The Republic

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Themes and Colors
Education Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Specialization Theme Icon
Philosopher-King Theme Icon
Soul Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Republic, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Soul Theme Icon

The soul is immortal, and has three parts. The appetitive soul is driven by lusts and appetites (for food, for wealth, for sex), the rational soul is able to think, measure, and calculate, and the spirit or will is the emotional aspect of the soul. In a just man the rational part dominates, moderating and controlling the other two parts. If either the appetite or the spirit dominate, then the man is neither just nor happy. The three parts of the soul correspond to the three classes of people in the just city. The guardians are analogous to the rational soul, the warriors to spirit, and the producers to the appetitive soul. If reason rules, with the assistance of spirit, and appetite obeys, then the individual is just. A city in which each class obeys the philosopher-king and fulfills its occupational role is a just city.

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Soul ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Soul appears in each section of The Republic. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Soul Quotes in The Republic

Below you will find the important quotes in The Republic related to the theme of Soul.
Book 10 Quotes
Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of them, and that part an image.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

In The Republic’s final book, Socrates returns to the question that opened the text: the value of the arts. He argues that art is a type of imitation and therefore less valuable than both the Forms and human reality.

Having outlined his theory of the Forms, Socrates can now offer a more complete condemnation of art. Whereas before he simply noted that certain works of fiction could have a negative pedagogical effect on people, here he takes issue with the inherent nature of poetry. He argues that if our physical reality is an imitation of the world of Forms, then art is an imitation of our reality. It is therefore two steps removed from the Forms, so those who produce art are proceeding in the opposite direction of philosophy—further away from truth and closer to an “image,” to non-reality.

This argument turns on the way that Socrates defines “imitation.” He believes that whereas a form comprises a complete totality, an imitation only “touches on a small part” of that totality. For instance, the form of a bed includes the existences and qualities of all potential beds, whereas a specific example of a bed is only one small part of that totality. By extension, a painting of the bed only gives one physical angle and one artist’s perspective of the bed, so it is an even smaller subset of the totality held by the Form of the bed. This passage not only offers a full condemnation of art, then, but also verifies the central role that completeness plays in Socrates’ philosophy.


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