Midterm Essay Analysis: Phaedo
Philosophy refers to the study of basic questions that seek to answer humanity existence value, beauty, knowledge, especially through academics. Echecrates and other individuals requested the explanation of Socrates’ last hours’ account, several months or years after Socrates’s death from Phaedo. Phaedo was one of Socrates’ beloved disciples who followed a great teacher. The narration occurred in Phlius, Sicyon. In addition, the dialogue is a narration Socrates acts while speaking during his last hours with friends as he answers various questions. To Echecrates and friends, Phaedo confirms his presence during the last hours of Socrates before he took poison in jail. Phaedo confirms his presence. Phaedo further names other individuals present at the prison, during Socrates’ last hours. The other individuals present comprise Crito, Cebes, Apollodorus, Simmias, and several other individuals. However, Plato missed the last hours’ encounter with Socrates due to sickness. Socrates’ wife was also present, but she left in the conversation’s initial stages following his request. These individuals mainly focused on the soul, especially Socrates’ concept of the soul.
Socrates and the visiting friends mainly focused on the concept of the soul. The group still pressed on to learn much more about Socrates’ philosophy on issues concerning the nature of the soul despite their awareness that the philosopher would die on that day (Grimwade, n.d.). Phaedo and the individuals present during Socrates’ last day had various questions: What assurance did Socrates hold as evidence of the soul’s existence? In what ways does the soul relate to the body? What becomes of the soul after death? Does a soul turn into nothingness, or does it continue to exist as a particular form? What about the immortality of the soul and the concept of their beginning and their end? Do bad and good souls exist? What are the differences between bad and good souls if they exist? Through a convincing and transparent manner, Socrates attempts to give answers to Phaedo and the company as guided by these questions. As a result, Socrates provides for arguments that support the immortality of the soul.
Phaedo based his first argument, referred to as the argument from opposites. Cebes asks, “Therefore if these are opposites, they come to be from one another, and there are two processes of generation between the two? (Cooper and Hutchinson, 1997, p. 62). The observation based on the argument from opposites observes that all things happen out of its opposite. This concept states that the world remains in a constant state of flux. Everything constantly changes to an opposite version of it. For example, the day changes into night and night changes into day. Another example is that death changes into life, and life changes into death. Indeed, all things that have opposites emanate from their opposites. Additionally, this point holds universal truth. Anything that shifts towards greatness must have resulted from something less, and all that comes from less was once great. In addition, the swift is generated from the slower, and the weaker results from the stronger. All these examples hold the truth about the concept of opposites. Opposites are generated from one another through involving various processes for each of them.
Death and life exist as opposites, as also as witnessed in sleep and waking up. An individual must sleep for him or her to wake up, and waking up results from an individual who already slept. The analysis of these everyday incidences occurring on the concept of opposites gives an insight in the occurrence of souls and their immortality. Death is generated from life, and life is generated from death. As the living comes from the deceased and the dead must have lived, the hypothesis that the dead people exist in some pace from where they come from again. Furthermore, there is a need for everyone to recognize the need for the concept of opposites in human life and the continuity of its race. Failure of the concepts of opposites to take effect on humanity would lead to a distinction. At this point, Cebes has already admitted that the souls of the dead exist and that what good souls experience remains different from the evil soul’s experiences. In addition, Cebes concurs with Socrates that the concept of reminiscence gives meaning to life.
The doctrine of reminiscence refers to the act of learning the truth of something that an individual had forgotten. This mainly occurs on issues concerning what the soul had forgotten in its previous existence. Remembering the forgotten aspects of life mainly include things possessed in the former life, which comes to the current life through proper stimulus. Asking an individual some questions could trigger remembrance of certain things experienced from the previous. There exists strong evidence that supports the doctrine of recollection. The evidence comes from the examination of how people attain universal knowledge. Universal ideas include aspects such as beauty, justice, goodness, truth, equality, and others. The society acknowledges all these aspects as real elements that everyone knows of their meaning and existence. Yet, no one can admit that they have experienced these ideas fully in reality or even experienced their pure form. For example, things may appear equal, while actions may seem ideal of justice. However, no objects exist as equal or even exactly equal. Additionally, the human race has failed to achieve pure justice during its existence.
The universal knowledge of these non-existent ideas raises a question. What is the possibility of anyone knowing the meaning of justice or what true equality means? According to Socrates’ explanation, the ideas occur as a form of remembrance coming from past life. The experiences acquired through sense get triggered through a mind stimulus inflicting an act of recollection that already exists in the mind or the soul. Socrates further argues that lack of awareness on these ideas on universal knowledge would make the process of realizing them impossible or difficult. In addition, an individual’s ability to classify several objects to one or different groups exist as perfect examples of the necessity of universal knowledge or ideas in pure form. This analysis about the process of knowing illustrates that a soul must have prevailed before the birth of an individual. Failure to adopt a soul from a prior existence during birth would render an individual unaware of the existence of these ideas. In addition, the ability to determine the need for a pure form of these ideas illustrates that the previous soul had some level of intelligence.
The simplicity argument further explains the existence of the soul after the death of a human being. Cebes raises the concern of the soul’s existence after death, as he argues that the destruction of the human body renders the soul homeless (Grimwade, n.d.). Socrates seeks to answer Cebes through explaining the simplicity argument. Socrates argues that only composite or compound objects have the capability of dissolving. The explanation from this argument defines a compound object as that which is made up of parts, constantly changes, while the compounded object does not change but remains in its initial form. The sense only perceives changing things but fails to see those that do not change. This further explains that the ideas, such as beauty, justice, goodness, and truth, exist as simple but not compounded. These ideas are unchanging, and the senses can never perceive them. The human nature is known to comprise of two parts – the body and the soul. The body refers to the compounded, shifting, part of humanity, which the senses can perceive.
The ideas and the essences refer to the uncompounded, shiftless, and the mind can never perceive it. The body and the soul unite despite their differences. The nature orders the soul to govern and rule the body during the unification. The body has to serve and obey the soul. In this context, the souls take the role of a divine existence while the body, that of an immortal being. From this analysis, the conclusion that the “soul is in the very likeness of the divine, and immortal, and intelligible, and unchangeable; and the body is in the very likeness of the human, and mortal, and unintelligible, and multiform, and dissoluble, and changeable.” The death of a man brings to an end its existence. The body exists as the visible part of a human being. The body becomes decomposed and dissolved. However, the soul continues to exist. This is because the pure soul departs from the body on death. The soul has no bodily taint, is not visible, thus leaves the visible world into the invisible world – an immortal, rational, and divine world. On reaching the invisible world, the soul prevails in bliss after its release from the folly and error of humanity. In addition, the soul frees itself from wild passions, fears, human ills, and lives in the gods’ companies.
The body and the soul must exist in harmony. Simmias has some objections to the argument presented by Socrates. Socrates had argued that the soul could get applied with equal force to the lyre’s produced harmony. According to Socrates, harmony refers to an incorporeal, invisible, abiding, fair, and divine towards the lyre, harmonized, yet the strings exist as matter and composite, earthy, and affiliated towards mortality. In the event, an Individual breaks the lyre or breaks the strings, what does happen to harmony? Despite the invisibility and heavenly nature of harmony, it may perish when the lyre remains broken, and the strings are cut. Socrates further argues that the body exists in a composite element with parts that are strung or composed together through aspects such as cold and hot, dry, and wet, with the soul existing the harmony. The body’s string may loosen or get overstrained from a disorder, injury, or another form of damage to the soul, despite its immaterial or divine, may perish at once even if the body has not decayed or burned. According to Cebes, the issue of the soul existing in various bodies further triggers the question of its period of existence in the human bodies. The soul may get to a certain point and consider resting – not entering any human body (Dorter, 1982, p. 17). However, Socrates further clears the air one more time by stating that the soul remains immortal and will never perish. Indeed, death is not the end of all humanity, and life continues after the death of the body.
I concur with Socrates’ philosophy on the soul and it existence. Socrates applies arguments in explaining the existence of the soul. First, the arguments of opposites make sense as it is seen in the life of a human being. Life changes into death at some point in the human’s life, and death leads to the rise of a soul. In addition, there is the existence of good and bad souls, which have different objectives in the life of individuals who play host to these children. Socrates further illustrates the ability even to determine the knowledge concerning issues in the human proves reminiscence argument. The soul must find a home where it can engage the body of a newborn baby. In addition, the issue of death further triggers the question of where the spirits go after the death of an individual. The simplicity argument explains the existence of spirits after the death of an individual. The source travels to the spirit’s world and finds its bliss from the humanities ills, stress, and irresponsibility. The soul must seek a way to coexist with the body, which holds the body to the soul. Indeed, I concur with Socrates on issues of the existence of the soul and their applications in the society.
Bostock, D. (1986). Plato’s Phaedo.
Cooper, J. M., & Hutchinson, D. S. (1997). Plato Complete Works.
Dorter, K. (1982). Plato’s Phaedo; An interpretation.
Grimwade, R. (n.d.). Plato’s Phaedo: Objections and Interlude.
Grimwade, r. (n.d.). Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
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