Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On the soul...

A little excerpt I liked from the Republic:

And in truth justice is, it seems, something of this sort. However, it isn't
concerned with someone's doing his own externally, but with what is
inside him, with what is truly himself and his own. One who is just does
not allow any part of himself to do the work of another part or allow the
various classes within him to meddle with each other. He regulates well
what is really his own and rules himself. He puts himself in order, is his
own friend, and harmonizes the three parts of himself like three limiting
notes in a musical scale: high, low, and middle. He binds together those
parts and any others there may be in between, and from having been many
things he becomes entirely one, moderate and harmonious. Only then does
he act. And when he does anything, whether acquiring wealth, taking care
of his body, engaging in politics, or in private contracts -- in all of these,
he believes that the action is just and fine that preserves this inner
harmony and helps achieve it, and calls it so, and regards as wisdom the
knowledge that oversees such actions. And he believes that the action that
destroys this harmony is unjust, and calls it so, and regards the belief that
oversees it as ignorance.
(Republic IV 443d-444a)

Plato here is discussing the three parts of the city as well as the soul: Wisdom, Passion and Appetite. The natural ruling class in a city is that which possesses Wisdom, the Passion is the soldiering class and the Appetite is the majority of people who live and work in it. These three are found in the soul and as in the city, when there is civil war between the appetite and it seeks to overthrow reason, then there is no justice and no harmony, the city will fall into disrepair. The idea is that the same thing can happen within a persons soul.

1 comment:

Lirun said...

when i read the last days of socrates for uni - i laughed sooo much.. have always meant to read the republic but never got around to it..