soul tripartite, Pythagoras, Shakespeare, world faiths
[tripartite soul, Plato]
the Sermon on the Mount, human nature, Tripartite Soul

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The tripartite soul
view of human nature

Several world faiths, Pythagoras, Socrates and his friend Plato,
Shakespeare and Ralph Waldo Emerson ALL agree!!!
and so ~ it would seem ~ does science!!!

  If the truth is told it is Philosophy (Pythagoras and Socrates / Plato) rather than Religion that is seen as having the strongest tradition of endorsing a tripartite soul view of human nature BUT the increasing availability of translations of Central world faiths texts allows for a presentation of the consistent way in which several important world faiths also strongly endorse a tripartite view of human nature!!!  

Click on these links to review quotations about
"Spirituality and the wider world"
drawn from World Faiths and other sources as indicated :-


Christianity Islam Hinduism Buddhism Sikhism Socrates
& Plato
Pythagoras Shakespeare Emerson


Serious scientific studies have also detected
a Tripartite Soul presentation of Human Nature

Dr. William Sheldon
Human Personality traits
The New York Longitudinal Study
Alexander Thomas, Stella Chess, Herbert G. Birch
Introductory quotations
& the wider world
Social Theory
Emerson's "Transcendental" approach to History
The Social Construction of Reality

  Jesus' keynote teaching is known as the Sermon on the Mount. Inherent to the Sermon on the Mount is an undeniable assertion, in Jesus' own words, of the relativity of our personal capacities for spiritual expression and progress.

The Sermon on the Mount

  The Sermon on the Mount can be regarded as being composed of several themes including-

An invocation towards leading a spiritually centred life

An encouragement of mild forbearance

A litany against materialistic worldliness

An invocation towards leading
a spiritually centred life

  And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
  And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
  "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Matthew 5: 1- 19


An encouragement of mild forbearance

  Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.
  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you;
  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans do the same?
  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus Matthew 5: 38- 48


A litany against materialistic worldliness

  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?
  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
  Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus Matthew 6: 24-34


  See also the other "Central" teaching of Jesus:-

The Parable of the Sower


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  The results of Comparative Religion investigation allows us to state that several World Faiths other than Christianity also assert views about spirituality comparable to that implicit to the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Sower - i.e. that human nature is a compound of several elements.

  The Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi is an overtly religious work formed within an Islamic context more than seven hundred years ago.

  In the Masnavi there are several passages which suggest that personal spirituality is relative -

  The monk said, "I am searching everywhere for a man
Who lives by the life of the breath of God."
The other said, "Here are men the Bazaar is full;
These are surely men, O enlightened sage!"
The monk said, "I seek a man who walks straight
As well in the road of anger as in that of lust.
Where is one who shows himself a man in anger and lust?
In search of such an one I run from street to street.
If there be one who is a true man in these two states,
I will yield up my life for him this day!"

Masnavi Book 5 Story 10

    The Ka'ba is a singularly important Islamic shrine which stands in the court of the Great Mosque of Mecca and is a site of pilgrimage for all Muslims.

  The Ka'ba, whose renown waxes greater every moment,
Owes its foundation to the piety of Abraham.
Its glory is not derived from stones and mortar,
But from being built without lust or strife.

Masnavi Book 4 Story 2


  See more, similarly directed, quotations from the Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi:-


  Jalaluddin Rumi
and the tripartite soul



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  Hinduism or Vedanta is another of the World Faiths which imputes a multi-faceted character to human "existential being".

In the Bhagavad Gita we read -

Arjuna spoke.
  But by what is a man impelled, O Varshneya! when he commits sin even against his will, as if compelled by force?

The Holy One spoke.
  It is lust: it is wrath, born from the "passion" mode: know that this, all-devouring, all-defiling, is here our foe.

Bhagavad Gita 3: 36- 37

and again -

  He who even here, ere he is freed from the body, can resist the impulse of lust and wrath, he is devout (yukta); he is blessed.
  He who is happy in himself, pleased with himself, who finds also light in himself, this Yogin, one with Brahma, finds nirvãna in him.
  The (wise and holy men) whose sins are destroyed, whose doubts are removed, who are self-restrained and pleased with the well-being of all that live, obtain nirvãna in Brahma.
  They who are freed from lust and wrath, who are subdued in nature and in thought, and who know the soul, are near to nirvãna in Brahma.

Bhagavad Gita 5: 22-26

  (Note:   In the second of these quotations "Brahma" should be read "Brahman")

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  Buddhism also joins with Christianity, Islam, and Vedanta in suggesting that human behaviors have several identifiable tendencies -

  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who does not cling to pleasures, like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who, even here, knows the end of his suffering, has put down his burden, and is unshackled.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana whose knowledge is deep, who possesses wisdom, who knows the right way and the wrong, and has attained the highest end.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who keeps aloof both from laymen and from mendicants, who frequents no houses, and has but few desires.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who finds no fault with other beings, whether feeble or strong, and does not kill nor cause slaughter.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who is tolerant with the intolerant, mild with fault-finders, and free from passion among the passionate.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana from whom anger and hatred, pride and envy have dropt like a mustard seed from the point of a needle.

Dhammapada V. 401-407


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  Sikhism proves to be yet another major religion which suggests that human behaviors have three identifiable tendencies -

  With lust and with anger,
The city, that is thy body
Is full to the brim.
Meet as saint and destroy
That lust and that anger.


From Sohila-Arti ~ a bed-time prayer
This section of which is attributed to Guru Ram Das


and again -


  Root out the choking weeds
Of lust and anger;
Loosening the soil,
The more thou hoest and weedest,
The more lovely grows thy soul;


Rag Basant, page 1171



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  Ancient, classical, Greek philosophy also evidences cogent suggestions that human nature is complex with that complexity following the pattern set out in the teachings and texts of several World Faiths:-

  Plato was a pupil and friend of the greek philosopher Socrates. Amongst the many works attributed to Plato's authorship is his "The Republic" wherein is set out a series of discourses that allegedly took place between Socrates and a number of other persons who variously arrived and departed as the discussions continued. (Plato may actually have been putting his own ideas in Socrates' mouth!!!) 
  It is in this record, made by Plato, of "Socrates? " philosophising that most intriguing themes are developed -

  ...can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
  This then is a fact so far, and one which it is not difficult to apprehend.
  No, it is not.
  But here begins a difficulty. Are all our actions alike performed by the one predominant faculty, or are there three faculties operating severally in our different actions? Do we learn with one internal faculty, and become angry with another, and with a third feel desire for all the pleasures connected with eating and drinking, and the propagation of the species; or upon every impulse to action, do we perform these several actions with the whole soul…

Socrates à la Plato's Republic Book 4

    ...As there are three parts, so there appear to me to be three pleasures, one appropriate to each part; and similarly three appetites, and governing principles.
  Explain yourself.
  According to us, one part was the organ whereby a man learns, and another that whereby he shews spirit. The third was so multiform that we were unable to address it by a single appropriate name; so we named it after that which is its most important and strongest characteristic. We called it appetitive, on account of the violence of the appetites of hunger, thirst, and sex, and all their accompaniments; and we called it peculiarly money-loving, because money is the chief agent in the gratification of such appetites.
  Yes, we were right.
  Then if we were to assert that the pleasure and the affection of this third part have gain for their object, would not this be the best summary of the facts upon which we should be likely to settle by force of argument, as a means of conveying a clear idea to our own minds, whenever we spoke of this part of the soul? And shall we not be right in calling it money-loving and gain-loving?
  I confess I think so, he replied.
  Again, do we not maintain that the spirited part is wholly bent on winning power and victory and celebrity?
  Certainly we do.
  Then would the title of strife-loving and honour-loving be appropriate to it?
  Yes, most appropriate?
  Well, but with regard to the part by which we learn, it is obvious to everyone that its entire and constant aim is to know how the truth stands, and that this of all the elements of our nature feels the least concern for wealth and reputation.
  Yes, quite the least.
  Then shall we not do well to call it knowledge-loving and wisdom-loving?
  Of course we shall.
  Does not this last reign in the souls of some persons, while in the souls of other people one or other of the two former, according to circumstances is dominant?
  You are right.
  And for these reasons may we assert that men may be primarily classed as lovers of wisdom, of strife, and of gain?
  Yes, certainly.
  And that there are three kinds of pleasure, respectively underlying the three classes?
  Exactly so.
  Now are you aware, I continued, that if you choose to ask three such men each in his turn, which of these lives is pleasantest, each will extol his own beyond the others? Thus the money-making man will tell you, that compared with the pleasures of gain, the pleasures of being honoured or of acquiring knowledge are worthless, except in so far as they can produce money.
  But what of the honour-loving man? Does he not look upon the pleasure derived from money as a vulgar one, while, on the other hand, he regards the pleasure derived from learning as a mere vapour and absurdity unless honour be the fruit of it.
  That is precisely the case.
  And must we not suppose that the lover of wisdom regards all other pleasures as, by comparison, very far inferior to the pleasure of knowing how the truth stands, and of being constantly occupied with this pursuit of knowledge…

  Socrates à la Plato's Republic Book 9

  Pythagoras also, in earlier times, advanced a similar view of human nature.

  In 518 B.C. Pythagoras travelled west and during his journey reputedly had a significant interview with the prominent ruler Leon of Philus whilst both were attending some public Games.
  King Leon was most impressed by Pythagoras' range of knowledge and asked which of the arts he was most proficient in. Pythagoras replied that, rather than being proficient in any art, he regarded himself as being a philosopher.
  King Leon had never heard this term before and asked for an explanation.
  This is the recorded reply:-

Life, Prince Leon, may well be compared with these public Games for in the vast crowd assembled here some are attracted by the acquisition of gain, others are led on by the hopes and ambitions of fame and glory. But among them are a few who have come to observe and to understand all that passes here. It is the same with life. Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philosopher for although no man is completely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature's secrets.

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The stunningly insight-full Bard of Avon has something worthwhile to contribute to this review -

  O! what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite, down!

William Shakespeare

and again -

  There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee.

William Shakespeare


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... you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state these functions are parcelled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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So we have the teachings or the works of -

also known as the Christ and the Redeemer.

very possibly the greatest Mystical Poet in history.

  The Bhagavad Gita
perhaps the most important of Hindu texts.

  The Dhammapada
one of the most important of Buddhist texts.

which has grown from Vedic-Hindu and Islamic roots to independently become a major faith in terms of its tens of millions of adherents.

the originator of the term "philosopher".

  Socrates & Plato
undeniably amongst the most significant of philosophers.

probably the most omniscient of secular writers.

  Ralph Waldo Emerson
who has been described by one of his biographers as having become "the leading voice of intellectual culture in the United States".

  ...all either implicitly or explicitly imparting the unmistakable idea that each person's capacity for spirituality is one - amongst other! - potentialities of behaviour.

  We have then, from a Comparative Religion survey of the teachings of several World Faiths, from Philosophy, and from Poetry, (and also from Common Sense based on experience!!!), more than sufficient grounds for accepting that there exists a range of particularly evident human behavioural potentialities or proclivities.

  Who can doubt but that human nature
is both complex and multi-faceted?

The following link leads to some speculations based on the complex, but consistent, view of Human Nature as supported by several World Faiths, by Pythagoras, by Plato, and by Shakespeare.    

Some social theory speculations
based on Humanity's tripartite soul


Start of
Pythagoras - Plato - Shakespeare
world faiths and the Tripartite Soul