The question of the existence of the soul and its fate after a person’s death occupies the minds of many philosophers. One of the dialogues introduced by Plato, “Phaedo”, contains his view of the soul, presenting it as indestructible and the opposite of death. The philosopher provides dialectical evidence to support his final argument that the soul is immortal. Even though the philosopher convincingly constructed his statements, one can challenge his claims by accepting different views on the critical properties of the soul.
Understanding the Concept of Forms
The understanding of Plato’s arguments builds on his concept of Forms presented in the Five Dialogues. Forms can be considered as ideas that indicate things: “It was agreed that each of the Forms existed and that other things acquired their name by having a share in them” (Plato 102b). That is, one can describe any objects through their relation to specific Forms. Their examples include Justice, Beauty, Warmth, and many other characteristics. The Form can be essential if it is always inherent in an object and accidental if it is not its constant attribute. At the same time, the philosopher believes that Forms cannot admit their contraries and should retreat from meeting them. He gives examples of the opposites of Hot inherent in fire and Cold, the characteristics of snow (Plato 102d-e). If the fire takes the Cold, its Form retreats and it dies, and if the snow accepts the fire and the Form of Hot, it will no longer be snow.
A Final Argument about the Soul’s Immortality
Further, Plato discusses the soul, arguing that it brings Life to the body and, therefore, Life is the Form of the soul. The opposite of Life is death, and the soul possessing an essential Form of Life cannot accept death – it must retreat or perish. However, since the soul cannot accept death, it is immortal and must leave at the approach of death, making it indestructible. Plato (105e) presents these arguments as follows:
Very well, what do we call that which does not admit death?
The deathless, he said.
Now the soul does not admit death? – No.
So the soul is deathless? – It is.
Thus, by adopting the concept of Forms and Life as Form for the soul as premises for the final argument, Plato proves that the soul is immortal and imperishable.
Challenging the Final Argument
One can challenge the arguments presented by Plato since one can question that Life is necessarily manifested as the Form of the soul. In particular, considering the idea of Cold and snow proposed by the philosopher, cold as Form is not tied only to snow but may be among other phenomena. Similarly, Life as a Form does not have to be attached to the soul, which casts doubt on the soul’s essence as a phenomenon that brings Life and is the opposite of death.
Plato’s Response and Its Evaluation
Plato could change this argument to debate and say that as snow necessarily refers to the cold, the soul will bring Life. One may doubt this response because the answer and the whole argument’s fairness about the soul’s immortality come from the adoption of Plato’s view of the soul as a living substance. If consider the soul from a different perspective, for example, as a person’s consciousness originating from experience, Plato’s arguments will not be so convincing.
Thus, Plato proposes the concept of Forms that give a particular characteristic to the phenomenon and bases his final argument on the soul’s immortality. He believes Life is the Form of the soul, and opposite Forms cannot admit and tolerate each other. Therefore, the soul cannot accept the opposite of Life – death and must be immortal and indestructible. However, his arguments can be challenged since Life can be a Form of other phenomena besides the soul. Moreover, Plato’s evidence may be challenged when accepting a different view of the soul and its essence.
Plato. Five Dialogues. Translated by George Grube, 2nd ed., Hackett Publishing Company, 2002.
Turkey’s Customs Union With European Union
Customs unions and free-trade agreements (FTAs) are the backbone of the modern globalized trade, creating conditions for more profitable exchange of good and developing closer ties between nations. However, there are instances where these trade agreements are asymmetrical, and benefit one of the parties more than the other. The article by Zouheir El-Sahli (2022) discusses one of these asymmetrical agreements that was created between the European Union and Turkey. As a developing nation, this partnership would seemingly be highly beneficial for Turkey but due to the nuances of the agreement it severely impacted its ability to conduct trade outside of the EU. This asymmetrical balance and misalignment of incentives when trade agreements are formed between parties of drastically different power and economic balances warrants deeper exploration.
The article’s discussion focuses on Turkey’s customs union with EU (EU-TUR CU) which came into force in 1996. The customs union stated that Turkey had to adjust external tariffs and industrial standards, as well as the acquis Communautaire, essentially trade legislation, to match that of the European Union. However, the set up of the agreement was that the FTAs that the EU signs with other countries do not extend automatically to Turkey, which has to negotiate its own FTAs. Therefore, any goods entering the EU customs union, including Turkey, from countries with which EU had FTAs, would not be facing tariffs. However, unlike the EU, if Turkey was to export to that country, it would face tariffs. Turkey has been able to negotiate only 22 FTAs, while more than 54 countries, including major exporters have made FTAs exclusively with the EU, as it simply economically does not benefit them to negotiate separately with Turkey, generating the misalignment of incentives.
The author does not offer specific hypotheses but identifies key areas to be addressed. First, they are seeking to investigate Turkey’s trade composition, and then provide an empirical investigation on the effects of the FTAs. Furthermore, there is a suggestion that Turkey may not be fully complying with EU external tariffs to boost trade with third countries, so there is an investigation on that compliance as well as trade diversion effects. The EU-TUR CU applies largely to manufacturing. Turkey is a low-cost producer and imports intermediate and capital goods from countries. Turkey specializes in final goods and a significant proportion of Turkish production is at the last stages of the global supply chain. Empirical analysis suggests that Turkey discourages imports from EU-exclusive FTAs (known as asymmetric FTAs) other than capital goods Turkey needs for production. Estimated effects of Turkish FTAs are exogenous to the country’s trade.
Furthermore, there is no anticipatory effect by FTAs signed by the EU on Turkish exports, and this indicates that Turkey is either diverging from EU external tariffs or the countries are not abusing the preferential access to Turkey’s market. Further analysis demonstrated that Turkey does not consistently comply with the EU external traffic, particularly on EU-exclusive countries and on critical intermediate and final goods. It is well-recognized that Turkey’s weak negotiating position stems from the asymmetric FTAs and EU is unwilling to modernize the CU agreement due to political tensions. The current arrangement poses unfair competition risks due to non-reciprocal access for Turkish firms both domestically and internationally, likely forcing Turkey to implement policies in the country to protect its markets.
Overall, the article covers the issue well, addressing the various components associated with the EU-TU CU and its asymmetric trade. Addressing trade composition, effects of the FTAs, investigating compliance, and investigating trade diversion provide a comprehensive and well-rounded overview. The weakest part of the report is in the trade diversion section, as it provides little explanation on the empirical findings and ultimately what are some of the potential outcomes and risks that are posed to the Turkish economy and firms. The strongest analysis is in the tariff compliance section, as a great analysis is presented discussing how Turkey utilizes tariff manipulation to respond to asymmetric trade. While it is briefly touched upon, it may be beneficial to research how the CU was formed, and why Turkey had agreed to sign it given such unfavorable terms. Furthermore, while it is mentioned that Turkish imports and exports have expanded, a clearer analysis of whether the CU ultimately benefited Turkey in the long-term should be included.
There are some areas for potential future areas of research. It may be viable to investigate if there are or were other countries in the EU customs union and what terms of FTAs they had to abide by. Another area of significance for in-depth research is Turkey’s tariff compliance, and whether that is being penalized, threatened, or largely ignored by the EU which generally promotes strict adherence to its regulations. Finally, there is an exploration on the potential future of this agreement, given that the EU is unlikely to agree to modernization given the current global realities, so it may be interesting to empirically determine if Turkey would benefit leaving the customs union and negotiating its own FTAs given its role as the final stage in global supply chains for manufacturing.
In conclusion, the EU-TU CU is one of the more unique economic trade agreements which creates unparalleled levels of asymmetric trade and misalignment of incentives. Given that globalization and EU itself are built on mutual cooperation and trust, such an unbalanced relationship is challenging for Turkey, forced to rely on essentially illegal techniques such as tariff incompliance to protect domestic firms. In recent years, as nationalism is on the rise and global crises such as COVID-19 and geopolitical conflicts have strained the concept of globalism and free trade, it becomes a question whether Turkey will preserve the status quo or seek a stronger position in global markets.
El-Sahli, Z. (2022). Asymmetric FTAs and misalignment of incentives: Lessons from the EU-Turkey customs union.
Policy Brief: Access To Education After The Pandemic
The learning process has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students do not have the same resources for accessing online classes. This divide in access leads to disruptions in the educational system and unequal learning opportunities. Currently, an established procedure for supporting such individuals does not exist. A new initiative has to focus on providing resources to students in underserved communities, including tutors, computers, the internet, and software.
Context or Scope of Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic led to major changes in education, requiring students to stay at home and attend classes online instead of in physical classrooms. This new education system created problems for households that already had limited resources. Many students are unable to access online courses as it requires one to have a stable internet connection and an available computer (Bagley, 2021). As a result, the problems created by COVID-19 led to a decrease in access to education and learning disruptions (Onyema et al., 2020). These issues may also lead to worse academic performance and unequal opportunities for minority, low-income, or disabled students.
The current approach by the government offers limited financial and advisory support to students and their parents and caregivers. Families may acquire additional resources through other programs for low-income and disabled individuals, but no specific initiatives to improve access to education have been established nationally. Thus, a proposed solution is the creation of the After-Hours Academy, a business that aims to provide learners from underserved communities with resources to improve their online education.
To help students learn in the new environment, it is recommended to offer several types of support. First, a peer-to-peer network of tutors has to be created to allow students to receive assistance in learning. Next, learners should get computers if they do not have them – a stable internet connection is crucial to ensure that all students can participate in class activities and send homework.
Bagley, N. (2021). Education in a pandemic: The disparate impacts of COVID-19 on America’s students. Youth Today. Web.
Onyema, E. M., Eucheria, N. C., Obafemi, F. A., Sen, S., Atonye, F. G., Sharma, A., & Alsayed, A. O. (2020). Impact of Coronavirus pandemic on education. Journal of Education and Practice, 11(13), 108-121.