I felt like we covered Phaedo pretty well in class today, but I still had a few things to throw out.  My main thought was that since Socrates is about to die, doesn’t it make sense that he emphatically believes in an immortal soul and the afterlife?  I can’t think of an example when a dying man didn’t “find religion” and really thought he wasn’t going to an afterlife.  During the discussion his first three proofs for an immortal soul are shot down by his disciples, and they start feeling doubtful and depressed.  Socrates has to tell them not to worry about his feelings and continue to question his assumptions.  But isn’t it significant that in his trial he considers the possibility of no afterlife, just eternal sleep?  He says this would also be a perfectly good thing to have happen, but when he’s about to die he completely ignores that option.  I just couldn’t believe that someone with so much at stake could remain totally objective.  Or perhaps that’s why Socrates was such a great man.

4 Responses to “PHAEDO”

  1. nmik says:

    You make a very good point– that in the Apology, Socrates does not provide an argument for the immortality of the soul and now, just before he knows he will die, he does. But remember that these two dialogues are works by Plato with which he is trying to engage you in a particular kind of thinking and experience–these are not biography. So ask yourself: what purpose could Plato have to present these arguments as he does, framing them as he does, and crafting the speech and actions of Socrates as he does in each?

  2. mbwilson says:

    I’m a bit confused about Socrates’ consistency, as two of his arguments in particular seem contradictory to one another in my view. Maybe someone can help me understand (please?).

    The first argument, which I’m more cloudy on the specifics of, advances the idea that life comes from death, and death from life, (He states this more generally when he claims: “Are not all things which have opposites generated out of their opposites? I mean such things as good and evil, just and unjust—and there are innumerable other opposites which are generated out of opposites.”)

    BUT THEN, much later in the dialogue, he reasons that the soul cannot ever die because opposites cannot become each other, and since the soul is immortal it can never become mortal. His rationale relates to numbers and how an even number always opposes an odd and can never become an odd.

    Is it just my misunderstanding, or do these two arguments blatantly contradict one another?

  3. mhenness says:

    I don’t think those two arguments contradict the other. I take the first to mean that opposites are inextricably linked to one another, death comes from life therefore life comes from death. And I take the second to mean that you can not be both. You can not be dead and alive at the same time.

  4. […] Phaedo By eegbert I can?t think of an example when a dying man didn?t ?find religion? and really thought he wasn?t going to an afterlife. During the discussion his first three proofs for an immortal soul are shot down by his disciples, and they start … Ancient Greek Philosophy – […]