Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B91

PETER LAUTNER Abstract The paper aims to show that ἄνοια is the general term for the diseases of the soul, and that μανία and ἀμαϑία are not necessarily two distinct species but two levels of the same disease: ignorance signifies the cognitive state, whereas madness indicates both a cognitive state and a specific phenomenal character. Plato’s other remarks on psychic ailments can be incorporated into this account. The result can also be accommodated to the general theory of the soul–body relationship in the dialogue. Incarnated souls cannot work without the corresponding activity of the body, even if this does not rule out the possibility for the soul to exist in a discarnate state. Keywords: Timaeus, diseases of the soul, thoughtlessness, madness, ignorance

After having examined the ailments of the body at length in 81E6–86A8, Plato turns to the disorders of the soul. It is striking to find that, compared to the discussion of bodily diseases, he settles this matter quite briefly. I believe that his account deserves more attention than it has received hitherto, if for no other reason than because, as a case study, it offers an excellent opportunity to examine the relation between body and soul. One can also see the result of the conception according to which the soul is intimately linked to spatial motions.2 An exploration of the causes



The first version was presented on a colloquium on the Timaeus, held in Prague in June 2007. Thanks for comments and criticism to the audience, especially to István Bodnár, Philip Grgic, Pavel Gregoric and Karel Thein. The revised version has been read by Luc Brisson, whose remarks also helped me to improve the paper a great deal. Finally, I am also grateful for the remarks and corrections made by the anonymous referee. But all shortcomings are mine, needless to say. It may have started with the Phaedrus’ definition (245C–246A) according to which soul is a self-moving, and thus immortal, entity, which has also been noted by T. M. Robinson 2000, 37–55. The definition prevails in the Timaeus too, where rational soul has been constructed out of the revolutions of the Same and Different. This led

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16. Diseases of the soul are called thoughtlessness (ἄνοια) and divided into two kinds. they destroy our capacity to find our way in the world. is not too implausible. which implies either that excessive pleasures and pains are all psychic states. 227–270. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. as we read in 77B3–C3. they are clearly bodily. sounds. perhaps. but in their phenomenal character. She also discusses the issue in her 2005b. madness (μανία) and ignorance (ἀμαϑία). for they act on the soul through the senses.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . and the lack of the possibility of proper education can also contribute to psychic disorder.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 23 of psychic illness gives a fascinating demonstration of the application of a metaphysical theory to medical matters. Plants have this kind of affection. 49–50. although they may not perceive in the way animals do. Perception of pleasure and pain may thus accompany the activity of the particular senses. it is not quite clear whether we must rank these social factors among those mentioned earlier in the passage. To argue that they are not to be equated with the specific objects of sense-perception. though quite unlike the one we know from Descartes.3 At any rate. sounds. excessive pleasures and pains render us unable to see or hear aright. The difference between the two types of diseases lies. the motions coming 3 G. when the soul is put in the stream of generation. smells and other qualities peculiar to the particular senses. Her assumption has been criticized. which in turn implies that they do not perceive colours. etc. Plato does not claim that there is an intimate connection between pleasures and pains on the one hand and some of the particular senses on the other. R. evil forms of government allowing for vile speech both in public and private. As plants do not seem capable of suffering from excessive pleasures and pains. As a consequence. which may suggest that he is going to make all sorts of psychic disorder dependent on the body. Furthermore. Later on (87B1–B5) he adds that bad upbringing. effectively I believe. Sometimes they drive us crazy (λυττᾷ. whereas others are not. At first sight. by Fronterotta 2007. Plato starts with the claim that diseases of the soul originate in bodily states. such as colours. Carone to argue for the thesis that the soul is of a physical nature and cannot operate independently of a body: see her 2005a. Excessive pleasure and pain are among the gravest of such diseases. In one important sense. or that there are excessive pleasures and pains that are psychic states. Nowhere else does he mention any other source of mental disorder. I hope to show that this particular view can also be characterized in terms of a certain dualism. 86C2). with a reference to the anticipation of this position in the Phaedrus.. the first alternative may be the case. on describing the specific nature of pleasure and pain in 64D–65A.1. not so much in the presence of cognitive elements. As Plato says in 43C4–7. My aim is to show that on this view psychic diseases are primarily cognitive failures. although it does it in a way not specified by Plato. Furthermore.

I shall be concentrating on the text of the Timaeus itself in order to explain the passage within the context of the dialogue. Foul language and bad government affect us in just that way. – 1.b. even the best readings are only possibly correct. Gill (n. and blend the vapours arising from them with it. 4). 61–64. 174–178. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. Thoughtlessness does not involve the failure of the divine reason to exercise due control over the other parts of the soul. they produce all sorts of diseases of the soul. 86E4) which is also caused by bodily ingredients. They perturb the revolutions of the soul. In discussing bodily conditions Plato takes the sample of hypersexuality (86C4–9).a. ignorance and madness. considers them cognitive states. and C. one of them divided into two. see M. they induce various types of discontent and ill-temper. M. F. In making their way to the three seats of the soul. Plato concludes.1. He explains the theory by using Galenic and Stoic readings of the text. In what follows. no one does wrong willingly. of rashness and cowardice. 87A1) of the soul. and everything we acquire through the senses may disturb the revolutions of the rational soul. then. however. Thus evil forms of government and harmful speech may not represent a wholly separate source of psychic illness. and distinguishes two levels there. The passage has been scrutinized by C. 59–84.24 Peter Lautner from the physical world reach it as sense-perceptions.5 These remarks have caused considerable controversy among interpreters. This is an issue I am not going to discuss here. depending on which of the seats they invade. there is no psychic disease that does not affect the cognitive state of the person.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . Plato discusses all sorts of psychic disease. Stalley 1996. evil deeds are nothing but results of the bodily impacts that we cannot master. For a thorough discussion. 4 5 6 For a similar description of sexual desire in general.16. commingle with the locomotion (ϕορά. Gill 2000. Just how the detail of the text spells out a well-marked position is debated and inescapably debatable. I should like to put forward two main theses. It seems that Plato himself also criticizes the thesis in the subsequent section on restoring psychic health. When acid and salt phlegms and many bitter and bilious humours roam about the body. Mackenzie 1981. esp. rather they form a subgroup of harm spreading by way of the body. Keeping this in mind. 59–84.4 Another example is distress (λύπη. and in finding no exit are pent up within. If. and also of forgetfulness and slowness in learning. R. Sense-perception connects us to that realm. Put in another way.6 – 1. see 91B. 357–371. When the seed in the marrow of men becomes copious with overflowing moisture the person is filled with throes from time to time and obtains many pleasures in his desires and their offspring.

7 The crucial text itself (86B2–4) can be understood in two ways. M. Plato’s account allows for a direct interaction between body and soul and explains it in physiological terms. W.16. R. Mackenzie (n. madness and ignorance. or that the disease of the soul called thoughtlessness. but it is quite unclear whether Plato alludes to it anywhere in the Timaeus. In what follows. There is no such discussion. I shall make some points in favour of the first possibility. τὸ μὲν μανίαν. 176–177. Brisson 1992. In other words. Given that the treatise seems to be fairly well arranged. J. and Robinson (n. and it has two kinds of thoughtlessness. I do not think that we can rule out either of these two options on grammatical grounds. On this reading. Pigeaud 1981 (20063). the latter being referred to by μανία. has two kinds. one purely cognitive and one cognitive with a particular phenomenal character. or from Euripides. not just distorted feelings or emotional dispositions. see also L.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 25 – 2. F. Ignorance is nothing but a cognitive state. but this might have a restricted relevance to the theory of the Timaeus. 4). 7 It runs as follows: νόσον μὲν δὴ ψυχῆς ἄνοιαν συγχωρητέον. Taylor 1928. Lloyd 2003. 1). In his translation D. J. madness and ignorance. As for the version claiming that there other types of psychic diseases than thoughtlessness (and thus ignorance and madness).1. favours this reading. whereas madness implies ignorance plus a phenomenal feature characteristic to μανία. but attempts to arrange them systematically. the first version has been adopted by A. 346. This is not to say that they are bound to occur simultaneously. Zeyl 2000 goes for the second version (see also A. 1. In what follows I aim to show that the reading I prefer gives us a coherent and unified picture of Plato’s theory of psychic diseases. In conformity to his general tendency to emphasize a sharp dualism between body and soul. 60. Gill 2000 (n. E. 4). δὐο δ’ ἀνοίας γένη. Chr. 2006. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. Pigeaud refers to the end of the section that is supposed to prove that all psychic disorders are of physical origin. J. 188 and G. ad loc. Plato does not give only a taxative list of the various diseases. one might ask for an allusion to this type in the text. 50). and try to show that the other remarks on psychic diseases in the Timaeus can also be incorporated into that scheme. 52. All the evidence he lists for this thesis is taken from the Laws (782D). Price 1995. but this is not to deny dualism altogether. 6).a The claim is that all diseases of the soul are primarily cognitive states.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . one might expect that Plato should have found a place to discuss systematically those diseases that are not to be subsumed under ἄνοια. all psychic diseases have two aspects. The passage begins with a statement according to which diseases of the soul are due to the perverted states of the body. implying that ignorance also originates in the condition of the body. Cornford (n. Tieleman 2003. 86.. On the other hand. τὸ δὲ ἀμαθίαν. The second version leaves open the possibility that there is another type of psychic illness as well. It says either that the disease of the soul is called thoughtlessness. 200. 155–156.

Again. body and soul. The trouble gets more serious when influences from without reach the soul. The interest of the body will be served abundantly. though it certainly indicates disruption in the proper relation between body and soul. not to a distorted state. the body will be worn out.26 Peter Lautner It seems that ignorance and madness have a prominent position in the discussion of the diseases of the soul. the expression (περιθύμως ἴσχῃ. but it is far from obvious that they harm the soul too. Overexercise of the soul at the expense of the body corrupts the body. when the soul is engulfed with teaching lessons and verbal skirmishes.1. but it is not clear whether it corrupts the soul as well. But that does not suffice to produce psychic illness. To prove this. As a consequence. it gets excited and churns the whole being. but that may not indicate a perverted state of the soul.16. The final result is ignorance. that evidence alone is not enough to show that psychic illness is a predominantly cognitional state. with the balance being upset by the excessive dominance of the soul. He is capable of moving into six directions. 88A1) used by Plato in this context does not support such a suggestion since both θύμος and ἐπιθυμία refer to the parts of the soul. But that alone may not produce psychic illness. but later on (87E5–88B5) Plato is more specific on the conditions of their arousal. All these movements seem to hurt the body. and cause such disorder in the state of the soul that the revoBrought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. whereas the soul is relegated into the background. and it is very likely that Plato uses it to refer to all kinds of disorder in the revolutions of the rational soul. They do it in the form of senseperceptions. by chance. both in public and private. Disease of the former is caused by the imbalance between the two constituents. the gravest disease of the soul. The general term for the disease of the soul is ἄνοια. In the passage just referred to we do not find any detailed examination. the quarrels cause it to fire the body up and rock it back and forth. When the infant is set into the stream of generation he proceeds without order and reason. we have to take a look at the passage about the consequences of incarnation (43A6–44D2). It can also happen the other way round. which renders his motions random. Some light may be thrown on this question by considering certain peculiarities of Plato’s usage. Yet. He claims ignorance is due to the upset of balance between body and soul.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . forgetful and slow to learn. When a large body is joined with a petty and feeble mind (διάνοια) then the motions of the stronger part will predominate. the soul is more powerful than the body. At least. while disease of the latter is due to the disorder in the revolutions of the Same and the Other in the soul. which is caused by bodily movements. If. which renders it dull. Here Plato gives us a vivid description of a new-born baby who flings his arms about and tries to wander every way in all directions. The best way to explain it may be to say that the disease of the body caused by the soul may not be equated with a distorted state of the soul. They might make the conduct of the soul uncontrolled by the body.

see M. The consequences of the disorder are false judgements and thoughtlessness (ἀνοήτος.16. psychic disorder is the immediate result of incarnation and a cognitive state. For further information it will suffice to refer to M. not much hinges on which of the interpretive modes we accept. the revolution of the stars (90C8–D1). while the revolutions of the Different will be twisted. 76–96. thereby resulting in fractures and disruptions of all possible forms. It turns out that it is because of all these affections that the soul comes to be thoughtless (ἄνους) for the first time (44A8). 44A3). the revolutions get blocked or twisted. the cosmos and the ideas. Baltes 1996. In endorsing the eternalist view one still might say that it does not belong to the true nature of the human soul to inhabit the body. Baltes 1976–1978. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. When it is plunged into the stream of generation.1. The conduct of such a soul is fully erratic (43B4). but they do it falsely. however. The principal form of caring about the soul is to follow the thinking and revolutions of the All that are akin to the motions in us. For simplicity. This is the psychic condition we are born with. Before entering a human body the soul is healthy insofar as its revolutions are undisturbed. the soul becomes intelligent (44B7). When the revolutions attain the correct shape. Plutarch of Chaeronea) and modern commentators. I follow the literal interpretation of the text. for the revolutions of the rational soul are prior to. and the narrative is not only a dramatization of eternally existing relations between the Demiurge. For a convincing case for the eternalist reading.9 Thus the motions of the soul become perturbed. and thus independent of. which is also the proper care for the soul (90C6). Whenever the revolutions get in touch with an external object. A person with such a soul makes right judgments and leads a life that imitates the only perfect motion around us. Furthermore.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . In sum. The literature on this question abounds. the passage in 43A6–44D2 seems to support the thesis that ἄνοια is the general term for all the diseases of the soul. according to which Plato did intend to say that the Demiurge formed the cosmos out of a pre-existing stuff.8 If the person does not care about that. To get rid of this gravest of all diseases (44C1–2) one has to be nourished and educated properly in order that the revolutions calm down and pursue their normal course. he is doomed to live a maimed life and returns to Hades with an imperfect and thoughtless (ἀνοήτος) soul (44C3). however. shared by both ancient (Atticus. At this point. however. That leads to a virtuous life. He does not make mention of any other type of 8 9 See 90C7–D1: τῷ δ’ ἐν ἡμῖν θείῳ συγγενεῖς εἰσιν κινήσεις αἱ τοῦ πάντος διανοήσεις καὶ περιϕοραί. the body.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 27 lution of the Same gets completely blocked and falls out of control. and it is the disordered state that Plato calls disease and refers to it by the term ἄνοια. they claim it to be the same as something or other than something.

that madness is one type of thoughtlessness. runs the risk of completely separating madness and ignorance. 86C3). then. the silence about which has been noted critically by N. n. it is linked to false judgements (44A3). This last point turns up again in 86B4–C3.28 Peter Lautner disease. where Plato speaks about psychic disorders caused by acid and salt phlegms or bilious humours. First. The cause of illness is the incarnation whereby the soul is exposed to bodily influences. This has also been noted by C. although in a somewhat different form. I believe. he also makes it clear that thoughtlessness is a cognitive state. The first part of the answer. stressing too that thoughtlessness is the first manifestation of human evil (180). Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. but whatever judgement he may make. E. Ostenfeld 1987. it is false. If someone is carried away by excessive joy or sorrow. The answer is that in discarnate state the soul is healthy. relies on considering three sections of the text. Properly speaking.1. 81. Here Plato notes that any affection related to madness or ignorance is to be called disease. He seems to give two reasons for that. 10 This is why he fails to mention ‘psychogenic mental illness’. Joubaud 1992. in hitting the region around the liver they produce ill-temper and discontent. we have to look at passage 86B5–C4. Second and relatedly.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . however. there is no psychogenic mental illness. In making judgement about something. we must wonder whether cowardice depends on ignorance as well. In making their way to the three seats of the soul. he does his best to grasp the object of pleasure. to maximize pleasure. But how does it differ from ignorance? The question is further complicated by a list of diseases in 87A4–7. to mention one example. or to get rid of the object of pain. they beget diseases proper to that particular part of the soul. Such a suggestion.16. the four other types might seem to represent madness. We can see. 32. cowardice does not involve a failure to sum up the situation properly? If it does involve this. whereas turmoil in the brain gives rise to forgetfulness and slowness to learn. To begin with. They affect the veridical status of sense-perception and deprive us of our reasoning capacity (λόγισμος. regardless of what price he has to pay. That may mean that madness also involves cognitive disorder. which implies that it is nothing but a distorted condition of the rational soul. that is.10 Besides this. the person claims it to be the same as something or other than something. Do they exist without any inner connection? Does Plato think that. There Plato claims that both madness and ignorance originate in excessive pleasure or pain. the disease consists in the disorder of the revolutions of the Same and Different. How can all these diseases be subsumed under the categories of madness and ignorance? My suggestion is that while both forgetfulness and slowness to learn can be characterized as types of ignorance. their invasion of the heart leads to rashness and cowardice. Thus. 179.

and suppress good ones. or a part of it. however. Bad education and government. as the first sentence of the text makes it clear. In fact. 43) since it does not necessarily refer to a chronic illness.11 That may indicate that they not only belong to the same genus. lack of proper education. Here we are told that diseases are due not only to affections produced by external objects. The reason might well be that affections arise when influences from without reach the body. They also occur simultaneously. In this case. Acid and salt phlegms and bitter and bilious humours roam about the body. It may well be that ἀμαϑία can also refer to a short time lapse. 190. therefore. As he describes the motion of humours in the body. In addition to that. but also have a common basis. pleasure arises when the body.16. and in finding no exit they are pent up within. affections may arise when their stream touches the soul. Lain Entralgo thinks (1958. or to false judgement that is due to the perturbations on the revolutions of the Same and the Different. The interaction gives rise to various types of disease. or they disturb them in a moderate extent only. Plato does not specify what types of humours cause ignorance and what cause madness. n. Plato does not talk about affections in this passage. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. They are definitely responsible for ἀμαϑία insofar as they can activate bad possibilities. The second passage comes from section 86E7–87A7. These are. and foul language may also prevent such diseases being cured. on this view. but to humours of a certain type as well. commingle with the locomotion of the soul and blend the vapours arising from them within it. finally.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 29 The effort ends up in madness and ignorance. the two main sources of the diseases of the soul. But where do pleasure and pain come from? Plato devotes a short section (64C8–65B5) to the explanation of pleasure and pain.1. not when it is in a natural state.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . and awareness is an activity of the rational part of the soul. This may involve that we feel appropriate pains insofar as they do not disturb the revolutions of the rational soul. then. Interestingly enough. We have to see that this account does not support the thesis that pleasure can be harmful unconditionally. The account recalls the thesis in the Philebus. which is the overwhelming intensity of pleasure or pain. it seems that when Plato speaks about them he states that they must reach reason in order that the animal can experience them (64B5–6). whereas mental retardation seems to be a lingering condition. the various types of disease result from the motions of the humours. are not really a separate source of psychic disease but only come into play when there is already a psychoso11 12 The term (ἀμαϑία) may not mean ‘mental retardation’ as P. bad forms of government. Diseases arise because of a certain condition of the body.12 There is no specific account of the pleasures and pains peculiar to the rational soul. To feel pleasure or pain is to be aware of the respective bodily changes. It is also striking that. returns to its natural state. Animals feel pain when suffering violent and unnatural change. and pleasure when getting back to their normal condition.

on Plato’s account. On discussing the effects of pleasures and pains Plato mentions various possibilities. Both depend on the same bodily conditions. in all likelihood. no reason to make any difference between the factors that underlie the two kinds of psychic disease. Thus Pigeaud (n. and the definition given in the pseudo-Galenic Definitiones medicales (ἔκστασις τῆς διανοίας. 67–69. then. 6).1. Pigeaud 1987. whereas the various types of madness constitute the phenomenal level of the same disease. although in a different way. It is like a tree overladen with fruit. It forms the cognitive basis of madness. There is. Plato does not specify which pleasure or pain underlies ignorance and which madness. If someone is carried away by such feelings he is in frenzy and at the same time his capacity for reasoning is lower. Price (n. For this reason. the words λυττᾷ and ἐμμανής signify the same condition. Now. Moreover.13 The second part of the answer draws on certain general considerations about the nature of the non-rational faculties of the soul. The revolutions of the soul would already have to be deranged to accept bad education or government as pleasant. I am trying to elaborate this point. but to pleasure and pain as well.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . One is frenzy (86C2). Madness involves a phenomenal component that is a result of the extent of the bodily disruption. To put it another way. ignorance and madness are not based on different conditions of the body. we cannot say that they form two entirely separate subclasses of psychic illness. it also turns out that abundance of the seed in the marrow leads not only to intemperate sexual desire. Consequently. We must also be clear that by this time μανία refers to a wide range of mental illnesses. of thoughtlessness.14 My suggestion is that they differ in that ignorance gives the cognitive basis of the disease. This all suggests that pleasure and pain underlie both ignorance and madness. the difference between them cannot be due to different bodily states. The suggestion may be further supported by the use of the terms λυττᾷ and ἐμμανής in the dialogue.16. see J. We cannot interpret the Timaeus theory as relegating ignorance to one bodily state and madness to another.15 Hence.30 Peter Lautner matic problem. it seems that all psychic dis13 14 15 I owe this point to the anonymous referee. It would seem to be only the meaning of bad arguments rather than the impact of the disparate words that could be at issue here. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. not kinds. If madness is a deviation of reason. the same disease has both a cognitive element and a phenomenal character. If. 6) suggests that they are aspects. XIX K 416) reflects earlier conceptions. Strangely enough. one might say that ignorance accompanies frenzy and madness alike. 53. and this seems to relate directly to the rational part of the soul. Those who experience intense pleasures and pains are maddened by them for most of their life (86C7). then we have evidence that Plato could get external support for his view that psychic diseases are perverted states of the rational soul. In what follows.

or that certain bodily conditions give rise to psychic phenomena that affect or even destroy our reasoning capacity.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 31 eases are derived from bodily states. Furthermore. Disorder may not only be due to the lack of control over appetite or spirit. 346. In this way. It does disturb the motions of the rational faculty. To weaken its effects. Plato does not allude to spirit and appetite as distinct parts of the soul. On speaking about disease of the soul. they made long entrails and coiled them around the abdomen to keep the consumed food within for a longer period. He does not claim that it disturbs any of the revolutions there. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172.16 First of all.17 One consequence of the damage is the formation of incorrect ethical beliefs. and there is one common genus for all of them: thoughtlessness. although not confined to a particular type of sensation. They may be due to external influences that cause excessive pleasure or pain which belong to the gravest diseases of the soul.1. we have to see that. These are material constituents. Plato is inclined to emphasise either that reason is exposed to external influences via perceptions. which is due to πάθη.b One may also doubt if thoughtlessness means the inability of the divine reason to gain control over the non-rational faculties of the soul. in turn. is due to the abundance of the seed.16. intemperance in sexual matters is also accompanied with intense pleasure and pain. One must realise here that Plato does not say that intemperance itself is responsible for any disease of the rational faculty. Although on Plato’s view such persons are unwillingly bad. however. and the preponderance of certain humours. and they may divert reason from right thinking. Cornford 1938. and not psychic forces. They are unable to master their passions. Unbridled attitude (ἀκολασία) in general is one of those diseases that were foreseen by the gods. that disorders of the rational faculties derive from three sources. Schuhl 19682. As a habit or attitude. whereas intemperance is the result or perhaps sign of the disturbance. we may be entitled to infer that the turbulence is due to the presence of intense pleasures or pains. Rather. This is why unbridled persons are called bad. which. and P. as it is in the case of pleasure and pain produced by affections. it shows that the problem has a 16 17 As has been stated by F. Among these conditions are the quantity of the seed in the marrow. insofar as they accompany them. Disorders in the revolutions of the rational soul may also arise when abundance of the seed results in sexual intemperance. What we find instead is a remark on the three seats of the soul (87A3–4). the main burden falls upon our rational faculties. M. As a matter of fact. see 72E3–73A5. 1. which does not exactly amount to saying that the soul consists of three parts that are functionally independent.-M. they are linked to sense-perceptions (64A1 ff. the primary form of disease affects reason and is due to incarnation. 116. as far as the diseases are concerned.). the porousness of the bones.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . It seems.

bile gathers around the liver.32 Peter Lautner clear ethical relevance. On hitting the region around the liver they cause discontent and ill-temper. 10). See Joubaud (n. At any rate. Although there is no doubt that their most precious target is the head. What kind of humours are they? It seems that for the most part they consist of phlegm and bile. it is vexed and wanders all over the body. μελαγχολικὸν τὸ τοιοῦτον. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172.19 He does not connect it to other diseases of the soul either. What his account suggests is rather that both share a causal origin in some bodily condition. § 23.1. which leads to epilepsy (85A5–B2). Plato does not mention any of the specific results that characterise psychic phenomena. nor does it cause rashness. while intrusion into the head results in forgetfulness and slowness to learn (not to mention the sacred disease). which is melancholy.18 Invasion of the heart gives rise to rashness or cowardice. The third source of disorder is the preponderance of certain humours. IV L 568 ἢν ϕόβος ἢ δυσθυμίη πολὺν χρόνον διατελῇ. Arising in the region around the liver. the presence of a large amount of bile in the region around the liver 18 19 Plato does not state it explicitly. This causes all sorts of other diseases as well. that slowness in learning and ill-temper may coincide. blocking up the passages of the breath. for a certain type of phlegm is the result of the combination of black and acid bile with a saline quality in the presence of the heat (83C5–7). Nothing rules out. Interestingly enough. If the womb remains infertile long beyond the due season. and that the rational faculties are very much involved in this process too. but this is how melancholy is described in the Hippocratic Aphorisms VI. but it causes different types of diseases depending on which of the seats they hit. Plato seems to suggest that the relation between diseases of the appetite and forgetfulness is not a direct causal link. while its causes are bodily. But it is far from clear whether hysteria is considered a psychic or a somatic disease. The impact may be the same. but their concurrence is due to the same underlying bodily factor. of course. 182. A mixture of white phlegm and black bile can spread over the revolutions in the head and disturb them. although there is an interaction between the rectilinear motions of the body and revolutions of the soul. Their failure is not intentional. They are under the influence of excessive pleasures and pains. What is also clear in all these descriptions is that on Plato’s view there is no direct causal interaction between the various states of the soul. discontent does not exert any influence on thinking.16. The description of hysteria in 91C–D is a peculiar case. They are not entirely different. thus with easy access to one of the seats of the soul (71B7–8). phlegm and bile can invade the other two seats of the soul as well. Plato does not credit intemperance with any causal efficiency in this matter.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . however.

both the passage about sexual intemperance and the section on the role of humours in the formation of certain attitudes indicate that the lower faculties are not in ‘a position to exert any influence on the revolutions of reason. We have to care for our reason by studying planetary motions and recognizing their proportionate nature. balance keeps its revolutions sound. Ill-temper does not produce slowness in learning. we do not find much detail as to how such disease occurs. 3. For the problem of how the imbalance between body and soul is related to ignorance. as learning is the business of the rational soul. One might answer that.1. cure is based on sense-perception. This point leads me over to the problem of how Plato accounts for the interaction between bodily ingredients and the soul. When the revolutions have lost their proportion and harmony. psychic therapy should also draw on the right understanding of the relation between body and soul (90A–D). in order to do this efficiently. which is the basic condition of learning (see also 90A–D). 2.21 Looking at the stars and listening to music with proper harmonies contribute to the restoration of the revolutions in the head. then. here we do not find any detailed explanation of this particular type of interaction. which cures not only madness but also helps us to get rid of ignorance. To conclude. Tusc. As a consequence.20 Listening to music is also beneficial. In the introductory sentences of the passage under investigation. But. The second principal thesis I am arguing for is that on Plato’s account of the diseases of the soul. reason can exercise control over the other activities because the revolutions impinge on other motions to make them more regular. the latter can be corrected if the person attends to the motions of heavenly bodies. Conversely.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM .16. 10 for a tacit recognition of that problem. Stok 1996.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 33 and in the head. There is no direct causal connection between the two psychic phenomena.22 By virtue of its healthy state. Only they know how to use it best. the motions of harmony are akin to the revolutions of our soul. any control reason can exert on such lower order psychic phenomena as ill-temper and cowardice has to be exercised on the bodily processes that underlie them. Like the circulations of the planets. 2282–2409. see F. it has to be in proper condition. 2357. Stok (at 2357) refers to Cicero. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. For a reference to the therapeutical side of music. the relation of the soul to the body 20 21 22 Plato stresses the benefit of the sense of sight in this respect in 47A3–4. 119. Although there are plenty of allusions in the dialogue to the way body and soul interact. As the revolutions of the All are akin to the revolutions of the human rational soul. see Schuhl (n. as we learn from 47C4–E2. esp. Music is given to those who can make intelligent use of the gifts of the Muses. All sorts of cures are described in physical terms. 6). music helps us to restore them to order and concord. Rhythm has been bestowed upon us for the same purposes. As Plato tells us in 90C–D.

49–50.34 Peter Lautner cannot be discussed in terms of a Cartesian distinction. esp. The physical interaction between body and soul has been argued for by Carone (n. esp. Even if it induces a motion constituting psychic activities. There is a division of opinion among interpreters of the Timaeus about what kind of relation between body and soul Plato is proposing here. it is most likely that it plays the same role in this passage too. though I hope I can add a new emphasis. They must be connected to the soul in a physical way. This means not only that we have affections caused by some object within or outside the body: what Plato emphasises here seems to be that the soul is directly hit by certain components of the body. which involves physical interaction. 239. 87–111. but it is very far from being clear that the activity of the rational soul can be described in terms of material processes. Plato says that they are also mixed up with the rational soul directly. Miller 1999. esp.26 This means that the incarnate soul cannot be active without the activity of some part of the body. Brisson 1999. The passage which rules out Cartesian dualism is 86E5–87A2. Vapours thus may be taken to be capable of distorting both the motions characteristic to the non-rational faculties and the revolutions of the rational soul. 83C7. 177–195. The thesis gets further support from the general claim in 88B6–C1 that the soul cannot be moved without moving the body. and show what kind of dualism we are dealing with here. Plato seems to content himself with the remark he actually makes. see D. 147–176.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM .1. They emit vapours and blend them with the motions of the soul. the humours exert considerable influence on the soul not only by emitting vapours.23 The main reason I am discussing it is that the result – the activity of the incarnate soul is necessarily accompanied by an activity of the body – contributes to the claim that psychic diseases arise from bodily impacts. 192. The key term by which he describes the process is συμμείξαντες. Johansen 2000. There is no allusion in this part of the Timaeus to an alternative explanation. so that each may be balanced by the other and so be sound. nor the body without the soul. at 92.16.24 However. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. ἵνα ἀμυνομένω γίγνησθον ἰσορρόπω καὶ ὑγιῆ. Thus the revolutions of the soul may also be conceived as being material in some way. 1. Phlegms and bilious humours are said to roam about the body and get in touch with the locomotions of the soul in various ways. 2005). see also Laws 678C8. μήτε τὴν ψυχὴν ἀνεῦ σώματος κινεῖν μήτε σῶμα ἀνεῦ ψυχῆς. The vapours are of a physical nature. Furthermore. as has been shown by Carone 2005b. In the dialogue. 239. 57D4. and T. For a criticism of Brisson’s approach. arousal of a certain kind of bodily 23 24 25 26 The relation between body and soul has been explained in terms of a certain type of dualism by L.25 Therefore. as in many other texts in Plato. the term signifies a physical interaction. This is far from being an original claim. otherwise we need an additional explanation of the way they affect it. and her paper 2005b.

Consisting of circular motions. by means of bodily alterations. see the much disputed passage of 41D4–7. and this is why Plato says that those who suffer from psychic illness cannot see or hear aright. The rational soul consists of revolutions. There is no fundamental difference between body and soul since they are capable of acting on one another. and the other qualities we perceive. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. but the point here may be to stress that. it has no share in reason but is guided by images and phantasms (71A5–6). First. then our judgemental capacity can also be changed. judgements can be made on other matters too. diseases affect our judgemental capacity. Because diseases of the soul are cognitive states. Nevertheless. for better or worse. In the case of disease. it is clearly not a Cartesian type of distinction between two radically different entities. that Plato’s account of psychic diseases rules out dualism altogether. It depends on the Demiurge for its existence. Their ultimate origin is either the upset of balance between body and soul. ϕαντασία cannot provide an epistemic resource that is independent of δόξα. The main problem in this respect is whether the appetitive faculty (τὸ ἐπιθυμητικόν) can have perception in the full sense. this would require that it possess quasi-perceptual capacities. this faculty cannot possess ϕαντασία either.27 This means that the rational individual soul and the body are separable. however. the rational soul must be extended. To be sure. We judge sights. in humans.1.16. dramatized in a certain way. 366. because of their cognitive nature. Given the Sophist’s conception of ϕαντασία συμμείξις ἀιοθήσεως καὶ δόξης in 264B2. This is not to say. dualism can be maintained with two restrictions only. the harmful effects come from the body. while body depends on the younger gods. At any 27 28 On the difference between World-Soul and individual human souls. they involve errors in judgement. sounds. the first of which hit it in the moment of incarnation. If disease comes from the body. Rather. it seems to respond to pleasure and pain due to the painting of the images that causes the liver to relax or contract. Plato admits that the rational individual soul existed before being thrown into the stream of the body (43A4–6). See Stalley (n. or the impact of bodily motions on the revolutions of reason at incarnation. it is not clear that the appetite is responding to the images on the liver as images.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM .Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 35 motion is inevitable. Moreover. exposing it to the influence of other types of motions. The practical conclusion is that body and soul must be given an equal share in exercise. 4). 77B3–C5). perception in the full sense involves the activity of reason.28 Of course. we can say that the rational human soul is ontologically prior to human body. Since Timaeus denies δόξα to the appetite (70E5–71B5. At the level of human beings at least. If we endorse the view that we are dealing with eternal structures. Second. which implies that they share a common nature.

the human soul cannot move without there being a respective movement in the body (88B6–C1). Their way of perceiving things is thus more primitive than human sense-perception. for Plato says that reason can communicate with it by the aid of motions. It might seem that soul is bound to the body in a certain manner. See M. 489–518.1. that Timaeus advocates a dualistic position that allows for an actual separation between body and soul? In brief. plants can also perceive pleasure and pain (77B3–C3) but this does not involve their seeing. after all. It seems. Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. does he admit that the soul can exist without the body? Once incarnated. see J. but for a detailed discussion with ample bibliography. Human sense-perception is an activity that involves the interference of the cognizant (τὸ ϕρονιμόν. I have argued for this point in detail in 2005.30 But that does not rule out that on occasion he is ready to specify its meaning. Plato underlines the difference between reason and the two non-rational parts by saying that the latter were created by the younger gods. hearing.36 Peter Lautner rate. F. Pradeau 1998. 3–8. we do not face similar problems. This is mostly the marrow where the revolutions of the rational soul contact the rectilinear motions of the body. It refers not only to the apprehension of the five kinds of perceptual qualities. and other heavenly beings responsible for the cycles of generation in the physical world. The non-rational parts of the soul are the result of embodiment. F. esp. the non-rational capacities may be nothing but certain states or movements of bodily tissues that are well-disposed to receive and transmit the circular movements of the rational soul. In 43C6 the term αἴσθησις may cover all sorts of effects that reach the body.32 What reason is there to think. 148. It is definitely bound to it for its activities in the incarnate state. to include cases of awareness involving the body. Neither can the body move without some activity of the soul. However. not images. that all these conditions obtain only when the soul is in the body. and F. Once incar- 29 30 31 32 As far as the spirited faculty is concerned. which Plato does not equate with any of the peculiar objects of the particular senses. Karfík 2005. the Sun. 235–255. Silvermann 1990. they can also act upon the revolutions of reason. at 4.16. and A. but also to grasping pleasure and pain. smelling. Frede 1987. In addition. and they perish at death. it might be absurd to say that appetite sees the images on the liver. which necessarily involves awareness. although not for its existence. tasting or touching. however. I cannot argue for this case here. Fronterotta 2006. Its diseases are due to the harmful impacts arising in. Their impulses are structured in conformity with the nature and needs of the body (70D7–8). 64B4–5). or arriving through the body.31 By contrast. 146–148 with an explanation of the physiological processes between reason and the mortal parts of the soul. 148–175. or to constitute awareness of something corporeal.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . not the sensory processes alone.29 It has been shown that Plato employs the term αἴσθησις to allude to a wide range of activities. Moon.

the construction of the rational human soul precedes the construction of the human body. we are bound to accept the priority of the soul over the body. This is the dilemma which we have to decide about. fishes and birds alike. Plato seems to account for the psychic diseases in terms of physical impacts on the revolutions of the rational soul. F. which is caused by the intrusion of rectilinear movements from the physical world. it is ontologically prior to the body. As Plato says at the end of the dialogue (90E6–92C3). Brought to you by | Pontificia Universidad (Pontificia Universidad) Authenticated | 172. depending on what they fail to do in this life. as their revolutions have been distorted by misuse (91E6–92A2). one has to see clearly that the soul can have no other sort of disease. The human soul can reside in land animals.226 Download Date | 6/28/12 11:15 PM . Nevertheless. it depends on the body insofar as it cannot do so without the cooperation of bodily parts.33 The distinction between an incarnate and a discarnate existence of the human soul explains not only the appearance of different impulses that link us to bodies.Plato’s Account of the Diseases of the Soul in Timaeus 86B1–87B9 37 nated. most recently by M. To sum up. If the rational soul consists of revolutions that are spatial and exposed to external influences. there is no compelling reason to treat the soul as an entity indwelling a single particular body. 33 Similar suggestions have been made. Plato’s account has its roots in his overall description of the generation and incarnation of the soul. and H. On the Timaeus account. or. All sorts of disease are due to such influences. In a discarnate state the soul is healthy. and embodiment is responsible for the initial disturbance of the revolutions. The revolutions do not require a specific organ of the human body. But Plato has nothing to say about this possibility except that the skulls of land animals are not spherical but elongated. while the mortal parts are additions due to embodiment. the human soul may not be tied to a particular type of body. But whichever of the options we may take. Burnyeat 2006.16. These revolutions constitute the core of the soul. and the decision depends on which of the two main trends of the interpretation of the κοσμοποιία-myth we are going to join. and disease arises as an inevitable result of incarnation (43C4–7). It is impossible to describe psychic diseases without reference to the disorder in the revolutions. Although one is perfectly entitled to claim that in the Timaeus Plato considers psychic disorders as psychosomatic disorders. Consequently. then we are left with the option of explaining diseases of the soul in terms of an interaction between the revolutions themselves and the external impacts. even if one may insist that it has to reside in a bodily part with a similar structure. but also the occurrence of psychic diseases in general.1. to put it another way. Lorenz 2006. at death the soul of men leaves the body and may transmigrate into other kinds of bodies. on different grounds.

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