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Immortality and the Nature of the Soul in the "Phaedrus" Author(s): Richard Bett Reviewed work(s): Source: Phronesis,

Vol. 31, No. 1 (1986), pp. 1-26 Published by: BRILL Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4182241 . Accessed: 12/03/2013 06:35
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Immortalityand the Nature of the Soul in the Phaedrus


"Firstwe mustinquirewhatkindof soul the discussionis about".So begins Hermeias'commentaryon the argumentfor immortalityin the Phaedrus It is a piece of advicethat has not, I think,been sufficiently (245c5-246a2).' heeded by modern scholars. There has been some discussionof various andthishas, of course, involved textualproblemsandpointsof translation, but I am some scrutinyof the argument'sstructureand presuppositions; not aware of any really detailed, step by step analysisof the argumentotherthanHermeias'own.2As a result,the preciserelationbetweenPlato's views on immortalityand the natureof soul in the Phaedrusand in other the dialogueshas not received as close attentionas it could. In particular, questionof whatconceptionof soul Platois operating within this argument - by examinationof single, has tended to be dealt with too superficially

HermeiaeAlexandriniin Platonis PhaedrumScholia, ed. P. Couvreur(Paris, 1901)ad.


The most detailed discussions I am aware of are in R. Hackforth, Plato's Phaedrus, (Cambridge, 1952), pp. 64-8, and T.M. Robinson, "The Argument for Immortalityin Plato's Phaedrus",Essays in Ancient GreekPhilosophy, ed. J.P. Anton and G.L. Kustas (Albany, 1971). But both of these, while they do cover the main steps of the whole argument, deal with most of them extremely briefly; in addition, Robinson's analysis seems to me mistaken in several places. Among other writersand commentatorson the Phaedrus, W.J. Verdenius ("Notes on Plato's Phaedrus", Mnemosyne, Series 4, 8 (1955), 265-89) and G.J. de Vries (A Commentaryon Plato's Phaedrus, Amsterdam, 1969) offer only isolated remarks, mostly on passages where the text is in doubt. I.M. Crombie (An Examinationof Plato's Doctrines, London, 1962) in a long and exhaustive chapter on Plato's views on the soul (Vol. I, ch. 7, "The Philosophyof Mind"), devotes only a page and a half (325-7) to the argument,mostly at a very abstractlevel; andMartha Nussbaum, in a discussionof the Phaedruswhich covers almost every major topic in the dialogue ("'This Story Isn't True'; Poetry, Goodness and Understanding in Plato's Phaedrus", Moravcsik and Temko (eds.), Plato on Beauty, Wisdom and the Arts, Totowa, N.J., 1982), dismisses it in literally a sentence (pp. 106-7). Phronesis 1986. Vol. XXXIII (AcceptedJuly 1985) 1

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troublesome phrases, rather than by assessment of the argumentas a whole. My purpose,then, is to analysethe Phaedrus' argument for immortality as minutelyas I can. This argument is of considerable intrinsic interest,and I shallbeginby treatingit largelyas an isolatedpiece of logic, examining the natureand cogency of the variouspremisesand inferences.However, the argumentmust also, of course, be seen in its context. By examiningit in detail, I hope also to clarify, to some degree, the place of the Phaedrus among Plato's works - or at least, among those works that deal with questionsaboutthe soul and immortality. In addition,I hope to arriveat a better understanding of the argument'splace in the Phaedrusitself. For another neglected issue, I believe, is that of the relation between the argument for immortality and the mythof the charioteers thatimmediately follows it. Typically, the two sections have been discussedtoo much in isolation from one another;yet clearly the natureof the soul is a central topic for both of them. That Plato intends the argumentas a rigorous proof, and hence as admittingof the detailedexaminationI intendto give it, is not, I think, in doubt. In this respectit contrastssharplywith the myth that follows, and
Plato purposely signals the contrast in two ways.3 First, there is the warning

at 246a6 (immediatelyprecedingthe myth) that what follows is a description of the soul only T EOLXEV, not o[ov {GTL;the proof has no such qualificationsattachedto it. Secondly, the styles of the two passagesare very different. The proof is presentedin extremelyspare, choppyprose; Platohere seems to be aimingfor maximum clarityandlogicalperspicuity.4
3 This contrast should not be taken to imply that the proof is more importantthan the myth, or that the myth is not "real philosophy". In this connection, it is interestingthat Plato uses the word &x6bettg (245c1,4; cf. &no6eLXtwoV, b7) to refer not simply to the proof of immortality,but to the entire ensuing discussion;the "demonstration"is of the fact that the madness of the lover is divinely inspired, and so encompasses the myth as well as the proof. In Plato's view, then, mythand proof are equallyvalid waysof showing things- though of course, each may be appropriatein different circumstances. 4 Some (e.g. de Vries, op.cit., following Denniston) have likened the style of the proof (in additionto its thought- but that is anothermatter)to that of certainPresocratics.The similaritymay be there, and may be intentional;but this does not, I take it, detract from the plausibility of my suggestion here - there may be more than one reason for his adopting the style that he does. Raphael Demos (in "Plato's Doctrine of the Soul as a Self-Moving Motion", JHP 6 (1968), 133-45) goes so far as to suggest, largely on the groundsof this stylisticdifference, that the argumentis a laterinsertion.This seems to me quite unnecessary;it is not at all unusualfor Plato to change his style radicallybetween adjacent passages.

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When he embarks on the myth, his language loosens up, and seems positively florid compared with the rigor and economy of the previous passage. In fact, of all the argumentsfor immortality in Plato, this one is muchthe closest to whatwe wouldconsidera formalproof. So in dissecting it, we are not approaching it in a spiritanydifferentfromthatin whichPlato composed it. I The basic shape of the argumentis as follows:
1) Soulis thatwhich is its own source of motion. 2) Thatwhichis its ownsourceof motionis immortal. Therefore 3) Soulis immortal.

Plato presentsit, though,in the reverseorder.The conclusion3) is statedat the beginning(245cS);the argument for2) occupieshimfromthereuntile2, and 2) is stated at e2-3; 1) is then arguedfor between245e3and 246al; and finally, at 246al-2, the conclusionof the whole argumentis restated.The argumentfor 1) is relativelystraightforward, andwe shalldeal withit later; 2), however, is establishedin a muchmore complexfashion, by meansof two independentsub-arguments. The premisesof the first sub-argument (which I shall label A) are as follows:
Ai) Thatwhichis its own sourceof motionis always in motion. Aii) That which is always in motion is immortal.

The premisesof the second sub-argument B are:

Bi) that which is its own source of motion is a source of motion for everythingelse that moves. Bii) that which is a source of motion for everything else is ungenerated and imperishable.

A is also presentedin the reverseorder,but B occursin the orderin whichI havejust exhibitedit.5I shallnow analysethe stepsone by one, in the order in which Plato gives them, beginningwith sub-argument A.
This analysisof the argument'sbroadoutline agrees most closely with that of Hackforth (op. cit.). The only point at which I would take issue with him is that he regards the second of the two argumentsfor 2) as subordinateto the first;it seems to me that the two are parallel and equally important. Hermeias's reconstructionis also roughly in agreement with my own (see p. 104.4-12 for his introductorystatement of the premises). He thinks that the argumentas a whole divides into two; in his view, the first sub-argument runs (using my symbolism) 1), Ai), Aii), therefore 3), and the second (roughly) 1), Bi), Bii), therefore 3). (This is not quite right, since he furthersubdivides my Bii), and his

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We begin with a statement of Aii) - TO yaQ a'ELXLVTOV aOtvacVov (245cS). No argumentis offered for this premise;it seems to be simply the underlyingthoughtis that something taken for granted.6Presumably which is always in motion must always exist, and so must be immortal. Provided"alwaysin motion" means "in motion for eternity"(on which more below), this seems hardto quarrelwith. It is only when we move to begins. Ai) that the real argumentation
The effect of Ai) is to identify that which is always in motion with that

whichmoves itself;given Aii), this establishesthe main premise2). Plato

now states Ai) at 245c7-8 - "only that which moves itself . . . never ceases

moving"- prefacingit with what amountsto a statementof its converse"that which . . . is moved by something else, since it admits of a cessation of movement, admitsof a cessationof life" (c5-7).7 At the same time, he

offers a reason for the assertion;this is containedin the terse and cryptic aTr6O (c7-8). aunoXkiLnov phrased-E o"ux
view of the logic at that point is slightlydifferentfrom mine; on this, see furthernote 14.) The main difference, then, is that he does not include Plato's statement of my main premise 2); but this difference is not important, except from a strictly formal point of view. The analysisof Robinson (op. cit.) is rathermore distantfrom mine. Partlyfor this reason, it would be a somewhatarduoustask to criticiseit directly;I prefersimplyto offer my own rival interpretation,and hope that it prevailson its own merits. and 6 There has been much division of opinion over the alternativereadings&ELXt(v-Tov of basis the on decided be cannot matter the me that to seems It in 245cS. aU1roxLvrlrov their relative appropriatenessto the argumentas a whole; either readingwould yield a closely-knit logical progression. It is true that the readinga1'Tox'vToV makes for some repetition; but this would be quite tolerable - it by no means suffices (as J.B. Skemp thinks - see The Theoryof Motion in Plato's LaterDialogues, Cambridge, 1942, p. 3, n. 2) to rule that readingout. Hackforthdefends &ELXCViTov on the groundsthat it gives us a statement of an ?vbo?ov - that is, a premise which could be expected to find general acceptance;but againstthis, Ackrill (Mind62 (1953), p. 278) seems rightto point out that an argument does not need to begin with a statement of some premise that is uncontroversial. Logical considerations aside, however, the evidence for &ElXiVoTOV only in one Oxyrrhynchus papyrus (1017). In addition, Hermeias clearly had the passage for the &tLXLvItOV in front of him, and so did Cicero when he translated SomniumScipionis (a section which he also quotes in TusculanDisputations,1, 54); the Latin is "quod semper movetur, aeternumest". For a full discussionof the issue, which supportsthis general position, see F. Decleva Caizzi, 'AEIKINHTON o AYTOKINHTON?', Acme 23 (1970), 91-97. 7Thus c5-7 (T0 b'&Xo xtvoi3v, etc.) seems to me to look forward to the following
sentence, rather than back to T6 y'Q

seems to me entirely superior. The mss. agree on &etx(v-9TOV; aUToxLvTjTov is found


despite the evident

QVa vaTov and 7tafOav XLV 'EJOW parallelism between the pairs &eLx(v1qTov/&0 4X95. Burnet's punctuation suggests the opposite. (Translations,here and elsewhere,

are my own.)

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Whatis meant by alE oUx &3toXkE'Lov a'vTo? Literally,the phrasemust mean something like "in as much as it does not abandonitself"; and the naturalway to understandthis is as saying that for a self-moverto cease movingwould be for it to abandonits own nature. It is, then, an essential propertyof a self-movingthing (to speak in a later, but surely an appropriate, terminology)that it be movingitself at any given time;self-moving things are necessarilyin constantself-motion. Two questions now arise. First,why does Platothinkthatthis is so? And second, if we acceptthatit is so, does this sufficeto show thatself-movingthingsare eternally in motion? On the firstpoint, Platooffersus no furtherenlightenment; butperhapsthe underlyingidea is somethinglike the following.Supposethat a self-mover were to cease to move itself. Then it could not start moving itself again unlessgalvanisedinto motion eitherby itself or by somethingelse. But if it were galvanised into motion by itself, this would have to occur by the agency of some part of itself that was alreadyin motion - in which case, contraryto hypothesis,the thingwouldnot reallyhaveceasedto move itself after all. But if by somethingelse, it could no longercount as a self-mover. Thus somethingwhich trulymoves itself must move itself continually.8 Supposethatwe acceptthisconclusion(whetheror not Platoarrivedat it in the way I just proposed).The otherquestionis whetherthis is equivalent to sayingthatsomethingwhichmovesitselfdoes so eternally;andto thisthe answer is clearly "no". As we saw, a straightforward understandingof premiseAii) requiresthat we take &ELXiLVTOV in c5 as meaning"eternally in motion";so if the argumentis to work, oThnoTE XT'1yEL XLVOV?CVOV in c8 must presumably have the same sense. However, it is not in this sense that Plato has shown us that self-movers "never cease moving". If being in constant self-motionis an essential propertyof a self-mover,then a selfmover cannotcease to be in motionandstill be a self-mover; but this is not

If this were the line of thought that was motivatingPlato - and it is my best conjecture on the subject - then it would in one respect anticipateAristotle's ideas on self-motion. For on this conjecture, Plato is led very naturallyinto thinkingof self-movers as consisting of (at least) two parts, the active and the passivepart, so to speak. Aristotle's analysis of the concept of self-motion (Physics Bk. VIII, ch. 5) makes central use of just such a division;a thing which moves itself must, he thinks, consist of a partwhich is moved and a part which causes this motion. Aristotle argues convincinglythat this latter part cannot itself be in motion, which leads him to the concept of the unmoved mover; it turns out, then, that, contraryto Plato, the ultimatecause of motion is not a self-mover. However, a picturein which Aristotle developed beyond Plato, havingbegun by holdingideas similar to his, is presumablyone we are bound to adopt in any case; and the development would perhaps be a little smoother if Plato's views were of the type I suggest. But of course, all this is pure speculation.

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to say thatit will necessarily keep movingforever(andso existingfor ever). There is, then, a gap in the argument.At the same time, however, it is quite understandable that Plato should not have been aware of it. The troubleis that "X never ceases to be F" (of which"thatwhichmoves itself neverceases moving"is an instance)can meaneither"It is impossiblethat there shouldbe an X whichis not F" (i.e., F is an essentialpropertyof Xs) or "Xs are eternallyF"; the second entails that Xs are immortal,but the first does not. It is only the first that Plato is really entitled to in this instance;for as I understandit, &TEotUx&doXntXEov makes a point (aiavi6 about an essential property, not about the eternal possession of any property.But it is not surprising that the ambiguityshould have escaped him. It is interestingthat preciselythe same illegitimatemove is made in the in the Phaedo- an argument finalargument for immortality withwhichthis one is often compared;indeed, I take this parallelas confirming evidence for my readingof what is going on here in the Phaedrus.9 In the Phaedo Plato moves from "The soul always comes bringinglife to whatever it occupies"(105d3-4),and its corollary(dlO-11)"Thesoul mayneveradmit the oppositeof thatwhichit alwaysbringswithit" (i.e. death, as he goes on to say) to "Thesoul is immortal" (e6). Again, it is in one sense uncontroversial, given the commonsenseGreek view of the soul, that "the soul always whichhasa soul is therebynecessarily bringslife". Thatis, anything alive;it which is an essentialpropertyof soulsthattheyare not presentin organisms have died. But this is not to say thatsoulsexist eternally.Nothingcancease to bringlife and still be a soul; this follows from the essentialpropertyof soulswe havejust noticed,andin thissense we mayagreethatthe soul does not "admitdeath".It does not followthatthe soul mustcontinueto possess this life-givingcapacitythroughouttime, and so be immortal.As in the
9 That there is an error common to the two passages is noted in passing by Demos (op. cit., p. 135). The standardview of the relation between them seems to be that they are argumentsof essentially the same kind, but that the argumentin the Phaedrus is of a more empirical nature; see Hackforth, op. cit., p. 68 and Robinson, op. cit., p. 347. 1 agree about the similarity,but I cannot see that the Phaedrusargumentis more empirical. It is true that the Phaedo argumentmakes use of the terminologyof Forms;but as far as I can see, this is not really essential to it. The crucial point is simply that the soul necessarilybringslife. In the Phaedrus,the crucialpoint is that the soul is necessarilyin constantself-motion. Each argumentrests, then, on a very basicfeatureof the soul, and I do not see that one of these featuresis any more empirical,or observable, thanthe other. It is also true that the Phaedrusargumentowes more to Presocraticthought(on whichsee also Skemp, op. cit., pp. 3-10); but to equate "Presocratic" with "empirical"(as Robinson, at least, appears to do) seems to me highly inadvisable.

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Phaedrus,the difficultystemsfromPlato'suse of the words&drandoVU'OTE - wordswhose primarysenses have to do with temporalduration- to talk 10 It is hardto knowhow else aboutwhatwe wouldcall essentialproperties. he could haveexpressedhimself,giventhe vocabulary availableto him;but the resultingambiguitywas a treacherousone."I So much, then, for the argumentgiven in the phrase&TEOVX 0koXELetoV Whilethe argumentis not one we can accept, it is significant for the EaTO6. pictureof the soul that it obliges Plato to hold. He mustembracea view of the soul as not simplya self-movingthing, but as necessarily in unceasing self-motion. We will return to this point later; for the moment, let us continuewith the analysisof the argument.Sub-argument A for the main premise 2) is now complete, and Plato moves on to sub-argument B; the discussionhere is somewhatmore lengthy. Premise Bi) is stated in the same sentence we have been looking at for
some time; "only that which moves itself .

. is a source and first principle

of motion for the other things that move" (c7-9).'2Bi) is not arguedfor
For a similaruse of 6e( and o'vnoxe,considerone of the ways in which Plato commonly contrastsForms and particulars.Formsare frequentlysaid to be "always"the same; each Form "always" possesses the property which makes it the specific Form that it is. Particulars are sometimes one way, sometimes the opposite way; but the Form of Beauty, for example, is "never" other than beautiful. Examples of this usage are Rep. 479a2-3, A,. 74b7-c3, and Symp. 211a3,bl-2. 11Curiously enough, Plato appears to recognise the error in the Phaedo immediately after he has committed it. (Curiously, because the interlocutorsare made to regardthe argument we have been discussing as entirely conclusive - 105e9.) He continues by pointing out that it needs to be shown that the soul is imperishable. He appears to be saying that to establish that the soul "does not admit death" - i.e., that nothing is both dead and a soul - is not to establishthat it never ceases to exist; and this is essentially the point that I have just been making. (See in particularthe paragraph106b1-c7.)However, his way of closing this gap is rather lame; he simply says that of course that which is is also imperishable(106d2ff.). If "the soul is e0dvatos" means only that the 6d6varog soul does not admit death, in a sense which is compatiblewith the soul's ceasing to exist as he appears to have just conceded - then this is plainly begging the question. 12 Indeed, this sentence is dense to the point of being very confusing; it contains a premise for sub-argumentA - as well as a reason for it - and a premise for sub-argument B; moreover, the same words g6vov bh lb abTr6 serve as subject in the statement xLvo!Bv of both. I was originally tempted to think that what I am now calling Bi) was a second supportingconsideration, parallel with &rEoOx &okoEinov taUT6, in favor of Ai). But while this would reduce the numberof differentthingsgoing on in the sentence, it cannot be the rightway to read it; for no mention is made, here or anywhere,of the firstprinciple of motion being always in motion - as would be needed if the assertionin question (that that which moves itself is a first principleof motion) were to constitute supportfor Ai). Instead, this assertion leads directly into claims about an d4e Xs freedom from yiveoLt and WoQ&- claimsleadingto what I now call Bii); the idea of constantmotion, whichis at the center of sub-argumentA, is left behind.

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be directly. Instead, Plato immediatelystates one half of Bii) -a'X 245e2. (dl) - and the argumentfor Bii) takes him from there to &ykvrltov (Bii) is stated in full at d7-8; "it is not possible that this [i.e., that which moves itself]shouldeitherperishor come to be".) However,the firstpoint he presentsin favor of Bii) - namely, that everythingwhich comes to be must do so from a first principlewhich does not itself come to be from else (dl-2, repeatedat d6)- is also a pointin favorof Bi) (provided anything we understandyeveovLas a species of xLvroLg - I shall return to this Bi) at the same later). Indeed, as if to signalthat he has been confirming at d6-7; "thus Bi) restates Plato Bii), for time as he has been arguing that which moves itself by itself is a first principleof motion". The argumentfor Bii) is as follows. (I havejust mentionedthe firststage of it, but I shallrepeatthis for clarity'ssake.) A firstprincipleis ungenerasince everythingthatcomes to be comes to be out of a first ted (ay'v-qTov), principle, and it (i.e., the first principle) does not come to be out of else, didcome to be out of something else (dl-2); if a firstprinciple anything then "it would no longerbe out of a firstprinciplethat all thatcomes to be comesto be" (d2-3).1 Thislastpointis somewhatobscure,andthe text may be faulty. But the general idea, that a first principleis necessarilynot generated from something else, seems clear enough; and it does follow thatnothing assuming is ungenerated, enoughthata firstprinciple plausibly can generate itself. Hence, Plato continues, it must also be imperishable (d3-4);for (in view of what has just been said) if it were to perish,nothing else come to be out of else couldbringit backinto being, norcouldanything it (d4-6). One mightstill ask why this showsthat it could not perish. Plato gives his answerat d8-e2, in conjunctionwith his explicitstatementof the premiseBii) withwhichwe are now concerned.Essentially,the pointis that if it were to perish (so bringingto an end all possibilityof yEvFotg), the universewould collapse into immobility.4 However, it is not stated why
13 Reading *t &?XQlg as the subject of yLyvoLo; in T8 yLyv6Rtevov in d3, and taking JC&V 6?x1i this I follow Verdenius and de Vries (opp. cit. ad loc.). Buttmann'sconjecture tTL would make for much better sense (and for a closer fit with Cicero's translation), if we as equivalent to dl; but this is surely impossible. could understandytyVOLTo "4The balance of opinion now seems in favor of the mss. yEvrotvin el (also found in Hermeias - see p. 117.24), and against Bumet's reading yfv d; Ev (following Philoponus). It is generally agreed that yfvEotv can be taken as equivalent to tca ytyv6pEva, and this gives good sense. Hermeias'view of the logic at this point is puzzling.He says that once it has been shown that a first principle is ungenerated, that by itself suffices to show its imperishability (p. 117.17). In his view, therefore, the considerationsoffered in d4-e2 form a supple(p. 117.17-25; cf. mentary, and strictly speaking superfluous, argument dg &biGvactov

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this, in turn, could not happen.'5 This concludes sub-argument B for the main premise 2); immediately after, at e2-3, 2) is explicitlystated. Whatare we to make of sub-argument B? There are two points about it which I find of interest. First, the argumentrequiresthat we think of yEVEOLgas a species of XIVaCLg. For Plato introduces the notion of an aQxi XLV 9(aWo;, and then immediately goes on to say (by wayof arguingfor Bii)) that"everything thatcomes to be comes to be" out of an a'QxTI. For the argumentto work, it mustobviously be the same kind of aQxqunderdiscussionthroughout; and it follows that cannotsimplymean "(loco)motion",but mustreferto any kindof XLVYiOL changewhatever.However, there is nothingvery startlingin this. We find just such a broad notion of xivqcL; explicit in the Laws (again in the context of a discussionof soul as self-mover);at 893b6-894c8 ten kindsof "motion" (xLvivtL, also interchangeablyRETcaokX) are distinguished, two of which are yEVEFLg and pOoQa (see, e.g., 894bll).16 Similarly,in
Physics I11.1 Aristotle gives his definition of motion (xivrJoL;) as the

fulfilmentof a potentialityqua potentiality,and immediatelygoes on to distinguishvariousspeciesof motion, amongwhichare yEVEOL;and aoQd

(201alO-16). And indeed, a strong connection between


occurs as early as Parmenides:"Thatwhich is" in Parmenidesis explicitlysaid to be both aye'- ov and&xLvTTov, and these two properties appear to be seen as closely connected see especially DK B8.26-8. Parmenides does not appear to treat y~VEGL; as actually a species of xLvrloGL; but in his use of these notions, he certainlyseems to foreshadow

103,11.3-6, where he says that the argumentas a whole consists of two syllogismsplus one further argument ?i5 dEbivvaTov). I fail to understandthis; it seems to me that d4-e2 is integral to the main argument, and builds very directly upon the demonstration just above that an &pxQi is &yv- og. Robinson (op. cit.) claims agreementwith Hermeias on this issue, but seems to me also to misconstrue Hermeias' view as to the extent of the argument ErigM6vvaTov, locating it from d8-e2 only. 15 The best comment on this point may be Hackforth's (op. cit., pp. 66-7) who simply says "Thatwas a possibilitynever contemplatedby any Greek thinker".As he points out, the possiblity in question is that there should be no yvEaLg whatever, not that some particular cosmos should perish. The Greeks had no trouble conceiving this latter possibility; Plato himself suggests in the Timaeus(41a) that it is possible (though in fact, since the creator is good, it will not happen to this cosmos), and many Presocraticand Hellenistic schools held that it actually occurred. 16 The Theaetetus is also relevant here; in the context of the "secretdoctrine"associated with Protagoras, Heraclitus and others, the words nactvta yLyvETaL and nacvTa XLVELttaL appear to be intended as equivalent (compare 152d8 with 183a5).

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those who do. There are, then, respectableparallels for the idea that "comingto be" is a kind of x(vrt'Cg.'7 On the other hand, this does not meanwe shouldsimplygrantPlato the that he shouldhave regarded idea and move on. It may be understandable but I think that questions can still be y?vws1; as a species of xUvroLV; raised about the role this assimilationplays in the argument.Recall that Plato has just claimed that a self-moveris a first principleof motion for everythingelse that moves. We have now discoveredthat "motion" in(thoughthis is not explicitlystated cludes "comingto be"; but presumably here) it includesother thingsas well - at least some of the other kindsof "motion"mentionedin the Lawsand in Aristotle'sPhysics.But if this is so - if there are severaldifferentkindsof x(V1OL; - one mightwonderwhythe same thing shouldhave to be a first principlefor all of them. If we accept that there are such thingsas self-movers,we can also acceptthat these are responsiblefor the "motion"of everythingelse. But it is not clearwhy any one self-movershouldhave to be responsiblefor everyone of the different species of xCvrioM.For example, why should not one thing (or kind of thing) be a first principleof yCvFsog,and some other thing (or kind of thing) a first principle of locomotion? Plato's argument requires that anythingwhich is a self-moveris a first principlespecificallyof y'vECtL; but it is not obviousto me whythisshouldbe takenfor granted.Needlessto say, Plato does not respondto this query;and in view of the parallelsI just Aristotleandelsewherein Plato,thisshouldno adducedfromParmenides, doubt not surpriseus. Among other things, these parallelsdemonstratea pervasive tendency in Greek thought to see all the processes subsumed under the heading of xivrjo5L,in the broad sense we have examined, as being very intimately related. (In Parmenidesand Plato, at least, this tendency results from the centralcontrastin both their philosophiesbetween the worldof changeand the worldof the changeless,the worldof To tend to wouldnaturally wasprimary ov; someone for whomthis distinction a on par.) grouptogether all species of change, as being Here, then, is one assumption,or set of assumptions,in this partof the Not only does argument.I move now to the secondof my two observations. the argumentrequire that "motion"includes "comingto be", and that anythingwhich is a first principleof "motion" is a first principleof all


Hermeiasseems quite unruffledby this idea; in discussingthis partof the argument,he


simply remarks in passing iy y4p y tvEaL x(vT)o;t

(p. 116.13), as if this is

entirely commonplace.

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it also appears,at least at firstsight, to requirethat species of "motion";'8 of motionin the entireuniverse.Forthe argument thereis justone principle of the principleof motion rests, as we saw, on the for the indestructibility assertionthat all yFVetLg wouldcease with its destruction.But if therewas of any morethanone principleof motion, it is not clearwhythe destruction principlewouldresultin the collapseof the universe;so longas at individual least one principle was in operation at any given time, it seems (given Plato'sother assumptions)as if yFVEOLt could continue. Apparently,then, Plato is simplytakingfor grantedthat there is not more than one principle of motion. But there is somethingvery peculiarabout this. Recall that Plato is just aboutto identifythatwhichmovesitselfwithsoul (thisis step 1) of the main B has identified argument,accordingto my analysis).Since sub-argument that which moves itself as the principleof motion, we are led to infer, by that soul is the principleof motion. But now, if the logic simpletransitivity, of sub-argument B requiresthat there be just one principleof motion, it appearsto follow that there mustbe just one soul. And this, besidesbeing plainly contraryto any commonsenseview of the soul, seems flatly to contradict the myth which immediately follows the proof, in which a pluralityof individualsouls is discussed.Somethinghas gone wronghere; seems so blatant,we andsince, on thisview of the matter,the inconsistency should probablyconclude that the fault lies not in Plato, but in our interpretationof him. mightbe to suggestthat One wayto eliminatethis apparent contradiction Plato is implicitlyoperatingwhith some notion of a World Soul. That is, perhapshe is thinkingof individualsouls as being all ultimatelyaspectsof of some larger,unitarysoul of cosmicproportions.In this way the plurality individual soulswouldbe only superficial,andwouldbe consistentwiththe principleof motion in the universe being in a deeper sense one, as the argument for imperishabilityrequires. Besides making Plato's train of thought coherent, this proposal seems to have at least some historical plausibility. First, a doctrine of World Soul certainly was adopted by various later philosophicalschools - by the Stoics and, perhaps more significantly,by the Neo-Platonists- and it is hard not to see the present these later ideas. Second, the Timaeus passageas in some way prefiguring makes large use of the conceptof a WorldSoul (thoughit looks here as if individualsouls exist in theirown right,in additionto the WorldSoul, not
18 This is perhaps too strong. Strictly, all that the argument requires is that anything which is a first principle of any species of "motion" is also a first principle of yE'VEGLg.


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as aspectsof it'9).Despite these parallels,however,I do not thinkthisis the rightway to understandthis partof the Phaedrus.It would not be surprising, in view of the parallels,if Platowere operatingherewitha conception of WorldSoul; but the parallelsdo not provideany positiveevidence that he is doing so. And the fact is that there is absolutelyno hint of any such itself. We findno suggestion,eitherin the proof conceptionin the Phaedrus or in the succeedingmyth, that all our souls are ultimately of immortality aspects of the same thing, or that our ultimategoal, in strivingto escape from the cycle of rebirth, is reabsorptionin some larger unity. On the of our souls, the differences contrary,I would say, it is the individuality between them, that is emphasisedin the myth.20 I concludethatwe are not entitledto readthe hypothesisof a WorldSoul into the Phaedrus; andthe problemremainsas to how we are to makesense of Plato's apparent assumptionthat there is just one self-mover. But the matter.Possiblyhe is using perhapsthere is anotherwayto understand In this or "electricity".2' as a mass to "water" term, analogous "VPuX" there not the World rather, be that there was one soul Soul; case, it would would be a single kind of stuff (just as water is a single kind of stuff), of

t9 The creation of individualsouls (or rather, of those souls and parts of souls that are immortal) is described at 41d4ff. The creator is said to fashion these souls out of the remainderof the elements previouslyused to fashion the WorldSoul, mixingthem in the same bowl, and in the same manner (except with some dilution), as was used for the World Soul. Obviously, it is hard to know how, if at all, this is to be cashed out literally. But it is at least implied, I take it, that individualsouls are not simplyaspectsof the World Soul; they enjoy a separate existence. It is sometimes said that a WorldSoul is also to be found in the Laws, but this is much less clear; as far as I know, a WorldSoul is never explicitlyreferredto in that dialogue. I shall briefly touch upon this point again near the end. 20Think, for example, of the distinctionbetween gods' souls and humansouls (246a-b); between the twelve companies of souls, each led by a different god (246d6-247a4);and between the ten types of human lives, correspondingto various conditions of human souls at birth (248c2-e3). While none of these distinctionsis formallyinconsistent with the notion of a World Soul, they do indicate that Plato is choosing to focus on the differences between souls, not on their fundamentalunity; and this, I think, makes it implausible to suppose that he has a World Soul in mind - given that there is nothing whatever in the text to suggest it. 21 In what follows, I am expanding on a suggestion by Tony Long. This is perhaps an appropriate place also to thank him more generally for much helpful criticism and encouragementas this paper was developing- especially on the mattersI am now about to introduce.


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which individual souls (like individual pools of water) consist.22 Now, anythingwhich is true of water as such (for example, that its chemical compositionis H20), or of electricityas such, is also true of any individual electricalcurrent;andsimilarly,if soul is pool of water,or of anyindividual being conceived of along the same lines, anythingwhich is true of soul as suchwill also be trueof individual souls. But the property which,by the end of the argument,we discoverto be true of soul as such is preciselyimmortality. Thus it will follow, on this understanding, that any given individual soul is immortal- a conclusionwhich Plato obviously wants to uphold. Moreover,if this is right,we can respectboth the logic of sub-argument B and the pluralityof individualsouls. Sub-argument B requires, in some sense, the singularity of soul. But thisdoes not meanthatwe need to ascribe to Platothe view that, out of all the particulars in the universe,only one is a soul. If "soul" is a single kind of stuff, the argumentwill work perfectly well. For if this stuff is responsiblefor all y'4veOLg in the universe, the destructionof this stuff would indeed resultin the universe'scollapse;and

My use of the term "stuff"is perhapsa little unusual,and I should define it as precisely as I can. To begin with what is uncontroversial,all stuffs are designated by mass terms, but not all mass terms are the names of stuffs. For abstractnouns, such as "hunger"or "wisdom", qualify as mass nouns (they do not occur in the plural, nor can they be qualified by numerical adjectives); yet it would be bizarre to call hunger or wisdom a stuff. Now, this might suggest that stuffs are by definition material;and in this case I would not, of course, want to suggest that Plato thinks of soul as a stuff. But however it may be in ordinaryusage, I intend to use the word "stuff"in such a way that there can be said to be non-materialstuffs. In my usage, the referentof any mass noun whichis not an abstractnoun will count as a stuff. (Here I am assumingsome intuitivesense of what is an abstract noun; I admit that it is very hard to give a foolproof definition. On this and several other complications in the notion of a stuff, see V.C. Chappell, "Stuff and Things", PAS 71 (1970-1) 61-76 - an article from which I have profited in writingthis.) Thus electricity, though not in any obvious sense material,is a stuff; and so, too, is soul if it is true that Plato is using "pu " as a massterm. For this reason, electricityis perhaps the most useful analogy to keep in mind in what follows. Another parallel which may be helpful is the concept of "spiritualsubstance"in early modern philosophy; a famous passage which makes use of this concept is the chapteron identity in Locke's Essay (Bk. II, ch. XXVII, "Of Identity and Diversity"). Here Locke raises the possibility that some contemporaryperson's soul might be composed of the same spiritual substance as that which made up the soul of Socrates (though this possibility is, according to him, irrelevant to questions about identity) - just as two material objects existing in non-overlappingperiods of time might be composed of the same materialsubstance. In my usage, we might say that spiritualsubstance, like Plato's soul, is a kind of immaterialstuff of which souls are composed (though I do not want to take the parallel any further than that); while we may find such a picture highly alien, Locke's account (even if it is not offered in an entirely serious spirit) does, I think, illustrate that the concept of an immaterialstuff is a perfectly coherent one.


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from this it does indeed follow, on Plato'sassumptions,that the stuff will necessarilynot perish.But all thisis quitecompatiblewithsayingthatthere are many individualsouls - just as water (or electricity)is a single kind of stuff, yet there are many pools of water (and many electricalcurrents). of the stuff "soul"is quitecompatiblewiththe idea Equally,the singularity parts,andwiththe idea thattherearequalitathatsoulshavedifferentiable learnin the tive differencesbetweensouls (both of whichwe subsequently mythof the charioteersandtheirhorses). Forwater,electricityandthe like are similarlydifferentiable;water is composed of hydrogenand oxygen, and differentelectricalcurrentscome in differentvoltages. of soul seems, then, to fit the context somewhat This understanding betterthanthe previousidea of a WorldSoul. In addition,Plato'susageof the term "9vx" itself seems more consonantwith the notion of soul as a stuff (in the sense I have explained). Throughoutthe argument,"pVX" occursin the singularwithoutarticle. If he had in minda WorldSoul, one mighthaveexpectedhimto referto it usingthe definitearticle;buthe never thatis, he does seem Grammatically, speaksof "Aivx", onlyof "Vu "323 and this is exactly what we would to be using the word as a mass term;24 expect if he is thinkingof soul as a stuff. While the evidence is all too
23 The one possible exception is 246b6, at the beginningof the myth, where some mss. have ni&oaA Vuxi, also i Vuxh n&aoa. As far as I can gather from LSJ and from Greek grammars,both these phraseswould have to mean "The whole soul". And since it is clear from the context that the reference is not to individual souls (for no individual soul, whether in its entiretyor not, "takes care of all that is soulless"), it would have to be to a WorldSoul. If so, however, it would be the sole explicit mention of the WorldSoul in the whole dialogue; and its intrusion here, after a complicated proof of the immortalityof soul which makes no explicit use of such a notion, would, I think, be very surprising.My x should not, therefore, be upset by these ms. variants; claim regardingthe usage of Vu we should follow Hermeiasand Simplicius,and read VurX2&aa. (All moderneditors of whom I am aware do indeed adopt this reading.) Given the prevalence of doctrinesof a World Soul in later antiquity(including, as I said, Neoplatonic doctrines), one might in any case argue that VuyX3tdoa, which does not entail any notion of a World Soul, is the lectio difficilior. 24 This is not necessarilytrue of Vuxh 3rtoa in 245c5;taken in isolation, the phrasecould equally be translated "all soul" or "every soul", and commentators have sometimes exercised themselves over which sense Plato intends. Plainly this cannot be decided by inspection of the phrase itself. The question must be whether one or the other sense is required by the logic of the argument; and this question we are now in a position to tackle. Given the presuppositionsof sub-argumentB that I have unearthed, the collective sense "all soul" seems clearly more relevant. As we saw, the principle of motion there under discussionis thought of as in some sense single and whole (whether or not I am right about the exact conception); and the distributivesense "every soul" would run counter to this. On the other hand, the argumentis presumablyintended to show that


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nebulousto admitof certainty,I thinkwe are entitledat least to a tentative pictureof soul withwhichPlatois conclusion- namely,that the underlying operatingis indeed this latterone, and not the one whichinvolvesa World

I have dwelt at some length on the presuppositions B, of sub-argument of Plato (a both because of their interest for our broaderunderstanding matterto whichI shallreturnshortly),andbecauseof the greatdifficultyof elucidatingthem. The remainderof the argumentcan be dealt with much more briefly. Our analysishad reached245e2. The followingsentence (e24) containsa statementof both the mainpremises2) and 1) (in that order). To recall, premise 1) states that soul is that which is its own source of motion; and Plato now offers us a considerationin favor of this assertion. The argumentis simplythat any body with an externalsourceof motion is "soulless" (&ivXov), whereas one with an internal source of motion is (e4-6). On its own, this seems somewhatflimsy;it is "ensouled"(EtVuXov) not at all clear that it justifiesthe conclusionthat "soul"is a self-moverin the very strong sense used above. We may certainlymake a distinction between bodiesthat need to be pushedor pulledby somethingelse in order to move, and bodies that do not; and these two classesdo seem to correspond with the classesof soullessand ensouledbodies respectively.But it is surelyquitepossible,for all thatPlatohas said, thatbodiesof the latterclass should have received some initial propulsioninto motion from outside, even if they need no furtherpropulsionafter that. And this, of course, would disqualifythem as self-movers;for as we saw, Plato is thinkingof a
each individualsoul is immortal;so that the sense "every soul", while less suited to the tenor of the argument itself (and to the usage of "Vux" elsewhere in the argument), cannot be decisively ruled out. Hackforthmay be right to conclude (op. cit., p. 64) that "the distinction between collective and distributivesenses is not here before his mind"; see his discussion for several other useful insights. 25 I should perhaps briefly allude at this point to Hermeias' views on how Plato is conceiving of soul - since it was with his adviceon this subject that I began. While he cites Posidonius as having thought that Plato had in mind the World Soul (apparently as distinctfrom individual souls), he himself rejects the idea. Relying heavily on 0ecag mE xai &vOQ(w;ivTSin 245c3, he says that Plato must be thinking of the rational soul since this is the kind of soul possessed by gods and humans, but not by other ensouled beings (p. 102.15ff.). This seems to me acceptable as far as it goes; but as the last few pages should have made clear, I do not think it goes far enough. Plato's logic raises deeper problems, which I have tried to address;neither Hermeias nor anyone else seems to have faced these problems. Robinson (op. cit.) follows Hermeias, but then makes matters worse by suggesting that Plato is perhaps thinking not of the rational soul in toto, but of the rationalpart of the soul. This seems to me obviously wrong in view of the myth, where the immortal soul is clearly protrayed as tripartite;more on this in section II.


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self-moveras afirstprincipleof motion.26 His argument is farfromshowing of everything thatsoul is responsiblefor the motion(including the ycvEoLg) else that moves. His firstpremise- and with it, a key point in the striking conceptionof soul the argument for immortality reveals- is moreassumed of the argument; thanarguedfor. This concludesmy detailedexamination for the remaininglines 245e6-246a2merelycontain a restatementof premise 1), followed by 3), the conclusionof the entire argument. II Let us now shift our approachsomewhat.As I said, Plato intendsthat the argument shouldconvinceus by the forceof its logic;we are not to take on trust what he says, but to give our assent if and only if we are rationally compelled.This is nothingunusualfor Plato- thoughthe densityand rigor of this particular passageis unusual;he constantlyexhortsus, throughthe mouthof Socrates,to "followthe argument" whereit leads us, and not to base our views on anythingelse. So far, I have been tryingto approach the argumentin precisely this spirit, attemptingboth to understandexactly what Plato is saying, and to determinehow muchof it we can reasonably accept. For the restof the paper,I shalladopta moreexclusivelyhistorical attitude. As we have seen, the argumentcontainsvariousassumptionsor which we might very well question;havingengaged with presuppositions him in the fashionwhichhe himselfapparently invites,we findthat he fails to convinceus of hisconclusions.Thereare no doubtmanyreasonswhythis is not surprising,and to discuss them would take us far afield into more generalissues in philosophyand in intellectualhistory.However, I prefer to stick more closely to the argumentitself, and to see how it can help to or presupincreaseour understanding of Plato'sthought.The assumptions positionsthat I just mentionedare of greatinterestin themselves.For as I havesuggested,they reveala certainunderlying conceptionof the natureof soul; and it is instructiveto comparethis conceptionwith other, generally more explicit, conceptionsof soul, both in other dialoguesand elsewhere in the Phaedrus.This is what I now intendto do. The underlyingconceptionof soul has severalfeatures, and we should brieflyreviewthem. The most obviousfeature, and the one scholarshave noticedmost often, is that soul, andsoul alone, movesitself;indeed, this is simplymy premise 1). But Plato's view is strongerthan this alone would imply. Recall the feature of soul which we uncoveredin examiningthe
26 Here it is instructiveto compare Aristotle's apparentvacillationon the issue of what it is for something to be a self-mover. On this, see D.J. Furley, "Self Movers",Aristotleon Mind and the Senses, ed. G.E. R. Lloyd and G.E.L. Owen, Cambridge, 1978.


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phrase &TE oIUx &oXeikitov EaT6O, Plato's support for premise Ai) namely, that soul, the self-mover, is in unceasing self-motion, and necessarily so. Further,we discovered,in connectionwithpremiseBi), that for as self-mover,soul moves not only itself soul has a cosmicsignificance; but everythingelse where"moves"is not restricted to whatwe wouldcall ".motion",but includes (probablyamong other things) generation. And finally, there was the puzzlingpoint raisedby premiseBii), that "soul"is beingconceivedof as in some sense unitary.Whilethe issueis veryobscure, we concluded that it was best to understand"soul" as a unitary (nonmaterial)stuff, of which our souls consist. How does a conceptionof soul containingthese featuresrelateto other conceptionsthat we find in Plato? I shall begin by summarising a few familiarpoints from the Phaedoand the Republic.In these two dialogues,a strictdivisionis madebetweentwo realms, the realmof the changeableand the realmof the changeless.The formeris the realmof sensibleobjects, the latterof intelligibleobjects;and in the Republic,at least, it is the latterclass of objects which, just because they are changeless, alone fully warrantthe title of "things that are" (v&Ta). Now, in the Phaedothe soul is arguedto be akinto the Forms- that is, to the objects granted to belong to the non-composite, changeless, intelligibleclass; and from this it is deduced that the soul, too, is noncompositeand changeless,and thereforeimmortal(78b4ff.). Or at least, it is claimed, the soul in its essentialnatureis non-compositeand changeless. However,becauseof its association withthe body, it is bound,in thislife, to partakeof the changeableto some extent - thoughthis taint is something we should strive to minimise. In the Republic,the pictureof the soul is more complicated; for in Book IV we are told that the soul consistsof three parts, and that our task is to achievethe appropriate harmonybetweenthem. Now, the two lowerparts of the soul, at least, appearto be very muchsubjectto change;27 and so it
This is not, as far as I know, explicitly stated. But there is much emphasis, in the description of the inferior states and inferior souls in Bks. VIII and IX, on the progressivelygreater instabilityand variabilityof the various kinds of life. The less the influence exerted by the rational part of the soul, and the greater the power of the two lower parts (particularly iR1LORLa, which is throughout seen as standing in starker opposition with the rational), the more the person, or the state, is subjectto change. Also relevantis the discussion, again in Bk. IX (580d-588a),of the differenttypes of pleasures associatedwith each partof the soul. Here the pleasuresof EhI&RLeVa are identified as the pleasuresof the body, and as such intrinsicallychangeable;by contrast, the pleasuresof the rational part come from its communion with that which truly is - that which is changeless - and so are themselves not subject to change. Plato has some trouble fitting the OVUtOeLEbU into this discussion, but he does place it in the same category as the (586c7-d2). bALOlURilltLXoV


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deparmightseem that the Republic'sview of the soul was a fundamental for be made case can a strong However, Phaedo. the ture from that of saying that the two dialoguesare reallyconsistentwith one another. For one thing, the ideal state for the soul in the Republic(thoughmost people are incapableof attainingit) is still rationalcontemplation;and this is a state where the lower two parts of the soul, and change itself, appearto have no place. But more importantly,the argumentfor immortalityin Book X seems to implythat, as in the Phaedo, the soul in its truenatureis non-compositeand changeless.As we see it, it is "composedout of many (611b5-6),andis "fullof elementsandnot enjoyingthe finestcomposition" thisis due to its However, (b2-3). difference" and unlikeness and variability associationwith the body;if we were to see the soul as it reallyis, free from such association,we wouldprobablyfind that it wasjust the opposite. It is hard not to read this as suggestingthat in its true nature, the soul is not - that the divisionarguedfor in Book IV pertainsonly to the soul tripartite as embodied.18To be sure, the tone is tentative; but the view being expressedseems clear enough. viewof the How does the Phaedo/Republic Let us returnto the Phaedrus. soul compare with the underlying conception we discovered in the The first feature in that underlying Phaedrus'argumentfor immortality? conceptionwas that soul was that whichmoves itself; and since "motion" here includesall kindsof change,this appearsto standin simplecontradicNow, if we restrictourselves tion with the view I havejust been describing. to the bare assertion "soul is that which moves itself' (which was my premise1)), it is not, in fact, clearthat the two viewsare formallyinconsistent. For the Phaedo and the Republicallow that the soul does undergo changewhen in the body;andindeed, the evidencefor premise1) concerns betweenensouledandsoullessbodies.The issueis not, then, the distinction conception as simpleas it mightseem. However, as we saw, the underlying but that move themselves, do at times souls is not that Phaedrus just in the alwaysin motion. In otherwords,soul mustbe in motion soul is necessarily terminology,the soul "in its both in and out of the body; in the Republic's truenature"is in unceasingmotion.And thisconceptiondoes undoubtedly stand in oppositionto that of the Phaedo and the Republic.Instead, it is aligned with views which we can confidentlyplace at the end of Plato's career. I am thinking in particularof the Laws, where the definition
28 The disclaimerat the beginningof the Bk. IV argument,to the effect that the present methods are inadequate for a precise understanding(435c9-dS), may be intended to accommodate this point.


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of soul is saidto be "thatmotionwhichis capableof movingitself' (Xoyog) (896al-2); except that soul is here seen not as the thingwhichmoves itself, but as itself a speciesof motion,29 this is identicalwith what the Phaedrus refersto as the oia'Cv TE xaa X6yovof soul (246e3). But anotherimportant passageis Sophist248a4-249d4. Here Plato argues,againstthe view of the to the changeRepublicandelsewhere,that"thatwhichis" is not restricted less, but encompassesthe changeable as well; in fact, it is plausible to suppose that the putativetarget of the argument,some people called the "Friendsof Forms",is really his own earlierself. Most interestingly,the key point in the argumentis that if the Friendsof Formswere right, then "life, soul and thought" (248e6-7) could not belong to the realm of that whichis. Obviouslyit is assumednot only that soul is a "thingwhichis" which, I take it, Plato assumedat every stage 0- but also that soul belongs to the class of changingthings.This argument,then, is highlycongenialto the underlyingconceptionof soul in the Phaedrus.For there, as we saw, soul is in constant self-motion;and by the PhaedolRepublic criterionfor Being, this would entail that soul was not a "thing which is". So far, therefore, the matter appears relatively straightforward; the Phaedrus seems to squarewith Plato'slaterthought,not with what is usuallyseen as his middle period. Let us nowturnfromthe Phaedrus' for immortality to the myth argument whichfollows. At first sight, this seems to runagainstthe conclusionI just reached.For the mythincludesseveralelementswhichare clearlyreminiscent of the Phaedoandthe Republic.First,the imageof the charioteerand two horses, one of which is obedient to the charioteerand the other not, soul in the Republic;at 247c7-8,indeed, the evidentlyrecallsthe tripartite charioteeris explicitlyidentified as vouv. Again, the supremevision the soul can experienceis the "vision"of the Forms;andas in the Republic,the Formsconstitutethe realmof "thatwhichis" (247d3), and are the entities of whichtrue knowledgeis possible- as contrasted withthe sensiblerealm, the realmof yCvVEGL, of whichone can have only opnion. Moreover,it is of the Formsbeheldbeforebirththatunderstanding throughrecollection in thislife is saidto be possible(249b-c);thisdoctrinegoes backto the Phaedo and to the Meno. Finally,of course, as in the Phaedo, the goal of life is to escapefromthe cycle of rebirthas soon as possible,andthe meansis to live as a philosopher.
29 This difference is noted by Demos, op. cit., p. 136. 30 Except in the Timaeus.For the Timaeus'very peculiarview of the compositionof soul, see further note 36.


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We cannot deny, then, that there are manycontinuitiesbetween these At the same time, though, there are other dialogues and the Phaedrus.31 several crucialdifferences,whichmake the continuitiesmuchless significant thanthey mayseem. One pointwhichhasoften been noticedis thatin the Phaedrus,unlike the Republic(if my own and others' readingof it is correct), all three partsof the soul are immortal; even the gods' souls have three parts, though in their case the differentparts are not in conflict.32 Again, the end-pointof the soul's progressis not changelessand eternal contemplationof the Forms, but an eternal traversingof the heavens, punctuatedby contemplationof the Formsat intervals.Moreover,if we take the detailsof the mythseriously- as I thinkwe should- the lowertwo partsof the soul (representedby the horses) play an indispensable role in this eternal traversing,and in transporting the charioteer,reason, to the
31 My wording here and elsewhere assumes the standardview that the Phaedrusis later than the Phaedo and the Republic; this seems to me justified by precisely the kinds of comparisonswith other dialogues to which this entire half of the paper is devoted. 32 Pace Guthrie, who thinks that the soul is tripartiteonly during the cycle of rebirth. (See "Plato's Views on the Nature of the Soul", reprintedin Vol. 11of Plato, ed. G. Vlastos, New York, 1971; and Vol. IV, pp. 421-5 of Guthrie's A History of Greek Philosophy, Cambridge,1975.) Because the gods' souls are free frominternalconflict, he thinks that they must be unitary; and the same goes, he believes, for those originally humansouls who have escaped the cycle. In this way he is able to hold that the Phaedrus is fundamentallyconsistentwith the Republic.That the gods' souls consistof a charioteer and two horses he puts down as just partof the machineryof the myth. This seems to me quite untenable. It is true that Plato switches to the mythicalmode here because, as he says, it is beyond humanpowers to give a fully accurateliteraldescriptionof the soul; the picture conveyed, therefore, is only tentative and only partial. But this does not mean that we are free to discard any element of the myth that we choose. He composed the to the truthof which mythas he did because he felt that this was the closest approximation he was capable. If he had meant to suggest that the gods' souls did not consist of three parts, he could very easily have composed that part of the myth differently. Nor, incidentally,does he ever suggest that the black horse of the humansoul becomes white on the soul's escape from the cycle; rather,it becomes progressivelymoreobedient to the charioteer. Guthrie's interpretationthus involves a furtherdeparturefrom what Plato actually tells us. Another author who seeks to show that Plato's views on the composition of the soul ' remain essentially the same is Robert W. Hall, "4u as Differentiated Unity in the Philosophyof Plato", Phronesis8 (1963) 63-82. As the title suggests, Hall arguesthat in the Republic,the Phaedrusand every other dialogue that deals with the subject, the soul is viewed as a differentiatedunity. This seems to me almost triviallytrue, but obviously inadequate to show that Plato's views did not change. For the question now simply becomes "into what aspects is this unity differentiated?"And to this question, as Hall seems quite ready to admit, different dialogues return different (and incompatible) answers.


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pointwhereit can contemplatethe Forms;reasonon its own appearsto be relativelyinert. The ideal state is no longer one where the lower, changeable parts of the soul are transcended.On the contrary,they are just as importantas reasonitself to the soul'sfulfillingof its final destiny;andthis finaldestinyitself consistsnot of freedomfromall change,but of constant, conceptionof a albeit regular,motion. Finally,while the PhaedolRepublic schism between Being and Becoming is maintained,the criterionfor the divisioncan no longer be quite the same. For as I said earlier, I presume that at everystage Platowouldhave held thatthe soul is a "thingwhichis"; can no longerbe a necessaryconditionfor Beingbut if so, changelessness the for as we have seen, soul, even in its true nature,is no longerchangeless. Plato does not explicitlytell us thatthe soul is an ov; indeed, he seems to restrictthe title to the Forms.However,he does say thatthe soul "feasts on" and "is nourishedby" To ov; andthe metaphorof nourishment must, I take it, imply that the nature of the soul is not basicallyalien from that whichnourishesit - in other words, that the soul, too, is an ov. On this last point, it maybe that Platodid not manageto take accountof all the implications of what he was saying. But even so, there is at least a shift away from the Phaedo and the Republicand towards the Sophist, where it is arguedthat we must not restrictthe title of To ov to changeless entities. As for the other issues I just mentioned,the Phaedrusmythseems to be definitelyalignedwith the view of soul propoundedin the Laws, and againstthose earlierdialogues. As we saw, the Laws defines soul as selfmotion;and the souls in the Phaedrusmyth, insteadof being ideallystatic, are in constant, self-propelledmotion. Moreover, the myth assigns an essential role in this motion to those partsof the soul other than reason. Again, in the Laws, the followinglist of motionsof the soul is given:"wish, reflection, foresight, counsel, judgement, true or false, pleasure, pain, hope, fear, hate, love" (897al-3, A.E. Taylor's translation).The Laws does not makeexplicituse of the notionof a tripartite soul. However,if one approaches this list withthe tripartite soul in mind,andaskswhichitemson the list can be assignedto the rationalpart, the answerseems clearlyto be "not all of them": some, at least, would have to belong to the other two parts. So it turnsout, I think,thatthe Phaedrus mythis in centralrespectscloser to Plato'slaterviews than to the Phaedoand the Republic;the similarities with the latter dialoguesseem to me less significantthan the differences. We can now see, too, that the myth is, after all, in agreementwith the argument for immortality which immediately precedes it. Given the similaritiesbetween the myth and the earlierdialogues,it looked as if the

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myth and the proof were at odds with one another.In fact, however,both view the soul as beingin eternalmotion;andthissets thembothapartfrom the earlier dialogues, where the soul is in its true naturechangeless,and There is, then, a deep connectionbealongsidecertainlater dialogues.33 tween the proofandthe myth- a connectionwhichhasrarelybeen noticed. I have so far said nothing about the place of the Timaeus.There is, of course, much in the Timaeusabout the soul; and since it is usuallyconsidered a late dialogue, one might expect that it, too, would be naturally grouped with the Phaedrus,Sophist and Laws. Now, the dating of the has been the subjectof muchheateddebate, andI cannotattempt Timaeus to deal with this thorny question here. However, it is strikingthat, with regardto the matterswe have looked at so far, the Timaeusis in several respects closer to the Phaedo and the Republicthan to the later group. First, the Timaeus,like those two dialogues, makes a strict divisionbe(including tween the realmsof Being and Becoming, with changelessness motionlessness) repeatedly cited as a feature of the former realm and from This clearlyseparatesthe Timaeus changeas a featureof the latter.34 the Sophist and the Laws, and separates it to some extent from the - though, as we saw, the Phaedrus is not entirelystraightforward Phaedrus about the relation between change and Being. Second, the Timaeus soul; however,here Platois quiteexplicit employsthe notionof a tripartite and whichplacesit withthe Republic thatonly the rationalpartis immortal, againstthe Phaedrus.Again, at 69c8ff. there occursa list of "terribleand necessaryaffections"associatedwiththe mortalpartsof the soul;these are pleasure,pain, rashness,fear, anger,hope, sensationandlove. The immortal part has none of these, except in so far as it is pollutedby the mortal parts;in fact, it is to minimisethispollutionthatthe mortalpartsarehoused Butthislist hasmuchin commonwiththe list in separatepartsof the body.35 of "motions"of the soul in the Laws, whichI quoteda littlewhileago; and those "motions"are certainlynot regardedas merelytemporary,or as a appearsto fit less with the pollutionof any kind. Once more, the Timaeus
For a fuller discussion of ways in which the Phaedrusmyth departs from the Phaedo and the Republicwith regardto the natureof the soul, see Nussbaum,op. cit., section II ("Moral Psychology"), pp. 92-107. 34 See, for example, 27d5ff., 29b5ff., 35al-3, 48e5ff., 51e6ff. 3S It is curious, however, that at 42a-b most of the items on this list are apparently assignedto the immortalpartof the soul also. But Plato does say that this is what happens to it when it is "implantedof necessity in bodies" (a3-4), and that the goal should be to overcome these states as much as possible. Perhaps, then, this is a reference to the pollution by the mortal parts that we find in the other passage; if so, however, it is a confusing one, since the mortal parts have not yet been introduced.


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later dialoguesthan with the earlier ones. Finally, the Timaeusdoes not definesoul as thatwhichmovesitself, or suggestthatit is responsible for the motion of everythingelse. It is true that the World Soul does undergo certainharmonious cosmicrevolutions(35alff.); but these are initiatedby its creator,not by itself, andthey arenot whatcausesmotionin otherthings - though they do appearto play some kind of regulatingfunction.36 Whatwe seem to have found so far is that there are roughlytwo sets of ideas about the soul in Plato - one of which appearsto be earlierand one later - and that the Phaedrus, both the proof and the myth, displays essentially the later set. Now, it may look as if the introductionof the Timaeusdoes not importantly changethis picture.For my remarksin the last paragraph mightsuggestthat we couldretainthe twofolddivision,and with the earlierset. There are some oddities, to simplygroupthe Timaeus be sure; but the Timaeus' view of the soul, it mightbe said, is basicallythe same as that of the Republicand the Phaedo. However, the situationis not so simple. Recall that the underlying conceptionof soul that I detected in the Phaedrus' for immortality had severalfeatures.Two of these argument featureswe have not yet discussed; one wasthatsoul playsa vitalrole in the operationin the cosmos, and the otherwas that soul is in some sense one probablya singlekindof stuff. These featurescomplicatethe picturein two ways. First,they alert us to the fact that what I have been callingthe later conceptionis actuallya lot less unified than I have implied. And second, they inclineus to groupthe Timaeus withthe laterset of dialogues,andnot, as we were doingjust now, with the earlierset. I shallbrieflyexpandupon these points. In the Phaedrus'proof, Plato regardssoul as having a cosmic significance;for it turnsout that soul is responsiblefor the motion, includingthe
of everything that is not soul. This agrees with the myth; at 246b6 yEVEOL;,

we are told that "allsoul takescare of all that is soulless".Now, this idea is not presentin the Phaedo or the Republic.In both dialoguesthere is the suggestionthat the universeis orderedfor the best, and this may suggest some beneficentorderingforce. But Plato does not tell us about any such orderingforce, and he certainlydoes not suggestthat it is soul. Again, the Phaedrusmarks a departurefrom those dialogues; and in this respect, again, it is in agreementwith the Laws. As the "motionwhichmoves itself by itself', soul is saidin the Lawsto "'direct everything in heaven, earthand
36Given the Timaeus'criteriafor Being, the fact that the WorldSoul is in motion should mean that it is not in the full sense a "thing which is". This is indeed the case; for the mixtureout of whichthe WorldSoul is formed (as well as other souls) is a mixtureof T6 ov and T6 yLyv6otcvov (35al-3). As far as I know, this idea is perfectly unique in Plato.


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sea" (896e8-9). But the other dialoguewhichmakessoul a cosmicforce is the Timaeus.As we saw recently, the view is not the same as that of the Phaedrusand the Laws. It is not suggestedthat the WorldSoul initiates of the motion in other things, nor that it is self-moving.In the framework Timaeus,the originof motioncan be accountedfor in other ways;there is the Craftsman,who creates and sets in motion the WorldSoul itself, and there is also the disorderlyprecosmicmotion in the Receptacleof Becoand ruler"(34c5) ming. Instead,the WorldSoul is said to be the "mistress of its body, the cosmos; and its function is apparentlyin some way to preserve order. A further difference (if I was right earlier) is that the Phaedrusdoes not employthe notionof a WorldSoul. (The positionof the Laws in this respect is not clear to me, for reasonswhich I shall go into shortly.) But despite these differences,the Timaeusseems in at least one way closer to the later dialoguesthan the earlierones. The final feature of the conception of soul we extracted from the
Phaedrus' proof - albeit tentatively - was that soul is a single kind of stuff

(in the sense explained- see note 22); how does this comparewith other dialogues?The Phaedoand the Republiccontainno hint of sucha conception, though they do not obviously exclude it. The one other dialogue wheresoul definitelyis regardedas a stuffin my sense, and a singleone, is mixesa certaincompound the Timaeus.As we have noted, the Craftsman all souls are formed. Now, the subsubstance, and out of this substance stanceput togetherin the mixingbowl clearlyqualifiesas a stuff;this stuff could very well be designatedby the massterm"soul"(thoughPlato does not appear to do so). Individualsouls (both the World Soul and human souls) consist, then, of portionsof the stuff "soul";and this is preciselythe pictureI foundto be suggestedby the Phaedrus.One mightsaythatthisis a But I believethat apparatus. mythical fartoo literalreadingof the Timaeus' one should alwaystake seriouslythe details of Platonicmyths. Obviously some features,suchas the mixingbowl, will be factoredout whenwe tryto penetrateto the core of doctrinePlato is tryingto present.But if Plato had not meant to convey the impressionthat there is a kind of stuff of which souls are composed, he could have writtena differentmyth that did not have these implications;he was not forced to write it as he did. (On this point, see also notes 3 and 32.) Here, then, is anotherapparentpoint of contactbetween the Phaedrus and the Timaeus.37Let us see, finally, whetherwe can relate the Laws to

I have throughoutbeen cautious about attributingthe notion of soul as a stuff to the Phaedrus;and it will be rememberedthat the alternative,which I considered but found


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these two. Plainly,the evidencefor any notionof soul as a stuffin the Laws will be indirect;but there is one point that seems to me suggestive.This is that Plato is strikinglyevasive about the number of souls that run the cosmos. He is clear that this is done by one or more good souls; but he refuses to commit himself as to how many. (This is why it is hard to tell whetheror not he has in mind a WorldSoul.) Mostlyhe uses the singular 4uxiwithoutarticle,as in the Phaedrus' proof;but he speaksalso of "soul or souls"(899b5,cf. 898c7-8),andhe neverdecideswhetherthe singular or the plural is more appropriate.He seems, then, to be either uncertain of souls;yet this appearsnot to about, or uninterested in, the individuation detractin anywayfromhis confidencein the doctrineof soul as activatorof the cosmos. Now, this does not, of course, show conclusivelythat he is thinkingof soul as a stuff. On the other hand, if he was conceivingof soul (or simplyof good soul) as a uniformstuff distributed about the universe, this insoucianceabout the numberof good souls would be entirelyunderstandable.If thereis a certainkindof stuffwhose natureit is to activatethe - supposingthatthe motions cosmos, then it is indeedof minorimportance - how portionsof this of the cosmos are whatwe are seekingto understand stuff are to be individuated.However, this is as far as we can pursuethe question. It is possiblethat the Laws as well as the Timaeusis in line with the Phaedrus on this matter;but the evidenceis too slenderfor us to decide withanyconfidence.Moreover,even if all thisis correct- andI amfarfrom insistingon it - it still leavesout of accountthe Laws'idiosyncratic notionof evil soul. The one thingPlato is clearaboutin the Laws, with regardto the numberof souls, is thatthereareat leasttwo. The soul or soulsthatactivate the cosmos are good; however, there must also be one or more evil souls (896e4-6), to accountfor the presence of evil in the world. Of course, it mightstill be thatthere was a single stuff "soul"(whose essence was selfmotion) encompassingboth good and evil soul. But it is obviouslyimpossible to tell whetheror not this is Plato's conception;the remarkson evil
soul - indeed, on soul in general - in the Laws are just too sketchy.

Whatgeneralconclusions,if any, can we drawfromthis investigation? It is sometimessuggestedthatthe Phaedrus is a "transitional" dialogue.Now, we have examinedonly a tiny fractionof the dialogue;and it may well be that, concerningtopics whichwe did not touch upon, this verdictis a fair
less likely, was that the Phaedruspresupposesa notion of WorldSoul. It is worthpointing out that even if I was wrong in my choice between these alternatives- even if we should read the Phaedrus as implying a World Soul - the closest parallel would still be the Timaeus.


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one. But with regardto the natureof the soul, I believe, it needs at least to is to be substantially qualified.For to say that the dialogueis transitional implythatthereis an earlierset of doctrinesanda laterset of doctrines,and that the Phaedrusis between the two. This is not entirelydevoid of truth, but it is misleadingin two ways. First, as we have seen, in as muchas one can speak of two groupsof dialogues,an earlierand a later, the Phaedrus seems in most respects(again, of those that have been the subjecthere) to belongsolidlywith the latergroup;the transition,for the mostpart,occurs before the Phaedrus,not duringit. But second, thereare not just two views of the soul in Plato. The Phaedoandthe Republic maywithsomejusticebe considered as expressinga single view - though even this is perhapsan exaggeration; but amongthe laterdialogues,thereis far less homogeneity. In particular,the position of the Timaeus,on this as on so many other in this issues, is baffling. It is dangerous,then, to speak of "transitions" on the soul; context. We cancertainlyfindvarioustrendsin Plato'swritings andwe can tryto describethe positionof the Phaedrus amongthesetrends. But we shouldnot thinkin termsof stablebodiesof doctrinebetweenwhich the Phaedrusmight be consideredas intermediate.This conclusionis no doubtnothingsurprising; people haveoften told us not to forcePlatointo a
straitjacket. Much more interesting - or so I hope

are the detailed

considerations whichhave led us there. University of California


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