Phaedo by Socrates

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In Plato’s dialogue, Phaedo, Echecrades asks Phaedo the details of Socrates’ last day alive. Phaedo first describes his own countenance as well as the rest of Socrates’ companions as “an unaccustomed mixture of pleasure and pain” because they all know that Socrates’ death is imminent, however they see that Socrates appears happy and without fear (58, e). The conversation with Socrates turns to why a philosopher should not fear death. Socrates defines death as the separation of the soul from the body (64, c). He states that the body is a constant impediment to a philosopher in their search for the truth. Socrates says that the body “fills us with wants, desires, fears, all sorts of illusions and much nonsense, so that… no thought of any kind ever comes to us from the [it].” (66, c). He claims that philosophy itself is “training for dying” and philosophers purify their souls by detaching it from the body (67, e). Socrates concludes that it would be unreasonable for a philosopher to fear death because they will obtain the truth they sought in life upon the separation of their body and soul, or death (67, c). After successfully proves the soul’s immortality, Socrates goes on to tell his companions a myth. This myth tells o the judgment of the dead and their journey through the underworld (107, d). It explains the shape of the Earth and how it has different surfaces (108, c- 113, d). It also tells of the punishment for the maimed souls and the reward for the pure souls, those of philosophers (113, c – 114, d). After concluding this myth, Socrates seems to emphasize that the exact details of the story are not important and “no sensible man would insist that these things are as I have described them” but it is important to “risk the bel...

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...nd commit crimes. Men who are over attached to the body suffer in the underworld. Those who commit incurable crimes are thrown into Tartarus. This fate can be avoided by those who practice philosophy. The second way in which Socrates’ myth reinforces philosophy as care for the soul is by explaining the cycle which continues until the soul purifies itself through philosophy. This cycle only ends once the soul is purified by philosophy. The final way in which Socrates’ myth reinforces his recommendation of philosophy as care for the soul is by explaining how the pure souls of philosophers are rewarded. The souls of philosophers go to the ether to dwell among the gods. Philosophers attain the knowledge and truth which they spent their entire earthly life seeking when in the ether. Socrates’ myth serves to reinforce his recommendation of philosophy as care for the soul.

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