Plato’s partition of State and Soul
In the Republic, Plato divides his ideal State into three classes. The division of functions that leads to the separation into three classes, is reflected in Plato’s search for justice. At the top of his list, he places the Guardians (Rulers). He assigns a second place to the Auxiliaries (Military), and at the bottom of his hierarchical structure, he puts the Producers (working class).
Plato similarly divides the individual’s soul into three parts (tri-partition of the soul). He argues that the soul is composed of a Rational part, a Spirited part, and an Appetitive part.
The Platonic Virtues that he establishes, play an important role in the maintenance of social order and achieving Justice. They are as follows:
Wisdom – This is the only purely intellectual virtue. And it is in the exclusive domain of the rulers. In our modern terms, wisdom is the ability to recognize the best possible goal or result in a given situation and to figure out how to act.
Temperance – Moderation. Not an intellectual excellence, this is the individual’s strength to protect himself from engaging in any form of excess. It essentially consists of self-regulation. An attitude of moderation toward pleasure, especially physical pleasures of food, drink, and sex.
Courage – Or simply put strength. An attitude of strength in the face of danger or in situations that cause fear. This is the soldiers’ defining excellence.
Justice – Fairness; giving people what they deserve; treating people equally.
Also, read the related Blog posts as follows: Plato’s Dystopia, Plato’s Academia, Plato and Justice, Plato’s Imitation Theory, The Republic Lead subjects, Plato’s Regimes, Art as Imitation, Duality in Plato’s Republic, Plato and Art, Dystopia Connotations, Utopia Connotations, What is Utopia, Plato’s Republic, Who was Plato, Plato’s Visual Utopia book
Cardinal virtues in the State
Guardians (the rulers) – Wisdom
Auxiliaries (the military) – Courage
Producers (working class) – Temperance
The whole City/State – Justice
Cardinal virtues in the Soul
Rational Part – Wisdom
Spirited Part – Courage
Appetitive Part – Temperance
The whole Soul – Justice
Featured image, “State-Soul” – an Illustration by Daniel Heller.