Plato's Soul and the Homunculus Problem

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Soul Pages: 4 (1735 words) Published: August 9, 2013
Plato’s Theory of Soul and The Homunculus Problem
Rebecca Vinci

Plato’s theory of the soul and the Homunculus theory of human cognition are two distinct theories that both allude to the concept of a mind having smaller parts within it that are assigned to certain tasks and each responsible for the function of a certain cognitive capacity which, together, explain some aspect of the functioning of the whole Both theories use this cognitivist concept as an attempt to explain the complexity of the human mind and how the mind can function in multiple ways at once. However, the theories differ in a major way. Plato’s theory of the soul is a famous and controversial theory– which has been pondered since antiquity. The Homunculus theory is a more modern theory that we will juxtapose against Plato’s theory. However, the Homunculus theory entails a philosophical dilemma, which will soon be addressed, rupturing the credibility of the theory. Due to the similarities of the theories, the question remains, is Plato’s theory also vulnerable to this philosophical dilemma? To show that Plato is innocent of these charges, this essay will analyze both theories and the dilemma threatening them in order to ascertain a verdict. Plato’s cognitivist theory of soul describes a soul with distinguished parts, each accounting for a human capacity, and together in their unique hierarchy they direct cognition. There are three in total including reason, spirit, and appetite, each is unique having its own goal. Reason speaks for justice of the soul, spirit aids and helps monitor reason to suppress appetite, while appetite lusts and is full of desires – ones which need to be controlled. In a just soul, appetite concedes to reason’s demand. These small parts produce overall cognition, on page 1074, 442 c-d, Plato defines what makes a man have reason, “we’ll call him wise because of that small part of himself that rules in him and makes those declarations.” Furthermore, Plato draws an...
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