Socrates then remarks that the slave now knows the proof, and yet he has not told him anything. He concludes his remarks on this subject by referring again to the so-called doctrine of opposites and pointing out that pairs of opposites such as "hot and cold," "day and night," "life and death," and similar ones are not changed one into the other. In a rather lengthy reply to Cebes, Socrates reviews some of his own experiences in trying to find the meaning of life through a study of the physical sciences. However, Cebes objects that if life is divinely directed, its continuance is desirable and voluntary escape from it would be folly. For I deem that the true discipline of philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other men; they do not perceive that he is ever pursuing death and dying; and if this is true, why, having had the desire of death all his life long, should he repine at the arrival of that which he has been always pursuing and desiring?" When asked in what way he would like to be buried, Socrates replied, "In any way that you like; only you must get hold of me, and take care that I do not walk away from you." They were beginning to wonder whether anything was to be gained by argumentation since apparently it was leading to no definite conclusion. . Show More. When a man dies, the body, which is the visible part of man, becomes dissolved and decomposed, but the same cannot be said of the soul. Without this awareness of the meaning of universals, the whole process of knowing would be impossible. This is why the person who is in love with knowledge knows that his heart's desire will be achieved either after death or not at all. Now that the philosopher's attitude toward death has been explained satisfactorily, Simmias remarks that the existence of the soul after death appears to have been assumed without any evidence or proof to support such a belief. Since the living come from the dead and the dead come from the living, it follows that the souls of the dead must be in some place out of which they come again. This is not necessarily the case. He is in agreement with most of the argument, but he questions the premise on which much of it is based. When he was young, he became interested in the natural sciences, for he believed they could help him to understand the causes of things and to know why they were created or destroyed. Each absolute is pure or self-identical, unique, eternal, and perfect in its kind—because ultimately it is the kind in reality and not simply by definition for the sake of classification. Was it not true that there are evil souls as well as good ones? According to this view, the world is made up of pairs of opposites such as hot and cold, great and small, good and bad. It is conceivable that the body is a composite thing, the parts of which are strung or held together by the elements of hot and cold, wet and dry, and that the soul is the harmony, or due proportionate admixture, of them. This holds of all opposites. He is not convinced that there are sufficient reasons for believing in the continued existence of the soul following the death of the body. Plato wrote approximately thirty dialogues. The one that is often referred to as epiphenomenalism is introduced by Simmias, and the other one, which involves a mechanistic conception of life and the world, is presented by Cebes. Are there both good and bad souls, and if so, what constitutes the difference between them? The fact that his wife, Xanthippe, and their infant son were excluded from the company of visitors who had arrived at the prison on the last day of his life has sometimes been regarded as evidence of harshness in his attitude toward them. Only those who are true lovers of wisdom and who are pure at the time of departing will be permitted to dwell with the gods. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. They are unchanging and they cannot be perceived by the senses. Even though it is of an invisible and heavenly nature, it will perish sooner than what remains of the broken lyre and its cut strings. Taken as a whole, the subject matter of the dialog is Socrates' conception of the soul. Socrates explains that the philosopher seeks and enjoys the pleasures of the body—those of food, drink, sex, and adornment—only to the extent that they are necessary to life and beyond this despises them. Particular emphasis is given to the deification, or divine character, of the soul in contrast to the human and mortal nature of the body. Are souls influenced by contact with the body? To make his position clear, he will compare the relationship between soul and body to that of a weaver and the coat he has been wearing. It was especially prominent in the teachings of Heraclitus, who had coordinated sleeping with waking and life with death. Cebes remarks that one proof of the recollection theory can be established simply by asking questions. While it is true that one of the opposites in each pair is followed by the other, this does not mean that one of them is the cause of the other or that the nature of any one of the opposites has been changed in the least. In some instances, this can be accomplished simply by asking a number of questions. This is what has been admitted concerning universals, or the abstract ideas that are present in souls. Out of sleeping, waking is generated, and the process of generation is in the one case falling asleep and in the other waking up. All things that have opposites are generated out of their opposites. Both Echecrates and Phaedo, after listening to these arguments, were seriously disturbed. The strongest evidence in support of the reminiscence theory, or doctrine of recollection, comes from an examination of the way in which knowledge of universals is obtained. After having mentioned the names of several of those who were present at the time of Socrates' death, Phaedo states that he will endeavor to repeat the entire conversation as he remembers the way in which it took place. Certainly, there would be no justice in treating both good and evil souls in the same way. Some of those who were present had heard that Socrates had been condemned to drink poison, but they knew very little about it and were anxious to learn more of the details. He would be grieved at death if he did not believe the soul would fare better after death than when it is dwelling in the body. The body is a source of endless trouble by reason of its requirements of food, its liability to diseases, and filling our lives with loves, lusts, and fears: "For whence come wars, and fighting, and factions? It seemed to them that, while Socrates had presented good arguments in support of his position, Cebes and Simmias had been successful in refuting them. Thus, we are able to say of two objects that they are approximately equal, but insofar as their nature is revealed through the senses, they never reach perfect or absolute equality. Through an analysis of their frameworks and genre, and whether their methods are plausible, it can be concluded that Aristotle's formulation of the soul is more compelling than that of Plato. Crito fancies that he is the other Socrates, whom he will soon see as a dead body, and that is why he asks how he shall be buried. Analysis Readers of the Crito know that Socrates has been awaiting news of the return of the ship from its trip to Delos. At the same time, it must be admitted that none of these ideas have ever been perceived by the senses, nor have they been experienced in their pure form. Simmias suggests the possibility that souls are like the smoke that comes out of a chimney and then disintegrates into thin air and vanishes away. After Socrates had finished speaking, all who were present remained silent for a few minutes, during which time they were given an opportunity to think about what they had been hearing. The philosopher knows that the soul is superior to the body and should be its master rather than its slave. Some resemblances to the Greek drama may be noted in all the Dialogues of Plato. The soul is immortal, and the philosopher spent his life in the form, so that it detaches from the bodys needs. All of them will be assigned to places corresponding to their several natures. From these facts, it seems likely that the gathering took place in the meeting house of the local Pythagoreans. The ideas that we recover in this way constitute the standard in comparison with which we judge the accuracy of that which is revealed through the senses. Phaedo. But eventually even that coat will become old and decayed and cease to exist. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that souls, like the ideas that are present in them, are not subject to change. Summary. Socrates then adds some further remarks to strengthen the argument in support of the recollection doctrine. Its account of the soul’s immortality ranges from the fanciful myth about the various destinies of good and evil souls to what is perhaps Socrates’—and certainly Plato’s—most fundamental theory, the doctrine of forms. The purpose of these conversations was to reveal what had actually taken place in the prison on the last … 9.1", "denarius") All Search Options [view abbreviations] Home Collections/Texts Perseus Catalog Research Grants Open Source About Help. Phaedo begins his account of Socrates ’s final hours. Death is not the end of all, and the wicked is not released from his evil by death, for after death the soul is carried away to judgment. Phaedo is one of the dialogues that were created by Plato; the Phaedo tried to depict the death of Socrates. He also described something of his own feelings as he witnessed the death of his very dear friend. Socrates contends that the proof has already been given since it has been admitted that everything living has been born of the dead. Although Phaedo must be complemented by the other Platonic dialogues in order to round out the picture of Socrates as a man and as a philosopher, it suggests powerfully the influence he and Plato jointly exercised in the history of Western thought. The dialog contains a whole series of arguments in support of belief in the immortality of the soul. May not the same thing be said of the soul? So far as his present opinion is concerned, Cebes remains skeptical. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. He is like the swan that sings its best song just prior to its final departure. However, what is such separation, when completed, but death itself? . Socrates begins, as usual, the story by saying that suicide is wrong, because a true philosopher must wait for death and not cause it voluntarily. But if this knowledge, which we acquired be-fore out birth, has been lost in the sense that we are no longer directly aware of it and afterward by the use of the senses we recover that which we previously knew, this process that we speak of as learning is really a matter of recollection. On his way home after having witnessed Socrates ’s execution in an Athenian prison, Phaedo encounters a fellow philosopher, Echecrates, who asks… read analysis of Phaedo He came to the conclusion that the physical sciences could provide no answers to the questions he had in mind. . It might be that this knowledge had been gained by the soul during its existence in some prior embodiment. After democracy was restored in 403 BCE, Plato again considered politics until Socrates, Plato’s mentor, was accused of impiety and corruption and subsequently put to death in 399 BCE. Apparently, it belongs to the middle period of his literary career, when his maturity as a writer had reached its highest stage. There were many questions that they would like to have answered, including: What assurance or proof do we have that souls actually exist? The harmony has many of the same characteristics that have been ascribed to the soul. Literary Devices. When asked about their opinion of the argument, Simmias replied that not all of his doubts have been removed. Epiphenomenalism is the doctrine that souls or spiritual substances are the product of matter; with the destruction of the matter that produced them, they will cease to exist. Placing only a lesser value on the gratification of physical appetites and the acquisition of material goods, he is concerned primarily with the development of the soul. It could be said that harmony is a thing invisible, incorporeal, fair, divine, and abiding in the lyre that is harmonized but that the lyre and the strings are matter and composite, earthy, and akin to mortality. After Socrates had finished speaking, Crito asked if he had any requests to make concerning his children or any other matters. The nature of being hot is never changed into the nature of being cold, day is never changed into night, and the nature of life is never changed into the nature of death. The Phaedo is usually placed at the beginning of his “middle” period, which contains his own distinctive views about the nature of knowledge, reality, and the soul, as well as the implications of these views for human ethical and political life. Socrates admits that he has no positive proof of this, but he believes it to be true and is aware of no facts to indicate the contrary. Because the world does not understand the meaning of dying, they accuse philosophers of being morbid, but in this they are mistaken, for death is nothing other than the release of the soul from the body. This implies that there is a perpetual cycle of life and death, so that when we die we do not stay dead, but come back to life after a perio… After this had been done and some remarks had been made concerning the readiness with which a true philosopher would approach death, Cebes asks Socrates why it is that he believes it is wrong for one to commit suicide since death is not something to be feared? Phaedo Plato. We will possess the light of truth. . Two of the chief arguments against belief in the immortality of the soul are brought into the discussion, and Socrates has a reply to each of them. In reply to Cebes' suggestion, Socrates calls attention to the fact that only compound or composite things are capable of being dissolved. Now, a true philosopher is one who ought not to place the highest value on the pleasures of the body, such as eating and drinking or the acquisition of costly raiment. However, a stronger defense of his position is requested. This is the other half of the argument, the proof of which is still wanting and needs to be supplied. It is important to note that Simmias is not asking for complete proof, and Socrates is not promising to do anything more than show that immortality of the soul is more likely to be true than a denial of it. Everything, he says, comes to be from out of its opposite, so that for instance a tall man becomes tall only because he was short before. In his pursuit of knowledge, he finds the demands of the body to be a real hindrance and tries as best he can to escape them. This question must be answered not merely with reference to time but to eternity as well. After he had finished his bath, his children and the women of his family were brought to him. Although he believes that suicide is wrong, he has no fear of death so long as he is acting in harmony with the will of God. It has to do with the continued existence of souls after death. This format is meant to reflect Socrates’s instructional technique, the Socratic method. She was weeping because this was the last time she could converse with her husband. Whenever you see a man who is repining at the approach of death, you may be sure this is sufficient proof that he is not a lover of wisdom but a lover of the body and probably at the same time a lover of money or of power. Except for Crito, the oldest friend of the family, the interview was a private family affair. The Phaedo is one of Plato's dialogs in which the dramatic form of art achieved its highest level of development. Life changes into death and death changes into life. If the soul is immortal, what manner of person ought we to be? Although Plato was not one of those present at the meeting, he was in all likelihood well informed concerning what had taken place. Some of them, who have practiced the civil and social virtues by habit rather than reflection, may be expected to pass into some gentle social nature like that of bees or ants or even back again into some human form. We know that after the death of Socrates, he spent some time at Megara, where he had ample opportunity to meet and talk with some of the persons mentioned in the dialog. These included Simmias, Cebes, Crito, Apollodorus, and several other people. He then explained that he cannot make Crito believe that he is the same Socrates who has been talking. Phaedo, who was the narrator, is represented in the dialog as a mere lad, and it is quite reasonable to imagine he was well acquainted with Plato during his later years. Removing #book# Simmias then asks for a further explanation of what this doctrine about recollection really means. If Socrates can convince him that the soul does continue to exist after death, he would like for him to present the evidence on which his opinion is based. At this point, Socrates warns against the dangers of becoming misologists, who have no faith in the reasoning process. Socrates explains, however, that he expects to enjoy the company of other good and wise gods and people after death. So long as the soul is united with the body, it is dependent upon it. Save Download. Socrates does not indicate that he is in full accord with what has been taught about one's prenatal existence, but he does find an answer to Cebes' question about suicide in the Pythagorean doctrine that human beings are chattels, or possessions, in the hands of the gods. This, of course, would be nonsense, for everyone would know that a man may outwear several coats and the last one that he wears will still be in existence after he has died. The physical sciences are useful as a means of recording the order in which movements observed by the senses take place, but they tell us nothing about the purpose or meaning of life, nor do they reveal what is right or wrong in the moral sense in which those terms are used. He points out that the faith and hope with which the philosopher faces death is in perfect harmony with the principles by which he has regulated his whole life. The inner dialogue occurs chiefly between the master and two of the several followers present, Simmias and Cebes. © 2020 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Plato, an ancient Greek and arguably most prominent philosopher in history expresses his view in his work the “Phaedo” using his predecessor Socrates as the voice of his arguments. He perceives, however, that Cebes and Simmias are not satisfied with this argument and proceeds to probe deeper into the subject. Simmias laughingly agrees that most people think the philosophic life is and deserves to be a kind of death, but he desires clarification. He believes it is quite proper for one to investigate the question so far as it is humanly possible, and he would consider anyone a coward who would refuse to look for proofs in support of what he believes to be true, but from what has been said so far concerning the future existence of the soul, he finds that any positive proof is lacking. Thought is clearest, then, when the influence of the body is felt least or when there is the greatest possible separation between body and soul (“soul” in this context includes “mind”). After an interval of some months or years, an account of the last hours of Socrates is narrated to Echecrates and other interested persons by Phaedo, a beloved disciple of the great teacher. The body, being composed of material substances, will in time disintegrate and cease to exist, which might very well mean that the soul, like the harmony of the lyre, will perish along with it. He would be unable to do this if the knowledge had not in some sense been present within him. They are generated out of one another, and there is a passing or process from one to the other of them. It is the achievement of the soul's independence, which is what the philosopher has been trying to accomplish throughout his entire life. He does not mean equality of one piece of wood with another or of one stone with another, but equality in the abstract, or apart from its application to particular things. Bodily wants and passions are the chief causes of war and competition in business, two occupations of the so-called active life that leave little time for thinking and the pursuit of knowledge. Furthermore, we must recognize that if all things that partake of life were to die and after they were dead remained in the form of death and did not come to life again, all would at last die and nothing would be alive. He is familiar with what the mystery cults of his day have to say on this matter, and he makes use of the myths that they have employed to indicate something like what he thinks would constitute an appropriate doctrine of rewards and punishments for good and evil souls, respectively. Cebes and Simmias both express their satisfaction with the proof offered in support of the belief that souls exist prior to the birth of human beings, but neither of them is fully convinced that souls will continue their existence after death. It must have as little as possible to do with the body as it aspires to wisdom and a knowledge of ultimate reality. In connection with the idea that opposites generate opposites, Socrates explains that this has been affirmed not of opposite ideas either in us or in nature, but of opposite things — not of life and death, but of individuals living and dying. Through Socrates, Plato states that philosophers should not fear death and that … Its middle-period classification puts it after “early” dialo… When Socrates remarks that a true philosopher is one who is willing and ready to die but believes it would be wrong for anyone to put an end to his own life, Cebes wants to know why it would be wrong for one to commit suicide. Phaedo is an ancient Greek philosopher and the narrator of Phaedo. Plato, he notes, is absent because he’s “ill.” The Immortality of the Soul in Plato's Phaedo 2878 Words | 12 Pages. There it continues to exist in bliss, being released from the error and folly of men, with their fears and wild passions and all other human ills, and dwells in the company of the gods. The truth is that harmony is not a sort of thing like the soul. Both Cebes and Simmias agree that there is such a thing. Perfect or absolute equality does not exist in the world of our sense experience. Argical Analysis Of Plato's Phaedo. In this respect, the soul resembles the divine and the body that which is mortal. Each of these opposites always remains exactly what it is, and from this we can infer that the soul that is present in the human body will not change its nature by passing from a state of existence into one of nonexistence. Evidently, Plato intended his readers to regard this dialog as an accurate record of the way in which Socrates spent his last hours on earth. The Deathless Soul in Plato’s Phaedo In his dialogue, the Phaedo, Plato offers justification for the immortality of the soul. Key Figures. 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