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Socrates’ Philosophy on The Life after Death

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What happens after we die is a widely debated and relatively unknow topic that has been brought up many times in philosophy. Different theories have been proposed as to what might happen with the body and soul after the person passes away. This also brings along the issue of how one should live their life based on what might happen after we die.

There are two things that Socrates says might happen after death. The first one being “annihilation” or basically just a very long sleep where the person is not conscious of anything. He says this would be a good thing because there would be no consciousness and death would be like one continuous instance of the best night’s sleep you have ever had. The other scenario would be that after you die the soul actually leaves and migrates to another place. Socrates states this also is positive because he says, that if when we die our soul leaves our body, it must go somewhere with everyone else that has died. Therefore, you will be able to meet up with the other, wise and important people in the “afterlife”. Socrates says that the better option would be the second one, where you migrate to another place. He says this one is more favorable because if everyone that died just ended up in the same place or in an endless sleep it would be rather unrewarding. On the other hand, the better place after death to Socrates would be, if when you died you were taken to another place where you could meet all the wise people and heroes from the past. He says this would be a great personal experience in which you could examine each other’s minds and find out who is truly wise which would be much more fulfilling than eternal nothingness.

In Phaedo Socrates presents reincarnation through a series of metaphors. he compares sleeping and being awake in that if you aren’t asleep then you must be awake and if you aren’t awake you must be asleep. This is also comparable to living and dying; if you aren’t living than you must be dead and vice versa. He uses these opposites to say that there is a sort of cyclical theme between the living and the dead and reincarnation. This cyclical process includes living and then the opposite of that which would be dying. Then he argues that there is a revival or a birth of the dead back into the living world which in turn creates the cyclical nature of reincarnation that he proposes. The body is described as a prison in which the soul is trapped in and must be released. The body is something that wants material and unfulfilling things, these material things and desires can “weigh” down the soul. Therefore, if a soul is unable to pass on to the next realm and be reincarnated it must have been “polluted” or weighed down by the joys or material things of this world. This means that the person’s focus on the physical or bodily things has been so heavy that the soul was unable to be freed and in turn it could possibly be reincarnated as a lowly thing such as animal or something that is stuck such as something that hovers over graveyards. However, if a person lives their life free from the material or bodily joys in life and focus on more fulfilling things to feed the soul they will eventually go to a new realm when they die and not be reincarnated.

When Socrates says that to do philosophy in the right is “to learn how to die” I think he means that in order to study philosophy and do it well one must learn about three things. These three things being; the soul, body, and afterlife. Learning about these three things will teach you about how all of that might be interconnected and affect each other upon your death. Based on that I am not sure exactly what account of death best fits. I think that I could possibly be any of them. However, if I were to choose I would think the account of death that would be best fit toward Socrates view would be that when you die you go somewhere else. I think that this view fits best because it also plays off the theme of possible reincarnation as discussed above; meaning that I think his view of studying philosophy and learning about death will inevitably teach you about the body and soul and what might happen to them after we die. This means if someone learns about the relationship between those things that they will want to try to possibly “free” their soul when they die so that it can move on into a possible afterlife and not be stuck in this world because it was weighed down by material things. I think because of the possible relationships between everything like the body and soul, and this world and an afterworld that people will want to try to live the best life they can. This however, might differ depending on what account of death that you believe in. For example, someone that believes in the first account of death, that when you die it is just endless sleep. This person might not really care about living their best life free of material or unimportant things. Such a person would probably argue that when you die if it is just an endless sleep where there’s nothing and no consciousness, all the work you put in was for nothing. Meaning if your life is lived “by the book” so to say and free from the fun but possibly unfulfilling things in the world but in the end death is just nothing that you have wasted your life. By wasted I think they would mean that you have put yourself through a lot trying to avoid the pleasurable things in life for something possibly even more unfulfilling in death. Therefore, somebody with a view like that will probably live a life full of material things that might make them happy in this life.

On the other side if you have someone that believes that when you die something happens to you and you go to another place, they might try to live a careful life. This meaning that such a person will probably know about the difference between the body and the soul and would probably believe in such things about one’s self. They would probably try to avoid material things as opposed to the other person. They would also probably try to make sure that they live a life the best they can to try to help others to make sure that their soul stays pure. This difference in mentality about death drastically changes how one would go about living their life.

I think that we can take the teachings of philosophy to try to live our lives the best we can, and that there can be a middle ground between the two spectrums. By this I mean, that to carry out a fulfilling life I don’t think we should be overly focused on the material things, however, a few unfulfilling things that might make you temporarily happy in this life can’t hurt you. I don’t think that by staying to a very strict way of thinking in that if you do something bad you will impact your reincarnation “status”. I do, however, think that we should try to live our lives positively and try not to harm others but instead help everyone out as much as you can while trying to also improve yourself.

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Socrates’ Philosophy On The Life After Death. (2020, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/socrates-philosophy-on-the-life-after-death/
“Socrates’ Philosophy On The Life After Death.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2020, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/socrates-philosophy-on-the-life-after-death/
Socrates’ Philosophy On The Life After Death. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/socrates-philosophy-on-the-life-after-death/> [Accessed 18 May 2022].
Socrates’ Philosophy On The Life After Death [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Jun 14 [cited 2022 May 18]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/socrates-philosophy-on-the-life-after-death/
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