Some aspects of Plato’s concept of the soul

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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Philosophy University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

by Henry Lee Drake June 1950

UMI Number: EP62742

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T his thesis, w ritte n by ........................ under the guidance of h..-k&.. F a c u lty C om m ittee, and approved by a l l its members, has been presented to and accepted by the C o uncil on G raduate Study and Research in p a r t ia l f u l f i l l ­ ment of the requirements f o r the degree of

faster of Arts


D a te ..~ r .....................

F a c u lty Com m ittee

M0f all things which a man has, next to the Gods, his soul is most divine and most truly, his own.”





Thales, soul as watery vitality



Anaximander, soul as boundless, reality . . .




soul as divine air • • • • • • • •



soul as perpetual f l u x ..........



soul as number harmony


soul as absolute being . . . • • •



soul as ecstatic inspiration . . .






soul'as material a t o m s ..........



soul as universal m i n d ..........




Origin and wisdom of universal s o u l ........


Soul’s order among temporal beings ..........


The creation of m a n ........................


The soul’s first birth the same for all

• .

• I4.6

Man’s body a necessary vehicle of experience

• J4.7



III. THE NATURE OF THE S O U L ........................


Two souls, one good and one e v i l ............


The natural locus of s o u l .................


Primordial confusion of infant humanity

Unless properly nourished, soul degenerates

. 55


PAGE Not by nature imitative, but creative • . •


Soul aspires to destined ends • • • • * . .


Mind, the common sensible........... . • .


The tripartite nature of s o u l .............

6 I4.

The soul’s capacity for recollection



Instruction received directly into self

. .



Necessity that man exercise his faculties IV. GENERAL DEVELOPMENT OP THE S O U L ...........


Self-mastery a prerequisite to development •


Universe so ordered as to overcome evil


. ♦

Self-searching, the legitimate activity 81

of l i f e ..............................

Instruction a curse unless properly used . .


Cultural importance of aesthetic 84

surroundings................... • •


Necessity of harmony between soul and body .


Soul enhancement through love of beauty


Quality of soul not dependent upon body

• •

Distinction between souls of men and of g o d s ............... Ascent by psychological integration . . . . V.



THE DIALECTICAL ASCENT OP S O U L ............. 105 Dialectic aims at the highest good • • • • •



PAGE The physical and intelligible levels of knowledge • • • • • • • • • • » • • • • «


First dialectic, but the shadows of objects • .

................. . . . • .


Second dialectic comprehends physical objects • • •


•. • . ♦


Third dialectic uses hypotheses to look downward

111) .

. . ...............

Highest dialectic looks upward and con­ ceives ideas

• • • . . • • • • • • • • •

The world a prison-like cavern

. . . * • •

The wise man returns to mankind.......... VI.



121 I 2I4. 126

The proof from motion • • • * ............


Soul not destroyed by v i c e .............


Number of human souls remains constant


The dead go to the gods » • • • • .

• •



Philosophers seek to separate soul from 131

b o d y .............................. A law, life generates death and death life


Proof from the tenet of recollection



Soul as uncompounded and indestructible . .


Harmony of soul not dependent upon body . .



PAGE Immortality a participation in an idea . . .


The manner of life man must live . . . . . .







There seems to be nothing that appears fully bloomed and without antecedents.

So, too, it is with Plato*s con­

cept of soul, which has its origin in the thought of early Greek philosophers, even as these thinkers drew upon earlier sources.

Inasmuch as Plato*s concept of soul is related

to the pre-Socratics, it is the function of this introduc­ tory section to survey the thoughts of these early Greeks pertinent to their views on this subject. With these early philosophers man was in no sense a special creation, but literally he was considered as a little universe, the microcosm of the macrocosm.

To them

he was subject to universal laws and in the fullest mean­ ing a member of the cosmos.

Most naturally their concept

of soul was approached cosmologically.

"Throughout the

thought of this early period, the term^vj^ll^soul^ has a far wider denotation than with us.

It signifies quite

generally the principle of movement at l a r g e . T h e concept

^ R. Adamson, The Development of Greek Philosophy. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, I9 0 B, p. 7.

implied in the Greek word physis may be applied to soul in her largest meaning, for physis is in relation to the universe what the human soul is in relation to the body*


Yet it is erroneous to attribute to the Ionians any world soul concept, in the Platonic sense.


Nor did

they conceive of the human psychology as an emanation of any greater soul*

Rather, it is a particular expression

of the universal force.

"It is not the abode of a single

daemonic nature, but instead, the very nature of God is alive within it."^

Thus the Ionians did not conceive of

soul after the Pythagorean pattern, as having a separate existence from man and as something which enters into material expression from without, or as being distinct from the physical, but as an impersonal living power capable of moving herself and all else besides.


nevertheless, are completely independent and individual and unique expressions of universal life force. p



P. M. Cornford, Prom Religion to Philosophy. Edward Arnold, 1912, p. 129*

3 The doctrine, however, is attributed to Thales by Aetios, who interpreted the view with a Stoic meaning. (John Burnet, Early Greek philosophy. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1892, p. 1+97} ^ Erwin Rohde, Psyche. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, Incorporated, 1925, PP* 3^5 and 3 6 6 . ^ Ibid., p. 365.

early philosophers, attributing life and the qualities of spirit to their first principles, consequently did not make any dichotomy between them and the human soul.

Under this

view soul retains her meaning as universal and divine, without any relative limitations and implications.


vidual Immortality was not a concept to which they held. To them nothing but the primordial forces are uncreated and eternal, and they identified soul with these divine aspects of nature.


The apparently separate human soul,

like all separations from the world source, must eventually return to it, becoming again one with principle itself* These earliest of western thinkers, therefore, do not have a great deal to report concerning the detail of the soul»s structure.

To them psyche is a collective of

such powers as will, thought, and desire, but they offer no specific information as to her modus operand!.


views do afford knowledge as to which of the elements each of these philosophers considers as soul.

For Thales,

this first principle is a fluidic nature which he desig­ nated as water.

The substance of life and action is a

derivative of this watery element.

There has been a great

deal of dispute concerning this principle as to whether


Aristotle, (Richard McKeon, editor), The Basic Works of Aristotle. New York: Random House, l9li"l* Physics 203b, 10-15.

it is a passive or an active and creative agency*


does seem possible that the philosopher only considered his machinery of watery vapours to be the instruments in 7

the hands of a living and active power.”

It is probable

that not only Thales but the other Ionians as well con­ ceived of their basic soul principle as entailing more than is implied by the simple name itself* When the ionians declare that all things consist of water, air, or fire, they do not mean by water, air, and fire just what we mean by these words* The concept of matter as matter, that is, as lifeless, passive, inert substance, is a scientific product* * * Thales, for instance, makes no distinction between soul and the physical, and has no notion of dead matter*


universe and all there is in it is a soul-matter compound.


Plants, for instance, have souls and their material and vital stuff are inseparable.^

Beyond this it is impossible

? Robert Blakey, History of the Philosophy of Mind. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, lb50, pp* 9 and 1 0 . o C. A. Strong, "A Sketch of the History of Psycho­ logy Among the Greeks," American Journal of Psychology, IV:179» December, 1891. o For further consideration of this controversy, see Cornford, op* cit. pp* I3I4. and 135* ^ V. Siebeck, i, 35, as referred to by George Sidney Brett, A History of Psychology. London: George Allen and Corapany7 Ltd., 1912, p. 21. ^

Rohde, op. cit., p. 366.

to determine definitely what Thales1 view on soul may have been, yet he Mseems to have held soul to be a motive force, since he said that the magnet has a soul in it 12 because it moves the iron.*1 He is also said to have re­ ferred to mind as being swift and capable of speeding ev­ erywhere, which is important, inasmuch as it associates mind with motion.^

Thales is credited as the first to lk refer to soul as immortal. But he can only have thought of her immortality in the sense that naturefs forces are immortal, and insofar as this universal life force flows through individual soul. Vagueness likewise follows any investigation of the doctrines of Anaximander and Anaximenes.


it appears reasonable to assume that the notion of the boundless, held by the former of these men, implies his view as to the soul*s expanse and nature. cannot be reported without speculation.

More than this The divine air

fundamental of Anaximenes affords a basis for more specific


Aristotle, op. cit., De Anima, l4.Ha, ?.

^ P. R. Helsel, The Concept of bitoVIj in Early Greek Philosophy. Dissertation, University of southern California, Los Angeles, California, 19359 P* U4* ^

Rohde, op. cit., p. 3 0 6 .


This unity in nature is not conceived of by

him as material, but as volatile and functional.

Soul is

air and holds man together as an integrated individual. ^ This essential substance bears the same relation to life and the world as to life in m a n . ^

The world and the in~

dividual have the same origin and organic unity, as well as the same source of maintenance.

Thus, Anaximenes holds

that soul is identical with the divine, conceiving of her as producing all things from herself by means of her eternal motion. 17 He is not specific as to how air holds life together, supporting and nourishing it, except to affirm that it is an intermediate nature which penetrates all things*

In these two philosophers there is no trace of a

theory of mind.

Anaximander does say that the cosmos

follows that which is directed toward individual order. But it is not to be deduced from this that he means by order the same as is meant by mind. 19 ^

^ Aet., Plac. 1.3. pox. 27&, as referred to by Milton C. Nahm, Selections from Early Greek Philosophy. New York: P. S. Crofts and Company, 193^> P* 6 6 . ^ Burnet, op. cit., p. 79* 17 Hermann Diels, Die fragments der Vorsopratiker, griechisch und deutsch. Berlin: We1dmann, 1922, Fr. 2. ^

Helsel, op. cit., p. I+5.

19 Ibid., p. 46.

7 The Ionian doctrines of soul are continued in Heraclitus, although he penetrates beyond their meanings* Like the first elements of these philosophers, fire, for him, is to be equated with universal soul.

And he says

that the individual soul is most vital when it is most composed of fire, for "The dry soul is wisest and best."


But moisture is harmful to her, "For to souls it is death pi to become water." Heraclitus places emphasis on the all-pervading power of soul, which gives rise to multiplicity out of its creative and fiery energy.

This soul, for him, as with

the other Ionians, is analogous to substance and has ontological reality. 22 As the cause of activity she is neverresting, without beginning or end, a living and ceaseless flux, a blending of opposites.2^

Out of her vastness, it

Is impossible to discover her ultimate limits, even though, oh every path were transversed. For life is everywhere, and living Is always becoming something different.


20 Nahm, op. cit., Fr. 7^, P* 93* 21 Ibid., Fr* "6 8 , p. 92.

2^ Rohde, op. cit., p. 3^7* 23 Bywater, Fr. 20, as referred to by Rohde, op. cit., p. 367. ^

Nahm, ©£. cit., Fr. 71, P* 92.

appearance, producing from itself its opposite, as "Birth, life, and death, and fresh birth clash together in a single burning moment, like the lightning.

Here is evidence

of Heraclitus* universal law of opposites which become one when soul, by her motion, establishes harmony between them. This motion is an incorporeal and ceaseless flux of fire or soul, which, in the multiplicity of the physical world, still retains her god-like identity and rationality.


him, fire and soul are interchangeable concepts and rep­ resent vitality and intelligence. Heraclitus says that the first principle,— the "warm exhalation" of which, according to him, every thing else is composed--is soul; further that this exhalation is most incorporeal and in ceaseless flux; that which is in movement requires that which knows it should be in movement; and that all that is has its beginning essentially in movement.2? The human psyche of fire, then, is not to be sep­ arated from that pervading universal fiery energy which sustains life. is nothing.

Deprived of universal soul, the individual

Fire is incorporeal reason, and by participa­

tion in it the soul of man becomes rational.

In this man­

ner, what is godly in the universe enters into man.


living, in acting and in thinking, it is manfs part to

Rohde, op. cit., p. 3 6 7 . Bywater, Frr. 6 6 and 67* as referred to by Rohde, op. cit., p. 3 6 7 . ^

Aristotle, 0£. cit., De Anima, it-05a, 25-29*

surrender to the way of this one essence, which is his cause, and the law of the cosmos.

The human soul is

literally a portion of the universal fire which has be­ come epitomized in corporeal reality.

Similarly, there

is no line of demarcation between soul and her body. Soul creates body by transforming herself into the lower elements, and even while enclosed in body she is constantly changing both it and herself.

"Nothing in the

world can for a single moment preserve the parts which compose it ^sbul^ unaltered; the perpetual movement and 29 alteration of its being constitute its life.” As soul loses her fire in the lower elements, the body comes to lose its motion.

Then must soul absorb new energy from

the world fire.

This constant metabolism and catabolism

which she experiences is a kind of perpetual rebirth and death.

Movement of this kind will, in Plato's writings,

be discovered as the means of establishing opposites, which when harmonized are the cause of the soul's develop­ ment.^

Were soul not changing constantly, then would she

be static and without growth. 26

Then, however, individual

Bywater, Prr. 91 9 92, 100 and 103, as referred to by Rohde, p. 3^8. 29 Rohde, op. cit., p. 3 6 8 * 30 Heraclitus is the origin of Plato's thought in the Symposium (207d) where he remarks that man is constantly changing.

10 soul can no longer recreate herself from the world of fire. She must leave the body in death.

This, however, is not an

absolute death.

Lifefs end in the physical world is merely that point at which experiences of another sort begin. 31

To Heraclitus, fire is at once death and life, and death is as important as life, for a perpetual dying and becoming 32 activate this soul of flux. To the soul, change should be a delight, and accepted by her willingly.

As to trans­

migration, however, there is in this philosophy, no hint of such a doctrine. 33 ^ With soul and body constantly chang­ ing, the possibility of personal identity beyond this life, or even within this life, comes to have no meaning. The Fire is for him indestructible and immortal as a totality, not as divided into individual part­ icles, but only as the one Universal Mind that trans­ forms itself into all things and draws all things back again into itself. The soul of man has a claim to immortality only as an emanation of this universal Reason,, and shares the immortality which belongs to it.3i+

31 Bywater, Frr. 65 and 6 7 , as referred to by Rohde, op. cit., p . 3 6 9 • 32 ibid., Frr.


and 85.

^3 Heraclitus is sometimes thought to have held to the doctrine of transmigration, as evidenced in Fragments 6 2 , 67 and 68 (see Nahm, oj). cit., pp. 92 and 93). These fragments do not, however, afford adequate evidence. ^

Rohde, Q£. cit., pp. 370 and 371*

11 As to more detailed consideration, Heraclitus ob­ serves the distinction between waking and sleeping states of man, noting that sensations come to him from the ob­ jective world only when awake.

This, he says, is because

the channels are open, sensation being evident in soul when an objective report is transmitted to a subjective nature*

The way in which this is accomplished is not re­

vealed; apparently he did not consider it a problem.35 The later Heraclitian school explains sensation as the result of a collision between two motions.

It is the way

in which the flux operates, a spontaneous relation between man’s subjectivity and the objective world, involving both and belonging primarily to neither of them.

Sensation de­

pends upon motion, and requires the presence of opposites, for which reason Heraclitus says that like cannot know like* As to reason, Heraclitus believes that this element in the human soul, as well as in other sensible things, is derived from universal intelligence*

Being real, it exists

Independently of objects possessing reason*

No obvious

distinction is made by him between knowledge and sensation*

35 Brett, op. cit., p. 26 . 36 Ibid., p. 2 7 .

12 Fire, which is to say mind, enters into man’s mental and sensuous constitution and makes him rational, as the uni­ versal fire is rational.

"Man is in some way so related

to this living world that his life is one with its life, and the modes of his life are varied according as that life enters into him."^

The universe and the individual

are united in a unity of knower and known*

When the part

is in harmony with the whole, then the soul is consciously one with that fiery flux which is life,-^*39 The next consideration is of a man who was not only philosopher, but scientist and religionist, all at once, and may fairly be referred to as the Leonardo da Vinci of Greece* In approaching any consideration of Pythagoras, it must be recognized that whatever is said of him cannot b e , with complete certainty*

Even the earliest sources of in­

formation vary in the facts which they afford concerning his life and w ork,^

It may be said with definiteness


Ibid.. p. 28.


Ibid.. p. 30.

39 Heraclitus1 comment that religious rites are cures for the soul, offersfurtherevidenceofhisbelief in soul, (See Fr, 129* asreferred to byNahm, op, cit*, P. 96.) --kO Burnet, op* cit*, pp. 91-92*

13 that his work bears the mark of an original thinker who was impressed alike by Hellenic and non-Hellenic per­ spectives#

These views he combined into a new philosophy

with an individuality all his own,^

In him there appears

on the philosophic horizon a thinker whose system of thought has two definite aspects which must not be con­ sidered and interpreted together#

One of these is scien­

tific, and the other is religious#

Any concept of Pyth­

agoras* meaning is to be interpreted from an understanding of both phases of his philosophy#

The importance of this

prerequisite has been expressed as follows:

"All current

concepts of Pythagorean!sm known to me attempt to combine the traits of both systems in one complete picture which naturally fails to hold together#"^

This confusion,

says the informer, is as old as Aristotle#

Another point

which must be remembered in considering Pythagoras* con­ cept of soul is that he was Interested in moral matters. In fact, "Pythagoras desired to effect, chiefly by aid of religion, a reform of the moral life.1*^


G. Grote, History of Greece, Vol. IV, p. 535* John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1852

^ P. M. Cornford, "Mysticism and Science in the Pythagorean Tradition," Classical Quarterly, Vol# LXI, 1922 #

^ Edward Zeller, A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol# I, Tr., S# P. Alleyne. London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1881, p. 335*

1Ij. Pythagoras1 religious view of soul is of Orphic origin, offering a new interpretation of life.

In con­

trast with the Homeric view of soul it proffers for soul a moral value.

He is directly opposed to that heritage

of soul portrayed in Homer*s poems, for he taught that soul is but a shade. mortal.

He nowhere implies that she is im­

Contrariwise, Pythagoras holds most definite

views as to the soul’s immortality, supporting a trans­ migration doctrine which gives the soul metaphysical re­ ality.

Had soul no existence apart from body, such considerations would be pointless. hk In Pythagorean!sm there are four levels of soul


The capacity for propagation is common to

all creatures, whereas the level of plants, that of ani­ mals, and lastly, the soul-element in man, releases other capacities which vary in substantial degree.

Soul is

also divided into rational and irrational parts, both of which are found in man, but animals are capable of pro­ ducing bodies for only the irrational aspect of soul. Animals, notwithstanding this, do have a modicum of reason.^ )|)i

Jaeger, Paideia, op. cit., p* 166s Zeller, op. cit*, p. 6 7 * ^ sophy.

Heinrich Ritter, The History of Ancient Philo­ Oxford: D. A. Talboys, l«3d, pTlj.12. "



Pythagoras also stresses a concept of number-har-

mony, applying it to soul.

Obviously, this harmony is

different in import from today*s meaning of the word. Harmony meant an adequate amalgamation of body with soul, and applied more to bodily structure than to musical conk6 notations. Pythagoras exceeds the physicists in under­ standing nature when he considers number, the measure of harmony, to be a reality.

In seeking a supreme law of

the harmony of soul expressible in number, he recognizes soul first of all as number.


All souls were emanations

of world soul, and were placed into their bodies by means Il8 of a harmonical relation. According to this relation, the soul is forced to form her body, for it can only follow this form.

The Pythagoreans also taught that any differ­

ence in soul quality manifests itself as a difference in character.

Both soul and number were considered to be in­

corporeal and capable of expressing in this world only in ho

corporeal relation with the body .^-7

In the soul*s disin-

carnate state a certain harmony still belongs to her.


^ Brett, o£. cit., p. 357. )7 ^ Leon Robin, Greek Thought and the Origins of the Scientific Spirit. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Company, Ltd., 1928, p. 70* lt8 ^ Ritter, o£. c i t , p. lj.06* ^9 Ibid., p. 14-07.

16 is this which maintains the soul as a distinct entity while she is out of the physical body.^

Pertinent to

Pythagoras* doctrine of matempsychosis, it is of import­ ance to note that it is not so much the fact of transmi­ gration itself that was important, . . . but the impetus the theory was to the development of the idea of the soul unity of life and spirit, and the vigor it conceived this psyche as a spiritual its own right, quite independent of the

give to as the with which being in corporeal*

Pythagoras pointed the immortality by a sal­ vation of the soul which had been lacking in contemporary Greek thought.

Soul was conceived by him to be the vital­

izing power of the material body.

This bearer of life

descends from the heaven regions for retribution in this physical world, and upon death goes to a purgatorial existence, then to a higher region from whence she came, and then is born again.

”The conditions of the new in­

carnations and the character of the new lifetime are governed by the performances of the past.

What the soul

has done in the past?, that it must suffer in its own person when it becomes a man a g a i n52 . T h e soul must be maintained Ibid., p. 14.09. £l

Werner Jaeger, The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1 9 3 6 7 p. 2 6 . Rohde, op. cit., p. 375*

17 in a pure state, kept, free from the evil of polluting influences. adequacy.

To Pythagoras this is the meaning of moral Life’s goal is to free psyche from material

existence into a divine state, where she, disassociated from matter, naturally resides.

On this The Golden Words

of Pythagoras say, "And, while you seek to purge and free the soul, use judgment, and reflect on everything, setting 53 over all best Thought as charioteer." That he believed in both a universal and a relative soul to a greater degree than did any other of the early Greeks is also evidenced in his Golden Words.

He says

that man must venerate the gods and powers beneath the earth with homage, thus indicating the existence of souls. 5ii In the concluding part of these fragments, the evidence becomes even stronger. Follow a cleanly, simple-mode of life, And guard against such acts as envy breed Then, if, when thou the body leavest, thou mount To the free ether, deathless shalt A God immortal,--mortal never more.

53 Charles M. Bakewell, Source Book in Ancient Philosophy. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907, p. lj.2 . ^

, p. I4.O. Ibid., p. lj.2.

c?a ^ It should be noted that John Burnet (o£. cit., p. 302) refers to The Golden Words of Pythagoras as' forgeries. However, Dicaer, in his Life of Pythagoras, refers to these fragments as being of first rank.

18 Considering the speculative nature of this philo­ sophy, it is prudent to comment that it is, after all, not so much the religious views of the Pythagorean school that brought fame to it, but Its scientific contributions# These men were the earliest thinkers In Greece to comprehend and to master something of nature*s secrets* 5?1 They commenced a scientific methodology and a systematic study of man as a psychological organism, formulating theories as to the functional structure of the sense organs, and concluded that the brain is the center of conscious life# In the centuries which followed, this type of investigation gained accelerated momentum. Coming now to Parmenides, it was through him that the Eleatic school came to oppose the position of change and of flux held by Pythagoras and Heraclitus.

To being,

or universal soul, Parmenides ascribes all movement, and derives therefrom by way of a certain concession, all re­ lative soul.

Being as absolute soul does not partake of

division or alteration of any sort. is opinion, and not truth.

Anything but unity

He needs and has no' assist­

ance from experience, his system being a logical deduction c?7

Theodor Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, A History of Ancient Philosophy. Vol. I. Tr., Laurie Magnus. London: John Murray, 1^00, p. 57* 58 » Brett, op. cit., p. 2q..

from the single concept that being is.

Before his day,

relative bodies and souls had motion; but where change is, something must come to be which previously did not exist, and this for Parmenides is simply impossible.

His devast­

ating dialectical analysis of being makes way for only a perfect, single, changeless, and world-encompassing essence. The same and abiding in the same (place), it is set by itself, and thus it abides there firm and unmoved; for over mastering Necessity holds it in the bonds of the limit what fences it about, because it is not permitted that what is should be imperfect; for it is not in need of anything; if it were (im­ perfect), it would be in need of everything.00 With the more important of the earlier philosophies, soul had a real status in nature, and as nature herself was real, a study of soul was a study of nature.


Parmenides, when all nature? as a result of the proper func­ tioning of mind, had to be discarded as a subject of sci­ entific knowledge, psychology could no longer be derived from physiology, or soul from metaphysics.


The true

nature, that is, being or soul, is not found in any such


Zeller, o£. eft., p. 5 8 3 .

P. M. Comford, Plato and Parmenides. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Company, Ltd., 1939? Fr. 8. ^

Rohde, op. cit., p. 372.


category of derivatives, for she is from eternity present and complete* * * • what birth of it will thou look for? In what way and whence would it grow? Nor shall I let you think that it comes from what is not; for it can not be said or thought that "it is not." And what need could have stirred it up, starting ^ from nothing, to be born later rather than sooner? Thus with the Eleatics a period of super-speculation in reference to soul emerges.

Their approach is the opposite

of the previous Greek naturalistsy-by contrast, they may be designated as anti-physical speculators*

Instead of a

soul in flux, or a soul measured by numbers, there is now no relative soul whatsoever, but only absolute soul which is beyond movement and kind*

Parmenides1 view is therefore

understood to be subjective, and entails a meditation of thought upon Itself as thought*

Parmenides actually holds

that thought and being, and therefore soul, are the same# / So—too— as~Theophrastus remarks In his physics, mind and

( \ soul


are one* fttz. Parmenides, however, condescends to discuss the re­

lative world of appearance and illusion, giving up momen­ tarily and by way of concession his "Way of Truth" for the 62

Ibid*, Pr* 37*

63 ROy Kenneth Hack, God in Greek philosophy to the

Time of Socrates* Princeton: Princeton University Press, 193T, p.I|31* The source of this statement is Diogenes Laertius•

"Way of Seeming*.

Here it is that he allows relative

beings and souls to exist.

But even here individual soul

is associated with being by thought, even as the senses relate her to the world of becoming.^

This doctrine of

soul follows the naturalistic line of philosophy already considered.

Numbers and fluxes, opposites and mixtures,

are once more permitted.

Mind, for instance, depends upon

a mixture of light and night, for out of these everything is composed.-

Nature once' accepted, capacity for knowledge

is possessed to at least some degree by everything.


in this world of make-believe, pure thought must be every­ where present, for "The compulsion of pure thought is the discovery on which the philosophy of Parmenides is centered. If, however, the relative is permitted to exist at all, then it must be allowed to exist as a corporeal entity, a resultant of material mixture and a functioning of ess­ ence in compound.*^

Parmenides* interpretation of soul at

this level is forwarded by his remark that universal deity at times sends her forth from the invisible into the visible 6k Brett, op. cit., p. 30. -

^ Diels, op. cit., Fr. 16. ^ Werner Jaeger, Paideia: the Ideals of Greek Culture. Vol I., Tr. Gilbert Highet. New York: Oxford University Press, 191+5* P* 175* ^

Rohde, op. cit., p. 373*

22 while at other times he recalls her*

This statement

seems to imply an objective and material soul content in the Ionian sense*

Et also implies an immortality of soul

in an outgoing and returning that recalls the view of Pythagoras. Mind, to Parmenides, is a product of the material elements of man plus active thought.

Sensibility, he

believes, belongs to being, and so is found everywhere reality is found, which is everywhere.

He contends that

even corpses have sensation, which is his way of stating that they have a certain life.

Death does not end the

sensibility of matter, but only of personal soul or con­ sciousness.

This evidences his belief that even in the

f,Way of Opinion” all is life. All of this is but the opinionated way of the world when it follows what seems to be, in preference to truth. Parmenides found it possible, however, to play with such views out of a sheer love for the game of life, all the while regarding his Msearch for truth as something akin to the experiences of the mystics,” completely beyond time and scientific relativity.


In his serious and

Brett j op. cit., p. 3 1 . 69

Bowra, C. M . , "Poem of Parmenides,” Classical Philology, Vol. 3 2 , pp. 97-112, April, 1937.

innermost thoughts he reserved for himself the dialectic 70 of truth and unchanging being• The metaphysical frag­ ments of the poem On Nature, which consider soul as abso­ lute, appear in that first part known as ,fThe Way of Truth. Here the concept of soul is identical with the concept of absolute being.

Relative souls or explanations do not

exist in this discussion of his philosophy as in the por­ tion dealing with the tfWay of Opinion.”

This part of the

poem is to him secondary in import, coming to have meaning only when the relative, in which he does not believe, is considered.

In truth, nature has no status.

All being

is soul and must be, since it is not possible to derive being from nothing.

But Parmenides1 way of absolute soul

is a way not found oh this earth, and is known to the wise only.

In such a bearer of knowledge, truth and char71 acter meet in one person. 1 In final review, motion is

derived and not real— so must it be with any change of absolute, soul or being into any appearance whatsoever. Change cannot be made cognizable in any manner, quantities and qualities resulting from change are pure illusibn.' There is but one being and that being is absolute soul. 70


Rohde, o£. cit., p. 373*

71 Jaeger, The Theology of the Early Greek Philo­ sophers, p. 9 8 . 72 Brett, op. cit., p. 32.

Parmenides’ philosophy is, indeed, fundamental and has had substantial influence upon subsequent philosophy; and while, ”It is a long way from Parmenides to the latest science • • • — 73 we too stand before the mastery of /soul or/ light.” Here now the unusual story of Empedocles, whose ac­ count of soul maintains that individual life is real and not illusion, and that it lingers on after death*


tality is attained when the psyche is capable of disentan­ gling herself from matter*

Souls or psychological powers

gain experience in this world, and are released by physical death to a divine heritage*

Yet, ”Even that which is di­

vine has a material compositions

the *long-lived gods high­

est in honor 1 are made, like everything else, by a mixing; 7k of elements* 11 ^ Life’s process is a continuous experi­ ence of mixture and separation*

What is mortal has no

origin and no end in death, but only mixes and separates*

75 76 9

73 J. E. Boodin, "Vision of Parmenides,” Philosophical Review, Vol* 52, p. 588, November, 191+3 ♦ ^ Oxfords ^

Kathleen Freeman, The Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Basil Blackwell, 191+0, p. 190. Nahm, o£. cit*, Fr* 3 6 , p. 129.

^ Also see Aristotle’s reference to this (Genera­ tion and Corruption, 1+ll+b, 5-10) and (also Mull* p. 113-119, as referred to by Rohde, p. 1+03.) Here it is said that at death the primary elements composing the individual, dis­ integrate. And this is the termination of human conscious­ ness, since soul commences with the integration of body and ends with its destruction.

25 Empedocles nevertheless speaks of spiritual beings and natures which dwell in man and in other creatures, as well*

"They are regarded by him as Daimones fallen to the

corporeal world who have to pass through many different 77 forms of life till they may at last hope for release.” This world he calls a meadow of disaster and relates how his own experience has shown him that souls which afre im­ pure must, by many incarnations, come to know the conditions of earthly experience.

"All things does Nature change, 7o in wrapping souls in unfamiliar tunics of the flesh.

Along with necessary purification to break the cycle of rebirths was recommended catharsis by religious ceremony. Necessity demands that the indwelling spirit first be cleansed by prevention, by being kept from every retarding 79 influence. For this alone results in purer births. It was from this group of purified souls that Empedocles thought himself to have been chosen as a leader of men. Withal, Empedocles was of a scientific bent, although his views existed at once with his theological conclusions without apparently creating any conflict in his mind. 77


Rohde, ££. cit., p. 38l.

And the soul*s intrinsic propensities are such that she is best observed when contemplated by reason.

She is then

seen in her original splendor, unmutilated by contact with world and body.

Contemplated by reason, beauty of soul is

seen and the nature of her justice becomes easier to com­ prehend, for justice lies in the inner consistency of soul. Reason*s vision must be focussed upon soul, since she ex­ presses differently when following the diverse part of her nature.

Then she has concourse with the eternal and immor-


23 Ibid., p. 1 8 6 .

2^" Republic, p. 611

These considerations of the soul’s quintessence may be continued with an analysis of her several inherent capacities, for she is a many-in-one psychological com­ pound.

These various parts are the facets of character

through which that which is recollected is presented to consciousness*

A beginning will be made by understanding

the import of these inherent divisions as being comparable to the divisions which comprise a good government.


concludes that the individual is most perfect when the three aspects of his soul operate in a just relationship. He would demonstrate that it is the disposition of soul to have the same three divisions and expressions as does the good state.

The state functions best when there is

harmony or temperance within her constitution, and so it rcVj is with the human soul.

In fact, the divisions comprising

the state are actually derived from the constitution of the inner natures of those who comprise the state, for it will be remembered that soul is prior to all else.


qualities of state which are likewise the proper functions of the human soul are wisdom, temperance and courage. When these operate harmoniously, they produce self-consist­ ency in man and justice in the state.

When wisdom rules

and, with the aid of courage, directs the appetitive nature so that temperance ensues, then there Is justice.


this condition a soul is said to be master of herself, which evidences the importance of her development, soon to be considered*


These considerations raise the issue as to whether c or not wisdom, temperance, and courage within the soul are independent of each other, or are the same operation.


soul learn with one part of her innateness, become angry with another, and manifest desire with yet a third, or is it the entire soul which becomes operative in each of these several activities?

In furthering his solution of this in­

quiry concerning the soul's disposition, Plato employs the force of logic and concludes that a thing

. . can not

act or be acted upon in the same part or in the same rela­ tion to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways*”

Ibid., p. I4.3 5 . 26

Plato develops his idea of the relation between soul and the state to a further degree, concluding that there are as many forms of government (monarchy, aristo­ cracy, timocracy, tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy) as there are forms or characters of soul* His words are: "Governments vary as the dispositions of men vary, and there must be as many of the one as there are of the other* For we cannot suppose that states are made of 'oak and rock,» and not out of the human natures which are in them, and which in a figure turn the scale and draw other things after them.” (Ibid., p. ) Ibid., p. I4.3 6 .


When this happens to

things, which appear to be the same,

it must be immediately concluded that they are different. Applying this rule of reason, he demonstrates that soul in quintessence and in function is not in every respect a single entity but tripartite. The proof follows this procedure of development. One who thirsts for drink, most certainly desires drink and strives to quench his thirst: If you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away from drink, that must be different from the thirsty principle which draws him like a beast to drink; for, as we were saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with the same part of it­ self act in contrary ways about the same.2 ® Since the thirsty one is perfectly willing to drink, the conclusion must be that there is one phase of soul which bids a man drink and another which forbids the act.


facet of soul which conquers in this battle is to be deemed ' 29 the stronger of the two. x

The proper designation for the .

forbidding principle is reason, while that which promotes the desire for drink is quite different, and must be desig­ nated as passion.

These two of the soul's several phases

of activity Plato accepts as existing independently of each

28 Ibid., p. 1+3 9 .

^ Laws, p. 8 6 3 . Here the passion of soul is also spoken of as separate from the other parts of her being.



One is recognized as the rational element of the

soul, the other which makes a man thirst, love, hunger, and generally to desire, is the appetitive and irrational What of spirit or courage, is it the same with reason or passion, or is it a third and different expres­ sion?

The illustrative story of Leontius is adduced to

afford proof that courage differs from the other phases of soul, even as they differ from each other.


observing the bodies of men recently executed, felt an urgent desire to look at them to the fullness of visual capacity.

At the same instant, however, he also discerned

within himself a feeling of abhorrence for the sight.


last the desire to see, gaining precedence, forced him to look upon the gruesome bodies.

f,Look, ye wretches,ft he

said, ffTake your fill of the fair s i g h t . T h i s


implies that there are instances when courage goes to war with desire, indicating that courage is a distinct facet of soul.

If courage were identical with either passion

or reason, it could not fight against the one in its effort to side with the other.

Here reason loses the battle and

courage sides with the appetitive nature of soul.

Republic, p. i±39* 3 1 Ibid., p. Ulj-O.



are, of course, instances of conflict between desire and reason where courage prevails and assists reason in its constant conflict with desire.

The habit of courage is,

in fact, to side with reason, and the stronger the spir­ ited or courageous element, the more desperately will it endeavor to prevail against evil by making an alliance 32 with reason. The final proof that courage is a distinct faculty from reason and not a kind of reason, necessitates no difficult demonstration, requiring only the recognition that from an early age children are spirited, while reason is attained much later by most and not at all by some. 33 Plato’s view of the soul is a belief that the three ;> o ’

basic principles of wisdom, temperance and courage comprise the justice of every individual and that these are separate faculties.

The individual is just when the three phases

of soul perform their specific and proper function, when the smaller but wiser function of wisdom rules, while the other two of courage and temperance are willing to

32 Ibid.

33 ibid.. p. 5 5 0 . 3^- Ibid., p . 1+14.1 . 3^ Corresponding to the three divisions of" soul are three classes of men--lovers of wisdom, of honor, and of &ain* (Ibid., pp. £8 1 and 582.)

Working together in perfect harmony, these three divisions of soul are her defenders and the security of the body* No outside influences are permitted to affect the psycho­ logical proportionment thus established*

For, with wisdom

of soul leading, courage fights to execute its counseling commands, while desire retreats to an inoffensive position of assisting without harming the total unity.

The soul

who knows that this is to the best interests of her sever­ al parts is wise, as the soul who, regarding wisdomTs dic­ tates in pleasure and in pain, conceives what is to be feared and what not feared, is courageous.

While that

soul is temperate who maintains a balance between the rul­ ing principle of reason and the lesser ones of spirit and desire.

Under this relationship, the lesser forces are agreeable that reason should rule. 37 This only occurs

when justice binds the three facets of m a n ’s inner being into one composite whole so that there no longer exists 36

Plato places the divisions of soul into a visual imagery, assuming the creation of a many-headed monster, a lion, and a man. These three are moulded together into one form representing the composite character. The monster represents the passions, the lion courage, and the man wis­ dom. No one should consider it profitable, says Plato, to foster the monster, or allow the lion to become too strong, while starving the man. When this occurs the total psy­ chology is dragged about at their mercy. (Ibid., p. 589). 37

Ibid., p. I4JL4 .2•

TO any division of opinion within man as to their functional relationship*

Then when a man acts, he deems

• • • that which preserves and cooperates with this harmonious condition, just and good action, and the knowledge which presides over-it, wisdom. That which at any time impairs this condition, he will call unjust action, and the opinion which presides over it, ignorance.3° In an investigation of the soul's essentialness, her proclivity for recollecting knowledge must, according to Plato, be recognized and accepted. A proposition which is understood has complete knowledge of the deductions which follow from it, and which constitute its proof. These deductions dissipate into mere equations. It is this very conceptual relation of identity expressed by these equations and transmitted from one member to another which constitutes the content of our knowledge.39 Hot all men recollect immediately and with ease because it is not a simple matter to recall experiences of the higher world by means of the shadows and objects of this earth, which alone serve as reminders.

Again, some may have seen

the vision of truth but for a short time.

Destiny, the

compensation of a soulfs receiving naught but its just due, is the determinant here.

Others once contemplated true

things, but not being disciplined in philosophy, were

Republic, p. kk3* osophy.

39 Constantin Ritter, The Essence of Plato1s Phil­ Hew York: The Dial Press, 1933* p. 126.


induced through excess pleasure or pain to forget. Recollection affords the natural means by which the epistemological process in man is accomplished. capacity of soul accomplishes recollection.^

An innate if recollec­

tion is the process of coming to know, it is surely a func­ tion of soul*

No one, thinks Plato, would want to contend

that it is possible to place knowledge into the soul by any procedure whatsoever; such a philosophy would be like believing that blind eyes are capable of sight.


it is by the use of general ideas as reference for specific ill ideas that human understanding is acquired. Ideas are E Pylori condition of true thought, and only when the meaning of a sensation is interpreted in accordance with the essential import of the idea which it contains is truth concerning it acquired.

Thus, as the ideas are in the soul,

so, too,, truth is there and not in the external world. 1»2 The aptitude of mind does not permit knowledge of what is not present in it already.

The argument of Plato contends

that learning already exists in the human soul.

By a

^ Plato clarifies the distinction between recollec­ tion and memory in: Philebus, p. 2>b> Phaedrus, p. 27?* ford:

^ J. A. Stewart, Platoys Doctrine of Ideas. At the Clarendon Press, 1909, p. 68. ^

Ibid., p. I4. 3.


(See also Phaedo, pp. 72-77-)


movement of the whole soul in a process of recollection she is gradually turned from not-knowing to knowing, from the world of becoming into that of being.

Soul thus grad­

ually learns to experience and to endure the sublime real­ ities.^


The question as to how it is possible to enquire tvuyo y '

into what is not. known, offers Platonic proof for recollection.

"What will you put forth as the subject of inquiry?

And if you find what you want, how will you ever know that this is the thing which you did not know?"^

Plato thinks

that this is not a sound argument and for a strange reason. He has heard from certain of the wise that soul is immortal and that, while it experiences what is tprmed death and also birth, she is really never destroyed.^

When the soul

has paid the debt of ancient crimes it is in the order of things that she be sent once again to be born into this world. The soul, then, as being immortal, and having been born again many times, and having seen all things that exist, whether in this world or in the world below, has knowledge of them all; and it is no wonder that she should be able to call to remembrance all that she ever knew about virtue,


Republic, p. 5l8.


Meno, p. 80.


Ibid., p. 81.


and about anything; for as all nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things, there is no difficulty in her eliciting or as men say learning, out of a single recollection all the rest, if a man is strenuous and does not faint; for all, inquiry and all learning is but recoll­ ection.^-® Any argument which maintains inquiry to be imposs­ ible is sophistic and must not be allowed to dominate onefs attitude.

To demonstrate that recollection is an operative

process, a slave boy who has not learned geometry is made to recall its fundamentals merely as a result of being questioned.^

The conclusion drawn from the boy*s ability

to recollect what he did not learn in this life, is that his knowledge must have been acquired in some other exist­ ence, or else must always have been present in his mind. "And if the truth of all things always existed in the soul, then the soul is immortal.

Wherefore be of good cheer, and

try to recollect what you do not know, or rather what you do not remember. An important discussion appears in Plato dealing with the relation between instruction and the human soul.


cause of her very constitution, there is grave danger in




Ibid., pp. ’ 82-BjJ.


Ibid., p. 86.

poor instruction.

Education is the essential food of the

soul, and not all instruction causes recollection of the nobler experiences which she has known; failing in this, ignorance is perpetuated.

Too often soul cannot estimate

the consequences of instruction and still more often she makes no investigation of the subject matter before in­ struction is entered into.

The difficulty here arises

out of the fact that, whereas food for the body is carried away in objective containers, the food which soul acquires as a result of learning, must be carried away in the subjective self. k9 If, however, it were the body which was to be cured of some physical ill, then would extreme care be exercised in the selecting of a proficient physician.

p. 2257 Republic, p. 510.

115 so far as attaining wisdom is concerned, only as a signi­ ficant aspect of the procedure*

The symbols of geometry

have scientific value in the modern sense of the meaning alone*

This is not the application of geometry which af­

fords the true science that for the Greek philosopher was, of all things, the most useful.

For without this nothing

whatsoever had any value to him.

The non-philosophic

uses of geometry which have to do with squaring, extending, and applying, are ridiculous when compared with the soulfs dialectical use of its symbols.

In this usage the soul,

seeing beyond the relative, attains not detailed facts about true knowledge, but the truth of transcendent ideas themselves, which is the final goal of dialectic*

As with

geometry, so does all science, by means of the symbols of this world, aim at revealing the truth of true being as it 25 is m Itself. But this sublimity of consciousness is never attained at the third level of conceiving and acting where the understanding uses hypotheses to handle the symbols of the physical world. 1,Plato means by a hypothesis a truth which is assumed to be ultimate or primary when it really depends upon some higher truth ♦ . .w


Of such hypotheses the

25 * Nettleship, o£. cit., p. 26 Ibid., p. 252.



paragraph above has to do, but his hypotheses, in the truest sense of the word, in his deepest meaning, are not tentative.

They represent the actual truths and ideas of

the dialectical science itself which knows reality and com­ prises the only legitimate basis of science.

This is the

hypothesis of the fourth and last level of knowledge, and the consciousness which possesses such hypothesis looks not downward but upward to and into the world of ideas. The hypotheses of all other sciences except that of di­ alectic are not in themselves finally proved.

They are,

in fact, no more than assumptions which serve as points of departure for the development of the relative sciences. "Perfect knowledge would imply seeing every thing in its dependence on an unconditional principle."2^ The soul is always demanding such a principle, be­ cause she would tie her hypotheses to ideas in order to make them live and truly be.

She attains to the highest

knowledge only when she has acquired and made this prin­ ciple to be operative in her very being.

Thus she aims

at dialectical intuition which accomplishes this purpose. Her search is for things in themselves which can only be known in and through the mind.


Xt is when functioning


Nettleship, o£. cit., p. 2 5 3 . 28

Republic, p. $ 11 ,

at the fourth level, represented by the highest and small­ est division of the divided line, that the soul goes be­ yond hypotheses and to first principles*

Here she does

not make use of images as before, but proceeds in and 29 through ideas themselves. This level of consciousness, the highest of the intelligible world, is that which • • • reason herself attains by the power of dial­ ectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses— that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by successive steps she descends again without theaid of any sensible object, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends. 30 This principle of the whole which the mindfs eye, as the result of its dialectical training, is capable of contemplating is certainly not to be derived from the arts and sciences as such. hypotheses.

These can only produce tentative

Its acquisition is the result of having ac­

quired that insight which is the result of mastering the problems which

arise for the soul

in this fourth level

of the divided

line, which is the

highest knowledgeposs­

ible to the soul of man. sense*

In it there is no element of

For the perfected intellect that has attained

Republic* P* 510

30 Ibid., p. 511.


to such internal growth the world and the knowing process is conceived as a series of connected states of conscious­ ness with their appropriate objects, all being finally unified in the idea of the good. 31

Upon this concept all

awareness of value finally depends, for all concepts and percepts aim to embody its meaning and purpose*

"To the

perfect intelligence it would be possible to pass up and down this scale of forms without any break, so that from any one point in the world it could traverse the entire 32 whole*,f Possession of such a capacity indicates that the possessor has accomplished the dialectical ascent, for advancement to wisdom is accompanied by an awareness 33

of the unity of all knowledge."

Arriving at the end of this account of Plato1s divided line, imagination or fantasy may now be correlated with the shadows of the first level, opinion or faith with the objects of the second, and science or active intelli­ gence with the hypotheses of the third, while true know­ ledge or intuition is to be related to the ideas of the fourth and last division in knowledge.

Intelligence alone

directs man in his understanding of the first three levels 31

Nettleship, 0£. cit., p. 25>6 .

3 2 Ibid., p. 257. 33 Ibid., p. 258.


of knowledge, dealing with shadows, objects, and hypo­ theses,

It is, however, intelligence accompanied by

dialectical intuition which, in the final state of de­ velopment, leads directly to the apprehension of eter­ nal ideas.

The soul in which this knowing principle

dwells, gradually dispenses with the objects of knowl­ edge that are provided at the lower level of knowing, and ultimately in her ascent focusses the intelligence upon truth itself and intuits iramanently and directly.^ And Lotze says that we "feel certain in the moment in which we think any truth, that we have not created it 35 for the first time but merely recognized it, 11 This he contends evidences, as Plato himself insists, that ideas are valid before they are thought and expressed by individual man and continue to be so without regard to the vascillation of objects external to themselves. This is the conclusion which must be arrived at by one who properly understands Plato’s imagery of the divided line.

For, "the truth which is never apprehended by us


_Wild, op. cit., p. 105* "The judgments in­ volving /the forms/ are made by the mind, thinking by itself without any special bodily organ." 35

Hermann Lotze, Logic of Thought, of Investiation, and of Knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press,



120 is vital no whit less than that small fraction of it 36 which finds its way into our intelligence." Plato makes his view of dialectic perfectly clear.

His doc­

trine posits universal ideas as given and present, and allows but one truth, that is, one idea, for each class of objects.

This is it which must be intuited before

its projected counterpart can be ultimately and correctly known. 37 At the various levels which have here been dis­ cussed, man is seen to be a creature gathering experi­ ence, moving ever toward greater comprehension as he comes to know his origin and his destiny.


glimpses of the eternal within himself, he finally fixes his gaze upon the perfect world.

There is, however, no

sudden acceleration of the growth process, for man moves from the visible and objective world to a comprehension of the invisible and subjective experiences, but slowly. Plato seemed to believe that it is evolution itself which accomplishes the growth process.

In time, every

soul transcends the mundane in coming to the highest level of wisdom and knows each level as to its true

36 I S M -

37 Republic, pp. $96-598*

121 meaning and worth.

And so, while dialectic is a long

and treacherous course, • . .with dialectic when a person starts on a discovery of the Absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelli­ gence he arrives at the perception of the Ab­ solute Good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in*the case of sight at the end of the visible. But why does not the race attain to this sublime state of consciousness, why have so few men accomplished it? These questions will be clarified by a perusal of the meaning imparted by Plato’s allegory of the cave. Man, living on this earth, is as if chained in some dingy cavern so that he never sees the light of day* 39 To see the sun’s light, that physical light of this world, is not enough, for in this there is no science*


cave-like existence is due to his native limitations, as well as to the restrictions imposed upon him by the cavelife he must live while acquiring experience.

Until the

conditions of the den are overcome, he cannot have knowl­ edge, although he will maintain that he has truth. Man’s heritage by birth-right, as revealed in this allegory, is the darkness of not-knowing present in the

3 8 Ibid., p. 532. 3 9 Ibid., p. 515.

122 physical element.

The importance of environment on the !l0 total bearing of man is well known. Yet man is fixed

and conditioned by the state of his physical existence so as to be capable of approaching the light of day, that is, the light of intellect, only under conditions of great difficulty.

Worst of all, the soul, her psychology being

what it is, is not entirely aware of her limitations.


the cave, which is this world, she sees only the reflec­ tions of real existences.

And if one who has escaped the

cave and completed the dialectical ascent, being filled with concern for the prisoners of the cave from whence he has so recently ascended, returns to render directive assistance, he will probably be killed.

For these people

of the den are as men in a state of semi-awareness from which most are awakened only by death. When communicating with one another about them­ selves, all the shadowy things which they have created are hardly cognitive to them, since they insist on using only the terminology and methodology learned in this world. ”Yet, surely, they have an idea of the Good, however dim. ii.1 Else they could not even see the shadows.” This accounts


Wild, op. clt., pp. 188-205.


Demas, op. cit., p. 72.

123 for the possibility of their conversion, but they cannot know until they experience that unity of insight produced by the operation of dialectic within the character.


arate insights must be pieced together and structured in a single order; otherwise, life’s philosophy remains 1x2 patch-worked and distorted. But this prison-house of earth may be supposed to have an echo that brings truth from the outside.


theless, most men suppose that this guidance comes from one of his fellow men.

But the philosopher knows that the

physical forms of men are only passing images and that truth is not produced by them; for they themselves are shadows of the real.

Such citizens of the den who hold hi

this view have begun their dialectical ascent. ^

But at

first, when they suddenly look toward the light, they are in distress.

When finally they do see the realities and

then return to explain the nature of shadows to their fellows, they are met with insult and rebuff of every description.^

His is the redemption process, and it is

ever painful to redeem transgression which is ignorance,

^•2 Wild, ££. cit., p. 202. ^

Republic, p. $ 1$.

W 4- ibid., p. $18.

1214. facing that internal awareness which dissipates not-knowing. Yet, while the dialectical hero's vision may be blurred when he first reenters the cave, after a brief adjustment, his observation will be "a thousand times better than the cave-dwellers'*". Only those who make the ascent out of this cave of shadows achieve

understanding, and not mankind generally.

But Plato does not allow his dialectician to remain with gaze eternally fixed on ideas; he must descend again, ex­ posing himself and his consciousness to the ravages of the den.

And he must bring his vision of truth with him, that

he become hot too confused by this gloomy sphere when en­ deavoring to help his fellow man.

As his soul formerly

passed from hypotheses to puie ideas, so now she must return, by successive steps descending without the aid of sensible objects, but holding fast to ideas.^ After this ascent and descent of man, he is a d i f ­ ferent being, for having vision, his soul has achieved such wisdom as man is capable of acquiring.

And, for Plato,

% a n himself ^does/ finally, become a hero, a divine being, a daimon.”^


Therefore*, the difficulty of the dialectical

Republic, p* £16* Ibid., p, 511.

k7 Gustav E. Mueller, "Plato and the Gods,” Philo­ sophical Review, k5:^57*

12$ effort notwithstanding, the soul must pursue this ascending order of values and hope for that "divine favor" to which Plato refers when he says that some men receive knowledge directly from the intellectual source of all intelligence.


For the soul seeks philosophy as a lover, not of a part* but k9 of the whole of truth* The philosophic mind never rests until it arrives at essences by a "sympathetic and kindred power in the soul, and by that power drawing near and minr * gling and becoming incorporate with very being*" will the human soul cease in her travail.


But man cannot

so much as dream of true wisdom until he knows true hypo­ theses by means of dialectic, for when the soul does not know first principles and when conclusions are constructed out of not-knowing, no one should be deceived into imagin­ ing that such convention as this Is the final goal of Plato’s dialectical ascent with which these pages have been concerned.


Meno, pp. 9 8 -9 9 *


Republic, pp. k75-76* Ibid., p. 14-90.

51 Ibid-. PP. 533-31+.


CONCLUSION, THE SOUL IS IMMORTAL The soulfs order, origin, experiences, nature, and development, having been considered, the final pur­ pose of this work remains, which is to investigate the question of her immortality.

For to Plato, life without

the assumption of Immortality would indeed be pointless. The essential Import of his entire philosophy tends to substantiate and to culminate in this belief.

It remains

to be seen, however, if the doctrine can be philosophi­ cally established; for though it has profoundly influenced behavior since Platofs time, he was the only Greek to pro­ fess a completely positive belief in immortality. Several important proofs for immortality evidence Plato’s philosophy of the soul’s immortal nature.

One of

the strongest of his arguments is based on the nature of motion.

He says,

The soul through all her being is immortal, for that which is ever in motion is immortal; but that which never moves another and is moved by another, in ceasing to move ceases also to live. Only the self-moving, never leaving self, never ceases to move, and is the foundation and beginning of motion to all that moves be side s.

^ Phaedrus, p. 245•


Motion is of the exact nature of soul* and like her is eternal.

Any search for a beginning of soul in time in­

troduces an infinite regress.

The begotten has a begin­

ning, whereas soul, being immortal, has no beginning. She is co-eternal with time, which is infinite, and is as much the cause of time, as time is of her.

The self-

motion of soul, being the origin of all motion, cannot be destroyed, otherwise all creation must come to an end. Not only is the self-motion proved by Plato to be immortal, it is also the very essence of soul.


The body, how-

ever, is mortal and soulless, for it is moved from without. Thus, not body, but soul as self-moving is necessarily un1+ begotten and immortal. The principles of good and evil are also of import­ ance as a proof of immortality.

The saving grace and im­

provement of soul is her inherent good, while her corrup­ tion, insofar as she is corruptible, is her inherent evil'. The vice and evil which is inherent in each is the destruction of each; and if this does not des­ troy them there is nothing else that will; for good certainly will not destroy thenu nor again, that which is neither good nor 5 e





^ Ibid. 3 Zeller, Plato and the Older Academy, ^ Ibid., p • 2I4.6 . ^ Republic, p. 609 .

p. 35^*



But a soul which manifests evil and corruption of char­ acter is not utterly disintegrated by the resulting harm­ ful effects.

And if cowardice, intemperance, ignorance,

and such as these cannot destroy her, then nothing will cause soul to cease to be.

The internal evil of injust­

ice, when punished, may result in an experience of pain, but the soul herself is not destroyed, or separated from the body.

,fIt is unreasonable to suppose that anything

can perish from without through affection of external evil which could not be destroyed from within by a cor/i ruption of its own." It may therefore be presumed that there is nothing which can disintegrate the soul. With the evils of body, it is quite different. In this instance, diseases do waste the body, finally annihilating it through their corrupting influences. Body, however, cannot destroy soul, for as bad food does not affect the body until entering and becoming a part of it, so body, which is not in soul, cannot affect soul. There is no means by which body is capable of entering into soul, although it may be surrounded by her.

In no

way, then, thinks Plato, can the physical produce disin­ tegrating evil in soul*

Even though the body lose its

members or meet with physical death, even then, soul is



not affected.

Body is of one kind and soul is of another,

and cannot be shown to become less alive or unrighteous as a result of bodily affliction. The conclusion which must be accepted, is that soul cannot be destroyed by any evil existing in the body, nor can she be permanently affected, so far as her immortality is concerned by her own inherent weaknesses.


and other such evils of soul are not seen to kill her, and if these do not affect her, then she cannot be destroyed at all. 7 If injustice would kill the soul, then could she be freed from herself and her evil, both at once

But in­

stead, injustice is observed to harm the physical proper­ ties of others, even to the extent of killing the possess­ ors of the property, without destroying the soul which perpetrates the injustice. The arguments for immortality are now augmented by a rather strange doctrine which Plato offers in further support of the tenet.

The number of human souls, he is -

confident, always remain the same, never diminishing or increasing.

He therefore concludes once more that the

soul must be immortal.

If there were any increase in the

number of souls, such augmentation would necessarily arise

7 Ibid., p. 6 X 0 .

out of the mortal, in which event, all would eventually end in immortality.

Accepting the soul as immortal, on

the ground that their number never varies, what happens after they leave their bodies in death, how do they again acquire vehicles of expression, in order that the race be not extinguished?

The answer necessitates reference to

Plato’s doctrine of metempsychosis, but i.t need only be stressed that, for him, the import of the doctrine gives impetus to the belief in the soul’s immortality.


doctrine explains, in view of the fact that the number of souls does not increase, how it is possible for life to be perpetuated.

The race does not cease to exist,

since the soul upon leaving its bodily habitat, remains disincarnate for a period, and then returns to earth. ^


A query is now raised as to why a man is not per­

mitted to take his own life. is not his own.

It is because a m an’s life

His life is said to be the property of

the gods, and noone should take or destroy what does not belong to him.


In destroying his own life a man would

return to the gods, his creators of the other world, with­ out having been called by them.^

8 I b i d ., p. 615 .

^ Phaedo, p. 62. 10 Ibid., p. 6 3 .

This further evidences

13 1

Plato’s belief that the soul endures beyond the body; for if she goes to gods of the other world upon her death, then she surely does exist, at least beyond the limits of her body. This is why philosophers are always pursuing death, for, according to them, death is nothing but the separa­ tion of body from soul, which then continues to exist freed from the hindrances of the physical.

And as the philoso­

pher’s entire interest is in the fulfillment of his soul’s experience, not all of which is in the world of matter, he does not love the bodily element of his constitution. ”In matters of this sort philosophers, above all other men, may be observed in every /legitimate/ sort of way to dis­ sever the soul from the communion of the body.”^^

If Plato

were not convinced that soul continues on after her separa­ tion from the body, there would be no point or merit in his holding so strongly to a doctrine which contends that upon death soul is separated from body. 12

^ 12

He would reduce the

Ibid., pp. 6 Ij. and 65.

Gorgias, p. 525* Not only does Plato believe that soul lives on after her separation from body, but re­ lates that whatever was the habit of soul in life, so will it be with her in death, at least for a time. The soul will appear tall if the man was tall, or short if he was short, and if he had flowing hair so it will be with the soul.

1 32

physical restraints on soul to a minimum, and recommends a centering of consciousness in the mind, that she may conceive knowledge. Thought is best when mihd is gathered into her­ self and none of these things trouble her— neither sounds nor sights nor pain nor any pleasure,— when she takes leave of the body, and has as little as possible to do with it, when she has no bodily sense or desire, but is aspiring after true being?l3 Pure knowledge comes to man, if at all, when body has been quitted and the soul, residing in herself, con­ ceives of things as they actually are.

MFor then, and

not until then, the soul will be parted from the body and exist in herself^*

It is for this reason

that Plato says that the soul of a philosopher rejoices in prospects of physical death, provided it be right and timely that he die. as life is but a kind

To such a man, what usually passes of death and constant dying.^


of the virtues are considered by him as disciplines for purifying the soul, preparing her for the more profound experiences. 1 6


Phaedo, p. 65.


rbld* 9 P* 6 6 .


Ibid., p. 6 8 .

1 6 Ibid., p. 6 9 .

133 To believe in immortality is one thing, while to convince the disbeliever of its actuality with effectual proof is quite another*

With rational arguments it is

not a simple matter to eliminate the opinion that soul, upon leaving her earthly habitat, is exactly nowhere and has not come to an end*

17 1ft *

Plato strengthens his posi­

tion, however, with several additional arguments.

One of

these is the ancient Orphic doctrine, affording a proof for immortality worthy of mention for historical reasons* This religio-philosophic position maintains that souls proceed in death from this world to the other, and then return to this planet, being born again from the d e a d . ^ The previous references to metempsychosis are a part of this tradition.

The argument affirms that the human soul

maintains its existence between lives.

Strong evidence

for immortality would indeed be established could it be

17 1 ft

p* 70.

Timaeus, p. 8l. Plato’s explanation of physical death: in youth, the triangles of the body are strong, T,But when the roots of the triangles are loosened by hav­ ing undergone many conflicts with many things in the course of time, they are no longer able to cut or assimilate the food which enters, but are themselves easily divided by the bodies which come in from without.” ^

Phaedo, p, 70.

13l+ satisfactorily proved that the living do come from that realm of the so-called dead; if, for instance, this were as obvious as it is that the dead come from the living, which is seen to be a daily occurrence, then no doubt could remain. The tenet that the living come from the dead, as the dead come from the living, is advanced by adducing the proof derived from the law of opposites.

All things

which have opposites, of which the one is generated out of the other, as, for instance, good comes from evil, justice from injustice, and the great from the small, are generated from each other. from what is lesser.

The greater must surely come

This is necessarily the relation be

tween all opposites, between which there is a constant passage of each into or out of the other. death, and produces death.-


Life is from

Here, too, as with other op­

posites, their generation is out of each other, even as waking produces sleeping and sleeping waking.

The infer­

ence is that human souls live in the other world and are born from that existence into this life.

And, although

their return from the so-called dead is not as visible as their going, it must nevertheless be concluded, in accordance with the law of opposites, that they do so

20 Ibid., p. 71.

135 return, otherwise nature*s cycle would not be completed. In this event, all would end in death, and life would 21

have long since ceased.

The famous epistemological doctrine of recollection is likewise one of P l atofs grounds for contending that life endures beyond death.

His account of recollection

implies, not only a former existence and a subsequent existence to this life, but many such existences.



were the times in which the knowledge that is now recol­ lected was acquired.

Association is the method of recol­

lection, by contact with the world soul is caused to re­ collect what was once known, but which, through some lack in the soul, was lost to m e m o r y . ^ When a soul, upon seeing material things, acquires ideas of things which differ from them,

then an act of re­

collection is accomplished in the soul.

It sometimes hap­

pens that she becomes aware that an object, like a statue, aims at beauty as an ideal, but fails in attaining to it. When this occurs, the recollection process is operative, evidencing a recall of the absolute essence of beauty which the soul once experienced and at which the statue aims but

Ibld‘» p. 72. 22

The doctrine of recollection is chiefly presented in the dialogues Meno, Phaedo, and Theaetetus. ^

Phaedo, p. 7 3 .

136 does not attain.

If an object could attain to the ideal

of which it is a representation in this world, it would, in Platofs opinion, be perfect and eternal in every de­ tail.2^"

This knowledge of the idea or ideal, being pres­

ent in the soul but not acquired in this life, must have been attained in that previous existence before man was born to earth. . ♦ . There is an absolute beauty, and goodness, and an absolute essence of all things; and if to this, which is now discovered to have existed in our former state, we refer all our sensations, and with this compare them, finding these ideas to be pre-existent and our inborn possession-then our souls must have had a prior existence, but if not there would be no force in the argu­ ment. 20 The consistency of the position that maintains soul to be immortal is strengthened by the demonstration that she is simple and unchanging.

The approach to this

philosophy, Plato believes, may best be made by understand ing the constitution of soul herself.

It is necessary to

determine if she is of that type of consistency which is liable to be dissipated.

Such things as are composed of

compounds, and are the results derived from the compound­ ing of elements, are to be considered as dissolvable.


Ibid., p. 75.

25 Ibid. p


Ibid., p. 76.


’’But that which is uncompounded, /soul/ and that only, must be, if anything is, indissolvable ♦ . . the uncom­ pounded may be assured to be the same and unchanging, whereas the compound is always changing and never the «27 same,”

The concept of soul is not that of a substance which is susceptible to change, nor are those essences and true existences, such as beauty, equality, justice, and their kind, to be thought of as changing,

They are

always what they are, eternally having the same simple unchanging and self-existing forms which do not admit of variation at any time or in any way. 28

But what pairtakes

of these essences, such as beautiful objects partake of the idea of beauty, are in constant change,

’’These you

can touch and see and perceive with the senses, but the unchanging things you can only perceive with the mind, they are invisible and are not seen,”^

Between these

simple ideas and the soul-body composite, which is man, Plato draws an analogy.

The.body is divisible and con­

stantly changing, while the soul, like other essences, is invisible and unchanging. ^

Phaedo, p. 7 8 .


29 Ibid.

It is the bodily element


which causes soul to descend into the realm of change­ ability. But when returning into herself she reflects, then she passes into the other world, the region of purity, and eternity, and immortality, and unchangeableness, which are her kindred, and with them she ever lives, when she is by herself and is not let or hindered; then she ceases from her err­ ing ways, and being in communion with the unchanging is unchanging. And this state of the soul is called wisdom?30 Soul, then, is seen to be associated with the unchanging and unseen principles, and is herself unchanging and un­ seen and immortal.

As Plato *s thought is pursued, it be­

comes ever more obvious why he contends that soul must rule while body must obey.

It knows only what is mortal,

whereas the soul is like the divine.

Like it, she is

simple and uniform, but body is the opposite, the like­ ness of what is human and mortal, unintellectual, and 11


Soul, upon leaving the body, being herself invis­ ible, departs to the invisible world of the immortal, divine, and rational.

Delivered from bodily ills, she

endures forever in the company of the gods.

But it is

only the purified soul, trained in philosophy who is eternally freed.

Such a soul does not walk blindly but

3 0 Ibid., p. 79.

3 ^ Ibid., p. 80.

follows where wisdom leads, which is to immortality*32 ,fThe lovers of knowledge are conscious that the soul /Jis/ simply fastened and glued to the body— until philosophy received her, she could only view real existence through the bars of a prison, not in and through herself." ^ wise soul resists this emancipation.^


Calming the pass­

ions and following, she partakes of her reward and derives proper nourishment, living well while alive, and after death going to her like, she is happy. ^ Plato raises two objections against his immortality belief which, in being answered, strengthen the entire ar­ gument for eternal life. mony, as many contend.

The first asks if soul is a har­ May it not disappear, as does the

harmony of a musical instrument, when its body or strings are destroyed.

The solution of this opposition affords

no difficulty.

True, the harmony created by a musical

instrument is invisible, as is the harmony of soul, and in this way is comparable to the nature of soul.


the harmony of a musical instrument comes after the in­ strument has been created and is dependent upon it.

32 Tbld., p. 8 2 .


Ibid., p. 8 l.


Ibid., p. 8 3 .

3^ Ibid., p. 81+.


xJ+o for instance, the strings of a lyre are destroyed, it can -) no longer produce harmony.* The harmony of soul is of a different character; it comes first, and does not depend upon the body.

If the

physical principle of the soul's harmony, that is, of the body, is broken, the harmony of soul continues, although not at the physical level of existence. reason for this.

There is good

The harmony of soul exists within the

soul herself, and was there present prior to her knowing the body and will continue after the physical element no longer exists.

It is an error to consider soulis harmony

as comparable, in any strict sense, to that of body, in­ asmuch as soul-harmony is not subsequent to other factors, but is created by herself.

Prom the recollection argument

it has already been concluded that soul is prior to all of her resultants. 37 Again, if ahe were a harmony, all souls would be equally good, whereas, according to Plato's ac­ count, they were equal only once and that was at the time of their creation. The other argument raised by Plato against his im­ mortality theory is not as easily refuted.

Granting that

the soul exists before entering the body and that it

Phaedo, p. 8 6 , 37

Ibid., p. 92.



continues to live, enduring after death, this still, does not prove her immortality.

The criticism contends that

the soul may outlive many bodies, only at last herself 36 to come to an end in death. This opposition may be answered if but one import­ ant point be granted, that all things exist by participa­ tion in ideas.

To contend that ten exceeds eight by two

would be an error, for the excess is not by two, but by the idea number.

In a like manner, the beautiful are not

so by any manifold of beauties, but alone by sharing in the idea of beauty.^9

And again,

As the idea of greatness cannot condescend ever to be or become small, in like manner the smallness in us cannot be or become great; nor can any other opposite which remains the same ever be or become its own opposite, bu.t either passes away or per­ ishes in the change.4*^ What, then, is it that renders life to the body?

No ans­

wer will suffice except the idea of soul, for where this idea is found, life is found.

As has already been shown,

the opposite of life is death, and of this the soul will never partake, for she cannot accept her opposite. neither within her nature or power to do so.

36 Ibid., p. 89.

3^ Ibid., p. 100. ^•° Ibid., p. 102.

It is

The prinsiple


which does not permit of death is immortal, and this is the idea of soul.^

When death attacks her, she does not

die, but escapes into the realm of soul and is preserved. Plato is ever anxious to establish a relationship between the soul of man and the universal realities.

"There is

the same proof that these ideas must have existed before we were born, as that our souls existed before we were ]i 2

born; and if not the ideas, then not the souls.”


deny this would for this philosopher be equivalent to ni­ hilism.

Hence the existence of immortality is again

thought to be proved, since soul is not to be separated from the permanent actuality of universal soul. Having achieved what Plato believes to be an ade­ quate proof of the sou^s immortality, he, as a pragmatic thinker, concludes his thoughts by contending that if im­ mortality is true, man still has not arrived at any con­ clusion with the proof, but only at the beginning.^


soul*s immortality having been established, man must con­ duct himself in a manner befitting his status as an eter­ nally. conscious and growing being.

He must learn to live

Phaedo, p. 105* Ibid., P. 76. ^ Stewart, o£. clt., p. 100. Not William James, but Plato, was the first pragmatic thinker.



wisely with himself and with mankind generally. Man must live wisely, for soul is judged by her actions, being greatly benefitted or injured according to whether or not she has lived wisely or poorly. Soul receives in the other world, as Plato believes she does in this one, in direct proportion to the development of her own character.

Therefore, the wise man, since soul

is shown to be immortal, must look hot only to this point of time, but also to eternity, because when leaving this world his soul can take nothing with her except such wis­ dom as has become hers.

Man must live the life demanded

by his destiny, that of a human animal which becomes di­ vine.

Let this work, in accordance with the findings, be

concluded as it was begun, with Plato *s words that, 11Of all things which a man has, next to the Gods, his soul is I

most divine and most truly his p wn.lf


Ibid., P. 107. k^

■Gorgias, pp. 523-526.


Phaedo, p. 108.


Laws, p. 726.



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^Adamson, Robert, The Development of Greek Philosophy. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons,

' 1908. Anderson, P. H., The Argument of Plato. London, Toronto and Vancouver: J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., 193k-* Archer-Hind, Richard Dacre, The Timaeus of Plato. and New York: Macmillan and Company, 1888.


Bakewell, Charles M . , Source Book in Ancient Philosophy. New York: Charles Scribner*s Sons, 1907* Blakey, Robert, History of the Philosophy of Mind. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, l8£0. Brett, George Sidney, A History of Psychology Ancient and Patristic. London: George Allen and Company, Ltd., 1912. Burnet, John, Early Greek Philosophy. and Claries Blaclc^ IF9 2 .



Cornford, Prancis MacDonald, From Religion to Philosophy. London: Edward Arnold, 1912. _______ , Plato and Parmenides.


Kegan Paul,

TrencKTJ Trubner and Company, Ltd., 1939* _______ , Plato *s Theory of Knowledge. court, Brace and Company, 1935 • Dacier, M., The Life of Pythagoras. Tonson, 1707.

New York:




Frazer, James George, The Growth of PlatoTs Ideal Londons Macmillan andCompany', Ltd., 13