In both the Phaedo and Republic 4, Socrates offers an account of the nature of psychological conflict in the context of a discussion about the soul. Different conceptions of the soul and body emerge from these accounts, each of which takes on a markedly different tenor. I will exposit and criticize the account presented in the Phaedo, and then, in the course of expositing the second account, turn to the similarities and differences between the two accounts. I will then argue that one should prefer the conception offered in Republic 4, for the reason that it offers a more coherent picture of the soul and a more plausible account of psychological conflict.
[...] Importantly, though, we may not reason as follows: because we do not invoke objections from causal interaction to lay waste to Socrates' division of soul and body more generally, by analogy we should not level these objections in the context of an account of psychological conflict. But with regard to a general objection to the soul- body distinction, Socrates need not answer the causal interaction complaint: he might admit that interaction is a mystery, but assert that mystery does not imply the impossibility of interaction he waves his hands, so to speak. [...]
[...] Socrates thus negates each of the following: The soul is composite thing is a kind of harmony of the elements of the body in a state of tension,” (92b) from which is follows that the soul could not have “existed before those elements from which it had to be composed the harmony is composed last of all, and is the first to be destroyed” (92b-c) The above statements prove that Socrates denies the thesis that mental or soul properties supervene on physical properties, i.e., he denies physicalism. [...]
[...] The soul is now defined as a composite entity, and thus an account of psychological conflict can refer to conflict within the parts of the soul. The account need not encounter the pitfalls described above, which stemmed largely from construing psychological conflict as soul-body conflict. In order to cement the boundaries of the partition, Socrates must address whether we do things with the same part of ourselves, or with three different parts. To examine the issue and determine “whether these parts are the same or different,” Socrates proposes the opposites clause: same thing will not be willing to do or undergo opposites in the same part of itself, in relation to the same thing, at the same time” (436c). [...]
[...] In consequence, the conception of the soul and the body which emerges from this exposition is a bit murky; the objections and possible counter objections presented above attest to this. But even placing aside the fact that the ‘soul rules body' premise is problematic, we can be reasonably sure that Socrates adheres to the following basic points: the soul and the body are distinct entities the body entity precipitates bodily affections the soul's opposition to bodily affections precipitates psychological conflict the soul is not a harmony (95a). [...]
[...] Finally, note that the Phaedo conceptions of body and soul cannot account for Leontius' instance of psychological conflict. On this account, we must attribute anger to the body, because it is counterintuitive to attribute it to the soul. But since the Leontius anecdote proves that anger wars with appetites, we cannot attribute anger to the body with violation of the opposites clause. (Though Socrates does not proffer such a clause in the Phaedo, intuition demands we abide by it.) So again, we see the double- edged sword: the conceptions of soul and body offered within the Phaedo cannot offer an adequate account of psychological conflict, and the account of psychological conflict thus offered confuses the conceptions of soul and body. [...]
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