The Tyrannical Soul

The tyrant is the man, or woman, I suppose whose lawless pleasure take control. When such is the case there is no matter of sin that this person will consider repulsive. They are utterly devoid of all sense of shame and reason. This person “in a word, falls short of no extreme of folly and shamelessness.” (571 D) He becomes drunken, erotic, maniacal. (573 C) After describing the tyrannical man and how such a man is raised, Plato turns his attention to the constitution of the man by drawing parallels between the tyrannical state and the tyrannical man. From his examination of the tyrannical state Plato concludes that although some small minority appears free and happy, the vast majority is oppressed and wretched. He thus infers that likewise the tyrannical man is enslaved.

Judging the tyrannical man to be like the tyrannical city, Plato says this, “that the real tyrant is really enslaved to cringings and servitudes beyond compare.” (579 E) The idea here is that although the tyrannical man appears to be indulging all his appetites hedonistically, he actually is only indulging a select group of his appetites. Namely, the lawless ones that ought to be governed with reason. Instead these lawless appetites enslave the tyrannical man and contrary to appearances, or perhaps even what the man himself believes, the majority of his soul is enslaved and oppressed. It is in this sense I think that Christians are “free to do good.” It seems to me that there are strong parallels between the tyrannical man and the “unsaved” man. Both are slaves to passions and desires that dominate them.

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