Essay Preview: Self Case
Report this essay
In comparing and contrasting Socrates/Plato with Aristotle, it is important to break down the structures of their theories in order to analyze and define the soul. When discussing Socrates and Platos views on the soul, it is vital to view the connections that Socrates makes between the soul and the state. In order to understand this connection, it is crucial to acknowledge that the state parallels the soul. Therefore, it is imperative to first explain the state.
Socrates explains that the state, composed of multiple individuals, works based on ones nature and education. As a result, there is a natural division of labor that encompasses a singular goal: the good of the state. Working towards that goal, every person within the state has a practical and theoretical craft, which requires arête, or excellence. With this, they practice the art or craft of living well by means of right reason and excellence of the soul. In order to achieve this telos, or end goal of true happiness, each individual must demonstrate morality through the virtues. Significantly, virtues help the individual perfect their craft and live well; which results in a good individual.
Now, looking at the state as a whole, it is comprised, ideally, of numerous good individuals. With good individuals that live by true virtue, it is assumed that these individuals make a good, ideal state, which according to Socrates, is The Republic. Within the republic, the virtue of justice is the concentration of the people because it is the virtue that sustains the structure of state.
Tying the virtue of justice into the soul, Socrates argues that a form of justice lies in every persons practice of their unique function in the community which is best matched by their nature. This results in Socrates idea that each element of the soul is restricted to performing its natures appropriate art or craft. Therefore, the soul, for Socrates, is broken into three distinct parts: reason, spirited, and appetite. The reason part is concerned with being rational, the spirited part of the soul is the representation of feelings and emotions, and the appetite involves ones desires. Reason is given the highest value because it keeps the emotions and the desires under control. More so, the emotions and desire must submit to the principles of reason.
Platos theory ties to this ideal part of the soul because it originates from his theory of the state; which testifies that the only happy person is a just person or the person that is ruled by reason. Furthering Platos argument, morality is a cause of happiness. Plato teaches that being happy causes an individual to live a moral life. Conversely, if an immoral person wants to be happy, they try to live a moral life. Therefore, happiness is based upon the inner and not the external circumstances of the individual. For example, a person can physically be harmed but still be happy internally because their soul is living harmoniously. More so, that internal happiness of the soul allows the cardinal virtue of justice to flow outward as a result of this harmony; which could prove the idea that if a truly just person with an ordered soul is beyond tragic occurrences then that person cannot be harmed.
Moving on, for Aristotle, the concept of the soul is very different. As Aristotle introduces his theory on the soul, he discusses three kinds of substance: matter, form, and the combination