This dialogue recounts the last day or so of Socrates’ life (399 B.C.).  He is awaiting the execution of the death penalty and discusses topics related to death and the soul.  Early on in the dialogue, the group agrees that death is the separation of the soul from the body (64c).  Different ideas are given about relationship of soul to body: prison 62b, communion 65a, contamination 66b, deceit 83a, etc.  The body hinders the soul–pure intellect–from reaching truth, and it is the soul that perceives the “forms” of justice, beauty, good, etc.  Death is a good thing for a philosopher because it allows him to leave the encumbrance of the body.  It can be called purifying and a release 67c/d.  In life then a philosopher’s goal is to “live as close as he can to being dead” 67e.  Accordingly, a philosopher shouldn’t fear death, but look forward to it.

Several arguments are given for the eternal nature of the soul.  1) Opposites are derived from one another.  As a result, death feeds into life and life into death in an eternal circle.  2) Learning is really just a recollection of knowledge already acquired from the soul’s pre-existence before birth.  (This is the basis of the Socratic method of learning through questioning because the knowledge is already present within people without being taught.)  An example he gives is the knowledge of equality.  In this discussion bodily senses are helpful in reminding ourselves of the knowledge we forgot.  3) The soul is not a composite, so at the death of the body it cannot be dispersed into smaller parts (annihilated). 

Soul vs body.  “Soul is most similar to what is divine, immortal, intelligible, iniform, indissoluble, unvarying, and constant in relation to itself; whereas body, in its turn, is most similar to what is human, mortal, multiform, nonintelligible, dissoluble, and never constant in relation to itself” 80b.

Socrates also gives a basic cosmogony with a description of the afterlife.  Once someone dies that person’s soul is escorted into Hades.  If s/he was a good, wise person who sought after philosophy, s/he will enjoy the company of the gods before being led again out of Hades to a new body.  However, if one was vile or a murder, his/her soul would be cast into Tartarus to suffer and can only be released at the will of the one whom was harmed or killed.

Ultimately, this text is on the immortality of the soul, shared within the context of Socrates eminent death.

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