Plato: The Tripartite Soul Book IV 435c-441c The soul and justice within the soul are issues that Plato endears much time and effort into explaining. The existence of ones soul and its influence upon society is a definite argument by Plato, yet viewed very differently by various scholars of the time and centuries to come. Through this essay I intend to address Plato’s interest in the just soul in relation to his tripartite vision of its existence. As Plato lays out in his work The Republic, the soul is a multi-level entity consisting of three main valid points of interest and justification.I will disclose these three main entities concerning the soul and compare and why each portion may be more effective in argument than the other and why two of his beliefs may strategically work simultaneously while being controlled by the third. I will also approach the intense discussion between the members of the conversation and detail their opinions or arguments for or against this view of the soul. Overall, the paper should outline the three points regarding the tripartite just soul of man and based upon my understanding of the material I will deliver my ideology on the topic in concern to the soul and the justice that lies within it.As the plot of The Republic has developed Plato leads into a discussion about the two parts of man, the body and the soul.
In his explanation Plato explains that the body is an inanimate object that basically serves as a capsule to lead us through life. The soul however is the actual performing part of a person in that it controls the body through its desires. While he felt confident in his claim, Plato realized it was flawed because in order to desire something one must also be able to desire the opposite.With this analogy or aspect of thinking Plato realizes it is impossible for this to be true unless the soul was composed of more than one being.
Socrates has enticed his cohorts with an intense discussion which has led to the topic about the soul of man and it’s relationship with the city’s construction. Within this discussion Socrates makes many valid points of interest and delivers analogies concerning the issues at hand, but his main argument is the correlation between the city’s and the soul of man. 2 Socrates feels that people and cities exhibit the same functions and embody the same features and attributes.Socrates explains how in a city the King rules all and is followed by the soldiers who are under direct control of the king and the finally the commoners who have desires and needs, but are bound by the rules of those above them. Thus, we are all complex beings made up of complex parts that all serve a particular purpose in our lives and society. The evidence of this can be seen through various arguments, but the tripartite soul is one phenomenon that must be acknowledged and explored due to its enticing and argumentative nature.While Plato did deliver his opinion on the soul in a somewhat “on the fly” method, nonetheless it was effective in that it drew the attention of his colleagues and there beliefs regarding it. In turn, Plato sets forth the three parts of the tripartite soul in a way in which they directly relate to the different beings within each state, all of which contribute in some way to the overall function of the individual and state as a whole being.
As Plato discusses the virtues within the tripartition soul he has developed he focuses much of his attention on several key issues.These issues are in direst relation to his argument surrounding the make-up of a city. Plato realizes that just like the city of classes of man, the soul is very similar in nature. As he continues to drink with Socrates, Plato introduces the appetitive aspect of the soul, which he feels is responsible for the desires and individual quests of man. Socrates delivers a convincing argument about the inner appetite of a person as well.
His insight delivers idealism that one may be thirsty and therefore wants a drink to conquer their thirst, however there are many other ideas to consider than just thirst.Is this thirst for a cold drink to quench your thirst from the intense heat of the day or is it a drink to give you warmth from the frigid temperatures that surround you. Scenarios regarding thirst I this aspect are somewhat endless, but the overall point being made by Socrates is meant to show the in depth appetite of the soul of man. These circumstances are meant to show the appetitive aspect of the soul as well as to show the difference between reasoning and appetites in the soul. As one is thirsty they follow their soul and acquire a drink, while if one is sick, despite his 2 remendous thirst he realizes it is in his best interest not to have an alcoholic drink.
This could also be seen through the actions of college students like myself across the globe. If a student needs to prepare for an exam and is thirsty, their choice for water would be much more plausible and effective than their choice to drink alcohol in preparation for the exam. This is the quaint difference between the appetitive portion of the soul and the rational portion of the soul which as seen in this instance often coincide with one another. The appetitive portion of the soul is mostly based upon the desires of the person it entails.
This portion of the soul is responsible for some of the most common cravings or needs a person may have. These cravings would include the simplest acts needed for survival such as drinking or eating, but also include all other cravings one may have that are not detrimental to ones life. These cravings would include over-zealous needs for sex, desires for wealth, or having a unique friendship with politically elite individuals. While both are a part of the appetitive portion of the soul they are conflicted or controlled by the soul through different measures.The appetitive basically stands guard over the physical aspect of the body, attempting to gain what it needs while at the same time avoiding what will harm it. Necessities such as food are controlled or influenced by a part of the soul while the other non-life threatening issues are controlled by another portion of the soul all together. The appetitive soul simply addresses simple desires of man and the acquisition of these needs. However, while the appetitive portion is one aspect of the tripartite soul, its inner workings are delegated by different parts of the soul on a larger scale of thought.
The appetitive soul for the most part is based in a material nature. The appetitive soul strives to obtain the most basic of necessities while also striving for material pleasure or goods as well. This aspect of the appetitive soul makes it very controversial in terms of justice and its relationship between the other parts of the soul. The appetitive soul in many ways can be considered very close in nature to the spirited part of the soul which is the part of the soul responsible for feelings associated with acts of 2 love or victory.The spirited soul ultimately seeks feasible actions or goods just as the appetitive soul does, regardless of their ultimate implications. While thirst and hunger are human needs that must be satisfied or they will result in death, the lack of love or honor will not kill you. However, in many instances in our history the spirited soul aspect has played a certain role in the tragic death of someone that lost their true love or lost the honor they so desired.
For example, while it was not a human need for survival, love can be very powerful and the loss of ones love could cause someone to commit suicide.Thus, both portions seek something to satisfy or aid the soul in some manner. In short, these two aspects of the soul certainly share many similar traits in respect to their interest for the soul involved. The appetitive soul therefore serves a very important purpose in the tripartite soul set forth by Plato.
It’s importance is priceless as it is one of the three key parts needed for a balanced soul and therefore Socrates did well in explaining it’s importance through stories of thirst for different drinks and the desire associated with thirst and hunger.Plato also explains how each individuals desire is natural and only present for its particular purpose. This is very vital to the appetitive soul as it depends on desire to function. Without the appetite or desire for something this part of the soul would hardly exist. Therefore these desires or needs are so influential in our lives they are represented as a key part of the soul.
There will always be a appetite for drinks and food, as well as other pleasures that dwell within our societies. It is with this notion that we acknowledge the appetitive soul and its overall contribution to the tripartite.While hardly thought of in depth, this argument is quite intriguing and sets the standard for the tripartite soul ideology Plato sets to lay forth for his company. Following the discussion about the appetitive part of the soul Plato and Socrates begin to discuss how the body or mind tends to avoid or completely ignore the desires that the appetitive soul entails. Plato then begins his discussion about the rational portion of the soul, which he feels is responsible for these actions.
In this part of the soul truth is the ultimate goal. This truth is obtained by 2 ctions such as intense thinking, as well as educational entities such as math or the sciences. The rational portion relies on reason to address issues, including the desires that humans have. Through this reasoning the rational portion of the soul determines what is logically a good choice or not. In the best interest of the soul or body, the rational soul controls or inhibits the desires that form in the daily lives of man.
Throughout all actions the soul permits, the rational portion of the soul is very much surrounded by your mind and sense of ideas that form your soul or character.The rational soul thus is the part of our mind or soul that thinks about the situation and its consequences or rewards and makes a decision regarding that matter. The rational portion of the soul also makes decisions on other important factors of life and how life should be lived in order to fulfill your life to the fullest. These decisions would include simple notions such as what is fact or fiction or complex questions such as what is actually plausible or not.
Thus, the rational portion of the soul makes decisions for the soul pertaining to all issues of life in accordance with living the best possible life one could possibly hope for. Therefore the rational or thinking portion of the soul is very important in nature. Without the reasoning and thought that comes with this part of the soul man would make decisions simply based on desires or needs, not what is actually rational or feasible in each individual situation. Plato compares the rational soul to a charioteer that is drawn by two horses.One horse is very powerful and commanding, which would be compared to the appetitive soul, while the other horse is obedient, comparable to the spirited aspect of the soul. Overall the rational soul seeks what is best for ones life based on logical reasoning, not desires or pleasures. It is a counter-balance for both of the other portions of the soul as it does not simply act on inhibitions, but rather addresses the desires or issues at hand and then through various methods decides what will provide the best outcome for the soul involved.
As Plato and Socrates discussed the issue of drinking once again, the rational part of the soul is once again brought to the forefront of attention. Their discussion revolves around the thirsty that refuse to drink. “Isn’t there something in their soul bidding them to drink and something forbidding 2 them to do so, something different that masters that which bids? ” Through this statement they are recognizing the rational portion of the soul which calculates and rationally leads to their conclusion on wether or not to drink.Without this rationale the men could be infected by disease, therefore being rational prevented this result. Both scholars then conclude that it would not be irrational to conclude that there are two parts of the soul, one part which delivers the desires or urges and the other that rationally addresses these needs and logically decides if they are for the good or bad of the person involved.
As mentioned earlier, we now move on to the spirited portion of the soul which is also very influential in the tripartite soul system of thinking.The spirited soul is the actual desires we hold pertaining to ideas such as love and honor. These desires can also be much more complex or awkward, as seen in Leontius’s actions at the Piraeus.
While at first he could maintain his desire and not view the corpses, he was overcome by desire and therefore had to look and comment about their presence. (440a) The spirited portion of the soul is in turn very rich and deep. Since it is rooted in the spirit of the soul, it can contain a vast array of possibilities concerning affect on ones soul.
The spirit has direct correlation to a persons will or devotion. Therefore the spirited soul carries out the pursuits of ones soul, however courageous or honorable they may be. These actions are carried out based on the actual intellect of the individual involved and whatever their intellect is advising them to do. Due to its direct relationship with emotions, the spirited soul in many ways sustains and promotes harmony within the overall scope of the soul. The spirited soul also serves a very important purpose in the tripartite ideology.
Just as in the appetitive soul, certain pleasures or emotions will directly affect the decision of man. As this spirited soul keeps our minds heading in the right direction and controls the limitless desires we entail. Therefore the limitation of desires is a direct result of the spirited soul. By gaining what we desire in moderation we can better control future desires and greatly benefit the overall health of the tripartite 2 soul.
Since the spirited soul is highly devoted to honor and pride, it is believed that a direct energy forms from this portion of the soul and is used to keep our desires in order.Direct emotions such as hatred directly represent the anger or ill will of the human spirit. Because of this, the spirited soul is necessary to keep desires in line and provide a greater or more powerful spirit to the soul involved.
The spiritual part of the soul can be seen as a machine that drives us into making actions or believing in ideology that we feel confident with. This portion also directly influences our drive within our own lives, as well as the lives of others that surround us, physically or mentally.In many ways when developing this spirit, the spirited soul acts as a guide for the rational soul to serve as a control mechanism for the appetitive soul. The spirit is what initially drives a person and aids them in their decisions on what has occurred in their past and what they hope will occur in their future. Overall the spirited portion seeks a positive outlook upon the person involved and delivers an account on the value of that person. Courage, honor and the pursuit or acquisition of victory is the purpose of the spirited soul, despite the consequences that may follow its actions.
After discussing the three parts of the tripartite soul there is an obvious relationship between two of the souls that seem to be directly influenced by the third. The appetitive and spirited souls are directly effected by the rational part of the soul, which as mentioned above acts as as a charioteer leading the two horses, or souls. Despite the desires of the appetitive soul or the emotion and passion within the spirited soul, the rational soul ultimately makes the final decision regarding their actions.
The rational part of the soul takes into consideration the aspects of the other souls uch as needs or ambition. In a balanced soul within the tripartite system the rational soul will make the best decision to benefit the soul as a whole. Basically the appetitive and spirited souls are seeking something, wether negative or positive, and the rational soul interprets these wants and comes to a concise conclusion on what decisions will be most beneficial or feasible given the individual situation. By acting as a leader or charioteer the rational portion of the soul creates balance and in turn produces a soul that is just. 2 With the analyzation of the tripartite soul complete.I will now address how each portion was believed to fit into the society of a city, as Socrates strongly felt our soul can be seen as a direct reflection of the cities in which we partake life within. Plato also felt the soul resembles the city in many forms and therefore the virtues present in the city are also present in the soul. For a soul to be complete it must embody the same characteristics of the city to maintain proper balance and order.
With this ideology the three parts of the soul can be classified just like the three classes of citizens that make up a city as a whole.In this analogy there are the rulers of the city, or those that are in control or make the rules for others to follow. These people are at the highest end of the city’s class system and in relation to the soul they would be the rational portion. The rational soul ultimately makes the decisions, just as the rulers of a city would in their endeavors.
Therefore the rational soul would be the higher class or guardians of citizens seeking knowledge and wisdom while ruling or making decisions regarding the other classes in the city’s society. The next level of class in the hierarchy of the city would be the auxiliaries or soldiers.Just as with the spirited soul, these actors seek honor and victory in their pursuits. Thus, when comparing the city to a portion of the soul, the spirited soul would represent this social class as it also seeks honor and victory in its pursuits. Courage is strong characteristic of soldiers just as it is the spirit of man. The spirit seeks honor and victory at any cost and therefore must be compared to the middle class soldiers in a city’s society as the soldiers enforce the ideas that are set forth by the ruling class, or rational soul. Finally we see he appetitive soul, which in this analogy is compared to the lower class, or the commoners of a city.
Within this class are the common people of society, such as traders or craftsmen, who can be compared to the appetitive part of the soul as it contains certain desires, but is forced to obey the the other two due to their lack of influence. This portion seeks out desires and pleasures but are limited by the rational judgement, or rulers of society and also the spirit, or soldiers that enforce the rules set forth by those rulers. All in all the analogy of the soul being consistent with the actions of a 2 ity is very convincing. Each part of the soul serves its own purpose just as each social class of the city does the same. The involvement of all three of these souls create balance in the mind and a moral soul, just as the the three social classes create balance within the city’s society. Obtaining a just and balanced soul is possible and laid out quite well with the discussion of a tripartite system of the soul. As each part of the soul is examined and discussed through the readings in The Republic it becomes apparent that the soul is a very complex entity that works very similarly to a city in many ways.The vision of a three part soul is very intriguing and is effective as an argument as it includes all the notions and actions that we practice on a daily basis.
The appetitive portion of the soul can be seen in our daily lives through our need for food and water, as well as our non-life threatening needs such as sex or cigarettes. We all as humans inherit these natural needs and in turn they are directly a part of our souls as man. The spirited soul can be seen in human nature through our need for honor or our reputations.
As seen in politics, honor and integrity are essential traits that voters look for when voting for a representative of our government. The spirited soul bases its choices on spirit and what is honorable. Thus, electing the official you believe will preform the duties of government to their best ability is very honorable. Finally the rational soul can be seen in almost every decision we make on a daily basis. Our rational soul interprets what needs or wants our mind or body requests and acts according to what is best overall for the body or mind.
This could be seen in a child’s choice not to steal candy from a store based on the moral ideas that have been instilled within them. The rational soul is a constant in the tripartite scheme and has direct influence over the two other aspects of the soul. Overall we all have this tripartite system of soul within ourselves, regardless if we have recognized it before or not. This system takes all of our thoughts, needs, wants and every other aspect of the soul into consideration and preforms actions based on the three parts of the tripartite system.In closing, the soul of man is a very complex being and has been debated by scholars for 2 centuries. The arguments made in The Republic speak of a soul that consist of three entities that coincide and work together to create a balanced and just soul.
After this reading it is apparent that there are different portions of the soul and each contribute to the overall soul in many different ways. As Plato, Socrates, Glaucon and others debate the issue of the soul they are quite intense and this shows the importance and relevancy that the soul held in relation to man at this time in history.However, this discussion has transcended time and still continues today. The soul is a intricate and vital part of the human race.
While we cannot see the soul or know what happens to the soul upon death, the soul is of utmost importance to mankind. The argument and discussion at the Piraeus regarding the soul is invaluable. As the colleagues drank together and discussed this in-depth topic they set forth ideology surrounding the soul and how it relates to the city’s in which we live.In a just society we need just souls and an overall moral balance to the scheme of life in which we live. The tripartite soul is a system of much thought and scrutiny, and therefore should be considered highly plausible, specifically from a philosophical perspective.
All in all the three part soul is a complete outline of the souls of man. It adequately addresses how the needs and wants of our human nature our directly a part of our souls and how our rational judgement is the third part of our souls that make up the tripartite system.In turn Plato delivers his idea and with the help of his friends develop a system of the soul in which we still acknowledge today. By working simultaneously together these aspects of the soul provide a basis of argument regarding an issue that cannot be recognized by any of the five senses. This alone shows the how generations from centuries ago recognized the importance of the soul and how it influences our lives.
Thus, the tripartite system of the soul is a interesting and highly regarded insight into the soul of man and it’s role in the societies in which we live. 2