Colloquium 2 Commentary on Barney

In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
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  • 1 Columbia University

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Rachel Barney proposes that Plato’s theory of the tripartite soul is plausibly compared to scientific theories today. I depart from Barney by proposing that the tripartite soul is a model and that its status is hypothetical. And I raise four questions: (1) What follows from the Plato-science comparison, as Barney conceives of it? (2) Which questions emerge if science is looked at in the sophisticated mode that Barney employs in her discussion of Plato? (3) Current science invokes a multitude of subsystems relevant to motivation. Why compare it with tripartition? Stoic psychology may share more fundamental ideas with current science, including the premise that all goings-on in the soul are physiological movements. (4) If tripartition is a model, why would one expect it to account for all dimensions of epistemic activity?

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