Socrates had been condemned to commit suicide by drinking hemlock, and a number of his friends and fellow philosophers had gathered to spend his last hours with him. Phaedo explains that among those present with him were Crito and two Pythagorean philosophers, Simmias and Cebes. In Phaedo’s account, Socrates explains to his friends that a true philosopher should look forward to death. The purpose of the philosophical life is to free the soul from the needs of the body. Unlike the body, the soul is immortal, so it will survive death. Socrates provides four arguments for believing the soul is immortal.
Cebes agrees with much of what Socrates has said regarding the soul, but does not feel convinced that the soul coheres and remains active and intelligent after death. For instance, he suggests, when the soul leaves the body, it may be dissipated like breath or smoke so that it no longer exists as one coh...
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...e no gradations of being dead or alive as there are with being big or small, and it is less clear that in the case of absolute opposites, each one must come into being out of its opposite. There is also the question of what is dead and alive. For Socrates ' argument to work, he must conclude that the soul is what goes through these states of change, thereby proving that it does cohere even after death. But is it the soul that dies? Surely, Socrates wants to argue that the body dies while the soul lives on, free from the body. But if it is the body that dies, the argument breaks down. It would be absurd to suggest that living bodies come into being from dead bodies, and besides, this would not help us to establish the immortality of the soul. Therefor Socrates first argument for the immortality of the soul holds little to no validity to show that the soul is immortal.
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