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Comparison of Descartes’ “Meditation” and Plato’s “Phaedo” Essay

Descartes and Plato offered thoughtful arguments about how separate human soul or mind is from body, beliefs contained in “Meditations” and “Phaedo” literatures respectively. Though, mind and soul and used interchangeably, their connotations are different. According to Franklin (289-293), whereas, Plato consistently uses of the psuche (soul), Descartes shuns it in his arguments. For instance, in his “Meditations” of theology targeted at Sorbonne, Descartes indicates that the soul is immortal (Besheer 55).

In general, the Descartes’ philosophy is linked to the church’s connotation of the most significant part of an individual’s body, which is acknowledged as existent, even after the end of physical life. The spiritual part of an individual is, therefore, what can be stained by sin and be purified, called upon during salvation, and ultimately during the Last Judgment, hence does not suffer any form of confusion or end of ‘life’ (Besheer 56-57).

Nevertheless, unlike Plato, what Descartes promised he would expose is the impurity of the mind, which he opined, harbors errors that are shaped by the prevailing intellectual guidelines (Besheer 55-97). In addition, he said the errors of the mind do not meet the threshold of sins against morals. In addition to Descartes’ machine-body philosophy, if an individual’s body even subsists, which at the introductory section of “Meditation” he casts doubt on, he indicates that a mind is mainly meant to think and envisage.

Nonetheless, these roles of the mind fall short of animating any physical body system (Besheer 58-67). And since he believes in himself as the only person with accurate thinking capacity, and since he is certain about his own life as an avid thinking creature, Descartes believes his mind is accurate.

Nevertheless, Plato’s “Phaedo” tacitly criticizes Descartes’ ability to realize a functional mind without the corporeal processes. Generally, it is likely that the subsistence of the mind or its operations of judgment is linked to the body in one way or another (Besheer 55-97).

In view of this, though the body does not enhance the activities of the mind the same way a physical ability contributes to body actions, the mind depends on the body based on the fact that a vibrant mind draws lively qualities from the physical body. Eventually, however, Besheer (89-97) indicates Descartes affirms that in relation to his lucid and diverse philosophies of mind and human physical abilities, these natures don’t exist disparately.

It is notable, though, that Descartes believes his thoughtfulness as having helped him discover his philosophical accuracy. Therefore, he can summarize his ideas on the premise that theologically, mind or soul is disparate from physical self; and this, forms the foundation for affirming the immortal nature of soul or mind.


Analysts of the “Phaedo” sometimes punch holes in Plato’s philosophy for blurring the difference between soul and mind (Franklin 289-314). Plato apparently links mind to thinking, while soul, according to him (Franklin 290-291) is charged with the duty of necessitating body animation. Although, this signifies more of a terrible error, it falls short of being termed confusion. In general, a mistake can be made while attempting to establish an essential issue.

For the linkage of envisaging soul to animating soul is what forms the basis of Plato’s hypothesis in the “Phaedo” (Franklin 312-313). In an attempt to comprehend this, an individual might give the impression of discerning a similarity between opinion and body movements if thinking is related to the practice of intellect, which may seem innate for many individuals, that the realistic activity is putting intelligence to work.

For the individual of sensible intelligence is exposed to the sensible needs of his condition. This is in contrast to a theoretically responsive organism that is exposed to influential environmental factors, which are different from the manner in which a body system is impacted by chemical factors within the body.

Additionally, an individual who is not reactive to issues that impress most of his or her peers may not be perfectly sane. Such individuals often do not properly respond to their corporeal demands (Franklin 291-311). Conversely, such an individual does not, however, function below the physiological threshold; rather, these people may be regarded as mainly fulfilling their social existence. This enables them to achieve animations and relation, which becomes lively if livened.

Life at this degree confirms being biologically active, and for most people, biologically life automatically impacts effective actions, except during sleep. Notably, these two aspects of being active are intertwined in such a way that, instead of drawing similar perceptions of both of them, an individual might, more simply perhaps, view them as similar, hence conflate what he or she believes sets the physical body on the move.


In general, “Phaedo” and “Meditations” provide clear perceptions of Plato and Descartes on the soul or mind and the body. Whereas Descartes suggests that human soul is immortal and acts independently, Plato indicates that soul or mind is directly linked to the living body.

Plato avers that the model exercise of aptitude is hypothetical or at in most cases not directly practical. Additionally, Descartes believes that Christianity is based on the human soul, which is summoned during spiritual encounters such as salvation or cleansing, and will be of need during the judgment day (Besheer 55-57).

On his part, Plato builds his philosophy on the fact that, since the ideological soul is fully functional when exposed to an influential environment, he concludes that it would be easier to explore the soul-body connection if death separated them.

Works Cited

Besheer, Kirsten. Descartes’ doubts: physiology and the first meditation. Philosophical Forum, 40.1 (2009): 55-97.

Franklin, Lee. Recollection and Philosophical Reflection in Plato’s Phaedo. Phronesis, 50.4 (2005): 289-314.

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1. IvyPanda. "Comparison of Descartes’ “Meditation” and Plato’s “Phaedo”." June 12, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-descartes-meditation-and-platos-phaedo/.


IvyPanda. "Comparison of Descartes’ “Meditation” and Plato’s “Phaedo”." June 12, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-descartes-meditation-and-platos-phaedo/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "Comparison of Descartes’ “Meditation” and Plato’s “Phaedo”." June 12, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-descartes-meditation-and-platos-phaedo/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'Comparison of Descartes’ “Meditation” and Plato’s “Phaedo”'. 12 June.

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