Machiavelli
21 Class Conflict
Karl Marx
Part 8 Is Man the Measure of All Things?
22 The Rise of Humanism
Erasmus and the Renaissance
23 Beyond Good and Evil
Friedrich Nietzsche
24 Humanism in the Modern World
John Stuart Mill
Part 9 Who is Jesus?
The Person of Christ
25 Christology through the AgesJesus, the Son of God
26 The Kingdom of God
Jesus of Nazareth
27 Revelation and Response
Some People of Faith
Part 10 What Place Has the Bible?
The Question of Interpretation
28 The Struggle for Understanding
The Early Christians
29 The ReformationMartin Luther and John Calvin
30 Interpreting the Bible Today
Conservatives and Radicals
Part 11 Does Science Have the Answers?
Science and Belief
31 Creation and Evolution
Charles Darwin
32 The Meaning of Modern Science
Einstein and the New Physics
33 Miracles in a Scientific World
The Argument with Hume
Part 12 The Nature of Meaning
Skepticism and Pluralism
34 The Enlightenment
Immanuel Kant
35 Language Games
Ludwig Wittgenstein
36 Pluralism
Reality is Relative
Part 13 What Are the Boundaries of Reality?
The Paranormal
37 The Quest for the Transcendent
Christianity and the Paranormal
38 The Devil and All His Works
Belief in Satan Today
39 The Problem of Evil and Suffering
An Age-old Question
Part 14 God the Mother?
40 The Maleness of Reason
A Feminist Viewpoint
41 Patriarchy and Women
Mary Wollstonecraft and Others
42 Male and Female in the Bible
Feminist Theology
Part 15 Anything Goes?
Relativism Versus Certainty
43 Moral Relativism
William James and the American Pragmatists
44 Postmodernity
Culture in Change
45 Fundamentalism
Reality is Certain
Part 16 Renaissance or Delusion?
New Age Thinking
46 Shifting the Paradigm
Modern New Age Movements
47 The Me-Cult
New Age Psychology
48 Tomorrow's World
A Bird's-eye View
Appendix: For Further Thinking