A Study of The Case for The Soul not Dying I Phaedo by Plato

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Words: 995 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 995|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

In Plato’s, Phaedo, there are three arguments which are made for the immortality of the human soul. The first argument, or the Cyclical Argument, is that the soul passes from the living to the dead, and then back from the dead to the living, in a sort cycle between the two. The second argument, or the argument from Recollection, is that all humans have some prior knowledge that was known to them without being taught it, therefore they must have gained this knowledge at a time when their soul was in a previous life. The third argument, or the Affinity Argument, is that all human souls have the ability to see or to access different things than our bodies can, and that therefore all human souls continue living even when the body ceases to exist. Plato uses three arguments, the Cyclical Argument, the Argument from Recollection, and the Affinity Argument, to argue for the immortality of the soul in the Phaedo.

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Plato’s first argument in the Phaedo, the Cyclical Argument, refers to somewhat of a cycle for the human soul. Plato says “Yes, he said. And there are many other processes, such as division and composition, cooling and heating, which equally involve a passage into and out of one another. And this holds of all opposites, even though not always expressed in words-they are generated out of one another, and there is a passing or process from one to the other of them?” referring to this cycle of which he refers to, that the human soul goes through continuously (Phaedo p. 454). To make this argument simpler, and easier for one to understand, we may say that all things are created through their opposites, and in doing so there are two opposite processes which exist as well. For example, something that is small can only become big through the process of increasing, and something that is big can only become small through the process of decreasing. If these opposite processes did not exist, everything would only be able to exist in one state, and the other state, the opposite state, would not be able to exist. Therefore, as the living and the dead are opposite states, everything that is living must become dead, and everything that is dead must become living. Due to the reasons in this argument, the human soul is part of a cycle in which it continuously cycles between being living and being dead. When the human body is deceased, the human soul becomes dead, and then becomes living again as it enters a new human body.

The Argument from Recollection, Plato’s second argument, is a slightly more difficult concept for one to grasp. This argument, on the Phaedo, says that “If it is true that we acquired our knowledge before our birth, and lost it at the moment of birth, but afterward, by the exercise of our senses upon sensible objects, recover the knowledge which we had once before, I suppose that what we call learning will be the recovery of our own knowledge, and surely we should be right in calling this recollection” (Phaedo 75e-76). Plato explains here that humans are born already having the knowledge that we obtained in previous times that they were in the state of being alive. When one sees something, and recollects something about it, it shows that previous knowledge of that thing must have existed. Therefore, the human soul must have existed at a previous time, to make it possible for one to recollect knowledge prior to one’s birth. Without the preexistence of the soul, humans would not have this prior knowledge, and would not be able to recollect these memories from previous states of living. Thus, the human soul must have been in a state of living at a previous time in order to recollect.

The third argument in the Phaedo that Plato gives for the immortality of the soul is the Affinity Argument. He describes this argument by saying “But the soul, the invisible part, which goes away to a place that is, like itself, glorious, pure, and invisible—the true Hades or unseen world—into the presence of the good and wise God, where, if God so wills, my soul must shortly go—will it, if its very nature is such as I have described, be dispersed and destroyed at the moment of its release from the body, as is the popular view?” (Phaedo 80d-e). Plato says that both the body and the soul are two separate entities, the body’s existence is a mortal one and is always changing, while the soul’s existence is an immortal one and is constant. Therefore, when the body dies and ceases to exist anymore, the soul moves on to the immortal, invisible world which Plato speaks of. However, if the soul had been corrupted by other bodily influences, it then runs the risk of remaining with the deceased body after its death. Therefore, only with philosophical training, will the soul continue to be immortal after the death of the body has occurred. While the human body may die, the human soul will continue in a state of living as long as they have had philosophical knowledge in their lifetime, allowing their soul to continue to the invisible and immortal world.

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The Cyclical Argument, The Argument of Recollection, and Affinity Argument that Plato makes in the Phaedo, all aim to prove the immortality of the soul. The Cyclical Argument, which is referring to the cycle of the soul through generations of lives, the Argument of Recollection, which is the ability of humans to recall events from their previous lives’ of the soul, and the Affinity Argument, which is the idea of two different worlds that exist separately for the soul and body, all prove the immortality of the soul in the Phaedo. In the Phaedo, written by Plato, he argues for the immortality of the soul using these three arguments throughout the book.

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