In the following chapter we wish to discuss the effects of knowledge on the soul, the essence of knowledge, its categories and types. We also intend to discuss how the potential of the soul, found in the form of knowledge, can be realised in action; this being the ultimate aim of education. This realisation is made manifest through the correcting of the soul, cultivation of its character and perfecting of it for everlasting life in the Hereafter.
Understand, my brother, that man is a combination of the physical body and the spiritual soul which are contrasting entities. Thus man, as a consequence of his physicality, desires immortality in the material world whilst as a result of his spirit seeks to reach the Hereafter. Similarly most human affairs are replete with these contradictory inclinations such as life and death, waking and sleep, knowledge and ignorance, remembrance and disregard, intelligence and stupidity, sickness and health, temptation and piety, stinginess and generosity, cowardliness and bravery, pain and joy.
Furthermore it alternates between states of friendship and enmity, poverty and wealth, youth and elderliness, fear and hope, truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and bad and other such contradictory traits, actions and words which emanate from man as a product of his physical body and spiritual soul.
And understand o’ brother that the traits we have thus far enumerated can neither be attributed to the body alone nor to the soul but to the human being as a whole. This whole is both alive and speaking and yet mortal; its life and speech coming from its soul and its mortality from its body. Similarly its sleepiness comes from its body and its wakefulness from its soul and in the same way all of the being’s attributes are divided between its body on the one hand and its soul on the other.
This is exemplified by how man’s intellect, knowledge, gentility, thought, generosity, courage, piety, justice, wisdom, truthfulness, correctness, goodness and similar higher traits are all attributable to the soul and the purity of its essence whilst their opposites come from the body’s elements and the make-up thereof.