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Discussion Socrates' of the Existence and Nature of the Afterlife

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The philosophy set forth in Phaedo revolves around Socrates' discussion of the existence and nature of the afterlife. The dialogue involves a number of other characters, Cebes and Simmias both Thebans, who, along with Socrates had wanted to assist Crito to escape from prison. The overarching theme in Phaedo is soul's immortality. The dialogue is essentially dialectic and explores a number of arguments for the immortality of the soul, in part, to illustrate the concept of the afterlife where the soul is supposed to dwell following the death of a person. In the entire Phaedo, four essential arguments are offered for the soul's immortality. These are the Opposites or Cyclic Argument, The Theory of Recollection, The Affinity Argument and the Argument from Form of Life. Apparent in the first three arguments is the difficulty with which Socrates tries to prove the claim that the soul is actually immortal. In this paper, I explore the Opposite Cycles argument to demonstrate that, indeed, Socrates was successful in proving the immortality of the soul.

Argument from the Opposite Cycles is Socrates' first riposte to Cebes' fear about the former's impending execution at the prison. In a dialogue about the fear of death, Cebes asserts that "...they [people] fear that when she [the soul] has left the body her place may be nowhere, and that... she may perish and come to an end immediately on her release from the body...dispersing and vanishing away into nothingness in her flight" (Plato, Phaedo, 70a). In a rejoinder, Socrates offers the Cyclical Argument, in which he supposes that the soul must be immortal, essentially because life springs from death (Plato, Phaedo, 69e-72d.). From this point on, Socrates clarifies, using the asleep-awake and hot-cold examples that things come to be from their opposites, if they happen to have them. One awakens after having been asleep, and vice versa. Things also turn cold only after having been hot. He then steers Cebes into concluding that, indeed, death is generated from life and the living spring up from the dead. Essentially, then, the soul of the dead must continue living somewhere in order that it may return to life someday.

Socrates first argument that forms are unchanging and everlasting builds on the validity of Plato's Theory of Forms. Fundamentally, the doctrine suggests that life is a cycle whereupon things exit and come back to being. Socrates says, "...but when it is most by itself, taking leave of the body and as far as possible having no contact or association with it in its search for reality" (Plato, Phaedo, 65c). He asserts that the soul is the bearer of life- it brings things into being- and is therefore eternal. The truth about the soul's inability to die is a valid argument regarding its imperishability. For instance, the cause-effect laws are ageless, and so no argument can override the fact that the rules of cause-and-effect can ever come out of being. So is the argument about the soul's immortality advanced by Socrates. Just as the former, Socrates' argument essentially links to its everlasting principle. Moreover, building on the laws of opposites advanced by Plato, the body and the soul are thus. Accordingly, if the body obeys the physical law-



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