The Tripartite Soul: Reason, Spirit, Appetite

I have been reading some of the philosophical open courseware available free from MIT.  I recently read some of Plato’s thoughts on the soul, and was fascinated by his tripartite model of the souls.  You can read the course notes here.  I found what I feel are some parallels with the Mormon possibilities of intelligence/spirit/body, and would be interested in what others think about this.

Plato broke the soul down into three parts including reason, spirit, and appetite.  His descriptions of these were roughly this:

Reason – This is the part of the soul that seeks and loves wisdom, knowledge, truth, etc.  Ultimately this is the part that Plato feels should rule the other parts.  This to me would be a parallel to the ‘intelligence’ in Mormonism, or light and truth.

Spirit – This is the part that is ambitious, that seeks for honor.  It can be aggressive and competitive.  This to me would be a parallel to the spirit body.  In Mormonism there are both evil and good spirits.  The war in heaven easily comes to mind as we see the ambitious and competitive Satan and his followers rebelling against God, and seeking for glory.

Appetite – This is the part that loves food, drink, sex, money, etc.  The obvious parallel here is with the mortal body.

Plato asserts that it is the wise and the just soul that allows the reason (or intelligence) to govern the other parts.  And it is those souls who are unwise and unjust that allow a conflict between their parts.  I don’t know, I found this to be pretty persuasive to me, and found some good parallels with my version of the tripartite nature of the soul.  I think Plato was on to something here, which may provide some insight into our natures.

1 Response to “The Tripartite Soul: Reason, Spirit, Appetite”



  1. 1 The Tripartition of Love (Mind, Body, and Soul) « Triptychon Trackback on December 25, 2011 at 9:35 am

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