Plato’s Republic: Three Parts of the Soul
In his book The Republic, Plato searches for justice within the individual and what makes a person just. By comparing his sense of what is just at a political level and what is just at a psychological level he proposes three virtues of the individual which will make that particular person just. The virtues are of wisdom, courage and moderation. A just man won’t differ at all from a just city in respect to the form of justice; rather he'll be like the city (Republic 435b). Once Plato has found justice within the city he seeks to transfer it back into the human soul. Plato talks about the ability of a person to be indecisive about actions such as drinking when something in their soul forbids them to do so even if they desire it. This indecisiveness can be transformed into internal conflict between more than one part of the soul. One part of the soul is the rational part and the part that lusts, hungers, thirsts and gets excited is the appetitive part (439d). Plato then identifies a third part of the soul, the spirited part, which is used to create emotions. Appetite is a really big part of our souls. It contains both necessary desires, which should be indulged (such as the desire to eat enough to stay alive) and unnecessary desires, which should be limited (such as the desire to eat your entire birthday cake). Though the appetite lusts after many things, Plato says it’s money-loving, since money is required for satisfying most of these desires. It is therefore obvious to Plato that the rational part of the soul should rule, as the rulers in the city do, because they both display the virtue of wisdom and can therefore exercise foresight on behalf of the entire soul. (441e) Similarly, just as the guardians assist the rulers in maintaining justice within the city, the spirited part of the soul will use emotions in order to maintain order and harmony within the soul which is justice. These two parts of the soul will be able...
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