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Refuting Plato's Tripartite Soul Essay

  • Submitted by: Poonam82
  • on August 19, 2015
  • Category: Psychology
  • Length: 1,118 words

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Below is an essay on "Refuting Plato's Tripartite Soul" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

The Republic is a text devoted almost entirely to defining justice. Socrates concerns himself with trying to discover what conditions make for a just city or a just man. After a number of lengthy discourses, Socrates determines that there are three virtues which harmonize to create justice. For each of these virtues, there is a part of the city or the soul that must aspire to this virtue in order to achieve balance or justice. In Book IV, Socrates “proves” the existence of the tripartite soul and its relationship to the tripartite city. His method is logical and clear, yet some problems arise when looking at his arguments through a modern lens.
The boldest, and perhaps most problematic of Socrates’ statements in this argument is an assumption he makes before breaking the soul down into compartments.
1: Socrates is attempting to apply his deductions of what makes a city just to his current assertion that the same conditions make a man just. He says “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” (435 b). Socrates believes in the forms, pre-existing metaphysical concepts which all earthly concepts are modelled. In Idos, the metaphysical plane on which the forms exist, there is a form for Justice. Because he believes in the existence of clearly defined justice, it is easy for Socrates to make the assumption that a man and a city imbued with the same form are alike. From a modern perspective, this assumption is absurd. It is as far off as saying a red fire hydrant is like a red apple. Although both objects can be described by the same word and both participate in the form of “redness,” the way they each came to be red is not alike. Similarly, the fact the conditions which make a man and a city just are not necessarily identical. In the modern world, most of us believe that abstract concepts are flexible and can change depending on who`m or what they are applied to. Despite the fact that his first...

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