The Soul’s Tomb: Plato on the Body as the Cause of Psychic Disorders

Apeiron 55 (1):119-139 (2022)
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Abstract

I argue that, according to Plato, the body is the sole cause of psychic disorders. This view is expressed at Timaeus 86b in an ambiguous sentence that has been widely misunderstood by translators and commentators. The goal of this article is to offer a new understanding of Plato’s text and view. In the first section, I argue that although the body is the result of the gods’ best efforts, their sub-optimal materials meant that the soul is constantly vulnerable to the body’s influences. In the second section, I argue that every psychic disorder is a disruption of the motions of the inner psychic circles by the body; moreover, I defend my translation of 86b. In the final section, I argue that the goal of education is to restore the circles to their original orbits, and I disarm a possible objection that bad education is also a cause of psychic disorder.

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Douglas R. Campbell
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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