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Socrates And Plato's Understanding Of The Soul

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Without question, Socrates and Plato were among the greatest minds and philosophers of all time, and their ideas and ways of thinking have had a massive impact on western philosophy and the world of the west in general. Their conceptions of the soul are still talked about and reviewed even to this day. Socrates and Plato were close and had a teacher-student bond, so it should come as no surprise that they would have similar thinking on the conception of the soul. In this essay, I will be evaluating Socrates and Plato’s understanding of the soul, how Socrates makes the care of the soul the main focus, and more.

Plato sees the soul and body as two different things; he believed that the soul existed before the body was alive and continues to exist after death. He believes the soul has three parts, which are appetite, spirit, and reason. Appetite is the part that holds our desires for many things, ranging from simple necessities like food, water, sleep. It also contains the desire for pleasures like sex and other pleasurable things. Spirit is the part of the soul that holds our sense of ambition to achieve the goals we want to achieve. Think of it like the part that makes you want to stand out or win at a competition, so it should come as no surprise that it is the part that values honor and winning above most things. Reason’s description is in the name; it is the intellectual part of the soul which sought out the truth and regulated the other two aspects of the soul, appetite, and spirit. Plato says that it is imperative that reason is in control of the soul because spirit and appetite are only out for themselves. He continues by saying it is important for the reason to be in control because it is better to live a life searching for the truth than seeking the other parts’ desires.

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Socrates builds up the idea of the soul, and it offers life to the body. He accepts that the soul is undying, while the body is merely mortal, and that after the soul leaves the body at death, the soul still mulls over certainties. He says the body is only a substance to hold the eternal soul. Socrates takes the spirit offering life to the body to demonstrate that an animal’s passing includes the proceeded with presence of the soul being referred to, which continues through a time of partition from body, and after that profits to quicken another body in a change which is the partner of the past change, kicking the bucket. Socrates expressly requests to the possibility that the spirit animates the shape of a living thing. In such a manner, the soul gives the life to the body, and that makes the body and the spirit reliant on one another, yet their striking contrast uncovers that they are two unique substances, which are joined in the body when the spirit offers life to it. Socrates’ thinks the primary focus should be to take care and make the soul as healthy as it can be to achieve happiness. Socrates says that we should strive for excellence in all areas, even things in caring for the soul. He thinks that happiness lies in exercising all the soul’s powers. That it is better to suffer from wickedness than to commit it, and also believes that materialism, pleasure-seeking, and being unreflective damages the soul. He thought that in the process of exercising all of the soul’s powers, it would make someone obtain moral excellence and make them a good man. The way Socrates makes the care and well-being of the centerpiece of his moral and ethical philosophy is to try to make good men. He wants the people of Athens to gain the wisdom and virtue to make the correct decisions as good men. This ties in with what Socrates said about how an unexamined life is not worth living. Goodness is related to wisdom, making the life of the philosopher, the admirer of intelligence, the most alluring existence of all. If we don’t address ourselves and the world, we will act without reason, unfit to recognize great activities and awful activities. Without theory, Socrates may contend, people are no happier than creatures. Easy street is one in which we make both ourselves and people around us more joyful and more content, and the best way to seek after that life is to find after astuteness and self-information. If Socrates somehow happened to quit any pretense of philosophizing, he would relinquish the analyzed life, and without shrewdness or self-learning, he would be in an ideal situation dead.

As we already stated, Socrates mainly centers on the concept of becoming a good man to get virtue and make the right decisions. Even though Plato views the soul in some different ways, he does agree with Socrates on the care and well-being of the soul. Plato’s view of the soul in relation to ethics is his discussions of justice. When Plato discussed justice, he sees what a good man is and how he is made. When he discusses justice, he doesn’t look at the good of the individual as much as Socrates, but he instead sees it as a way to construct a city to produce a good man. I do believe that Plato is right when he gives the counterargument to Thrasymachus’ claim that morality is only for losers and that being immoral is much more beneficial. Thrasymachus provides examples were being an immoral person would be helpful; for example, when a charity or church asks for money, a moral person would give away all they have with them, while an immoral person would keep their money and not lose anything. He says that being immoral has many more benefits than a moral person in a variety of situations. Plato’s counterargument to this is that when the three parts of the soul come to be in harmony with one another, resulting in a just soul. After reaching this harmony, the person will have enduring happiness, that this happiness is unaffected by misfortunes or any mishaps like it. Plato says that an immoral person has the three aspects of the soul clashing and creating a disharmony, that an unjust life in unbalanced and will cause psychological pain. He says that the unjust life will provide temporary satisfaction, but never allow true happiness and that a moral life will provide true happiness, no matter the misfortunes of life.

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Socrates And Plato’s Understanding Of The Soul. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/socrates-and-platos-understanding-of-the-soul/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
Socrates And Plato’s Understanding Of The Soul [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/socrates-and-platos-understanding-of-the-soul/
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