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Philosophy: Plato’s View on the Self

Plato’s view on the self is correct because it provides a clear and comprehensive explanation of the basic components of personality.

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Section II

Plato presents a very interesting and logical explanation of personality in his discussion of the Divided Self. The philosopher, in his characteristic playful and creative manner, and using his characteristic systematic approach, creates a unique metaphor of personality that echoes the symbol of Chariot from the tarot cards. Plato describes the person as consisting of a Charioteer and two horses, white and black (or blood red).

The black horse looks like a frail animal that needs whipping and taming and represents the bodily inclinations or desires of a person or his appetites. The white horse represents a spiritual or energetic part of the personality that responds to the desire to establish justice in the world and can be overshadowed by an excessive desire for power, although it does not need excessive control. The white horse in this metaphor, according to Plato, is a spirited or hot-blooded part of the self. Finally, the Charioteer symbolizes the mind or mindfulness of the person who allows the wise control of the chariot.

Section III

Plato’s position is universal and does not meet with significant resistance among scientists and philosophers. At the same time, it can be compared with the position of Lucretius, which he sets out in a six-book poem De Rerum Natura. Lucretius’s vision of a person’s personality is presented for the most part from the standpoint of metaphysics since in the poem he explains his vision of the material and physical world. Lucretius says that a person can free himself from fears of gods and suffering by knowing the physics and theory of atoms. According to Lucretius, everything in the world, including man, is made of atoms. These atoms can be very close to each other and make up dense objects.

They can also represent smells, colors, and a tangible world that is depleted and re-saturated from time to time. At the same time, according to Lucretius, the personality consists of the body, as well as the soul and mind, which are in the area of the human heart. This concept contradicts Plato’s more specific concept of personality and indicates a significant flaw in Plato’s concept. In particular, Plato presents an overly practical concept of personality, which does not give consciousness new horizons for cognition, as in the work of Lucretius. Plato, in other words, views personality as a universal tool for survival or the ability to perform perfect actions in the world. However, he does not explain the role of personality in the structure of the cosmos, as Lucretius does.

Unlike Plato, Lucretius gives a universal knowledge of what a person is from the point of view of the Cosmos, and such a description can be more universal. If we apply the ideas of philosophers to everyday life, Plato frees a person from the suffering associated with not knowing how to realize perfect behavior. At the same time, Lucretius frees a person from suffering associated with the fact that he does not know what the body and soul of a person are, and what happens to the body and soul after death. Therefore, the idea of Plato frees a person from the fear of life, and the idea of Lucretius frees him from the fear of death.

Interestingly, it is really difficult to find contradictions between these two concepts, since they rather complement each other. It is natural for the philosophers of Ancient Greece to study different facets of life, from different positions, as if doing joint work for the common, universal human good of knowledge. Therefore, the most prominent ancient Greek philosophers and their most significant ideas, which they accepted as final, usually complement each other.

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It is most logical to assume that Plato’s criticism boils down to the fact that his position is not exhaustive enough to describe life, since it represents only one of its active parts. In addition, it is believed that Plato’s ideas are extremely idealistic and metaphorical, in comparison with the concepts of Aristotle, who was his follower. Aristotle presented examples of how Plato’s ideas can be applied in everyday life, that is, with the participation of real residents of the state of that time.

Section IV

One should not criticize Plato’s ideas about personality for the fact that they are not exhaustive enough in describing all facets of being. Plato was the first to develop his method of studying being, which became the basis of the entire system of this science. Therefore, the fact that he considers only one facet of being – life, is only evidence that Plato uses his characteristic and recognized in the scientific world, the method of cognizing reality. At the same time, Plato’s ideas cannot be called overly metaphorical or idealistic, since they are easily understood and applied in practice.

Section V

Plato’s view on the self is correct because it provides a clear and comprehensive explanation of the basic components of personality. He presents an interesting and lively metaphor, using tarot symbolism to describe a person’s personality. The existence of three foundations of being or three aspects of personality – appetites, spirited part, and mind is certainly an understandable guide to overcoming many life difficulties and developing perfect behavior. Criticism of Plato’s excessive idealism is irrelevant, as his ideas are uniquely practical and applicable in life. Criticism that the idea of Plato’s personality is insufficiently exhaustive is irrelevant since Plato uses a world-recognized and invented by himself philosophical method.

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Philosophy: Plato’s View on the Self'. 6 January.

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