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What Is Wrong with Degenerate Souls in the Republic?

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image of Phronesis

The Republic splits the soul into three parts: the logistikon (reason), the thumoeides (spirit) and the epithumetikon (appetite). In a virtuous soul all the parts do their own work and the logistikon is ruling. In what follows I argue that a non-question-begging account of why the logistikon should rule must take into account the psychological complexity of virtuous and non-virtuous characters in the Republic. And while this is often accepted by those arguing that the unity of degenerate souls is unstable or fragile I will argue, in opposition, that what is actually wrong with degenerate souls is that they have the wrong kind of unity ‐ a unity by force ‐ which can be very stable but which is nonetheless a unity in tension. On the other hand the rule of the logistikon can provide unity by persuasion, a unity which is not only stable but also free from tension.

Affiliations: 1: King’s College London Strand, London WC2R 2LS United Kingdom, Email:


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