Soul as the Sole Determinant of Human Personality in Plato and Yoruba Traditional Thought

Bosede Adefiola Adebowale


The soul, as a concept, has been a subject of philosophical inquiry in ancient, medieval and modern history of ideas. There is no universal agreement on the nature or purpose of the soul. Thus, the term “soul” has been given various definitions according to the philosophical theories and cultural perspectives in which it is defined. Soul, according to many religious and philosophical traditions, is the “self-aware essence” unique to a particular living being. In these traditions, the soul is believed to incorporate the inner essence of each living being. Both Plato and the Yoruba consider the soul as the immaterial element that, together with the material body, constitutes the human individual. Plato in The Republic presents a tripartite soul which harmonious interaction produces an esteemed human personality. This Plato’s idea mirrors the notion of the Yoruba that a man’s soul is the reflection of his personality. The word ‘soul’ has been investigated from divergent thematic perspectives ─ invisibility, intangibility, immortality and reincarnation ─ but this paper sets as its task to examine the Platonic and Yoruba presentations of the soul as the sole determinant of human personality.


Soul; Human Personality; Plato; Yoruba

Full Text:



Abimbola, K. (2006). Yoruba culture: A philosophical account. Birmingham Academic Publishers.

Abimbola, W. (1971). (On the Yoruba Concept of Human Personality) La Notion de personnel en Afrique Noire. Paris Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique.

Abimbola, W. (1976). Ifa, an exposition of ifa literary corpus, London: Oxford University Press.

Annas, J. (1981). An introduction to Plato’s republic. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Awolalu, J. O. (1979). Yoruba beliefs and sacrificial rites. London, Longman.

Awolalu, J. O., & Dopamu, P. A. (2005). West African traditional religion. Ibadan: Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd.

Balogun, O. A. (2010). “Orí” as the sole determinant of human personality in traditional Yoruba –African Thought. Lumina, (21), ISSN 2094-1188.

Bascom, W. (1970). The Yoruba of southern Nigeria. New York: Praeger Publishers.

Idowu, B. (1973). African traditional religions. London: SCM Press.

Idowu, B. (1996). Olódùmarè God in Yoruba Belief. Longman, Nigeria.

Cooper, J. M., & Hutchinson, D. S. (Eds.). (1997). Plato: Complete Works. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Ekanola, A. B. (2006). A Naturalistic Interpretation of the Yoruba Concept of Ori. Philosophia Africana, 9(1), 41-52.

Gbadegesin, S. (1984). Destiny personality and the ultimate reality of human existence “a Yoruba perspective”. Ultimate Reality and Meaning, 7(3).

Gbadegesin, S. (1991). African philosophy: Traditional Yoruba philosophy and contemporary African realities. New York: Peter Lang.

Grube, G. M. A. (1992). Plato: Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.

Hallen, B., & Sodipo, O. (1986) Knowledge, belief and witchcraft: Analytical experiment in African philosophy. London: Ethnographical.

Hsu, H. Y. A. (2004). A virtuous ruler. Fu Jen Studies: Colleges of Liberal Arts & fine Arts, 34, 315-328.

Hsu, H.Y. A. (2007). The Harmony of the Soul. Fu Jen Studies: Colleges of Liberal Arts & fine Arts,37, 139-159.

Jowett, M. A. (1956). Plato’s the republic. New York: The Modern Library.

Koseemani, S. (2009). An Interview granted in May 13

Makinde, M. A. (2007). An African concept of human personality: The Yoruba example reprinted from Ultimate Reality and Meaning (Toronto, Canada), (September, 1984) 7( 3), 189-200.

Rotimi, O. (1971). The Gods are not to Blame. Oxford University Press.

Oladipo, O. (1986). Predestination in Yoruba thought: Philosopher’s interpretation. Orita: Journal of Religion XXIV (102). Ibadan: University Press.

Oladipo, O. (1992). The Yoruba concept of a person: An analytico-philosophical study. International Studies in Philosophy, XXIV(3).

Oyeshile, O. A. (2006). The physical and non physical in Yoruba’s concept of the person. Philosophia De Sellentt, 35(2).

Rouse, W. H. D. (1957). Great dialogues of Plato. Modern Translation. In H. Warmington & P. G. Rouse (Eds.). The New American Library, New York.

Sanford, J. A. (1991). Soul journey. Crossroad Publishing Co.

Stalley, R. F. (1975). Plato’s argument for the division of the reasoning and appetitive elements within the soul. Phronesis, XX, 110-206.

Thomas, L. P. (1980). The laws of plato. New York Basic Books, Inc., Publishers.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2014 Bosede Adefiola Adebowale

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Online Submission:

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use four mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;;

 Articles published in Cross-Cultural Communication are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture