Plato’s Chariot Allegory

What is Plato’s Chariot Allegory?

Imagine your mind is a chariot with a driver and two horses. This is what Plato’s Chariot Allegory is all about. One horse is good and listens well, like the part of your thoughts that helps you do what’s right. The other horse is wild, like the feelings you have that might lead you to make bad choices. The driver is like your ability to think and make decisions. In this ancient story, Plato, a famous philosopher from Greece, wanted to show how we struggle to make good choices when our emotions and desires pull us in different ways.

The driver (our reasoning) has to control the horse that doesn’t listen (our wild feelings) while working with the good horse (our better instincts). Just like driving a real chariot, it’s tough to manage but important to keep everything in balance and heading toward the right direction. Plato used this idea to explain that to live a good life, we should lean on our ability to think and understand instead of just going with what we feel like doing.

Key Arguments

  • Three Parts of the Soul: Plato thought our soul is made up of three parts: the part that thinks, the part that feels strongly (like courage), and the part that wants things (like food or fun).
  • Inner Conflict: These parts don’t always get along which means we often feel torn inside about what we want to do.
  • Reason is the Boss: The thinking part should be in charge to help us grow wiser and make the best choices.
  • Chaos from Desire: When our impulsive wants take over, it gets messy, and it’s harder for us to do what’s truly best for us.
  • Balance is Key: Learning and living wisely helps us balance all parts of our soul, so they don’t fight with each other.

Why is it Important?

The Chariot Allegory is not just some old, dusty idea; it’s actually super useful when thinking about how we live today. For instance, when we’re trying to decide between studying for an important test or playing video games all night, this allegory reminds us of the struggle between our long-term goals and short-term fun. Mastering this balance can lead to doing well in school, forming better relationships, and moving towards a successful, happy life.

Think about New Year’s resolutions. Every year, people want to get fit, study more, or save money. And almost every time, these goals are forgotten because our unruly horse – those unplanned desires and temptations – gets in the way. If we use reason as our charioteer, we can make better choices like exercising regularly or saving a little bit from every allowance, turning resolutions into real results.

Answer or Resolution

To sum it up, if we want to win the battle of making good choices, according to Plato, we need to educate our driver – our reasoning. The more we teach it through learning and practicing good habits, the better it can control the wild horse, help the good horse, and keep our chariot racing towards the stars – meaning, living a life that makes us proud.

Major Criticism

Some people think Plato’s idea is too simple. The brain is super complex, and there’s a lot to learn about why we do what we do. Plus, it’s hard to say that thinking should always beat feeling. Emotions are a big part of what makes life rich and full, and sometimes the heart should win over the mind. And of course, the old ideas about the universe and our soul flying up to hang out with perfect ideas called “the forms” isn’t something everyone believes anymore.


  • Self-Control: Just like when you resist the urge to eat a whole cake by yourself, you’re exercising self-control, keeping your desires in check.
  • Moral Education: When adults teach kids about right and wrong, they’re trying to strengthen the good horse that guides the chariot towards good behavior.
  • Mental Health: Therapists often talk about finding balance in life, which is just like the driver trying to keep both horses going the same direction.
  • Leadership: A good boss has to make sure the team isn’t too focused on just making money (the unruly horse) but also cares about doing the right thing (the obedient horse).

Related Topics

  • Socratic Dialogue: This is how Plato wrote down his ideas, making characters talk to each other to explore big questions, just like in the “Phaedrus.”
  • Virtue Ethics: A way of thinking about right and wrong that focuses on what kind of person we should be, not just what actions we should take.
  • The Forms: Plato’s idea that beyond our world, there’s a place with perfect versions of everything, which we try to understand to make sense of life here.
  • Modern Psychology: Today, we study how the mind works, and some ideas come from thinking like Plato’s about our different impulses.
  • Philosophy of the Mind: A field of philosophy that deals with understanding what consciousness is and how our mind and body work together.


In the end, Plato’s Chariot Allegory is all about the tough job of finding a balance in life. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it to learn how to manage our different sides. When we do, we can achieve our goals, feel good about who we are, and understand the world a little better. Even though it’s an ancient story, it still gives us a lot to think about as we drive our own chariots every day. That’s why it’s still talked about — because it teaches a lesson that’s about being human, no matter what time we live in.