Talk at Bogazici this Wednesday by Mehmet Erginel (EMU) on ‘Plato on Belief in the Tripartitie Soul’
Mehmet Erginel (Eastern Mediterranean University) will give a talk this Wednesday (August 1st) from 17:00-19:00 in TB130 on ‘Plato on Belief in the Tripartite Soul’. Everyone welcome.
Abstract: There has been, in recent years, a surge of interest in the development of Platonic moral psychology between Platos middle and late periods. Much has been written on whether, and in what ways, Platos thoughts on moral psychology evolved after he wrote the Republic. A prominent aspect of this subject is the development of Platos views on the cognitive and conceptual capacities of the non-rational parts of the tripartite soul. In the present paper I would like to focus on the more specific question whether the non-rational parts of the soul are capable of holding beliefs (doxai) in the proper sense, and whether Plato changed his mind on this matter. I have argued elsewhere that contrary to a growing number of critics, the Republic is best understood along the lines of the traditional reading, according to which the non-rational parts possess the cognitive/conceptual resources to hold beliefs and communicate with each other. My concern in this paper will be what Plato comes to think on these issues in works after the Republic, and whether he later departs from the views he endorses in the Republic. Bobonich and Lorenz have argued that in such later works as the Phaedrus and the Timaeus, the non-rational parts of the soul have severely impoverished cognitive/conceptual resources. On this view, which has become the standard interpretation of the works in question, the non-rational parts of the soul (i) do not have the capacity to hold beliefs, and (ii) cannot communicate with the other soul-parts. I believe that this standard view is wrong, and I wish to show that Plato does not, in either the Phaedrus or the Timaeus, deny the capacity of the non-rational parts to hold beliefs, or to communicate with the other parts of the soul. That the tripartite theory did not undergo a gradual demotion of the non-rational parts should also shed light on the controversial question whether Plato came to abandon the tripartite theory in his late works.