Plato has roused many readers with the work of a great philosopher by the name of Socrates. Through Plato, Socrates lived on generations after his time. A topic of Socrates that many will continue to discuss is the idea of “an immortal soul”. Although there are various works and dialogues about this topic it is found to be best explained in The Phaedo. It is fair to say that the mind may wonder when one dies what exactly happens to the beloved soul, the giver of life often thought of as the very essence of life does it live on beyond the body, or does it die with it? Does the soul have knowledge of the past if it really does live on?
In Plato’s The Phaedo, Plato recounts Socrates final days before he is put to death. Socrates has been imprisoned and sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of Athens and not following the rights of Athenian religion. Socrates death brings him and his fellow philosophers Cebes, Simmions, Phaedo, and Plato into a perplex dialogue about this notion of an afterlife and what does one have to look forward to after death. Death is defined as the separation of the body from the soul. In The Phaedo death has two notions a common one which is the basic idea that the soul dies and the physical, idea that the soul separates from the body after death.
“The soul is most like that which is divine, immortal intelligible, uniform, indissoluble, and ever self-consistent and invariable, whereas body is most like that which human, mortal is, multiform, unintelligible, dissoluble, and never self-consistent.” (Phaedo) According to Socrates, knowledge is not something one came to understand but it was actually imprinted on the soul. Knowledge to Socrates was an unchanging eternal truth, something that could not be acquired through experience and time. Socrates friends believe that after death the soul disperses into the air like a breath. On the contrary Socrates believes that the soul is in fact immortal and if one wants to become free of pain they way to do so is to exempt themselves from the physical pleasures of the world.
In this dialogue Socrates and the philosophers explore several arguments for this idea of an immortal soul. These arguments were to illustrate and verify that death is not the dying of body and soul collectively, but when the body dies the soul continues to live on. Socrates offers readers four main arguments: The Cyclical Argument, which is the idea that forms are fixed and external. The soul is the sole purpose of life in this argument, and therefore cannot die and it is also to be seen as virtually never-ending. Next is The Theory of Recollection, which insists that at birth everyone has knowledge that the soul experienced in another life. Meaning that the soul would have had to be existent before birth to bear this said knowledge.
The Form of Life Argument confers that the soul bears a resemblance to that which is imperceptible and godly because it is abstract. The body bears a resemblance to the...