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The Body and Soul

Discussions on whether or not the soul can exist independently of the body—and, therefore, such distinction presupposes that it is reasonable to expect transformation into something alive after people die—go as far back as the time of Plato and Socrates. Today, the same question still continues to become part of discussions in modern life and times. One of the reasons as to why the discussion remains integral in contemporary society is that humanity cannot and will never escape the thought of dying. In other words, the main consequence of being alive is the inevitability of death.

It has been one of the key concerns in ancient times. It remains so today. The fact that modern science has persistently grappled with the subject of extending life expectancy through medicine and scientific and technological procedures only implies that it is never enough to expect an afterlife. Humanity has attempted to defeat even just the fear of dying by depending on drugs that sustain physical well-being, returning to a so-called “green” lifestyle, and even imploring the aid of plastic surgeries just to look young (Falkenhain and Handal, p.

68). Although it can be said that some medical operations are sought primarily to cure an ailment or disease, it also directs our attention towards the idea that people do not want to die. If people are fearless of diseases and death, it can be attributed to the notion that they strongly believe in an afterlife. However, very few people or none at all are devoid of the same fear. The quest for the fountain of eternal youth, so to speak, is proof to mankind’s vulnerability to the prospect of death.

These things being said, it is safe to presume that majority of the people subscribe to the idea that the soul is not totally detached from the body; whether or not they explicitly profess that belief is out of the question. What remains important is that people desire to extend their life. Aristotle holds the same belief that the soul is not separate from the body. In today’s time, his idea retains its significant importance as it relates to observable behaviors. Plato would contend otherwise.

In a way, Plato asserts that the soul is distinct from the body (Broadie, p. 296) and, consequently, there is reason to believe that man will be transformed into something alive beyond death. This can be attributed to several religious beliefs which espouse the idea that our mortal lives are secured by an afterlife. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, advances the religious doctrine that there is heaven apart from the idea that there is hell. Either way, it maintains that man does not cease to exist after death.

He may be eternally rewarded in heaven or may be forever punished in hell. Another example is the belief in Hinduism that people can be reincarnated into something else until the soul or atman reaches the point of salvation (Sharma and Young, p. 596). A primary factor is a person’s karma or actions which lead to a series of causes and effects. All the assertions of the major religions in the world presenting the idea of a soul distinct and separate from the body reinforce the belief in the man’s active possession of a soul that enables him to transcend death.

Even though several scientific discoveries disprove the idea of the soul, human beings still rely on the fundamental religious doctrine of life beyond death precisely because to believe otherwise is to reduce one’s self to an existential dilemma. The loss of the belief in a soul that continues to exist even after the corporeal body has decayed is equivalent to the loss in the belief that life has its use. Otherwise, a life that is confined within the limits of the physical body is a life that will cease to exist, ending into the nothingness that people fear.

That same idea throws back the same concern regarding humanity’s quest for an unending life or, at the least, eternal youth. Plato and Socrates, despite being considered giants in the field of philosophy, have proposed their respective ideas concerning life and death of body and soul which have been the subject of much debate. At the least, the persisting debates suggest that there is much disagreement over the concepts of the soul, or as to whether or not there is life that can be expected even after death. But while the debates linger, science and religion have played distinct roles in preserving or destroying the notion of the soul.

On one hand, science has led others to believe that there is no point in believing in the soul, more so in an afterlife, and that people should live as if each day is their last. In effect, people are encouraged to take every means possible in order to preserve their youth. On the other hand, religion has given hopes to its millions of devout followers that life does not end in this world. There is a soul, religion contends, and people should strive to attain a meaningful life as they live so that they can reap the rewards of the afterlife.

In any case, what is clear is that the preservation of the body cannot be simply abandoned. Plato and Socrates will have to agree. With the rise of modern technology and advanced science as well as the continuous hold of religion on its flock of followers, the end to the disparate beliefs on the concept of the soul is nowhere near in sight. It is safe to say, however, that despite differences in beliefs discourses pertaining to life and death and to body and soul remain parts of humanity’s most significant, if not the most significant, concerns.

Works Cited Broadie, Sarah. “Soul and Body in Plato and Descartes. ” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 101 (2001): 295-308. Falkenhain, Marc, and Paul J. Handal. “Religion, Death Attitudes, and Belief in Afterlife in the Elderly: Untangling the Relationships. ” Journal of Religion and Health 42. 1 (2003): 67-76. Sharma, Arvind, and Katherine K. Young. “The Meaning of Atmahano Jana? in Isa Upani? ad 3. ” Journal of the American Oriental Society 110. 4 (1990): 595-602.

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