Saturday, December 31, 2016

2b Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (with a glance at Plato’s Gorgias and Republic VI)

Focussing on ‘Temptation and inner conflict’, Richard Sorabji objected to my dating of the Phaedrus: ‘In Protagoras 358 B-E and Gorgias 468 B-C, Plato expresses a view which seems to me very simple and naїve, compared with the more sophisticated discussion in the Republic 435-441, and the Phaedrus.’ In my two preceding posts I discussed Sorabji’s reference to the Protagoras and to the Republic, let me now tackle his reference to the Gorgias.

Sorabji writes: ‘The Gorgias says that it is pursuing the good that we walk when we walk, thinking it to be better. Similarly, we exile people, thinking it better for us to do this than not to. We will the good, not the bad or indifferent, and we will exilings only if they are useful, not harmful. The other things only seem good, and are not willed. Can we believe that these over-simplified claims were written after the Phaedrus, where the charioteer and the better horse have a correct opinion about which is the better course of action, but nonetheless sometimes get defeated?’

To answer Sorabji’s question, I must view Gorgias 468 B-C in its proper context. Polus, a disciple of Gorgias, asks Socrates: ‘Don’t they [the rhetors] have the greatest power in the cities (ou megiston dunantai en tais polesin)?’ – Socrates: ‘No (Ouk) – not if you say that having power (ei to dunasthai ge legeis) is a good (agathon ti einai) to the man with the power (tȏi dunamenȏi).’ – Pol. ‘Well (Alla mȇn), I do say so (legȏ ge).’ – Soc. ‘Then I think the rhetors have the least power of anyone in the city (Elachiston toinun moi dokousi tȏn en tȇi polei dunasthai hoi rȇtores).’ – Pol. ‘What (Ti de;)? Aren’t they like tyrants (ouch, hȏsper hoi turannoi)? Don’t they kill whoever they want to (apokteinuasin te hon an boulȏntai), and expropriate (kai aphairountai chrȇmata) and expel from the cities (kai ekballousin ek tȏn poleȏn) whoever they think fit (hon an dokȇi autois;)?’ … – S. ‘Then are you asking me two questions at once (epeita duo hama me erȏtais;)?’ – P. How are they two questions (Pȏs duo;)?’ – S. ‘Weren’t you just now saying something like this (Ouk arti houtȏ pȏs eleges); “Don’t rhetors kill whoever they want to (Ê ouchi apokteinuasin hoi rȇtores hous an boulȏntai), like tyrants (hȏsper hoi turannoi), and expropriate (kai chrȇmata aphairountai) and expel from the cities (kai exelaunousin ek tȏn poleȏn) whoever they think fit (hon an dokȇi autois)?”?’ – P. ‘Yes, I said so (Egȏge).’ – S. ‘Then I say (Legȏ toinun soi) that these are two questions here (hoti duo taut’ estin ta erȏtȇmata), and I’ll answer you (kai apokrinoumai ge soi) both of them (pros amphotera). For I say, Polus, (phȇmi gar, ȏ Pȏle, egȏ) that both the rhetors and the tyrants (kai tous rȇtoras kai tous turannous) have least power in the cities (dunasthai men en tais polesin smikrotaton), as I was saying just now (hȏsper nundȇ elegon); for they do practically nothing, I say, that they want to (ouden gar poiein hȏn boulontai, hȏs epos eipein), but do (poiein mentoi) whatever they think is best (hoti an autois doxȇi beltiston einai).’ – P. And isn’t this having great power (Okoun touto estin to mega dunasthai)?’ – S. ‘No (Ouch) – at least Polus doesn’t agree (hȏs ge phȇsin Pȏlos).’ – P. ‘I don’t agree (Egȏ ou phȇmi;)? Of course I agree (phȇmi men oun egȏge)’ – S. ‘No, by the (Ma ton) … Indeed you don’t (ou su ge). For you said that having great power (epei to mega dunasthai ephȇs) is a good to the man who has it (agathon einai tȏi dunamenȏi).’ – P. ‘Yes, I still say so (Phȇmi gar oun).’ – S. Then do you think it is a good (Agathon oun oiei einai) if someone does (ean tis poiȇi tauta) whatever seems best to him (ha an dokȇi autȏi beltista enai), when he has no intelligence (noun mȇ echȏn;)? Do you call even this having great power (kai touto kaleis su mega dunasthai;)? – P. ‘No, I don’t (Ouk egȏge).’ – S. ‘Then won’t you show that rhetors have intelligence (Oukoun apodeixeis tous rȇtoras noun echontas) and that rhetoric is a craft (kai technȇn tȇn rȇtorikȇn), not flattery (alla mȇ kolakeian), by refuting me (eme exelenxas;)? If you leave me unrefuted (ei de me easeis anelenkton), the rhetors (hoi rȇtores) who do what they think fit in the cities (hoi poiountes en tais polesin ha dokei autois) and the tyrants (kai hoi turannoi) will have gained no good by it (ouden agathon touto kektȇsontai); but power (hȇ de dunamis), you say is a good (estin, hȏs su phȇis, agathon), and you also agree that doing what we think fit without intelligence is an evil (to de poiein aneu nou ha dokei kai su homologeis kakon einai), don’t you (ȇ ou;)?’ – P. ‘Yes, I do (Egȏge).’ – S. Then how are the rhetors or the tyrants to have great power in the cities (Pȏs an oun hoi rȇtores mega dunantai ȇ hoi turannoi), unless Socrates is refuted by Polus and convinced (ean mȇ Sȏkratȇs exelenchthȇi hupo Pȏlou) that they do what they want to (hoti poiousin ha boulontai)?’ (466b4-467a10, tr. Terence Irwin; his will be all other translation from the Gorgias in this post as well.)

Socrates’ claim that the rhetors and the tyrants have the least power of anyone in the city, although they kill whoever they want to, and expropriate and expel from the cities whoever they think fit can be viewed as highly controversial, but is it ‘very simple and naïve’? Even more thought provoking is his claim that they do practically nothing they want to, although they do whatever they think is best, and that it is so according to Polus, for he said that having great power is a good to the man who has it. This Socratic claim is not something that Plato abandoned on the way to the Republic. In fact, the pivotal passage in Republic VI that leads to Socrates’ exposition of the Good, can help us understand Gorgias 466b4-468e5 better.

Socrates: ‘Is it not likewise evident (Ti de; tode ou phaneron) that many are content to do or to have, or to seem to be, what is just and beautiful without the reality (hȏs dikaia men kai kala polloi an helointo ta dokounta, k’an ei mȇ eiȇ, homȏs tauta prattein kai kektȇsthai kai dokein); but no one is satisfied with the appearance of good (agatha de oudeni eti arkei ta dokounta ktasthai) – the reality is what they seek (alla ta onta zȇtousin); in the case of the good, appearance is despised by every one (tȇn de doxan entautha ȇdȇ pas atimazei;)’. – Adeimantus: ‘Very true (Kai mala).’ – S. ‘Of this then, which every soul of man pursues (Ho dȇ diȏkei men hapasa psuchȇ) and makes the end of all his actions (kai toutou heneka hapanta prattei), having a presentiment that there is such an end (apomanteuomenȇ ti einai), and yet hesitating because neither knowing the nature (aporousa de kai ouk echousa labein hikanȏs ti pot’ estin) nor having the same assurance of this as of other things (oude pistei chrȇsasthai monimȏi hoiai kai peri t’alla), and therefore losing whatever good there is in other things (dia de touto apotunchanei kai tȏn allȏn ei ti ophelos ȇn), – of a principle such and so great as this (peri dȇ to toiouton kai tosouton) ought the best men in our State, to whom everything is entrusted, to be in the darkness of ignorance (houtȏ phȏmen dei eskotȏsthai kai ekeinous tous beltistous en tȇi polei)? – A. ‘Certainly not (Hȇkista ge).’ – S. ‘I am sure (Oimai g’oun) that he who does not know how the noble and the just are likewise good (dikaia te kai kala agnooumena hopȇi pote agatha estin) will be but a sorry guardian of them (ou pollou tinos axion phulaka heautȏn ton touto agnounta); and I suspect that no one who is ignorant of the good will have a true knowledge of them (manteuomai de mȇdena auta proteron gnȏsesthai hikan… And if only we have a guardian who has this knowledge our State will be perfectly ordered (Okoun hȇmin hȇ politeia teleȏs kekosmȇsetai, ean ho toioutos autȇn episkopȇi phulax, ho toutȏn epistȇmȏn;)?’ – A. ‘Of course (Anankȇ), but I wish you would tell me whether you conceive this supreme principle of the good to be knowledge or pleasure (alla su dȇ, ȏ Sȏkrates, poteron epistȇmȇn to agathon phȇis einai ȇ hȇdonȇn), or different from either (ȇ allo ti para tauta)?’ (505d5-506b4, tr. Jowett)

Where can this notion of the good, the knowledge of which is essential for good government, be found in the Phaedrus, in the second part of which rhetoric is discussed? Isn’t Socrates in the Gorgias approaching it? Isn’t the sequence of Plato’s dialogues PhaedrusCharmides (see The Lost Plato on my website) … ProtagorasGorgias … – Republic, rather than Protagoras – Gorgias – Republic – Phaedrus, as Hackforth, Long, Sorabji, and others, have it?

But let me return to the Gorgias. Socrates: ‘I say they [i.e. rhetors and tyrants] don’t do what they want to (Ou phȇmi poiein autous ha boulontai).’ – Polus: ‘Weren’t you just now agreeing (Ouk arti hȏmologeis) that they do (poiein) what they think best (ha dokei autois beltista einai)?’ – S. ‘Yes, and I agree now too (Kai gar nun homologȏ).’ – P. ‘Then don’t they do what they want to (Ouk oun poiousin ha boulontai;)?’ – S. ‘I deny it (Ou phȇmi).’ – P. ‘Though they do what they think fit (Poiountes ha dokei autois;)?’ – S. ‘I agree (Phȇmi – ‘That’s what I maintain’).’ – P. ‘This is shocking and monstrous stuff you’re saying (Schetlia ge legeis kai huperphuȇ), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates).’ (467b2-10)

As can be seen, Polus did not find these statements of Socrates ‘over-simple’, he found them shocking and monstrous. What will Socrates do about it? He will specify the meaning of boulesthai (Irwin’s ‘wanting to’, Sorabji’s ‘willing to’) in its relation to the concept of the good.
Socrates: ‘Then do you think people want the thing they are doing at any time (Poteron oun soi dokousin hoi anthrȏpoi touto boulesthai ho an prattȏsin hekastote), or the thing (ȇ ekeino) for the sake of which they do the things they do (hou heneka prattousin touth’ ho prattousin;)? For instance (hoion), do you think that those who take drugs from doctors want what they’re doing (hoi ta pharmaka pinontes para tȏn iatrȏn poteron soi dokousin touto boulesthai hoper poiousin), to take the drug (pinein to pharmakon) and suffer pain (kai algein), or the thing (ȇ ekeino) – being healthy (to hugiainein) – for the sake of which (hou heneka) they take it (pinousin;)?’ – Polus: ‘It’s clear (Dȇlon hoti) they want to be healthy (to hugiainein).’ – S. ‘And similarly for seafarers (Oukoun kai hoi pleontes te), and those who do other kinds of business for profit (kai ton allon chrȇmatismon chrȇmatizomenoi). What they want isn’t what they do at any time (ou touto estin ho boulontai, ho poiousin hekastote) – for who wants to go sailing (tis gar bouletai plein te) and be in danger (kai kinduneuein) and have all that bother (kai pragmat’ echein;)? But, I take it, what they want is the thing (all’ ekeino oimai) for the sake of which they go sailing (hou heneka pleousin); to be wealthy (ploutein) – for they sail for the sake of wealth (ploutou gar heneka pleousin).’ – P. ‘Quite (Panu ge).’ – S. ‘Then isn’t it just the same (Allo ti oun houtȏ) in every case (kai peri pantȏn;)? If anyone does something (ean tis ti prattȇi) for the sake of something (heneka tou), he doesn’t want the thing (ou touto bouletai) he does (ho prattei), but the thing (all’ ekeino) for the sake of which he does it (hou heneka prattei;)?’ – P. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – S. ‘Now is there any of the things (Ar’ oun estin ti) that are (tȏn ontȏn) which isn’t either good (ho ouchi ȇtoi agathon g’ estin) or bad (ȇ kakon), or intermediate (ȇ metaxy) between them (toutȏn), neither good (oute agathon) nor bad (oute kakon)?’ – P. ‘It must be as you say (Pollȇ anankȇ), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates).’ – S. ‘Then don’t you say wisdom is a good (Oukoun legeis einai agathon men sophian te), and health (kai hugieian) and wealth (kai plouton) and other such things (kai t’alla ta toiauta), and the opposite of them are evils (kaka de t’anantia toutȏn;)? – P. ‘I do (Egȏge).’ – S. ‘And do you say that the neither good nor evil things are of this kind (Ta de mȇte agatha mȇte kaka ara toiade legeis) – things which sometimes share in the good (ha eniote men metechei tou agathou), sometimes in the evil (eniote de tou kakou), and sometimes in neither (eniote de oudeterou), things like sitting (hoion kathȇsthai), walking (kai badizein), running (kai trechein), sailing (kai plein), and again things like stones (kai hoion au lithous) and sticks (kai xula) and other such things (kai t’alla ta toiauta)? Aren’t these what you speak of (ou tauta legeis;), or do you call some other things (ȇ all’ atta kaleis) the neither good (ta mȇte agatha) nor evil things (mȇte kaka)?’ – P. ‘No (Ouk) – these things (alla tauta).’ – S. ‘Then do people do these intermediate things for the sake of the good things (Poteron oun ta metaxu tauta heneka tȏn agathȏn prattousin), when they do them (hotan prattȏsin), or do they do the good things (ȇ t’agatha) for the sake of the intermediate things (tȏn metaxu;)?’ – P. ‘Presumably they do the intermediate things (Ta metaxu dȇpou) for the sake of the good things (tȏn agathȏn).’ (467c5-468b1)

Follows Gorgias 468b-c to which Sorabji points. Socrates: ‘Then it is in pursuit of the good (To agathon ara diȏkontes) that we both walk (kai badizomen) when (hotan) we walk (badizȏmen), thinking (oiomenoi) it is better (beltion einai), and on the other hand stand still (kai to enantion hestamen) when (hotan) we stand still (hestȏmen), for the sake of the same thing (tou autou heneka), the good (tou agathou). Isn’t that so (ȇ ou;)?’ – Polus: ‘Yes (Nai).’ – S. ‘Then don’t we also kill (Oukoun kai apokteinumen), if we kill anyone (ei tin’ apokteinumen), and expel (kai ekballomen) and expropriate them (kai aphairoumetha chrȇmata), thinking (oiomenoi) that it is better for us (ameinon einai hȇmin) if we do it (tauta poiein) than if we don’t (ȇ mȇ;)?’ – P. ‘Yes, quite (Panu ge).’ – S. ‘Then it is for the sake of the good (Henek’ ara tou agathou) that those who do these things do them all (hapanta tauta poiousin hoi poiountes).’ – P. ‘I agree (Phȇmi).’ – S. Now didn’t we agree (Oukoun hȏmologȇsamen) that whatever things we do for the sake of something (ha heneka tou poioumen), we don’t want the things we do (mȇ ekeina boulesthai), but the thing (all’ ekeino) for the sake of which (hou heneka) we do them (tauta poioumen;?’ – P. ‘Absolutely (Malista).’ – S. ‘Then we don’t want to butcher (Ouk ara sphattein boulometha) or expel from the cities (oud’ ekballein ek tȏn poleȏn) or expropriate (oude chrȇmata aphaireisthai), just like that (haplȏs houtȏs), but if the things are beneficial (all’ ean men ȏphelima ȇi tauta), we want (boulometha) to do (prattein) them (auta), but if they are harmful (blabera de onta), we don’t want to (ou boulometha). For we want good things (ta gar agatha boulometha), you say (hȏs phȇis su), but we don’t want the neither good nor evil things (ta de mȇte agatha mȇte kaka ou boulometha), nor the evil things (oude ta kaka). Is that right (ȇ gar;)? Do you think what I say is true (alȇthȇ soi dokȏ legein), or not, Polus (ȏ Pȏle, ȇ ou;)? Why don’t you answer (ti ouk apokrinȇi;)?’ – P. ‘It’s true (Alȇthȇ).’ (468b1-c8)

This is where Gorgias 468b-c, to which Sorabji explicitly points, ends. To make sense of the passage, we must go a little bit further. Socrates: ‘Then since we agree on this (Oukoun eiper tauta homologoumen), if someone kills a man (ei tis apokteinei tina) or expels him from the city (ȇ ekballei ek poleȏs), or expropriates him (ȇ aphaireitai chrȇmata), whether he is a tyrant (eite turannos ȏn) or a rhetor (eite rȇtȏr), thinking (oiomenos) it is better for him (ameinon einai autȏi), when in fact it is worse (tunchanei de on kakion), he presumably does (houtos dȇpou poiei) what he thinks fit (ha dokei autȏi). Isn’t that so (ȇ gar;)?’ – Polus: ‘Yes (Nai).’ – S. ‘Then does he also do what he wants to (Ar’ oun kai ha bouletai), if the things he does are in fact bad (eiper tunchanei tauta kaka onta;)? Why don’t you answer (ti ouk apokrinȇi;)?’ – P. No, I don’t think he does what he wants to (All’ ou moi dokei poiein ha bouletai).’ – S. Then is there any way (Estin oun hopȏs) such a man (ho toioutos) has great power (mega dunatai) in the city (en tȇi polei tautȇi;), since having great power is (eiper estin to mega dunasthai) some kind of good (agathon ti), according to your agreement (kata tȇn sȇn homologian)?’ – P. ‘No, there’s no way (Ouk estin).’ – S. ‘Then I was saying what is true (Alȇthȇ ara egȏ elegon), when I said it is possible (legȏn hoti estin) for someone who does what he thinks fit in a city (anthrȏpon poiounta en polei ha dokei autȏi) not to have great power (mȇ mega dunasthai), and not to do what he wants (mȇde poiein ha bouletai).’ (468d1-e5)


I do not consider Plato’s view that ‘it is possible for someone who does what he thinks fit in a city not to have great power, and not to do what he wants’ as ‘simple and naїve’, although it runs against the usual notion of power, and so I cannot be persuaded, on this basis, that I should view the Gorgias as written prior to the Phaedrus. I do not deny that the discussion in the Phaedrus, ‘where the charioteer and the better horse have a correct opinion about which is the better course of action, but nonetheless sometimes get defeated’, is subtle, but I cannot see how their moral struggle can be meaningfully compared to the mental state of rhetors and tyrants discussed in the Gorgias. Did Anytus believe that it was better not to sentence Socrates to death, yet his better judgment was defeated by his base desires, and so he demanded the death sentence for him? It is unlikely, though, perhaps, not impossible; but Socrates’ discussion with Polus in the Gorgias was hardly the place for Plato to speculate about such moral struggles that the rhetors and tyrants might possibly sometimes undergo.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A step too far?

This morning I looked up Plato, then Plato’s Phaedrus on Google. I expected to find there a reference to ‘2a Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (the tripartite and the unitary soul in Plato’s Republic)’, which I posted yesterday. To my dismay, I found there no refence to this post, nor to the preceding ‘2 Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (with a glance at Plato’s Protagoras and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics)’ posted on Dec. 24, or to ‘1 Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (the soul in Republic X)’ posted on Dec. 17. The two references I found there go back to Dec. 16, ‘3 Polemarchus in Plato’s Phaedrus and Republic I, and Dec. 15, ‘2 Polemarchus in Plato’s Phaedrus and Republic I’.

Have I gone too far by beginning to grapple with the doctrinal arguments that Richard Sorabji raised against my dating of Plato’s Phaedrus? Does this mean that from December 16 the Google-visitors interested in Plato will cease to be informed about my work? Just when I get to grips with the crux of the matter?

It makes me sad, and it has its effects. The ‘Stats’ was telling me that for weeks the greatest number of visitors on my blog were from the USA, then United Kingdom, then France, then Germany. It changed. The number of visitors this week: USA 1613, France 41, Russia 21, United Kingdom 17, Ireland 6, Germany 4, Israel 3, Canada 2, India 2, Portugal 2 – no Czech Republic.

What I particularly deplore is the low number of German visitors, for the German scholars in the early 20th century ‘proved’ that the Phaedrus was a late dialogue – see R. Hackforth, Plato’s Phaedrus, Cambridge University Press, 1952, repr. 1972.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2a Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (the tripartite and the unitary soul in Plato’s Republic)

In his second cluster of doctrinal objections to the dating of the Phaedrus as Plato’s first dialogue, Temptation and inner conflict, Richard Sorabji emphasizes the simplicity of the Protagoras and the Gorgias in comparison to the more sophisticated Republic 435-441 and Phaedrus: ‘The latter are helped to take a more sophisticated view partly by their recognizing three parts in the soul.’

In Republic 435-441 Plato presents the proof of the tripartite division of the soul. He arrived at this point as follows. Glaucon and Adeimantus, Plato’s two brothers, charged Socrates in Book II with the task ‘in the first place, to inquire thoroughly into the nature of justice and injustice (diereunȇsasthai ti te estin hekateron), and secondly, to discover the truth about their relative advantages’ (kai peri tȇs ȏphelias autoin t’alȇthes poterȏs echei, 368c5-7, tr. is Jowett’s, as will be all the forthcoming translations from the Republic in this post).

Socrates expects the search to be difficult, and since ‘justice is sometimes spoken of as the virtue of an individual (dikaiosunȇ esti men andros henos), and sometimes as the virtue of a State (esti de pou kai holȇs poleȏs), a State is larger than an individual (meizon polis henos andros), justice is likely to be more abundant and more easily discernible in the larger, (isȏs toinun pleiȏn an dikaiosunȇ en tȏi meizoni eneiȇ kai raiȏn katamathein)’, he suggests: ‘I propose therefore that we inquire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State (ei oun boulesthe, prȏton en tais polesi zȇtȇsȏmen poion ti estin), and secondly in the individual (epeita houtȏs episkepsȏmetha kai en heni hekastȏi), proceeding from the greater to the lesser and comparing them (tȇn tou meizonos homoiotȇta en tȇi tou elattonos ideai episkopountes).’ (368e2-369a3)

To accomplish this task, Socrates decided ‘to construct as good a State as we could (kai houtȏ ȏikizomen hȏs edunametha aristȇn [tȇn polin]), knowing well that in the good one justice would be found (eu eidotes hoti en ge tȇi agathȇi an eiȇ [hȇ dikaiosunȇ], 434e1-2)’. The best State consists of three classes, traders (chrȇmatistikou), auxiliaries (epikourikou), and guardians (philakikou genous), and the justice is defined as ‘each of these classes doing their own business in the State’ (hekastou toutȏn to hautou prattontos en polei, 434c7-9). The question Socrates investigates next is, ‘whether the soul has these three principles or not (peri psuchȇs, eite echei ta tria eidȇ tauta en autȇi eite mȇ, 435c5-6)’, and so he asks ‘whether we learn with one part of our nature, are angry with another (manthanomen men heterȏi, thumoumetha de allȏi tȏn en hȇmin), and with a third part desire the satisfaction of our natural appetites (epithumoumen d’ au tritȏi tini tȏn peri tȇn trophȇn te kai gennȇsin hȇdonȏn kai hosa toutȏn adelpha); or whether the whole soul comes into play in each sort of action (ȇ holȇi tȇi psuchȇi kath’ hekaston autȏn prattomen, hotan hormȇsȏmen, 436a8-b2).’

To solve this problem, Socrates formulates the following principle: ‘Clearly the same thing cannot act or be acted upon in the same part or in relation to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways (Dȇlon hoti t’auton t’anantia poiein ȇ paschein kata t’auton ge kai pros t’auton ouk ethelȇsei hama); and therefore (hȏste) whenever this contradiction occurs in things apparently the same (an pou heuriskȏmen en autois tauta gignomena), we know (eisometha) that they are really not the same (hoti ou t’auton ȇn), but different (alla pleiȏ, 436b8-c1).’

James Adam notes ad loc. that this ‘is the earliest explicit statement in Greek literature of the maxim of Contradiction’. (Op. cit. [in my previous posts], vol. I, p. 246)

Socrates: ‘The soul of the thirsty one (Tou dipsȏntos hȇ psuchȇ), in so far as he is thirsty (kath’ hoson dipsȇi), desires only drink (ouk allo ti bouletai ȇ piein); for this she yearns (kai toutou oregetai), and for this she strives (kai epi touto hormai) … And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away from drink (Oukoun ei pote ti autȇn anthelkei dipsȏsan), that must be different (heteron an ti en autȇi eiȇi) from the thirsty principle which draws him like a beast to drink (autou tou dipsȏntos kai agontos hȏsper thȇrion epi to piein – there is nothing in Socrates’ Greek that entitles Jowett to view ‘the thirsting’ as a principle); for, as we were saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with the same part of itself act in contrary ways about the same (ou gar dȇ, phamen, to ge auto tȏi autȏi heautou peri to auto ham’ an t’anantia prattoi) … Now are there times when men are thirsty (Poteron dȇ phȏmen tinas estin hote dipsȏntas), and yet unwilling to drink (ouk ethelein piein;)? … And in such a case what is one to say (Ti oun phaiȇ tis an toutȏn peri)? Would you not say that there was something in the soul bidding a man to drink, and something else forbidding him (ouk eneinai men en tȇi psuchȇi autȏn to keleuon, eneinai de to kȏluon piein), which is other and stronger than the principle which bids him (allo on kai kratoun tou keleuontos – again, there is no ground for translating to keleuon, ‘that which is bidding’ as a principle)? … And the prohibition in such cases is derived from reasoning (Ar’ oun ou to men kȏluon ta toiauta engignetai, hotan engenȇtai, ek logismou), whereas the motives which lead (ta de agonta) and attract (kai helkonta ‘and dragging’) proceed from passions and diseases (dia pathȇmatȏn te kai nosȇmatȏn paragignetai)? … Then we may fairly assume that they are two (Ou dȇ alogȏs axiȏsomen auta ditta te), and that they differ from one another (kai hetera allȇlȏn einai); the one with which a man reasons (to men hȏi logizetai), we may call thee rational principle of the soul (logistikon prosagoreuontes tȇs psuchȇs), the other, with which he loves (to de hȏi erai te) and hungers (kai peinȇi) and thirsts (kai dipsȇi) and feels the flutterings of any other desire (kai peri tas allas epithumias eptoȇtai), may be termed the irrational or appetitive (alogiston te kai epithumȇtikon), the ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions (plȇrȏseȏn tinȏn kai hȇdonȏn hetairon) … So much (Tauta men), then (toinun), for the definition of two of the principles existing in the soul (duo hȇmin hȏristhȏ eidȇ en psuchȇi enonta ‘let there be defined these two kinds existing in the soul’). And what now of passion, or spirit (to de dȇ tou thumou kai hȏi thumoumetha)? Is it a third (poteron triton) or akin to one of the preceding (ȇ toutȏn poterȏi an eiȇ homophues)?’ (439a9-e4)

That thumos (the spirited part of the soul) and to epithumȇtikon (the appetitive part of the soul) are separate entities Socrates proves as follows: ‘Well (Alla), there is a story which I remember to have heard, and in which I put faith (pote akousas ti pisteuȏ toutȏi). The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion (hȏs ara Leontios ho Aglaїȏnos), coming up one day from the Piraeus (aniȏn ek Peiraiȏs), under the north wall on the outside (hupo to boreion teichos ektos), observed some dead bodies (aisthomenos nekrous) lying on the ground at the place of execution (para tȏi dȇmiȏi keimenous). He felt a desire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them (hama men idein epithumoi, hama de au duscherainoi kai apotrepoi heauton); for a time he struggled (kai teȏs men machoito te) and covered his eyes (kai parakaluptoito), but at length the desire got the better of him (kratoumenos d’oun hupo tȇs epithumias); and forcing them open (dielkusas tous ophthalmous), he ran up to the dead bodies (prosdramȏn pros tous nekrous), saying, Look, ye wretches (“Idou humin”, ephȇ, “ȏ kakodaimones), take your full of the fair sight (emplȇsthȇte tou kalou theamatos”) … The moral of the tale is (Houtos mentoi ho logos sȇmainei) that anger at times goes to war with desire (tȇn orgȇn polemein eniote tais epithumiais), as though they were two distinct things (hȏs allo on allȏi) … And are there not many other cases in which we observe (Oukoun kai allothi pollachou aisthanometha) that when a man’s desires violently prevail over his reason (hotan biazȏntai tina para ton logismon epithumiai), he reviles himself (loidorounta te hauton), and is angry at the violence within him (kai thumoumenon tȏi biazomenȏi en hautȏi), and that in this struggle, which is like the struggle of factions in a State, his spirit is on the side of his reason (kai hȏsper duoin stasiazontoin summachon tȏi logȏi gignomenon ton thumon tou toioutou;); – but for the passionate or spirited element to take part with the desires (tais d’ epithumiais auton koinȏnȇsanta) when reason decides that she should not be opposed (hairountos logou mȇ dein antiprattein), is a sort of thing which I believe that you never observed occurring in yourself (oimai se ouk an phanai genomenou pote en sautȏi tou toioutou aisthesthai), nor, as I should imagine, in anyone else (oimai oud’ en allȏi)? … When a man thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong (Ti de hotan adikeisthai tis hȇgȇtai;), then the spirit within him boils and chafes (ouk en toutȏi zei te kai chalepainei), and is on the side of what it believes to be justice (kai summachei tȏi dokounti dikaiȏi); and though it suffers hunger or cold or other pain (kai, dia to peinȇn kai dia to rigoun kai panta ta toiauta paschein), it is only the more determined to persevere and conquer (hupomenȏn kai nikai kai ou lȇgei tȏn gennaiȏn). Such a noble spirit will not be quelled until it has achieved its object (prin an ȇ diapraxȇtai) or been slain (ȇ teleutȇsȇi), or until it has been recalled by the reason within, like a dog by the shepherd (ȇ hȏsper kuȏn hupo nomeȏs hupo tou logou tou par’ hautȏi anaklȇtheis praünthȇi;)?’  – Glaucon: ‘The illustration is perfect (Panu men oun eoike toutȏi hȏi legeis); and in our State, as we were saying (kaitoi g’ en tȇi hȇmeterai polei), the auxiliaries were to be dogs (tous epikourous hȏsper kunas ethemetha), and to hear the voice of the rulers, who are their shepherds (hupȇkoous tȏn archontȏn hȏsper poimenȏn poleȏs).’ (439e6-440d6)

Having observed that ‘in the conflict of the soul spirit is arrayed on the side of the rational principle (auto [to thumoeides] en tȇi tȇs psuchȇs stasei tithesthai ta hopla pros to logistikon)’, Socrates asks ‘whether passion is different from reason also (ar’ oun heteron on [to thumoeides] kai toutou [tou logistikou]), or only a kind of reason (ȇ logistikou ti eidos, 440e8)’. Glaucon says that ‘it must be the third’ (Anankȇ triton, 441a4), and ‘that is easily proved (ou chalepon phanȇnai): – We may observe even in young children (kai gar en tois paidiois an tis idoi) that they are full of spirit almost as soon as they are born (hoti thumou men euthus genomena mesta esti), whereas some of them never seem to attain to the use of reason (logismou d’ enioi men emoige dokousin oudepote metalambanein), and most of them late enough (hoi de polloi opse pote).‘ – Socrates: ‘Excellent (Nai ma Dia, kalȏs ge eipes) and you can see passion equally in brute animals, which is a further proof of the truth of what you are saying (eti de en tois thȇriois an tis idoi ho legeis, hoti houtȏs echei). And we may once more appeal to the words of Homer, which have been already quoted by us (pros de toutois, kai ho anȏ pou eipomen, to tou Homȇrou marturȇsei, to) “He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his heart” (stȇthos de plȇxas kradiȇn ȇnipape muthȏi); for in this verse Homer has clearly supposed the power which reasons about the better and worse to be different from the unreasoning anger which is rebuked by it (entautha gar dȇ saphȏs hȏs heteron heterȏi epiplȇtton pepoiȇken Homȇros to analogisamenon tȏi alogistȏs thumoumenȏi) … And so, after much tossing, we have reached land (Tauta men ara mogis dianeneukamen), and are fairly agreed (kai hȇmin epieikȏs hȏmologȇtai) that the same principles which exist in the State exist also in the individual (ta auta men en polei, ta auta d’ en henos hekastou tȇi posuchȇi genȇ eneinai), and that they are three in number (kai isa ton arithmon).’ (441a7-c7)

Jowett misrepresents Plato’s text when he speaks of epithumȇtikon (the appetitive part) and of thumos (the spirited part) as principles. In the light of Republic X these two lower parts appear to be accretions that do not belong to the immortal soul (611b1-612a6). (See ‘1 Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (the soul in Republic X)’)

In Book IV Socrates prefaced his proof of the tripartite soul with a cautionary observation: ‘And I must impress upon you, Glaucon (kai eu g’ isthi, ȏ Glaukȏn), that in my opinion (hȏs hȇ emȇ doxa) our present methods of argument are not at all adequate to the accurate solution of this question (akribȏs men touto ek toioutȏn methodȏn, hoiais nun en tois logois chrȏmetha, ou mȇ pote labȏmen); the true method is another and a longer one (allȇ gar makrotera kai pleiȏn hodos hȇ epi touto agousa, 435c9-d3).’

Adam notes ad loc.: ‘touto in akribȏs men touto and in hȇ epi touto agousa ought, so far as grammar goes, to mean the question whether the soul has tria eidȇ (‘three kinds’) or not. But the makrotera periodos (‘the longer method’) in VI 504 B ff., where Plato expressly refers back to this passage, eschews the psychological problem altogether. The makrotera periodos of Books VI-VII is in harmony with the present enquiry in so far as it seeks to determine the nature of Justice and the other virtues (VI 504 D, 506 A), but it is nowhere in the Republic expressly used either to confirm or to overthrow the triple division of soul which is here propounded … The only way out of these difficulties is to suppose that touto here was not intended by Plato to refer to the psychological, but to the ethical question, to which the psychological enquiry is introductory. Touto must then be taken as dikaiosunȇs te peri kai sȏphrosunȇs kai andreias kai sophias ho hekaston esti [‘concerning justice and temperance and courage and wisdom, what each is’ (VI 504 A)’ (Op. cit. p. 244)

Pace Adam, there is no need to replace the clear reference of touto in Book IV 435d1 and d3 to the question ‘whether the soul has tria eidȇ (‘three kinds’) or not’ by construing a new reference for it from Book VI 504 A. The difficulties to which Adam points can be solved if we pay closer attention to Plato’s makrotera periodos (‘the longer method’) in Books VI and VII.

In Book VI, at 504a4-b3 Socrates says to Adeimantus: ’You may remember (Mnȇmoneueis men pou) that we divided the soul into three parts (hoti tritta eidȇ psuchȇs diastȇsamenoi); and, by relating them to each other, distinguished the several natures of justice, temperance, courage, and wisdom (sunebibazomen dikaiosunȇs te peri kai sȏphrosunȇs kai andreias kai sophias ho hekaston eiȇ)? …And do you remember the word of caution which preceded the discussion of them (Ê kai to prorrȇthen autȏn;) … We were saying, if I am not mistaken (Elegomen pou), that he who wanted to see them in their perfect beauty must take a longer and more circuitous way (hoti hȏs men dunaton ȇn kallista auta katidein allȇ makrotera eiȇ periodos), at the end of which they would appear (hȇn perielthonti kataphanȇ gignoito).’

Jowett’s ‘to see them in their perfect beauty’ for kallista auta katidein is misleading. Plato does not propose to see the three parts of the soul and the four virtues ‘in their perfect beauty’ – no such thing is offered in the ‘longer and more circuitous way’. He proposes to see them in the best way possible: hȏs men dunaton ȇn kallista auta katidein. Similarly, he does not say ‘at the end of which they would appear’, he says ‘at the end of which it would appear.’ Concerning these, what would appear by virtue of the ‘longer and more circuitous way’, we learn in Book VII, when Socrates speaks of its culmination, of seeing the Good.

‘Our argument (Ho de ge nun logos) shows (sȇmainei) that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already (tautȇn tȇn enousan hekastou dunamin en tȇi psuchȇi kai to organon hȏi katamanthanei hekastos); and that just as if it were not possible to turn the eye from darkness to light without the whole body (hoion ei omma mȇ dunaton ȇn allȏs ȇ sun holȏi tȏi sȏmati strephein pros to phanon ek tou skotȏdous), so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming to that of being (houtȏ sun holȇi tȇi psuchȇi ek tou gignomenou periakteon einai), and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being (heȏs an eis to on kai tou ontos to phanotaton dunatȇ genȇtai anaschesthai theȏmenȇ), or in other words, of the good (touto d’ einai phamen t’agathon, 518c4-d1).

The immortal soul, which we can see by virtue of the ‘longer road’, is unitary. Socrates does not speak here explicitly about the two lower ‘parts of the soul’, their bodily nature is nevertheless indicated implicitly when he contrast the intellectual virtue with virtues he discussed in Book IV: ‘And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul (Hai men toinun allai aretai kaloumenai psuchȇs) seem to be akin to bodily qualities (kinduneuousin engus ti einai tȏn tou sȏmatos, 518d9-10).’