Plato, Book Iv Of The Republic.

1487 words - 6 pages

In Book IV of The Republic, Socrates has gone on a bit of a digression. He has done this for the sake of proving his argument as to what constitutes the ideal city. In order to do this, Socrates feels that he and Glaucon must evaluate the individual citizen, specifically the mind and soul of the individual citizen. A city in itself is nothing more than a city, it is the individuals within it who make it just or unjust. If it can be proven that the individual is a just person and has a "well-ordered soul," than the same can be said for the city as a whole. Socrates successfully argues that the soul is made up of three parts, which are reason, appetite, and spirit. He effectively demonstrates the proper relationship that these three parts must have with one another in order for the soul to be regarded as just.Socrates believes that the soul is comprised of three parts, but before he goes into his explanation of the these three parts, he feels it necessary to make sure that Glaucon agrees with him that the soul has more than one part. He accomplishes this by the simple view that it is impossible for something to be performing two opposite actions at the same time. "[No] same thing can be, do, or undergo opposites, at the same time, in the same respect, and in relation to the same thing." (436e-437a) Common sense would ratify this statement, but yet there are occurrences where this situation does in fact seem to be taking place. To further the argument, Socrates provides an example of a man moving his arms and head at the same time while standing still. It would be improper to state that this man was moving and standing still at the same time. The proper statement would be to say that, " one part of the person is standing still and another part is moving." (436c) It is entirely possible for an individual to be thirsty, and yet not want to drink. Based on the notion of impossibility, there must be more than one part to the soul, because it would be doing two opposite things at the same time.The part of the soul, which craves the drink and other carnal desires, is the irrational appetitive part. This part, " lusts, hungers, thirsts, and gets excited by other appetites." (439d) The part of the soul that does not allow the individual to drink or succumb to other worldly appetites is the rational part. This part always uses rational calculation in making decisions. The rational part should always control the appetitive part in a just person with a well-ordered soul.Reason and desire are not the only forces acting upon the soul. There is a third part that exists also, the spirited part, that controls emotion. Rationale and desire cannot control the soul on their own; there is too much conflict between them. Emotion is needed to facilitate a balance. Leontius had the urge to look at the corpses lying at the executioner's feet, but at the same time he found the scene repulsive. Nevertheless, appetite won and he looked. He became angry with himself for...

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