• Amity
    233
    I fear we are in danger of having two different conversations here. I'm trying to explain to you Plato's model of the tripartite soul.Tzeentch

    Yes. There might be a case for another thread related specifically to Plato.

    However, I am not concerned about following different strands of conversation. I am enjoying hearing about others' perspectives, views and reasons. It is refreshing and challenging.
    And for a well- rounded discussion, including psychology, it is not necessary to study the Republic before 'moving on'.There is more than one approach.

    What I am not trying to do is present you with an accurate explanation of depression!Tzeentch

    I wouldn't expect that of anyone. However, I think that in any discussion of ' Willpower - is it an energy thing ?', an increased understanding of depression is both pertinent and useful.
    I have simply challenged your understanding of it.
    Your response avoids my question about your thoughts on any spiritual depression - potential causes and cures. Instead you appeal to Plato...
  • Tzeentch
    216
    For me to respond to that, you would first have to present a definition of spiritual depression.
  • Amity
    233


    Thank you,and anyone else I might have missed, for responses. I hope to reply later.
    Next year perhaps :)
  • Amity
    233
    Thank you,and anyone else I might have missed, for responses. I hope to reply later.
    Next year perhaps :)
    Amity

    Of course I meant that I appreciate all responses. It's just that I haven't got round to those mentioned.
    I can't keep up...
  • Amity
    233
    For me to respond to that, you would first have to present a definition of spiritual depression.Tzeentch

    I need to backtrack a little. My original question was:

    If you are thinking of a spiritual depression, what do you consider would be the causes and cures ?Amity

    This was prompted by your statement that:

    depression is the domain of spiritTzeentch

    I don't have a definition or understanding but I though you might have.
    The question began with 'If'.
    It appears that that is not what you were thinking of.

    Thanks for all input. Will be taking some time out now.
  • Fooloso4
    224
    Thrasymachus also claimed that the powerful are always the last word about what is just.Valentinus

    I don’t see how this shows that the premise of the Republic is how to not be overwhelmed by bad things.

    Glaucon's desire to have that point contested is why anything after the first book happened.Valentinus

    Right. The way he poses the problem is interesting. It seems as though he is familiar with Socrates notion of Forms:

    "For I desire to hear what each is and what power it has all alone by itself when it is in the soul" (358b)

    The immortality thing is an important argument that may or may not be connected to the other arguments.Valentinus

    My point about that this particular argument for immortality is that it is based on a soul without parts. The tripartite soul of the Republic has three parts.

    In addition, it puts bodily desires in the soul, but this is problematic considering what is said about the soul’s release from the body. If desire is in the soul rather than the body then there is no escape from bodily desire. We are tied to the body whether we have a body or not.
  • Valentinus
    302

    In the course of restating Thrasymachus' argument, Glaucon cites the story of the ring of Gyges which allows unjust actions to go unseen to introduce how "seeming to be just" can conceal crimes. Adimantus takes up the theme in regards to how that becomes an education of the young:

    “Socrates, my friend,” he said, “when all these things of such a kind and in such quantity are said about virtue and vice, the sort of esteem in which human beings and gods hold them, what do we imagine it does to the souls of young people who hear them, all those with good natures and equal to the task, as if they were floating above all the things that are said in order to gather from them what sort of person [365B] to be and how to make one’s way through life so that one might go through it the best possible way? From what seems likely, that person would speak to himself as Pindar wrote, ‘Is it by justice or by crooked tricks that I make the wall rise higher’ so as to fortify myself to live my life? For the things that are said claim there’s no benefit for me to be just if I don’t also seem to be, but obvious burdens and penalties, while they describe a divine-sounding life for an unjust person provided with a reputation for justice. [365C] So, since, as those who’re wise show me, ‘the seeming overpowers even the truth’ and is what governs happiness, one should turn completely to that. It’s necessary for me to draw a two-dimensional illusion of virtue in a circle around myself as a front and a show, but drag along behind it the cunning and many-sided fox of the most wise Archilochus.14 “‘But,’ someone says, ‘it’s not easy always to go undetected in being evil.’ Well, we’ll tell him that no other great thing falls into one’s lap either, but [365D] still, if we’re going to be happy, this is the direction we’ve got to go, where the tracks of the argument take us. To go undetected, we’ll band together in conspiracies and secret brotherhoods, and there are teachers of persuasion who impart, for money, skill at speaking to assemblies and law courts, by means of which we’ll use persuasion about some things, but we’ll use force about others, so as to get more than our share of things without paying the penalty.
    Plato. Republic (Focus Philosophical Library) 365a Translated by Joe Sachs

    The need to find an understanding of justice that is truly beneficial to a person is the only way to counter this form of instruction and way of life.

    Regarding the immortal soul, it is spoken of as living in bodies. In Phaedrus, it is put this way:

    "And now that we have seen that that which is moved by itself is immortal, we shall feel no scruple in affirming that precisely that is the the essence and definition of soul, to wit, self-motion. Any body that has an external source of motion is soulless, but a body deriving its motion from a source within itself is animate or besouled, which implies that the nature of the soul is what has been said." 245e

    This prefaces a discussion of the soul's nature that also uses "parts", namely, the analogy of the winged chariot made up of charioteer and two steeds:

    "With us men, in the first place, it is a pair of steeds that the charioteer controls, moreover one of them is noble and good, and of good stock, while the other has the opposite character, and his stock is the opposite. Hence the task of our charioteer is difficult and troublesome." 246b Translated by R Hackworth.

    The nature of the soul in someone who is alive is different than what it is in itself. The separability from the body is what is discussed in Phaedo.
  • Valentinus
    302
    In the absence of reason, it seems rather obvious that spirit and desire can form a destructive duo. I don't think Plato disputes this.Tzeentch

    I am not saying that they cannot be a destructive duo. The disinclination of thumos to ally with desires in opposition to reason is one of the ways that we can see that it remains a separate agency. A little further on, Socrates makes your point and mine together:

    [440E] “That it’s looking the opposite of the way it did to us just now with the spirited part, because then we imagined it was something having to do with desire, but now we’re claiming that far from that, it’s much more inclined in the faction within the soul to take arms on the side of the reasoning part.” “Absolutely,” he said. “Then is it different from that too, or some form of the reasoning part, so that there aren’t three but two forms in the soul, a reasoning one and a desiring one? Or just as, in the city, there were three classes [441A] that held it together, moneymaking, auxiliary, and deliberative, so too in the soul is there this third, spirited part, which is by nature an auxiliary to the reasoning part, unless it’s corrupted by a bad upbringing?” “It’s necessarily a third part,” he said.
    Plato. Republic 440d Translated by Joe Sachs

    The importance of seeing them separately comes up in other discussions and I need to pull those elements back together into my tiny mind.
  • Fooloso4
    224
    The need to find an understanding of justice that is truly beneficial to a person is the only way to counter this form of instruction and way of life.Valentinus

    That is the challenge as it is put to him, but how well did it work out for Socrates? Is it only in the just city that does not exist anywhere that justice is truly beneficial to the person who is always just? If justice is understood as the proper balance and harmony of the soul, that is, as the health of the soul, then just as physical health is preferable to illness, the health of the psyche too is preferable. But is that the case when dealing with people who are unjust?

    This prefaces a discussion of the soul's nature that also uses "parts", namely, the analogy of the winged chariot made up of charioteer and two steeds
    Valentinus

    The two depictions of the soul in the Republic and the Phaedrus do not match up. Different stories for different occasions. Socrates says the he speaks differently to different men depending on their needs.
  • Valentinus
    302

    But is that the case when dealing with people who are unjust?Fooloso4

    That is a good question. I think the dialogue wrestled with it in Book Nine where the diagnosis of various polities are compared with states in the soul. The matter is all mixed up with how you live in a particular place. I hear you questioning how complete the Socratic/Plato answer may be to the questions it presents. I don't read it as a last word. Socrates was able to survive his interlocutors, that time. So, in that sense, he did not end the discussion for all time in the fashion Glaucon asked for in Book Two.

    The two depictions of the soul in the Republic and the Phaedrus do not match up. Different stories for different occasions. Socrates says the he speaks differently to different men depending on their needs.Fooloso4

    Noted, the depictions do not match up. The difference points to the way the use of allegory and metaphor are put together with observations of what can be observed "psychologically" as matters of experience with no concern whether the different models are congruent to some overriding principle. As a reader, one has a choice. Either what is being presented fits into a particular argument or there is another element, that is skeptical of the idea that one argument can just replace another.

    If one held to the latter point of view, how would that be expressed using the logic that only one or another thing can be true at the same time?
  • Fooloso4
    224
    If one held to the latter point of view, how would that be expressed using the logic that only one or another thing can be true at the same time?Valentinus


    I am not sure I understand your question. I don’t think that either depiction is intended to be an accurate depiction of actual souls.

    If this is right then the notion of reason ruling the soul should not be taken at face value. The idea that the soul is ruled by reason is a noble lie.

    The erotic nature of the soul should not be overlooked or minimized. The philosophical soul that desires wisdom is the most immoderately erotic.
  • Amity
    233
    Is weakness of will is like physical weakness? Do you judge yourself for your physical limits or judge others for theirs?
    There are things I am not capable of no matter how much I train and try. In addition, my willingness to train and try may not be very great to begin with. Is that a lack of willpower or simply a limit of my will?
    Fooloso4

    Some do see willpower as a muscle which can be trained so as to enhance self control and get things done that have to be done even though you don't want to or can't be bothered.
    Apparently the first known use of the word 'willpower' was in 1859 - perhaps as a way to encourage strong character and attain success ( not sure of this but it seems aligned with Victorian moral concerns and virtue ).
    This meant that people perceived as lacking in willpower e.g. the poor were judged as bad.
    Even if is true that there was a lack of willlower, this is not to say that there was a lack of will or desire to improve their circumstances.

    I think it human nature to judge - constant evaluation of self and others, comparisons made.
    Unfortunately our perceptions and assumptions can be wrong.

    it may be that the whole notion of willpower is wrong. There may only be various and sometimes competing desires. It is not weakness of will that fails to stop me from eating cake, but that at this moment the desire for cake is stronger than the desire to lose a few pounds. But this is too simplistic. The story of competing desires is not an accurate description of the complex physiological and psychological things going on within me.Fooloso4

    Yes. There is this view that the concept of willpower is not a helpful one. However, even if it were to be eliminated there is still the reality of how we manage our competing desires. It is a matter of priority.
    And how motivated we are. Our decision making processes can be simple or complex. Depending.
  • Amity
    233
    My point is willpower is a just a gimmick. There'a position A, where you are. Then there's position C, where you want to be. But there's this position B, which you have to cross to get to C.

    If B is a pleasant place there is no need for willpower.

    If B is an unpleasant place then we need willpower.

    My point is all you wanted was to get to C and willpower is nothing more than an intermediary to achieve an objective. The goal-oriented nature of it diminishes its value. We have willpower only to achieve happiness or joy and that's something everyone wants. So, what's the difference between the strong-willed and weak-willed people?
    TheMadFool

    So you think willpower a gimmick, nothing more than an intermediary to achieve an objective.
    How do you see it mediating ? As some kind of a force or emotion ?

    I agree we don't need willpower when things are going well but perhaps we need it to get there in the first place. Also some might be comfortable in their unpleasant place and don't need or want willpower to go anywhere.

    How does the goal oriented nature of it diminish its value ?
    Not everyone wants happiness or joy. There are different, more specific goals or objectives that might require willpower. So that we can push through our own obstacles of tiredness or apathy.

    Having willpower does not necessarily equate with strong-willed.
    A child can be strong-willed in desire to eat a bucket of chocolate. Willpower won't stop this but being sick will.
    Being strong-willed can be seen in certain world leaders. Not always a sign of strong character.
  • Amity
    233
    I think will-power has to be an energy, otherwise why would we refer to it as a 'power'. I consider it as intent or the impulse to causeBrianW

    Power can be about strength, or ability, capacity to do something or act in a certain way.

    I think you are right in that it requires an energetic determination.
    I also think it related to motivation.
    How much our various intentions are relegated according to our actual desires rather than those we or others might impose.
  • Amity
    233
    Augustine considered this problem quite extensively. How is it possible that one can know what is good, and even decide to do the good action, yet still proceed to do the contrary? I believe that this is the root of his division of the human mind into three parts, memory, intellect, and will. It is an extension of Plato's tripartite soul. With this division, the will does not necessarily follow what the intellect. Later, Aquinas discusses the relation between intellect and will. Although the will is generally seen to follow the intellect, in the absolute sense will is prior to intellect. This is how we can uphold Augustine's conception of free will.Metaphysician Undercover

    Thanks for this. I have not studied Augustine. I think dividing the human mind into parts - it always seems to be three - is quite problematic. That one follows or rules another...

    Some people value intellect more than emotion or desire in behaviour, life-style or the decision-making process. And vice versa. I think it depends on the task at hand.
    Some think we should do away with the concept of willpower altogether. Instead of focusing on it, we should be examining the power of will. Basically, I think we give up on projects that don't engage us.
  • Amity
    233
    Socrates says the he speaks differently to different men depending on their needs.Fooloso4

    That's interesting.
    I like that image.
    It seems to be very like how current 'talking' therapies work.
    No set answers but examining self and beliefs as in CBT ?
    Cognitive stuff....
  • Fooloso4
    224
    Socrates says the he speaks differently to different men depending on their needs.
    — Fooloso4

    That's interesting.
    I like that image.
    It seems to be very like how current 'talking' therapies work.
    No set answers but examining self and beliefs as in CBT ?
    Cognitive stuff....
    Amity


    Socrates called himself a physician of the soul. The first psychologist?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Thanks for this. I have not studied Augustine. I think dividing the human mind into parts - it always seems to be three - is quite problematic. That one follows or rules another...Amity

    As per the discussion in this thread, it is a complicated relationship and we cannot say that one follows or rules the other. This is why we can talk about things like training the will in good habits, and training to be strong willed.

    Some think we should do away with the concept of willpower altogether. Instead of focusing on it, we should be examining the power of will. Basically, I think we give up on projects that don't engage us.Amity

    I don't understand this statement. What would be the difference between "will power" and "the power of the will"?
  • Amity
    233
    Socrates called himself a physician of the soul. The first psychologist?Fooloso4

    That makes sense.
    ''Know Thyself'.
    How else do we understand and improve ?
    How else do we make life worth living but by examining our life. In all its aspects.
  • Amity
    233
    What would be the difference between "will power" and "the power of the will"?Metaphysician Undercover

    Thanks for the question. Answering it might help clarify my thoughts. So far, here's what I've got.

    Willpower as a concept meaning an energetic determination, a tool to develop habits of selfcontrol.
    It seems to be moralistic in nature. If one doesn't have or employ it, they are judged as being weak willed. The person and character are denigrated. However, willpower is only part of a very complex whole.

    The power of the will, or desire, operates within us all. If there is a lack, then it is more likely to be addressed sympathetically. The causes perhaps being physiological - postnatal depression for example.

    The difference lies in that we don't need training to be strong-willed. A child is that.
    Some might wish to train that out...
  • TheMadFool
    3k
    The point, if it's one, is the question of willpower is something like that of altruism. No matter how good you are there's always some benefit to the self. So, altruism isn't as great or wonderful it's made out to be.

    Likewise, willpower is, at its foundations, about achieving something and deriving satisfaction from it. Isn't that what everybody intends? There's no difference between one who has willpower and one who doesn't in that sense.

    That said willpower is an ingredient to ''greater'' success because success isn't something you get right the first time. There will be many failures and you need willpower to sail you through the difficult times.
  • Amity
    233
    That said willpower is an ingredient to ''greater'' success because success isn't something you get right the first time. There will be many failures and you need willpower to sail you through the difficult times.TheMadFool

    I understand you better now.
    'Sailing through the difficult times'. Yes. We do need some kind of a power to see us through...from intentions to acts.

    That reminded me of an Italian proverb :
    Tra il dire e il fare c'e di mezzo il mare.
    There is a sea between saying and doing.

    Also, 'between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out'. Good news for the Italian footwear industry :)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    The power of the will, or desire, operates within us all. If there is a lack, then it is more likely to be addressed sympathetically. The causes perhaps being physiological - postnatal depression for example.Amity

    Will and desire are not he same. The will is free, but desire is driven by some underlying condition. The will being free is what allows us to choose a course of action. But in order that the will may have the capacity to choose freely it must also be able to suppress impulsive actions. This is will power. Without will power we'd always be acting impulsively, and never capable of choosing freely. So will has two aspects, one being the capacity to resist actions, this being will power, and the other being the capacity to initiate actions, this being free choice, or free will. Will power is necessary in order that one may exercise freedom of choice.

    The difference lies in that we don't need training to be strong-willed. A child is that.
    Some might wish to train that out...
    Amity

    Now I need to ask what you mean by "strong-willed". Assume that the will has two parts, two aspects like I described, will power and free choice. "Strong willed" ought to signify an appropriate balance between the two. Imagine if one's will power was very strong, so much so that the person always resisted actually doing anything. This would not be good. On the other hand, if "strong-willed" meant that the person would persist in a chosen activity, even when that person ought to use will power to resist from that activity, this would be bad as well. So "strong-willed" must mean a balance between will power and following one's free will.
  • Amity
    233
    Will and desire are not he same. The will is free, but desire is driven by some underlying conditionMetaphysician Undercover

    It depends on what definitions are being used. There are various meanings according to context. In philosophy, there are opposing views on the concept. And free will. And so on.

    When I wrote about the will, or desire, operating within us all, I was actually thinking of the verb.
    To will. To want.

    Where there's a will there's a way. Angela Merkel also added...' but the will should come from everybody'. The noun is about disposition. Where there is a desire...

    As a verb it can express desire, choice. Or a customary habit, natural tendency.
    You can call it what you will. You can think of the noun 'will' as you desire.
    It might not be the right way, according to some traditionally philosophical way...but it's your way.

    As a noun - a disposition to act according to principles or ends.
    The act, process or experience of willing - volition. Appetite, passion. Choice, determination.
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/will

    So, in my example, I chose an example where there is a lowering of a desire, of will as volition.
    That's all I have for now. I am using my willpower to come off the internet. Right away.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    When I wrote about the will, or desire, operating within us all, I was actually thinking of the verb.
    To will. To want.

    Where there's a will there's a way. Angela Merkel also added...' but the will should come from everybody'. The noun is about disposition. Where there is a desire...

    As a verb it can express desire, choice. Or a customary habit, natural tendency.
    You can call it what you will. You can think of the noun 'will' as you desire.
    It might not be the right way, according to some traditionally philosophical way...but it's your way.
    Amity

    But do you see that what we call "will power" is opposed to this? Will power is what we use to resist the urge to act on what we want or desire. So the two are somewhat opposed to each other and need to be understood by distinct concepts, because a person can get conflicted within, torn up and undecided.
  • Valentinus
    302

    I am not sure I understand your question. I don’t think that either depiction is intended to be an accurate depiction of actual souls.Fooloso4

    I think different depictions are supposed to be accurate for the purposes undertaken in each case.
    One of the elements that intrigues me about the Socrates/Plato work is, as you say, how it is different for different interlocutors.

    In any case, it is rare to find metaphor and mythology mixed freely with observations of what "is" as is done with such abandon in the Republic. I don't think the "noble lie" applies to all the observations made in the Republic. But it influences it in every place.

    There are so many indictments of character made in varying levels of subtlety that make me think I am not just being sold a bill of goods but am reading a diagnosis.
  • Amity
    233
    a person can get conflicted within, torn up and undecided.Metaphysician Undercover

    Indeed. And much more besides.
    There are so many ambiguous terms, conflicting views and arguments in philosophy that we might never get off the merry-go-round.

    I think what matters is how concepts are applied in real life.
    Especially at this time of year when resolutions get broken as soon as they are made.
    You got no willpower, babe !
    This kind of negative message can stick in a person's head.
    Sometimes aggravating an already poor self-image.

    Philosophy as in questioning the 'diagnosis' might help if the person has the confidence, knowledge and experience so to do. Or access to external resources who aren't interested in playing word games just for the sake of it.
  • Amity
    233
    There are so many indictments of character made in varying levels of subtlety that make me think I am not just being sold a bill of goods but am reading a diagnosis.Valentinus

    I wonder if you can show me any examples. I am interested in reading the Republic.
    Also fascinating piece of serendipity that we both just talked of 'diagnosis'.
  • Kippo
    87
    I think [ego depletion] a reasonable idea that's fraught with problems when trying to experimentally verify it.fdrake

    People who are experimental subjects in this area of study are often asked to use their not-best hand for routine tasks such as opening doors, for a week or two. Then when asked to perform some task in the lab they usually show far less patience than a control group. Experimental psychologists are ingenious.
  • LuckilyDefinitive
    11
    I would say classifying will power as an energy thing dismisses it's complexity.
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