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Socrates mentions an ancient theory holding that just as the souls of the dead in the underworld come from those living in this world, the living souls come back from those of the dead 70c-d. He uses this theory as the inspiration for his first argument, which may be reconstructed as follows:.

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If the two opposite processes did not balance each other out, everything would eventually be in the same state: for example, if increase did not balance out decrease, everything would keep becoming smaller and smaller 72b. Therefore, everything that dies must come back to life again 72a. With this terminology in mind, some contemporary commentators have maintained that the argument relies on covertly shifting between these different kinds of opposites.

Clever readers may notice other apparent difficulties as well. Does the principle about balance in 3 , for instance, necessarily apply to living things? Moreover, how does Plato account for adding new living souls to the human population? While these questions are perhaps not unanswerable from the point of view of the present argument, we should keep in mind that Socrates has several arguments remaining, and he later suggests that this first one should be seen as complementing the second 77c-d.

This is likely a reference to the Meno 82b ff. The argument may be reconstructed as follows:. Things in the world which appear to be equal in measurement are in fact deficient in the equality they possess 74b, d-e. In order to do this, we must have had some prior knowledge of the Equal itself 74d-e. Since this knowledge does not come from sense-perception, we must have acquired it before we acquired sense-perception, that is, before we were born 75b ff. Therefore, our souls must have existed before we were born. With regard to premise 1 , in what respect are this-worldly instances of equality deficient?

He could mean that the sticks may appear as equal or unequal to different observers, or perhaps they appear as equal when measured against one thing but not another. The process of recollection is initiated not just when we see imperfectly equal things, then, but when we see things that appear to be beautiful or good as well; experience of all such things inspires us to recollect the relevant Forms.

Traditional metaphysical positions

Although it can often seem as though debates between dualism and reductionism—the view that, in some sense, all mental phenomena are “nothing but”. The most compelling objection to sameness-of-soul views is the observation that if on the sameness-of-soul view, I have no evidence that this is really Mary.

Moreover, if these Forms are never available to us in our sensory experience, we must have learned them even before we were capable of having such experience. Simmias agrees with the argument so far, but says that this still does not prove that our souls exist after death, but only before birth. This difficulty, Socrates suggests, can be resolved by combining the present argument with the one from opposites: the soul comes to life from out of death, so it cannot avoid existing after death as well. He does not elaborate on this suggestion, however, and instead proceeds to offer a third argument.

There are two kinds of existences: a the visible world that we perceive with our senses, which is human, mortal, composite, unintelligible, and always changing, and b the invisible world of Forms that we can access solely with our minds, which is divine, deathless, intelligible, non-composite, and always the same 78ca, 80b. The soul is more like world b , whereas the body is more like world a 79b-e. Therefore, supposing it has been freed of bodily influence through philosophical training, the soul is most likely to make its way to world b when the body dies 80da. If, however, the soul is polluted by bodily influence, it likely will stay bound to world a upon death 81bb.

Of the impure souls, those who have been immoderate will later become donkeys or similar animals, the unjust will become wolves or hawks, those with only ordinary non-philosophical virtue will become social creatures such as bees or ants. The philosopher, on the other hand, will join the company of the gods. Hence, after death, his soul will join with that to which it is akin, namely, the divine.

After a long silence, Socrates tells Simmias and Cebes not to worry about objecting to any of what he has just said.

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For he, like the swan that sings beautifully before it dies, is dedicated to the service of Apollo, and thus filled with a gift of prophecy that makes him hopeful for what death will bring. Simmias prefaces his objection by making a remark about methodology. If at the end of this investigation one fails to find the truth, one should adopt the best theory and cling to it like a raft, either until one dies or comes upon something sturdier.

For one might put forth a similar argument which claims that the soul is like a harmony and the body is like a lyre and its strings. But even though a musical harmony is invisible and akin to the divine, it will cease to exist when the lyre is destroyed. Following the soul-as-harmony thesis, the same would be true of the soul when the body dies.

Next Socrates asks if Cebes has any objections. In support of his doubt, he invokes a metaphor of his own. Suppose someone were to say that since a man lasts longer than his cloak, it follows that if the cloak is still there the man must be there too.

We would certainly think this statement was nonsense. Just as a man might wear out many cloaks before he dies, the soul might use up many bodies before it dies. In light of this uncertainty, one should always face death with fear. Misology, he says, arises in much the same way that misanthropy does: when someone with little experience puts his trust in another person, but later finds him to be unreliable, his first reaction is to blame this on the depraved nature of people in general. If he had more knowledge and experience, however, he would not be so quick to make this leap, for he would realize that most people fall somewhere in between the extremes of good and bad, and he merely happened to encounter someone at one end of the spectrum.

Additional topics

A similar caution applies to arguments. If someone thinks a particular argument is sound, but later finds out that it is not, his first inclination will be to think that all arguments are unsound; yet instead of blaming arguments in general and coming to hate reasonable discussion, we should blame our own lack of skill and experience. To begin, he gets both Simmias and Cebes to agree that the theory of recollection is true. Simmias admits this inconsistency, and says that he in fact prefers the theory of recollection to the other view.

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Nonetheless, Socrates proceeds to make two additional points. First, if the soul is a harmony, he contends, it can have no share in the disharmony of wickedness. But this implies that all souls are equally good. Second, if the soul is never out of tune with its component parts as shown at 93a , then it seems like it could never oppose these parts.

A passage in Homer, wherein Odysseus beats his breast and orders his heart to endure, strengthens this picture of the opposition between soul and bodily emotions. Given these counter-arguments, Simmias agrees that the soul-as-harmony thesis cannot be correct. He now proceeds to relate his own examinations into this subject, recalling in turn his youthful puzzlement about the topic, his initial attraction to a solution given by the philosopher Anaxagoras B.

When Socrates was young, he says, he was excited by natural science, and wanted to know the explanation of everything from how living things are nourished to how things occur in the heavens and on earth. But then he realized that he had no ability for such investigations, since they caused him to unlearn many of the things he thought he had previously known.

He used to think, for instance, that people grew larger by various kinds of external nourishment combining with the appropriate parts of our bodies, for example, by food adding flesh to flesh. But what is it which makes one person larger than another? Or for that matter, which makes one and one add up to two?

This method came about as follows. He took this to mean that everything was arranged for the best. Therefore, if one wanted to know the explanation of something, one only had to know what was best for that thing. Suppose, for instance, that Socrates wanted to know why the heavenly bodies move the way they do.

Anaxagoras would show him how this was the best possible way for each of them to be. And once he had taught Socrates what the best was for each thing individually, he then would explain the overall good that they all share in common. Yet upon studying Anaxagoras further, Socrates found these expectations disappointed.

It turned out that Anaxagoras did not talk about Mind as cause at all, but rather about air and ether and other mechanistic explanations. For Socrates, however, this sort of explanation was simply unacceptable:. To call those things causes is too absurd. If someone said that without bones and sinews and all such things, I should not be able to do what I decided, he would be right, but surely to say that they are the cause of what I do, and not that I have chosen the best course, even though I act with my mind, is to speak very lazily and carelessly.

Immortality and the Afterlife

Imagine not being able to distinguish the real cause from that without which the cause would not be able to act as a cause. This new method consists in taking what seems to him to be the most convincing theory—the theory of Forms—as his basic hypothesis, and judging everything else in accordance with it. In other words, he assumes the existence of the Beautiful, the Good, and so on, and employs them as explanations for all the other things. In regard to the phenomena that puzzled him as a young man, he offers the same answer.

What makes a big thing big, or a bigger thing bigger, is the Form Bigness. Similarly, if one and one are said to be two, it is because they share in Twoness, whereas previously each shared in Oneness. When Socrates has finished describing this method, both Simmias and Cebes agree that what he has said is true.

Returning again to the prison scene, Socrates now uses this as the basis of a fourth argument that the soul is immortal. One may reconstruct this argument as follows:. Nothing can become its opposite while still being itself: it either flees away or is destroyed at the approach of its opposite. This is true not only of opposites, but in a similar way of things that contain opposites.

When someone objects that premise 1 contradicts his earlier statement at 70da about opposites arising from one another, Socrates responds that then he was speaking of things with opposite properties, whereas here is talking about the opposites themselves. Careful readers will distinguish three different ontological items at issue in this passage:.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

In like manner, what makes a body sick is not sickness but fever, and what makes a number odd is not oddness but oneness b-c. Premise 3 then states that the soul is this sort of entity with respect to the Form of Life. And just as fire always brings the Form of Hotness and excludes that of Coldness, the soul will always bring the Form of Life with it and exclude its opposite. However, one might wonder about premise 5. Similarly, might not the soul, while not admitting death, nonetheless be destroyed by its presence?

For readers who do not agree that such items are deathless in the first place, however, this sort of appeal is unlikely to be acceptable.

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The soul is more like world b , whereas the body is more like world a 79b-e. In fact it becomes almost an equivalent to the "interiority" of the human being, the seat of all human affections: of thought and knowledge cf. The type of rebirth one can expect is based on the quality of one's "karma. Breuning Freiburg i. Green, R. Platonism was considered to be more pliable to Christian revelation and reflection than Aristotle's thought, since it focused on upright human behaviour and asceticism, on eternal reward for the individual who is faithful to God, though it contains a somewhat pessimistic attitude to a world in urgent need of being saved. Commemorative Studies , ed.

Socrates says that this is only because their hypotheses need clearer examination—but upon examination they will be found convincing. The issue of the immortality of the soul, Socrates says, has considerable implications for morality. If the soul is immortal, then we must worry about our souls not just in this life but for all time; if it is not, then there are no lasting consequences for those who are wicked.

But in fact, the soul is immortal, as the previous arguments have shown, and Socrates now begins to describe what happens when it journeys to the underworld after the death of the body.

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The ensuing tale tells us of. Doing so will keep us in good spirits as we work to improve our souls in this life. It also is complicated by a couple of difficult interpretative questions. After Socrates has finished his tale about the afterlife, he says that it is time for him to prepare to take the hemlock poison required by his death sentence. When Crito asks him what his final instructions are for his burial, Socrates reminds him that what will remain with them after death is not Socrates himself, but rather just his body, and tells him that they can bury it however they want.

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