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In support of his doubt, he invokes a metaphor of his own. Suppose someone were to say that since a man lasts longer than his cloak, it follows that if the cloak is still there the man must be there too. We would certainly think this statement was nonsense. Just as a man might wear out many cloaks before he dies, the soul might use up many bodies before it dies.


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In light of this uncertainty, one should always face death with fear. Misology, he says, arises in much the same way that misanthropy does: when someone with little experience puts his trust in another person, but later finds him to be unreliable, his first reaction is to blame this on the depraved nature of people in general.

If he had more knowledge and experience, however, he would not be so quick to make this leap, for he would realize that most people fall somewhere in between the extremes of good and bad, and he merely happened to encounter someone at one end of the spectrum. A similar caution applies to arguments. If someone thinks a particular argument is sound, but later finds out that it is not, his first inclination will be to think that all arguments are unsound; yet instead of blaming arguments in general and coming to hate reasonable discussion, we should blame our own lack of skill and experience.

Principal articles

To begin, he gets both Simmias and Cebes to agree that the theory of recollection is true. Simmias admits this inconsistency, and says that he in fact prefers the theory of recollection to the other view. Nonetheless, Socrates proceeds to make two additional points. First, if the soul is a harmony, he contends, it can have no share in the disharmony of wickedness. But this implies that all souls are equally good. Second, if the soul is never out of tune with its component parts as shown at 93a , then it seems like it could never oppose these parts.

A passage in Homer, wherein Odysseus beats his breast and orders his heart to endure, strengthens this picture of the opposition between soul and bodily emotions. Given these counter-arguments, Simmias agrees that the soul-as-harmony thesis cannot be correct. He now proceeds to relate his own examinations into this subject, recalling in turn his youthful puzzlement about the topic, his initial attraction to a solution given by the philosopher Anaxagoras B. When Socrates was young, he says, he was excited by natural science, and wanted to know the explanation of everything from how living things are nourished to how things occur in the heavens and on earth.

But then he realized that he had no ability for such investigations, since they caused him to unlearn many of the things he thought he had previously known. He used to think, for instance, that people grew larger by various kinds of external nourishment combining with the appropriate parts of our bodies, for example, by food adding flesh to flesh.

But what is it which makes one person larger than another? Or for that matter, which makes one and one add up to two?

Plato on Music, Soul and Body

This method came about as follows. He took this to mean that everything was arranged for the best. Therefore, if one wanted to know the explanation of something, one only had to know what was best for that thing. Suppose, for instance, that Socrates wanted to know why the heavenly bodies move the way they do. Anaxagoras would show him how this was the best possible way for each of them to be.

And once he had taught Socrates what the best was for each thing individually, he then would explain the overall good that they all share in common. Yet upon studying Anaxagoras further, Socrates found these expectations disappointed.

Author Corner

It turned out that Anaxagoras did not talk about Mind as cause at all, but rather about air and ether and other mechanistic explanations. For Socrates, however, this sort of explanation was simply unacceptable:. To call those things causes is too absurd. If someone said that without bones and sinews and all such things, I should not be able to do what I decided, he would be right, but surely to say that they are the cause of what I do, and not that I have chosen the best course, even though I act with my mind, is to speak very lazily and carelessly.

Imagine not being able to distinguish the real cause from that without which the cause would not be able to act as a cause. This new method consists in taking what seems to him to be the most convincing theory—the theory of Forms—as his basic hypothesis, and judging everything else in accordance with it.

In other words, he assumes the existence of the Beautiful, the Good, and so on, and employs them as explanations for all the other things. In regard to the phenomena that puzzled him as a young man, he offers the same answer. What makes a big thing big, or a bigger thing bigger, is the Form Bigness. Similarly, if one and one are said to be two, it is because they share in Twoness, whereas previously each shared in Oneness. When Socrates has finished describing this method, both Simmias and Cebes agree that what he has said is true. Returning again to the prison scene, Socrates now uses this as the basis of a fourth argument that the soul is immortal.

One may reconstruct this argument as follows:. Nothing can become its opposite while still being itself: it either flees away or is destroyed at the approach of its opposite. This is true not only of opposites, but in a similar way of things that contain opposites. When someone objects that premise 1 contradicts his earlier statement at 70da about opposites arising from one another, Socrates responds that then he was speaking of things with opposite properties, whereas here is talking about the opposites themselves.

Careful readers will distinguish three different ontological items at issue in this passage:. In like manner, what makes a body sick is not sickness but fever, and what makes a number odd is not oddness but oneness b-c. Premise 3 then states that the soul is this sort of entity with respect to the Form of Life. And just as fire always brings the Form of Hotness and excludes that of Coldness, the soul will always bring the Form of Life with it and exclude its opposite. However, one might wonder about premise 5.

Similarly, might not the soul, while not admitting death, nonetheless be destroyed by its presence? For readers who do not agree that such items are deathless in the first place, however, this sort of appeal is unlikely to be acceptable. Socrates says that this is only because their hypotheses need clearer examination—but upon examination they will be found convincing. The issue of the immortality of the soul, Socrates says, has considerable implications for morality.

If the soul is immortal, then we must worry about our souls not just in this life but for all time; if it is not, then there are no lasting consequences for those who are wicked. But in fact, the soul is immortal, as the previous arguments have shown, and Socrates now begins to describe what happens when it journeys to the underworld after the death of the body. The ensuing tale tells us of. Doing so will keep us in good spirits as we work to improve our souls in this life. It also is complicated by a couple of difficult interpretative questions. After Socrates has finished his tale about the afterlife, he says that it is time for him to prepare to take the hemlock poison required by his death sentence.

When Crito asks him what his final instructions are for his burial, Socrates reminds him that what will remain with them after death is not Socrates himself, but rather just his body, and tells him that they can bury it however they want. Next he takes a bath—so that his corpse will not have to be cleaned post-mortem—and says farewell to his wife and three sons. Crito tells Socrates that some condemned men put off taking the poison for as long as possible, in order to enjoy their last moments in feasting or sex.

Socrates, however, asks for the poison to be brought immediately. He drinks it calmly and in good cheer, and chastises his friends for their weeping. When his legs begin to feel heavy, he lies down; the numbness in his body travels upward until eventually it reaches his heart. If these scholars are right, why does Plato depict the death scene the way he does? Tim Connolly Email: tconnolly po-box. Outline of the Dialogue The dialogue revolves around the topic of death and immortality: how the philosopher is supposed to relate to death, and what we can expect to happen to our souls after we die.

The Cyclical Argument 70ce Socrates mentions an ancient theory holding that just as the souls of the dead in the underworld come from those living in this world, the living souls come back from those of the dead 70c-d. He uses this theory as the inspiration for his first argument, which may be reconstructed as follows: 1. The argument may be reconstructed as follows: 1. The Objections 85cc Simmias prefaces his objection by making a remark about methodology. Response to Cebes 95ab 1. For Socrates, however, this sort of explanation was simply unacceptable: To call those things causes is too absurd.


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The Final Argument bb When Socrates has finished describing this method, both Simmias and Cebes agree that what he has said is true. One may reconstruct this argument as follows: 1. But what does not admit death is also indestructible. Therefore, the soul is indestructible. The Myth about the Afterlife ca The issue of the immortality of the soul, Socrates says, has considerable implications for morality.

References and Further Reading a. General Commentaries Bostock, D. Oxford, Includes a helpful chapter on the theory of Forms. Dorter, K. University of Toronto Press, Gallop, D. Plato: Phaedo. Hackforth, R. Cambridge, English translation with running commentary. Rowe, C. Original Greek text no English with introduction and detailed textual commentary. The Philosopher and Death 59ce Pakaluk, M. Warren, J.