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Plato's Phaedo

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Robert Ballentine

on 17 April 2009

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Transcript of Plato's Phaedo

Phaedo The Death of Socrates
(399 B.C.) Suicide is not lawful:
"We men are in a sort of
custody...and that we men
are one of the gods' possessions...."
"How strange it seems, my friends,
that which we call pleasure." It is proper that
wise men should object
to die, and foolish men
should be glad." (cebes) "cebes is always on the hunt
for arguments, and won't believe
straight off what someone says." (Soc) "...for what would men want, if
they are truly wise, in running away...?"
(simmias) "I have good hopes that something
remains for the dead...and something
much better for the good than for
the bad." (Soc) "One who has spent his life in philosophy should be confident when he is going to die..." (soc) "The fact is, those who tackle philosophy aright are
simply and solely practicing dying, practicing death
all the time, but nobody sees it." (soc) pleasure suicide death soul "Do you think it the part of a
philosopher to be earnestly
concerned with what are called
pleasures--such as these, eating
and drinking, for example?" (soc) "...Do you think such a man's concern
is not for the body, but as far as he can
he stands aloof from that, and turns
toward the soul?" (soc) ""...what about the actual getting of
wisdom? Is the body in the way
or not?" (soc) FORMS "...there is another thing, Simmias:
Is there or is there not an absolute justice?" "Assuredly there is."
"And an absolute beauty and absolute good?" For the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason of the mere requirement of food; and also is liable to diseases which overtake and impede us in the search after truth: and by filling us so full of loves, and lusts, and fears, and fancies, and idols, and every sort of folly, prevents our ever having, as people say, so much as a thought. And when they consider all this, must not true philosophers make a reflection, of which they will speak to one another in such words as these: We have found, they will say, a path of speculation which seems to bring us and the argument to the conclusion that while we are in the body, and while the soul is mingled with this mass of evil, our desire will not be satisfied, and our desire is of the truth. the soul desires truth the body distracts the soul wars love of money "Moreover, if there is time and an inclination toward philosophy, yet the body introduces a turmoil and confusion and fear into the course of speculation, and hinders us from seeing the truth: and all experience shows that if we would have pure knowledge of anything we must be quit of the body, and the soul in herself must behold all things in themselves: then I suppose that we shall attain that which we desire, and of which we say that we are lovers, and that is wisdom, not while we live, but after death, as the argument shows; for if while in company with the body the soul cannot have pure knowledge, one of two things seems to follow-either knowledge is not to be attained at all, or, if at all, after death." "And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away and we shall be pure and hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere; and this is surely the light of truth." true lovers of wisdom Then, Simmias, as the true philosophers are ever studying death, to them, of all men, death is the least terrible. courage temperance "Yes but....that about the soul is a thing
which people find very hard to believe...
I should very much like to hear your
opinion about it." (Cebes) Yes, but... There is a very ancient legend...
that the living are born again from
the dead...if that were true.... If not,
then we must take some other line...."
(Soc) "So let us enquire whether everything
that has an opposite comes from its
opposite and nowhere else." (Soc) There would seem to be sufficient proof that the souls of the dead must of necessity exist somewhere, whence we assume they are born again." (soc) myth and legend sufficient proof necessity recollection "...our learning is simply recollection....and this
is simply impossible unless our soul existed
somewhere before it was born in this human shape."
(cebes) And there is one very beautiful proof...that people,
when asked questions, if they are properly asked,
say of themselves everything correctly..." (cebes) proof equals essences
(the forms) unchanging, necessarily
in the same state, grasped
only by "intellectual reasoning,
and such things are unseen...." But the soul is "dragged by the body
towards what is always changing, and
the soul goes astray and is confused...." but ..."when she examines by herself, she
goes away yonder to the pure and
everlasting and immortal and unchanging...
and this state of the soul is called wisdom." immortality of
the soul Judgment Day: "first the
judges divide them into
those who have lived well and piously, and those who have not..." "...those who have purified themselves
through philosophy live without bodies
forever after..." for he has been "...earnest
only for the pleasure of learning....." "...and having adorned the soul with...
temperance and justice and courage
and freedom and truth, thus he awaits
his journey...." Famous last words "what a nice fellow!" "I've heard that one ought to make an
end in decent silence. Quiet yourselves
and endure...." "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius;
pay it without fail...."
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