Is the soul and the body separable? Does one "survive" without the other? Aristotle and Plato had their ideas - St. Thomas Aquinas triumphs (as the pic above is entitled). A couple folks adding their thoughts on this in a different forum:
hylomorphism is a philosophy of the human person. It is differentiated
from 'dualism' which (as Plato said) was a way of looking at the human
person as if the soul were stuck in the body. It is also different from
materialism, which states that their is no immaterial soul, that the
human person is only matter.
Hylomorphism states that there is a
immaterial soul and material body, but the soul is not just stuck in the
body. The body is not a chain holding the soul down from it's true
freedom (again, this is something Plato says in one of his dialogues).
Rather the immaterial soul and the material body are intimately
connected and, though it might be an oversimplification to say it this
way, the soul shapes, in a sense, the form of the body.
interpret hylomorphism to say that the body and soul are still two
separate things, but others interpret hylomorphism to say that there is
no way to really separate the two, that they are again intimately linked
and that it is strange to think of one without the other.
was not so emphatic about form and matter’s inseparability. As a
Dominican priest, Aquinas had high regard for Scripture, which
indicates a separation is possible. Verses such as Matthew 10:28 teach
that the body and soul are not mutually dependent: “Do not be afraid of
those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Perhaps the
strongest argument against stringent Aristotelian hylomorphism is in 1
Corinthians 15:40, where Paul writes of the resurrection: “There are
also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of
the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies
Nevertheless, Aquinas was able to combine
hylomorphism with essential Christian tenets. He claimed that, even
though the soul and body are linked, the soul can survive
without the body. The soul is simply incomplete until re-embodied. The
soul or “form” of a human exists in an unnatural state until God
resurrects the body. In this way Aquinas explained the transition
between the death of the earthly body and the resurrection of a
heavenly body. Having a body, according to Aquinas, is essential to
being human, and thus humanity cannot be perfected without one.
I will try and explain Thomistic hylomorphism, how one of my uncle explained me with an example.
I have a car. My car is made up of both the form of a car and the matter of a car. The
car is made up of certain pieces of matter, let's say exactly 10,000
pieces of matter, for simplicity's sake. We could disassemble the car
and there would be exactly 10,000 parts we could line up. There's also molds for the car parts and a blueprint for it's assembly. I have all those things to make another copy of my car. One
could say that the matter of the car is simply the 10,000 parts lined
up and that the form of the car is the blueprint and molds - really, the
form is the precise 'outline' of all the car parts assembled in the
right way to make the car. The parts all have to be in the right place
to be called 'the form of a car'.
Does this make sense?
I found this discussion intriguing, and open the topic here for discussion too... thoughts?