Chapter Two (The Spirit and The Soul )

The Greek Philosophers and The Soul

Following the ancient Egyptians were the Greek philosophers who introduced a clear view regarding the soul and the spirit, and their functions and relation to the body. The early Greek philosophers, like Homer, did not mention anything significant about the soul and the spirit in their methodology, where they combine between myth, gods’ deeds and man’s fortune. However, they did not differentiate between the soul and the spirit in their methodology. To the ancient Greeks, man is made of soul and body; his body is formed of water and dust to which it decomposes after death.
According to the Greek philosophers, the soul is like a breeze united with the body and takes its form and shape. After death it becomes a fine ghost which the living can not sense. It then descends to the underground kingdom of the dead to spend a meaningless life. In the underground world, the body loses its ability to move but retains its feelings. There is no punishment but only reward that is granted according to the wills of the gods.
They also claim that all people should yield to the gods in fear of their punishment and in gratitude of their kindness. Disbelief in the gods was considered a form of treason against the country, and was punished by the law. Later, the Greek thought developed into realizing that there is a difference between man’s behavior and what he takes as his ideal model. Thus, they began to develop man’s relation with the gods that later became a close and unified one which ensure man’s participation in the divine happiness. This relationship is not that which exists between master and slave, but rather a good one that is based on respect and love. Following that period came a number of Greek philosophers who thoroughly investigated and supported these issues; among them were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Those who came after them either further explained these ideas or simply rephrased or paraphrased them.
Socrates, however, adopted the wonderful wisdom which he read on the tombs. It says ” know your self by yourself ”, and on this he based all of his philosophy. He believed that abiding by this principle ensures human happiness where man knows his true self and discover its real essence. Socrates directions indicate that he used the idea of the soul a lot in his discussions and sometimes replaced it with the spirit but he did not differentiate between them. He was thus able to reach valuable and constructive philosophical facts the contributed to man’s knowledge.
Plato, on the other hand, maintained that the soul is a fixed entity that accepts spiritual matters and differs from matter. Its freedom from the prison of matter ensures a special life for it. He used to say: ” How can we realize the difficult sublime issues without a spiritual soul? And how can we judge it? Plato also dealt in detail with the sameness theory which proclaims that similar virtues are often close to each other. He did not differentiate between the soul and the spirit as he relates and adds one to the other, calling it ” the spiritual soul ”. This view was also adopted by other Greek philosophers who followed him later on.
These were the perceptions of earlier intellectuals in this respect which started as pagan and naïve. It later developed into the concept indicating that the human soul is the place of the forces of anger and instinct responsible for man’s behavior. This means that it directs man’s conduct and gives life to him, all of which is reflected in his doings. Thus, they said ”good soul and good spirit” and also ”evil soul and evil spirit”, using the same description for both words.
It is worth noting, however, that we do not underestimate the importance of the facts found in this field. It is a great thing that Socrates revealed the fact that man’s happiness lays in his own self knowledge, and also Plato’s concept of dividing one’s self into its different forces. All the efforts of these pioneers, who conscientiously searched for the truth in unrelenting patience, are indeed worth noting despite that their vivid imagination mingled with their own philosophy.