Plato's Tripartite Soul - Discussion and Evaluation

1238 WordsApr 24, 20085 Pages
In Plato’s, Phaedrus, Plato describes what has become known as the Tripartite Soul which describes the human soul as having three parts corresponding to the three classes of society in a just city. Individual justice consists in maintaining these three parts in the correct power relationships, which reason ruling, spirit aiding reason, and appetite obeying. In ‘A Study of Human Nature’ Plato tries to explain his Tripartite theory by ways of a parable, a vivid illustration which describes the soul as having three parts (tripartite): ‘I divided each soul into three parts – two having the form of horses and the third being the charioteer… I have said that one horse was good, the other bad.’ These three parts are described as a…show more content…
Also, by virtue of the soul being a corporation of three distinct forces, this raises philosophical issues regarding the soul’s immortality. The soul would not be strong enough to survive the destruction of the body. This can not be true because the soul directly controls the motions of the body; for the soul can will the body in any way it chooses. To further prove this; biologically it is undeniable that the need to drink when thirsty is an impulse that occurs in all of us, it is hard to say the origins of this occur in an appetitive portion of our soul. Rather it is more accurate to suggest that it is a physiological reaction to the condition of dehydration. That is not to say that it is not an impulse we can’t control, but it seems more plausible to explain our desire to drink as being that desire to maintain proper bodily function, and so perhaps it is the rational intellect operating out of self-preservation that motivates us to act accordingly. Plato fails to realise that the three parts of the soul simultaneously interact with one another and that each part of the tripartite can exist within each other. It is not enough to distinguish the calculative, the passionate, and the desiderative, or with others the rational, or the irrational; for it is absurd to split the last mentioned ability because wish is found in the calculative part and desire and passion in the irrational; and if the soul is tripartite, appetite will be found in all three parts.

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