The powers of Plato's tripartite psychology

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7 Scopus citations


The widely-held view that the three parts of the soul have - no matter what the condition of the soul as a whole - fixed objects of desire, namely truth for the reasoning part, honor for the spirited part, and the pleasures of nutrition and reproduction for the appetitive part, is difficult to reconcile with the Republic's program for the education of the non-rational parts of the soul, and with its insistence that the virtuous person's soul is harmonious. Distinguishing between the characteristic object of a part and the natural object of a power, the paper explores the related ideas of a natural object and the power that is set over it, concluding that the natural object determines the character of the power to which it is correlated, and that in turn determines the character of the part(s) bearing the power. Depending on their power, the parts of the soul can have different objects of desire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-150
Number of pages24
JournalProceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Classics


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