Platonic Souls in the Cave: Are They Only Rational?

  • Ivana Costa
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 20)


The allegory of the cave ends with a distinction, at Republic 518d-e, between moral and intellectual virtues; Socrates states that the virtue of wisdom (ἡ ἀρετή τοῦ φρονῆσαι) belongs to something more divine which never loses its power. However, it is not always or even necessarily aimed at what is good, but it can be directed to evil, as the so called bad-σοφοί do. I will argue that Plato is willing to grant that the training of the rational part by itself cannot be able to bring together philosophy and good political leadership (that is why he highlights the importance of having the spirited and the appetitive parts of the soul rightly educated). From this point of view, the picture of the soul that is drawn from the allegory of the cave should not be considered fully intellectualistic. After analyzing the allegory in search of traces of the tripartite psychic model, I will connect the allegory with Lesser Hippias 366a-b and Laws III 689a-b, where Plato tries to distinguish between intellectual ability and practical wisdom. The discussion of this distinction, I shall suggest, can be seen as the background to some remarks made by Aristotle in his own discussion of ἀκρασία in Nicomachean Ethics VII.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivana Costa
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Buenos Aires/Argentine Catholic UniversityBuenos AiresArgentina

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