Phaedo is one of the dialogues that were created by plato, the phaedo tried to depict the death of Socrates who was a great philosopher. It was the last dialogue of the seven that he wrote in the middle period of Socrates final days the others included Theaetetus, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Statesman and Sophist. Plato was a pupil of Socrates, after the death of Socrates he went on to rebuild his dialogues, these dialogues recounted the beliefs Socrates had in regards to immortality of the soul. Phaedo, Apology, Euthyphro and Crito are known as tetralogy as they deal with the trial and eventual death of Socrates. Phaedo, of the tetralogy is the longest and also considered the richest dialogue and is also important philosophically.
The Phaedo took place in the morning that Socrates was to die and primarily deals with the immortality of the soul. Phaedo began the story with Echecrates a Pythagorean as he asks Phaedo to tell him what he knows of the death of Socrates. Phaedo is willing to give the story of how Socrates decided to take hemlock poison. Socrates was in prison for not believing in the Athenian gods and was also accused of corrupting the youth of the city of Athens. Socrates was sentenced to death by the political leader of the city of Athens. Phaedo of Elis was present when Socrates was to die. Socrates explored of the various theories of immortality of the soul and tries to show that there is life after death in which the soul will live after death. In the dialogue is also narrated by Cebes and Simmias. They had all come to assist Socrates to escape prison.
In the dialogue Socrates, puts forward four theories of the immortality of the soul. Among the four, the first three though they convince someone, they are insubstantial. The three are valuable to the readers and they are also reffered to affinity, cyclical and re-collective form of arguments. The fourth argument is well accepted and is considered to be well made argument and logically sound.
The four arguments that are put forward are; the opposite argument or the cyclical argument, this theory tries to explain that the forms we have are eternal and cannot change and the soul can never perish and it always brings life. The body is believed to be mortal and has to undergo the physical death but the soul is not destroyed in the process. Plato tries to make clear of the argument by comparing cold and fire.
The second argument is also known as the theory of recollection, this theory tries to explain that human posses some knowledge that is non empirical example of this knowledge is the knowledge at birth. This is used to show or imply that maybe at one time that the soul existed before birth for it to have that knowledge.
The third theory is also known as the affinity argument, this theory tries to explain that what is immortal and invincible things are very different from what is visible and mortal. Our soul is immortal and our body is mortal and therefore when our bodies die, our soul will still continue to live.
The fourth argument of the Phaedo is the argument from the form of life and it explains that, what is immortal and incorporeal is caused by the things of the world and all that participate in the forms. Beauty participates in the form of beauty, the soul participates in the forms of life and thus the soul can never die. Socrates proved the immortality of the soul by arguing that the cause of the life which is the soul can never die as the life comes from it. He argues that the probability of a dead soul is imposible and thus the soul can be considered to be immortal.
The immortality of the soul is a valid argument but it can be questioned as it is based upon a premise that has not been shown to be true. Socrates believes that after he dies he will be treated blessedly by the gods and he will be able to converse with other men who had died. Socrates tried to explain of what the afterlife will be like. Thus the question is the connection of the afterlife and the living soul after the death of the mortal body.
Socrates before he died believed that he will not be distracted by the death of the body. He believed that the body was a carrier of the soul ass the soul cannot live on its own and need the body while in the earth for it to survive. Socrates believed that he had to live a full live and he had to hope for death. He believed for a life well lived, death was ideal and important as in death the soul maybe has a probability of gaining true knowledge.
Socrates believed that man should never commit suicide. He believed that man should never kill himself since he has no ownership of himself. He believed that men were a property of the gods Socrates said, "I too believe that the gods are our guardians, and that we men are a chattel of theirs" (Phaedo, 62b). Cebes was in agreement with Socrates on this argument. They believed that a man who kills himself or destroy something will be punished. Therefore if man tries to kill himself he will be killed by the gods who own him. Therefore man should be ready for death since the mortal body will one die, and should never act in a way to hasten death. Socrates said that for quite some time he had been waiting for body death and it is not okay for onr to bring on to himself an earlier death.
In the arguments, the body and that soul are held as two separate entities that can be separated and this separation is achieved through death. Also in one being warned against destroying the property of gods else the gods will seek for retribution and will surely punish the offender thus he believes the afterlife reward will be based on the acts one committed before he died. Before he died Socrates believed he had to fulfill certain things which were an obligation to the gods. He believed that certain things had to be dealt with so as to help him in the movement from the life to afterlife. To do this he decided to compose music and he later reminded Crito that he had to sacrifice a cock to Asclepius who was the god in charge of medicine and also the healing. Socrates had a belief that even though the soul was immortal, one had an obligation of performing certain actions and living his life in the world in a certain manner. He believed the actions one did and the entire acts one committed while living in the earth contributed to how the gods will treat him after death; whether favorably or unfavorably. Therefore even though mans soul is immortal it can still be punished by the gods after its separation from the body.
Socrates believed death to be a state where the body is separated from the soul and the soul becomes separate from the body he also defines death to be the complete dissolution of the sole. The others in the dialogue believed that the death is the complete annihilation of the soul, "...they fear that when she (the soul) has left the body her place may be nowhere, and that on the very day of death she may perish and come to an end immediately on her release from the body...dispersing and vanishing away into nothingness in her flight." (Phaedo, 70)
Soc rates believed that people should people should have very little with all that is bodily, therefore humans should pay little attention in making the body happy and comfortable. He believes that we should be independent of the body since it is only then that individuals will be able to achieve a true state of understanding. The state of being independent of the body, Socrates believed is death and therefore individuals will be well prepared for it when it occurs if they have been independent of the body all through. Thus when death comes the individuals will be more than willing to welcome it. He believed that the body presented to individuals a lot of distractions because of what it demands or necessities of taking care of it. He believed that if illness strikes the human body, they stop an individual from pursuing truth. The body also causes us to have emotions such as fear, love, desire and other emotions. These emotions do no good to one as they cause one to be a slave of himself and have no time for the soul.
The Phaedo is a great piece of information and combines philosophy in an interesting narrative. Socrates death show us of how a man who is detached from the cares and worries of the body and takes more time of enriching his soul can easily go away with not much problem. Human beings are in constant worries of very many bodily desires, this desires have led to great suffering and problems to themselves and others around them. The bodily desires have led to unnecessary completion and rivalry which has bled to conflicts, greed, war and untold suffering. Socrates clearly put it that what we should try and live for is trying to achieve the appeasement of the soul as the soul is immortal and trying to please the body is just for a time and makes on to never be prepared for death. Men must learn that good acts to each other and the environment will mean that one will have a better life after death.