Plato on Divinization and the Divinity of the Rational Part of the Soul

Plato Journal 21:87-95 (2021)


Three distinct reasons that Plato calls the rational part of the soul “divine” are analyzed: its metaphysical kinship with the Forms, its epistemological ability to know the Forms, and its ethical capacity to live by them. Supposing these three divine aspects of the rational part are unified in the life of each person, they naturally suggest a process of divinization or “becoming like god” according to which a person, by living more virtuously, which requires increasingly better knowledge of the Forms, gradually becomes united with them. This process of divinization is in fact found throughout the middle and late dialogues, including the Phaedo, Republic, Symposium, Phaedrus, Timaeus, and the Laws. This synoptic view of the Platonic idea of divinization provides a standard according to which misplaced emphasis, flaws, and tension created by other interpretations are criticized and corrected.

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References found in this work

The Ideal of Godlikeness.David Sedley - 1999 - In Gail Fine (ed.), Plato 2: Ethics, Politics, Religion, and the Soul. Oxford University Press. pp. 309-328.
After the Ascent: Plato on Becoming Like God.John M. Armstrong - 2004 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26:171-183.
Virtue as "Likeness to God" in Plato and Seneca.Daniel C. Russell - 2004 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (3):241-260.

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