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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter gives a short synopsis of the Platonic concept of the human soul. It presents an overview of how the other chapters of the book are organised. Basic to the Platonic system, of course, is a strong distinction between soul and body, such that the soul, an immaterial and immortal essence, rules the body, a material and mortal essence, during those periods in which it is connected with it. A somewhat more positive view of the relations between soul and body is manifested in Plato's major work, the Republic, generally regarded as having been composed perhaps a decade after the Phaedo. The great influence of the Timaeus in the later Platonist tradition led to the prevalence in later sources of this latter version of a tripartite division subordinate to a bipartite division.

Keywords: human soul; Plato's Phaedo; Platonic system; Timaeus

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