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Lecture

Notes on the Phaedo.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL200Y1
Professor
All Professors
Semester
Fall

Description
The Phaedo recounts Socrates final moments before execution via Plato  Has three main arguments: o Cyclical argument o Recollection argument o Affinity argument  Outline of the dialogue… o Introduction o Two views on death o Socrates "apology" o Cebes objection o Cyclical argument o Recollection argument o "asks for reassurance" o Affinity argument o Interlude (swan song) o Objection from Cebes and Simmias o Interlude (warning against misologia) o Answer to Simmias objections o Socrates (or Plato's) Autobiography o Final argument  Introdcution: o It is explicitly mentioned that Plato is not present for Socrates final hours.  Plato makes an effort to distance himself from the narrative even though he is the author  Attempt to present this dialogue as a somewhat fictional, idealized account of Socrates final hours o Idea of pleasure vs pain hints towards the main topic of the dialogue to come  Main theme of the dialogue: bodily sensations VS the life of the mind or soul  Socrates offers an apology (defense) to philosophers (63-69) o True philosophers should welcome death (but not suicide)  "then Eventus should be willing [to die] like every man who partakes worthily of philosophy" (61c)  Cebes: if suicide is wrong, why should philosophers want to die?  "there is the explanation that is put in the language of the mysteries, that men we in a kind of prison, and that one must not free oneself or run away" (62b)  idea that the body is the soul's prison, and that upon death the soul is free-one shouldn’t fight death, but rather embrace it o States that "one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for death and dying"  Death a kind of purification (catharsis: the process of being purified of emotions after a tragedy) o Death is viewed as the soul's separation from the body  Idea that the philosophers "despise" human (bodily) desires and are instead attracted to truth and wisdom  Idea of purifying yourself of your attachments to your body  the soul "reasons best when none of the senses troubles it...the soul of the philosopher most disdains the body, flees from it, and seeks to be by itself" (65c-d)  Body is viewed as an obstacle to the soul's search for the truth and knowledge (65b)  Cognition of the soul from the body only causes the soul to be "deceived" by the body  The body keeps us busy because of its needs and "impede our search for the truth" (66c)  "if we are ever to have pure knowledge, we must escape from the body and observe thing in themselves with the soul by itself" (66e)  Only attained in death (soul's seperation from the body)  Idea that a "true philosopher" realized that he will only attain true knowledge and wisdom in death  Throughout their lives, philosophers, in search for truth, have attained a state as close to death as possible, trying to distance the soul from the body as much as possible o Idea that only a philosopher that doesn’t fear death can truly be said to possess courage and self-control  The only reason a non-philosopher wouldn’t fear death would be through the fear of something thought to be worse than death  The non-philosopher exchanges pain for pain and pleasures for pleasures while a true philosopher exchanges these things for wisdom  The exchange of pleasure for pleasure, fear for fear results in an illusion of virtue as opposed to the real thing  Philosophy is supposed to transforms a "shadow" of virtue into philosophical virtue  "with this [wisdom] we will have real courage and moderation and justice and, in a word, true virtue" (69b)  Argues that a non-philosopher will arrive in the underworld "uninitiated and unsanctified will wallow in the mire"  Philosophers, who have been preparing for death, that is, the purification of the soul, will arrive in the underworld "purified and ready to dwell with the gods"  ...from lecture o Thinking through philosophical problems until you are able to think about things and separate your thoughts from what your body wants  Identification with a subject of thinking ---->engaging in philosophy is a rediscovery of who you really are  Allows you to conceive yourself as immortal b/c it allows you to realize that you are your soul and not your body o The knowledge that philosophers seek is the knowledge of the forms Cebes objection  Greek idea that the soul is breath, thus upon one's dying breath, the soul is exhaled and dissipates o Agues that while Socrates makes a good point, his belief relies heavily on faith  "...but to believe this requires a good deal of faith and persuasive argument, to believe that the soul still exists after a man has died and that it still possesses some capability and intelligence." o Certain things must be proved:  The soul must exist separate from the body (proof that the soul is not breath)  The soul has some sort of intellegence Cyclical Argument  Consideration of an "ancient theory" which states that souls arriving from the underworld come from the land of the living and vice versa o Posits that our souls then must exist in the underworld b/c "they could not come back if they did not exist" (70d)  Goes on to say that we need to prove that "the living never come form any other source than from the dead" (70d) o Argument that all things are derived from their opposites (70e)  Based on the cyclical property of nature  Awake/asleep, hot/cold,  "...between each pair of these opposites there are two processes: form the one to the other and then again from the other to the first" (71b) o Posits that the processes of opposites coming from another leads to the processes of combining and separating of things  "to be dead is the opposite of being alive" (71d) o Agues that being dead and alive come from each other  If dying is the separation of the soul and the body, then birth is the unity of the soul and body ----> then the soul can live without the body o However: the examples given (hot/cold, awake/asleep) are all states of being ----> idea that the soul has an "alive" state and a "death" state  But this assumes that the soul exists outside of the body  This presupposes what he set out to prove o If life and death are states, then they cannot exist separately  The separation/combination of the body and soul is circular Is purposely a bad argument ---> shows what needs to be proven  From lecture...  A transcendental argument (unless A then ~B)  Has 2 main premises: o all learning is recollection:  "unless learning is recollection, we wouldn’t be able to judge something as deficient in respect to the forms (instances of things with respect to the forms  Points out a necessary condition for a particular experience  Cebes: Theory of Recollection: "for us learning is no more than recollection"  Idea that all learning is recollection , thus we must "at some previous time have learned what we now recollect"  Possible only if our soul existed somewhere before it took human shape  Idea that the soul must be immortal o Idea of sticks and stones:  Equality as abstraction -->equality exists regardless of our conceptual understanding of equality  Built in our mind to classify/order things [74a] idea that "equal" exists   How do we know what is equal?  Example of sticks and stones:  We recognize them as being equal and yet as deficient in respect to equality...how?  Equal things can be presented as unequal in another circumstance From text...  Cebes: Teory of recollection: "for us learning is no more than recollection" o Socrates: in order for us to remember something, we must have had previous knowledge of it  There exist the form of equality, a sense of equality that is independent of an instance of equality (ie; the numerical equality of "equal" sticks and stones"  Equal sticks and stones are not stable ---> can appear to be equal in one sense but not the other  The same cannot be said about equality itself though… thus the sticks and stones that are equal are not the same as equality  We are aware that while they are equal, they are at the same time deficient with regards to equality  In order for us to judge the equal sticks and stones as deficient with regards to equality, we must therefore already have the knowledge of the form of equality  "our sense perceptions must surely make us realize that all that we percieve through them is striving to reach that which is Equal but falls short of it"[75b]  Idea that we are able to judge this deficiency through our senses, but nothing in the sensible world is perfectly equal, thus we must have not gained our knowledge of Equality from our senses  We began to use our senses at birth, thus our knowledge must have come at a time before we were able to use our senses  If we gained the
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