The first part of Socrates’ tripartite soul is desire. Socrates considers desire to be the appetite one has for basic wants and needs (439d). Desire functions in the interest of pleasure and satiation, and it does so without respect to consequence. Desire is also not capable of distinguishing the type of or how much of an object it craves. For instance, desire cannot determine if it wants a hot or cold drink, only that it wants a drink (437d). If the soul or body craves something, desire is only concerned with quenching the appet...
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...e, which would dictate that stealing is immoral.
The final aspect of the soul is spirit. Spirit’s function is to encourage a person to act on what reason has established to be in the person’s best interest, and its virtue is that of courage. As reason will have established the person should steal the bread, if he or she does so, then spirit will have performed its function. Furthermore, as a person risks punishment for the theft, it can be said that he or she is acting in a courageous manner.
Through this example, it has been established that each part of the soul can perform its function even while acting in an unjust manner. However, Socrates’ final assertion, a person will always be better off acting justly, needs to be addressed. In this most dire and extreme case, a person will undoubtedly be better off stealing the bread, as the alternative is starvation.
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