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Phaedo Examines Wether the Human Soul Is Immortal or Not

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The Phaedo is a story that is set on the last day of Socrates' life. The dialogue examines whether the human soul is immortal or not. Socrates does not fear death, but he looks it straight in the eye and thinks this is what a philosopher practices for. Socrates believes that the soul is immortal, and therefore, outlasts the body. Socrates defends his argument by trying to establish that things come to be from their opposite. In his argument, he implies that all things that can change are eternal. I believe that Socrates' argument makes some good points, but is not entirely convincing. Not all things that are subject to change are eternal I believe, which could bring about some questions to his argument. I believe that he is correct in thinking that the soul is immortal, but there might be some flaws in his argument.

Socrates believes that the soul is more enduring than the body. One way he establishes this argument is on the basis all things that come to be and have an opposite "must necessarily come to be from their opposite and from nowhere else" (70e). For example, if someone becomes awake, then this person is asleep before he or she wakes. Socrates also uses the example of something that becomes smaller must have been larger in order to become smaller. Socrates says, "Then if something smaller comes to be, it will come from something larger before, which became smaller?" (71a). Then, Socrates takes into account that life and death are opposites. He uses the belief that dying is going from living to being dead. Therefore, being alive comes from being dead since they are opposites as well. If this is true, then one existed before birth. The body did not exist before birth, so the body does not only compromise a person. The soul does, too, and it is separate from the body. Since a person is comprised of the body and the soul, the soul apparently exists before birth. Also, since the body obviously dies at death, then the soul exists after death and must be immortal. Socrates says that if opposite did change back and forth then everything would reach an end point and change would cease. This is why Socrates establishes the argument that the soul is more enduring than the body. The soul lives on in the underworld until it forms with the body to become a living thing.

Socrates uses this reasoning to show Simmias and Cebes why he is not afraid of dying. Socrates thinks that the body hinders the soul from reaching its potential. The body needs to be fed; it needs rest, and numerous other things that keep the soul from obtaining all the knowledge it can. Since he believes that the soul is immortal, he thinks that a true philosopher practices for death so the soul can separate from the body and become as virtuous and knowledgeable as possible. Socrates says, "Then when death comes to man, the mortal part of him dies, it seems, but his deathless part goes away safe and indestructible, yielding the place to death" (106e). This shows

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