Tripartite Soul

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Socrates tries to define justice by comparing justice in a city to justice in the human soul. He believes that the idea will be clearer when he presents it on a larger scale. He argues that the model of the ideal city contains three parts: the money-making, the auxiliary, and the deliberative. He argues that these parts mirror the three parts of the human soul: the one that seeks pleasure, the one that reasons, and the spirited part. Because of this parallel, Socrates believes that the ability to find justice in the ideal city proves that justice must also exist in the human soul. In this essay, I will explain the argument Socrates gives for the tripartite soul, and how it relates to the structure of the ideal city.

Socrates argues that the ideal city is completely good. Accordingly, it must contain courage, wisdom, moderation, and justice. Therefore, if he is able to locate the first three in the city, justice must also exist. These coincide with the guardians, auxiliary, and the citizens as a whole. Socrates and Glaucon establish that wisdom comes from knowledge of guardianship, which is possessed by the rulers of the city, or the guardians. Courage, Socrates argues, is gained in through extensive training and proper upbringing. “This power to preserve through everything the correct and law-inculcated belief about what is to be feared and what isn’t is what I call courage” (Plato.430b). He states that the courage of the city is contained in its soldiers. Moderation, however, is found unanimously throughout the city. “This unanimity, this agreement between the naturally worse and the naturally better as to which of the two is to rule both in the city and in each one, is rightly called moderation” (Plato.432a). This is the only virtue that requires the cooperation of all members of the city. Once Socrates has found these three virtues in the city, he states that he has proven that justice must also exist. He then begins to give a definition for what he...
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