|Plato's Thoughts On Personality
The body is not the essence of the
human person. Plato proves this through the process of elimination. There are three
possibilities, one is that the human person is essentially a soul or a body or a
combination of body and soul. The body does not rule itself, therefore it cannot be a
body. And if the body does not rule itself it cannot be in combination of the body and
soul ruling, therefore the soul rules over the body, and the soul is the essence of the
If the soul is the essence of the
body, one must understand what makes up the soul. The soul has an independent, substantial
reality, rather than being dependent. Plato argues that the soul is composed of three
separate parts, reason, spirit, and appetites.
Plato's Allegory of the Chariot is a
symbolic depiction of the tripartite analysis of the soul. Two horses draw the chariot (of
the personality). One of the horses is good and the other one is not. The good horse
represents spirit, is noble, well formed, handsome, and tending to behave magnificently.
The other horse, representing the appetites, is crooked, lumbering, ill made,
stiff-necked, short-throated, with bloodshot eyes. The charioteer, whose job is to
determine the direction and speed, to drive the chariot, and to coordinate the activities
of both his horses is symbolic of reason.
We can see through the Allegory of
the Chariot that Plato's philosophy of human nature involves not only external conflicts,
but internal as well. All such conflict is a distraction from the soul's proper activity,
which includes the pursuit of knowledge. If reason is to rule wisely, its command must be
informed by knowledge.