Read selections from The Phaedo, available in this week’s Electronic Reserve Readings. Focus on paragraphs 107 to 115a (pp. 437–444). Write a 350- to 700-word essay on the following:
•Why does Socrates not fear death?
•What are his views on death and the afterlife?
•Do you agree or disagree with Socrates on this topic?
•Using the Socratic method and The Good Thinker’s Tool Kit, formulate at least one question you would ask Socrates about his views on the afterlife.
Socrates’ view of the afterlife is a little difficult to assess due to the fact that there are not actual written works by Socrates. The only works about him are by other people. Socrates view of death came up in a conversation when asked by Cebes about the poetry he was working on. The discussion starts with the question suicide. Socrates thesis was “the one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death”. He also defines death as the separation of body and soul. All this lead to Socrates conclusion about death which is, upon dying a philosopher is most likely to obtain the wisdom which he has been seeking his whole life. Socrates also had an interesting view of the afterlife. Since “being dead” and “being alive” are opposite states, and “dying” and “coming-to-life” are the two opposite processes between these states, coming-to-life must balance out dying. Socrates also recalled an ancient theory basis just as the souls of the dead in the underworld come from those living in this world; the living souls come back from those of the dead.
He concluded that everything that dies must come back to life again. Socrates made a strong argument with valid points that cannot be dismissed. If the two opposite processes did not balance each other out, everything would eventually be in the same state: for example, if increase did not balance out decrease, everything would keep becoming smaller and smaller. Another prime example of this is the Yin and Yang which is a Chinese philosophy and culture which based its principle in that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposite, for example female-male, dark-light.