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the PHAEDO challenge: overview

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1 The PHAEDO Challenge The death of the philosopher, and the immortality and nature of the soul

2 the PHAEDO challenge: overview
1) Why is it called “the Phaedo”? Because it is Phaedo’s story. 2) Phaedo tells a friend in a far off town about Socrate’s death. What town? The Peloponnesian town of Philus near Corinth, 3)The friend (a Pythagorean) and one of Socrates’ circle was? Echecrates. 4) What is complicated about the structure of the Phaedo? Plato tells the story of Phaedo who tells the story of the death day of Socrates 5) There are two sections to this dialogue. What are they? The discussion about the true philosopher's attitude to death, and the death scene itself. 6) Part of the dialogue is sometimes called “the second apology”. Why? Because Socrates is explaining why he believes that death is a good much to be desired (which his friends think is an ungrateful thing to think)

3 the PHAEDO challenge: death
1) The common person had an idea of the afterlife as described in Homer. What was it called? Hades 2) What was the life of the dead like? A life as shades, ghosts – the senses are dull – pleasure and pain blunted - a ½ alive state. 3) Homer (in the Odyssey) has Achilles tell Odysseus what he thought of being dead (in the afterlife). What did he say? That had he known how bad it was he’d have preferred a dull life without honour to a short life and immortal fame. 4) Some followers of the mystery cults, (like Orpheus, and Pythagoras) had different ideas. How were they different? More optimistic views. The soul was purified in death, and the good lived in the bliss understanding. Some believed in reincarnation.

4 the PHAEDO challenge: Socrates’ notion of death
Where else do we learn of Socrates notion of death? The Apology, and the Crito 2) In Apology he says the fact that people fear death proves their ignorance. In what sense? Since they can’t be certain it is bad, it is not rational to assume that it IS – so why fear what you can’t know (do you find this a good argument not to fear death?) 3) In the sentencing section he puts forward 2 desirable alternatives. What are they? sleepless oblivion or the souls migration to a better place with the joy of companionship with the great figures of the past. 4) He also mentions the judges of the underworld. What does this imply? There exists an element of punishment & reward for the life we lead here. 5) In Crito he adds anther reason why it is absurd for an old man to dread death. What? With a worn out body, and death near in any case. 6) Also in Crito he mentions how he will be judged in the afterlife if he has fled his agreement with “Laws” to live. What does he say? He says we are morally accountable for our lives “before the authorities there.”

5 The PHAEDO challenge: the dialogue’s opening.
1) Phaedo opens with Echecrates asking Phaedo what? To tell him what occurred in detail at Socrates’ end 2) He mentions why the execution was delayed. Why was it? due to the religious trip to Delos (birthplace of Apollo) 3) He mentions who was present in the cell on the deathday. Who was specifically not present? Plato (the Phaedo’s author!) 4) They all arrived early but had to wait outside, Why? the jailors were explaining the execution procedure, and removing Socrates’ leg chains. 5) When they entered who was visiting? his wife Xanthippe and youngest son, but she became distressed and was taken home. 6) The pain of the chains gave Socrates reason to comment on pleasure and pain. What piont did he make? that pleasure and pain are never simultaneous but always very close together “like two bodies attached to the same head”. 7) The discussion moves on to some verses Socrates had been composing in prison based on Aesop’s fables. He then sends his complements to a fellow poet, Evenus. What does he tell him. That he should follow him soon (to death).

6 The PHAEDO challenge: Philosophers attitude to Suicide
1) What does this comment for Evanus lead to? comments that the philosopher should welcome death, (but not by suicide). 2) Cebes asks how can that be, that we not allowed to pursue this good, death? Is it an exception to the usual rule of the philosopher “to pursue the good.” ? Socrates suggests that it is forbidden because we belong to the gods, and may not destroy their possessions. 3) Cebes objects that for philosophers (lovers of wisdom) to desire death is to desire to be parted from the gods’ care – which is not sensible as their guidance is good, the best. What is Socrates answer to this? that this would be fair criticism if he did not have a high expectation of what good things followed life. (Conversing with good men, and in the care of good masters - the gods. His philosophy will be more rewarding as well with such companions, and clarity from the physical limitations.) 4) He also has reason to expect a good out come. Why? Because good people can expect better than bad – and his life of being faithful to his Apollo-given mission makes him good (proven to him by his Daimonion's silence).

7 the PHAEDO challenge “the 2nd APOLOGY”
1) Why is this called an Apology (explanation - defence)? His friends have “charged” him with being unnaturally happy about his death 2) Socrates says a philosopher’s life is a preparation for what? Death, and he should not fear it when it comes. 3) Death is simply the separation of the 2 constituents of people. What are they? Body - bound for decay, Soul - for life. 4) Of these two, which is the business of the philosopher. The Soul 5) He spells out the realm of soul as opposed to body – what concerns the soul? intellectual, moral, reasoning, truth, making judgements, immortaityl. It works best when unencumbered by the body – tiredness, hunger, desire, illness. 6) What concerns the body? the 5 senses, pleasure/pain, appetites for food, sex, ego, pride, disease, loves, fears, desires, emotions. The senses mislead us, and distract the soul as it seeks truth. 7) How does he move this argument to death being the philosopher’s goal? The soul, seeking wisdom beauty, and truth, avoids the distractions of the body, but this only perfectly gained when it is removed completely from the body- ie death. 8) Socrates next introduces an important notion of abstract ideas which he suggests are the real nature of something. Give some examples. justice, truth, beauty, goodness, tallness, etc. 9) These are pure unchanging qualities, unpolluted by the senses. How are these important? they are the only way we can comprehend anything. We use to make sense of chaotic sense inputs.

8 the PHAEDO challenge: Why “True philosophers make dying their profession”
1) We are only free to enter the realm of truth only after… we are free from the body’s “infecting” influences. 2) Till then – in life – we can’t attain truth. In fact the effect of the body may so contaminate the soul that it is hard for it to enter the afterlife (realm of purity). Why? because it is a ‘breach of the divine order’. (Not everyone gets sufficiently purified) 3) “True philosophers make dying their profession” – means what for a lover of wisdom? He will not fear death because a) his focus is on virtue & wisdom (soul), and b) his ultimate goal is the purification of death. 4) How is self control and courage in ordinary people different from philosophers? it has an ulterior motive – courage because they are fearful of appearing cowardly, self control because they enjoy it (self indulgence). 5) Philosophers don’t use their emotions (like or fear or desire) to decide what to do, but wisdom. Why? Wisdom acts to cleanse emotions from our decisions, which is good because emotions are fickle and distract from truth. 6) So, Socrates thinks that purity and enlightenment…. are necessary to enter the afterlife.

9 the PHAEDO challenge: the death scene - one of the most influential in western literature.
1) Socrates tells his friends how to live well without him, to take care of themselves. He say they are not to fret over how to bury him because.. After death he is not there – only his body (especially Crito – who is slow realising Socrates’ teaching he is soul not body). 2) He next goes to bathe – to ….. save the women doing it after his death 3) Who now visits him? His family (3 sons) visit, then leave 4) The sun sets and the jailer brings him the bowl of Hemlock to drink, and explains to him what to expect as the poison takes hold. What does he say next? Socrates is the kindest and noblest person who he has had to serve this way and bids him farewell 5) Crito tries to persuade him to delay taking the poison. What does he answer? He is now ready to begin his adventure after life, so why delay.

10 the PHAEDO challenge: the Hemlock.
1) Socrates takes the hemlock without fear and, commenting that he will depart, and leave his corpse there in the cell, showing… he identifies with the soul, not the body. 2) His friends all weep now but Socrates chides them to stop because…. it is good for a person to die in peace. 3) What are his death symptoms? He gets cold and numb up his legs, (he lies down and pulls his cloak over his head) 4) his last words – to Crito – are what? “I owe a cockerel to Asclepius” meaning to thank Asclepius (the god of medicine) for curing his soul of the disease of physical life. 5) The Phaedo closes with Phaedo saying to Echecrates that this was… “the end of our comrade, who was we may say, of all whom we knew in our time the bravest and also the wisest and the most just.”

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