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

Home > The Tripartite Soul & Social Theory > The Tripartite Soul

 Site Map | Archaeology | History | Historical Biography | Quotations & Quotes | Social Psychology | Download 

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 Vedanta
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
.
Spirituality
& the wider world
.
Some
Social Theory
speculations
.
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

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Matthew 5: 1-19

 

An encouragement of mild forbearance

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus Matthew 5: 38-48

 

A litany against materialistic worldliness

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus Matthew 6: 24-34

 

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

The Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower is, perhaps, the most "Enlightenment" related teaching of Jesus!!!

   Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times."

Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." ...


... Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear."
Jesus' teaching ~ as set out in St Mark's gospel Chapter 4


The Parable of the Sower actually features in three of the four, primary, "Canonical" Gospels - such that it is possible to attempt to derive deeper meaning by presenting the following alternative ending ~

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
~ as set out in St Luke's gospel Chapter 8

This "Parable of the Sower" could be said to suggest that Enlightenment does not appear to be Intellectual but may principally arise from keeping to spiritual teachings!!!

Return to quotations menu





  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


[It is widely known that Allah's faithful are expected to pray five times a day, and it is widely believed that they are expected to face the city of Mecca in doing so.
It is actually the case that it is the Ka'ba, and not the city, that is the (global) focus of those countless prayers-to-Allah]!
   

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


 

  Jalaluddin Rumi
and the tripartite soul

 

 

Return to quotations menu




  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 -

... the pleasures that come from the world bear in them sorrows to come. They come and they go, they are transient: not in them do the wise find joy.
But he who on this earth, before his departure, can endure the storms of desire and wrath, this man is a Yogi, this man has joy.
He has inner joy, he has inner gladness, and he has found inner Light. This Yogi attains the Nirvana of Brahman: he is one with God and goes unto God.
Holy men reach the Nirvana of Brahman: their sins are no more, their doubts are gone, their soul is in harmony, their joy is in the good of all.
Because the peace of God is with them whose mind and soul are in harmony, who are free from desire and wrath, who know their own soul.

Bhagavad Gita 5: 22-26


 

Return to quotations menu



  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

 
 

Return to quotations menu




  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

 

 
 

Return to quotations menu




  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.
  Certainly.
  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.
  True.
  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.

Pythagoras was a prominent figure in the intellectual life of the Greek world of the sixth century B.C.
Alongside his genuine contributions to mathematics and geometry Pythogoras is also considered to have recognised that there was evidently a "three-way" complexity to human natures:-

 Pythagoras who, according to Heraclides of Pontus, the pupil of Plato and a learned man of the first rank, came, the story goes, to Philus and with a wealth of learning and words discussed certain subjects with Leon the ruler of the Philasians. And Leon after wondering at his talent and eloquence asked him to name the art in which he put most reliance. But Pythagoras said that for his part he had no acquaintance with any art, but was a philosopher. Leon was astonished at the novelty of the term and asked who philosophers were and in what they differed from the rest of the world.

 Pythagoras, the story continues, replied that the life of man seemed to him to resemble the festival which was celebrated with most magnificent games before a concourse collected from the whole of Greece. For at this festival some men whose bodies had been trained sought to win the glorious distinction of a crown, others were attracted by the prospect of making gains by buying or selling, whilst there was on the other hand a certain class, and that quite the best class of free-born men, who looked neither for applause no gain, but came for the sake of the spectacle and closely watched what was done and how it was done: So also we, as though we had come from some city to a kind of crowded festival, leaving in like fashion another life and nature of being, entered upon this life, and some were slaves of ambition, some of money; there were a special few who, counting all else as nothing, ardently contemplated the nature of things. These men he would call "lovers of wisdom" (for that is the meaning of the word philo-sopher).
(Pythagoras was an acknowledged wordsmith and is often credited with originating the term "Philosopher")!


Return to quotations menu



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

 

Return to quotations menu





It is one of those fables which out of an unknown antiquity convey an unlooked-for wisdom, that the gods, in the beginning, divided Man into men, that he might be more helpful to himself; just as the hand was divided into fingers, the better to answer its end.

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is One Man,--present to all particular men only partially, or through one faculty; and that 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. The fable implies that the individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But, unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - (from his The American Scholar)



Return to quotations menu





So we have the teachings or the works of -

  Jesus
also known as the Christ and the Redeemer.

  Rúmí
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.

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

  Pythagoras
the originator of the term "philosopher".

  Socrates & Plato
undeniably amongst the most significant of philosophers.

  Shakespeare
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