Phaedo

Circumstances

The Trial of Socrates

Present:

  • Echecrates (Pythagorean)
  • Phaedo---a freed slave, founder of Elean school,
  • Simmias and Cebes
  • Euclid---not that Euclid, Euclid of Megara, founder of the Megarian school

Socrates' Execution

Method: poison

Question of Interpretation

there is a child within us to whom death is a sort of hobgoblin; him too we must persuade not to be afraid when he is alone with [death] in the dark.

Let the voice of the charmer be applied daily until you have charmed him away.

The Subject of Death

Is death a harm?

The late F.W.H. Myers used to tell how he asked a man at a dinner table what he thought would happen to him when he died. The man tried to ignore the question, but on being pressed, replied: "Oh well, I suppose I shall inherit eternal bliss, but I wish you wouldn't talk about such unpleasant subjects."

--Bertrand Russell

Against the body

The body is

  1. A source of needs that lead to great evils
  2. A distraction from philosophical activity
  3. An impediment to virtue (temperance and courage in service of the body are not real temperance and courage)

Best to be rid of it.

Of course, this requires that the soul can survive the death of the body.

Arguments

From Opposites

p92

The Endymion Argument

p93

From Recollection

A new argument for the theory of recollection:

p95-7

An implication of the theory of recollection

p99

From Affinity

p101

The Objections

Simmias

Perhaps the soul is a kind of harmony of the body. (Doctrine attractive to Enchrates)

Cebes

Even if the soul outlasts the body, how do we know that it is immortal?