The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 31–49

Plato's Analogy of Soul and State

  • Nicholas D. Smith

DOI: 10.1023/A:1026402630245

Cite this article as:
Smith, N.D. The Journal of Ethics (1999) 3: 31. doi:10.1023/A:1026402630245


In Part I of this paper, I argue that the arguments Plato offers for the tripartition of the soul are founded upon an equivocation, and that each of the valid options by which Plato might remove the equivocation will not produce a tripartite soul. In Part II, I argue that Plato is not wholly committed to an analogy of soul and state that would require either a tripartite state or a tripartite soul for the analogy to hold. It follows that the heart of the analogy is not to be found in the comparison of the Kallipolis and its three parts to the soul conceived as tripartite, but rather must be supposed to reside in some other connection between the ways in which justice characterizes states and souls, and I will suggest what this other connection consists in.

analogy justice moral psychology Plato political theory Republic soul utopia 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas D. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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