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Plato's Phaedo, on the Soul

Plato's Phaedo  concludes the drama of Socrates' final hours wherein he discusses with intimate friends the highest mysteries of living and dying, just before drinking the hemlock. 

This is a treasure trove of platonic  thought.   Among the more intriguing claims is that we ought  to believe in the immorality of the soul -if for no other reason because we will lead a better life. Indeed, it might be that we already take our soul to be immortal insofar as we lead moral lives at all.  

This  dialogue is pretty long so remember to allow enough time.


This audio is well-read: https://librivox.org/phaedo-by-plato/

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  • Rey L.

    Can't make it after all--have fun!

    February 15, 2014

  • Brian

    New thought: Did you notice the absence of temperance in the enumeration of virtues? In the Phaedo, the 'soul' in question is understood as Socrates himself (catch me if you can!)- like a form, it is immaterial, simple, immortal. Of course, our experience shows that our souls are riven by conflict- anything but simple- with competing desires. This other level of talking about soul is taken up by the Republic, where temperance and justice is required for harmonious living.

    February 15, 2014

    • Rick O.

      But the conflict comes from the body, not the soul (and therefore still simple)? - Brian - I think we got our roles reversed - I'm the one defending Socrates?

      February 15, 2014

    • Brian

      That is a good thought. Maybe you are doing metaphysics and I am doing ethics?

      February 15, 2014

  • Brian

    Imagination constitutes how we develop theoretical visions of Justice, Soul Etc. Dialectic is the making and breaking of images. As we move from one image to another we examine the boundaries of our visions to see how the territory fills in our understanding. One thing that distinguishes a philosopher from poet, of course, is the critical distance allowed for by use of reason. Like Chronos who by attaining to the very principle of time can wholly reverse its direction, so too can the philosopher safely trek to what sometimes seems like the brink of madness and back

    February 14, 2014

    • Renée

      At first it seems ironic to learn how to live from the dying- what is said or the silences- but why not? There is always opportunity to learn from death whether a relationship, a flower or the final scene.

      1 · February 15, 2014

    • Rick O.

      works in with Socrates point that life comes from death. I also like (among other things) when Socrates says "now listen closely" - two times - once for Simmias question on attunement, and again for Cebes question on the soul wearing out (I may have got the names backwards) - another example of "never give up the logos."

      2 · February 15, 2014

  • Brian

    I paid extra attention to Eriks reminder that Socrates is acting to comfort his friends concerning fear of death in this dialogue. There's evidence of this: he starts off saying how the first arguments about universals preceding experience satisfies him, but perhaps not simias. He then acknowledges their is a child in all of us that needs to be persuaded

    February 13, 2014

    • Brian

      There

      February 13, 2014

    • Rick O.

      Every time I read this dialog the end has the same effect - I'm no better than Apollodorus

      1 · February 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Planned to come (yeahhh psychology in Plato!), but unfortunately have to miss. Hope someone makes it off the wait list!

    February 14, 2014

  • Mike B.

    With Socrates, critical commentary appears to violate currently accepted disciplinary boundaries. Present-day scholars seem to feel free to call upon the areas of history, aesthetics, political science, and literature to advance a philosophical position. I suspect that this is perfectly understandable given that formal classical studies embraced all of the above; classics department embrassed all of the above, plus philology.
    I don't know if this is a problem or not. I would contend however, it can become a problem when a matter of historical accuracy is used to support a philosophical argument. Comments?

    January 24, 2014

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