Tripartite Soul — Plato
500 years before the common era, one of the most influential philosopher in Greece — Plato, gave the concept of Tripartite Soul in humans when he was laying out how reason can and should function in human mind.
He believed that we all have what he called a tripartite soul, we know it as “self” or psyche. He considered some humans to be better humans and others as base depending on what part of their soul is in control.
Rational or Logical
First there’s a rational part of the soul which is responsible for reasoning and it seeks truth. It is swayed by facts and arguments.
One fine morning, you read an article stating the research and statistics about how eating excess of KFC could harm your health and you immediately decide to cease any visit to that mouthwatering restaurant. Here, your rational part is coming in control.
Spirited or Emotional
The spirited part isn’t just about feelings but also about how your feelings fuel your actions. It gives you the sense of honor and duty and it is swayed by sympathy and emotions.
You are just browsing through the social media feed and you stumble upon a video where some cute animals are being tortured for their body parts as the demand is growing high in the market. With the moistened eyes, you promise never to consume any meat including KFC. Here, your spirited part guided you to make this decision.
Appetitive or Physical Desires
We share this part with other animals as it drives us to eat, have sex and protect ourselves from danger. It is swayed by temptations that are carnal and visceral.
After a long and exhausting day of practicing football, you are looking for a nice restaurant to have a delicious meal. Unfortunately, the smell of KFC travels through the air to reach your olfactory receptors and you just jump in to grab every piece like a hungry wolf. You see, here the appetitive part of your soul is in control and forced you to make this decision.
Plato definitely believed that people that allowed the rational part to be in control of the driver’s seat are the best humans as it keeps in check the spirited part and appetitive part. People who are ruled either by spirited or appetitive part are base humans.
Most of us would agree with the above mentioned concept of Plato that reason should always sit in the driver’s seat. And it sounds incredibly convincing with the reasons and explanations Plato laid out.
I Defy You Plato
I do not completely buy in the concept Plato gave!
With all due respect, I ought to disagree with the tripartite soul concept to a certain degree and I would attempt to best of my abilities with the arguments that would help extend the understanding of our soul and its functioning.
We, the humans — the best creation of the universe are not existing in the most beautiful planet ever known just to pop out and then get back to grave. We are not here just to fulfill only the basic needs of the materialistic body, defined and followed blindly by many of us.
And let me bring this to your kind attention that each thought here on this page have an experience and emotion associated with it. They are not just plain thoughts which emerged out just because some random neurons got fired in the brain.
To a certain age we all do and imitate what we observe and what we are taught by the society and culture surrounding us. This is exactly how our brain and so our behaviour is shaped and tamed which results in shaping of our thoughts as well. You have no dominance over it and you are forced to follow the path blindly but only to a distance.
But there comes an age, when your tamed brain shouts “WHY”.
You start questioning few things and then probably everything. Your tamed brain is breaking the chains now and you are becoming what Plato called a Rational Soul. And I have no hesitation in affirming that this is one of the greatest favours any human can do for himself.
What I am urging is a step next to breaking chains of tamed brain.
Let me take you through the journey of my journey. Upto high school, life and circumstances drove me as they drive everyone else.
Way of life was never questioned !
All credit goes to my alma mater Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati and the company of awesome buddies who provided me an environment that transformed me into a rational soul. As expected, many aspects of life were questioned and it continues till this date.
I got insanely addicted to this state and discarded almost all elements of life which couldn’t be explained rationally.
But three years later, an instance made me realize the loss which came along with the addiction of being irrationally rational. It was during the academic internship at the Republic of Korea which sparked the spiritual element inside me and brought the fire of missing life back.
I reached beyond the boundaries of rational being and discovered the undiscovered.
I, along with the three most amazing people I met in Korea were breathing in the sunset. It wasn’t just the sunset, it was the sunset over the horizon of a river and believe me the moment was timeless as we all were sitting on a stone which was placed near the river bank. We felt the motion of water rushing through our feet and we all entered into a state of silence. A silence which had beauty resonating inside it.
The moment was poetic.
Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, everyday can end beautifully
After the beautiful sunset, we walked together along the river, with the sound of rushing water soothing our eardrums. We kept talking, we kept walking and we didn’t realize the passing away time. We fell in love with the moments.
At 3:30 in the night, we had our last shuttle back to the dormitory but none of us wanted to leave and none of us wanted to break the chain of beautiful moments.
I decided to stay back. And so did everyone.
After wandering into the streets of Daejeon in the dark, we landed near a big church. With the intention of just exploring it in terms of its architecture, we entered into it. I opened the big doors with a rumbling sound and looked up at the far ceiling of the church. It was magnificent. The size of the church appeared to be astronomical. It made me feel as if I don’t exist in comparison to its immensity.
It was dark inside it and negligible sections of it were lit up but with the most beautiful patterns I have ever seen. Instrumental music was being played in the background which calmed my brain and it’s thoughts to stillness. I just sat on one of the benches and kept staring at a piece of beautiful pattern allowing myself to go into extreme stillness. I entered into a state of immense joy.
Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises within you
Suddenly, something caught the attention of my widened eyes and that single glimpse restored a part of soul in me. To my astonishment, the place I believed to be desolated in night had a couple holding each other’s hands and praying to the almighty with the pain and belief I have never actually felt. It was unfamiliar and it hit me.
For the first time in my life, I saw a prayer, pristine prayer and not a transaction.
I spent the whole night in that colossal building with the background music that resonated my inner strings, with the darkness that kindled the fire of spirit in me, with the prayer of couple that restored the element of faith in my heart and with the stillness that gave a sense of just being.
Being must be felt. It can’t be thought
The New Sunrise
As I mentioned above, putting the rational part of soul into driver’s seat is the greatest favour a man can do for himself. But getting addicted to being rational can suck away the crucial element of being alive.
There are instances, when giving the steering wheel to spiritual part of your soul can take you to such adventurous that you never have imagined.
You gotta breach the rational boundaries to experience a state you never experienced.
In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being. Take those untaken rides, these rides are crazy and believe me, they’ll take you closer to the truth of actual being. Reach for the horizon and go beyond it.
All the things that truly matter, beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace arise from beyond the mind.