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The Three Parts Of The Soul According To Freud And Plato

The Three Parts Of The Soul According To Freud And Plato


The soul or psyché is the non-physical, spiritual or emotional centre of a person . The soul is the element that survives death. An example of the definition of the soul according to the infamous philosopher Plato is outlined in the ‘Republic’ whereabouts Socrates engages in a discussion between with Glaucon regarding primarily the justice of the city and the justice that exists in the soul. Secondly, another example of the explanation of the soul is outlined in Freud’s ‘The Question of Lay Analysis’. In order to understand which of these accounts is truer of human nature, one must primarily define the theories of both Socrates and Freud and furthermore explain the differences existing between the two accounts. This will in collusion draw together the truer account based upon personal opinion.

Within Plato’s Republic, The soul (psyché) is summarised by Socrates to have three definite parts. Man has inside of him the impulsive or appetitive element, the element of thought or reason and between these two, exists an element that can curb impulses and cravings and take orders from thought and reason. These three parts of the soul, according to Socrates, correspond with three different kinds of interests, three kinds of virtues and three kinds of personalities, all depending upon which element of the soul is dominating at that specific time.

All the parts of the soul have functions to perform under the leadership of the awakened nous. According to Socrates, the ‘parts of the soul’ are governed by certain inflicting desires. The soul consists of appetite, spirit and reason. Appetite that includes hunger, thirst and sex. Thumos or spirit which includes the ambition and strength of purpose and finally reason, being according to Socrates the highest faculty of our material and immortal soul. Socrates begins, sensibly enough, declaring that the principles which underline the just state must reflect those by which the individual person acquires the good life. Socrates equates ‘appetite’ in his just state to the ‘workers’, who cannot be trusted with many decisions, and whose virtues are industry and sobriety. The ‘spirit’, is associated with the soldiers…who must defend the state and whose virtue is courage. ‘Reason’ is associated with ‘the philosophy-kings’ who make the decisions, and whose virtue is wisdom. Evidently Socrates ideal state is a tight oligarchy in which the few philosophy-kings make sure...

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