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Reason, Spirit and Appetite - Plato

The three parts of the soul in Plato's Republic

Plato's ideal and just state, as envisioned in his most famous work 'The Republic', was suggested of as being peopled with three categories, or classes, of citizens - artisans, auxiliaries and philosopher-rulers.

Each of these categories of citizens were suggested of as being made up of persons who had similar behavioral tendencies and outlooks to each other. In The Republic, and another work Phaedrus, Plato suggests that individual Human Beings each have a Tripartite Soul with the three aspects featuring in this Tripartism-of-Soul being - appetite, spirit and reason.

Plato's class of artisans were held to be composed of persons who were particularly inclined to indulge their appetites and desires, (for food, drink, wealth and sex), and, as such were held to be well-suited to work as economically productive artisans.

Plato's class of auxiliaries was held to be composed of relatively spirited, and courageous, persons who were held to be well-suited to be employed in protecting the state from external threats and internal disorders.

The souls of persons who were categorized by Plato as philosopher-rulers, however, were held to be particularly endowed with reason, to the degree that it prevailed in their own souls over appetite and spirit, and which also resulted in sufficient capacities of foresight to enable them to function as rulers.

Thus appetites channeled through the artisan class would produce goods and services, spirit channeled through the auxiliaries would provide potential for defence of the state, reason channeled through the philosopher-rulers (after processes of selection, and of special training over some fifty years), could provide for the guidance of appetite, and of spirit, in order that the state was ruled wisely in the interests of all.

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Key Socratic Dialogues from
Book 4 and Book 9 of Plato's Republic

Plato's Ideal State       Plato's Chariot allegory      

Philosophy - Eastern and Western & 'Tripartite' Human Nature

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