Phaedo By Socrates Essay

1615 words - 7 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

The first way in which Socrates’ myth reinforces his recommendation of philosophy as care for the soul is by explaining what happens to the men who indulge in vices. 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. 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 first way in which Socrates’ myth reinforces his recommendation of philosophy as care for the soul is by explaining what happens to the men who indulge in vices. Vices are driven by an over attachment to the body. A true philosopher does not care for food, drink, or sex. He practices asceticism and seeks the truth. Men who are passionately attached to the body do not seek the truth and are easily persuaded by the body, its desires, and its illusions (64, d). Men wander in the underworld because they are bound to the characteristics they possessed in their lifetime. Those who practice gluttony, violence, and drunkenness eventually end up in the company of donkeys (81, d). Those who esteem injustice and tyranny end up in the company of wolves (82, a). Those who practice social and popular virtue without true understanding or practice of philosophy end up as bees, wasps, or ants (82, b). After the body dies, the soul meets a guardian spirit which leads it down to the underworld where it is judged (107, e). When being led to the underworld, a soul “passionately attached” to the body lingers in the visible world and is reluctant to leave. It is only when a guardian forces it into the underworld that it departs from the visible world. On its journey through the underworld, other souls see it is impure and shun it, “unwilling to be its fellow traveler or its guide” (108, b). The impure soul, who was vehemently attached to the body in life, wanders aimlessly until it eventually reaches its “proper dwelling place” (108, b). The souls who are judged and seen as incurable because they “committed many great sacrileges or wicked and unlawful murders and other such wrongs” are sent to Tartarus with no hope of ever escaping or reincarnating (113, d). The way to avoid this fate is by practicing true philosophy. Philosophers need not fear death because they will “attain the greatest blessing” which is that the soul which was previously hindered by the body will attain the knowledge and truth it sought in life (66, b- d). Socrates says that “those who practice philosophy in the right way are in training for dying and they fear death least of all men.” (67, e). Philosophers fear death least because they know they have avoided vices which are promoted by attachment to the body which lead to an unhappy fate in the underworld. The first way in which Socrates’ myth reinforces his recommendation of philosophy as care for the soul is by explaining what happens to...

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