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.