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DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-N011-1
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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N011-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/death/v-1

2. Death as separation of body from soul

In the Phaedo, Plato has Socrates say:

Is it [death] not the separation of soul and body? And to be dead is the completion of this; when the soul exists in herself, and is released from the body and the body is released from the soul, what is this but death?

(Phaedo [Jowett, 1937 vol. 1]: 447)

These remarks suggest a view about the nature of death:

  • (D2) x dies at t =df. x’s soul separates from x’s body at t

This is problematic, one problem being that (D2) entails that if a thing is to die, it must have a soul. Yet many find it hard to believe that plants (which clearly can die) have souls. Similarly, many find it hard to believe that every living cell has a soul, and yet cells can die.

Many philosophers accept a materialist conception of people. They think that people are material objects – their bodies. Materialists of this sort think that people have no souls. Unless they want to say that people never die, (D2) is clearly unacceptable to such materialists (see Materialism).

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Citing this article:
Feldman, Fred. Death as separation of body from soul. Death, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N011-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/death/v-1/sections/death-as-separation-of-body-from-soul.
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