Monthly Archives: May 2015

Soul Triad II

So, a few nights ago I threatened to inflict upon you my reasoning for disagreeing with Socrates’ argument that a soul is made up of three distinct parts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The summary of his argument, which needs to be read in order to fully follow my conclusion, can be found here: Soul Triad.

Socrates’ argument focuses mainly on the three particular elements: (1) reason; (2) appetite; and, (3) spiritedness. Considering he believes that rational thought must guide reason (critical thought and calculations, etc.) and irrational guides the appetites (thirst, hunger, sex, etc.), I think there are two additional categories to consider—rational and irrational. Rational and irrational would be two hemispheres of a soul and each hemisphere would have a main categorical function in which certain elements would fall. But where exactly would spiritedness lie, especially considering Socrates lumps anger (despite it being a passionate feeling and should therefore fall under appetite, which is irrational) into this single element?

Well, it wouldn’t. Because he places anger under the element of spiritedness, which is a passion and therefore falls under the irrational hemisphere and appetitive element, the element of spiritedness (so long as a passionate emotion is being used to define or describe it) would be eliminated and only two elements (reason and appetite) would exist for the soul—not three.

And, if spiritedness falls under the irrational and appetitive elements it is not a separate function outside of irrational and appetitive compulsions, therefore it could not possibly assist the rational element of reason by causing anger for giving into an appetite because the anger itself would be giving into an appetite and therefore irrational. For example, if a person became angry with themselves for having given into their sexual appetite, whether because it was premarital or against what is considered socially acceptable, the action upon the appetite of sexual desire belongs to the irrational part of the soul and the angry feeling after also an appetitive part of the irrational. With both being appetites and irrational, rational reason has not taken part and did not invoke a separate element to keep each side in check, therefore spiritedness has not been an ally to reason.

Further, the rational and reason are conducive to thoughts which occur inside the brain while appetitive compulsions are actions taken. We can think about doing them and choose to either act or not act upon them, but we are not really performing opposite actions or inactions at the same exact moment. If it really is a soul that compels the body and mind to everything (action or inaction) the soul would then compel the brain to think about sustenance until the need is fulfilled by eating, thereby satiating the appetite of hunger. But, once the individual has put food into his/her mouth they no longer think about sustenance. The action of thinking of sustenance is the opposite of physically fulfilling the hunger. When one physically fulfills that hunger, its opposite action ceases, therefore the soul is not performing opposite actions at the exact same moment, but rather one stops and the other begins. While an individual may think about how good the food tastes as he/she is eating, it is the same relative to the activity and not an opposite action or inaction. And, if the soul is not performing an opposite action or inaction at the same exact moment then there are not two or more elements to the soul—just one—the soul itself.

Whether the soul exists and is what compels a human to do, not do or think anything or whether it’s the mind or something else entirely is a completely different discussion. ‘Til next time. Sleep tight for me, I’m gone!

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And, if you are so inclined, check out my short story (released March 2015).  Meet Mr. G.  Also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.



Soul Triad


The most interesting piece of thinking about something you were studying for quite some time is that it seems to swirl around in the back of your mind like lemonade around a tall glass of ice. You might not even notice you are still thinking about it until you realize those ideas come out in other things you write–like lyrical content–or live in random conversations.

While many, for millennia, have attempted to solve the puzzle of what exactly a soul is, if there is such a thing (at least in how we mere humans define it), one school of thought fascinated me quite a bit–what comprises a soul. While there were many discussions and debates about the soul, what Socrates had to say stuck out the most to me (enough to have written a paper about it, anyway).

Socrates believed the soul had three parts: (1) reason; (2) appetite; and, (3) spiritedness. His reasoning behind this was compelled by his belief that a human is driven by its soul and the soul is what drives him/her to perform certain actions or inactions.

Reason is the element that causes us to strive to attain knowledge, to think and to calculate so long as it is done rationally. Passions, hunger, thirst, and sexual desire are examples that fall under appetite. But, anger (according to Socrates), despite being a passionate emotion, falls under the element of spiritedness, which comes into play when the other two elements are at odds with each other and spar for control.

For example, when our appetite of hunger desires jalapeno sliders and the greasiest onion rings one can find at 3:00 a.m., but reason kicks in, attempting to object (because we all know what happens after mass consumption of such fare, especially when alcohol is involved), but ultimately loses because our appetite was far too strong, the element of anger then steps in and “becomes the ally of his reason.” (Plato), Book 4, pg. 128, 440(b). However, for this spirited ally to function properly one must have been raised, from youth, properly. And, there is much debate on how one ought to have been raised properly–even today.

Socrates claimed that the soul must have these elements because one particular thing cannot perform certain actions or inactions at the exact same time. If we agree that a soul is just one particular thing, then it would not be able to perform reason, satiate appetites and compel “spiritedness” or anger simultaneously, which it does seem to do. By compartmentalizing the soul through those elements, Socrates was able to justify it performing various functions that sometimes conflict with opposite actions or inactions concurrently.

There are a couple of issues with this. Can you see what they are? Do we see the same issues? The first I see begins with the rules for each element within their categorical definitions. For me, this seems to eliminate at least one element on that level, namely spiritedness would seem to fall under the element of appetite rather than hold its own. The second is in his claim that the soul performs completely separate actions or inactions simultaneously. Even though this is an age-old debate, and my opinion really doesn’t matter, I think this falls flat and the soul doesn’t really do so.

However, as per usual, it is late and I ought to be in bed. I will explain my reasoning for being lead to the above conclusion another night. Until then, sleep tight for me–I’m gone!

Oh, and don’t forget to “like” my Facebook Page.