Plato’s The Human Soul Plato was perhaps one of the most intriguing minds of his time. His works influenced many of todays great minds. One of his greatest works was his Five Dialogues. The Five Dialogues include: Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Meno; and Phaedo. Of the five books, Phaedo is arguable the most captivating.
Phaedo is an account of the ideas of the great philosopher, Socrates. In Phaedo, Socrates discusses many controversial ideas such as philosophical method, death, the true philosopher, and many other ideas as well. Socrates also discusses the nature of the soul in Phaedo. The nature of the soul is one of the main points of Platos dialogues. It is also important to understand the souls role in acquiring philosophical knowledge.
Both of these ideas are discussed in great detail in Phaedo. Socrates starts describing the nature of the soul by separating it from the body. Socrates explains that in order to truly perceive that which is true we must separate the soul from the body. He states: And indeed the soul reasons best when none of these senses troubles it, neither hearing nor sight, nor pain nor pleasure, but when it is most by itself, taking leave of the body and as far as possible having no contact wit it in its search for reality. Socrates tells us that the body and the senses only distort the souls perception of reality. In order to truly understand reality we must transcend our body and senses.
Our senses can mislead us. Socrates claims the body confuses the soul and does not allow it to acquire truth and wisdom. For example: just because what one might see looks like a plant, it might not necessary be a plant. A plant is a living thing. What we see might simply be a plastic replica.
In order to acquire true knowledge we must separate our soul from our bodies. Socrates says: The body keeps us busy in a thousand different ways because of its need for nurtureIt fills us with wants, desires, fears, al sorts of illusions and much nonsense, so that, as it said, in truth and in fact no thought of any kind ever comes to us from the body. Only the body and its desires cause war, civil discord and battles, for all wars are due to the desire to acquire wealth, and it is the body and the care of it, to which we are we are enslaved, which compel us to acquire wealth, and all this makes us too busy to practise philosophy. All of this is very true. The bodys needs and desires cause us to make war.
Also due to these needs the body is enslaved. Therefore the bodys needs interfere with the souls search for true wisdom. This makes perfect sense. Due to our bodys needs and desires we make war. Often times the main reason for war is the desire for money or power. These desires blind us from true wisdom and cause us to misinterpret things. Socrates ideology about the need for the seperation between body and soul is completely valid based on his reasoning. Socrates claims that the soul is immortal. Socrates reasons this by saying: We recall in ancient theory that souls arriving there (the underworld) come from here, and then again that they arrive here and are born here from the dead.
If that is true, that the living come back from the dead, then surely our souls must exist there, for they could not come back if they did not exist, and this is sufficient proof that these things are so if it truly appears that the living never come from any other source than the dead. By this Socrates reasons that the soul is immortal and upon death it transcends the body. After death the soul and body are separated and the soul can achieve true wisdom. The above argument holds true, based on the idea that something can just not be instantly created. Socrates explains that the soul cannot just be formed it must come from somewhere. It must have an origin.
Socrates, therefore, claims that the soul never dies, it simply transcends the body after death and then later it becomes part of another body upon birth. This argument allows Socrates to reason that the soul is immortal. Since the soul is immortal, then it is possible for the soul to separate from the body and acquire true knowledge. However, it is possible to get very close to true knowledge while we are alive. Socrates explains that in order for us to get this close to true wisdom we must refrain as much as possible from association with the body. Socrates is very vague on how to achieve this separation during life. Due to his vagueness I tend to believe that the only true way to achieve separation between body and soul is in death. There is no way in which a person can transcend their body during thier natural life.
Perhaps it is possible through a dream or a vision, or some other state in which our senses are not directly involved. However, it is impossible to achieve this separation during a conscious, living state. Socrates next speaks of recollection. He explains that we understand the existence of things by comparing them to things, which have known in the past. Socrates then reasons that in order to know something we must have recollection of knowing it in the past. Socrates further claims: we must at some previous time have learned what we now recollect.
This is possible only if our soul existed somewhere before it took on this human shape. So according to this theory too, the soul is likely to be something immortal. If everything we know is due to our recollection of something in the past then our soul must have existed prior to our life. Therefore it is assumed that the soul is immortal and it is through this immortality that we may know anything. If we look at a pen, we know its a pen because we have seen it before.
We have recollection of the objects characteristics and we know that those characteristics are those of a pen. We know what things are and understand them by characterizing and comparing them. It is through this argument that Socrates proves the immortality of the soul. The soul is a truly unique entity. It is the only way in which a person can truly achieve true wisdom.
Socrates understood this and tried to explain it to others. Socrates makes a strong argument for the immortality of the soul and the need for separation between the soul and body. I believe that in order to achieve true wisdom and philosophical knowledge one must use ones soul and not ones senses. It is necessary to separate the soul form the body in order to avoid being mislead by the senses. The only true way in order to achieve this separation is through death. I believe that the soul is immortal and in death transcends the body and achieves true wisdom. Socrates poses very strong arguments for these ideas and through his arguments convinced and inspired many great minds.
Bibliography the Republic by plato Philosophy.